Cognitive Daily

Half-marathon update

I promised on Friday that I’d post an update on the half-marathon. First of all, I finished!

Here’s a picture of me about 100 yards from the finish with my running partner (and co-author) Shireen Campbell:


I finished the race in 1 hour, 51 minutes, and 59 seconds. That works out to a pace of 8:33 per mile, which is three seconds slower what I was shooting for. Still, I finished in the top third of competitors, and in the top half of my age/gender division, so I’ll take it! A few additional thoughts below:

  • Shireen finished 1 second ahead of me, and 12th out of 75 in her division. Way to go!
  • I did not experience the “runner’s high,” and neither did Shireen.
  • Physically, I felt good for nearly the entire race. In fact, we were running well ahead of our projected pace for most of the race. However, the last two miles of the course are all uphill, and we slowed dramatically. It was the first time I felt like I was really laboring.
  • As you can see, I’m rather big for a distance runner. Though I lost 20 pounds in training, I still tipped the scales at 210 pounds for this race. I’d be interested to see how my results compare to others in the 200-plus weight division.
  • Overall, I was surprised at how quickly the race was over. In training, a two-hour run seemed like an eternity, but I was almost disappointed at how little time I had to enjoy the experience.
  • That said, I don’t think I’ll be stepping up and running a marathon anytime soon. I might consider running another half, but I probably wouldn’t train as hard as I did for this one.
  • Make sure you check out Kevin Beck’s incisive comment on my post from last Friday.


  1. #1 Nina
    December 10, 2006

    Congratulations! I finished the half-marathon, too, but a good bit after you did (2:15:46). I agree, the race went by a lot faster than expected. The run was just so pleasant … I had a blast. Looks like you did, too!

  2. #2 Craig Pennington
    December 10, 2006

    Congrats! According to McMillan, that’s an equivalent performance of a 3:56:10 marathon — sub 4, man! Way to go.

  3. #3 lisaleese
    December 10, 2006

    Congrats on the race. That is a great time and you hit your goal time!

    The half is also my favorite distance: long enough to have a gradual buildup of pain but not long enough to suffer, as with a marathon. I’ve done ten marathons and experienced just about every emotion. Some marathons I’ve finished and could continue on another few miles; others I have to constantly talk myself through to the finish.

    I’ve never experienced a “runner’s high” during a marathon. I have, however, during long runs (18+ miles) for marathons, had moments of feeling like crap to moments of thinking, “Hey, this really isn’t all that bad; in fact, I feel pretty good. Why the hell was I bitching five minutes ago?” I guess that’s the closest to a runner’s high in my 10 years of running. YMMV

  4. #4 ericsale
    December 11, 2006

    Well done! I’m planning on doing a half marathon in May and was wondering whether you could recommend a particular training programme? Cheers.

  5. #5 Dave Munger
    December 12, 2006

    I used a variant of a program developed at Furman University: the FIRST program. I’m no expert on these things, but this program worked pretty well for me!

  6. #6 Rob Rushing
    December 13, 2006

    Congratulations; I’ve been training for a half marathon as well, and that seems like an extremely good time to me (I did one last month at 2:15); anything under two hours is pretty great. I trained, by the way, by running about 1/2 to 1 mile farther every week, starting down at 2 or 3 miles. I tried to run at least twice a week.

  7. #7 Dave Munger
    December 13, 2006

    You’ve probably got the right idea with training, Rob. I really felt like the training regimen was taking a lot out of me physically. I ran an impressive time in the race, but the 10 weeks preceding it were incredibly tough! If I ever run another half marathon, I will probably train a lot less and settle for a slower time.

  8. #8 Marcio Botelho
    December 18, 2006

    Hi Dave – congrats on your first 1/2! You must keep running, the 1/2 is only half as fun as the whole. Perhaps you’d like to join Mauro and myself here in DC for the National Marathon, March 24? A lot easier than hiking the AT: no heavy backpack and better shoes, plus hundreds of fans cheering you on. We’ll come back to my place after, build a fire and sip scotch. Here’s the thing with the runner’s high: it begins as soon as you stop running. Or better, when you find someone who’s never run a marathon (easy) and tell them you did. If you’re interested in running with the big dogs check out the USA Clydesdale and Filly Racing Federation (you might have to put those 20 lbs back on to qualify).

  9. #9 Dave Munger
    December 18, 2006


    Thanks for the invite, Marcio. I’m serious about not wanting to run a full marathon, though the apres marathon Scotch does sound appealing! I did check out the Clydesdale thing — pretty funny stuff. It looks like the key would be to hang out at 211 pounds, putting myself in the 211-230 category. The small number of competitors suggests that it’s pretty unusual for someone my size to be competing at these distances at all.

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