>Outback Distance Classic 1/2 Marathon Race Report

>aThe Outback Distance Classic is a Jacksonville Thanksgiving tradition.  For whatever reason, though, I had never run this race prior to this year.

The Outback 1/2 Mary was the second leg in the Tri 2B Tuff Challenge, which is essentially a challenge to run three half marathons in the span of 75 days or so.  Back in October, I ran in the Jacksonville Marine Corps 1/2 marathon, and set a massive PR in the process (you can read about it here).  The third leg of the Tri 2B Tuff Challenge is the Dec 17th Jacksonville Bank 1/2 Mary.  Coming into this particular race, I had two main goals:  (1) set a new PR, and (2) run faster than two hours.

Pre Race:
This race had a relatively late start (8am) – which would play a role in my performance.  As would the fact that I awoke Thanksgiving morning with a headcold and generally felt like poo.  As you’d expect, race morning routines for me are pretty well established and routine.  Rise early, light breakfast, drink a bottle of EFS drink mixed with PreRace, drive to the race site, try to find parking, stand in the obligatory port-a-potty line.  Parking and port-a-potty were complicated by virtue of this race hosting both a 6k and 1/2 mary and by being wildly popular.  I arrived at the start an hour prior to the gun and had a difficult time finding parking in close proximity to the starting line.  A few minutes prior to the start, I made my way into the corral and tried to find a good place to match my pace.  This was not easy.  As noted, this race is very popular – there were something around 4000 total runners.  I started maybe 50 feed from the line.  As the gun went off, people literally crushed into the area, making running difficult at best.  But nonetheless, we were off.



A picture of the start to give you some context as to the craziness


The Race:
The plan for my quest for a sub-2 hour race was to run the race at 9:00 minute per mile pace.  This pace would easily put me under the magic mark; and should have been attainable as all of my training runs over the last three weeks had been in the 8:20 to 8:40 per mile range.

As I noted, the start was really crowded – and not with fast runners.  There were walkers, mothers with strollers, people dressed in costumes (click here for my thoughts on costumed runners).  I spent much of the first mile weaving around people, slowing up, speeding up, etc.  9:10.  Not too disappointing given the crowd.

I found some running room after the first mile – actually, said room was found when the 6k runners turned one way and the 1/2 marathoners turned another.  Turned out the next tow miles at 8:43 and 8:50, respectively.  The route this race follows is actually quite pretty – it goes through some older neighborhoods and follows along one of Jacksonville’s landmarks, the St. Johns River.  I saw Mrs. TM and the kids at mile 4.  They had made signs (brings back Ironman memories) and were cheering pretty loudly.  First words out of my son’s mouth:  “Only 9 miles to go!”  Followed by, “You’re right on pace.”

A funny thing happened during the fifth mile – my left foot started to go numb.  This has never, ever happened to me before.  I was racing in my Saucony Fasttwitch 4’s, with lace locks – so I didn’t think that they were on too tight.  I didn’t know what else could have caused the numbness, though.  It finally went away.  Weird.  I hit six miles at :54:44.  Clearly a little slower than my target pace of 9:00 per mile, but I was still on pace to finish at 2 hours exactly.

Now, I’d be lying if I said that the rest of the race went off without a hitch.  I really started feeling the impacts of my head cold.  Additionally, it was getting hot.  As I noted earlier, the race didn’t start until 8am, and by 9:15 it was probably 75 degrees.  I had been hoping for 10 degrees cooler.

Miles 7-11 were a struggle.  I slowed way down – primarily because I decided to walk through the aid stations.  I additionally took a stroll around mile eight.  I just didn’t have energy to sustain my earlier pace.

Mrs. TM and the kids did a great job of going around the course to see me.  I saw them at miles four and six, but didn’t expect to see them again.  I was surprised when I saw them at mile eight (which happened to be right when I was walking – ack!), and was totally floored by them at mile 12!  Actually, it turns out that I surprised them at mile 12 too.  See, when they saw me at eight and I told them how I felt, Mrs. TM expected me to slow down even more than I did.  She didn’t expect me at mile twelve for another five minutes or so!  They saw me at the very last second (actually after I had passed them) and cheered for me.  That generated a, “Nice job, mom” comment from a police officer standing near them.

In any case, I sort of found my legs in the last two miles.  My pace picked up again, and I was able to run sub-10’s.  I took the 12th and 13th miles in 9:48 and 9:50, respectively.  As I reached the 200 meter mark, my former track glory broke out, and I kicked it in as hard as I could.  Garmin had my finish at 2:05:58.  My official chip time was 2:06:23.  I have absolutely no idea how these two times could be off by 30 seconds, but whatever.  Either way, my time was a new PR!



Sprinting it home to the finish!


Post Race:
This race had all the typical finish line stuff that you would expect – water, beer, fruit, bagels, finish medals, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Um, really?  While yummy, each of those things has something like 50g of fat!  Heart attack waiting to happen.  I by-passed it all in favor of my favorite recovery drink, Ultragen.  The remainder of my post race day was absorbed with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, turkey, football and playing with my kids.

Overall observations:

  • Running with a head-cold sucks!
  • My hydration strategy was probably sub-par, as I was very dehydrated and sore for two days following the race.
  • First Place Sports does a great job of putting on running races in general, and this race was no exception.  That said, they have got to figure out a better way to start the race in order to minimize the number of walkers and slow runners off the front.
  • Glad I got a PR at the race.  That said, I am still chasing the elusive sub-2 hour race.  Maybe on 12/17.
  • Running a race on Thanksgiving is pretty fun!  This will be on my list for 2011 for sure!
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