Houston Half 2020

JAN 22

Blogpost #4

Houston Half and Goal-Setting

I talked with Coach Lundstrom at lunch on Saturday before the race and stated that my goal was the 64-65min range. I think that goal had escalated slightly from my initial goal of about 65min. I thought, I need to have a broad goal because I don’t really know where I’m at. I had not done many substantial workouts or sustained higher mileage over the past 2 months. I had an idea of where my fitness was based on the past few weeks of workouts, but it was still a bit of an unknown. This was going to be my first big test since Twin Cities Marathon 3 months ago.

Here’s how it went down:

First 5k:

I end up getting out fairly relaxed in 4:56 on my watch, and I move into the 64min pace pack. The pace feels good so I stay there for awhile. Next split is 4:50 on the watch, so a bit quicker but I’m still feeling relaxed.  Around this point, the pack starts to subtly pull away, and I split 4:48 on the watch for the 3rd mile, which I’m thinking is still great. I’m right on 64min pace at 5k, going through in 15:14.

Second 5k:

I remember the 64min pack was away at this point and there’s a few racers around me. I remember Aaron Easker pulls up on my side and we acknowledge each other and start working together for a bit. We basically hold pace the next 3mi and my watch splits are 4:50, 4:54, 4:46. I was surprised to see the 4:46 as I felt like I was just holding pace, but there was a 10-13mph tailwind that mile, which helped.  I go through the 10k in 30:31, so basically a touch over 64min pace.

Third 5k:

Things drastically changed after that 4:46 split, I wanted to continue to stay relaxed and wait until about 8mi to push. My next split is 5:05 for mile 7, which was another surprise because I felt like my effort hadn’t changed much.  Another 5:05 for mile 8 and I’m starting to wear down a bit with the race. My stomach feels a little strange. I’m thinking, this is still okay, just keep running relaxed. At this point in the race, the course turns into a headwind of about 10-13mph, so it’s tough. I’m mostly solo at this point. And my next mile split is 5:11 on the watch and I go through 15k in 46:30, so I just ran about a 16:00 5k, which was a substantial drop-off.  I’m not too worried about it and I just try to keep chugging along.

Fourth 5k:

There’s a pack that catches me around 10mi as we go through the mark right on 50:00.  I had gone through 5mi in 24:30, so 50:00 was far off the 64min pace. I’m thinking just continue to hold and see what you can do. I seem to keep fading slightly as the pack drops me after I had stayed with them for a mile or so. I split 5:11, 5:11 and then 5:08 in this 5k and run about 16:20 or so for 5k, so fading still. I reached 20k at 1:02:54.


I feel strong at the finish but I see I’ll be over 66min, which becomes a slight disappoint initially with my stated goal. But I also felt strong at the end and I certainly didn’t go to the well today as I felt like this was a good time to get a marathon pace rep in. I end up running 5:03 pace over the 13.1 mile course, which certainly is something positive for me right now.

Splits from Houston. 10k to 15k seems to be miscalculated as 16:01 is 5:09/mi pace.


Goal-setting can be a difficult process but it is also an ongoing process similar to the scientific method of asking a question, stating a hypothesis, collecting data, and then analyzing and coming up with a conclusion about what it all means. In terms of my preparation, I had done three LT (approx. Half Marathon pace) workouts of 2x3mi at 5:10 pace on 12/31, 5mi @ 4:52 pace on 1/7 and then 3mi @ 4:43 pace on 1/14. I also had a 60min fartlek where I averaged 5:15 pace on 1/10.  So basically, when you add all those workouts up, for me to land where I did makes sense. I averaged 4:55/mi for the first 10k at Houston, which is in line with the workout I did on 1/7 and the longest I had held LT at that pace during the buildup. The second half of the race showed that my strength just isn’t quite there yet, as I averaged 5:10/mi on the second 10k.  But the result of 5:03 per mile is basically the midpoint of my workouts on 1/7 (5mi @ 4:52) and 1/10 (11.5mi @ 5:15).  The midpoint of 4:52 pace and 5:15 pace is, well, 5:03 per mile.

So, I think with a slightly altered strategy, I could have certainly run faster in this race, but when I started to shoot for the higher end of my goal in that first 10k, that’s when things unraveled. Looking back, shooting for 65min probably would have been the ideal goal for me, but that’s what the experiment is for. That’s what this race was for. It was a checkpoint for bigger things. And I’m happy to be where I’m at. I’ve gained back about 50% of the fitness I had at the Twin Cities Marathon where I went through the Half in 1:06:14.  So I’m confident that I can come around in 6 weeks as I maintain higher mileage and continue to be consistent with workouts. I’m looking forward to focusing in on becoming the best I can be for the Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb 29. You can help support my road to the Trials and receive weekly email updates on my training when you support my fundraiser on AthleteBiz here: campaigns.athletebiz.us/secure/cause_pdetails/NzE1NDE=

Meet the Elites event at Houston

Also, I have to send a big thank you to the Houston Marathon for providing a world-class racing experience along with helping develop the next generation of athletes. There’s an event I’ve participated in the last three years with Minnesota Distance Elite and other elite athletes at the race called “Meet the Elites” where we all sit down and answer any questions from young runners. It’s always a fun and challenging experience to help the younger generation develop a love for sport and teach what it takes to be the best you can be. There were a handful of awesome questions involving motivation, how many marathons everyone has run, work/life balance, overcoming doubt, best advice for life, and mental preparation for a race. Look forward to returning next year as always!

Minnesota Distance Elite in Houston
(left to right) Coach Chris Lundstrom, Danny Docherty, Meghan Armstrong-Peyton, Annie Frisbie, Kevin Lewis, Dakotah Lindwurm, Katy Jermann, Tyler Jermann, and Joel Reichow.

Minnesota Distance Elite started off 2020 with a huge day overall with five personal bests. Katy Jermann finished as 4th American in the race, only 2 seconds out of 2nd place while running under 70-min and Dakotah Lindwurm had a PB while running under 73-min. The trio of Joel Reichow, Kevin Lewis, and Tyler Jermann finished as 15th, 16th, and 17th Americans all under 63-min and setting PB’s in the process. You can follow @minnesotadistanceelite on Instagram for continual updates about the team. The team also debuted a new logo and kit at this race!

New logo and kit for 2020 and going forward.

Signing  off,

Danny Docherty

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