Sunday, January 24, 2010

Losing the Half-Marathon PR Touch

What can I say? Last week I ran 1:28:51 at the Cascade Half. Today I ran 1:28:52 at Vancouver Lake. If I keep slowing down 1 second per 13.1 miles per week, well, hell, eventually they'll have to shut the course down on me.

Strange race. I was dreading the rain/cold/wind combo plate being served up an hour before the start, but then by race time, at 10 a.m., the rain was for the most part eighty-sixed. Once we got going I never felt uncomfortable.

We were running on roads and bike paths on the flatlands that separate Vancouver Lake from the Columbia River. If you look at a map of the United States and see where, not far from the Pacific, the line between Oregon and Washington makes a sharp turn north, that's where we were, on the Washington side.

Sidenote: Yesterday Niko and I were just across the Columbia at Kelley Point Park, the northern tip of Portland and the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia rivers. I was going to say, "where two great rivers come together," but I don't think the Willamette quite qualifies as great. Pretty good, certainly. A major drainage. Much-bridged, and prettily, too, here in PDX. Visiting Kelley Point we learned that Lewis & Clark missed the Willamette, both coming (to the Pacific) and going (back up the Columbia). Bozos.

I liked seeing lots of familiar faces at the race today. Many Red Lizards, and Steven Livermore, kicking butt as usual. I liked, too, the flatness of the course and the many long straight or slightly bending stretches but I wasn't crazy about having to do three 180-degree turnarounds. For an old guy like me you don't want to have to crank it down for the turn then crank it back up out of the turn. It hurts.

The second turnaround, coming at six miles, was especially obnoxious because it sent us into the wind for a couple of miles. That's when I ran my worst mile split, a 6:57. I got a little better after that, and even mustered enough late-race oomph to do mile 13 in 6:37. But too many six-fifty-somethings in the second half cost me my shot at a PR.

Afterward I realized this, my sixth half-marathon, was the first time I didn't PR the distance. I had always gotten faster. Well, I don't suppose going balls-out last Sunday was really the best way to prepare for the race. Nor was running 15 miles on Wednesday, eight on Thursday and seven on Friday.

It probably wouldn't have hurt my Eugene training to back off a bit this week. Certainly I would have had fresher legs today if I had. But psychologically it was important for me to keep the focus on the marathon. I think it's OK to run tons of shorter races leading up to a marathon. Races keep running fun. But I can't get sucked into adjusting my marathon training in order to excel at the shorter races. I've got a job to do at Eugene.

Official results:
3/34 M45-49
35/200 Men
38/407 Overall


  1. Nice race report, Pete. Don't be too hard on yourself for not setting another just raced hard a week ago. And old guys like us need some time to recover from those efforts even if we may "feel" fine.
    See you at the Shamrock 15K?!

  2. Thanks, Steven - gonna sign up for Shamrock right now!