2015 Decker Challenge Half Marathon Race Recap

I’m several days late with this thanks to being swamped with moving and moving-related activities.  We moved into the new apartment on Sunday, December 6th (the same day as this race) but we aren’t officially out of the old apartment until this Sunday, December 13th.  I’m glad we have a cushion to finish getting everything out and clean the old apartment but I’m very tired of driving back and forth between the two places after work every day.

When I sign up for races I do so with the intent of actually racing them.  And I did originally intend to race this. (My secret goal was to run sub-1:45).  But as I got closer to the race and realized that my endurance for runs over 10 miles wasn’t all that great, I opted to do Decker at long run effort.  I’d never tried running a race at an easier pace, so this was a very new experience for me.

I spent all of last weekend stressed out about moving stuff and woke up well before my alarm on Sunday morning.  I couldn’t check the weather online because Time Warner kindly cut off our Internet a day early.  This was concerning because temperatures in Austin this time of year can fluctuate 30-40 degrees from one day to the next.  So I did the next best thing and stepped outside and decided that shorts and a long sleeve shirt with a tank top underneath would be appropriate.  I bought this Brooks shirt on mega clearance in January and was very excited to finally wear it:

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I left the apartment a little before 7 for an 8 AM race start.  The drive should have taken me about 20 minutes but my GPS invented an exit (!!!) and I ended up driving past the correct exit and taking a scenic tour of Manor at sunrise.  Fortunately, my detour only cost me 10-15 minutes, and I got to the race site with plenty of time to park and swing by the bathroom (no Port a Potties, yay!).  I didn’t bother with a warm up since I wasn’t going to be running hard.

The start line was a weird experience.  Austin is not a very big city and I’ve gotten used to seeing some of the same people at a lot of the races I run.  I may not know them personally but I know that our race paces are pretty equal.  I lined up near the 2:00 pace group since 9:00 minute miles are close to what I run on long runs.  The weird part was seeing a lot of the people I recognize from other races way ahead of me by the 1:40 or 1:50 pace groups.  I was tempted to move up and see what I was really capable of but then I remembered that I hadn’t tapered at all before this race.  (In fact, I did workouts on Wednesday and Friday and hit 40 miles total for the week, which is my highest weekly mileage in months).  So trying to race would be quite painful at best and likely result in injury.

Needless to say, I didn’t really have a goal for this race except to a) not go out too fast and suffer mightily on the biggest hills at miles 8 and 10 and b) hopefully finish in under 2 hours.  I broke away from the 2:00 pace group pretty quickly after the start.  The first 5 miles were between 8:30-8:50 and I felt very, very relaxed.  I only checked my watch at the mile markers in an attempt to really focus on maintaining an easy pace and not worry about my time.  Each time I saw 8:3X I tried to slow down a bit so I wouldn’t be taking a ride on the pain train later.

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Do not let the horrendous facial expression fool you– I was feeling good at mile 5!

Around mile 5 or 6 I was starting to feel very warm in my long sleeve shirt.  It ended up tied around my waist for the rest of the race.  I’m not sure how some runners finished the race in vests and tights!

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There’s not much to say about miles 5-10 except that I just tried to maintain an easy effort.  Mile 8 has a very long uphill that I find harder than the steeper and more infamous mile 10 hill.  I was surprised that mile 8 was one of my faster miles.

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Near the top of the mile 10 hill.  Someone else was clearly more excited than I was.

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After making it through miles 1-10 at sub-9:00 min pace, I set a goal to at least hit sub-9:00 for the remaining miles in the race.  My legs were a teeny bit achy at this point from all of the hills but I felt remarkably good otherwise.  I sped up in the last 0.5 mile because it felt weird not to run hard through the finish line.

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Mile 13

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Finish line

The official results:

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I was in my car driving home about 5 minutes after the finish line picture was taken– so much stuff to do before the movers were scheduled to pick up our furniture!  (I did do some stretching and foam rolling when I got home though.)  For that reason I am very, very glad I didn’t race this.  My legs were a bit tired on Monday but I think that was more a consequence of being on my feet all day and carrying things.  I didn’t have any of the soreness I will generally experience after racing a half.  I felt like a bit of an underachiever by not racing this and giving it 100% but it was the right choice given the moving craziness and the fact that I have a goal half marathon in January.  This is a hard course with all the hills but I like it because it’s a straightforward, no gimmicks race that has been around for decades in one form or another.

I don’t plan on signing up for any future races unless I am going to really race them but I have no regrets about paying a bunch of money to run this one as a training run.

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3 Responses to 2015 Decker Challenge Half Marathon Race Recap

  1. Angela says:

    I’m the same way — it’s pretty rare for me to pay money for a race and then not race because it feels like a waste. (Also, I find it VERY hard to stick to an easy pace in a race atmosphere!) But sometimes it’s the right thing to do even if you planned to race, and sometimes it’s nice to have a supported long run where you don’t have to think about anything but not stopping. 🙂

    Hope all is well with the move!

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    • Rungry says:

      I think this race was an OK one to do as a training run since it’s so hilly– I wouldn’t have run a PR even if I’d trained diligently, so there wasn’t as much temptation to run all out.

      We finally got everything out of the old place yesterday and cleaned and turned in keys! Now it’s time to unpack 😦

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  2. Pingback: Thoughts on the Runner’s World Run Streak (#RWRunStreak) | Rungry

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