All you have to do is look at the elevation in this chart to know how crazy I was to even think I could get a PR during the Lake Benbrook Half Marathon Saturday.
Thing is, I didn't know how bad these hills were until the race began.
My goal was to average 7:20 a mile and that's exactly what I did, crossing the finish line in 1:36:01. But the fact that the time was exactly what I hoped to run was more about my Garmin 301 measuring the course long instead of me running 7:20 mile after mile after mile.
I finished 30th overall out of 246 runners; 8th in my age group. (Damn, the 40- to 44-year-old guys are fast).
Now, some thoughts.... Did you see the elevation chart? There were a bunch of little rolling hills, then, at about mile 5.5, this big hill comes out of nowhere. Its the kind of hill where if you don't know how to drive a standard, I wouldnt recomend you driving up that hill. The course was an out and back, so we had to go up said hill twice.
This was a small race. 246 finishers. No finishers medal. Heck, there were not even any mile marker signs. And at each aide station, there was an old guy standing next to a card table pointing to cups. "Gatorade here, water over there." We had to grab our own refreshments.
This was the first time I'd ever run at Lake Benbrook, and let me say this: It was the dirtiest looking, dingiest looking lake I'd ever run at. Water was brown. Trees looked like not one leaf had ever grown on them. And then, there was this GoodTime Van parked in the bushes with a guy playing this crazy music. They could have filmed, "Friday the 13th" at this place and it would have been believable.
The good thing about an out and back is that I could see how many people were ahead of me, and people still on the front half of the course were telling me how many people were in front of me. "You are in 33rd place, Kevin," one guy told me. Then I was in 32nd place. Then 31st.
As you can see, Mile 12 was the slowest. I actually started feeling bad around Mile 10 but soldiered on. Come Mile 12, I just wanted to throw myself on the ground and contort and have a temper tantrum. I was just so sick of running by this point. I was tired of all these hills. At this point, I passed a 50-something guy named Jeff. I only passed him because he stopped for Gatorade. (I didnt take any GUs and only had water once, at the halfway point). But soon Jeff was passing me. We traded being out in front of each other for a few tenths of a mile before I finally put my foot on the gas and got to the finish line. My Garmin says I covered the last mile _ from 12.28 to 13.28 _ in 6:55.
As I said earlier, the Garmin said I ran 13.38 miles in 1:36:01, which is actually a 7:11 mile. Because I've run several races wearing this GPS device, I knew it was going to measure the course long. So as i rattled off 7:10s and 7:15s, I knew that I'd be running longer than a 13.1 mile race, and that I needed to be extra quick at the end to make my goal. Good thing I sprinted at the end or I would have been slower than what I wanted to be.
My previous half marathon pr came this past Nov. 2, when I ran a 1:38:59 at White Rock Lake, a pace of 7;33 per mile. That course didnt have nearly as many hills (though there were some crazy ones). My Garmin measured the course at 13.29 miles. According to my Garmin on Saturday, when I hit 13.29 miles, the clock read 1:35:35. Thats a 3 minute, 24 second improvement (unofficially).