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2009 The Hottest Half Marathon Race Report

Over the weekend about 1200 athletes enjoyed the overcast skies for The Hottest Half road race. There was both a half marathon and 10km race, with over 800 taking on the 13.1 miles. I had to go long!

The last two weeks of training leading up to the event didn’t provide much insight into what kind of effort I could sustain since I felt flat, flat, flat nearly every day.

The Course

The Course

Sooooo, I decided to forget about hitting a target pace and went after a new goal; negative split. Rarely am I able to control my emotions and competitive juices to hold back enough to make this happen. Would this time be any different?

Basic Pre-race Pace Plan:

  • 7:15-7:30 min/mile the first half
  • build effort from there with whatever is left

The Front Half

“On your mark. Go!”

Saying "Hi" To The Fam. (Red tank)

Saying "Hi" To The Fam. (Red tank)

As the first couple miles progressed, I quite naturally set my pace based on an effort that kept one big gear in reserve for later in the course. This was a very comforting effort and quite different from trying to hit a specific pace. I took what my body was willing to give, while saving a bit in reserve. My emotions were in check – for now.

I would glance at my Garmin Forerunner 305 not to influence my pacing but more as a curiosity feedback loop. I was dancing in the 7:30-7:45 min/mile pace and quite accepting of that. I also noticed my heart rate was already in the marathon range within a couple miles so I knew I would not be building into my pre-race pacing speed. This would have been a perfect time to stress a bit and push the effort but instead I sensed that I was exactly where I needed to be. There was really no internal debate on this issue. Acceptance.

Throughout these early miles, I really focused on getting in fluids during the aid stations as this would help during the back half of the race as the effort (and hopefully pace) would increase.

The Back Half

Crossing through the half-way mark in 50:46, this was when the race really began for me.

Instead of using the Garmin to determine my increased effort, I spontaneously implemented a plan to use a 3/2 or 2/3 breathing pattern for the next four miles and then a 2/2 pattern for the last 5 km-ish. Having never tried this approach purposefully before, it felt like the right thing to do. Again, no internal debate. It felt as natural as talking to a best friend.

I could sense I was increasing effort and even running a bit faster. There was no red-lining but a solid push. I quickly started building internal confidence with this approach as I was feeling good and slowly started reeling in some of those in front of me.

A portion of the course had a few rollers that naturally induced the 2/2 breathing pattern with four miles to go, so I decided to stick with it the rest of the way.

With about 2.5 miles to go I saw Wendy and Griffin and gave then hi-fives. That pumped the adrenaline into me a bit and I knew the end was near. Keep the focus for a bit longer.

The course layout has us run by the finish area for a one mile out-and-back section before crossing the finish line. I remember last year being smoked at this point. It was like a mental sledgehammer to run pass the finish chute when the legs feel stuck in quicksand. Fortunately this year, the hammer did not hit.

With a half mile to go, I could see the finish up the hill. I mentally started to lose my focus and I could sense I was getting sloppy in my running form. Keep it together. Focus! Focus!

Working my way up to the hill-top finish, I cross the line in 1:40:29 (64/821 OA).

Fluids, bananas, and breakfast burritos were munched on with my hungry two year old eating most of it as the family sat on a bench overlooking the lake.

It wasn’t till I got home and looked at my Garmin 305 did I determine I actually negative split by a little over one minute. I was stunned a bit and reflected that I may have actually executed one of my best races to date.

Would I have liked to run faster? Yes, most definitely. Yet I am feeling quite at peace in accepting what I was given.

Race Spits (Click to view)

Race Spits (Click to view)

Interesting stat:

  • Crossed a timing mat near the half-way point with the 100th overall time.
  • Ran the back-half portion with the 55th overall time.

Congrats to TJ for nearly breaking 1:30 and Amy for having an 11 minute PR (Wow!).

Full results can be seen here.

A special thanks to all the volunteers. It was a great day to be out running!

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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