Monday, April 7, 2014

Come-See-Me Half Marathon Race Report

I didn't really have this race on the schedule coming into this year.  My wife and some of her friends have really gotten into running half marathons.  They all wanted to run it, and since it was local, I thought I would join in as well.
This is the 37th year of the Come-See-Me Festival Road Races.  Come-See-Me is Rock Hill's atrocious name for their Spring Festival.  It's a 10 day extravaganza of all kinds of outdoor stuff.  The name is slightly better than the now defunct Fort Mill's Fest-i-fun.  Who thinks these names are a good idea?  But I digress . . . Anyways the Road Race hasn't had a half in quite some time.  I know they did like 15-20 years ago, but I guess they decided to revisit it now with the 51st anniversary of the entire Festival.
First Trip to SPHS
So that being said, I really had no idea what the competition would be like.  There were no results or times to look at from the last couple of years.  With my fitness level I was hoping to average about 6:15's and wherever that placed me so be it. A friend of ours was nice enough to pick up our packets the day before, so I could get our numbers and everything ready, and have an easier morning.  Race morning I ate a banana, a granola bar and GU Gel.  We trekked down to Rock Hill's Southpointe High School and arrived with about 45 minutes before race time at 7:30am.  We hung out for a bit, used the restroom, took some pics, and I took another GU Gel.
Nice T-Shirt
Look! My name (as an afterthought) on a Sign!
Pretty soon it was time to head to the start.  I did a little running, maybe 1/2 mile total.  The field wasn't too big (134 finishers), but I spotted a couple of guys who looked like they were serious.  A couple of young college kids.  One had a Oregon Track throwback singlet on like Pre would have worn.  So we lined up at the start and at the gun I jumped out.  Like literally a 2 step sprint and I was in the lead.  It was kinda like a cross country race in high school.  I don't know why I did it, and as soon as I did, I was like "that was weird".  I guess because I lined up on the left and there was a right turn 100 yards into the race.  Anyways I was in the lead from the beginning
Course Map
I knew there were some hills in the beginning so I just kinda went at a comfortable but fast past.  I was basically running 6:05's all by myself and felt pretty good the first 3 or 4 miles.  After Mile 5 there was a right hand turn and I kinda gave a look back to see how it was shaping up behind me.  I saw the punk college kid in the OU singlet was coming pretty hard.  I just maintained my pace, as I was feeling good.
Heart Rate

He caught me just after the 6 mile mark.  We had a short conversation and I hung with him for a half a mile.  He threw in a surge and I kinda let him go.  I split a 6:02 to mile 7 and he put 30 yards on me!  So I pretty much relegated myself to 2nd place at that point.
Elevation Map
I was pretty much crusing along through Mile 9.  I was averaging 6:04's on my Garmin up to that point.  Then this freaking massive hill popped up out of nowhere.  100 feet of elevation gain in 0.70 miles.  Nice.  That totally killed my pace as I did a 6:33 in mile 10.  The next mile wasn't too bad, but I was still recovering and could only muster a 6:15.  I recovered somewhat after that, but the last mile was a slight uphill and I settled for a 6:22 last mile.  I did finish pretty strong the last little bit to nail 2nd Overall with an official time of 1:21:12.

As I came to the final turn back onto the high school campus I wasn't sure exactly where to turn.  This high school volunteer kid was at the corner.  Just a small piece of advice here: If a runner is coming towards you with his arms held out yelling 'Which way! Which Way!", don't just blankly stare at him for like 20 seconds straight.  So then this lady told me to turn here, so I did.  As it ends up I slightly cut the course:
I don't think it really mattered, since the winner was 4 minutes ahead of me and 3rd place was 3-1/2 minutes behind me.  It did seem like they weren't ready for the half marathon people to come back (although I was the 2nd one through).  At the finish the Half Marathon medal people weren't handing out the medals and I went back later to get mine.
The course was pretty well marked with signs or big orange arrows at the turns.  All the turns and crossings were manned but they weren't really giving directions.  I guess there were just there to yell at you if you made a wrong turn.  It was kinda lonely out there but that helped me concentrate on my pace.

They had a DJ and concessions open for the spectators.  Also (as seen in the above pic) my wife raced the half as well.  This was her 3rd half, and the first one we've done together.

Fun Finish on the Track
This race only awarded the overall winner, so I missed out on that.  But they did have an Overall Male Masters award, so I landed that instead.  It was a nice glass award, plus a $100 Visa card, which is as good as cash!  Not bad, really.

This was the first race where I got to wear my Big Sexy Racing team gear.  The Champion Systems running singlet fits perfectly and was super comfortable.  Felt perfect during the race.  Now that I've gotten old I do all my long runs in tri shorts too.  The Champion tri shorts worked out great there as well.
So it felt good to race and open Half and see what I could do.  I hadn't raced one in probably 8 or 9 years.  I was happy to finish with a 6:12 average with all those hills in the last 4 miles.   I would have liked to gotten the win, but you never know who will show up on game day.  Besides, I have my sites set on bigger things this year.  Full results on the race can be found here. Less than 2 weeks to my first triathlon at Try Charleston!