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Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon

Brian Kondas Finishing Clearwater Half Marathon 2022

I ran my fastest sub-2-hour half marathon in the coldest weather. Discover how I raced a Personal Record (PR), finishing over two minutes faster than my previous best time.

Cold Weather Race

On January 30, 2022, the weather was cold at the Clearwater Running Festival. According to the Weather Underground, just before the race started at 6:53 AM, the temperature was a bitter 41 degrees F. However, the good news was that it was sunny and dry.

Freezing Wind Chill

For hours, a stiff wind would blow at eight mph. The wind chill felt like 36 F standing at the start of the half marathon. During the race, running at an average pace of 8:34 (7 mph), the headwind would feel like 33 F! However, my clothing would protect me from the cold wind.

Paying for Parking

I arrive at Sand Key Park in Clearwater, FL. I make the first right turn into the parking lot and find an open space next to a parking kiosk. By the time I get out, a woman is paying for parking. I see her enter info and realize I need my license plate number. I dash back to my car and take a photo of my plate.

Two more people are in line at the kiosk by this time I return. I wait in the cold for my turn. Then I enter my license plate number and swipe my Discover card. It does not work. I turn it around multiple times, and it never works.

I start over and reenter my license plate. Then I see the machine only accepts Visa or Mastercard. I swipe my Visa, and it charges $5. Finally, it prints out a parking receipt which I place on my car’s dashboard.

My Racing Bib

Walking in the dark of early morning, I find a path lit by the headlights of parked cars. After trekking for a minute, I ask a lady, “Do you know where to get racing bibs?” She says, “Not sure. I’m heading the same way.” I continue walking.

After a few more minutes of walking, I see a brightly lit area. Then I see a line of people waiting for something. I notice these people have bibs in their hands. On the other side of the line, I see a line of tables with racing bib numbers above. I pull out a paper from my pants pocket. It reads bib number 1560.

I walk to the corresponding table and give my paper to a lady. She reads it and checks a file folder. Then she confirms my name and hands me my racing bib. I return to the long line and get my large shirt and goodie bag.

Preparing to Run

I walk back to my car and get inside. I remove my coat and attach the racing bib to the front of my shirt using four safety pins. Checking my Garmin watch, it reads 6:40 AM, and I put on cold running gear:

  • Beanie hat (black)
  • Seirus Polar Scarf with adjustable velcro closure for face and neck protection (performance fleece, black)
  • Ski gloves (black)

I wear lower-body clothing: boxer briefs, Nike dry-fit shorts, Saucony quarter socks, and Under Armour loose black pants. I wear a Nike Pro compression t-shirt and an Under Armour ColdGear compression long-sleeve shirt for my upper body. Finally, I wear a Fitletic Hydration belt with two 8-oz bottles and a zippered pocket holding energy gels.

Garmin PacePro Plan

I select my PacePro training plan for the Clearwater Half Marathon on my Garmin watch. I customized the pacing plan using the online course map starting at 9:00 per mile with the pace increasing in negative splits to 7:59. However, the total distance calculated was 13.4 miles.

My target time was 1:53:31 with an 8:28 / mi pace. At the end of my sub 2 hour half marathon, I would discover a faster finish time with a slower pace of 8:34 / mi. Thus, my actual race distance was shorter (13.1 miles).

Before I decided to use Garmin’s PacePro Plan, I formulated the following half marathon pacing strategy. Based on my 10K times for the first and second half, I ran negative 10K splits. Consequently, I achieved a half marathon personal record.

My First 7 Miles

Mile splits and average heart rate from my Garmin Forerunner 55 watch:

  • 1st mile 8:42 at 143 HR
  • 2nd mile 8:34 at 148 HR
  • 3rd mile 8:26 at 151 HR
  • 4th mile 8:41 at 155 HR
  • 5th mile 8:35 at 154 HR
  • 6th mile 8:45 at 151 HR
  • 7th mile 8:34 at 148 HR

According to race results, my 7-mile time was 1:00:30 at 8:39/mile pace.

My Final 6.1 Miles

  • 8th mile 8:40 at 150 HR
  • 9th mile 8:35 at 152 HR
  • 10th mile 8:15 at 154 HR
  • 11th mile 8:48 at 151 HR
  • 12th mile 8:24 at 155 HR
  • 13th mile 8:19 at 159 HR
  • .1 mile 0:46 at 160 HR

My final 6.1-mile time was 51:43 at 8:29/mile pace (10 seconds faster).

Race Results

My sub 2 hour half marathon race results:

  • Finishing Time: 1:52:11 (new PR)
  • Male Age Division 45-49: 8 out of 28
  • Gender Place: 76 out of 254
  • Overall Place: 106 out of 689

My average heart rate was 152 bpm, and my finishing time is a new personal record. It beats my first half marathon.

Course Review

The hills on the Clearwater Running Festival half marathon course make it a bit challenging. However, the most difficult part of the race was the last 3 miles. An 8 mile per hour headwind pushed against me as I strained to increase my pace.

The course is a big 13.1-mile loop with scenic views of the intercoastal waterways. The large on-site parking lot makes it convenient to park and race. Just remember to bring your Visa or Mastercard to pay for parking.

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