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Race Report: Parks Half-Marathon

Posted by Jay Silvio on Sep 15, 2008 11:40:37 AM



On Sunday morning (9/14/08 7:00) I ran in the Parks Half-Marathon.  This was my first race since May and due to injuries I have not been able to put in any speedwork or long runs for the past couple of months.  Most of my training during this time has been on an elliptical machine with a slow build up of running.  Therefore, I am relatively pleased with my time of 1:21:44 (6:14 pace) and finish (29 out of 2037 finishers and 5 out of 201 in the men's 35-39 age group) even though I missed out on an age group prize by one spot (and of course my age group was the largest one).  No, it wasn't anything near the performance I had originally hoped for when I registered for the event following the Frederick Marathon (where my half split was 1:15:39), but considering that a few weeks ago I was unsure if I would be able to continue running at all I am satisfied with my progress.


The Parks Half-Marathon is a point-to-point race that starts in Rockville and ends in downtown Bethesda.  The event is very well organized with a baggage drop to bring gear to the finish area and free metro cards to ride back to the start following the post-race festivities.  Unfortunately, no amount of organization could prevent the ridiculously high humidity and warm temperatures at race time which caused consistently slow performances when compared to previous years (even among the African runners who swept the top six positions).


Here is how I ran:

1) 5:48 - 5:48

2) 11:28 - 5:41

3) 17:21 - 5:53

4) 23:27 - 6:06

5) 29:37 - 6:10

6) 35:51 - 6:14

7) 42:08 - 6:17

8) 48:20 - 6:12

9) 54:31 - 6:11

10) 1:00:57 - 6:27

11) 1:07:33 - 6:36

12) 1:14:14 - 6:41

13.1) 1:21:44


Obviously, I started out too fast and I was punished for that during the late miles.  The course started out with a nice long stretch of straight and lightly rolling road with a net downhill slope.  This, along with being in a large second pack, led to my brisk start.  After two miles the course turned off onto a winding asphalt park path.  Most of the remainder of the race followed a series of these hiker-biker type trails that were full of short hills and were moderately slick due to recent rain.  After checking my first couple of splits, I realized I needed to pull back a bit in order to make sure that I didn't completely gas out and trash my legs.  Over the next few miles I was passed by a somewhat steady flow of runners and that is always tough.  It's hard to stay motivated when you know you've gone out too fast and you are no longer able to stick on anyone's shoulder, especially when you realize you aren't even at the halfway mark and your socks are soaked through so that your shoes make that awful squishing sound every time they strike the pavement.  Eventually, I settled into a decent pace and was able to maintain my position for a while.  When I passed another runner near the nine mile mark, I tried to drag him with me but he was even more gassed than I was.  That meant that I was essentially running on my own with little chance of catching anyone ahead of me and nobody behind to push me forward.  Around eleven miles the course turned onto a wide dirt and gravel trail.  It was flat (just a slight uphill grade) and straight but somewhat rutted with rocks.  When I landed funny on a rock near mile twelve, I felt my left hamstring buckle so I pulled back even further to avoid serious injury.  Near the end, the course went into a long tunnel which provided some nice shade and then popped out about 150 meters from the finish line.  After a couple of hard turns (which my legs did not appreciate) I crossed the finish line.  I collected my finishers' premium (a nice green winter hat with the race logo to go along with the sweet Brooks long-sleeved tech race shirt) and some food before I head over to the med tent to get some treatment for blisters on my heels and a bloody nipple.  After I pick up my bag I head over to check the results (which were quickly posted) and scan down for my official time and place.  I chat with some other runners and we then head to the metro for the journey back to Rockville.  My legs and feet (and nipples) are in a fair amount of pain, but I'm happy enough to have completed my first official half-marathon.  My post-race cool-down consists of two hours of mowing my lawn with a mower that has a busted self-propelling mechanism...


The official results can be found at

The Washington Running Report write up is at



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