Saturday, September 26, 2009

Race Report: Philadelphia Distance Run

Philadelphia Distance Run
Half-marathon: 13.1 miles
September 20, 2009

Chip time: 1:43:46.
Pace: 7:55/mile
Placed: 2,204 out of 12,447

I've always wanted to run this popular local race, but it never fit into my schedule. PDR was exactly three weeks after Ironman Louisville, so how I would do in the event was up in the air. Would I be ready to push hard and actually race? Or would I still need to watch my recovery from Ironman and treat it like a low-intensity long run for marathon training?

Recovery was going well, so I did a couple of short runs with marathon-pace intervals earlier in the week. Everything seemed fine. I had no problem hitting the goal pace, holding it for a mile, and had no problems afterwards. So I decided to race it.

Goal pace was eight minutes per mile, for a total time of 1:44:52. That's the pace I'll have to hold at the Philadelphia Marathon, November 22, to qualify in my age group for the Boston Marathon. This has been my big goal all season: to get withing striking distance of qualifying for Boston. I hit the mark in the 10-mile Broad Street Run in May, but that was the only stand-alone road (running) race of any distance I did this season. So PDR was a good test, especially after a season of triathlon and the big build for Ironman.

Race morning was perfect: temps in the upper 50's at the start, sunny, light breeze. I'm really a cold-weather wimp so I had a long sleeve under armor, but decided to toss it before the start and go with shorts & singlet only. Good choice. Sleeves would have been to warm.

I started at just below 8:00/mile from the start. Down the Ben Franklin Parkway, around City Hall and down Market Street, past Independence Mall, and then up Walnut. I held my pace, although I had to pay attention to my GPS to make sure I was staying between 7:45/ and 8:00/mile. Heart rate was up in the lactate threshold zone, so well above aerobic, but based on my half-marathon at Rhode Island 70.3 in July, I knew I could sustain that level of effort.

After passing back through Eakins Oval the course headed out on MLK Drive, the site of several 5Ks earlier in the season, and a nice open view of the Schuylkill River. At mile 6, nature came a-calling, and I dodged into a porta-potty for about a minute. Back to business, I picked up the pace a bit and still managed eight minutes for that mile. Across the Falls Bridge and the work got a little harder. Had to push a bit more to keep the pace.

Mile 9 was the toughest, as it was too far to be a cake walk back to the finish, and long enough into the race to start feeling it. Pushed through mile 9 and came to the 10-mile marker, showing only a 5K left to go. That made the countdown easy. Coming up to Boat House Row, I picked up the pace to give myself a bit of a cushion - I knew I had my goal time in hand, but I also had some room to dig for more speed, so did. I pushed mile 13 the hardest, and then got into a sprint after the final turn with about 100 yards to go before the finish. I lost that sprint but it was a great burst at the end to cap off a great run.

Nailing my goal pace and finish time, I am now even more convinced that my disappointing result at Ironman Louisville was due to an off day. I felt fine but just didn't hit any of my paces or goal times for the splits. After results in Eagleman and Rhode Island 70.3s earlier in the season, and again at PDR, I know my times and what I can do. Louisville just wasn't in the cards, and that's OK.

Now, on to the final push for the Philadelphia Marathon. Long runs, Yasso 800's, hill repeats. Stay tuned.

Watch a cool PDR video here.

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