Run for the Ranch Half Marathon

I used to get pretty nervous before a half marathon; the distance always seemed fairly substantial. I guess after finishing an Ironman a mere 13.1 miles seems inconsequential. It is only fitting that my lack of respect for this distance resulted in one of my worst performances in recent memory.With the race starting at 2:30 in the afternoon, I had figured I needed to leave by 9am in order to make the trip to Conway Missouri to pick up my friend Brandon and then to Springfield for the run. As usual, I didn’t get on the road when I wanted and didn’t end up leaving Kirksville until 10. This meant arriving at the race site only 20 minutes before the start and after waiting in line to register I had only about 5 minutes to use the restroom and jog to the starting line.

Once at the starting line I talked to the eventual half marathon winner and asked him what kind of time he was shooting for. He told me around 1:16:00. He asked me my goal time and I said I was hoping for 1:20:00. Yeah, right…

I was still optimistic that I might run a PR. My previous best half marathon was the 2003 Drake Relays half marathon which I ran in 1:24:45. I figured this course was flat and I should be in better shape than I was back in 2003. What I didn’t consider was that the Drake Relays was in late April when I would have been prepping for the start of the triathlon season, not during Christmas at a time when I had been doing more drinking and eating than serious training.

The horn sounded and we were off! There were about 300 runners starting together, but there were 4 different races starting concurrently (5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon). The primary course was a 5k course; those of us running farther than a 5k were doing multiple laps, 4 laps for the half marathoners. In addition, the half marathon runners were running .37 miles out and around a cone then back to the starting line and around another cone before we started our 4 laps.

The run to the cone went relatively quickly and only one person rounded it before I did, the eventual winner who was going for a 1:16:00 time. Back to the start and I was still in second though I was beginning to realize it was going to be a tougher run than I had thought going in. About a half mile later I got passed by a runner. A little while later a second runner passed me. Eventually by the end of the first loop, I was passed by two more runners which put me in 6th place.

The course was a loop with several out and back stretches so there were plenty of chances to see people who might be closing in on you. There were several runners I kept on seeing that I knew were in the half marathon that I thought looked stronger than I did and I figured I would hear them coming up behind me at any time. However, after the first 5k loop, no other runners would end up passing me. This is surprising especially since after the first loop I began thinking how nice it would be to just be doing the 10k. Then following the second loop I began to seriously consider quitting until I decided that even though I wasn’t doing well, at worst I was getting in a good training run.

As it turns out I was the 5th person to finish so I wasn’t in 6th like I had thought. However, this race was “age graded” which means that while I was the 5th person across the line, in the “official” results I finished 19th. Regardless, I was not happy with my time of 1:30:32.

Probably the most frustrating aspect of this race was the inability to keep mile splits on my watch. What I ended up doing was recording my time for each time I crossed the finish/start line.

3.84 miles – 24:51 (6:28 pace)
3.1 miles – 21:28 (6:55 pace)
3.1 miles – 21:56 (7:04 pace)
3.1 miles – 22.29 (7:15 pace)

Now for a little rant: I’m not at all a fan of “age graded” races. As a highly competitive person, a huge motivator for me during a run is the competition. Pit me against an equally fit individual and unless they are as competitive as I am, I will beat them because I’m driven to win. However, in a WAVA age graded race, there is no way of knowing how much time you have to put into someone in order to “beat” them. I would have had to finish 11 minutes ahead of any 50 year olds to beat them and 9 minutes ahead of any 40 year olds to beat them. Even the eventual winner, had I been able to run shoulder to shoulder with him for the whole race, I would have lost to him as he had 55 seconds taken off his time of 1:15:48. So while the WAVA age graded results are cool to encourage runners who might be older and struggle to lower their times, to base race results on them is stupid. If you are too old to compete for the overall, that’s what age groups are for.

Here is a link to the results: http://omrr.tripod.com/results/2004/ranchhalf04.htm

posted at 12:20:00 on 12/29/04 by Tony Rigdon – Category: Race Reports

Tony wrote:

I’ll be competing in the New Orleans Half Marathon on February 27th with the goal of getting my 1:20:00 time…
02/10/05 17:28:36