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My First Half Marathon Race

Brian Running Half Marathon Rac

On February 25, 2021, I decided to run my first half marathon and registered for the Best Damn Race in Safety Harbor, FL. Please use the links below to jump to a section.

Half Marathon Training

Starting in March 2021, I begin my training by walking. During my initial training, I use the Polar H10 heart rate monitor and Polar Beat app on my iPhone to track my heart rate. As my cardio improves, I start jogging in April, and by May 5, 2021, I’m running for 45 minutes in Palm Harbor, FL. (Watch a video) Throughout May, I run hard and increase my mileage.

Runing Locations

By the end of May, I am up to 35 miles per week. As a result, my cardiovascular strain is high. Then on June 4, 2021, I stub and break my little toe. It’s black and blue the first couple of days. After that, I decided to stop running for three weeks.

Polar Flow

I customize my half marathon training program using Polar Flow. My three-and-half month training program begins on June 25, 2021, and ends on race day, October 17, 2021 (16 weeks). For example, my first run is 3.1 miles (5k) which I finish in 32 minutes and 46 seconds in heart rate zone 3 (70% – 80% of Max Heart Rate).

Four weeks later, on July 23, 2021, I run 45 minutes for a distance of 3.87 miles. My average heart rate is 131 bpm. Polar heart-rate training is based on my 47-year age: 

  • Ten-minute warmup at a light-intensity heart rate in zones 1 – 2 (87 bpm – 120 bpm)
  • Thirty minutes of moderate heart rate in zone 3 (121 – 137 bpm)
  • Five-minute cool-down in zones 1 -2 (87 bpm – 120 bpm)

Heart Rate Training

Most of my heart rate (HR) training is in zones 2 (light intensity) and 3 (moderate intensity). My training program is four days per week:

  • Monday is medium runs in HR zones 3
  • Wednesday is interval runs with HR training in zones 4 (hard) and 5 (maximum)
  • Friday is medium runs with HR training in zone 3
  • Sunday is long easy runs with HR in zone 2

Low Heart Rate Training Summary

Over 16 weeks, I had 64 training sessions totaling 63 hours and 25 minutes and ran 332 miles. Based on a 3-week heart rate sample from September 6 to September 26, 92% of my training was in zones 1, 2, and 3. Thus, only 8% of my training was in zones 4 and 5. Furthermore, I had an equal percentage of heart rate training in zones 1 and 2 (46%) compared to zone 3 (46%).

Running Brave – My Half Marathon Race

I planned to run a 9:30 average pace and complete the race in 2:04. However, I bravely run much faster, completing the first 6.2 miles (10K) at a personal best of 49 minutes and 11 seconds.

At 10 kilometers, I am 60 out of 572 half marathon runners with an average running pace of 7:56 per mile. If I could have maintained this pace, I would have finished the half marathon in 1 hour and 44 minutes.

Suddenly at mile 9.63, I feel a pain in my left calf muscle. I step off the path and stop to stretch it for 10 seconds. Then I continue at a slow 14 min/mile pace for .18 miles. Again, I stop to stretch my calf.

Finally, I pass mile 10. In pain, I slowly jogged up a 10% incline hill, slowing my pace down. At 1 hour and 27 minutes, I stop to rest and take my last G-endurance gell with water. Then, a passing runner encourages me to “keep going.”

Between miles 10 and 11, I struggle at a 12:00 pace. Then I pass mile 11 and decide to give it everything I got. I trained for three and a half months. Now is the time with only 2.1 miles left!

Mental Toughness

I fight hard between miles 11 and 12, increasing my pace per mile to 9:45. Finally, in the last mile, I gave it everything I have. Running at an 8:06 minute per mile pace and an average heart rate of 164, I pass a man and two female runners.

As I approached the finish line, the crowd cheers loudly. I ran faster, gaining on the lady in front of me. Finally, we cross the finish line together. Then the announcer on the loudspeaker says her name, my name, and our finishing time.

Brian Kondas Half Marathon Finishi

Race Results and Course Review

After the race, I review my Polar Heart Rate data. When I cross the finish line, my speed was 10.0 mph (6:00 min/mile pace) and my heart rate was 168 bpm. On October 17, 2021, I finish the Safety Harbor Half Marathon in 1 hour, 54 minutes, and 24 seconds. Overall I place 123 out of 572 runners and in my age group 11 out of 33. My average pace is 8:44.

Discover my nutrition plan for my first and second half marathons, and my running experience after this event.

The Best Damn Race Safety Harbor Half Marathon has a few notable hills. After the first two miles, Phillips Park has a steep incline. Then, you run over the McMullin Booth pedestrian bridge at the end of mile 9 and again at the end of mile 11. You also climb a 10% grade hill after mile ten.

According to my Polar data, the ascent is 459 feet and descent is 591 feet. The hills on the Safety Harbor Half Marathon are more difficult than the St Pete Run Fest Half Marathon.

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