I ran with them once some years back maybe in 2018 or 2019. I might have a post on it. I will need to search back at the older entries (I think I found it, day 136). Bishop is I think the name of the race director. Last time I ran was to do it with couple friends.
As the weekend approached, I realized I had no plans of going any where because I had no race scheduled. By Friday, my itchyness of wanting to run a fast simple race reached its fever peak, so I Googled for a 5k, 10k, marathon, or half marathons, any that are within my driving distance for me to do. It was my fault that the plan for weekend has slipped my mind since I originally wanted to run in the OSS/CIA race, but I missed its sign-up, which closed a week prior.
I found Bishop Half from one of the running websites. It was a perfect distance. I needed a fast, flat, normal half marathon to test myself. It was long enough to keep me out for a good part of the day but short enough as not to sap my strength too much, since I have a full marathon (my A+ goal race) coming up the following weekend. Maybe that was the reason I didn’t sign up the OSS/CIA race in the first place. I think OSS was a 50 mile race. I had done too many of the long races already. I wanted to go back to the fun little ones. Not that big races are not fun but big races take so much out of me. I wanted to know how fast I can run as of today too. I used to call this a limit test. It is like taking a car onto the track and run it as fast as it can. All the ultra marathon training for the past six months had made me very slow. I need something opposite.
The previous time when I ran the Bishop’s Half, I was on a verge of or was recovering from being very sick due to having caught the Lyme disease. My pace then was terrible. I think I pulled a 2.5 hrs half, which normally I run it sub 2:00 time. This time around my body was in a much better shape. I was near my peak of my condition if not at the very peak, since I just ran the MMT (a 100 miler) not long ago.
The race was what I expected and remembered. This was a contrast to my last post about WEU, where a lot other things dominated my experience of being part of it. I had a lot out of the Bishop Half and it scratched my running itch. It was on an out and back course with a 6.5 miles going out on the C&O Canal and 6.5 miles back. There was a .1 mile somewhere to make it a true half marathon.
I struggled more at finding a parking spot than at running the race itself. Though the race was pretty interesting for me. In this post, I won’t spend 5000 words on how I slept the night before or what time I woke up and my drive to the course and circle around for half an hour to find the best spot to park. All those of course was a drama. I didn’t sleep well. I woke up super early and parking in downtown was a love-hate relationship.
The race was in the city on the C&O towpath in Georgetown.
It was really fun and lowkey. Sometimes I really need to run more of local races instead of all the big names cookie-cutter races. We had a shirt and many water stations, I think 9 in total. Stations 3 and 4 were very close together (like half mile or less). They were also same as stations 6 and 7. There were maybe about 100 of us, but it felt more like around 50 ish. It was bib timed. Bless the director of doing the start in two waves. The first wave was for those who can/think they can run under 1:30. I started in the middle of the second wave. So I think I placed myself at near the rear pack. But truly, I hadn’t run this fast for so long.
It took me about 1:10 hour:mins going out, which according to my own standard was slow. I became tired at the turn around point. While going out I found a buddy to follow. He had a steady pace and we passed maybe 10-20 people during the first couple miles then we stayed steady. JP, a friend I later met, stayed a few steps ahead of us. By mile 4, JP pulled ahead and I followed JP, but by mile 5 I couldn’t keep his pace and dialed back on my pacing. Then there was two ladies, I wanted to follow. I passed one of them and caught up with the other at the turn around. Unfortunately, I spent too much energy catching her and I was not doing well after reaching halfway.
With my recent knowledge on bonking, I quickly identified I was not doing well and I needed to get energy quickly into my body and I took my first gel package. I could then get back into pace but I fell far behind the lady I was trying to chase. By about mile 9, I had my second bonk. So opened my second gel and tempo came back up a bit. I think I was running at 11 minute pace. I wasn’t wearing my watch so did not know my exact pace. I can kind of guess. My goal was to pretend it was the last 5 miles of my MMT race and I wanted to “revenge” it by trying to run it under an hour. As readers might know I did not finish the MMT for failing to get to the final 5 miles to make the cutoff during my MMT race a month ago. I don’t feel bad about that but I felt I need to be able to do it. It was a motivation for me to run fast. If that is a pace to run after running 90 miles then I have better to do it now that I have fresh legs.
As I reached 1 mile from the finish, I felt the energy from the last gel fully kicked in. I also had what is called a runner kick and usually I get a speed boost near the finish. I finished it under 2:10. Supposingly, I might have run a negative split but there was no way to be sure.
The race reminded me the joy of running a fast simple race. With ultra or even marathon, we normally try to hold back our pace. But with a half marathon I could be riskier by running fast early. In my mind, the thought was to let my feet do their things. There was a feeling of letting them fall into steps. It is also a lot simpler in term of planning, unlike MMT or WEU last weekend where fretted on many things. This race I just put on my shoes and ran. This race was a blast.
Another thought I had while out on the course was the idea of hitting a comfortable pace. I actually wanted to reject that, unlike in longer races, a comfortable pace usually the one that will get you to the finish. What I mean is over time we developed a pace we love to stick at. I use the same pace foe short, long or any length course. It gives a comfortable feeling when we reach it. I called it hammering. You just keep them pounding. It is a pace we could run and fall asleep on. I tried to remind myself in this half marathon that a comfortable pace is not what I seek. If my body feels comfortable, it means I am not pushing myself hard enough. I want to be off balanced and uncomfortable.
A race should give that discomfortness. I am not in training any more. So I pushed myself. I wanted to feel as if I was about to choke and I needed breath. My muscle and lung should be screaming. In my mind I told myself I want to be broken by my pace. Let it rip. Break me! Peel the layer off me. Yes it is like breaking a blister or peeling a layer of skin. I felt only in a race like this can I run fast.
MMT broke me mentally but I wanted this half marathon to break me physically. It felt good when I reached the finish line.
Next week, I will be going to MN for a marathon. It has been couple months since I last ran one. I hope I can still remember the pacing and get to the finish. It is weird to hear myself say this, but sometimes running a marathon makes me nervous. I do hope I will have as much fun as this half marathon.
P.S. Grandmas Marathon happened over the weekend. I hope I will write a report on it. Bishop Half was a good preview. I ran till my tank was empty. And I ran fast