Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New Bedford Half Marathon

At the start of the year, The New Bedford Half Marathon was to be my “Goal Race” for the Spring of 2012. I geared my early season training plan around it in order to peak for the March 18th race date and hopefully run a new Half Marathon PR. And, while my training did go pretty well for the first 2+ months of the year, I realized after the 10 miler that a HM PR (1:23:06 or better) was a little bit beyond my reach at the moment. So, going into the race, my "new" plan was to put in a good, hard effort and just have fun with it.

As usual, the start at New Bedford was crazy. It took me a while just to worm my way up through the tightly packed corral area to a place where I thought I should be, pre-start. The temps were near ideal – Sunny, 45 degrees and almost no wind. Of course, we were standing amongst the taller buildings in downtown New Bedford, so any wind was bound to be somewhat minimized. That was not to be the case, as it turned out, down by Clark’s Cove and New Bedford Harbor. But, more on that later …

I got away clean at the gun and spent the first half mile just trying not to get tripped up – like I was at the Shamrock Shuffle last year. I went through the first mile in 6:26 and was running comfortably next to Mike Wright, with Brian Kane close behind and Tyler Brannen just ahead. Mile two went by a bit quicker in 6:14 as we got a push from behind by the wind. Miles 3 and 4 (6:34 & 6:48) were a bit more challenging due to the hills that were thrown into the mix – with the big one coming at about 3.5 miles.

It was on this climb that I said goodbye to Mike and bade him farewell in his up-hill pursuit of the smooth-running Tyler. Right at about the 4 mile mark Justin Soucy came speeding by and I clung onto the back of him as best as I could and we went through the wind (and the fifth mile) in 6:11. We could see Mike Wright up ahead and were gaining on him a bit. After another quick mile (6:15) the three of us were running together in a pack, but once we hit the 10k mark, Mike kicked it up a notch and drifted away.

Screaming Toward The Finish
Justin put in a surge to try to catch Mike and in the process he pulled me along to a day’s best split of 6:07 for the 7th mile. However, even with that quick pace, Justin had built up a good sized gap between us. It was at this point that we turned directly into the punishing wind and our split times went up considerably. Mile 8 was run in 6:39 and Mile 9 was an even slower 6:40. By that time I was running in a pretty tightly bunched pack and we swallowed up a solo-running Soucy before the turn for home. He was knackered from his battle with the wind and fell behind a bit at the turnaround. 

During Mile 10, I felt a bit of a push from behind by the wind. But not enough to go any faster than a 6:29. Mile 11 was just a little bit quicker in 6:25 and by that point Justin had worked his way back up to me. Either that, or I had worked my way back to him. We ran together for a little while and then he began to pull away as we hit the turn and made our way up the final hill of the day.

I went through Mile 12 in 6:46, and although my mind was fresh and wanted to attack the hill, my legs were firmly in control and felt much differently – like mashed potatoes, in fact. I struggled through the uphill mile in a day’s worst split of 6:51 then kicked hard for the finish line and ended up with a 1:25:10. While my finishing time was not a PR, it was my 5th fastest ever for a Half (out of 20+ races) and proved to me that I’m headed in the right direction. 

In the end, I was very pleased with my overall effort and compete level. I raced hard all day long, gave it everything I had for the full 13.1 and really enjoyed mixing it up with my fellow GCS teammates – which made for a very happy trip back from the Whaling City!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks guys. Good luck in Cali this weekend!

  2. Awesome finish line photo!
    Curious if it was followed by you bent over, with hands on knees, drive know, like a typical Mike Wade finish! Nice Job, glad I stayed home :-)

    1. Hands on knees? - Yes. Dry heaving? - No. I waited until after I got my water and medal to do that.:)

      You were definitely missed out there. Are you still planning on Wallis Sands for your triumphant return to racing?