1:34:27 — Exhaustion Never Felt So Great

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I said I’d be ecstatic, and I am.  Ecstatic, and really tired.  I amazed myself today. It’s not that I thought I couldn’t run a half marathon in under 1:35– I knew that I could do that on a flat course.  But as we drove up a two-mile long hill in the middle of the very hilly route yesterday, I couldn’t keep from my mind the thought that 1:45 was a more likely finish time.

After my two-month break from running because of a knee injury, my training has been sparse, to say the least.  A weekly track workout for the past month, long runs of eight, ten, and twelve miles at about eight-minute pace, and mostly just rest in between.  No reason to suspect any real improvement (other than injury rehab) in my fitness level.

013 168x300But right from the start today, I felt stronger than I’ve ever felt in a race. I had planned to start at a 7:15 minute-per-mile pace and hold onto that for as long as I could, figuring I’d lose it once the hills started to wear on me.  But my watch read 6:50 after the first (uphill) mile and I thought “I can keep this up for a while.”  So I did.  I ran the next two miles at about the same pace, and the fourth in 6:30– it was downhill.  I kept running sub-sevens until the dreaded two-mile hill at mile seven.  The first mile of the hill was alright; I think I did it in about 7:15.

The second mile of the hill  was brutal.  I almost stopped to walk, something I haven’t done in a race in a long time.  I didn’t, but as I neared the top of the hill, I thought to myself, “This is where all those fast miles catch up with me; there’s no way I’ll recover from this.”  It easily may have been the worst hill I’ve ever had to climb in a race. I completed this eighth mile in well over eight minutes, dashing my unexpected hope of finishing in under 1:30.

The rest of the race is a blur.  I did somehow recover from the kill-on-the-hill, logging a few more miles at about seven minutes, and there was one more tough hill at mile eleven.  The final half mile was run through some horse stables and around an old horse track.  I was under the impression that horses don’t race there anymore, but they must at least still come to go to the bathroom, judging from the smell.  It was kind of fun to run around their track, but more than fun, it was annoying having to run through soft dirt at the end of the race.  I entered the track pretty certain that I’d beat 1:35, but still had to haul ass in that dirt to actually do it.

But alas, I did it.  And I’m so excited about the potential for my Boston qualifying in the fall. 1:35 is really nothing special, as 1:31 in a half is considered “equivalent” to 3:10 in a full.  But this course was so much tougher than my full marathon course will be.  In fact, I’m thinking of adding a (flat) half to my training schedule just to see how much I can tear it up.

023 300x225What I’m happiest about is that I’ve made these inexplicable gains in my fitness level.  Inexplicable, that is, if you don’t consider my diet. I’m a natural skeptic, so I’m reluctant to just attribute everything to being vegetarian for a month and a half, and pescetarian for a month before that.  But I do believe that it has played a big part, because something has to be responsible!  Maybe it’s the five to seven pounds I’ve shed since I started eating this way.

Finally, thanks to my wonderful wife Erin and to Colleen and Joel for cheering me on today.  Erin got in a four-mile run herself on the course, just trying to see me at as many spots as possible, and she even ran with me for a few hundred yards!  The three of them were the loudest cheering section I heard for any individual today, and if you’ve run any distance races before, you know what a difference that makes.

Enjoy the pictures.  Cool shirts, huh?  Most of the photos came out blurry for some reason, so I don’t have too many to post.  But I’ll get the professional ones soon and post those.  I don’t have official results yet (like split times and what place I finished), but I’ll post those as well when I get them.

[Update:  I just got my results I finished in 49th place, out of 1466 finishers! And 9th out of 109 in my age division (men 20-29).  I'm like, a real runner!]

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Comments

  1. I gave up meat a month before my marathon I ran last week and I also attribute my cleaner eating to my awesome run. I exceeded my expectations. Can’t wait to read more of your blog!

  2. Great for you! Go, Veggie, go! Congrats.

  3. L.B.Bardon says:

    Congrats Matt!!! Nice job!!! Your dedication to training and achieving your goal is inspiring!! Tony would be proud! :)

    -L & E

  4. CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a run! That course sounds brutal! I’m so happy that you did so well. Amazing that the no-meat eating has resulted in your fitness level gains! That’s really greaat.

  5. Awesome post no meat!

  6. You are my hero! What a wonderful performance… And I love, love, love those t-shirts! Take that everyone who thinks vegetarians are limp-wristed, pale weaklings!

    Hanlie’s last blog post..A Triumphant HYC Check In

  7. Congratulations – you rocked that!

    Holly’s last blog post..Bummin’ Around

  8. Congrats!!! And love the shirts!

    meatlessmama’s last blog post..Coconut Key Lime Smoothie

  9. Great work! You should definitely be proud of how you ran.

    And I love the shirt! It looks great.

    Blaine Moore’s last blog post..Lyme Disease Prevention for Trail Runners

  10. Congratulations on an awesome race!!!

    Katherine’s last blog post..Friday, continued

  11. Colleen says:

    Having seen it in person, I can say that you killed that course:) You really did a great job! I am glad Joel and I were there w/ Erin to cheer you through that finish! By the way…day 1 of the no-soda challenge is on…so far, so good…I am looking forward to trying the the smoky black bean burritos for dinner!!

  12. the shirts turned out great! as did the race! congrats :)

  13. I love the shirts. You should sell them to fellow veggie runners. I would wear one :) Congrats on the run. Great finishing time!

    Krys’s last blog post..Quick post…..

  14. Congrats! Congrats! Congrats! A great race post-injury must be especially satisfying. Hopefully your fantastic half results validated your secret knowledge that you’ll rock your BQ! w00t! w00t!

  15. Amazing!! Huge congrats on your time. I love the second picture- it looks like your feet didn’t even touch the ground! And I love the shirts!

    VeggieRunnr’s last blog post..A Close Call

  16. Thanks everyone! I am still amazed that I ran so well on those hills with so little quality training, but I’ll just assume it’s the diet and be happy with that. And I’m glad everyone liked the t-shirts! I’m thinking of having a bunch made so that other no-meat athletes can let everyone know it at their races; more on that soon.

  17. Congratulations! (Very belatedly! I’ve been working my way through all your past entries, thus the proliferation of comments.) 1:34 is an AWESOME time, you should be so proud!
    I finished the Hospital Hill half in KC on 6/6 in 2:15:33…waaay slow compared to you, obviously, but still far better than my goal of 2:20! I somehow ran the last two miles at 8 min apiece, which shocked me (since ~10 min per mile is my “good” pace for that distance, and HH is supposed to be the 2nd hilliest course in the country). Hooray for veg racers!

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