A run with my son ... and a hill

Just after I got to mile 13 today, I saw my wife and son cheering me on. I saw a big smile on his face ... I looked behind me to see no one near me ... and scooped him up. Finishing the last little bit of today's Lynchburg Half Marathon with him was special -- something I won't soon forget. I can't wait until he can do his first kids race. As for the rest of the race, I did what I wanted to do -- a sub 4-hour marathon pace. I haven't widely broadcast what I want to do for the Richmond Marathon, but less than 4 hours is my goal right now. So I went into today's event with the mindset of this being a solid long training run. While I would have liked to have been around 1:50, my finishing time was 1:55:38. There's really no need for a mile-by-mile recap because everything was pretty steady. Except for one thing.

The biggest issue with getting slowed down was a HUGE hill about three-quarters of a mile long -- and it wasn't really the uphill that caused the issue. Coming back down the hill kind of just killed the whole run. After the bottom of the hill, there were a little more than 3 miles to go. I just couldn't go. I just settled into a pace a little more than 9 minutes a mile and eased to the end.

To put this hill into perspective, I have mapped this big hill and the middle miles of the race on Daily Mile. This rest of the Lynchburg Half is mostly flat, with some gradual hills along a bike path next to the James River. (For anyone new to my blog, this course has changed drastically from three years ago when it was a mostly flat race. I had NO IDEA that this hill was this big, despite what people told me.)

From a racing standpoint, this just wasn't that great of an experience. From a training standpoint, it was actually a really good run. I'm not going to complain about it; I'm just going to move on from it. I learned some lessons today about hills -- I may run on them every day, but I need to learn to work them better and not let them work me. I think I've become too used to them. I smell a hill repeat workout soon.

On a side note, today was the 10th half marathon I have completed since the summer of 2006, and my third this year. The past two experiences -- this one with the hill and the Blue Ridge Half in April -- have really taught me to respect this distance more than I already did. My other eight half marathon experiences have been mostly flat, including six half marathons at Virginia Beach. Experiences like today and in April are eye opening and why I want to keep going. It makes training for my second marathon all the more worthwhile.