Run for the Red Pocono Half Marathon Race Report

Name of the raceRun for the Red Pocono Half Marathon

Where: Stroudsburg, PA

Date: May 21, 2017

Time: 7:00 am

Distance: 13.1 miles

Terrain: Massive net decline (but with rolling hills)

Entry fee: $75 Through March 31
$90 April 1 Through May 20th or when registration reaches capacity (350 Runners)
$40 Active Military
$25 Active Military Academy

Post-race Food
: Sandwiches, bagels, bananas, oranges, muffins, and water

Time: 1:47:19

Performance: Overall: 75/247 Gender: 29/139; Age (30-39): 14/50

Weather: 46 degrees, 100% humidity (I have a hard time  believing this because it didn’t feel that humid. I checked another site and it indicated that humidity was 84% that day. Still, the day did not feel humid, but nice and crisp.)

Run for the Red Half is quickly becoming one of my favorite halves. It’s a PR- and BQ-friendly (for the marathon distance) course with a massive net decline that goes point-to-point through the Poconos. I ran this race last year, had a great time, and wrote up what is my favorite race report. I was looking forward to this race as this was my big spring goal race.

While I had a good training period leading up to my 5K PR, training fell off the wagon a bit after I obtained the long sought-after sub-23 goal. I think it’s kinda common to lose a bit of momentum after reaching a big goal. While I was still running regularly, I wasn’t having great training runs (not bad ones, but not great ones, mostly mediocre and some downright crappy). Usually before a big goal half, I’d like to do two 10-mile steady state runs, but I failed to do any before this half.

Going into this race, I didn’t know what to expect. At best, I figured I’d do a sub-1:50 and at worst, well, I’d just have a nice long (expensive) training run. My legs were feeling tired, so I didn’t have great hopes. Plus it didn’t help that Saturday morning was a comedy of errors. First I forgot my Simple Hydration bottle at the AirBnB that we were staying at. Luckily Ben remembered just as we pulled away from the driveway. Then several minutes later, I remembered that I left my bib behind, so we turned around to go get it. Fortunately we had enough time to go back because we intended to stop to get coffee, so I simply lost my morning coffee. Finally we almost drove to the wrong high school. The race starts at one high school and the marathon ends at another high school, which is where the expo was. Ben absentmindedly assumed we were going to Stroudsburg High (the end of the marathon) when he confirmed with me that we were going to the high school. SUPER FORTUNATELY FOR ME, as we were talking we realized that the directions were set up for the wrong high school. We corrected the direction to the other high school and I breathed a sigh of relief, when we saw that we had been driving in the correct direction and that the high school for the start was coming up shortly. We dodged a major bullet there.

Despite all that, we arrived to the start with plenty of time. One of the things I like about this race is that you have a warm indoor place to hang out before the start (the high school) and there are plenty of indoor restrooms. People don’t realize this and line up for the first restroom they see when if you walk down another hallway, there’s another restroom with no line.

I wanted to take the race pretty conservatively in the beginning, so I lined up with Otto, the 3:45 marathon pace leader because he was going to run an 8:35 pace. After I ran this race, I looked back at last year’s report and noticed a number of similarities, including the fact that I started with Otto last year as well (and our splits for the first three miles were pretty much identical).

My plan was to run 8:30’ish miles for the first 5 miles and then see how I felt.

Mile 1: 8:21
Mile 2: 8:04 (too fast, but there’s a net decline for this mile)
Mile 3: 8:26
Mile 4: 8:32
Mile 5: 8:33
I didn’t feel great during these five miles. My legs felt tired and I kinda wondered if I was going to be able to keep up this pace for the rest of the race, but I knew I had to just keep it together until I reached the massive downhill section of the course. At that point, I knew I could cruise it in until I reached the flat section of the course.
Mile 6: 8:38
Mile 7-9: 8:02, 8:01, 8:05 — These were the miles with massive drops. I was not pushing the pace, but keeping it easy. These miles felt very very easy and I was really enjoying myself. Unlike last year where I pushed the pace a bit, I kept it very easy because I wanted to save myself for the hill just after Mile 11. I remembered how much I died last year when climbing that hill.
Mile 10: 8:16 – The massive drops ended but I felt good, in fact much better than at the start. Last year, I thought this section was an uphill section and only found out later that it was flat. This year, it felt flat and much easier to run because I didn’t burn up everything on the downhill.
Mile 11: 8:04 – Keeping focused on not falling apart and running strong til the end.
Mile 12: 8:13 – This was the mile with the small hill – but I kept on focusing on not falling apart. Unlike last year where I crawled up the hill, I literally bounded up this time.
Mile 13: 7:24 – When I saw the Mile 12 marker, I poured everything out of me. I left it all out on the course. While I was out running, I had been on the lookout for the 3:40 pacer who would be running around 8:24 pace. I figured I’d catch up to him around Mile 10 or 11, but I didn’t see him. I was puzzled and wondered if I had already passed him and didn’t notice because of my semi-delirious state or if he was running too fast. It turned out to be the latter because I didn’t see him until just after the Mile 12 marker. My race mantra is I can do anything for one mile and I repeat this to myself whenever I’m in the last mile of a race. It helps me to bear the pain a little while longer. I was going to blaze through this last mile and die at the finish line. I caught up to the back of the 3:40 group and needed to make my way through them. I didn’t want to talk (too tired), so I went, “Beep! Beep!” in hopes that the runners would part. They didn’t hear me. Mental sigh. So I mustered up the energy to say, “Coming through.” Immediately they parted.

As I tore through them, one of the marathoners said, “I hope you’re running the half.” I nodded my head. The pacer cheered me on and told me that I looked great. I responded with two thumbs up. I was on a mission.

There’s a bridge that you need to cross toward the end of the half finish line. I heard someone yell, “Car!” In my running state of delirium, I wondered why on earth is someone yelling car when there is clearly no car on the bridge. A runner ahead of me swerved to the right and yelled, “CAR!” to me. I instinctively followed him and only then did I see the car. “Oh, they were warning me a car was approaching. . . “
Mile .1: 7:15 pace – A mad sprint to finish line
I saw the timing clock ticking away and I knew I could go sub-1:48 if I hussled.
Time: 1:47:19
This is my second fastest half and I beat last year’s time by over 40 seconds. As I analyzed my splits from this year and last year, I learned that yes, apparently coaches do know what they’re talking about when they say start more conservatively so you can run a faster race. Despite the fact that I ran the first two-thirds of the half far more slowly (I was about a minute slower), I ran a faster race overall because I didn’t lose so much time during the late flat and uphill sections and I was able to lay down a REALLY fast last mile.
I’m rather pleased with this spring’s race season. I snagged some new PRs, came close to other PRs, and laid down a rather nice foundation for summer training. While I will be doing some races over the summer, those races will be more for training runs than for racing. I’m looking forward to training hard the next few months so I can set myself up for BIG fall goals.

12 thoughts on “Run for the Red Pocono Half Marathon Race Report

  1. Yay! So happy to read this race report. Oh how I really like this race. I would love to do it again too. You reminded me just how fast that first half of the race is. I remember flying by a 3:25 pace group and feeling zero guilt because it was just how my body was moving on those hills (the second half gets tough!). I am so thrilled for you. After that hectic rush to the start, I am so glad that you had the race you deserved to run. Stellar spring for you!

    • If I had answered, “Nope, the marathon!” I don’t know if they would have gotten discouraged or if they would just shake their heads at my foolishness in going out so hard.

    • Woohoo!

      Can’t believe you’re already running in 100 degree heat. We had a short hot spell, but now it’s cold and drippy again (still not complaining because it’s better than humidity).

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