Race Report: Fishhook Half Marathon

Right around a year ago, I was coming off a summer where I did almost no running (and a lot of staying up late at night working on my movie while drinking a ton of Mountain Dew). Needless to say, the first few weeks of coaching cross country were pretty brutal. I decided that I was going to dedicate myself to trying to be more consistent with my running. From October of 2011 until March of 2012, I was really consistent. I was in really good shape. Unfortunately, there just weren’t many races (and the races they did have were outside in the ice and snow), so I don’t have any race results to sort of “prove” what kind of shape I was in. The next 3-1/2 months of my running were wildly inconsistent, but for the last 9 weeks, I’ve been making steady progress to get back into the shape I want to be in. I’ve run a few longer races (10 miles to half marathon) that have been progressively getting better and better over the last few months. Three weeks ago, I ran a half marathon in my hometown. My goal was to sneak under 1:40, but I wound up running a disappointing 1:45. I don’t know exactly what it was, but I just didn’t have anything that morning. I felt like my legs were running in quicksand. I put together a quick six week training program making small, manageable goals. The Fishhook Half Marathon this past Saturday was the first step in my goal of eventually trying to take down my half-marathon (currently 1:31:07).

Mile 1 & 2: 14:01 – I missed the first mile split. Not the first time that’s ever happened. Wanted to take the run out very conservatively. Felt like I was taking out as easy as I could, but the mile splits were maybe 10-15 seconds quicker than I would’ve liked. Not terribly, though.

Mile 3 – 6:59 – At least I’m consistent. Beautiful run along side the lake so far, though.

Mile 4 – 7:16 – Rolling hills and I’m feeling really good so far. First water stop and they’ve got a sports drink called Skratch Labs. It’s like Gatorade minus the gut rot. Guess who’s trying to find Skratch Labs for some future long runs?

Mile 5 – 7:18 – Heading away from the lake. I actually had to stop and tie my shoe for about 15 seconds this mile, so I was really happy with this split.

Mile 6 – 7:40 – Care to guess during which mile the hills really started?

Mile 7 – 7:37 – Rolling hills once again. Feeling like I’m straining a little bit, but not too bad. Was going to pass a runner and as I pulled even, he put in a nice little surge because he didn’t want me to pass. It was kind of nice because I got to drag off of him for a little bit.

Mile 8 – 7:27 – Another mile of rolling hills. Felt really good this mile.

Mile 9 – 7:25 – Heading into the race, I was hoping to run between 1:36-1:38. I thought it was possible, but knew that I’d bombed a race three weeks ago. At this point in the race, I’m starting to do some math. I figure (since I’m feeling good), if I could knock out 7:20s to finish, I could sneak out a 1:35:xx finish time. I even figured if I ran 7:30s for the next three miles, I would just have to close in 6:50 (which seemed do-able) and I could sneak under 1:36.

Mile 10 – 7:26 – Feeling really good on this mile. Made a turn in and now running by the lake again. I’ve passed the runner who was throwing in surges. I can occasionally see the guy up ahead of me (he’s probably got 2 minutes on me), but for the most part, I’m all by myself.

Mile 11 – 7:49 – Holy hills. A couple big ones got the best of me on this mile. Breaking 1:36 just went out the door. Now, the goal is to get to the bike path (last mile of the race) which is completely flat and finish as strong as possible.

Mile 12 – 7:54 – Hills are getting best of me. Legs are still feeling somewhat fresh, but I just can’t power up these hills at this point in the race. I know I can close hard. I used to make a goal of closing every race in sub-7 which is my goal here. I know in my head I’ve got to be below about 7:20-7:30-ish to run under 1:37.

Mile 13 – 7:14 – Finally some flat land. The finish is a one mile straight shot on a bike path. I’m a few seconds above my 7-minute goal, but I felt like I was turning the legs over real well.

Last .1 – 40 seconds – Final time – 1:36:53 – Kept it under 1:37 which I’m really happy about. Overall, it’s my 6th fastest half marathon and my fastest half marathon since 2008. It feels really good to be back in the 1:30s.

I also feel good that half marathon 4 years ago (1:33:08) was followed up by my best race I’ve ever run (1:07:04 for 10 miles) less than a month later. I’m currently 3:45 behind where I was on that day, but I might be close to that level in three weeks. I feel like, with a good training cycle, I’m two months out from possibly running at that same level. And, two months from today, there is a half marathon in Fargo.

Stay tuned…

Overall thoughts: If you are ever near Park Rapids, MN in the middle of August, I definitely recommend this race. It’s one of my five favorite races. At the very least, check out the course map and punch it into your GPS. Well worth the trek. Good organization, beautiful sites, and a great overall experience.

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