Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chicago Half-Marathon - 5-minute P.R.!

This morning I ran the 2009 Chicago Half-Marathon. It was a beautiful course, running largely on Lake Shore Drive, and overlooking Chicago's scenic skyline. The course started and finished in Jackson Park and showcased the south lakefront, the Jackson Park Golf Course and the Midway Plaisance on the University of Chicago campus.

I was somewhat apprehensive going into this morning's race, since I've only returned to running in the past three-weeks following nearly five-weeks rest to allow my left tibial stress-fracture to heal. Though the injury is 99% healed, as I'd noticed more worrisome twinges of discomfort while running on hard-surfaces (versus my vastly preferred dirt or gravel trails) I was concerned that the Half-Marathon's course run entirely on concrete might do me in.

Instead, I found no problems at all! I ran the course in 1:35:54, which was a huge 5-minute half-marathon personal record!  I credit, in part, my Newton training shoes, as I feel that they encourage me towards a more natural fore-foot and mid-foot landing that the heel landing style encouraged by my former favorite running shoe - the Brooks Adrenaline.

Thanks to the Sean Wade's Kenyan Way Training Program and my increased dedication to running, biking, or swimming daily I believe that I'm my best shape! I gauge this based on the nearly five minute P.R. achieved on today's run.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Once again, pacing was a real issue for me - and my biggest area to show improvement in the future. While my result was fantastic, I risked a derailment with an initially far-too-aggressive start, and a resulting positive split in the back-half of the run. I believe that I let my fellow-runners drive me to a pace that was unsustainable, as I started very close to the front in Corral "B" surrounded by incredible runners (it was a bit reminiscent of my April Boston Marathon). I started miles 1-3 at a blazing 6:57 pace. Miles 4-6 were run at a more appropriate 7:18 pace, however the final six-miles were at a comparatively lethargic 7:26 pace. While I was happy to see that I had enough 'gas in the tank' to kick-in the final mile at a 7:15 pace I clearly lacked sufficient discipline to control myself appropriately in the initial three miles. I attribute my substantial P.R. nevertheless as due to my overabundance of training for a half-marathon course.
  2. I believe that my Newton Stability Training Shoes kept my out of trouble despite my not completely having recovered from my prior stress-fracture. Despite the course's concrete surface I believe the Newton's inherent stress and impact reduction via landing on the mid and fore-foot versus the traditional heel-landing achieved this improved running stride.
  3. I appropriately carbo-loaded the evening prior to the race, and the morning of. I stayed-away from anything unusual (lesson-learned from my earlier Palos Heights Half-Marathon).
  4. I got to the race over an hour and a half in advance of the event, which allowed me plenty of time to attend to my needs, find the bag drop-off area, and actually warm-up for the race (something I unfortunately very rarely do).
  5. I listened to an excellent mix of New Age music on my iPod Nano, which allowed me to stay somewhat relaxed throughout the entire event (I shudder to think what my initial three-miles would have been had I been listening to a hard-driving rock mix!)
  6. I made much better use of the water stops than any prior run. Instead of slowing to a near walk (a bad habit I've gotten into, particularly in marathons) I instead managed to snag a Gatorade cup, followed by a water cup without any slow down. Since the temperature was in 60's I didn't need to imbibe deeply of the Gatorade - just a swig or two was sufficient. With the water I tossed it over my head providing much-needed cool-down, and allowing me to maintain my strong pace despite the powerful sunshine (the sky was clear throughout the race).
Finally, I happily noted afterwards that Dr. Jack Daniels' highly respected running formula for race predictions, this half-marathon result translates equivalently to a potential full marathon of ~3:19:40! Extrapolating this half-marathon performance and my recent 4-mile run suggests that with proper conditioning I should be able to achieve a further 13-minute improvement in my full marathon time! This is great motivation for the Chicago 2009 then Houston 2010 marathon training.

Age: 20/373 (top 5%), Males: 444/5794 (top 8%), Overall: 512/13519 (top 4%) 7:19 1:35:54.


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