One of my many favorite things about running is when you have one of those days when you surprise yourself – in a good way, of course. I had one of those days today.
Today, I ran the March Madness Half Marathon in Cary, IL. I came into today’s race with a touch of curious excitement about what kind of race I could run. I honestly did not know.
The winter had been marred with a stretch of injuries to both IT bands, coupled with a lot of brutally cold, windy weather, which required a lot of heavy clothing.
Running friends had warned me that Cary is quite the hilly course. “You won’t run what you ran at C.D.C,” admonished one experienced friend. He was referring to the Chicago Distance Classic, where I set my PR of 1:30:24 last August.
I officially set goal time of 1:34:59, which is exactly the 7:14 pace that I ran for an entire marathon last fall. It seemed like a realistic stretch goal, given the hills I expected and my comparative level of training to last fall’s Chicago run. I had done no speed work while working through injuries, weekly mileage has been lower, and I hadn’t raced since a disappointing showing at the Las Vegas Half Marathon in December.
Conditions were ideal, simply stated. No wind. A crisp 36 degrees at start with a beaming sun overhead.
These guys weren’t kidding. There were some tough hills, but I surprisingly was enjoying them, taking them on like they were my friends. I was up and down through the rolling hillsides, and I kept my heart rate in reasonable check.
I truly got a boost at around mile 8. I don’t know what it was, but I really felt good… like I could be running 7’s or better for the rest of the way.
The last 5 miles had a few monster halls, and I attacked them with a vengeance. The Morton Aboretum has been a great training ground, I thought. Once I hit 10 miles, I knew I could hold for a sub 1:34, way better than I thought. Then I knocked out a couple of sub-7’s on 12 and 13 and realized I could actually get sub-1:33.
I sprinted the last 0.1 to a 1:32:39 on my watch; a 1:32:50 on the gun clock. Like I said, in running, some days you can really surprise yourself. Today was one of those days.
7:23 – 47:11 at the half (6.55)
1:32:39 – 7:04 per mile
Estimated negative split of 1:43
The McMillan predictor chart says I have the potential to run a 33:02 at next week’s Shamrock Shuffle. I think I’ll set the bar at 32:59.
He also advises that I can run a 3:15:24 in Boston. I’m not worried about trying for this kind of time. I don’t have as many long runs in. Plus, my IT band was really acting up towards the end of last week’s twenty miler. I’ll be fine lining up with the 3:25 group in Boston and enjoying the fanfare of all the crazies, while I celebrate all 26.2 glorious miles.
Recap of the week
Mon – Rest
Tue – 7.5 mi
Wed – 5.25 mi
Thu – Rest
Fri – 8.25 mi
Sat – 3.5 mi easy
Sun – 13.1 race (7:04 avg pace) + 2.4 recovery in afternoon = 15.5 mi total
Total for week: 40 miles even