Last weekend I ran my third half-marathon — the Chilly Half-Marathon in Newton, MA.
This is the second time I’ve run this half-marathon. The 2011 edition was the first half-marathon I had ever tried.
In terms of the race, it is essentially unchanged from last year. It was again run in the early morning, starting from Newton South High. The course did not change. The course itself is pretty hilly, especially in the mid-section where there are some steep hills and we get to descend Heartbreak Hill from the Boston Marathon course.
This year, the weather was a bit warmer. Though the race was in the shade for much of the time, by the home stretch, the sun was shining and I felt the warmth of the sun for the last couple hundred meters.
Rather than (useless) medals, the finishers got running gloves. I liked it.
The race itself is recommended.
I was pleasantly surprised by my personal performance at this race.
I had battled shin splints most of the summer and took 6 weeks off from running from July through mid-August. I got healthy enough to squeeze in enough training to ramp up to two 12 mile training runs in late October. But because of the lay-off, the caution I exhibited in not training too hard coming off the injury, and the hilly nature of the course, I didn’t expect to improve upon my time from last May at the half-marathon in Gloucester.
I ended up running the race in 1:41, or a 7:45/mile pace. This is 13 seconds per mile faster than my previous half-marathon. I dropped my time by 4 minutes or so.
I attribute my much better performance here not to better training, but to better racing. My general MO in road races has historically been to take it easy in the early stages and then gradually build up my pace. In each of my half-marathons prior to this one, I had a lot of kick left in my for the last two miles and came in faster than the others on the course with me, passing lots of folks.
This time, I had a better feel for my capabilities and ran the first half of the race at an 8 minute/mile pace. I forgot to bring my GPS watch, but a fellow runner gave me the data data point of 39:30 at the 5 mile mark. I basically ran the entire race with people at my ability.
In this race, I didn’t pass many folks in the second-half of the race, and was passed by a few. I was still able to pass folks on the hills, but many fewer and some would pass me back on the down hills.
Once I hit mile 12 or so, I was passed by a woman in a pink running top. I figured it was time to turn on my usual end of race kick and pass her back. But when I tried to turn it up and leave nothing on the course, I didn’t find any more speed. I couldn’t catch her for the last mile or so. I tailed her and finally passed her in the home stretch when I sprinted.
Probably more half-marathons. I figure I’ll need to do some more speed work to continue my trend of half-marathon improvement. I also think I need to figure out how to run the downhills with less effort and more speed.
I’ll look for more to do either this winter or the spring. Open to recommendations for local races. Any ideas?