Thursday, May 5, 2011

Race Review and Results- Flower City Half

This is the second installment of my race weekend series and of the Flower City Double. On Sunday, I 'raced' in the Flower City Half Marathon. The introduction and goals to this race can be found here.

And I say 'raced' because... well because I'm not that good. It's hard to describe what I did as racing. I might be more inclined to use 'participating'. Allow me to expound:

In the Duathlon, there was chit chat. But, all of it occurred pre-race. In transition, we chatted about the crappy training season thus far. One guy commented that this was his first ride outside. (I secretly felt proud that I had ridden out 3 times this season.) I helped one dude, who was now in his second multisport event, set up his bike, helmet, glasses, and shoes for efficiency. We even went through a dry-run so he could pop his bike off the bar with ease and understand the process. I thanked the woman in front of me who happened to have a bright pink bag and would serve as my spotter in transition (the bag, not woman). At the starting line, the guys in the first wave shared light comedy.

Once the race started, chatter ended. Focus. Run run run. Hit T1. Bike bike bike. T2. Run run run. All business. There were a couple of pleasantries but none too much longer than 2-6 words (that's all we had breath for). Granted, I was competing in this race and the other guys (and the girl who chicked me) knew the drill.

Once we crossed the finishers arc, chatter resumed. We recalled the fun stuff from the race. We bantered about who passed whom at what point, did you see the guy who _______, or the story about the dancing dragon that crossed the path during run 2 (at least I wasn't the only one who saw it).

That was the Duathlon. I raced. Day 2 brought the Half Marathon. There was the same pre-race chatter. But, from where I was standing, then running, the chatter never ended. The lady yelled go and the only difference was that were were chatting at a faster pace.

She was neither Frank, Dan, nor Drew.
I met Frank. Frank was in a couple of age brackets past me and a former triathlete. He doesn't like how expensive the sport has become. We were having this conversation with Dan. Dan was running with Dan, who was being paced by Dan. If you are confused, try absorbing all of that while keeping your HR in Z2. Dan runs a tri business in a nearby town. He was in full advertising kit and a good guy. I'm pretty sure I beat Dan but Frank may have passed me in the last half mile of the run. I ran for quite some time with Drew, the Vibram Five Fingers guy. Whereas Drew had done this distance several times, it was the VFF's first half. Their previously longest run was 10 miles. I ran with the VFF and Drew for many miles. He was jealous of my Garmin and actually appreciated it's beeping every 0.25 miles. He wants one now. He definitely passed me in the last mile.

That's a shot of me from the race. Stop looking at the lady, she's not the point of this blog. Plus, I don't want to brag, but, check out my awesome quads and mid-foot strike (both of which have taken years to develop).

The point is that, with all of this socializing happening, there was not much time to race. Sure I had a goal time but it's hard to ignore the guy who is in your personal space, sweating, panting, and, at times grunting, for the past 3 miles. Running has no drafting penalty so we all just bunch up on each other. Plus, I'm kind of slow. Even if I wanted to compete, it would have been a fruitless venture. I had no hope of bringing home any of the cash offered to the good guys and gals. I banished myself to somewhere in the middle between awesome and just finishing. Had a great time though.

My goal on the day was a sub 7:30 pace. I did this, depending on your perspective. See what the Garmin has to say about the run (simply look right). According to my GPS, I rocked the run. However, if you look at the bottom line, you'd notice that once again the run was longer than the expected 13.1 advertised miles. Since my Race Preview, I had a conversation with a couple of people smarter than me (granted, that could be close to anyone on the planet). Anyway, I learned that the USATF sanctioning people are meticulous in their race distances. If you go to the USATF website, they list the process in excruciatingly painful details. Apparently they use laser sighting, infrared technology and military choppers. (Okay, I didn't read it all but it seemed like they were heading in that direction.) If the USATF guy says the course is 13.1, then you'd better believe it's 13.1.

Then I was ready to blame the Garmin. After a bit more research, I was dumbfounded. Apparently, it is about 99.8% accurate. That extra 0.02% does not account for the additional 0.14 miles posted. This is the tough part. The culprit was me. Crap. I hate admitting that I cannot run in a straight line. I was much happier when it was the USATF or the technology. The legs seem to zig zap along the way. I had to do things like snatch water, dodge a moving bullet, or avoid being stepped on by a minimalist runner. All of the back and forth juking adds up.

None of this was really a problem until I got the official race results back. They list the same time but calculate the pace for 13.1 and not 13.24. According to them, my pace was 7:33. This is completely unacceptable. I had a goal. I do not like missing my goals. Therefore, I prefer to ignore the spreadsheet. If my 99.8% accurate Garmin says I ran 13.24 miles at a 7:27, I am prone to believe it. It ran with me the whole time. The spreadsheet wasn't there when I went up the cobblestone cemetery inclines. The spreadsheet wasn't there when I started to bonk at 11.5 miles. (See the data for yourself. Simply look up a bit.) The spreadsheet wasn't there when I skipped breakfast for the second straight day in a row, pre-race (more evidence that I am not that smart and possibly the reason for bonking). The Garmin held my wrist the entire time. In the Garmin/ Spreadsheet battle, the GPS wins the emotional vote and will be the focus of my goal achievement attention.

The Numbers:
Press right here
  • I was 171st place overall
  • I was the 144th boy to cross the line (yes, I was chicked 27 times and it was awesome!)
  • Official (ignored) time 1:38.43
  • Official (ignored) pace 7:33
  • Unofficial (focal) time 1:38.43
  • Unofficial (focal) pace 7:27
  • Did anyone else notice how the Garmin's time was really close to the Official time?
  • Here's a picture of me demonstrating how to accurately stop your watch to match the official time. I am not looking at the clock.
The Goods about the race:
  • The race venue, hands down, was the greatest place to host a race (they used the downtown sports center). Indoors. Lots of bathrooms and space. They even had a band playing rock when we finished.
  • The course is about as good as it gets. Mostly flat, except for the cemetery portion. Very nice course for goal setting.
  • Post-race spread- one of the major sponsors was a pizza parlor that specializes in non-processed ingredients. Plus, they had the usual suspects of fruit and beverages.
  • Volunteers- if I've said it once I will say it again and again. They people are possibly the greatest on Earth. I've only volunteered once at a race and that was a fundraiser for my school when I was 14. There were tons of happy, smiling, cheering guys and gals of all ages doing all sorts of crap work that most people wouldn't want to be paid for doing. Thank you all!
The Bads about the race:
  • My pre-race preparation- If I'd have eaten breakfast, maybe I wouldn't have had to rationalize the Official Time versus Garmin Time thing
  • Post-race cups of water- this is a bit nitpicky here- the water authority brought a truck and handed water in customized cups. As a guy who was tired, it took way too much of my concentration to not spill that water. I was in desperate need of a lid. 
  • My attitude- I so don't like pure running races. Most anything else would be out of spite.
Thanks to Fleet Feet and Yellow Jacket racing for their efforts. This race happens at a perfect time of year. It's close to home. It matches with my later season goals and is a good measurement of my training. The weekend proved that my running is on par. It also proved that I need a bunch more biking on my belt if I want to hit my goals. I should probably start swimming again but you can't really glean that info from the race data.


  1. Im with you-nowhere near as speedy as you are, but I had my sights set for a sub 1:50 and missed it by 9 seconds! Garmin = 13.25. Boots told me I didn't run the tangents well enough and thats why. I dunno about that :-P Good luck in placid this year!!

  2. Boots and I have disagreed in the past, but he's a smart guy and right about the tangents. In my mind, you were well under 1:50 for 13.1. Congrats! You have the Banter Seal of Approval. Thanks for reading and the Placid well wishes :-)