April 27, 2008

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon 2008

As I have announced earlier my first A race was the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon. This year the plan was to run sub-1:40 race (9 minutes and 50 seconds improvement over 2007). The day started quite well - early morning alarm at 6 am, quick breakfast and final preparations for the race. Boring things like water for fuel belt, gel packs, iPod, headphones, etc. The traffic around the race parking was getting heavy when I got there, but I was just on time to meet with the pace group in the gym. I met quite a few very nice people and we had good chat about the race plans, strategy and such. Then it was time to get lined up in our corral. I followed the 1:40 pace group leader with the plan to stick with the group if I did not feel well and break away at some point around 7 miles if I felt good. I was much more in the front of the pack than last year which made it easier especially on mile 1 that can get quite busy as everyone feels like breaking world speed records while they still have 12 more miles to go. Oh well.

The siren went off at 8:10, exactly as planned, and off we went down hill on mile 1. It is pretty nice run down hill in Allentown streets and then down to the park near a little man made lake. Everyone was flying, but I stuck with my planned pace. I was passing 1 mile clock at around 7:20 which was good. I did not want to go any faster than that. Next mile was up and down a little until we reached the ML King Blvd. Then the race is pretty much flat until about a mile 6. I tried to keep even splits as much as I could and I kept hydrating and eating gel packs every 20-25 minutes. Last year was definitely a lesson about nutrition during the race and I did not want to get dehydrated or bonk. The strategy worked very well and since I was carrying my own water I did not need to slow down through the aid stations. Mile 7 is probably the biggest hill on the course as you need to climb up to the Lehigh Valley Parkway and then run the parkway track. I slowed down a bit on the uphill, but then let it go down the hill. It is pretty good strategy and I have few people pass me on the way up, but I re-pass them on the other side (along with their friends). The run through the park was very nice and I did not even mind the occasional uphill. At mile 10 split I was right on the money for the secret target of 1:38. I started laboring a bit on mile 11. But on mile 12 I got new legs and was able to even pick the pace up a bit. I passed the mile 12 split few seconds behind, but then I picked up the pace even more and kept pushing it hard until the little up-hill to the stadium. This race is great it has stadium finish - what most people do not know is that it is 3/4 of a lap before the finish. So if you fly up that last hill you will hurt on that last lap (yeah that is self learned from last year). So I took it easy on the uphill - exactly 7 people passed me. When I got onto the track in the stadium I regained my composure after the last hill and then sped-up. According to Garmin I did the last 3/4 lap in under 6:00 pace which is more than good. According to preliminary results posted during the race I finished in 1:37:55 and I'm very happy about it.

During this race I used the new Garmin 405 which proved to be more reliable than the Polar RS800 (that unfortunately did not pick-up the S3 sensor signal during the whole race and I had to go by the new watch - another reason to have backup for everything). If you are interested in the details of the race look at the Garmin Connect site for the details. I'll be putting together a short review of the Garmin 405 soon. I just want to play with it little more to be able to provide more details. Until then just one note - it is very good monitor and proved to be my new best running buddy today.


ShredLyfe said...

Good for you! I ran the race as well and I was really pleased with the course since it was my first time doing the Lehigh Valley Half, and I will make sure to do it every year as long as I can. The stadium finish is awesome, its so inspiring. I can't wait till they put the results on the website!!!!! I checked the papers but its always rushed cause so many people are there!

KDF28 said...

This was my first half marathon, and I have to tell you it was one of the most fun experiences I've had in a long time. I was a little taken a back, though, at the lap around the track...I was all teary eyed and excited going up the hill to the stadium, ready to give myself a huge pat on the back, when all of a sudden I realized the race wasn't over...my emotional feeling passed real quick at that point. I'll definitely do it again next year though. Good job!

kxux said...

Congratulations both for finishing the half. I like this race a lot - the crowd is great. It seems like this year was better than last year. I had a great time out there and my thought when my watch indicated end of mile 12 - ohhh it is over already? It went by so fast this year that I almost wanted to run few more miles (not really :-).