Thursday, October 14, 2010

Planning for the OBX Half Marathon

So, the Outer Banks Half Marathon is coming up in about a month from now on November 14th.   I did the same event last year and finished (with a sore knee) in about 2 hrs 19 minutes if memory serves me correctly.  I think I could certainly have been a few minutes faster if my knee hadn't been bothering me so much over the last few miles.

Anyway, what should I expect this year - should I set myself a target?   I'm a little leery as last year I did only run training in the lead-up to the event and put in several runs in the 10-12 mile range and one 14 miler. This year I have been mixing-in swim and bike training because of my triathlon obsession and so haven't done as many miles.  That said, however, I think I'm probably running faster over my normal run circuits than I was this time last year (I need to check that!).  I definitely need to up the milage over the next few weeks and get in some double digit mile runs over the remaining weekends.  My cardio should be OK, I just need to make sure that my legs (and that pesky right knee!) can take the pounding.

I would really like to be able to break two hours (roughly 9 min 10 secs/mile pace) but I think that it's highly unlikely at this point.  10 minute miles over the full 13.1 mile race would be 1 hour 10 mins 6 secs.   That certainly sounds a bit more like it and potentially an achievable target.  Yep - that's my goal.

So how realistic is it?   There's a nifty tool availabe called the McMillan Running Calculator that allows you to plug in the time you run for any distance and it spits out what it estimates your potential to be at a range of other distances.  You can find it here:

One of the problems that I have is that around where I live there is barely a flat spot anywhere.  This isn't a bad thing in terms of getting a good work out (those hills are good for you!) but it means that it's very difficult to get a good benchmark on what pace I'm running at.  I  know for a fact, for instance, that I run 5k on the coast several minutes faster than I can run my regular 5k "hill circuit" at home.

I ran 6.5 miles today around Barton's Creek and Wood Valley neighborhoods - plenty of hills!   I deliberately didn't push too hard and I tried to maintain an even 10 min/mile pace.  My splits were up and down slightly but my overall pace averaged 10:01 mins/mile over the full 6.5 miles, so I guess that I was pretty close!

My time at 10k (6.214 miles) was 1 hr 02 mins 23 secs.    If I plug that into the McMillan calculator I get an estimated half marathon time of 2 hrs 18 mins 49 seconds - very close to my time last year.  

There's no way that I'm settling for that!!!!, so I guess the question becomes - what time could I run 10 k in over flat ground and if I pushed it?  The simple answer is that I don't know!   I think that 30 secs faster per mile is probably a reasonable estimate (9:30 per mile, over 6.214 miles would be a fraction over 59 minutes).  If I plug a 59 minute 10k time into the McMillan calculator I get an estimated time of 2 hrs 11 mins 17 secs for a half marathon - that looks a bit more like it!

I'm going to see if I can find a flat(ter) circuit this weekend and see what I can do for 10k.  I'll report back!


  1. Try the ATT tobacco trail in Cary. It's pretty flat. You'll be surprised how hard flat is. I like hills better, because you use diff muscle groups. Flat is all the same and hurts more. good luck!

  2. I have definitely become comfortable on hills Carol, but I'm not sure that I agree! When I run down on the OBX it feels as if I'm flying compared to running at home in Raleigh.... unless it's windy!