Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tobacco Raod Half Marathon Race Report

Pre-Race Goals:

  1. Sub- 2 hours -- Not yet, but soon!
  2. Beat My PR of 2:03:33  Race time of 2:01:40
  3. Not get injured and run the whole race No injuries to report.

Going into this race, I was on edge because I hadn't run a race since November, and my last Half Marathon was in May of last year.  I had been on a race hiatus since Hiroko entered her third trimester of pregnancy.  After Kaito was born I ran in our local Turkey Trot because it is next to my house and one of my favorite local races.  I kind of promised that I wouldn't run anything until March just because the logistics of a family with two working parents and a newborn living in area with no family support, just doesn't really need race day stress added to it all that often. 

However, I was able to train for the race fairly well by getting up at some ungodly hours and fitting in lunch runs and home workouts.  In fact, I was feeling rather good about the prospects of a PR until I went for my 12 mile long run three weeks before the race and ended up limping home with a calf strain.  From that point on my nerves were on edge and I was going a bit taper crazy.  However, by race day, I got myself to a point where I thought that I had worked out my leg issues enough to carry me through the race.

The Race:  The Tobacco Road Half Marathon is an out and back race run mostly on the American Tobacco Trail, which is a rails to trails project here in the Triangle and is Shalane Flanagan's favorite place in the world to run.  The course is pretty tight, and is a series of long slow inclines and declines, and is run on a very forgiving compacted gavel surface.  Some people don't like the cramped feeling of this race or the out and back nature of the course, but these aspects really appeal to me.  Plus, I having everyone bunched so closely together helps to balance out the lack of crowd support.  The only thing that I don't really like about the course is the up hill at the very end of the course as you enter the USA Baseball training facility.

My plan was to find the 2 hour pace group and try to stick as close to them for as long as possible.  I knew that the nature of the injury I was carrying into the race would allow me to run pretty much pain free until around eight miles.  After the eight mile mark, I had no idea, but I hoped that a lot of taping and the softer surface than the pavement I had trained would make a difference and keep my calf from acting up.  Luckily, I was right.  I got a little tight, but nothing worse than you would expect from a half marathon.  The weather was all you could ask with temps in the mid 50's, and aside from a little cross wind at the end of the race, the day was just perfect.

Most of the first three miles were run with the Full Marathon folks and were on paved roads.  During this portion I just tried to avoid getting caught up in the crowd and boxed in .  I'm no fan of the first miles of any race and this one is no different.  Personally, I find the first two mile of this race a bit of a drag, but that is only because I just can't wait until we hit the turn onto the ATT.

Mile 1: 9:01
Mile 2: 9:12
Mile 3: 8:52

Miles 4,5,6: saw the course get a bit more cramped as the faster runners began to make their way to the turn around and come back past us.  I like this part of the race because I get to lose myself in a bit of in race spectating.  A few times I did have to work my way through groups of runners, and water stops are always an adventure.

Mile 4: 8:53
Mile 5: 9:09
Mile 6: 9:21

Mile 7,8,9: I was dreading this portion of the race.  I knew if I were going to have injury issues the would happen here, but the only thing of any real interest to happen was a near fight between two guys.  I'm not sure what happened, but a guy and a girl got tangled up just past a water stop and another guy didn't like it.  I started puffing ups his chest and trying to start a fight.  Other people shouted him down and everyone kept running.  My take is if you got that much energy to start a fight.  You're not running had enough.  The whole thing was just dumb.  I have no idea if he said something or what, but that is not what anyone came out to see.

Mile 7: 8:52
Mile 8: 9:05
Mile 9: 9:08

Miles 10, 11, 12:  The slow incline began to take a toll and I had to watch the pace group slip past me.  But, I did my best to keep them in sight, knowing that I was still heading for a good sized PR, regardless.  I hooed that I would be able to real them in, but as much as I struggled to keep up, I just couldn't find the gear that I needed to pull them in, so I just tried to stay focused on running the race that I had in me. 

Mile 10: 9:26
Mile 11: 9:34
Mile 12: 9:30

Mile 13 and .1:  I wanted to give a kick, but there was no kick.  It was just time cruise in and be happy with my finish.  The last portion of the race on the road was just punishing and I was glad to get through it.  But, I had no complaints at all considering I was PR-ing by nearly 2 minutes.

Mile 13: 9:45
.1: 1:52 (9:33 pace)

Hiroko's co-worker Paul and I at  the finish


  1. Hooray for the PR!!!! Sub-2 will be yours soon enough but you def can't complain about a PR like that. Also, what the crap with the mid-race brawl? Ridiculous.

  2. Congrats. great report. You will break 2 hr in no time

  3. Greg, congratulations on finishing this race. I was there too and it was also my second half marathon. I did the Raleigh Rocks in April 2012. I always have one extra goal that you haven't listed and that is to get to the starting line.