By Mark Haas
So I guess the training is working, I just crushed my half marathon personal record (PR) by 10 minutes.
After training the last several months, I was getting antsy waiting for October so I signed up for the Labor Day Highlands Ranch Half Marathon to gauge my progress.
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I’ve written that my goal for the Rock-N-Roll Denver Half is to run under 1:40 (1 hour, 40 minutes), so on a mostly downhill course in Highlands Ranch I figured I’d give that time a go a few weeks early.
And while I was successful (1:36:38), I made some race mistakes I can learn from for October.
To run my desired time, I needed to run at a pace of about 7:30/mile. There is always runner congestion at the start of the race, but I escaped it pretty quickly and thought I was at a good comfortable pace to start. The Runner’s Edge of the Rockies group, we train with, really stresses controlling your pace early and finishing strong.
Well at the 1 mile marker, my watch said 8:30, and I panicked, and kicked it up a couple notches, and at the 2 mile marker my watch said 14:30. I was pretty sure I didn’t just run a 6-minute mile, and my guess is the first mile marker was a little off. But I held my faster pace, and probably ran 7-minute miles for the first half of the race, way faster than my plan.
By the half way point I was starting to slow a little, and I got passed by a handful of other racers during the final 6 miles (who clearly had a better race strategy than me).
The final 2 miles had 2 pretty tough uphills, and I just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish strong.
I still feel good about my time and the fact I lowered my PR from 1:47 to 1:37, but I always feel better after a race if I finish fast as opposed to fading down the stretch.
I think my new goal for the R&R is 1:35, meaning I will need to run about 7:15/mile. So if I take a little bit off my early pace from this race, and save a little more for the end… I think that’s a reasonable goal!
(Side note, and a quick brag, the Highlands Ranch Half was a relatively small race and my time was good enough for top 20 overall and 5th in my age group… So that’s fun! Certainly can’t do that at a bigger race).