The Great Bay Race Report

Or: "How a Half-Marathon became a 100m dash"

The race itself actually wasn't that eventful--no bee stings or historical monuments along the route. I found myself drifting off a lot and dancing to the music on iPod, which means I was in great physical and mental shape for this race. The result is that there isn't a lot of play-by-play activity, so let's start off with the splits.

The Splits
These still amaze me because my game plan was to run the first two miles at about a 9:00 pace and finish with an average pace of 8:23--but my body was thinking differently that morning.
  • Mile 1: 8:53
  • Mile 2: 8:39
  • Mile 3: 8:42
  • Mile 4: 8:50
  • Mile 5 & 6: 16:58 (couldn't find Mile Marker 5, but his is an average pace of 8:24)
  • Mile 7: 8:03 (Um, remember we're supposed to be shooting for an 8:23 pace here)
  • Mile 8: 8:27
  • Mile 9: 8:15
  • Mile 10: 8:0
  • Mile 11: 7:45 (What's this? My tempo pace is 7:50.)
  • Mile 12: 7:45 (Again?!)
  • Mile 13.1: 8:42 (Pace=7:39, where did this come from?!)

Around Mile 10 is where I realized that I would be bringing home some serious PRage, which not only fueled me down past tempo pace, but pushed me down into speed work territory. The running gods smiled upon me that day for I had finally learned how to race with hills after two difficult efforts in 2008.

How this went down
Unlike most races, this one had a leisurely 11am start time, which really confused me. There was no pressure to go to sleep early and I didn't have to worry about missing any alarms because I rarely ever sleep past 8am. We checked out of the hotel by 8:30am and had breakfast (bagel with peanut butter, yogurt, and apple juice) at a local bakery/coffee shop. Breakfast before a race? I've never experienced that.

While at the starting line I noticed two things. First, there were two guys running the race in nothing but Speedos. Yes, it was gusting up to 40 mph and just a hair above 50 degrees, but these two guys were in Speedos. The second thing I noticed was that this did not appear to be a race for novices. These New Hampshire people take their running seriously--it sounded like everyone in the crowd was a Half-Marathon and Marathon veteran.

After the gun went off the crowd bolted--I've never seen a starting crowd move that fast.

Then I got the stitch.

Oh, yes. In the first 100m of the race I felt a stitch start to form in my side. WTF? I thought I was done with these guys, at least for this distance. Apparently not. I spent the first four miles trying to recoup and get the stitch out of there--although you couldn't tell from the splits. I was trying to slow down, but my legs weren't having any of that. Fortunately, miles two through four were mostly uphill, which helped with the recovery effort. I concentrated on breathing regularly, I turned off the music and just listened to my pace. I straighted my posture as much as possible because I realized any slouching only made the stitch stick around.

By the crest of the hill at mile marker four the stitch had subsided. That's when the race really started for me. After this point very few people passed me. There were lots of rolling hills which mimicked the hills in Central Park, so I knew how to power over them and then use the downhill to my benefit without burning out.

From mile four to mile ten I was just taking in the scenery and picking people off one-by-one. My playlist was fantastic and provided lots of distraction and little boosts of energy.

When the course flattened out around mile ten I looked at my watch and started calculating a finishing time and realized that a 1:50 finish was completely within reach now. And the boost in pace certainly reflects that. I just kept thinking that all I had was three miles to go, just three tiny miles and I would have a new record and have another state off the list, how could I not go fast?

With eyes only for the finish line I busted out a super fast mile 11 and 12. But then something weird happened halfway through the last mile. Some guy, #945, came out of no where and passed me.

Excuse me? Here I am having a spectacular race, schooling all the other runners on the hills and someone has the testicular fortitude to sprint past me during the last mile? No. Way.

(I'm not actually this competitive. Come on people, I came in over 30 minutes behind the winner of the race. But there was just something really bothersome about passing people for the last half of a Half-Marathon only to have someone breeze by you in the last 800m. Especially when you know you still have lots of gas in the tank and that this other guy could very well fold after his little mid-mile sprint.)

Screw the finish line, my crosshairs locked on this guy.

He did manage to get a healthy lead on me, about 50m. But I had seen this happen in other races, I knew he couldn't maintain that pace at this point in the race, especially with some hills coming up. So I kept putting on the speed, but realized that I too was tired and couldn't summon up a charge like I did so easily in the earlier miles.

On the last big turn (about .2 miles before the finish) I caught up with the guy and sailed past him on the uphill. Ha! Take that sucka!!

Well, so I thought. As I was locking in on the finish and trying to maneuver through the runners in the narrow final stretch #945 charged passed me again and took about a ten foot lead.

Oh no, no, no. That was not going to happen--I knew that burst of energy was just to pass me. It was on.

I reved up and passed him a second time and I could see that he was starting to fail on the speedy pace. But the second he saw me pass him he charged up again. By now, the third time he passed me, we were within 100m of the finish line. There were thick crowds and the finish line was in view. Never one for lack of energy in the final 100m of a race, I charged up and yelled at him over the crowds and my head phones: "race to the finish?" He looked shocked at first, one that I would talk to him within spitting distance of the finish line and two that I had caught up to him yet again. He smiled and picked up the pace.

For the last 100m of the race we are locked in step, each trying to out run the other (him on the left trying to eat/catch up with me, on the right):

Here's another shot, just a second later:

The photographers had a field day with us. Here's another, this one is a little too perfect because both our arms are in the same position and we are both leading off the same foot:

After this last shot we dashed for the finish. We passed about three or four people in this little 100m spat. He thought he lost me and started to slow down when we had to split ways around a slower runner, but then I surprised him again and yelled "come on!" He got his final wind and blasted with me over the finish line.

Checking our times after the race I beat him to the finish by .04 seconds--a margin of Phelpsian proportions. However, looking at net times, he beat me 14 seconds, making him the faster runner. I guess we both had our own victories coming out of this 100m dash. He shook my hand afterward and said that if I hadn't come along at the end there he would have walked to the finish.

All told it was a fun race. I had a great time out there: it was scenic, the weather turned out great, and it was challenging without being punishing. For being a small rural race it was well organized and there were lots of amenities for the runners (hello free post-race pizza!). And I got to walk away with a brand spanking new Half-Marathon PR of 1:48:40--which only bodes well for The Flying Pig next month.


Jess said...

You both look like you're having fun in that final sprint!

Turi said...

Excellent race, and an awesome race report. Your smiles in those finish pictures are infectious.

The Laminator said...

Well, I don't know about Phelps, but your report definitely conjured up some Prefontaine moments at the end. Although I don't think Pre himself could have a smile such as yours racing someone to the finish. What a great race! Report was well worth the wait. Thanks for the motivation...now I need what I want my finishing photo to look like next week!

CyclingDivas said...

The smiles are what its all about even though the coincidence in race numbers (845 and 945) is just a little eerie....

Irish Cream said...

FANTASTIC race report! I agree that your and 945's smiles in the race photos are just plain awesome! Congrats again on the huge PR! :)

Nitmos said...

Great job! Those last few miles show you might be selling you abilities a little short. Perhaps you're in better shape/faster than you think and only convince yourself you have to run at 8:23 pace?!? keep pushin'...see what happens.

Marcy said...

Dude those final pics are killer! Looks like a blast! And congrats on a most excellent job ;D

Adam said...

This is a GREAT post. Races at the end are a BLAST. Nothing like some guy trying to pass you to help you get an even better PR!

Run For Life said...

What a great race report, the dash at the end looks like it was a lot of fun!

J said...

This was AWESOME! And the pictures were great!

Ted said...

Woooooooo!!! At first, I'd thought I was having double vision with the bib thing. The numbers are almost identical...845 and 945. Your race time almost matched to my last Saturday half marathon time. Looks like we are on a same pace here, dude! Flying Pig.. I have heard so much positive raves about it.