High Bridge Half Marathon – Training Paces are for Suckers

So, I ran the High Bridge Half Marathon on Saturday. This was a race I’ve known about for years but never signed up for it. Farmville is about an hour drive away from where I live and I generally only suffer through one summer time half marathon a year and it’s usually the Lynchburg Half. I had a few reasons to sign up this year. Reason one: Friends. Reason Two: Beer! (a new brewery was supposed to be open that weekend, sadly delayed a week). If you like breweries, here’s the info! Reason 3: My Birthday!!!

When I signed up for High Bridge, my old training plan called for a 17 miler, which meant that I’d have to add on miles. The plan was to add 2 before and 2 after, running all of the miles at my training pace of 7:30 to 7:45 per mile. The training plan switch that I made last week conveniently changed my long run to 13 miles at 7:29. This meant that I’d be able to run only the race and I’d get to run it faster! 

Lynchburg had plenty of representation out in Farmville. We were all very excited. There’s been a ton of hard work being put in for our training this summer and I know my running buddies were looking to see what the training was doing. I felt that urge to, but continued to tell myself that I was going to stick to the training pace like I did at the Lynchburg Half last month.

I had one thing that i had to get figured out for race day and it was the age old question: What shoes am I going to wear? I narrowed it down to my shiny new Saucony Kinvara 8s or my old beat up Altra The One 2.5s (complete with Budweiser laces, thanks Melanie). I consulted Running Twitter for advice and got mixed reviews, but many seemed to share my sentiment that I should give the old Altras one last ride. So that’s what I decided. 

Beauties or the beasts?

I woke up at 5am, with a plan to get out the door by 5:30 (plenty of time for the required pre-race potty) for the one hour drive to allow for about an hour to pick up my packet and get to the start line. I woke up from a pretty good night’s sleep, which was surprising. I usually don’t sleep well the night before race distances of half marathon or longer, but I was consistent telling myself that it was no biggie since I wasn’t actually going to be racing. That feeling changed a bit when I woke up. I felt the typical pre-race nerves for the whole drive to Farmville. I was antsy to say the least (and I didn’t even have coffee).

I drove past running buddy MC as we were getting close to Farmville, so we met up in the parking lot and went to pick up our packets. I brought Tailwind (which I’m starting to REALLY like) to carry for the race, but due to great weather I decided not to carry anything and I drank about 6oz in the parking lot. I had to use the potty (again), which had me a little concerned about tummy issues but I’ve run through THOSE before. At least a 2nd trip had me confident that I was race ready. What are the odds that a THIRD trip will be needed? Right? Ok, I promise that there will be no more potty talk for the rest of this post.

At the starting line, we met up with the rest of the Lynchburg crew (now being called Hill City Harriers, but it’s not official until I have a shirt). The weather was amazingly cool. I’d have worn another layer if I had one, but it was comfortably cold which in my opinion is right where you want to be. I felt loose and relaxed and my legs felt fresh. I was SUPER excited about my iPod playlist too! I cleaned house and took off many of the songs that I like but don’t fire me up. It was nothing but HYPE SONGS for me. The playlist might be what led me to do what I ended up doing. We’ll get to that shortly.

Off we went! I had some technical difficulties early on with my earbuds but got settled in. All the messing around probably cost me 7 seconds I’d guess.

I can’t run without my Bananarama!

First mile, 7:06. Slow down, dummy! I did slow down a little bit and got settled in with running buddies Preston and Kevin. We cruised to miles of 7:18, 7:17, 7:13 and 7:11. My training pace of 7:29 was nowhere in sight, but I felt too good to slow down! In fact, I felt too good not to speed up. Two things happened: First, Preston and I decided to speed up and catch a young runner that was a bit ahead of us. That led to a 7:01 mile. Then, we saw running buddy Robbie run past us near the turn around. I had been getting in Preston’s ear about trying to catch Robbie and when he ran by I yelled something like, “Get ready! I’m coming for ya, Robbie!” 

At this point, I made the decision that the training pace just didn’t matter to me all that much. This was one of those days where everything was going right and you just have to go with it. The physical aspect of my training may suffer a bit from the extra effort that isn’t part of the plan, but I can’t help but feel that the psychological benefits will pay off. Running is such a mental game. So as I whipped around the turnaround point, I took off in search of Runemy #1.

I was amazed at how I was able to pick up the pace in the 2nd half of a half marathon like this. Honestly, I’d have been afraid to on most other days. Mile 7: 6:48, Mile 8: 6:33. 6:33? That’s like a good 5k pace! I had 5 miles left! I started to think about blowing up. I didn’t care. My goal was Robbie. I was going to catch up to him, or die trying. I figured he had about a quarter mile on me at the halfway point which made catching him a challenge, but a possibility.

I started catching up to a few people, but there weren’t many to catch. The top runners (including Lynchburg legend Jeff Harrington and Hill City Harriers Brooke and MC) were not going to be caught. I think there were maybe 14 runners in front of me at the halfway point. Every time I’d catch one and it wasn’t Robbie, I’d feel a little disappointed but would make up my mind to continue my persuit. Mile 9: 6:40, Mile 10: 6:34. It was somewhere between miles 10 and 11 that I could see Robbie at a distance. I made up my mind not to get TOO excited to pass him up only to allow him to pass me back again. Robbie goes to another level of toughness late in the race and I wanted no part of it. Mile 11: 6:43.

I slowly cut the distance between Robbie and I until about mile 12. I came up along side Robbie and could tell he was suffering through. He did an amazing job and ended up with a shiny new PR and an AG win. Robbie wished me well with a “go get em” or something similar. I worried that he said that to bring out a sense of relief in me so that he might get me relaxed and pass me back. For that reason I didn’t let up one bit. I imagined Robbie giving one last charge up until about the very end. Mile 12: 6:38. I owe it to Robbie to be fully honest here. Robbie ran the VA Beach RnR half marathon the week before, so for him to do as well as he did was quite an accomplishment and who knows what would have happened. 

Imagining Robbie on my tail kept me pushing, even though I was starting to wear out. Mile 13: 6:32. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. These late, fast miles blew my mind! What a confidence boost for Richmond! Somewhere in the last quarter mile or so, Jeff Harrington was hanging out and cheering other runners in (as he usually does, such a great guy) and he said to me cheerfully, “1:29 Randy!” 1:29???? I had NO idea that I was so close to breaking 1:30, based on my first 6 miles and I wasn’t even thinking about it. The second I heard him say that, I hit a full sprint toward the finish. I saw the clock and it was in the late 1:29s. I knew there was no way I’d stay under, but I still wanted the best I could get and I sprinted in to a 1:30:07 (by chip time) and a new PR of my own!

The splits of a crazy person.

I was about as happy as I’ve ever been about a race. It wasn’t just the PR. It was the way that I came to attain it. I’ve never found that level of determination in a distance race before. It gives me great hope for Richmond and eventually…Boston.

It’s a good looking group. Medals for all!

I had no time for pics, but we ran on this!



And beer in a tiny boot!

25 Replies to “High Bridge Half Marathon – Training Paces are for Suckers”

  1. Great read! I set my pr in the 15k by working to catch people in the second half of the race. That must bring out that next level competitive drive or something. Your splits aren’t crazy in my opinion. I’ve seen professional runners run races like that, where they hold way back in the first half and then fly through the second half feeling great.
    Hope the legs recover quickly!

    Like

  2. Awesome race Randy and congrats on the PR! You sure pulled me that last mile as I was wearing out. I feel pretty accomplished with the 2 half marathon’s in 6 days and to PR on the second I will take it! Much respect for you brother and with your determination you will meet your goal in Richmond and eventually a trip to Boston!! Great write up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on such a great run! I’m astounded by your speed… I can only dream!… and also impressed by your negative splits! I rarely can pull that off. Also – what a beautiful course!! Adding that race to my someday list. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. THIS GAVE ME CHILLS. wow. seriously. wow. I’m so happy for you!! I ran a similar race (not as fast) where I started off “slowly” and around mile 5 felt *it*–you know it, that feeling of just going for it. It was my first negative split half marathon and my current PR. And it’s what ignited the fire to shoot for a BQ. I think you’re ready!!!! Congrats!! So inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

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