I was somewhat nervous to be running the 2014 Zeitgeist Half Marathon. In early September I strained a tendon in my foot and it had been giving me problems. I went ahead and ran the St. George Marathon on the first Saturday of October, but since then I hadn’t done any runs longer than 6 miles. All but one of those runs were on a treadmill where I could easily step off if my foot was bugging me too much. Nevertheless, I had signed up for the race and I wanted to test my foot out, so I went ahead with the attempt.
Zeitgeist Half Marathon Background
The Zeitgeist Half Marathon is a solid event for the Boise area. While it’s not nearly as prestigious as the Race to Robie Creek, it still boasts 600-1000 participants and is one of the largest races around Boise. Taking place on the first Saturday of November, it’s usually pretty cold and windy for the race, but this year it was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A couple years ago there was snow on the shoulder of the road during the race.
The Zeitgeist course follows the “dump loop.” It commences at the Optimist football field parking lot in Eagle, Idaho and makes its way towards a Seaman’s Gulch Rd, which is a nice hill that passes the entry to the landfill (don’t worry, the course doesn’t smell). After rising 600ft, a steep downhill begins at Mile 3.1 which leads into the quaint, modern town of Hidden Springs. Winding through a neighborhood the course eventually summits a 150ft hill and drops down before a second steep 350ft hill. Peaking at Mile 8.3, the course then follows a road down for 3 miles and then is mostly flat for the final 2 miles. There’s a nice little bump about a quarter mile before the finish line.
I decided to take it easy the first mile to make sure my foot was warmed up and feeling good. I chatted with Cyndi, who was also running despite being 13 weeks pregnant. Then I sped up and caught a friend, Travis, and chatted with him for a couple hundred yards. Then I sped up more and chatted with a coworker, Matt, for a bit. By that time we were on the hill and I decided to increase the effort to about as much as I thought I could sustain. My foot was feeling well and it was nice to be at 100% again. In late August I was in the best shape of my life (for marathon distance), but my injury meant a slower and careful St. George Marathon and no fast pace for the two months leading into Zeitgeist.
I climbed the hill at about a 7:50/mile pace and at that point I figured I had a shot at a course PR. I pushed down the hill in mid 6 min/mile pace and came out of it feeling pretty good. By the half way mark I was starting to drag a bit, and I felt a little weak on the tiny middle hill. However, I was still able to pass several people going up to the top. Climbing is my strength — I don’t know if it’s because I overdo it on the uphill and pay on the downhill, or if I’m just better on uphill than downhill.
One guy I passed near the top was an older gentleman. He ended up really pushing me on the downhill as we exchanged places a few times. He pulled away from me after a while and beat me to the finish. After the race I noted that he was 64 years old — not bad at all.
As I came to a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the downhill I took a wide approach so that I wouldn’t have to slow down and so I wouldn’t strain my foot. It freaked the crossing guard out a little which I thought was funny. She thought I was going to go the wrong way.
Those last couple flat miles are always a little difficult. After a ~6:35 pace on the downhill, ~7:05 on the flat feels slow. I had one more person I thought I could catch, and that kept me going. I passed him around Mile 12 and then tried to hold on for the finish. My watch measured the distance at ~13.25 miles, which caused me a little consternation when I passed the 13.1 mark and still wasn’t across the finish line. Nevertheless, I was happy with a 1:35:07 finish as that beat my previous course best by almost 5 minutes. This was also my fastest Half Marathon finish, excluding a downhill training run I did in early September (the Saturday before hurting my foot).
It was nice not only to get my best time at the Zeitgeist Half Marathon, but to be able to finish at all. My foot was on the mend and I was happy about that. I realized later that I was 3rd in my age group, which was probably the first time I’ve placed in a decent sized race. I grabbed some hot soup and waited for Cyndi to cross the finish. She did so, which is impressive for being one trimester through a pregnancy!