This past Sunday I ran the always competitive Vancouver Lake 1/2 Marathon in, well, Vancouver, WA. I love racing road 1/2 marathons. They're long enough to take the kick out of 10kers, but short enough to be a great short, fast run for us ultra folks without taking up the whole day. And they're especially fun to run the day after a 50k.
As I was putting my training schedule together for the first 1/2 of the year, I figured January would be my base training month, with the long, slow 50k's each weekend. When those were over, it was time to start training for Boston. So this 1/2 was my first step towards that. Even though I was running it on tired, slow legs, I knew it would give me a baseline level of fitness.
Last year I unexpectedly (in a good way) ran 1:19:41 for 12th place. On Saturday at the MadAss, Rod and Jenn were making fun of me, saying I would be lucky to break 1:40. Regardless, I secretly wanted to break 1:20 again and also finish top-10.
Race morning was cold, damp, and foggy, but no rain or wind. Pretty nice conditions, actually. I warmed up with Sascha and fast Wendy Terris. She likes to refer to me as her pacer, and when she actually does pace with me for the first 1/2 of races, she usually ends up beating me. But when she starts out faster, I usually get her. I told her my plan to go out at a conservative 19ish for the first 3 miles, then go for it. Wanting to run sub-1:20, too, and p.r., this sounded too slow to her, so she decided against my pacing services for the day.
The race started and people flew by me and my 6:20 and 6:27 opening miles. Mile three in 6:13 put me past some of the ambitious starters, and to the 3 mile marker right at 19:00 in about 30th place. I immediately kicked it down to 6:05 for the next mile, passing a few guys. Around 5, I passed a big group of 6 and was probably in 20th. I kept the pace steady between 6:05-6:10 for the next 5 miles. In there, I caught more people, including the 2nd girl around 9 1/2, and finally Wendy around 10. I could tell she was struggling a bit, so slowed for about 10 seconds to get her to stick with me. She wasn't up to it, so I picked it up to sub-6s.
I decided to run a really hard 12th mile (I don't remember the split), ease up for a minute or two, then kick it in the last bit. As this was working, Eugenio was still quite a bit ahead of me, but was quickly coming back. I pushed a bit harder with 1/2 mile to go, but couldn't quite get to him. I finishd in 1:20:27 for 13th; Eugenio was 13 seconds ahead and Wendy 14 seconds behind.
It was a good, honest effort on my part. I was happy with it (although I admit I wish I would have run 28 seconds faster), and even won a mug for 5th in my age group.
Also in attendance were friends and ultrarunners Ronda, Stacey, and Liz. With the 2 out-and-backs on the course, it was fun to see their smiling faces (in addition to the smiling faces of many others!). Ronda and Stacey are gearing up to rock the Orange Curtain 100k (and are also rd's of this cool mud fest), so this was some great flat, road speedwork for them.
With all the snow we have in Sisters now, it's going to be a bit challenging to get in faster paced runs and track workouts. I hate to say it, but "treadmill, here I come." Luckily, I'm going east for the first week and a half of Feb., so I'll be able to get in some non-snow running Hardrock-hopeful Bryon on the weekends in DC (and maybe even a race or two), and some faster pavement pounding and track stuff with Bien during the week in NC.