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Race Recap: New PR at the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon!

SmuttyOne of my most vivid memories from high school was having to complete the 3-mile run in under 21 minutes on the track to make the varsity soccer team. I did it, but just barely (it hurt!), and I can remember teammates puking after they crossed the finish-line.

I’m way more competitive with myself than I am with other people, so my 37-year old self with an additional 10-15 pounds on his frame is feeling pretty happy that he managed blow his teenage self away by running 13.1 miles at 6:41 pace yesterday (not to mention how I feel relative to the considerably overweight me who couldn’t even run 3 miles period just 5 years ago!). Just goes to show that some things can get better with age :)

I went into the race yesterday more confident than I have ever been before any race I’ve run. Why? It wasn’t because of my shoes (though I do love the Saucony Grid Type A5, and they worked out great I the race!), it wasn’t because of my form, it was because I had put in the work. I had trained as hard for this race as any I’ve ever run, and was pushed constantly by my coach Caleb Masland (check him out here, and here’s another post I wrote about working with Caleb – he trained 3 of us to new PR’s yesterday!). My long runs might not have exceeded 14, but I did more speedwork and quality runs these past 3 months than in any previous training cycle, and my mileage in July and August both exceeded previously monthly bests. About 3-4 weeks ago I ran a 14 miler in which about 8 of the miles were well below my half-marathon PR pace (6:51/mile). I was ready for this one, and I knew it.

My goal heading into the race was to shoot for a 2-minute PR. My previous half PR was 1:29:47, and I’ve long felt that was one of the best races I have ever run – it was going to be a tough one to top. Heading into yesterday it was almost two years to the day since I’d been able to put the letters “PR” in a race recap, and a new best was long overdue.

The story of the race itself was merely one of executing my plan, and I managed to do so flawlessly. My goal was to head out around 6:40 pace and hold that steady for as long as possible. I knew the course was ideal for me since I BQ’d at Smuttynose in 2010, and it once again didn’t let me down. It was raining and cool, but that was actually a plus during the race (not so much after finishing…). There were a few small hills that slowed me a bit, by my splits were remarkably consistent (see below), and I was banking about 10 seconds per mile on my previous PR. My only cause for concern was that I wasn’t cutting the turns consistently so my Garmin was measuring the course long – I knew I’d have to correct for that in the home stretch. Correct I did, managing my two fastest splits in miles 12 and 13. In fact, my strong finish makes me wonder if I was a bit too conservative with early pacing, but I’m not going to complain!

Smuttynose Splits

Crossing the finish line in 1:27:36 felt incredible and once again reminded me what can be accomplished when you put in the work. I tend to get so caught up in discussing shoes and form that it’s easy to forget that training is really the most important factor when it comes to race performance – you either do what it takes and meet your goal, or you slack off and fall short. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as accomplishing exactly what you set out to do. In fact, the only negative is now this makes me wonder if a sub-3:00 marathon might actually be possible for me…time will tell, but for now it’s time to relax a bit. Just need to make sure the winter doesn’t kill my fitness – thus my goal for the next six months (in addition to taking down my 5K PR) is to simply keep moving and working hard in prep to get back at it in the Spring!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Congratulations, Pete!

    Well done! Run Tall and Never Stop Running!


  2. Stephen Boulet says:

    Congrats! Great job. I’d use the 5k time + the Jack Daniels calculator to answer the 3 hour question. Chicago is coming up for me, and I’d be happy to be sub-4.

  3. Robert Osfield says:

    Great to hear of your big PR, It’s great when you know that you are in good shape and it’s down to getting the execution right on the day, then you actually go ahead a run a perfect race. Job done! ;-)

    Back at the end of August I ran a 10k knowing that I was in the shape to go sub 40min, so it was a matter keeping ones nerve and executing what I knew I was capable of. I came away with a one minute PR and a time of 39:36, cuffed to bits with it, no heroics on the day – just clinical putting down what I knew I was capable of.

    Curiously race calculators would suggest that I should be good for a 1:27 marathon time too so it looks like we are pretty similar shape so we’d probably have a good 1:1 race.

    The race calculators also suggest that I’m not far off 3 hour form, and if I actually get over injury niggles and put in some specific training it should be possible to put away a 3 hour marathon.

    Whether I ever actually try for it is another thing altogether, I love trail running and ultras far more than I like road racing. I just see roads as means to an end – it’s how what you have to cross to get to the trails!

    Well done, bask in the glory!!

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’m kind of at a crossroads right now – debating whether to push hard for a marathon PR next year or move onto the ultra distances and spend more time on trails. Tough call…

      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
      My book: Tread Lightly –

      • Go for the sub 3 marathon, I know you can do it, and it won’t be as hard as you think. Oh, and do the trail ultras too.

        I have been following your blog for a long time and have a similar story as yours. Even my PR progression was following your curve for a long time. Then I blew by you when you decided to write your book(I also went from 45 mpw to 75) My 5k dropped to 17 and I ran a 2:55 marathon. Run first thing in the morning, and then again at lunch time, long run on the weekend and the sub 3 is yours. And do it on the trails as much as you can-I don’t think turnover is your limiter right now-you’ve got the speed-just build up the aerobic-get the volume!

      • Robert Osfield says:

        Why not do both ;-) The consistent mileage required for a 3hr marathon wont’ do you any harm for doing trail races and ultra’s. Once you are in good enough shape to do a 3 hr marathon it won’t seem such a big deal, getting up to this level is hard but once achieved staying there is much easier.

        I would suggest chipping away at your marathon time over a number of races rather than just concentrating on trying to achieve a 3 hour marathon on a particular marathon on a specific date. If you put the training in your times will come down and there is a good chance you’ll achieve a 3h marathon.

        I would also suggest doing a small trail ultra soon just for fun, just add a few long runs in now and take the race at an easy pace and you’ll enjoy it. You never know just experiencing it again might fire you up to head towards more trail adventures over road racing.

  4. Ewen Thompson says:

    Good race Pete. 2 minutes is quite a slice off your previous best. You’ve run a 10k PB en route too.

    I think you’re close enough to consider doing the training for a sub-3 marathon. 1:27 for the half is not quite there, although I do know one bloke who ran his best half in 1:27 then backed up a few months later to run 2:59 (he was running 100 mile weeks though – at 60 years of age). If your half came down to 1:24-5 I’d say you’re there (for sub-3). Anyway, you’re there for a big marathon PB so yes, hang onto that fitness over winter!

  5. Nicely done Pete!

  6. Samuel Hartpence says:

    All of my PR races have an astrick that states that I felt that I could have gone faster.

  7. “I tend to get so caught up in discussing shoes and form that it’s easy
    to forget that training is really the most important factor when it
    comes to race performance”

    Proper equipment and form are both part of training. Isolating them out as if they are not is a reductionist mindset. This is a major pitfall of the scientific community – looking at each variable in isolation while neglecting to see the big picture.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I don’t need to do a scientific study to know why I managed to run a PR at this race…saying it was because of my shoes or my form would be ridiculous since those variables have been held far more constant than my training over the past few years. My training is what has changed.

      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
      My book: Tread Lightly –

      • My point is that your form is part of your training. Saying that training is the most important factor and NOT form is ridiculous – because form is a part of training. Are you trying to say “the WORKOUTS completed are the most important factor in racing success?”

        Using the umbrella term “training” is vague and unhelpful because again, a LOT of things fall under the category of training. Form, mileage, recovery, workouts, stretching, weights is ALL training.

        What do you mean specifically by “training” and how is form not a part of it?

  8. I think if you don’t continue on to trying to run a sub-3 marathon, you’ll always wonder whether you could do it. You’ve already put in the work for the half, and I think it’s definitely worth it to continue and see what you can do.

    Congratulations on the PR, by the way.

  9. I had trained as hard for this race as any I’ve ever run, and was pushed constantly by my coach Caleb Masland (check him out here, and here’s another post I wrote about working with Caleb – he trained 3 of us to new PR’s yesterday!)


    I am training for a PR and goal of 1:54 ( I am 60+) coming up end of October.
    Quick question:

    Do you think you could have achieved similar results with ‘self coaching” ? Just curious.

    Thanks for all the hard work.

    Indy M.
    Sunnyvale, CA.

  10. Greg Strosaker says:

    Great job Pete, glad to see the training is going well, especially in the shortish period of time you’ve been working with Caleb.

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