Harbor Lights Half Marathon Race Report

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When I signed up for this race I figured it would be a bit cold, but I didn't expect it to pour rain the entire race.  The weather at the start was 49 degree with showers. This presented the dilemma of what to wear. I choose shorts, a very light weight long sleeve tech shirt and a very light weight rain/wind jacket. I debated the jacket but I was glad to have it. The start of the race was also delayed about 15 minutes due to traffic issues on the course. My goal for this race was to beat my previous PR of 1:42:46, and hopefully go under 1:40.

Cold and wet but not too crowded at the start.

My strategy was to take the first three miles at a 7:30 pace and then evaluate how I was feeling. In my head I knew I could probably just keep that pace and then kick it up the last 3 miles. That plan didn't work. I made a critical mistake. At mile 5 I grabbed some water to drink. I don't know why, I wasn't even really thirsty. The water was cold. I gurgled it down while not really stopping because I like water-boarding myself and then at mile 5.15 I felt a cramp coming on. This has happened to me before so I knew what to expect. And what I expected was pain. That pain was a side stitch to be more accurate. It kicked in full gear and it literally staggered me. If you've never had one it feels like someone is taking a rake to the inside of your ribs and it's almost always on the right side of your body. Oddly enough scientists don't even really know why they happen. But they do happen and glugging water, like I did, is a known cause.

Pay no attention to the heart rate. I don't think it works well when it's raining, it messes up the optical sensor.

I had to slow my pace considerably. I even walked for a few seconds which is humbling. This happened in my last half and I remembered that it DOES go away after a while. And by a while I mean a few miles. While extremely painful it doesn't cause any injury. So I tried to relax, I went slower, and I simply ran through the pain. You can see on my pace chart (above) how my pace (in blue) dips hard when the cramp hit. Little by little was able to work myself back up to my goal pace, but I did lose valuable time, and it hurt.

Around mile 8 I felt like I could run normal again. However, the cramp feeling never went away and always seemed to be threatening to return. Even with the cramp in the background I was able to plod through the remaining wet miles. I even managed to run a pretty fast final mile!

Look! My feet aren't touching the ground!

My sweet wife came out in the rain with our three kids to cheer me at the finish. There was hardly anybody there due to the rain and cold. She is truly amazing and I'm a blessed man to have her support and friendship.

16th place in my age division out of 121. 124th place overall out of 2122 people.

My official time was 1:40:32 which is a new PR for me! I'm very happy about making a new PR. However, I am also left wanting a bit more. I feel very confident that if I could have avoided the cramp I could have ran a sub 1:40. Oh well, that just means I have to try again!

Update: I looked at my GPS again and it says I actually finished a Half in 1:39:46! While that's not my official time, I'll take it!

Oh, and about my goal to run the tangents? I think I did pretty well. My Garmin reported I ran 13.13. Several people around me had their watch's mile lap alarm going off 10-20 seconds before mine the whole way. I even heard one woman report she ran 13.41!

Tl:DR Rained the whole race, got side cramps at mile 5, recovered and still PR'd. 


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