Race Recap: Birch Bay Half Marathon

We decided to make a long weekend out of the Birch Bay race. The 2.5 hour drive in the pouring rain started midday Friday and included one stop at Jack in the Box (not for me) and one stop at the outlet mall (for me). It seemed that the farther north we drove the harder the rain poured and the louder the winds howled, but no matter. The race wasn’t until Sunday morning!

We arrived, carried everything up to our second floor condo, and proceeded to spend the next 36 hours indoors by the fire. Literally. The only time spent not by the fire is outlined below.

1. It’s always important to scout the course. We made a couple wrong turns, but this gives the gist.

2. Dinner at a diner that we spotted after the options we had scouted online were all closed down for good.

3. Gas station mart shopping trip for presto logs, grated cheese, hot chocolate mix, and hot tamales.

4. A Saturday morning shakeout spin. (turn your volume down, my trainer is loud)

5. And a 3 mile run off the bike.

Half Marathon 13.1 // Time: 1:35:40 // 7:18 min/mi

I really wanted to feel proud of this race. It is a PR by almost 20 seconds. But, I’m not having it. I’ve been feeling good, fit, and fast lately, and Sunday morning didn’t bring it.

I woke up, ate my normal race day breakfast, stretched lightly, answered some emails, and hit the road to jog the 1.5mi to the start. I felt warmed up, strong, and ready to go, and literally smiled on my run in thinking about the sheets of water that had been pouring from the sky just 3 hours earlier. I was grateful the winds had calmed (mostly) and the skies had cleared.

In retrospect I think I started my warm-up a little too early; by the time I was done warming up there were still 15 minutes until race start and the wind whipping off the bay was cold. Also, there was no water at the start (website said there would be!) so I would have to wait until mile 3 for a sip. It didn’t bother me at the time, but didn’t bode well for the next 95 minutes and 40 seconds.

I started strong, maybe too easy even, but kept finding myself back in the 7:20 pace range. It was as though my brain and body were not connecting. The good news: a 7:20 pace felt like I could lock in to it. The bad news: I didn’t have intentions to settle! For whatever reason my legs weren’t turning over as quickly as I was willing them to and I couldn’t find a rhythm. The course should have been negative split friendly with a 2 hills and a long climb prior to mile 7.2, and a huge net downhill minus one minor bump in the remaining 5.9 miles. I probably had a negative split due to the massive hill, but barely.

Rather than a play-by-play of the pretty views I didn’t breathe in and the excellent athletes I got to watch whiz by in the out and back, here’s the recap I sent my coach:

Things that didn’t go well:

  • I was freezing and got really tight early on. Like, so freezing I couldn’t move my hands well enough to open my gu and eat it.
  • I didn’t eat anything for the whole race. See above. Not that I usually have more than 1-2 gu’s, but I’m sure calories and sodium would have helped in the second half.
  • I probably went easier than I needed to pre-hills in the first half.

Things that did go well:

  • I tried to use other runners around me to help pull me forward during challenging sections.
  • This is a good and bad, but I found myself defaulting to 7:20 pace and holding it without thinking. Bad, because I wanted to run faster than that. Good because that’s a big improvement over my default of a few months ago of 7:45ish.
  • Though I didn’t have much left to give in the last 2 miles I stayed as loose and relaxed as possible and gave it what I had. I feel good about the fact that I finished with nothing left.

So, 35 days until my next showdown with 13.1. Legs, you better behave. Mercer Island, watch yourself.


1 Comment

Filed under Race Recap

One response to “Race Recap: Birch Bay Half Marathon

  1. well, i am very impressed! a 1:35 is an incredible time. i know it’s not what you wanted but, damn, that’s fast!!!

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