On May 21st I ran my first A race of 2016, a half marathon in Fargo North Dakota, USA.
We’ll start with what I’ve done leading up to the event, then move into what proceeded immediately pre-race, then go into how the run went.
In the last six months I’ve averaged about 57 miles per week. This is more volume, more consistent running, and actual runs than I’ve ever done in a six month period. I’ve gradually been increasing my miles per week over the last couple years from 30-40 in early 2013 to 40-50 in 2014 to 50-60 in 2016.
Through these last couple years since I’ve taken my focus off of ultra marathons and back to the 5k-13.1 distance. At the end of 2014 I ran a 1:23 half PR at the Crazy Horse event, and since then have ran a few 1:26’s, but have been really itching for a new PR. Going in to Fargo I had really hoped that the extra volume this year along with lots of doubles would result in at least a sub 1:26 but a sub 1:23 was the big goal.
With the increase in running volume + the move to higher elevation and hillier terrain, my average pace has slowed dramatically and it has honestly been a bit troubling to see my average pace go from sub 8:00 over a week to hovering around 9:00 / mile depending on the runs. With the extra volume my key workouts have not been quite what they used to be, but I think that’s to be expected a bit with the extra running.
To sum of the last year, it’s been rough. My average pace is slower than it’s maybe ever been and I’ve not really done any great key workouts since I’m typically running so much that the fatigue just doesn’t let me do them. My average training pace is much slower than athletes running 30-60 minutes slower than me for the marathon, but of course I’m running many more weekly miles then them.
Six of us traveled together to Fargo for the event, two doing the half and four running the full marathon. A SKORA ambassador from Houston also made the trip up as well!
This is a superb run and I would recommend it for anyone seeking a flat and fast half or full marathon. Starting and ending in the Fargodome, you do not need to worry about the weather outside. There is a great deal of parking if needed, but there are also multiple shuttle locations around town. It takes place at NDSU and with school out runners can stay in the dorms.
When I say it’s flat, I mean it. The little dips are super short railroad underpasses. That’s it, folks.
Pre-race you can hang out in the seating of the dome and watch them set up the floor. They do a fine job of roping off the area so the marathoners can get up front and then 15 minutes later the half marathoners line up, then 15 minutes after that the 10k takes off. It all seemed to go quite smoothly.
I started up front of the half and never had any congestion issues, they typically split the road in half with the full and 10k on one side and the half on the other.
Plenty of running room.
Like I mention above, I can’t say enough goodness about this route. It’s incredibly fast, there’s plenty of crowd support, and always some shade around. The route does curve a bit but primarily headed south for the out portion and back north to the finish. This year there was a very light southeastern wind which cooled us on the way out and even cooled us a bit on the return trip.
For the full marathoners the last 10k going back north was fairly warm with the 75-80 degree temp and a light tail wind.
My race plan was simple.
Take the first third comfortable, the middle third a bit harder, and best effort for the final third.
I normally do not run with any timing device, but decided to bring my phone and have it tell me splits ever half km or about every third mile. 4:00 / km was my benchmark, much slower and I would risk not hitting my B goal of sub 1:26, but if I went a bit faster I’d have a chance of a new PR. With another half coming up in two weeks, I had planned on switching from “best effort” to “jog it in” at the 8-10 mile mark if I determined a sub 1:26 wasn’t going to happen to save my legs a bit.
I definitely didn’t go out too fast and probably could have gone out a bit faster, at 3 miles I was 40 seconds behind goal pace yet for the last half I averaged about 5-7 seconds faster than goal pace, I just couldn’t quite make up that deficit from the early miles. A slightly more even split would have been a bit preferable, I think.
You can see from the chart below on the right that during the first five miles I was passed by 27 people yet during the final eight miles I was not passed by a single person. I moved from 61st place at mile 5 to 34th at the finish.
For fueling and hydration it was pretty simple. Upon waking up in the morning about three hours pre-race, I went out for a mile shakeout run and had a bit of coffee and a couple small donuts. While hanging around the Fargodome I had a bottle of some First Endurance mixed in + PreRace (which I actually participated in a study of in college). After that, I didn’t take in much of anything until the finish. I recall a sip of PowerAid from an aid station somewhere around halfway, but that was it. I passed many people who stopped at the aid stations and I never felt the need for any hydration or calories.
So, how did I do?
I very comfortably hit my B goal of a sub 1:26 with a 1:25:20 finish!
I ran quite comfortably for most of the distance and never experienced any stomach or muscle issues what-so-ever. I even was running with my mouth closed at easy run effort for some of the first 2-3 miles! The sub 1:23 for a PR was likely never in the cards for the day, I would have really had to have dug deep within my suitcase of courage for 15 seconds less per mile. But I’m hopeful that I can pull it off at the Deadwood Half marathon in two weeks!
Week of the Race:
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