An unpleasant surprise, a calf muscle pull, upended my plan to race the Norwalk Summer Series Half Marathon. When I drove to Norwalk on Saturday morning I thought I could either volunteer, or jog the first loop and then volunteer for the second half. Either way, I didn’t plan to the entire 13.1 miles. As it turned out, I ran the race - which may or may not have been the wisest course of action.
The parking lot at the Fox Run School was packed. Despite the borderline lousy weather (on and off rain/drizzle), there was a record turn-out for the race. The course is a somewhat hilly double loop (with the second loop a mile shorter than the first). I’ve run this race a number of times over the years and knew the layout relatively well. I did an easy loop of the parking lot to test my calf. Since it was just sore, I decided to run the first loop.
The first mile, predominately downhill, took 7:36 - and was something of a surprise. It must have been the gravity assist, because I don’t think I ran it particularly fast. I consciously slowed my pace down for the second mile. In an example of “no good deed goes unpunished,” I experienced a sharp pain in my already bruised calf - arrgh! Luckily, it was just a scare - and it would be the only one of the race.
After about quarter mile my I could run without pain again. Mile 2 took 8:36 and I slowed down even more for miles 3 and 4, 9:15 and 9:11, respectively. Those would be my slowest miles of the race. I picked up the pace slightly for the remaining miles of the first loop, 8:47, 8:55, and 8:48 - for a seven mile split of 1:01:10. As I approached mile 7, I weighed the possibility of stopping, but decided against it.
Despite that momentary scare in the second mile, the first loop was uneventful. I spent most of the that time focused on my bio-mechanics and hardly any on the course! I didn’t push the pace during the first 7 miles and sought to minimize any strain my calf. I decided to be less conservative the second time around. I wasn’t going to set any speed records, but I’d try to work in a couple of fast miles and see how the calf held up with a faster pace.
Mile 8, basically a repeat of the first (gravity assisted) mile, was a 7:29. That was followed by a string of more modestly paced miles; 8:50, 7:51, 7:55, and 8:06 - for a 12 mile split of 1:41:24. The prospect of a sub-1:50 finish prompted me to run the last mile. Not the brightest idea, but sometimes I can be stubborn in the face of conventional wisdom. I ran a 7:08 for mile 13, and 0:48 for the last one tenth of mile to finish in 1:49:20, an 8:21 pace.
Needless to say, I was incredibly pleased with finishing the distance! The negative split was an interesting bonus! But I didn't want to push my luck - so I skipped the Tuckahoe Challenge on Sunday morning. Instead, I opted for an easy training run to and from the race!
here are some race photos.