Ah, the sweet sound of crushing Colin victory.  This past Sunday I ran the 3M Half Marathon right here in Austin.  Meant to be a tune-up race for the Austin Marathon, I didn’t have a goal when I first registered.  That changed last week when I decided to go for a new personal record (1:35:11).  Well, the morning of the race that changed to seeing exactly how fast I could run the race (and how close could I get to Colin’s current PR of 1:31:49).  How’d things go?  Let’s find out!

As I lined up in the humid darkness I had a gameplan to run the first four miles at a decent pace (7:30 min/mi?) and then pick it up once the course started heading downtown (and downhill).  The announcer counted us down and sent us on our way without too much fanfare.  Due to the congestion in the starting area I had to tiptoe around some folks who had no business lining up so close to the front of the pack.  I tried to fall into a good rhythm, that is, until I caught a glimpse of the 1:30 pace group* no more than 50 yards ahead of me.  At that moment I scrapped my original plans to see exactly how fast I could run (or really, how far could I go before I crash and burn).

I caught the pace group between miles 1 and 2 and decided to stick with them as long as I could.  The pace was quick but felt manageable.  Things were going well through the flat / rolling hills early on, but it felt like I was burning through my energy fast.  Four miles down, nine to go, and all systems seemed to be stable.  We hit some downhill stretches which helped me throttle back a little.  Around that same time we passed some tortuously tempting smells from Hey Cupcake! that almost made me quit the race and grab a fresh-baked cupcake.  The cupcake smell must have had an effect on the pace group too because it felt like they were slowing down and I started to pull away.

The clock was ticking, the feet were moving, and all critical body parts were still responsive.  As a pleasant surprise I saw one “run-to-work” friend cheering me the runners on around mile 6.5 and the other “run-to-work” friend around mile 9.  It was at that time that the course took us up a short but unforgiving hill, and that’s when I heard the pace group regaining its ground on me.

Around mile 10 the proverbial wheels began falling off.  With only 3 miles to go I could see the pace group methodically pulling away as we headed up the final hill.  And that’s exactly when I got the boost I needed: Ev and Hazel were cheering me on near the top of the hill, raincoats and all!  It gave me a huge boost to make it over the hill and remain focused on finishing strong.  As corny inspiring as it sounds, I repeated outloud “pain is temporary, quitting is forever”, and it helped me push through (though it probably sounded something like “pens tempeh, king four” since I didn’t exactly have full control of my motor skills.. whatever, it worked).

In the final 2 miles I really started to struggle.  My legs were going as fast as they could and it felt like I couldn’t take in enough air, like breathing through a straw.  I must have checked my watch every two seconds and trying to figure out if I’d be able to beat 1:31:49 (Colin).  When I realized I would, I started to think how close I’d be to 1:30:00.  There was no chance I’d catch the pace group, but yes!  There was still hope to finish under 1:30**!  With about a half mile to go and the finish line straight ahead, I did anything I could to keep everything maxed out.  As soon as I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch and doubled over trying to regain some sort of balance.  Once the world stopped spinning I looked at my watch and just smiled:

Official Time: 1:29:50

And so, faithful supporters of Team Mikey, we have triumphed over Team Colin yet again!  I currently hold the half marathon (1:29:50) and full marathon (3:22:34) titles.  All this while setting a new milestone with a sub-1:30 half marathon.  Undoubtedly Colin will only be fueled by this, particularly while he’s taking on an aggressive training plan for the Vermont City Marathon in May.  For now I can rest easy knowing that I’m reigning champ.

So, Colin: Your move.

Distance 13.1 Miles
Time 1:29:50
Pace 6:51 min/mile
Overall Place 199 / 4526 (4.39%)
Age Group Place 35 / 170 (20.6%)
Gender Place 165 / 1922 (8.58%)

Looking at the results / percentages, I finished overall in the top 4.5%, but not even in the top 20% of my age group (25-29)!  Those are some crazy numbers compared to other races.  Just means I have some stiff competition here in Austin.

*Since I was asked twice within an hour, I’ll let you know that a pace group is typically a group of runners all aiming to run the same goal pace.  It’s usually led by an experienced runner from a local team / running store who can run much faster than that pace, and s/he helps the race participants run a steady pace to meet their goals.

**The pace group started ahead of me, so their timer started before mine based on when we each crossed the starting line.

And if you’re wondering: 3M PR FTW NBD = 3M personal record for the win no big deal

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