2001, Pacific Rim Half Marathon

I have run this race once before, last year as an MP run. That is the only Half I've ever run. So I figured that a PR should be a given. My goal was to run a sub 1:30 race. I thought I would try and hold a 6:45 pace, and/or a 86% MHRR (Max Heart Rate Reserve). I had no delusions of any age group hardware since this is a race where more than just a handful of old farts show up.

I had volunteered to help with registration so I got there around 6:20 am. It turned out they needed someone else to help with course setup so I took off with another (non-running) volunteer to setup the course from mile 6 on. It wasn't my preferred method for warming up, but at least I knew where the mile markers and water stations were AND which mile markers were reliable.

I made it back just in time to throw on my flats, pin on my number and hit the porta-potti before the 8:20 start. I moved about 4-5 deep from the start, hoping I had placed myself properly.

The first mile of the course is a gradual uphill. I started out at what I thought was a relatively conservative pace and watched a lot of folks go by me. We start out in Pt. Defiance Park running through well established Douglas Fir and Cedar forest. It was overcast, but relatively humid. All in all, perfect running weather. The first mile split was 6:41. I figured I was going out too fast to run that on an uphill mile, but it felt good.

We then run downhill, hit a turnaround, then head uphill again. There is a water station on the hill and I stopped for some Gatorade since I hadn't had a chance to drink my bottle when I was doing course setup and I could tell I was starting about a quart low on fluid. Mile 2 came in 6:39. Oops, still to fast considering that I had stopped to drink.

I was running around two women, placed 3 and 4. I would go by them on the downhills and they would pass me on the uphills or water stops. We then did a loop around Pt. Defiance, covering much of the Sound to Narrows course in the Park. Mile 3 was downhill, 6:24, mile 4 was rolling 6:40. Mile 5 was generally uphill and had us again running up the same hill we did in mile 2. Just after the water stop (after I again caught up to her) the 3rd woman asked "Didn't we just run by here?". Mile 5 was really slow. I don't know if I lost focus or if it was just the hills and water stop but it was my slowest mile of the race at 7:00.

After mile 5 we got to run downhill. We ran downhill for almost the entire mile. I dropped the 3rd and 4th woman and passed some runners that had taken me on the uphills. At about 5.5 miles, another woman (new 3rd woman) passed me. I tried to stay with her on the downhill mile but when we got to mile 6 and my split time was 6:04!!! I decided that wasn't very smart and let her go.

We then leave the park, go uphill, flat, water stop, then a short steep downhill. This mile was again slow, 6:56 but I chalked it up to the water stop. After mile 7 the course is essentially a pancake flat out and back until mile 12. I figured that this is where I needed to fall into a groove and stay there. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

Mile 8 had a water stop and I again took more Gatorade. I tried to keep the pace up and was catching some of the runners who had dropped me on the hills in the Park.

Mile 8 6:39
Mile 9 6:40
Mile 10 6:45 (turnaround and water stop)

At this point I was getting passed by almost as many as were passing me. I could still see 3rd woman ahead of me but I was not gaining on her. I had been feeling great up until this point. Now I was starting to feel fatigued and sore. I still thought I was pushing, but my pace dropped dramatically.

Mile 11 6:54
Mile 12 6:51

At this point we head back through the tunnel that goes underneath the old Asarco plant and then up a nasty steep hill for 1/2 of a mile. I was passed decisively by two runners on the hill and had no hope of catching them. I was still gaining slightly on one other runner but he was too far ahead to catch. It seems as if I was again all alone.

The course makes a sharp right turn at the top of the hill and turns into the park for a short downhill. Right at this turn a runner blew by me. I hadn't heard him coming and didn't think anyone was behind me. It seemed to me that it was a surg and not a pace that he could hold so I surged back and repassed him. He again pushed and came up even with me. We were approaching a jog in the course with uneven footing so I told him to go ahead and take the inside. He did and that put him a stride ahead. It seemed to me that he was only pushing as hard as needed to stay ahead of me so I picked it again. So did he. I again upped the pace. So did he. We were running shoulder to shoulder and I was running as hard as I thought I could but he was still with me.

I finally had enough. I decided that I was either going to beat him, or find out that he had a lot more speed than I. About 300 meters from the finish on a slight upgrade, I gave it everything I had. So did he. I was already passed red-line but I wasn't dropping him. But then again, he wasn't dropping me. I tried to find just an ounce more speed and got that weird feeling in my legs where I can't really feel them anymore and I start to worry if the foot is really going to plant in front of me or if I'm just going to do a face plant. We both aimed for the chute and I beat him by a lean. The chute was too short and 3rd woman was still in the chute. My competition went to the left of her and I tried to go right. I missed and hit her hard on her right shoulder. We had overrun about 3-4 runners in the chute and had to go back and get lined up again. Two finish volunteers had to come over and try to straighten us out. Even so, the order had gotten messed up on the tag boards. I finished within .5 second of 1:27:44 which is what my official time ended up being.

I was happy with my time. I was not happy with the drop in pace in miles 11 and 12. I think that I either was just being a wuss, or I went out a little too fast. Either way, I positive split a course that I shouldn't have.

I hurt worse now than I did after my last marathon.


David S. Hays, O.D.,dhays@davidhays.net