Ya win some, ya lose some: National Half Marathon

I knew on Tuesday things were going to be rough.  My HR’s were way higher than normal – both on and off the track.  I was hoping I might slide by with enough recovery such that by Saturday things would be normalized.  And to some degree they did improve.  By Friday my RHR was within 4 beats of normal – but my run HR’s weren’t quite where I needed them to be.  For my target Half-Marathon HR of 170-173, my short Friday run splits were all in the 6’s – 6:05-6:15; instead of where they needed to be in the upper 5’s – 5:45-5:55.  It may not sound like a big difference, but HR’s and speeds are fickle things.

However…back to the beginning…


After getting my outfit all situated the night before, my ‘get ready time’ this morning was fairly minimal.  I got to RFK Stadium around 6AM and wandered over to the super-short porta potty lines.


From there it was off to drop off my bag and then head out for a short 20 minute (2-3 mile) warm-up run.  Just to get everything loosened up and get my HR up so it wouldn’t be shocked when the gun went off.


I arrived back within 5 minutes of the start as planned.  I then found my pre-assigned corral and prepared for the start.

(No matter how you slice it, those times are painful)

I briefly ran into Eric and his GF, getting ready to embark on PR’s (Eric kicked ass btw today).

They announced a two minute warning and then they allowed us (Corral 1) to fall in line behind the elites…and then we were off!

The first few miles I mostly hit my splits +/- a few seconds (6:05ish).  But, that was the easy part – being both the first few miles and on the flats.  And by mile one I knew my HR wasn’t where I needed it to be.  It was about 2-3 beats higher.  This matters because it pushed me right over and into my lactate threshold, not ideal for a race of this distance.  I did see Peter though volunteering at the one mile marker, and then Rebecca a short bit later at the three mile marker.


And then I found hills.  I knew they were there, I just didn’t think they’d slow me as much as they did.  My plan is always to keep the HR relatively constant on hills this early in the course – but I slowed more than the plan allowed for.


Once I cleared the hills, I was ‘scheduled’ to increase my turnover for the sloped 3-mile downhill section in miles 8-11ish, gaining back most of the lost time.  But I just couldn’t get the pace back down and keep it sub-6.  And certainly not far enough sub-6 to make up for the massive ground I lost on the hills.

And, on a race this short, you just can’t make up ground as easily as a longer race.  The below graph shows the first few miles, and then things going downhill.  The middle line marked 0:00 is my overall average pace (6:28), whereas the first three blue blocks shows where I should have been for the majority of the race (minus two miles of the hills)


So, I wandered through the finish at 1:24:44, a few minutes short of my 1:20 goal.  But, I did still manage a couple minute PR out of the deal.  Official deets:

Overall Place: 74/4150
AG Place: 22/340
Males: 61/1870
10K Split: 39:50 (6:25/mile)
Final Time: 1:24:44 (6:28/mile)

(It says start, but really it’s the finish)

Overall I’m OK with the finish.  It wasn’t ideal, but I have no doubts in my mind that if the race was three weeks ago (pre-Spain, pre-long work weeks and pre-getting sick) that I’d of hit my goals.  And that’s fine.  I’ve got the first tri of the season coming up in three weeks, and I’m really looking forward to getting a good tune-up race in the bag.

Afterwards, I hung around the finish for a few hours and watched a ton of friends finish and rock the place. 


Fellow Pacer Runner Ali qualified for Boston!  Lindsey won her AG, and nearly broke Top-10 females (despite a late start), and Jeanne took a 10+ minute PR.  Adam and Rob both shattered their PR’s.  And numerous other friends also did very well (these were just the ones I saw finish).


While bumbling around the finish line, I did go check out the “Active Release Therapy” tent with Jeanne.  Basically a form of sports massage.  I’ve never actually had any sort of massage before, and have never visited these little tents.  But Jeanne convinced me to give it a shot.  I will admit – it did help the legs quite a bit, I might even do that more often!

The good news here is that spring has sprung.  Well, at least for the little cherry tree on the side of my townhouse.  The official Cherry Blossom festival is still two weeks away, so you’ll get a combined preview shot and finishers medal shot in one today.  I do like the medals this year though, they’re nice!


(Yes, it’s quite plausible – and likely even possible – this isn’t a cherry tree.  It’s just a tree with little flower things that looks like a cherry tree, 6 feet from my doorstep.  And given this it the only type of tree that I can name – and the only tree next to my house, it’s what I’m calling it.  Everything with a flower becomes a cherry tree in March/April when you live in DC.)

After getting home and knocking out a 30 minute easy spin, I did the only logical thing I could think of.  I made cupcakes.


When you bake these, the strawberry filling sinks into them, and then it bakes up around it – effectively sealing it inside.  It’s really fun to watch in the oven.





IMG_7161 The frosting came out awesome.  Incredibly light and fluffy.  Plus, the insides had a strawberry filling with chunks of strawberries.  Mmmm…have a good remainder of the weekend!


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  1. Looked at results and saw how amazing awesomely fast you went! Congrats on a superb race Ray! At least now we can wear our shirts we got in our race packets because we are officially 13.1 finishers!

  2. well, you kind of were expecting that result, right? of course to the rest of us mortals, it seems like you were shot out of a canon! what a great race!

    and…it’s amazing the tricks one’s mind plays…turns out i only had a 3 minute course PR. And only 1 minute overall PR. But 10 minutes sounds way better.


  3. A PR is a PR is a PR. At least thats what I keep telling myself too. There’s always room for improvement and next time I have no doubt you’ll crush it.

    BTW – While I couldn’t pick you out of the crowd, I think I heard you as I was coming around the corner for the finish. Thanks for the extra boost I needed!

  4. Hey it was great meeting you! I didn’t see anyone at the end, so I just got on the metro and went home. Congrats on the PR!

  5. congratulations Rainmaker!! when you start a post with “you win some you lose some” i didn’t exactly expect it to end with a few minute PR :) well-earned!

  6. Cakes look like pinnacles of deliciousness. Congratulations on a fast race and a disappointment you’re taking philosophically.

  7. It is pretty cool on how you can look at your HR and know it so well that if it is a couple of beats off you know what will happen on race day.

    Congratulations on a terrific effort.

    P.S. ART is the best.

  8. Congrats on your finish (and are CRAZY fast!). And, as always… the cupcakes look delicious.

  9. From tossing off a PR HM to going home to make cupcakes–you are the Renaissance man, Rainmaker. You looked strong going by me at MP1 at the 6:00 mark, sorry to hear that you were just starting to realize you were in for a struggle. You ran a terrific race, and those pastries did look good enuf to eat. Did you use up all the cups when you went by each water station?

  10. Active Release is great. I could barely walk before IM Wisc a few years ago, and after 3 days of ART, I was all set.

  11. Hey for being sick you still HTFU’ed and still put in a PR and fine placing — nice job!

  12. It sucks that you didn’t do as well as you wanted to, but you’ll totally get it next time.

    Also I think my dad mistakenly took a picture of one of your Georgetown friends who he thought was me. I’ll have him email them to you.

    And quit taunting me with those cupcakes, Rainmaker!

  13. Great job out there the Spain trip took pay back on you. For sure you will be ready for the next 1 if you don’t have any other travel nice seeing yo out there.

  14. Dude, I thought we lost ya there for a second when I saw just your clothes on the floor (kidding).
    Awesome job.
    I’ve had Active Release done at Ohio State. Very painful for me, but it really loosened me up.

    Cupcakes? After the day I had, all I want to do is eat cupcakes.

  15. Not as pretty as you wanted, but still a PR.

  16. Nice Cupcakes!

    You got it right by saying you win some you lose some. Its all good in the big picture. Super fast time! Do that in a Half IM and you’ll be getting paid :-0

    Well Done!

  17. Hell I don’t do a 10miler in 1:20. Great job.

  18. Gads, that is still freaking fast. I would have been back at mile 9.5 when you rolled across the finish line.

    Those cupcakes are sinful looking. What I would give to be able to eat one without breaking out in hives. They look so yummy.

  19. Congrats on your PR!! Though you didn’t meet your race goal, you ran really well, esp. being sick earlier in the week. And I’ve always heard that you never really can make up for lost time going up hills unless the course is a net downhill course. But I guess one can always try :-)

  20. Sick for a week, and you still PR’d by a few minutes…

    Well done sir, the sport is about pushing through…and you did it well.
    Congrats on a strong PR

    –>those cupcakes look delish..i might have to try those

  21. Um, you still did a GREAT job Ray! I know you acknowledge that but you really have come so far in the last year – I think it’s incredible. And after being sick and traveling…

    I need to try ART. Badly.

    And making cupcakes. :)


    ps…the cup cakes looks delish!

  23. Very solid race, even though it was short of your goal. You seem dialed in to where your problems were, so I don’t expect you’ll have similar trouble the next time.

    Besides, a PR’s a PR!

  24. Hey there,
    I’ve been reading your blog off and on ever since I found it when looking for reviews on the Garmin GPS watch. Anyway, I also ran the National Marathon a few days ago. I’m a new runner and got into it during my quest to get fit in late 2007 where I lost about 95 pounds over 6 months or so. Running a half was on of my personal goals I set. Before running the National Marathon my only other organized run was a 5k I did in Philly in November of 07. My first goal was to finish which I did, and my secondary goal was to run it in less than 2 hours. I ended up running it in EXACTLY 2 hours down to the tenth of the second , 2:00:00.

    I consider myself a cyclist first and I think that training really helped me as I didnt find the hills to be difficult at all and in fact found that I was passing a lot of people on them.

    I don’t think this half marathon will be my last as I really do hope to be able to improve on my time, although cycling will always come first for me.

    Anyway, sorry to blabber on your blog, but I just wanted to say thanks for the writeup and all of the good information you’ve provided for your readers over the past few years. I know I’ve found it to be very helpful! And congrats on your time! You flew!


  25. Kwanzan cherry trees. I feel like we’ve had this conversation before …

    Massage is awesome. I can’t believe they aren’t a part of your regular training program.

    Congrats on the PR!