Monday, February 19, 2007

Palm Springs Half Marathon

I ran the Palm Springs Half Marathon this weekend. It's a great race that I've wanted to run for several years but haven't been able to do so. Last year, I was suffering from a hip-flexor injury and missed the race. This year, I was using this event as a good tune-up race in my training for the Boston Marathon in April.

I didn't have the highest expectations for this race because I kinda overdid it this week in training and didn't taper much at all (82.5 miles; 8x1mile in 6:10 each on Tuesday; 21 miles on Thurs, last 5 @ 6:52 each).

We had perfect weather (50s, overcast which is rare in Palm Springs, no wind) slightly hilly course (see note about course map below). No need for sunscreen or sunglasses. Just a nice cool day for racing.

Race started at 7:00am. When my watch read, 7min 5sec into the race, I realized I was either running pathetically slower than I expected or I had missed the first mile marker.
Fortunately, it was the latter, not the former. (The opening mile marker to me is the most important one to catch to make sure my pace is not too fast or slow.) A person running near me told me their splits at that point.

Here's my splits for the entire race. You can tell where the hills were because I ran a relatively even paced effort and pushed it at the end which has a little bit of uphill also.

Mile 1 - 6:20 (6:20)
Mile 2 - 12:49 (6:29)
Mile 3 - 19:09 (6:20)
Mile 4 - 25:36 (6:26)
Mile 5 - 32:10 (6:34) - starting uphill
Mile 6 - 39:02 (6:52) - climbing
Mile 7 - 45:16 (6:13)
Mile 8 - 51:29 (6:13)
Mile 9 - 57:29 (5:59)
Mile 10 - 1:03:45 (6:16)
Mile 11 - 1:09:55 (6:09)
Mile 12 - 1:16:34 (6:38) - slight climb
Mile 13 - 1:22:57 (6:22)
Finish - 1:23:32 (:35) [6:22 average pace overall]

I must have run a negative split. If I split mile 7 in half (3:07) and add 19sec (.05 @ 6:22 pace), I'm guessing my first/second half splits were 42:28 and 41:04 (in other words, 6 miles + ½ mile + .05). But the climbs were mostly in the first half.

This is a huge PR (personal record) for me. My pace (6:22 per mile) would also be PR's for 10K and 15K since my paces in my PR runs for those distances were 6:33 ten years ago and 6:42 last summer, respectively. I'll be running a 15K and a 10K in a few weeks so hopefully I can reset those PR benchmarks as well.

It's also nice that this race completely resolves my PR dilemma for the half marathon distance. Until 4 weeks ago, I considered my PR Half to be 1:29:31 (San Dieguito Half 2005). I didn't count my 1:26:46 at Fontana Days Half in 2004 since that is an extremely downhill course that I ran only 4 weeks training. On January 20, 2007, I ran 1:25:15 at Diamond Valley Lake Half, but I suspected the course was short and I thought I ran something more like the equivalent of 1:27:40. Today's race supercedes all of those times so it's nice to have that PR situation rectified. BTW, I now suspect that the course at Diamond Valley Lake Half probably was a complete 13.1 miles and that the mile markers were off. Palm Springs is a tougher course than Diamond Valley Lake and I ran 1:45 faster today.

I also couldn't help but think on the way home that I missed qualifying for NYCM by only :32 (or by 8 months... whichever way you want to look at it since I turn 40 in October).

I can honestly say I'm stunned that I ran that fast today. I was hoping to run 1:25 so I'd know I had reasonable chance to attempt running under 3:00 in Boston. I didn't think I was capable of getting to 1:24, yet alone to 1:23. I'm pleased to say the least. It just felt good, all the way to the finish.

I ended up finishing 12th overall (out of 652), but only 4th in my age group (M 35-39).

Happy Chinese New Year everyone (which was Sunday)!

Note: The course map/elevation chart linked above is not completely accurate. There were so many turns on this course that I never could plot it correctly. I'm sure the course was accurate (and not 12.64 miles like my feable attempt at plotting the course is).