Harrisburg Half Marathon Race Report

So yesterday was the Harrisburg Half Marathon - basically a mini-version of my key race, the November Harrisburg Marathon. It starts in the same place and goes the same directions, just not as far. So it serves as a nice dress rehearsal.

Last year, I ran this one in 1:40 flat as a marathon pace run and promptly freaked out since it didn't feel "easy" to me. So three week's later I ran a different half marathon pretty close to all out in 1:34:32, which fixed my head in time for the marathon.

This year, the plan was to have a nice PR here -- in the 1:31-1:32 range -- so that my head was in good shape heading into the final weeks of marathon training.

And then, during last week's speed workout I hurt my shin, pretty much in the same place where I always hurt it. I went into holycrapIneedtofixthisormyseasonsgoingtohell mode, spending the entire week icing it, wrapping it and putting smelly creams on it. And mostly, I trained through it, though last week was a scheduled cut-back week any way.

Reading that compression is a good thing, I even picked up some compression socks and wore them for most of the week.

Sunday morning, I felt pretty good, but still didn't feel like I was 100%. Ten minutes before the race I asked myself if it was more important to get a 1/2M PR and possibly hurt myself or get to the full marathon healthy in eight weeks. I chose B, and went to the starting line w/ a plan of running a 1:37-1:38 -- two to three minutes faster than last year, but nothing that would jeopardize my health. Dave - far more disciplined than I - had already set himself up with the same goal.

We went out nice and easy with a first mile of 7:40. From there, the idea was to do a steady progression of 7:30's and turn on the gas around mile 10.

For the first four miles, I was really glad I did that, as my legs (underneath the compression socks) felt mighty tight. But then, in the fifth mile, I took a gel and found myself feeling much better. Much looser. And - quite frankly - ready to go.

Though I never planned it, the race became a good progression workout, with all but 2 of the miles being faster than the last. In the end, these were my splits:


I haven't seen the online results, but my Garmin had me at 1:35:15 -- 42 seconds off last year's PR. While I can't say I had a lot left in the tank by the end, I definitely phoned it in at the beginning, so I'm confident I could've PR'd, had I been willing to risk my shin, which I wasn't.

The best news, of course, is that operation Save-the-Shin was a big success. I have some gentle soreness in my legs today, but my shin is about 98% fine, which I think is amazing, given that effort. I'm going to really focus on tempos and marathon pace stuff over the next eight weeks, since it seems to be the real 5k-10k stuff that causes the pain.

The worst news? Probably that running in compression socks makes me look like a field hockey player. However, I must admit that I'm a fan and plan to add them to my Garmin as an official dorky runner accessory. Thanks, oh so much, to Bill Hathaway for capturing the Kodak moment.

UPDATE: Thanks for the heads-up, Bill... here's the final results. I came in 80th out of 857 overall... 12th out of 76 in my AG. One of the things I pay attention to (a little) is trying to crack the top 10% of my AG, since the theory is that Boston wants to let in the top 10% of each AG. However, the 8th place guy in my AG yesterday ran just over 1:30, which would've likely required splitting my shin apart while snorting EPO. Sooooo... all in all, I'm glad with what I got.


  1. Amazing time - Congrats! I have a long way to go, but this was just my first step! Just keep running!

  2. The results are up at the timing company's web site: http://runhigh.com/2008%20Results/2008%20Results%20B/R090708AB.html

  3. Way to go Marcus! It sounds like you a pre-race week like mine. Congrats on the PR and good luck in the Harrisburg Marathon. That was my first time in the Harrisburg Half and enjoyed the flat course. (And weather!)

  4. Good stuff Marcus. Way to not blow up your shin.

  5. Well, nice job and a great set up for the marathon to come. A progression half marathon "training" run!

  6. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Congrats - sounds like you ran a smart and disciplined race - and pretty darn close to a PR. Doesn't get much better than that!

  7. Anonymous5:37 PM

    love the socks. i'm a shin sufferer too and have contemplated buying a pair on numerous occasions. Now you've likened yourself to a field hockey player, I think I'll stick to the ice and compression in the comfort of my own home :)

    nice job on the race plan and the end result. good luck with the rest of the marathon training,



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