Monday, May 5, 2008

Lincoln Half

Recently, I postulated that being fit allows one to accept an open invitation to become an active participant of the great outdoors. I admit that I was mushy about nature.

But don't get me wrong. While I attempt to reduce my carbon footprint as much as possible, I haven't gone O/C on it. Yet. I respect nature, but I'm not about to retread my Nikes with old bicycle inner tubes and homemade adhesives concocted of honey, kerosene and egg whites.

And while it's nice to preserve and conserve, nature somehow manages to carry on, oblivious to the idiocy of what we inflict upon it. For example, time and time again soldiers journal that they hear birds singing among the most horrific battlefield scenes. I just don't get that worried about the future of life on this planet. It may not resemble what we have now, but it will endure.

So I don't obsess about it. In fact, I drive a car daily. Sometimes, it's for training or to enter a race. If I was gonzo - environmentalist, training and racing would be off my list.

But it's not. I enjoy being fit to enter races, too.

This past weekend I ran the Lincoln Half Marathon. The weather was perfect: 40 degrees, little wind and brilliant sunshine at the start. Such a difference in conditions from last year.

With the Kansas long course triathlon five weeks out, I approached this race as an opportunity for high end training. No taper. This included normal weekly workouts and a moderately hard 90 minute ride into a stiff north wind to Ft. Calhoun late Saturday afternoon. At the gun, my legs were not exactly fresh. But I remained patient and settled into a comfortably aggressive pace right above for the first half.

At the second half, I gradually picked up the tempo. The legs were no longer feeling heavy and cardio was strong. While others around me wilted at the 10th mile hill, my pace remained steady. I continued to apply more power throughout the race. The clock shows that my fastest miles were the final two at 5:58, 5:55. Overall, my final six miles (36:53) were a slightly faster than the initial six (37:09). In the end, I barely missed reaching a goal to run it in under 1:20 (1:20:37 chip), but that's OK. I'm very satisfied with how I ran the race.

It's also notable that my average heart rate throughout was 167 BPM. The peak of 182 that likely came as I approached the finish. 167 BPM is right above my lactic acid threshold, which I believe is a good sign for a half marathon. I may have been able to push it a little more, but that's fine for a B race.

What this shows me is that training has been effective. In many of my interval workouts and time trials, I've focused on starting at around 80-85% effort and gradually building power throughout the effort. I believe that this has ingrained into my muscles a race-day strategy that is becoming routine. Race experience also helped as I didn't get swept up into the rush at the start but patiently allowed the race to unfold as I envisioned it.

Aside from last year's full marathon, I've never run the 1/2 for a competitive split. Sunday's effort was a de facto PR that will still pose a challenge to eclipse in the future.

Finally, on a sidebar, Ol' Yeller made an appearance afterwards as I rode support for a colleague in the marathon. See! Look at the sippy cup I'm holding for my friend, Derek. What's funny was that while I was on the bike, a runner confused me for the special guest of the day, ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes. I'm not kidding. This guy, who could've been hallucinating from funk-induced glycogen debt, starts yelling at me, "Dean! Dean Karnazes!" Um, no. Must have been the dazzling effect Ol'Yeller has on folks that caused it.

In the end, a good day of memories, racing and extended training.


  1. you, sir, just blasted my half-marathon PR by two minutes. Not that my time was anything to chase after or anything. 1:20 is rapid.

  2. What's the big dang deal? I've done sub-1:20's every time I've run a 10k!

    Wait a minute...I just did the math...holy cats, that is fast. Looking at the splits from my last marathon in 2003, when the watch hit 1:20:37, I would have been just completed 8.3 miles. So Brady would have been about 5 miles ahead of me. Ouch.

    He may be faster but I still outweigh him.

  3. Bryan: 1:22 is fast and not much of a gap at that distance. It would be fun to do a duathlon with you. If we found the right course that balanced our strengths and weaknesses, it could become interesting.

    Murphini: As you know, comparing a marathon split to a 1/2 is not equal. You should try a half marathon some time. That distance is fun and has a lot of the strategy that the marathon has without the opportunity cost in training and recovery -- not to mention pain -- that a full extracts. Only then could we compare apples to apples.

  4. My half target time would be 1:50ish, so you'd only be 3 miles ahead. I'm built for comfort, not speed.

    BTW, great pic on the bike. What's that nice warm weather gear you are wearing? If I had your girly shoulders, you never would have got your mitts on that!

  5. brady -- I think I'd have to dedicate a month or two to training for that. I know I can go run a half right now, but I'm pretty sure my body would be angry for days.

  6. Bryan: My legs were not so happy with me thru Tuesday, but better now.

    Murphini: whatever