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My 1st Half Marathon

Here’s the post run report.

Official Time: 2:07:19
Official Pace: 9:44
Official Place in Ages 25-29: 83/123
Official Overall Place: 900/1800

Now that the official numbers are out of the way, let’s look at my “real” numbers based on the RunKeeper app I used during the race. I consider these as real since I did have a GPS and timer attached to me throughout the race.

Final Time

Based on either set of numbers, I’m proud of my final time and pace. My ultimate goal was to have a pace of under 10 minutes a mile so mission accomplished. Of course if it wasn’t for the instigator himself, Will, then I would not have posted such a great pace of 9:26. You see, I used him as a motivator by keeping him in my sights for the first 2.5 miles and keeping a consistent pace. Prior to the run, I was barely able to run consistently for anything over 2 miles. Day of the race, I was able to run for close to 4.5 miles without needing a small break to walk. Its possible I could have continued with my best pace ever if I had chosen to stay with Will but I was arrogant and passed him which in turn gave him full capability to pass me around the 6-7 mile makers and never look back.

The course itself was brilliantly designed, except for one minor flaw. The minor flaw were the final 3 hills that made one hate life and want to punch out the run supporters that were stationed at the hills. Granted, now that I look back on the course, there probably was not much they could do to avoid these hills. The rest of the course “began in the heart of downtown, snaked through campus, navigated Five Points by way of Milledge Avenue, hit Cobbham Historic District, down Prince into Normaltown, ran north and then swung around back to downtown with a finish line in front of the fabulous 40 Watt Club.” My favorite part of the course was probably the final .10 mile stretch as it was on a downgrade and really pushed you to finish strong.

Athens GA Half Marathon - Map of Course
Figure 1: Map of Half Marathon Course (Click for better map)

As this was my first half marathon or even actual race, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. People were spread throughout the course to cheer on people they knew and of course people they didn’t as well. I had my music to motivate me and push me but those random people did so much to make me continue on as well. I’d even fine myself running to them if only to take a small break after passing them. The signs along the course also helped in the motivational department with my favorite sign easily being “Run like you stole something.”

Overall, I’m proud of myself for running and completing the race and I actually look forward to possibly making this an annual event in the coming years. Next event for me is up in the air. I enjoyed this one enough to actually look to find another race that I can attempt. There is a San Francisco Half Marathon on November 7th but I’ll probably hold off on any race in the bay area prior to Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll just shoot for a 10K next. We shall see.

Here are a few final charts that cover my times and distances during the Half Marathon. I’m also throwing in a group photo of our running crew.

Runner's Pace
Figure 2: Pace vs. Elevation vs. Speed

Mile Breakdown
Figure 3: Pace Breakdown

Mile Breakdown
Photo 1: (Left to Right) Cory, Ginny, Will, Me.

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Athens Half Marathon Prequel

With the approaching Athens Half Marathon that my “good friend” Will talked me into doing with some other friends I thought this would make for a perfect post. Maybe not truly perfect but the pictures of me during the event clutching onto my last breadth and life should be entertaining enough. But before we get there you have to know the prequel or you won’t care about the characters….if you even will after.

So the story is…well Will thought old roommates should run the half marathon at the end of October and…well that’s it. I’m not sure why I agreed or even how I ever did but I’m in it and in it to win finish it. With two months before the big event, I knew I had to start training immediately. I’ve run maybe 3.11 miles (5k) previously in high school when I was on the cross country team (soccer purposes only) but that’s the furthest distance I’ve ever completed without walking it all and I’m not in high school any more.

I began running around where I worked at the end of the day in order to get into shape and kill time for traffic to die down. Well after only a few days into training, I knew something was up. My legs were in some much pain that there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t sitting at home with ice packs on my knees. Didn’t take me long to realize it was an issue in my shoes. What can I say? I’m cheap and I just thought I could get through this with the crappy shoes that I had. I was, of course, wrong and broke down buying some legitimate shoes thanks to a running store in San Francisco. With reasonable prices and a great staff to help me pick the perfect shoe for my style of running, I settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10. Talk about running on air, these shoes made me pull a 180 on running. Instead of a chore, it became something I looked forward to at the end of the day.

I had the shoes, the drive, and being a geek, I now needed the data. That’s right. I love all things tech and with my Android smartphone (HTC Eris) I had apps that could help me track my performance and training. I settled on RunKeeper only because of other friends using it as well and helping to cheer me along in the process. It tracks my time, distance, pace, elevation, and pretty much any other statistic I would want. I’m debating paying for the pro capabilities only to gain more data. We shall see.
Anyway, here’s the data from my latest run of 10 miles. I’m two weeks away and I had two primary goals: Complete 10 mile run prior to the Half Marathon and run under 10 minutes a mile. I’ve completed one of the two but I’m dangerously close to that second.

Figure 1: Pace during the 10 Mile Run

Yes, I know the first thing out of most runners mouth when looking at that graph. I am not a consistent pace kind of guy. Its hard for me to slow my pace and keep it across the length of my runs. If I have the power and I want to run it now. Sure this makes me look like an EKG but my overall pace goal is on target. Here’s another breakdown.

Figure 2: Further Breakdown of Pace during the 10 Mile Run

First, don’t let the last number fool you. The 11th mile was only .10 miles in length so I hope it was averaging at 4. On record to date, my best mile run came earlier this week during a 3 mile run where I clocked in at 6:43 on my first mile. Yes that was with a -128 ft elevation but I’d say that is still fast.
Now with the half only two weeks away my training is winding down. I feel well prepared and I’ve even experienced the runner’s high (it’s amazing). The only real variables I’m worried about now are the climate and the course. Training in SF is not the same as Athens but it will be late October so hopefully there will be less humidity. I’ve experienced several days here of running in 100 degree weather but humidity is its own beast. The course only worries me because I’m not as well prepared on hills. Sure, I live in SF and could have found the hills but my training ground is in Pleasanton and I didn’t have any.

Anyway, to conclude, I’ve enjoyed this process more than I ever thought I would. I look forward to running days and feel terrible when I miss out on a chance to run. It is my new stress reliever and it works wonders. For those thinking of preparing for a half marathon after not really running prior, here’s one final chart of a breakdown of how much I was doing on my way to the event.

Figure 3: Weekly Break Down of Distance

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