May 4, 2009

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and other fun

Just like last two years I have been preparing to race on Sunday with group of like minded people in the half marathon in Lehigh Valley. Only this year we were taking Ian on Saturday to do the kids run. We went out little earlier to pick-up the race packet before the kids race and walk through the expo. I have not found anything extremely interesting other than a fuel belt that seems to be more comfortable and better suited for racing than my 4 bottle belt. This one is Fuel Belt Helium with two bottles holders, small pocket for keys, salt tablets and a like and holder for gel flask. I took it with me to the race which was good thing. But let's talk about the kids race first.

We signed-up Ian on-line well ahead of the race so we did not need to fill out a form on site. The beauty of the kids race is that practically any kid that shows up can run for free. All kids get a large number 1 bib and t-shirt along with instructions. Each bib has a kid claim number (just like on race bibs you have the bag claim number) that you need to tear off to get your kid back at the end of the race - I found that little funny.

Ready for the start

About fifteen minutes before the race they lined us up into age groups and walked us slowly to the cordoned street for the run. Ian ran with the 3-4 years old crowd that is the only group that lets parents in the run with the kids (but only in the back).
Walking the kids

They walked us the 200 meters to the start of the run, lined up the kids and off we went.
3-4 years run

It was fun to see all the kids running.
Ian and Honza drag walking

Ian initially wanted to run, but I guess all the noise around us was little too much for him so he decided to walk it.
Finish in sight

So we walked the 200 meters and passed the finish. Just as in the big race they handed kids bottles of water and finisher medals. He was little overwhelmed by all the noise, but I'm glad we went out and did the run. I plan to take him out to the LVRR weekend kids runs in the parkway. I'm sure there will be less music and noise and it may be even smaller event which we both prefer :-). Don;t get me wrong it was a nice event, but at times the noise level was much even for me. We had a lot of fun doing it. My feet actually hurt pretty badly after spending good three hours in the streets. But that is why we do it - to have fun. After all the Sunday run was a fitness test and while I was hoping for PR I would not be too upset if I did not get it. So here is the finished with the medal and us proud parents.
And we are all done

I guess now a little bit about the Sunday race. It will be real short and maybe even little funny if you like the race reports that "Steve in speedo?! Gross!" publishes on his side (if you do not read his blog you should it is fun). This race report is very close to his well established standard. So here we go...

We got to the race site just in time to do proper warm-up. I ran about 2 miles on the race course and warmed up real well. Finished the warm-up as the 5k racers were lining up. I wished them well and we sent them off with clapping. Another 10 minutes later we were to run. I lined up close to the 1:30 pace group as I was unable to see the 1:40 group. And I noticed that few meters to my right was Amby Burfoot which made me really proud of running in this race. Before I enjoyed the moment we were off and running the first mile downhill. I noticed that my foot pod calibration was off as the watch was showing me running around 7:15 - 7:20 pace while the clock showed 7:08. I adjusted my pace not to over blow it, but I still kept the 1:30 group in my sights.

It was good weather and I decided to take in first sip from gel flask at mile 3. I did so and washed it down with water. At mile 4 I walked the aid station to get in enough water - I usually choke when I try to drink and run. Everything looked so well until little after mile 6 when huge urge to go to the bathroom came. Well here we go my stomach was on water and I still had more than half of the race ahead of me. I assessed the situation - I really wanted good time and there are not many toilets on the course. Plus mile six is after the turnaround and crowds already formed. Decision was made - I'll stick with it and see if I end up as this guy (warning if you have light stomach do not click). I'll spare you the grueling details of my stomach misbehaving between this time and mile 10. It is sufficient to say that it was not the best experience I had in a race - thought between the toilet seat, pace and fueling - tough balance to keep. At mile 10 marker I said to myself "If you can hold it this long you will hold it to the finish line!". Then all of a sudden there was mile 11 and I knew it is only a short distance to the last 300 meters around the track. I also forgot all about the stomach issues and focused on pushing the pace. It was also easier back on the road with all the major climbs behind me. I joined two other guys who were pushing around 7 minute mile. I slowed a little on the uphills and let them pass me only to catch-up with them on the flats or downhills. In no time I was climbing the last short steep hill to the stadium for the finishing sprint around the track. I was doing sub 6:00 minute pace at that time, but I could not close the gap to two guys ahead of me. But it did not matter as I was locked on the clock. It was very close to 1:35 and I so wanted to get under that time.

Bringing it home

Dasa took many photos of me sprinting. I crossed the line just 4 seconds under and posted - 1:34:56 chip time.
Bringing it home

All my stomach issues were gone at that point - well until I got massage, changed to clean clothes and had two bananas and water. Then it was time to get home quick. My afternoon was not as much fun - all I remember is our bathroom and its frequent visits. When I reviewed what I ate that could have caused this I discovered that the gels I used were expired. So one lesson learned - not only nothing new on a race day, also nothing expired. Unless you want to experience as much fun as I did. Now I'm left to wonder if the stomach issues were blessing that kept me from blowing-up on mile 11 or 12 or if I could have run little faster. Only next year will tell. Finally here is another photo of Ian as he was waiting together with Dasa and Ivana for me to finish in the rain. He is going to do lots of racing this summer - mostly runs, but also a triathlon on May 24th in the Swim-in-Zone pool where he is taking swim lessons. I'm so proud of him.
Iva and Ian


MadeUpName said...

Well done Jan. Super impressed with the time. 1:35 is also my HM goal for this year.

Leah said...

Fantastic race! I guess that's what they mean by "gutting it out." :) And congrats to Ian!

kxux said...

MUN I was very pleased to improve my PR by 2:45 (yeah last year was higher improvement, but it gets harder the faster I get ;-). Good luck getting your own PR. By the way the secret to mine seems to be bunch of base runs, tempo runs. I did not do any intervals since September last year. My coach also has me do some serious faster than 5k pickups at the end of 90-120 minutes runs. And we also did good portion of base runs for 30-60 minutes followed by 30-60 minutes tempo pace run with pickups at the end. I was actually surprised that the race pace did not feel as taxing as I remember from years before.

Leah: yeah quite literally :-). Is your daughter going to do the tri at the SiZ?

Stuart said...

Great job and congrats on the new PR! Sorry to hear about the GI issues...very familiar to me of late still you pulled the race out of the craper as they say!