Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sioux Falls Half Race Report

Sprinting to the finish!

While training for the marathon, every fourth week coach gives me an easier mileage week with a race at the end of it. It's a great test to see where I am at in training. Last weeks race was the Sioux Falls Half Marathon. With my heart rate training zones adjusted and the recent progress that I have been making I really felt like I had a solid chance of running my fastest race ever at this distance. Discussing my race goal with Coach the day before, I had told him that I wanted to finish under 1:38 which was my previous PR (personal record) at this distance. Coach agreed and thought I could pull it off, then he used one of his motivational tricks and tried planting a seed in my mind. He told me that one of the people he coaches (who shall remain nameless) had just finished a half the week before in 1:36, I thought that would be pushing my luck and pretty much blew off that competitive jab he gave me. So here is how it all unfolded.

The Race
With my goal time set, coach had me break down the race by 5K times. He told me that it was much easier to break the race up into 5K goals than to think about how many more miles there were. I took his advice and the morning of the race I wrote on my hand where I needed to be for every 3 miles. My goal was to average 7:25 per mile or better so my 3 mile goals were 3(22:15), 6(44:30), 9(1:06:45), 12(1:29:00).  When my first 3 mile split came in at 21:24, I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace too much and was happy that I had banked a little time in case I started slowing down a little. As I write this, I see that I ran the second 3 at exactly the same pace 21:24. This put me almost 2 minutes ahead of my goal pace at 6 miles, I has banked a little more time, I was still feeling good, things were going great! I did my best to focus on keeping my arms and shoulders relaxed and trying to keep a good running form. At mile 9 my time was 1:05:03, I had run the last 3 miles at 22:15 (goal pace) and had not lost any of the time I had banked. This meant that I had to just hang on for another 4.1 miles and I even had a little wiggle room. I was still feeling good but I also knew that could change at any moment. Upon reaching the 12 mile mark I was still running some strong miles. I reached 12 at 1:27:16 which meant that I was still running fairly consistent splits and had run the last three in 22:13, pretty much goal pace. At this point I knew that I was going to decimate my goal of coming in under 1:38! My plan was to try and kick hard the last 1.1 miles but I didn't know how much kick I had remaining and I was not sure exactly where the finish line was. Mentally, I really like to know where the finish is so that I can gauge just how hard to kick to the end. I completed mile 13 in 7:25, right at goal pace, and then kicked it down for the final sprint to the finish. My final time was 1:36:18, I smoked my previous best by over 2 minutes! This was one of the better races ever for me. I felt good the entire run and I really believe that breaking the race down into 3 mile segments helped too.
I finished 67th overall out of 1137, 10th in my age group, and the 51st male.

Tech notes: 
I chose not to wear the compression leggings on for this race. I had only worn them once during a training run and wasn't ready to try them on race day yet.

I did not use any gels or other fuel options for this race. It was a cool morning, the weather was perfect and I was pretty sure that I could run my goal time without needing to take anything considering the conditions and actual running time. I did take a little water and Powerade throughout the run but not much. I had made sure to drink lots of fluids the day before and the morning of the race so that I was well hydrated. Other than being slightly cramped in the calves, I felt great after the race. I was planning on taking some Endurolytes before the race but I didn't get them set out the night before and forgot to take them.

Once again for you runners, I highly recommend breaking your next race up into 3 mile or 5K splits. It is so much more mentally manageable for long runs. This was great advice from the Coach.

Daily Mile
Daily Mile is a social media network for athletes. The greater portion of athletes are runners but there are a good variety of other endurance athletes on this site as well. It is an extremely supportive online community where I post my workouts. We comment on each other's workouts, share triumphs and tribulations, and can ask or answer a variety of training related questions. Here are some great Daily Mile members that I have had the pleasure of meeting from the Sioux Falls area. It is such a great thing it is to spend time with like minded people that understand the allure of running as you I do. Non-runners just don't understand why we would torture ourselves with chaffing, cramps, muscle soreness, and running through the various crazy weather conditions.
Awesome group of Daily Mile friends!

Me with Angela and Matt. This was their first half and they both ran a fantastic race!

Trying to finish strong!


  1. Congrats again on your stellar PR. You ran such a smart and hard race. Very impressive. Glad everything fell in to place b/c you've been working your booty off and you deserved it! :D

  2. Great race report, Jeff! Congratulations on your new PR!

  3. Hi Jeff, thanks for stopping by my Blog. Great job on the race. Coach Jeff rocks, eh? Yeah, I'm really struggling running correctly, but am committed to get it right. I'm now a Follower of your Blog.

  4. Congratulations! I am going to try the 3-mile splits on my long runs - what a great way to break it up.