Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fortis 1/2 Marathon Rotterdam: 1:13:39 (PR)

Day before the race
I neglected to do the necessary preparation such as finding how to get to the registration and race site, and even having a pre-race strategy (resting, where and what to eat, etc.). After checking in to the hotel around noon I went on a mission to find out more info on the race. I packed up my bike just before leaving the house knowing that it would be easier to get around the 2nd-most populated city in the Netherlands. About thirty minutes on the bike I finally found the VVV tourist information and was told that everything from late registration to packet pickup took place on the morning of race day. I thought that since I'm already in the heart of Rotterdam I might as well take a tour of the city. Fast forward..... I took the VVV-recommended walking tour (2 hours), biked the city cycle-route (~45 min.) and spent some time at a festival. So about 4:30pm I decided to head back to the hotel to give the legs some rest. Well, I ended up finding my hotel another 30 minutes later because smart-me only had a city map which did not cover streets to my hotel. Funny thing is that the hotel was only an 8-minute walk from the centrum. At that point my legs were feeling a bit stale, so I decided to go for a short 25 minute run hoping it will feel better. After a nice shower and some relaxing, I rode my bike back into the centrum to get something to eat. I wasn't up for the typical two hour three course Dutch meal so I stopped by a pizzeria near the festival and ordered a delicious Hawaiian medium pizza. I had planned to eat it back at the hotel, but that was modified to stand-and-eat when I came across a fashion and modeling show. I called it the night around 9pm.

Race day
Pre-race meal: Marathon Snicker bar, peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, & gatorade. Temperature: 52 degrees at 10am. The race has two half-marathons; one that starts at 11:00 and labeled Fortis 1/2 Marathon Elite and the other which starts 50 minutes later and labeled Fortis 1/2 Marathon. At about 10:45 I found out the 11:50 start was a "fun run". Don't ask me what the difference is. So I made my way to the 11:00 start, but was stopped because I had a 4-digit bib number "3406". All the other runners at the start had a one, two or three-digit bib number as well as the same number pinned on the back of their singlet. I was finally let into the start line when the race director asked me what my goal time was and told him that I run around 1:14-1:15. I felt a bit intimidated because here I was lined up with only about 100 runners, mostly Africans and Europeans.

The gun went off just as I was about to turn on the GPS on my Forerunner 405. This was a mental breakdown because now I would have no clue what mile splits I'd be running. Remember that European races use kilometers and not miles. I tried to calculate my pace in the first few kilometers, but that turned out to be a difficult task. I hit the 5k mark in 17:25, which I figured would be somewhere just under 5:40 pace. I knew coming into the race that my PR was at 1:15:42 (5:47 pace) so I was already in unknown territory. To be honest, I was really just trying to stay with the pack of runners. I didn't want to be the last runner especially that I had an odd bib number and none on the back. Approaching the 10k mark I could see the timer closing in at 35 minutes. Crossed 10k in 34:59 (10k PR is 34:58). I was feeling very good and wanted to pick up the pace, but knew I still had another 10k+ remaining. At about 12-13k it seemed like the pace was slowing a bit. Noone in our pack of about 10 was interested in picking up the pace, so I decided to. I put in a little surge and noone followed. I then began my mission of picking off runners who where within distance. Within 3 kilometers I managed to pass 3 runners. 15k was 52:38. Interestingly, my 16k split was 56:14 and equates to a 56:30 10-miler, a few seconds faster than my 10M PR. At 18k I could not believe that I still had something left in the legs. I somehow managed to run the last 6.1k faster than any 5k split in the race. I crossed the finish in 1:13:44. Chip time was 1:13:39, a 2-minute PR. Splits below and complete results here. I'm wondering what I could have ran had the legs been a bit more rested. Maybe the secret is not to rest the day before the race.

5k: 17:25 (17:25 - 5:36 pace)
10k: 34:59 (17:34 - 5:39 pace)
15k: 52:38 (17:39 - 5:41 pace)
21.1k: 1:13:44 (21:06 - 5:34 pace)

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