Great runs don’t usually make great stories.  I am happy to report that there were no great stories from my half-marathon.  I ran hard, and fast, and finished three minutes faster than my most optimistic prediction.

I started out running at a relatively easy pace of 10:30 for the first mile.  I gradually brought that pace down and ran at about a 10:00 pace for the first three miles.  After that, the course turned onto a narrow bike path and became a little cramped.  So I created a new game/strategy for gradually increasing my pace, which worked out really well.

The game was, in part, inspired by this post from the Complete Running Network, so I called it the “Remora Runner” race strategy.  It works like this:  For the first half of the race, every time someone passed me (I call that person, the “Shark”), I would attach myself to that person and pass the current group with whom I was running.  I would try and stay at the shoulder of the Shark until someone else came along to pass us.  Then I would repeat, attaching myself to the new “Shark.”  Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.  Each time I passed somebody I would do a power 10: ten powerful strides to accelerate past someone before returning to my normal pace.  This worked really well to bring up my pace, and by the turnaround, I was running at about a 9:17 min./mi. pace.  But wait, there’s more . . .

I wasn’t sure if I could hold that pace for the full 6.55 miles, so I created a second part to the game.  For the second half of the race, I became the “Shark.”  I gave myself one point for each person I passed and subtracted two points for each person that passed me.  My total score: 84 (I passed 94 and was passed by 5).  This game helped me reach and hold a strong pace and gave me something to occupy my mind when my body was screaming out for me to stop.  I am looking forward to seeing how this strategy works in future races.

The last mile was brutal, but Rebecca’s sign made me smile.  It made me picture our rotund sheepdog sprinting with surprising speed and grunting with all his might, I was able to do the same and finished strong.  As soon as I stopped running, my legs started to give out, my vision blurred slightly (not sure if this was from tears or salt depletion) and I could honestly say that I gave everything I had.

I am going to take some time off from training.  I’ll still be running and swimming, but without any real goals for the next week or so.  Then begins marathon training.  Yesterday’s race was like an appetizer for the main course at the Austin Marathon.  I will post my training plan once I have one figured out.

The Half-Marathon whet my appetite in more ways than one.  Let me introduce you, my friends, to the Wagon Train:

That’s two eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausage patties, potatoes, beans, and two (count ’em) large pancakes–I love running.  Needless to say, the Range Cafe was packed with starving runners after the race.  I sure hope they didn’t run out of pancakes.

Post-race/post-pancakes nap