Why can't I break ninety minutes for a half-marathon any more? That's easy; it's because I can't even break ninety-one. Sad but true: my last three have all been above 91 minutes. Not that any of them were without excuses, mind you. At last year's Stomp the Grapes I'd run four or five miles as a warmup (a bit much) and it was hilly and I was still recovering from the Chicago Marathon warmth. At this year's New Philly 1/2 the weather was absolutely abysmal - tremendous wind, rain, sleet and snow, all at the same time. And most recently at the Wooster Half it was hilly and I was still recovering from the Erie Marathon warmth.
So I wasn't overly hopeful for this year's Grape Stomp. It's only been a week since the towpath, and the hills there in Navarre haven't gone anywhere. On the plus side however was the weather - cloudy with light breezes with temps in the 40s. Absolutely perfect. Also on the plus side was the fact that I really wasn't feeling all that bad, all things considered.
It's called Stomp the Grapes because it begins and ends at a winery in Navarre, OH. It's a very scenic location, and most of the race is very pretty. Most of the first few country road miles are very hilly, and are mostly downhill. After the village of Navarre, the middle part is fairly flat, and miles 6-10 are on the towpath. 10-13 are back on those same hills, up, up, up and back to the winery.
I hit mile 5 in 34 minutes and mile 10 in 68. I'd picked up the pace some before half-way, but then slowed a bit on the towpath. Although it wasn't steep, I'd swear that we were going uphill on that towpath trail. I'd been following a few folks on the towpath, and caught a couple before we got back on the road. Once on the road for those last three I knew that I'd slow at least a bit. The goal was to not go much slower than seven minute pace. Those first 10 had all be sub-7.
So mile 11 was 7:03. The good news was that I passed one more in here somewhere, and he (Don Cassidy) was in my age group. I hadn't beaten Don since... ever as far as I knew. Mile 12 seemed to be more down than up, but it was nevertheless slow at 7:06. Mile 13 was very up. The last few feet leading up to the winery driveway seemed like a mountain. Those last 1.1, hilly as they were however, weren't too bad: 7:15.
This all added up to a 1:29:20 by my watch. Since I beat Don and Vince Russo, I may have possibly captured first in my age group. Chuck and Ladd are picking up any award I may have won, so I'll soon find out.
What's next? I may do the Cleveland Fall Classic 1/2 in late November to see if I can improve on this time. Of course I'm also thinking more about the Inland Trail Marathon. That's two weeks away so it's time to rest and recover and then start training again before the big taper.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
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