This was a good race close to home letting me test and tweak a new racing strategy. The fact it was 67F in December in Indiana was a bonus.
The Caribbean Christmas HM in suburban Indianapolis on Dec 12 was a late addition to my fall racing schedule. I added it at the suggestion of running buddy Jon, who unfortunately ended up not being able to run, due to injury. His input was key, though; he understands my running quirks. It's good to have friends.
In my post on the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon , where I set a PR of 3:57 in early November, I noted a surprising discovery. When I want to put down a really solid time, I do well to run steady and uninterrupted, not using the Run/Walk method I use for most of my training. In that race, I hitched onto a pacing group for much of the race to help keep it even. But how to run even splits in an event without a pacing group at the exact time I needed? Eureka, I said to myself on a training run soon after the IMM...I have a Garmin Forerunner with a Virtual Partner feature. My pacing leader can ride on my wrist. So, I tested this plan.
Race day came with unseasonably warm weather. Work colleague Michelle rode with me and the weather was overcast and 65F when we got to the start area. I packed several shirts (as usual) but chose the summer singlet for this race with "Christmas" in the title...go figure! It turned out to be the correct choice.
We started on time, which I always appreciate, and the experiment was on. I quickly settled into a groove and enjoyed the run. The course was a pleasant loop through Carmel, Indiana, covering familiar turf from other races I've run there, including the Carmel Marathon.
The virtual partner worked well. The pace felt surprisingly comfortable. I sought to keep the readout on my Garmin between 200 and 300 feet ahead of the even pace calculation. I chose an 8:45/mile target pace; the reason for this choice is later. When ultimately downloading my mile splits, it was encouraging.
I didn't really hit any low spots. I was a bit fatigued at mile 10, which was at the end of a modestly long uphill but some additional water seemed to take care of that concern.
Official finish time was 1:52:36, placing me 75th of 375 finishers. I was very pleased.
I allowed myself to open up over the final mile and a half, knowing I was only running a HM. It was interesting to discover this was only one minute slower than my HM PR. I wasn't even racing but still got that close. Plus, I had run 20 miles and 10 miles the prior Saturday and Sunday; hardly a race taper. To do a 1:52, running continuously, on "tired legs" on a warm, muggy day was encouraging. That's why I was grinning as I crossed the finish line.
Many thanks to the race organizers for providing free photographs to all runners. What a fine feature.
Why pick a pace of 8:45/mile? Because I want to qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon. At my age, I need a 3:55:00 marathon to be able to enter but likely better than that to actually get in. So, I'm shooting for a 3:51:00 marathon this spring in one of two races. The 3:51 works out to a 8:50/mile pace. So, I took it a bit deeper than that to see how I could do. Much work remains, but the plan is in place.
It was a good day to run a good HM.