A few months ago my wife registered for the Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg, but life got in the way of her training and she decided that 13.1 miles of pain wasn’t the way she wanted to spend her Sunday afternoon. So, rather than let a good race go to waste, I ran in her place.
I had run this race a couple of times in the past, but never on the heels of having run a 34-mile race the week before. Despite not having run all week (give me a break – I couldn’t go up or down stairs without grabbing the handrail until Wednesday), I wasn’t worrried about the distance. I was, however, a bit concerned about speed. My focus while preparing for Holiday Lake had been on boosting my mileage and doing as much as possible on trails. Now I was going to be running a considerably shorter (though certainly not short), road race – a different animal. I kept telling myself to take it slow and look at it as a training run, but all the while I knew that it was going to be difficult to keep from pushing it. After all, it was a race.
So, I resolved to to go out fairly strong for the first 6-7 miles and see how it felt. My hope was that I’d be able to hang onto the same pace for the second half. But, if worst came to worst and the wheels came completely off, I knew I’d be able to jog it in to the finish. While those long, slow miles preparing for the ultra didn’t do much for my speed, they did boost my confidence about distance.
Things went better than I had a right to expect. I stuck with a fairly steady 8:35 pace through mile 10 (hey – that’s “fairly strong” for me, anyway), and when I realized that I was in good shape for beating 2 hours (my previous PR for a half marathon), I knocked it back to a 9 minute pace for the final 3.1 and finished at 1:54:19. For me, a good day.
There’s always room for improvement, though. For those keeping score at home, the winner blazed in at 1:06 – that’s a 5:02 mile, x 13.1. Amazing.
Next up – the Charlottesville 10-Miler, one of my favorite races. I won’t be able to count on residual fitness from Holiday Lake to get me through that one, so fingers crossed for being able to get out of bed when the alarm clock rings at 5:30 tomorrow morning.