Sunday, January 21, 2018

Race Report: Sanspo Chiba Marine Half Marathon 2018

I ran Sanspo Chiba Marine Half Marathon 2018 on Jan. 21. I renewed my PB by finishing at 1:37:17 gross. The net-time is 1:35:57. It's my first time to finish under 1:36:00 in a half marathon. I'm pleasantly surprised at the result, because time wasn't my top priority. I didn't check my lap-time often today. It was only a few times: once at the 5 K mark, another at the 10 K mark, and last after crossing the finish line. I didn't check it as often as I would usually do, because I wanted to rely on my body's inner voice, so to speak. If I feel good, I pick up the pace. When I feel my heart rates have gone up too high, I slow down. I guess it worked this time. 

Anyhow, here is how I ran the race. If you are a runner who considers running this race next year, you may find my report helpful. 

The gun went off at 9:50 am. I left from the F zone, about 50 M behind the official start line. It took me a minute and twenty seconds before officially crossing the start line. For several minutes after the start, it was difficult to pick up the pace mainly due to congestion. But at the first up slope many runners started slowing down as resistance went up, and runners spread out. It made easier my passage through other runners. 

By the time I crossed the 10 K mark, there had been more than enough space around me, and I was able to freely maneuver to position myself through the course. 

After having ignored the first water station near the 7 K mark, I took my first cup of water at the second water station past the halfway point. But the cup was only a-third full, and it didn't help me much. But I didn't bother, and pressed on. 

After the 10 K mark for a few kilometers I was affected by northwestern winds. I carefully ran behind tall runners to minimize their influence. 

Near the 13 K mark, the course took a right and went into the park, where for a few kilometers the course kept winding in the shades. A sudden drop of temperature was a bliss for the body whose temperature had significantly risen. 

Once out of the park I was back on the main street leading to the stadium where the finish arch awaited. The course was gradually curving to the right over a stretch of about 500 M. I took the inner route so as not to run unnecessary extra yards. 

Then came the biggest challenge of the course: the Mihama Ohhashi Bridge over the Hanamigawa River. A long slope lasted for about 500 M. I pulled down my chin and took narrower strides. A while later I found my body sudden light. I went past the peak of height and the descent phase began. I immediately shifted the gear and took longer strides and hammered down the slope. I overtook one runner after another who couldn't pick up the pace after pushing too hard on the ascent phase. 

The high-rising building of the Apa Hotel on the right got larger and larger with each step. The sign with 20 K on it was in sight. I took a right shortly after that, and went right into the parking lot of the stadium. The finish line was near. An aid worker was waving a flag to guide in-coming runners to the right course. I was not sure where the finish line was. I didn't check it before the start. But about a hundred meters ahead two poles were visible painted in blue and white. That was it. After all, it was closer than I thought. Now is the time to kick. I swung my arms back and forth, in track mode, making believe that I was Rio Olympics gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya in his final hundred meters of the Olympic race! 

I crossed the finished line, coming to a complete halt all of a sudden, gasping for air, hearing my heart beat which seemed like it was about to explode like a dynamite. Several seconds later, I realized that I had forgotten to stop my watch, and pressed the stop button, and checked my finish time. It said: 1:37:22. I couldn't believe my eyes. Not only did I finish under 1:40:00, which I set as my moderate target,  but I also renewed my PB by a significant margin from my previous best from the half marathon on Dec. 3, 2017. 

Later I learned that the official gross time was 1:37:17, and deducing 1:20 that I lost at the start, my net time was 1:35:57. I didn't know what to say about the result.

To look back on my training, and ask myself what worked for getting the result I did, I'd say more long-distance training definitely worked. Also, always training in minimalist shoes as well as running the race in the same shoes was the biggest contributor. Here is why. It helped me keep the best form. 
My next race is next Sunday. It's Tateyama Wakashio Marathon 2018. It's a full marathon. I'm going to run in the same minimalist shoes. Well, they may be more aptly called slippers or socks because they are as thin as slippers and socks. But whatever you call them, I feel very secure when they are in my corner. I haven't decided it yet, but if the road condition is good, I may take them off in the last few kilometers so that I can cross the finish line barefooted. It would be awesome!

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