BAA Half Marathon Recap 2012
My string of new PRs has been broken, but hopefully I am not. My official time was 1:50:57 with an 8:26 pace.
The day after the race, race my legs are getting tight and the hamstring is letting me know it is there. I’ve done some stretching and will be doing a lot more over the next six days to prepare for my next adventure, the ING Hartford Marathon.
I parked my car in the T parking lot about a mile from my house at 6AM and rode The Orange Line all the way to the end, Forrest Hills.
From there the BAA had shuttle buses to The Franklin Park Zoo where the race started and ended. Since I was so early I got on the first bus which was the only coach. All the rest were school buses.
Being able to park my car near my house and take one train all the way to the bus pickup area was awesome. It’s rare to have such convenience when going to a race.
Pre Race and preperation
It was only in the 50s this October morning so it was a bit nippy. To prepare for the race, I slipped my running pants over my running shorts and wore my running vest over my 2012 Boston Marathon shirt. It’s long sleeved and seemed appropriate to wear to a BAA event.
It had been freakin cold standing on the platform waiting for the train earlier. Waiting for the race to start in even less clothing was just as brisk.
When I go to a race I like to pack as little as possible but still be prepared for anything. If it rained today, nothing would have helped. Any running jacket eventually leaks. If you have one that will not leak you will over heat and sweat your ass off. If a jacket won’t let rain in it certainly won’t let body heat out either. Either way, you’re drenched.
I brought extra socks and shirts and even brought and wore running gloves. I ended up running in the shirt they gave us and changed into my running socks before the race. My clothing choices ended up being spot on. I never felt over heated or chilled during the race.
If you feel cool, or even cold before a race, you are probably dressed appropriately. It takes about a mile for your body to warm up during a race or training run. Wearing a hat or gloves before a race will help you keep warm. These are items that are easy to take off once you do warm up and can be tossed or stuffed into a pocket or running belt.
If you are warm at the start you are going to be miserable after the first mile.
Over heating during the race is one of the worse things that can happen to you. Overheating will cause your body to sweat out fluids that it needs for your run.
I have found that managing my body heat makes a big difference in my performance.
Kudus to the BAA
As usual the BAA was very well-organized. I can’t say enough about how well they manage a race. Today the buses were waiting for us; people knew where to direct us and could answer questions. There were plenty of signs directing us to the start and along the course. The road closures were taken care of. I never had to share the road with a Buick or a Porsche as I ran through Boston. I felt safe, and that is more than I can say about some other races I’ve been in.
I waited too long to line up for the race and ended up about 100 feet behind the last official corral. The road through the park was very crowded and I kept having to put on the brakes and weave around people. My first mile pace was 8:48
At mile 1 the race goes over the Monsignor William Casey Overpass which is a narrow road for 5,459 runners. The overpass was also our first hill and many people slowed down. On the first hill.
It was so tight that I had a hard time getting around people. Some runners ran outside of the cones and pushed a little more than I did. After this “hill” things thinned out a little bit and I started to make some progress.
At the Mile 2 marker my pace was 9:04. Yikes. I had set my goal pace at 8:10 on my watch. I knew this was a stretch, but that was the pace I needed to achieve a PR. So with two slow miles under my belt I stepped it up. For the rest of the race I never ran less than an 8:44 mile and did two 8:12 miles. There were some down hills that I took advantage of and I generally felt pretty good.
The race is very scenic and runs along the “Emerald Necklace”. At about 4.5 miles the race loops back on The Riverway. While I thought I had started the race in the back, I could now see that thousands of people were behind me. I knew I passed some, but many more must have started even further back than I did.
I started the BAA Half Marathon with a 500ml bottle of water. I’ve incorporated this into my racing routine. I don’t drink anything the last hour before a race and then I start sipping water a few minutes before the gun goes off. This allows my system time to process all of the fluid I drank earlier, and anything I drink just before or during the race will come out through sweat.
Having my own water also allows me to skip the first few water stops. At any race, the first water stops are usually a mob scene. Instead of stopping, I move to the middle of the road and slow down or walk so it is easier to navigate the crowd who have stopped for a drink.
In a race there are things you can control and things you cannot. Hydration is something that you can control. You can’t control the weather, but bringing your own beverage gives you a lot of control. If it is hot, you have extra to drink as you need it. If it is cool your drink will allow you to get through water stops at your pace.
Walking a water stop can be part of a running strategy. With a water bottle you can avoid the first few water stops at your race. The first stops are usually crowded and can be disruptive to your pace. Moving to the middle of the road and slowing or walking allows you to control your pace, hydrate and run your plan.
Managing fluid intake is very important. You don’t want to get dehydrated and you don’t want to have to stop. You can actually do both if you do not plan properly. Just because there’s water in your bladder does not mean there’s enough in your body. Whatever you drink before the race, much of it ends up in your bladder.
Likewise, just because you peed right before the start doesn’t mean that your body is done processing the half-gallon of water your nervously drank before the race. All of that excess water is in your system and a few miles into the race all of the fluid you drank will catch up with you.
Hydration is crucial to your race. Here is my routine:
- Drink plenty of fluids the day before the race and before the race
- Stop drinking all fluids one hour before the race
- Use the porta-potties at least twice, the last time as close to start time as possible
- At a large race staying in the porta-potty line may be required
- Practice running with a water bottle and use one during the race
- Test sports drinks during training so you know what your system tolerates best
Our first stop
Our first water stop and porta pottie deployment was at mile two. I moved to the middle of the road to stay out-of-the-way and looked over to the johns. Eight people were lined up! After two miles! They exemplified poor hydration management and validated what I have been doing for the past few years.
These people may have been new to running and hadn’t figured out how hydration works yet. Even veteran runners make mistakes and sometimes the bowels are the problem, not the bladder. Think before you drink!
This course was far from flat but was no Great Bay Half Marathon either. At about mile 7 and 11 the most challenging hills met us. The rise at mile 7 is about 50 feet over half-a-mile. It’s not steep but it is the first significant uphill and it is past the halfway mark in the race, a point when legs are getting tired. Mile 6 was 8:16 and mile 7 was 8:29 for me, so not too much slower.
At mile 11 we started our climb from 75 feet above sea level to about 150 feet above sea level over about a mile distance. The biggest elevation gain is between mile 11 and 11.5, probably 60 feet. This is very late in the race and many tired legs struggled.
The hills in a race are the great sorters. People who have done hill work and are otherwise prepared can charge up a hill and pass a lot of people. Anyone who has not put in the miles and done the hill work will fall back on the hills. Late in the race the hills are ruthless sorters.
I don’t focus on hill work as much as I should, but my club runs are full of hills. On race day that hill work pays off. I have come to love the hills.
BAA Half Marathon Official Results
The BAA results and commentary are here. The BAA also has a link to race photos on this same page.Full race results are also posted on coolrunning.com.
My time was 1:50:57 and my pace was 8:26. Out of 5,424 runners I came in 1,629th and out of 227 men aged 45-49 I came in 93rd. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that I finished within the top 30% overall, and in the top 40% of men my age.
A few notable finishes
The male winner was Allan Kiprono 22 years old from Kenya with a time of 1:01:44. The top female was Kim Smith 30 years old from New Zealand with a time of 1:10:57. Really amazing results.
The top guy in my age group was Wayne Levy 47 years old from Waban, MA with a finish time of 1:16:20. Bravo!
The oldest guy to finish the race was Anthony Cellucci 80 years old from Needham, MA with a finish time of 3:24:54. This man is my hero. I often say I want to still be doing this when I’m 80. Well, Mr. Cellucci is getting it done!
One of the announcers said 60% of the runners in this race were women. They were especially proud of that as we celebrate 40 years since Title 9 was passed in the US giving females the same access to athletics and sports as males have in school.
The oldest woman to finish was Rosemary Lasche 67 years old from Brookline, MA with a finish time of 2:12:47. This put her in 3961st place overall and 2nd out of six women in her age group.
Run well my friends!
© 2012 Andrew nagelin