Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flower City Challenge Half Marathon

I really thought 5 months ago that back-to-back races sounded like a great idea. Piece of cake, right?!? Well....

Another nice day for racing, that's impressive for WNY this time of year. I was still feeling a bit off due to my mid-week cold-catching. The last half marathon I ran was exactly one year ago, the Grand Island Half Marathon. Last year at this time I was struggling with some overtraining injuries and had a less than stellar run.

Even though I had pushed pretty hard the day before, I was excited for this race, mainly because it was also my wife's first ever half marathon. She has been training hard and has suffered through her own injuries and setbacks, but never gave up. So together we toed the start line and we were off.

My thoughts as far as pace was to shoot for a 7:30/mile. I cautiously set off at the gun (or in this case the 'go') with 2100 other runners. My body was definitely squeaking and creaking through these first steps, but the general adreniline that accompanies the start of any race got me through that. I silently hitched my pace with a group of guys chatting about the previous days race. I ran along side, listening as they chatted about the duathlon course, upcoming races and training.

Mile 1: 7:24
Mile 2: 7:19
Mile 3: 7:28

AS we continued on, I felt my body warming up nicely. We headed down East Ave (the nicer section of downtown Rochester) and I pulled ahead of this group. There was a bit of headwind down this road and a mini-train of guys about my size running single file. I joined in and spent the next couple miles "drafting". I felt a bit silly but it did help.

Mile 4: 7:17
Mile 5: 7:18
Mile 6: 7:28

As we finished mile 6, the train began to break up as we headed up a pretty decent hill. Lots of huffing and puffing around me here, uphill AND into the wind isn't always the most enjoyable. At the top of the hill we were greeted by a pleasant drum circle and an even more enjoyable downhill. After a mile or so through Highland Park, we hit the toughest part of the course, in my opinion, Mt. Hope Cemetary. We were greeted at the entrance of the cemetary by a short, steep, cobblestone climb. The footing was very uneven going up the cobbles and many people chose to walk here. We spend the next 2+ miles weaving through the narrow cemetary roads. This graveyard is very nice, lots of history, but I just didn't appreciate it much on this day. However, my spirits (no pun intended) where lifted a bit when we ran right by where my grandparents were laid to rest.

Mile 7: 7:38
Mile 8: 7:34
Mile 9: 7:31
Mile 10: 7:31

Coming out of the cemetary, I realized that my pace had suffered a bit and I tried to pick it up, but found that I didn't have much left in the tank. The last part of this run is also pretty much the same ending as the Rochester Marathon, run in September, and also where I really began to suffer last year. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I was really suffering here and my splits showed it. I was able to pick it up for the last mile (with a bit of help from the downhill and excitement from the crowd).

Mile 11: 7:37
Mile 12: 7:53
Mile 13: 7:11
Last .1ish: 6:31/pace

My GPS actually measured 13.18 miles and a time of 1:38:28/7:28 pace easily a new PR for me. All things considered I can't be too dissapointed as I hit my target and I know I can go faster under different circumstances.

The highlight for me was watching my wife cross the finish line, in one, piece and with a smile. I know she worked her butt off and hopefully she will continue, though I know right now the last thing she wants to do is run.


  1. Great race report and good for your wife too!

  2. Thanks. My wife and I have turned our lives around for the better, trading runs and races for couches and pizza (well, maybe we still have a little pizza, but we work that off in no time!)