Monday, June 3, 2013

Race Report: Hospital Hill Half Marathon!

This blog post is part of a series of posts associated with the Hospital Hill Run Blog Team.  For more information, see my original post.  To see all blog posts, review those that are tagged as "Hospital Hill Blog Team".  The race is sold but feel free to check out their website!

My training for Hospital Hill Half Marathon was to fit within my ironman training program.  I focused solely on heart rate based training with very little speed work leading up to the race.  Since I was limited by time for my workouts, my longest run leading up to Hospital Hill was only 7.8 miles, and that was about 6 weeks ago.  I knew I had the cardio going for me because of all my cross training but not having a double digit run in over 2 months was a little concerning.

With race week upon us, I still hadn't decided my race goal.  On Friday I decided to go with 1:45 pace group.  It would be a nice long Z2 training run for me to fit in my training plan.  

Race Week
My reluctance to decide on a race plan until the last minute also meant I didn't hit my normal race week go of starting my carb loading a few days in advance.  Oops.  I still carb loaded pretty well with my traditional pre-race lunch of Mac & Cheese with Chicken at The Mixx downtown.  Joe VI, TKB, and I ate at a local Italian joint Friday night.  

The biggest issue this week was that I simply was losing some mental edge.  Going back to the Sunday before Memorial Day, I took off for an hour run but only went a third of a mile because I couldn't shake some knee pain.  I also had woken up with a cold that day that progressed into Monday.  I ended up in bed all day on Monday.

To add to my week of workout woes, I only worked out twice prior to the race.  One of that was the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Bike Race and a short 30 minute run on Thursday night to make sure my knee wasn't bugging me.  It didn't, so I was a go!

So the knee was good and I had my pace strategy of the 1:45 pace group!  Let's do this.

I had the opportunity to attend the Hospital Hill Run Banquet on Thursday.  So after I took care of picking up my packet, TKB and I went to Milano for the banquet.  I had the chance to finally meet Beth Salinger (Hospital Hill Race Director) and had a good time talking with Scott Kinner, the Treasurer of Hospital Hill Run.  He had completed a few Ironman races, so I talked about ironman training.  I was happy to find out he used the exact same plan that I am using for his first ironman as well.  

They had nice flatbread style pizza, as well as bruschetta and other nice desserts to eat.  We stayed for about an hour and a half and then took off for home.  I did that 4 mile run I mentioned above and then off to bed.  By now my stupid cold was mostly out of the way so I was finally able to get a decent nights sleep.

Race Day!
Friday night I had the best sleep since I woke up with a cold on Sunday with a cold.  In fact, I woke on my own and reach for my phone to check the time. As I grabbed the phone, the alarm went off to get up. Perfect!  I was well rested and ready to go.    TKB and I were on the road by 5:55am and did a stop at the grocery store for a little Starbucks.

We parked near Jack Stack BBQ.  It's actually a short walk from their parking lot through Union Station (via a bridge over the railroad tracks) and over to the start line.  By the time we made it through Union Station, I decided to get my warm-up run in.  While doing my final prep, Brian and Kyle from Twitter caught up with me and also my coworker Allison.  After a couple "Hi!", I took off on my run. 

I ran for about a mile and ended up by the port-a-potties for that pre-race ritual.  I did catchup with a friend Jennifer who was doing her FIRST half marathon.  Her brother Ryan was running the half with her.

After saying Good Luck, I left for my corral, corral "A".  I remember it being small from last year but not overly crowded.  Either way, once I got in I went as far back as possible.

That's when I realized my first problem.  The 1:45 pace group was in Corral "B".  Hmmm

Corral "A" only had the 1:30 and 1:35 pacers, which makes sense.  I think you had to indicate a 1:39 or faster pace to be in the "A" corral.  I think I had target 1:35 when I registered in October.  I did that for one reason.  While running the Chicago Marathon I crossed the half marathon mark in 1:35:24.  So given 8 months of additional training, I'm sure I could do 1:35 at Hospital Hill (Note: you match the total elevation gain of Chicago in the first 3 miles of Hospital Hill).  

So I've got a predicament.  I could just wait in corral "B" or pace myself.  I could run with "A" and then stay with the 1:45 group when they caught up to me but that would be a bad idea because they start 2 minutes and 30 seconds after me.  So I actually set the Virtual Pacer on my watch to 7:45 minute miles (which is actually about a 1:42 hour half marathon) and would follow that.  Plan was adjusted.  Read, Set, Go!


At promptly 7:00am, we were off.  As quickly and thought out as my race plan had been established, I  threw it out the window just as quickly.  At about a quarter of a mile I was hanging with the 1:35 pace group.  They were starting at a speed that was extremely comfortable and were keeping me in check.  At about half a mile I checked my watch and we were cruising a little under 8 minute pace.  I could handle that to keep me from going out too fast.

I decided to just see what happened when if I stuck with them. I figured if I could keep with them during the first three miles, I might be able to go 6 miles... and the 9 miles.

Mile 1 - 3: 7:50, 7:35, 7:18

Mile 2 to 3 contained the infamous Hospital Hill we just cruised by it.  Much of that 7:18 mile 3 was because of the downhills we took advantage of.

During mile 2 I took off my hat and tied it to my water belt.  I didn't need it with sunglasses and was concerned about getting too hot wearing it.  The new big concern?  I didn't put sunblock in my hair to keep from getting a sunburn on top of my head.  This could be interesting later.

I made it through the first major hill and was doing just great.  As we hit mile 4, one of the pacers called out that we would be 6:50 pace and that would be the fastest the entire day.  I could handle this at mile 4.  There was a nice hill up to the Nelson Atkins Art Museum but it's short and there is an awesome downhill to follow.  I actually got in front of the pace group at this point but let them catch up as we leveled out at the bottom of the hill

The next major suck of a hill starts right at mile marker 5.  It's the University of Missouri Kansas City campus hill. It inclines 140 feet in 2/3 of a mile.  You get a little rest before it another slight hill.

Mile 4 - 6: 6:43, 6:55, 7:24

I hit mile 6 and was still hanging with the pace group!  I realized at this point that I never really looked at my watch for pace as I was worried I'd freak out and slow down.  Just keep pushing.  

We started the turn back to the finish. The hills were just rolling at this point.  Nothing much but if the first half wore down your legs, these would hurt.  By now I started thinking about mile 9.  If I could get to mile 9, a PR was in my grasp.  I figured I could stay with the pace group now because the next 3 miles were basically the Trolley Run, which is mostly downhill!

Mile 7 - 9: 7:03, 7:17, 7:10

By mile 9 I started trailing the pace group.  Not by much but maybe 30 feet. My legs did start yelling at me but I was feeling good from a cardio standpoint.  I didn't try to push myself to catch up with them but just keep them in my sights because I was now coming up on mile 10.

Mile 10 is the worst hill of them all.  It's essentially 2+ miles of incline.  It sucks.  It hurts when you've been running and fighting hills for.. well, 10 miles.  It's 140 feet of include for 1.3 miles.  It wears you down.  It tells you that you want to walk.  Once you hit 1.3 miles, it shows you a little flat section before increasing another 50 feet until you hit the start of mile 12.

Pace group 1:35 was out of my sights during mile 11.  I was fine with that because unless I had started walking, I would PR for sure.  So I noted to myself: don't walk.  That's what I had done on each of my previous Hospital Hill Run half marathon.   

Mile 12 isn't exactly a breeze either.  There is a crappy hill here as well.  60 feet of elevation gain in .2 of a mile but then that's it.  It's all down hill from 12.4 miles to the finish line.  I'm not kidding... 170 feet of elevation decline!

Mile 10 - 13: 7:06, 8:04, 8:04, 7:15

I cruised into the finish line for the last .1 of the race in 6:35 pace. This is also where Ryan caught me last year and gave me a little "urge" to keep moving. Not this year.  No way, no how! I saw 1:37 on the clock and was thrilled!

On my way to the finish.

Someone is stealing my orange style.  I'm the one with the orange calf sleeves.

After I finished I walked around the finish chute quite a bit and found the 1:35 pacers.  I shook their hands and thanked them for pulling me through 3/4 of the race!


Chip Time: 1:37:08
Overall: 260 / 1976
Age Group: 37 / 320 (The race results is kind of crappy as it doesn't show your age group place, so this is counting by hand.  This doesn't make sense as age group results is what you really care about unless you are a top finisher.)

This is a PR by 3 minutes and 2 seconds!!!!  This is a Hospital Hill Half Marathon PR by 9 minutes and 11 seconds!!!!!!!  To get a PR at Hospital Hill is pretty impressive considering it's probably the hilliest half marathon I'll ever do.

I'm extremely happy considering my training and race planning.  It makes me realize that I do mentally handicap myself because I rely so much on my training to predict my race results.  It's definitely refocusing my plan for Disneyland Half Marathon.  I will also make sure I get friendly with the pacers because that makes a huge difference when trying to work through the pain.  Plus math is hard after running for an hour.

Mega-Medal!  Three years in the making.

Shane finishing strong!

Joe VI heading to the finish line!

Sure, they have BBQ at the race but it doesn't beat Oklahoma Joe's.  Post-race Tradition!!

Instead of a shirt and sandals (which you can see last year's sandal in this photo), they gave away sweet track jackets! 

Patriotic.  Not sure why I'm posing so weird.

Walking to our cars.

Figuring out our post-race meal plans.

Love this photo!
Feel free to stop by and ask questions in the comments or hop over to Twitter to chat me there!  You can find me as @ScottyTris.

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, Mr "this is just a training run". ;) Where have I heard that before?

    I was wondering how the medals fit together. Did you ever see any plaque or anything to buy that they sit on for display? You know, so I can display mine in the dark basement with all other medals, trophies... etc. :)