The race had a start time of 8:00 AM. Ft. Walton Beach/Eglin AFB is a bit over an hour from my house in Pensacola. I left at 6:00 this morning. That meant that I had to have breakfast more than 2 hours before the race. I know some people prefer that timing, but I have always done well with 1 to 1.5 hours before. Especially a long race. I had planned to take a snack to chew on after I got checked in, but forgot it at home.
I got my race packet which included a shirt and race number. Not too complicated.
It was about 62 degrees.
Since we were running a 5K and a half marathon (3.1 and 13.1 miles) the finish line was .1 miles behind the start. We moved up to the starting line as a group since everyone was milling around the finish line. I had heard it was a very informal start without any long speeches. They moved us up to the starting line just a couple of minutes before 8:00. At 8:00 a guy with a megaphone simply said, “Ready. Set. Go.,” and we were off. No gun. No yelling.
Mile 1 was 20 seconds too fast. No big surprise. The second mile I pulled back to perfect race pace. Goal was 9:10 per mile and I ran mile 2 in 9:09. Mile 3 I was still in the mode to slow down I guess. I ran that 20 seconds too slow. So the 20 seconds I banked in the first mile was negated in the 3rd. Mile 4 and 5 were 9:15 each. So I was 10 seconds too slow up through mile 5.
Starting with mile 6 I put seconds into my favor at each mile for the rest of the race. I ran 3 of those miles in 8:58 and the worst of the 5 was at 9:06. By this point I was 47 seconds ahead of my goal and knew that I was running really strong. There was no way I was going to miss my goal. By mile 10 I was catching up to someone who had run mile 3 with me and pulled away. It was finally time to reel him in and leave him behind.
Each mile was under the goal. Mile 13 time was exactly the same as mile 1 time (within .3 seconds). I ran the last 1.1 miles strong with the confidence that I had run a strategically excellent race. I had a plan and executed it perfectly.
First 6.5 miles was 59:31 and the second 6.5 was 58:29. I ran a 1 minute negative split.
Final unofficial time was 1:58:55. Goal was 2:00:00.
The race is run on a paved out and back road on Eglin Air Force Base. All the way out we had the wind in our face. We also were climbing the whole way. Though it did not seem like it, we climbed a total of 164 feet over the 6.5 miles going out. Not overly significant, but combined with the tailwind coming back and going down toward the water, that really helped with the negative split.
I was really hoping for an age group award since it was such a small race. I was very disappointed when so few people turned around at the 5K turn around point. The fact that so few turned around and that the vast majority of the people running looked to be in the military, my hopes of an age group award plummeted quickly. I think 3rd place in my group ended up with a 1:27 race. I did not pay attention well at the awards ceremony since I knew I had little hope.
I got my first massage today. It was just 10 minutes or so, but it may help with the soreness.
The point of doing this race today was purely to set a PR. I knew with my marathon training that I was in great shape for a fast race. However, I have not put in any fast miles since my marathon. I have only done maintenance runs. So I was a little nervous that I might have trouble maintaining the pace. After the 3rd mile I was feeling pretty confident and by the time I hit the turn around I knew I would beat 2 hours, it was just a matter of by how much.
This was my first official half marathon. I have run 3 on my own on courses that I have mapped out in the neighborhood. My best time was 2:16:23. I also had the 1/2 split during my full marathon. That time was 2:11:XX. That means I averaged about 1 minute per mile faster than any other half that I have run.
I will be living with a big grin on my face for a few days.