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Race Report: 2015 Flower City Half

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It was 34° when I got up this morning, with a gun time forecast of 38° rising to 41° during the time I expected to be running. Wind forecast was mild, 3 to 6 mph. That's easy enough to dress for. Bonus: It was supposed to warm up to the 50's by the time I would be walking back to my car.

The weather forecast turned out to be spot on. It was near-perfect running weather.

I still had the remnants of a head cold, but it wasn't bothering me. So I lined up with the 1:30 pace leader, to see if I could run a 1:30 half. Even if I had to drop back later, that seemed like the best opportunity to set a new PR for a half marathon. Told him I could run that pace, but didn't know if I could run it for 13 miles.

I really needed that pace leader to keep me steady for the first 6 miles. That's pretty flat, and it would have been easy to go out too fast, which would have toasted me when I got to the hills; or overcompensate and end up with a slower race as a result.

I left the pace leader behind as we climbed the first significant hill. He had slowed more than was comfortable for me running the hills, and I had to run them my way. But he caught up with me later in Mt. Hope Cemetery, after the hills. I hung with him to mile 11, then faded a bit. I did keep him in view for the rest of the race, but couldn't catch up.

This was a race of applying lessons learned earlier. Saw my running buddy before the race, and he reminded me to take a GU 15 before. Took a GU at 5 miles, as learned in training runs. Next scheduled GU would have been at 10 miles; but I felt my legs getting heavy at 8.5 miles and took it then. That was a lesson from a training run late last year. Felt that again a bit past mile 11. My gut reaction would be to suck it up, there's not much race left; but the lesson from 2014 Race with Grace was, take the GU even if there's only 2 miles left. I did, and recovered a bit.

As predicted, I didn't have much of a notch to turn up for the last mile; but I did manage a wimpy sprint for the last tenth of a mile. During that sprint, my daughter captured two pictures of me focused on getting to the finish line:

Official time was 1:30:58.05, a new half marathon PR for me. Chip time was 1:30:54.94, close because the 1:30 group lines up near the front. That was good for 45th overall out of 2276 or 2296, depending on whether I believe the posted results list or the online certificate. (The certificate also lists my chip time, but I know that gun time is official. Finisher #44 had a slower chip time than me, but a faster gun time. Yes, we were pretty close to each other.)

This year, the posted results supplied some splits:
5K 20:49.56, 6:43 pace
10K 42:10.09, 6:53 pace
15K 1:04:18.14, 7:08 pace
to finish, 1:30:58.05, 7:01 pace
overall pace 6:57

Although this is a PR for me, and I won my age group last year, this year was only good enough for 2nd in my age group. That's because a faster runner turned 55 last November. Let's call him "Superman." He finished 4 minutes ahead of me, after doing the 5K run/20 mile bike/5K Run Duathlon yesterday, which was five days after he ran Boston in 3:00:08. So much for tired Boston legs. At least I'll escape from his age group next year.

The bling included a finisher's medal, another piece of the Four Seasons Challenge medal, and a 12 oz beer mug for 2nd in the age group:

The Four Seasons medal, current status:

There are magnets to hold the pieces together, but the magnets are pretty wimpy. The pieces will stay together when I lay them flat, but won't stay together if I hang them on my neck. It was a feat of dexterity to get them to stay together for a selfie that I posted for a local reporter who asked for pictures of hard earned medals:

One of the striking things about this race was how many people I knew and wanted to talk to before and after the race. That's a reminder that I really have become part of a running community here. I can't remember all their names, but I recognize all the faces.

Also, the training coordinator for Fleet Feet caught up with me after the race. I will be an official pace leader next training cycle, which will start in June. Apparently there isn't much more to it than I was already doing informally when the regular pace leader couldn't make it.

. . . and after the race, I came home. Fixed lunch. Posted some stuff to Facebook. Wrote this blog. Breathed. It's really, really nice to have two days in a row when I can breathe and think and write blogs. That hasn't happened in a while.

Life is good.

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