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Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

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Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:13 am

Earlier this year, my daughter who is at UConn asked me if I'd run a half with her (her first) this past Saturday. I agreed, but then her plans changed, and we did not sign up. But that got the race on my radar screen. She chose this race because of its proximity to UConn, and it is a relatively short drive for me.

I ran a half three weeks ago, and felt good doing it. That was a hilly course, and I did no training specific to the race, and came in at 1:52 something and was happy with that.

After that race, I found out I got into Chicago, and if past qualifications hold this year (won't know until some time in May), I'll need to break 1:51 to get into the D Corral. So, after I found out I got into Chicago, I signed up for a half I pr'd in four years ago, which is on June 1. My goal for the June 1 race is to get into D, whatever the standard.

As this past Saturday approached, I was thinking about the race my daughter chose, and figured I might run it with the goal of breaking 1:51, which seemed within reach on a decent course and good conditions, without too much trouble. Since the last half three weeks prior, I had jumped into one of Hal's half plans, just picking up at the appropriate week. On Tuesday, I decided to sign up for the Willimantic race. I went ahead and ran my scheduled intervals on Wednesday, generally felt good, and just skipped any run on Thursday and Friday.

The weather on Saturday morning was brutal. Mid-40s and raining pretty hard. I wisely brought along a disposable poncho we had sitting around (it was about the consistency of Saran Wrap, which worked well enough). I arrived about 45 minutes before the gun, and it was really wet and cold. I waited in the car a bit. I got out and stood around the start for a while in the rain. It was letting up a little. I kept the poncho on, and synched up my Garmin while I waited.

The start was a couple of minutes late, and then we were off. Small crowd (262 total finishers, some of whom were walkers, and the walkers had started an hour earlier), and no issues at the start. The course was open to traffic for most of the way. This was not well-managed. At the first turn we took, which was about a half mile into the race, we went left from one significant thoroughfare to another, and it was chaos as we cut through (non-moving) cars at a traffic light. That was crazy. The course overall was not good from a traffic perspective. At one point, where a prolonged procession of runners was preventing access to the road from the open businesses alongside the road, some woman screached out in front of the runners despite a plea from the volunteer there not to, out of pure frustration. There was more of that than you'd like.

I was not feeling too great early on, and just felt like it was a little harder than I wanted. The course has rolling hills, and none were too big, but I just didn't feel in synch. When we got to the 1 mile marker, I looked down at my watch, which I had set up to just auto-lap, because I didn't want to futz with it in the cold rain, and saw that it read the time of day, rather than elapsed time. Oops. It had shut itself down while I waited in the chute for the start, due to nonactivity. I've done that before. Too many times! I learned from my prior mistakes, and took Chris McKee's wise words to heart and just started it back up then. Set to auto-lap, it would give me a mile split whenever it read one, and give me a reading on my pace.

Turns out as I proceeded that I was running at a little slower than what I'd need to break 1:51, but I seemed close (didn't know time elapsed for first mile, so impossible to have any precision). No split clocks on the course, and once when someone near me asked another runner for elapsed time, the reply was that the other guy had somehow screwed up his watch also! I kept chugging along, and the weather was getting better (cold and damp, but the rain was subsiding). I decided that I would keep the pace about where it was (just over or around 8:30 per) until the halfway point or a little later, and then if I had some juice, I'd step it up.

By the halfway point there was little rain, and I was feeling better. I still held off on the increased effort, and my pace was varying a bit with the terrain. But then as the miles accumulated, I started to gradually push the pace. I think no one who passed me after about 5 miles managed to stay in front of me. Either they didn't pass me, or I passed them back later.

When I got to 11.0, I really pushed the pace for the twelfth mile and did the same for thirteen. I ran these at just under 8:00 per mile. I felt like I was probably close enough to goal to go for it, had no cramping issues, and felt like I had sufficient energy to do it. I just had no idea what the elapsed time was. Within about half a mile of the finish, a volunteer yelled out encouragement and said I was definitely under 2 hours. Not exactly what I was hoping to hear, given my uncertainty! I kept pushing.

Near the end, the course turns into the park, and I could see the clock ahead. I'd already been pretty much sprinting the last 150 yards before that, and when I saw that the clock read 1:50 plus, I really cranked it up. Crossed under the clock in about 1:50:45. Ends up that the net time from the start mat put me at an official time of 1:50:37. So, great race management! Smile

I was freezing after a few minutes of cooling off. I cranked the heat up in the car on the way home and took a scalding shower, and I felt fine.

Ready to resume training for June 1, knowing that I at least have 1:51 in the bag (if that matters0, if it turns out to be a hot day in June. My pr for the distance is 1:45:xx. I doubt I can get back to that, but I figure I should be able to get down to a couple of minutes under 1:50 if training goes well and I have a decent day.

Thanks for reading a long report.

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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:02 pm

Congrats, Michael on the race and it does bode well for you to certainly go under the 1:51 time again in early June.  With the weather these days, I hope that it is still cool by then.  Sorry to hear about the nasty conditions as by Saturday morning in DC, the rain had passed through and it was a beautiful weekend.  Great job managing an excellent time in the rain.
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:44 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:Congrats, Michael on the race and it does bode well for you to certainly go under the 1:51 time again in early June.  With the weather these days, I hope that it is still cool by then.  Sorry to hear about the nasty conditions as by Saturday morning in DC, the rain had passed through and it was a beautiful weekend.  Great job managing an excellent time in the rain.

Thanks Michele, and glad it was nice in DC! Cherry blossoms?
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:42 pm

@Michael Enright wrote:
Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:Congrats, Michael on the race and it does bode well for you to certainly go under the 1:51 time again in early June.  With the weather these days, I hope that it is still cool by then.  Sorry to hear about the nasty conditions as by Saturday morning in DC, the rain had passed through and it was a beautiful weekend.  Great job managing an excellent time in the rain.

Thanks Michele, and glad it was nice in DC! Cherry blossoms?
There were still some.  This picture was taken in front of a building by our hotel.

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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:27 pm

Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:
@Michael Enright wrote:
Michele \"1L" Keane wrote:Congrats, Michael on the race and it does bode well for you to certainly go under the 1:51 time again in early June.  With the weather these days, I hope that it is still cool by then.  Sorry to hear about the nasty conditions as by Saturday morning in DC, the rain had passed through and it was a beautiful weekend.  Great job managing an excellent time in the rain.

Thanks Michele, and glad it was nice in DC! Cherry blossoms?
There were still some.  This picture was taken in front of a building by our hotel.


Nice. Love that!
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Jerry on Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:42 am

Congratulations Michael. Can't trust others, right? lol!
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:27 am

@Jerry wrote:Congratulations Michael. Can't trust others, right? lol!

Thanks Jerry! Depends on who you choose to trust...
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Alex Kubacki on Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:57 am

Great job Michael in those conditions. Where was this?
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:49 am

@Alex Kubacki wrote:Great job Michael in those conditions. Where was this?

Hi Alex! Thanks. This was in Willimantic, CT, which is in the eastern half of the state, about the middle north-south. Willimantic is an old mill town and is a pretty depressed area. You know the kind of town, I'm sure. It's pretty much straight south from UConn, and not too far, so was convenient for my daughter. And it is right on CT Hwy 66, which is a straight shot for me, since I live about half a mile from that road - so it was easy as far as driving directions go!
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  dot520 on Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:08 am

Came into this forum looking for some inspiration prior to my run this morning and found it in your report!  Great job keeping your head in the game especially with things not going perfectly, like the watch and not knowing what your time was throughout the race.  The traffic situation is another one that throws you out of synch, but you did an awesome job of going with the flow.  Congratulations!
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Sat Sep 06, 2014 3:48 pm

Thanks Dot! It was fun to go back and read the report. After slogging through 10 miles in a brutal combination of heat and humidity this morning, that cold rain sounds inviting!
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Jim Lentz on Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:42 pm

Very nice job!
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  mountandog on Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:40 am

excellent.  congrats.  takes the pressure off now for a later HM and Chicago.  Who or what is Willie Whammer?
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Re: Inaugural running of the Willi Whammer Half Marathon

Post  Michael Enright on Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:17 am

Guys, I do appreciate the kudos, but the race report Dot was commenting on was from this past spring, so old news.

Willi Whammer is the name of a beer produced by a microbrewery located in Willimantic, a small eastern CT town where the race was run.

I have never tasted it, but the race did provide pint glasses, instead of HM medals, with the logo of the race and the microbrewery engraved on it, and I've really enjoyed using the pint glass for diet coke, gatorade, water, etc.!
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