Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Rock'n'Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon - 1:11:49!!

Just three weeks after the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) I hit the streets again, this time for the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.  Rock 'n' Roll Philly served as a tune-up and my last race leading up to California International Marathon (CIM) in five weeks.  I ran this race last year when it was in September and finished in 1:13:13.  This year the race was pushed back to the end of October to accommodate Pope Francis' first visit to the US and the city of Philadelphia.  The unique date was a "blessing" because we were treated with perfect running weather (40 degrees with very little wind) on Halloween day. 

Marathon training has been going extremely well and with a recent PB at the ten mile distance, there was no reason I wouldn't be able to run a PB for the half-marathon.  My race strategy was similar to my ATM race; start out at about 5:30 pace or slightly under for the first half and then drop the hammer on the second.

The first few miles felt pretty easy.  I went through the first mile right at 5:30 pace.  Me and a group of runners, some were elite females aiming for the Olympic Marathon Trials Standard (Women - 1:15:00, Men - 1:05:00), actually freaked out because the timing clock at Mile 1 showed 5:08.  I then heard a guy on the bike tell his athlete not to worry because the clock was wrong and that the 1st mile was a 5:30.  My second mile split was slow (GPS split for was a 5:43) even though I felt like I was running the same effort/pace.  I hit the 5K in 17:11, about 5-10 seconds slower than I had planned.  I probably fell behind because I was too busy waving to my wife and daughter.

Definitely not running hard enough!
At 10K I was still feeling really good, maybe too good. I went through 10K in 34:23.  No wonder I was feeling too good!  I practically cruised the second 5K (17:12) in the same time as the first.  After 10K is when I started to roll.  I ran miles 7 and 8 in 5:25 and 5:28.  However, mile 9 was a slow 5:38.  I think a combination of a short uphill and sharp turn onto Falls Bridge caused me to lose some seconds.  Luckily, I made up the lost seconds on the next mile with a 5:19 split. 

At the 10 mile mark, which I came across in 54:56, I caught and passed about four runners, including three-time Olympian Jen Rhines. It's crazy to think that my 10 mile split was a sub-55 and only 21 seconds slower than my PB I set a few weeks ago.  Coming through the ten mile mark in just under 55-min meant that I'd only have to run 5:30 pace for the remaining 5K to hit my goal time of 1:12. 

I wasn't going to settle for 5:30 pace, so I tried to keep the hammer down and ran 5:24, 5:29, and 5:24 for the last three miles.  When I got to the 13 mile mark, just at the base of the short steep hill before the finish, I glanced at my watch and saw 1:11:10.  I knew at this point that I would break 1:12 for the half.  I sprinted up the short hill and to the finish like nobody's business crossing the line in 1:11:49, a new half-marathon PB by a whopping 80 seconds.  According to my Garmin splits and Strava, I ran the last .1 mile of the race at sub-5:00 pace, and that's with the hill. I'd have to say that the weekly hill blasts my coach has incorporated into my training has really paid off.

1:11:49!!!  New Half Marathon PB!

Below are my splits and a comparison of my 2014/2015 R'n'R Philly race.  Interestingly, I ran much faster this year but placed lower in the overall results, mainly because the fast guys and ladies decided to show up and run a qualifying time for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.  A total of 44 runners (24 men and 20 women) ran fast enough to qualify for the marathon trials in February.  Insane!

5 Km
10 Km
10 Mile
Chip Time
2015 17:11 34:23 54:56 1:11:49 5:29 68
2014 17:32 35:02 56:14 1:13:13 5:35 61

Some thoughts following my half-marathon PB:
  • I was thrilled to run a huge PR and sub-1:12.  However, I think if I wasn't being too patient early in the race I probably would have ran about 10-20 seconds faster. I'm not greedy though, I'll take a 1:11:49!!!
In disbelief!
  • It's obvious that I'm a patient and negative split type of runner.  Personally, I think it's the best and smartest way to run the long distance races. 
  • The race was a huge and perfect confidence booster leading up to CIM in five weeks.  I feel that my ultimate goal of a sub-2:30 marathon is well within reach.

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