Monday, January 17, 2011

USA Fit Half Marathon - Race Report

January 16, 2011 -  Yesterday Annie and I made the 45 mile drive south to Sugar Land for the USA Fit Half Marathon.  Annie has the Houston full marathon coming up in two weeks and I am in the middle of training for Ironman Texas.  We signed up for the race months ago and decided to just use it as our long run day for the week and to not really race.  One of us did well with this plan, give you one guess who did not!

When we left the house the weather forecast called for intermittent showers through out the day.  It wasn't raining at our house so we really didn't pay much concern to the weather.  Well, this was a mistake because by the time we got to Sugarland it was pouring and very windy.  The flags were all blowing straight out.  And the best part was that the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than it was when we left our house at 4:45am - It would be nice to actually do a race with decent weather, just once!

We stayed warm in the car until about 6:40am and then started to make our way over to the starting corral for the 7am gun.  Well this didn't happen because traffic was still seriously backed up and they made an announcement that the race would start at 7:15.  We went back to the car to warm up.  We were frustrated because they had traffic problems last year when the race was half the size it is now and one would have thought they would have learned something?  This was not a parking issue, but an issue of poor logistical planning. 

A few minutes later we see a few more people coming back our way and they tell us the race is now pushed back to 7:45 - wonderful.  We had both stretched and taken our EFS Liquid Shots and now we had to go to the car, yet again.  I took a 20 minute power nap and by this time both Annie and I had to pee.   We hit the porta-potty around 7:35 and as we were standing in line we heard the starting gun go off and the crowd cheer.  Everyone else in line jumped out and sprinted to the start.  Annie and I took advantage of the empty porta-potties and then made our way over to the start line.  By the time we crossed the timing mat 4.5 minutes had already passed. 

This was a fair sized race with 1240 people starting the half and another 250 competing in the full marathon.  Annie and I started out together as their was nothing but gridlock in front of us.  My goal was to just hold about a 7:30/mi pace and keep my legs fresh for the upcoming training week. I figured a finishing time of 1:45-1:50 would accomplish this goal.  I spent the first two miles just zigging and zagging trying to get towards the front of the race.  The road is pretty narrow for the first couple of miles.  My splits were 7:52 and 7:45 for the first two miles.  I was not at all upset or agitated because I was the one who decided to start at the pack of the back and just slowly weaved my way past the herd to the front.  After about the 2nd mile I was able to find some open space and kick it in a little. 

By mile 3 the rain was really coming down hard.  I was in just a long sleeve compression shirt and shorts.  I was soaked and still a little cold.  I decided to run a little faster just to warm myself up.  By mile 6 I was feeling warmer and my average pace over the 6 miles was right at 7:27/mi - perfect.  At this point I was executing my plan and my legs were feeling fantastic despite the fact I had already put in about 12 hours of training in the previous 5 days.

For some reason I looked down at my garmin and I was holding a 6:45/mi pace and I was feeling very comfortable.  I decided to just keep it there and slow down when my legs told me it was time to slow down.  Well this never happened.  I hit the 10 mile mark and for some reason decided to hammer the last 3.1 miles.  Mile 11 came and went and that split was a 6:12. Similar split for mile 12 and then I could see the finish line and really kicked it in and passed probably 6 or 7 people in the final half mile.  

I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:34:09.   The split for the last 5k was 19:50 and I felt surprisingly fresh?  Good news is that even though I went a lot a little harder than I wanted my legs feel good today.  Annie and I went for a swim in the cool LTF pool after the race and I think that really helped with recovery.

Overall Time - 1:34:09
Avg Pace - 7:10/mi
Overall - 15 out of 1240
Age Group(30-39) - 5 out of 123

This was a PR for me at the Half Marathon distance by 8 minutes.  The previous PR was in Austin which is considerably more hilly.  I have dropped sub-1:40 times over 13.1 miles during training so I was not at all surprised by this result.  In fact, if I would have started towards the front of the race I am pretty confident I could have picked up a couple more minutes based on the fact I negative split the entire run after mile two.   After this race I am confident I have a sub-1:30 Half in me!

One of the cool things about starting at the very end of the herd was that I literally passed 99% of the field.  This was awesome because I cannot even count the number of encouraging words passed between other runners and myself.  Despite the fact it was cold, rainy, and windy I had a smile on my face the entire race because of the other runners.

Annie did very well.  She finished in 2:04:xx and passed a bunch of runners coming down the finisher's shoot.  This was about 9 minutes off of her best 1/2 but since she is in taper for the marathon she was just trying to keep her legs fresh. 

One more side note:  If any of you question the technique of doing the vast majority of your training runs in your aerobic zone go look at my logs.  For the last 2 months the only time I have run below an 8min/mi pace (my Zone 2 is 8:15-8:45) in training was during my very limited fartlek and speed interval workouts.  Running slow to run fast maybe boring but it really works.

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Awesome job Jeff! No doubt you can sub 1:30 for a half mary. I agree 100% with the running slower per mile training pace that you point out=fresher legs come race day. Props to Annie and I can't believe she has her marathon coming up so soon. Awesome! Hey, where is the picture of the medal? Or did they not give any out? You know we like to see the bling.

  2. Way to go. I am working on the biking slow to go fast, so I will let you know how it goes!

  3. Nature's radiator. Looks like you used it well.

    I think I better call "White Hot" and tell him he has some competition at IMTX in his age group.

  4. Holy cow, you rock. 6:45/mile and comfortable have never, ever been in the same sentence for me. I do not know if that has ever been in a sentence when I was talking about something I did.

    Awesome Jeff, that is so cool. You rock. I am really working hard to be in Z2 with my training, we will see how it works out come race day.

  5. Nice race

    You forgot the entertaining part of you forgetting and the conversation Annie had with you about it

  6. Sounds like a great race. I'm hoping to be in your time zone very soon with my half marathon. I'm only a few minutes off right now.

  7. Great work! Sounds like your aerobic base is pretty solid right now. keep it up and you'll have more PR's in 2011!!!

  8. Wow, not only did your Steelers win (it was kind of sad, wasn't it?) but you kicked some serious booty out there! Fantastic job!!!

  9. Damn right. Way to push it and pull off a great race Jeff. You are right on top of your running right now!

  10. Nice time, I can't imagine running that fast and feeling comfortable.

  11. wow I admire you...I cannot imagine running 2 miles at that pace..that is fast...and you were not even supposed to be racing..!
    congrats to you!

  12. Killer pace, man. Gotta love it when you are in a groove, look down at your Garmin, and see the "groove" is faster than you thought.

  13. WOW !! outstanding pace. Weather issues ? you live in Texas, u gotta be used to it.

  14. Great race! It is so cool to see the gains you can make with consistent aerobic training-you get faster without realizing it!

  15. Outstanding Job! Congrats on your run.

  16. Holy crap you're fast! Great job! And congrats to Annie too!

  17. wow!! Very speedy, in nasty weather to boot!

    Guess what was on a movie channel while I was on the treadmill today?? BATTLEFIELD EARTH! I swear.

  18. Holy cow!!! 8 minute PR on long run for the day and not really a race???

    Congrats to both you and Annie!

  19. Great race! I love the idea of running slow to get fast, especially since even my fast pace is pretty darn slow!!

  20. Awesome run Jeff! I have no doubt that you can go even faster!

  21. Of course you can go faster! Great job and Annie too! Rest up and get back to work. Cheers!

  22. Hi Jeff,
    Way to kick some big time butt!! Your HM time is amazing! I think it is so great that you and Annie can run together and share the passion!

  23. AWESOME race!! So glad you were able to meet your goals with crappy weather..ugh....I hate weather sometimes!!

    Will be reading your blog for "fast" inspiration :)

  24. Nice report Jeff, excepting the weather sounds very successful. Unfortunately for me, slow training so far just equals slow racing. :)

  25. GREAT RACE! and what a finish...
    with the waiting and conditions and you drove there in the morning, yet you still had such a solid run even with all those issues.

    love how the hard work is paying off:)

    I met a guy from Austin at our hotel in AZ this weekend he's running Houston mary, super nice guy...and was also talking about the possible humidity in Hou. I still cant believe you guys have that possibility in January!

    have a great week


  26. Congratulations. I'm barely starting to train for a half Ironman. The most I've ever done is a 5k and some bike rides here in Texas. I'd appreciate it if you could follow my blog and maybe give me some advice on training.

  27. Your

    excellent. Job.

    And in crap weather too!!

    FYI- jeff & annie - there's awesome racing weather here in
    AZ. Just thought I should remind you two.

  28. Way to go!!!

    Love the idea of running slow to run fast.

  29. Congrats! That's a HUGE PR and a nice finish!

    I have learned that I simply can't register for a race and use it for training... I'm too competitive!


  30. Great PR! It made me smile when I read you and Annie went for a swim in the cool LTF pool after the race - it sounds like race itself was a swim.

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