May 212011

Last weekend I competed in the inaugural run of the Twin Lights Half Marathon in Gloucester, MA.  It was an important race for me because I had several milestone goals:

  • I wanted to run the 13.1 miles continuously without stopping even briefly or walking at all.
  • I wanted to improve upon my 2:28:17 time from the first half of the Boston Marathon
  • I wanted to keep my pace as even as possible

Since I only had a month between the Boston marathon and this race I opted to use Hal Higdon’s Spring Training schedule and modify it slightly by keeping my long runs at 10+ miles.  This seemed to work well and I felt in excellent shape when race day came around.

The race

The race started out along some gentle rolling hills along the ocean before quickly turning and heading up through some more challenging hills.  I kept my pace at 9:45 as steadily as I could although that would drop to 10:15 during some of the harder hills.

About 5 miles in we say the lead runner coming back towards us.  He finished the race in 1:12, which is an elite class speed.  Only 4-5 runners were within 20 minutes of him at the end.  We entered Rockport shortly after that and were greeted with lots of fans lining the road.  It was a great turnout from the town and it really makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

There were some more challenging hills right at the middle part of the race when we were looping back around.  I started to see a lot of people drop down and start to walk at this point.  A lot of people started to struggle around 9 miles.  At mile 10 a woman 100 yards in front of me staggered and then collapsed.  The runners immediately behind her stopped to help and the race marshals were there within a few minutes.  It really hammered home that these long distance races are serious and not to be taken lightly.

What went right:

  • Woohoo new personal record : 2:12:47
  • I ran it continuously without stopping. This is a fairly new capability for me since I ran for the first 6 months with walk breaks every X minutes (Gallowalking). Being able to sustain a maximum effort continuously for such a long time is a sign I am improving considerably.
  • My pace was pretty consistent from beginning to end with most deviations relating to hills. I did slow down a bit from 10-12
  • I had some kick in the end. I passed 27 people in the last mile
  • I kept my footstrike rate high like I have been training.
  • I was happy with my 10:08 pace for where I am now in training

What went wrong:

  • I totally screwed up on energy and hydration. I only brought one GU chomp pack. I did not stop to drink but grabbed maybe 2 sips of water from cups as I ran. By the end I was very dehydrated and was down 3.5 pounds from the start.
  • I wore my heavy Saucony trainers rather than my minimalist shoes. Yes it was the conservative thing to do, but I am really confident it cost me many minutes off my time in the end.
  • I felt heat spots that I ignored and that led to bloody blisters on both feet at the end.
  • I still think my weight is costing me a lot of time. Even though I have lost 70 pounds, at 5’10 and 180 and 19 percent body fat I am still racing with the equivalent of a 20 pound hand weight on my back.
  • A note: I am not sure what pace I need to run to accomplish this, but I want to get to a point where I stop getting beat by guys in beer bellies, ladies with giant cabooses or people dressed up as lobsters. It really undermines my confidence when I get steamrolled by really big overweight people.

What I will do next time:

  • I have ordered a Nathan Elite 1 Plus Angled 22-Ounce Waist Pack with 5-Ounce Nutrition Flask and will run with my own hydration and gel.
  • I will run in my minimal shoes next time
  • I will try to break this horrible weigh plateau and get down into the 170’s
  • Continue working on my fitness and running form


I think the half marathon is “my race”. I can see myself running 4-5 a year plus 1 marathon.


Random pictures from the event:

 Posted by at 10:17 am

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