Monday, March 21, 2011


Half Marathon Official time and place: 1:10:04, 15th place.

"2011 is looking quite promising. The work you did in 2010 is finally paying dividends."
-quote by Jake Klim texting me after the half marathon

In 2010, I was running the Shamrock Marathon, halfway through in the top 5. I was aiming for a low 2:30 effort. Then, at about 19 miles, things started to fall apart. For some reason, by body wasn't cooperating. I never recovered and ended up having to walk for nearly 4 miles of the course, but still finished(in a very very slow time for me)...

What a difference a year makes. It still baffles me how fast I ran on Sunday. I knew 5:20 per mile for 13.1 miles was possible, but to finally do it, it changes the way you feel about yourself, and what you can accomplish. To put it in words, I set no limits to see how fast I can run.

Here's how the race and weekend unfolded:

I went out for an easy 45 minute run on Saturday afternoon, adjacent to the ocean with a delightful cool breeze sweeping in. On my way back to the hotel, I noticed 3 Elite Africans JOGGING on the fact they were going quite slow I was able to pull up alongside them and briefly chat. Despite them going at this pace, I knew these were the guys in the hunt for the win tomorrow morning, capable of running sub 5s for 13.1.

"What's the goal for tomorrow guys? Going to win right?"
"That's the plan," one guy chuckled.
"I'm trying to run under 1:10" I said.
"That's good! they HUMBLY said. Good luck!"
"Thanks, good luck to you too" I said, and was on my way.

I woke up at 5:30 the next morning, stepped outside and it was COOL. PERFECT WEATHER. However, I did noticed some powerful winds. Hopefully they will die down once the race starts. I went out for a warmup around 6:15 and jogged 10 minutes. Legs feel good. I am ready.

I got to the start line, did 2 striders, and felt loose but also a little tense since it was cold and windy at the start. All I needed were my racing singlet, shorts, and a pair of lightweight gloves. The temperatures were ideal(42 degrees), the only thing was the wind, so I thought about finding a pack to block the wind for me while I could draft.

The gun went off and I surged with 20 or so runners to the front. It broke up quickly to 2 packs. The lead pack, and the second pack, which I hung with. It was perfect, because Rich Saunders(who runs for Capital Area Runner under Coach George Buckheit) was there along with another fellow from Delaware named Kyle and a few other guys all shooting for sub 1:10:00. We communicated and decided to work together. First mile: 5:23. Not very fast, and slightly slow. That's ok, I thought, keep it relaxed the first few miles. The race is only beginning. I don't know what the second mile was but at the 3 mile I began to worry that I was caught in a 1:11:00-1:12:00 pack. 16:15 for 3 miles...5:25 pace(1:11:00 half pace). Definitely off pace. Damn. I then made a move and began to push the pace a little bit and dared anyone to come with me-I was going to make this HAPPEN! Eventually, we dropped some runners, but Rich and Kyle went with me, which I was happy about, I needed some guys to work with here. We caught a few runners along the way and ran the next 2 miles in 5:17s, and went through the 5 mile mark in 26:50. Still slightly off pace(10 secs), but better...26:40 at 5 miles was the target. Keep rolling, Chris, 5:17s are UNDER pace. We kept the pace rolling as we coasted to the next turn where mile 6 was. Mile 6 was 32:05...a 5:15 split! and just 5 seconds cumulative off pace. Mile 7 was a slight uphill but we managed a 5:20 split at 37:25 for 7...still 5 seconds total remaining to cut off. However, at this point, I began to realize that we were running 1:10:00 pace, and I had a shot to break 1:10:00 as long as I could bank a little more time. Mile 8 and 9 were tough, and I knew these were the miles I needed to work very hard, as the wind on this backstretch was brutal. I surged ahead and ran into it, using all the force I could muster to make sure I wouldn't fall asleep. I'd rather be bold and go through it than wait for someone else to do it for me...cause they may never. I did yell back to Rich to go with me. I could feel him and Kyle just hanging on. Mile 8: 42:45! Mile 9: 48:05! Still 1:10:00 FLAT pace...not a second to spare. We passed another runner. And then another, who i recognized. Is that Ryan Carroll?? I had never beaten him. He is consistently ranked as one of Virginia's top runners.

I caught another runner who was moving pretty good, at this point all these guys who I was catching were moving pretty good. This was no joke, they were solid runners.

THEN, I saw an Elite African runner up ahead. Holy shit. I was gaining on him. I pulled up alongside him and he went with me. Rich and Kyle caught up and now we had a pack again. Mile 10 coming up....oh's a PR....53:20...53:21...

53:25 for 10 miles. My 10 Mile PR before that was 54:16 at Cherry Blossom last year.

Again, 1:10:00 flat pace, not a second to spare. Gotta push it, Chris, the last 5K you gotta hammer!!!

Me, the African, Rich, and Kyle as well as the other guy I caught all hung in together and started to close in on the town where people cheered super loud. This was the highlight of the race. I was in the front of the pack, leading these awesome runners, running as fast as I have ever run.
I suspected we were all top 10-15 at this point. We were rolling.

Mile 11: 58:45. Still holding 5:20 pace.

Mile 12 was a bit of a struggle for me, as the African, Rich and Kyle merged just slightly ahead with me and another runner trailing. I could not match the turnover. I was running as fast as I could at this point so that I could finish strong. Mile 12 was slow(5:25)-1:04:10-just 10 seconds over total pace. GET BACK IN IT. 1 MILE TO GO!!!!

I still, fought and regained my strength for one last move. FIGHT CHRIS!!!! My legs found one more gear and turned it up brilliantly and ran fluidly, with an open stride. My biomechanics have gotten so much better. The other runner hung with me....HANG ON

I could see the African runner trailing Kyle and Rich just ahead. I wasn't far behind. I made the turn onto Atlantic and people the crowds roared. SURGE SURGE SURGE!


I made the turn onto the boardwalk, but BAM!!! The wind slammed into me like a tornado-I almost blew off the course it was so powerful. My legs were going as fast as they could, preparing for a final push the last .1. The other runner pulled up alongside of me and we ran stride for stride before I made my move and he had no response. I surged ahead and strided out the last .1 as people cheered.

I could see the clock...


I crossed the line in just a few ticks over 1:10:00. I put my hands on my knees and puked. So close. So close.

I averaged 5:20.6 per mile. An incredible run and nearly took 3 minutes off my PR. I did leave feeling hungry for more racing since I just missed the sub 1:10:00 mark. This is GOOD. I will be good to go for Cherry Blossom in 2 weeks. While the =PR= team isn't as strong as some of the Pacers/Georgetown guys, we have a solid team that I think if we all step up can compete well. Adam just PRed in the 5K, so he is looking solid. But for the moment, and definitely today is a day off from running, I am recovering as quickly as I can to reboot and recharge my batteries.


  1. reboot? recharge batteries? You're a robot!

  2. Nice job, Chris! I thought about you out kicking ass during my run Sunday. I was moving MUCH slower than you though. ;-)

  3. oops, I forgot this link

  4. Great race recap, Chris! And congrats again!!!:)

  5. Hi Chris, I was with you when the tornado hit(just after the Atlantic turn)....without that, it was a 1h09m59!!!!

    My blog are . It's in french but you have a pic in the last 500m. It show that you really want the sub 70 minutes.