Running a faster Monster Dash Half Marathon
October 27 was the annual Team Ortho Monster Dash half marathon. I ran with over 6,000 other runners, who were dressed up in all sorts of costumes. I wasn’t dressed up like anything other than a guy trying to set a personal record.
Team Ortho races are always well organized. Although I didn’t stop at any of the water stops or port potties, I was grateful they were there. I did appreciate the music along the course, and the countless volunteers and spectators who came out to watch us on a freezing October morning.
I ran a 1:34:06, which is almost 90 seconds faster than my previous half. The course was almost all downhill, with a few hills towards the end. This certainly helped, but I attribute my time to better training and a more focused race day.
How to Run Faster
If you want to run a fast race, you need to have a goal. Mine was to break 1:35. I needed to average 7:15 per mile. I focused all of my training around this goal. My speed work was faster than this pace to get my legs, heart and head used to it. My long runs went up to 14, because I knew I needed to have enough endurance to sustain something that fast.
I also created a plan for race day. Too often I just go out and try to maintain a certain pace. That can feel daunting. By dividing it up into thirds, it made it more focused.
- The first four miles I worked to establish my pace. 7:15 per mile. Slightly faster was ok, but not more than 5 seconds. Often it’s easy to go out too fast and really mess your pace up.
- The second third, I was focused on settling into a rhythm. I tried to find other runners and make sure I was not only hitting my pace, but at this point, pushing it just a tad faster.
- The final third is actually broken up into parts A and B. Miles 8 – 10 I’m playing a psychological game in my head. Keep pushing! Miles 10 – 12 I’m imagining it’s a short off day run. Easy.
- I actually try not to think about the last 1.1 miles because that’s just when I just let everything out of the tank.
This might not work for everyone, but I knew what I need to do at each stage of the race. I “banked” about 30 seconds in the first phase, so I knew I would be in good shape. I also knew I could lose all of that on one bad mile. During the second third, I “banked” a little more, so that by mile 10, I knew barring some catastrophe, I was going to hit my mark. Now it was just a matter of deciding how far under 1:35 I could go.
I actually didn’t think I was going to be close to breaking 1:35. My previous fastest race was 1:35:47, but that included a 60 second poop break. I wonder what I could do if I set my sights on 1:30? Shaving another four minutes off my time means about 20 seconds per mile. Can I run 13, 6:50’s?