Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Franklin Half Marathon: One Tough But Rewarding Race

Since defining my goals for this year, and writing, along with my coach, the course of action to follow, work begun in earnest. Being the very transparent person (in matters of personal development) that I am, and having always shared my every goal with my friends, I have decided that this time around I would be a bit more reserved.

I continue to share my journey with anyone willing and wishing to follow via facebook; sometimes on my personal page, sometimes on my Journey Beyond Ironman page, and sometimes on twitter. What I have chosen not to do is to make constant reference to my ultimate goal. This is something that at this moment is very personal. I have kept it very much between my family, my coach, my nutritionist, two very good friends and myself. And this I have done, because for the first time ever, in my athletic journey, this goal is extremely specific.

As with my goal, my training has been very much #WithPurpose. Everything done is measured and analyzed in order to be improved upon.

And the plan is working.

Earlier this year I registered for a couple of half marathons and a 10k with the sole purpose of measuring progress. What I have seen is beyond any and all expectations. Perhaps the true lesson to be learning here is that I had been underestimating myself all these years. But I also believe that things are meant to happen at the right time in the right place. Perhaps I was not physically or mentally ready to do what I'm asking of myself at this moment in time. Perhaps I was not ready to commit to such a goal. It appears that now I am.

Last Saturday's Franklin Half Marathon was one of those surreal experiences we sometimes have. This race is very "hilly" to say the least. The weather this time of year is always very hot and humid. Saturday was no different. It was very pleasant at gun time, but that quickly changed. The hills lived up to all the hype.

A few weeks back Coach told me that I would have the training needed to have a good race. Having crushed my half marathon earlier in the year, we knew that it would be a tough act to follow; this race would not be about a PR, this race would be about doing the very best possible; I would have to race smart and I would have to avoid injury.

I had my plan. I race by heart rate and coach said to keep it in Zone 4, in this course I thought, this would not be a problem. My nutrition strategy was also set. I knew what I had to do.

I warmed up with a light jog before the race began. I have been doing this, this year and it has worked like a charm; when the race starts my heart is ready to go.

The first mile or so, I used to get set and into my racing Zone. This part of the course was easy to navigate, except on a short out-n-back  there was slight confusion as to which side of the road to take. Runners coming back where crossing over to the side where the runners going out were. No big deal.

I will not go into a full description of the "hills" for it would suffice to say that there were plenty and they never stopped. After mile five, the big one was upon us. They call this one "Heart Attack Hill". My heart rate spiked to Z5. I had to slow down a bit.

My concern most of the race was with the horizontal grade of the road. It was rather large. I was worried about an injury to the IT band, I had to run with caution.

The whole race I felt good. I was running at a good pace, I was running the hills, not attacking them. With my Garmin, I keep track of my HR Zone and total distance. The distance mostly because this is how I work my nutrition plan.

Upon reaching mile 12, I decided to see what my total time was. This to see how close I was to a sub-2 time. With some very quick calculation, I knew that if I cranked it up, around an 8:00 mile, I could, in fact, finish in less than 2:00 hours. That last mile was clocked at 7:51. Fastest "last" mile of any race I have ever done.

Garmin time: 1:59:16.  9:06/mile.

I was thrilled. It was not in my radar to run a sub 2 hour on this course, on this day, under these conditions.

When results started coming in, I approached a pool of laptop computers made available for everyone to check their individual results.

Bib number 257. Official Time 1:59:11.

Age Group: First

Senior Grand Masters: First

Wait... What?! Who? Me?

When I was presented the award, I found that this was the "RRCA State of Tennessee State Championship", hence this makes me a "State Champion".

Wait... What?! Who? Me?

This race is, was and will be, one of the toughest, if not the toughest half marathon I have ever done, anywhere, any time. Period.

God Willing, I'll be back to defend next year. Come join me!

To all those of you that continue to support me, I extend a great big Thank You! Your encouragement throughout this journey is priceless. Stay with me! I'm not sure where this is going and how it will play out, but together I'm sure we'll get there.