April 26, 2020 - I Was talked into this race because of the bling, finisher medal was on oversized super bowl ring. But turned into so much more when the race was canceled due to covid-19 and turned into a virtual race instead.
This race was an experiment in training methods. I had always been under the assumption that there needed to be a lot of miles ran to have a successful half marathon. On this go round, I followed an off season Tri plan that was light on mileage but heavy on intensity. I think the most I ran ina single week was around 27-28 miles, but the intensity was much higher. Included a lot of track work with everything from 200's up to 1 mile repeats. To be honest, I prefer this type of plan instead of just slogging through a bunch of miles. There were days that were a track day but still put in 6 miles without even realizing. The only portion of the plan I was unable to follow was the Bike-run day on Saturday. Life just didn't allow for this very often and reduced some the volume in the plan which probably showed up around mile 11.
Once the race was canceled some of the folks who were supposed to run it with me were upset. Thought that since we couldn't go to a race site and run that the race couldn't happen. That had not been my mindset, whether I was running in Akron or some back road, I was running a half marathon. There had been too much training put into this to give up with only a month to go. We continued with the training plan,
Once race week came I went into normal recover mode, well except for a Bike TT on Wednesday but figured I had until Sunday for the run, so shouldn't be an issue. Then checked the weather on Thursday and decided to move the run to Saturday to avoid the rain. Wasn't sure what this meant for recovery, but this was all an experiment anyways.
Race day, up early and actually enjoyed being able to drink coffee eat breakfast without worry of making it to a race start line. Pre-race nutrition was my normal coffee and oatmeal plus a bottle of water. A quick warm-up while waiting on the other 4 runners to show up and ready to go. For race nutrition I brought a hand held bottle with my normal Infinit custom blend, but also dropped another hand held around mile 7 that was filled with a new custom blend. This is another test as for the first time I put caffeine into the mix and changed up the flavor from the normal blend. The hope is that this would give a change of taste and a kick in the butt late in the race. Hit the start button and off we went, well sort of we. Everyone running was going at a much different pace, I was quickly out front and running by myself, nothing to listen to but my self talk.. positive and negative. 1st few miles were uneventful, effort was manageable but pace was faster than what I wanted. Splits were 7:36-7:40-7:53-8:00. My goal pace was to be 8:00 so not getting there until mile 4 was a bit concerning but what the heck let it ride.
The hardest portion of the course came between mile 4-7. There was a decent hill to run up and then continued a steady climb to get back into town, the steady climb wasn't hateful but enough to know that it was there. I concentrated in keeping effort steady and not worry about the pace, so when mile 6 ticked off at 7:52 and Mile 7 was 7:49 I was a bit shocked. Just keep running, miles 8-10 were uneventful even though coming into the park at mile 10 I could start to feel the overall effort and knew my pace was faltering. Still managed to hold an 8:08 through mile 10 but then fell apart. I had been drinking the Infinit custom blend with caffeine but I was just at my limit. Through the last 2 miles had to walk up a few of the small hills, which in hindsight wish I would of just pushed through. Each time it was more difficult to get back to a decent pace. Then came the chaos of the last 1.5 miles, checked the watch and said I was doing a 12:30 pace. Couldn't be right, ran harder now 13:00 pace.. my watch went stupid! The last mile is down the main park road, that is specifically measured to be 1 mile, watch recorded it as 0.65. Somehow lost gps and distance was lost, I had to run almost 14 miles before my watch read it as 13.1 which is completely frustrating because now my actual 13.1 time is lost. The watch stopped at 1:53, but my Best guess is a 1:46 when I crossed the assumed finish line from being mapped out on strava, Garmin connect and On the go mapping. Those 3 apps can't all be wrong.. I'm claiming the 1:46 ??
Overall this was a great race, my average heart rate was 154 and max was 162, with a steady effor throughout. Nutrition/hydration was pretty much spot on, I finished most of the first hand held by mile 7 and put a dent into the caffeine blend over the last 6 miles. Probably could of taken in more during the last half but the effort I was putting in had me forgetting about the bottle. In the end not being at an actual race didn't affect the results much, I don't think I could of ran a faster first 10 miles. A race atmosphere may have improved the effort over the last 3 miles a bit.