Skagit Flats Half Marathon
11th overall, 4th age group
This is by far the best race I have ever ran. It was a 4:22 PR over my last half marathon in March. Skagit Flats is a local race (sort of) that is fairly small. There were ~400 runners in the half. I'm not sure how many were in the full marathon. Instead of driving 2 hours north the day of the race, I stayed the night at my great-aunt's house, which is only 30 minutes away. Before the race started, they announced a few marathoners who had run 200+ and 400+ marathons, including Larry Macon.
The course is an out and back through some rural roads with beautiful farm land as far as the eye could see (minus the start/finish at the local high school). The weather was rainy and colder. Probably around 54 at the start. Oddly enough, I run my best in that kind of weather. Guess I'm a true PNW runner.
I wasn't sure what race strategy I would use until the morning of the race. I was debating between starting slower (7:10's) and working my way down to 6:45's (1:30 is 6:51 pace) or just going out like hell and holding on until I died. I opted for the latter.
I lined up towards the front of the start. Well, at the front of the start. Based on my goal time of 1:30 and previous years' results, I figured I would be top 20 overall. I heard a few of the full marathoners talking about shooting for 2:42 (the winner was actually 2:38). I knew I didn't want to stick with them at the start. Still, when the gun went off I took off like a bat out of hell. I ran with a small group of guys for the first few miles. Around mile 2, four of us broke away a little. We took turns accelerating ahead to lead the group until the turn around. One of the other guys was a full marathoner and kept going. The other two runners and myself picked up the pace a little. Then, we picked up the pace A LOT. The splits(below) show that the really fast mile hurt me. One of the other two guys was able to recover from it a little better and pulled away. The other runner (Greg, as I learned from those cheering for him) and myself ran together until about mile 9 or 10 when I pulled away. I held it together pretty well for the first 9 miles (again, splits below). Even so, my “falling apart” wasn't that bad. My splits were still faster than my average pace from my previous PR. Somehow, I managed to pull together a really strong finish for the last .1 miles and crossed the line in 1:27:30.
Overall, I really enjoyed the race. It was a great, fast, flat course. The volunteers were really helpful. Though I didn't take any water during the race (not my smartest move), the cheering and support they gave was awesome. A few of the hs cross country teams manning the aid stations were given a list of entrants/bib numbers. So instead of the usual “good job” we heard our names. For me this gave a huge boost. If you're ever in the PNW in September, I highly recommend this event. I'll have more pics soon, for now there's just one, I believe around mile 4.
Nerd alert: My overall time at 4 and 8 miles was 26:26 and 52:52. Being the numbers guy I am, I thought that was really cool.
This past year, I have lowered my half marathon PR by 9:28. I am at a whole new level of running that I have never been at before. It is an amazing and humbling feeling at the same time. I'm slowly thinking that I might shoot for sub-3:20 at PDX next month.