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Inspired -Ryan McGrath''s Weekend Report
It was a perfect fall morning on Sunday in Philadelphia, as nearly 17,000 runners toed the line to run a half marathon in and around the city.  For most of the field, "just finishing" was their goal, so they could go to work the next day and tell everyone that they ran a half marathon, but for some, ambitions were much higher.  For Dave Berdan, it was perhaps his best opportunity for qualifying for the US Olympic Trials, to be held January 2012 in Houston.  With a 10 mile PR of 49:17, he said before the race he was hoping to come through 10 in 49:30 (4:57/mi) and push hard to the finish to get under the 1:05:00 qualifying time.  His splits were amazingly even: 5:03, 5:02, 4:58, 4:59, 4:59, 5:04, 5:00, 5:03, 5:11, 5:00, 4:58, 5:01, 5:29 (1.1) for a 1:05:53.  The last 5k was 15:28, and it was a half marathon PR by 23 seconds.  Although he came up short of his goal, he was pleased with getting under 1:06 for the first time, and he finished 25th overall in this incredibly competitive field.

For the mortals in our group, the times were a not-quite-elite, but were impressive nonetheless.  Vince Collins was InVINCEable out there, as he walked the first 5k in 18:30ish (he passed me right before the clock) and then started to roll.  5:40s.  Then 5:20s.  Then dropped a 5:14 or something insane around mile 9 or 10.  Finished with a 5:23, and crossed the line at 1:13:09.  That meant his 10 mile split after the 5k was under 55 minutes.  Incredible.  It was as if he had multiple NOS buttons to hit and keep hitting.  It was a similar race strategy for Dan Miranda, who ran 10 miles between 5:45 and 5:50 basically, before going Jack Kerouac on that ass and dropping 3 consecutive 5:33 miles or faster over the last 5k to finish in 1:14:49 - a PR by 1:20.

Even I had a magical day.  Since it had been so long since the last time I a) had run a PR and b) had really run this race (both were in 2008) I couldn't exactly remember my personal best time, but I knew it was around 1:18:40.  For this race, though, my goal was a more realistic 1:20.  Three weeks following the Ironman didn't seem like an ideal time to try and get after a half marathon, but I figured I would let my legs dictate my effort.  I went out smart, albeit a little quicker than I had anticipated, and with some pace help from Snake Hill Bandits, I split 18:32 at 5k, 37:01 at 10k and 55:33 at 15k.  I was 59:43 at 10 miles and I knew at that point I had 1:20 in the bag, but the question was could I get under 1:19, or maybe even faster.  I clipped miles 11 and 12 in 6:08, and at this point realized I would need to run a 6 minute mile if I was going to have a chance at going under 1:18:40.  I charged as hard as I could, hit the 6:00 on the dot, and then powered to the finish on the heels of cheers from Alyssa, Zero, Ed and Jake Klim, and stopped my watch at 1:18:38 - a 4 second improvement over my best time, set before I was hurt.

Others ran well, too.  Diane Heiser is in the middle of some really big work en route to NYC in November, and confirmed her fitness by running a 1:23:03, just 5 seconds off her personal best.  Megan DiGregorio had never run a half marathon before, so her 1:25:20 established a time for herself, and landed her at #9 on our all-time top ten list.  Nina Hartman was all smiles as she went out to run more following her 1:28:51.  She was running comfortably before picking it up, and she wasn't that far off what she ran there in 2009, so she must be in great shape!  Andy Olson was running with her until she dusted him, but he was just off his personal best at 1:29:32.  Brittni Bradley, also in her first half marathon, was excited to run under the NYC qualifying time - and man was she under, running a 1:31:41!  Uncle Pete Mulligan bandited, but apparently finished in a new PR of 1:35, which is flying for him and gives him hope of a solid marathon in a few weeks.

For some of our other local elite guys, they had great races as well.  GRC was in full effect, with Karl The-Duse-is-Loose Dusen running under 67 (and ensuring he did not get girled by Kim Smith) and Paul Guevara running in the 69 range - and making it look easy.  HCS' Carlos Renjifo ran under 1:10 as well, monster race.  I guess it really just was a great day, 58:46 and 58:47 were the top two times for men - both eclipsing the previous fastest half marathon run on American soil, and New Zealander Kim "I make it look painful" Smith ran 1:07:10 - the fastest by a woman on our beautiful homeland.  Amazing!

Of course, our race wasn't the only one going on this weekend.  At the Run! Geek Run! 8k on Saturday, it was a battle between GRC and us for the top 6 spots, with Conrad Laskowski picking up 2nd (25:44 in trainers), Dustin Meeker taking 3rd (25:51) and Ed Aramayo finishing 6th (26:26).  Ed won the event last year in 25:50, and just didn't have the speed to go faster.  PRs for Dusty and C-Rad though, and after tonight's workout, it is beyond evident that Conrad is ready to go for Marathon Saturday in a few weeks.

Tristram Thomas rolled to a 2 minute victory at the Fort McHenry Tunnel Run 5k, running 16:10, while Jon Miller (18:59) and PJ Anderer (20:40) had great races at the BRRC Executive Stampede 5k in Hunt Valley.  Brian Benda finished 4th at the Savageman 30.0 Triathlon on Saturday admist cool and wet conditions.

When it was time to decide this week's Purple Drink Athlete of the Week, I pulled a surprise move - and something I've never done in the nearly 4 years I've been giving out the award - and gave it to myself.  I was really pleased with my performance, I ran, for me, the perfect race and know that I could not have squeeze out so much as a second faster than I did on that day.

Posted by RM

I wrote the linked article a few years ago, and for the most part it is still accurate.