Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon Race Report

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon is a gem of a race. It's the oldest road race in the state of Delaware at 48 years old. It's a little over an hour from home, has a field of about 1500 runners, never sells out, great amenities such as long sleeve Brooks technical shirts and a huge post race spread (w/ fresh cut pineapples). To me the course itself is also a gem. They've changed it slightly over the years, but the bottom line has not changed....IT's TOUGH! The first 6 miles is relatively flat w/ some great waterfront running, then the course get's down to business. A series of three tough climbs over the next 3 miles leave your legs SCREAMING by the time you get to the top. Then you have some rolling neighborhood running and a couple of miles of downhill. You get a real gut check in the last 1,000 meters or so...a lung busting, leg breaking climb to the finish. I'd done this race about 4 or 5 times before, so I know what to expect. What I really love about this race is how well it indicates your fitness level. I've found it a great predictor for Boston, so I wanted to see where I was at. The weather was not ideal, but turned out better than the predicted snow and cold. We were treated to the beaming sun, but had to contend with temps in the mid 30's and a pesky wind. My goal was to try to run 6:00 miles for the first half, then pick up the effort for the second half. Last year I had run 1:18:20 (5:58 avg or so) with a huge negative split. I planned to go out faster this year and see if I could hold on. As I toed the line I remembered the signature start for this race, a Civil War Cannon! I held my ears and we were off. I started out in the top 20 and tried to settle in on the fast, downhill first mile. I was treated to a single digit number (#6) from my high finish in last year's race. I saw #5 just in front of me so I tried to pace off of him. First mile was 5:42, a little fast but expected due to the downhill sections. As it flattened out I tried to figure out who I would be running with and who I could work with in these windier sections. The field really thinned out and by the third mile or so and I was basically sitting all alone. My splits were consistently +/-5:55 and I was feeling pretty good. As we approached half way one of the spectators said I was 8th overall and I could see 7th just ahead. As we hit the hills I upped the effort and by mile 7 I had passed the 7th place runner. The three uphill miles were 6:02, 6:04 and 6:04 but man did they feel faster! At this point I was all alone. I could see a pack of 3 about 75 seconds ahead of me and no one behind me. By the time we hit mile 9 my goal was to drop the pace and gut it out to the finish. I clicked off two sub 5:45 miles (#10 & #11) and headed downhill. I could tell I was slowing down but I could taste the finish. I had made it back to the out/back section of the course and I was encouraged by all the runners who were still climbing that were cheering me on. I rounded the corner and mentally prepared for the final climb. I knew I was on pace to better last year's finish so I just pushed. The last two miles were 5:55 or so average and I crossed the line in 1:17:58, 7th overall. I was very happy with my run. It's tough to run solo like that most of the race and it was a great fitness indicator as I progress through the injury recovery. Our group had entered in the team competition so I headed over to watch my teammates climb to the finish. My training partner, Jeff was racing his first half (oddly enough, he's been running for a long time...5k's through marathons). I spotted him about 300m from the finish starting to slack off....I yelled and ran next to him....and he made it across the line in 1:21:56! My brother also had a great race, he hadn't planned on racing it nor really trained for it but still PR'd in his thrid half marathon at 1:30:53. Our team would go on to win the men's open division!! As far as nutrition went. I had a Clif Bar and banana on the way there and finished off a bottle of Fruit Punch EFS. Didn't take anything during the race, it was too cold. I'm excited to fine tune the legs over the next three weeks before Boston and see what I got on Patriot's Day! Also, big thanks to my Mom and Jim for watching the kids (and the dogs!).


  1. Wow! That elevation is nauseating to say the least.. "I could tell I was slowing down but I could taste the finish" great recap and excellent effort.. way to execute on raceday.

    Gotta Run,

  2. Wow! Excellent race Chris! The last half of the course is just scary looking on the chart!