Wow. Over a year since I even looked at this blog. A lot has happened since then. I ran my fall half, decided to do a marathon, trained for the marathon, raced the marathon, ran a 10k-tastrophe four weeks later, ran a great 5k three weeks after that, and am now in summer training. Let’s start with the half marathon race report. Intro I started running in August 2012 in order to lose weight. I lost that weight, but got hooked on running. October 2013 was my first half marathon, the very same race I ran this year. That year I hit my goal of sub-90; coming in at 89:39. After last year’s race I made a goal of going sub-85. A 3-month stint of ITBS later, I was back at my previous fitness level and got back to work. In the meantime I clocked at 38:49 10k and an 18:48 5k – which I have yet to attempt to challenge. The Training The main training for my half didn’t start until the summer of 2014. Prior to that I did Pfitzinger’s 10k plan from Road Racing for Serious Runners. But during the summer is when I really bunkered down. Since I started running, the Summer of Malmo was something I really wanted to try, but I never had any running partners. So I set up an online Summer of Malmo on reddit’s AdvancedRunning subreddit. I think it went quite well for everyone, and we all got a great glimpse into each other’s training. For me, I could tell I was getting stronger and stronger each week. At my running club I went from mid-pack to the back of the front-pack – sometimes pushing the leaders depending on the workout. My mileage peaked at 70 miles, and my tempo peaked at 6 miles at half race pace. The Race The race began at 7:30am. I woke up at 5:45, ate my sugary cereal (it was Cap’n Crunch on that day), drank some coffee, did my other rituals, and headed down. I did about a mile of warmup, plus about 5 strides at race pace. Last year the corral was terrible. This year it was the same, but I wasn’t about to be caught up in the crap. I went right near the front (we are still separated from the elites). Even at the front, I heard others talking about their expected times: 1:50, 1:45, etc. Oh well, it didn’t affect me as I was off from the horn. Prior to the race I decided sub-82 would have been amazing, but anything in the 82-minute range would have still been great due to my slacking September (new job, new city). So I was aiming for anywhere between 3:51-:55/km pace. The first kilometre does a big U around our legislature building, the second along the Inner Harbour, and the third up the slight incline of one of our main commercial streets. For each of these I was right within my target pace (3:51,:52,:54). Having run the course before, I knew the 4th kilometre was downhill and I took that chance to relax but still try and bank a few seconds (3:50 pace). The race then enters our city’s big park for three uphill kilometers. Great scenery but it takes a toll (3:57,:56,:55). Throughout the race time I would jump from pack to pack. I would hang with a pack going at my pace until for some reason the whole group slowed down, then I would jump to the next one I could see in order to maintain my goal pace. The first pack I started with was about ten people, then four, then three, etc etc. I never realized how going “fast” could get so lonely. Coming out of the park and into the residential areas me and two other men latched together for a while. It worked really well and we started reeling in other people. Great unspoken agreements happen during races. Like the others, though, they started to slow down and I was forced to take off on my own. Now coming out of the rich residential area and onto the exposed oceanfront road, I caught up to one woman and one man. As I started to pass the woman she sped up and moved in front of me. I thought that was kind of silly of her as her breathing sounded laboured, but if she wanted to act as a windbreaker for me I wasn’t going to deny her that pleasure. But like all good things it did not last long. Eventually her and the guy fell off (not by much though – they ended up finishing about 30 seconds behind me) and I was forced to lone wolf it again. This time was different though – there were barely any runners left to catch up to (in sight that is). Way in the distance I saw a guy with a bald head and he was my next target. I slowly reeled in Baldy over two kilometers or so and as I passed he turned his head and said “great job!” The support in this race was amazing. Volunteers, runners, spectators all cheering. There are lots of places where the course doubles back, and the “slower” runners were all shouting out encouragements to us “faster” runners. Hell, I even got to see the elites blasting by. After I passed Baldy, I heard some people cheering for someone behind me. I thought to myself, “no way is baldy catching back up to me”. And then I got passed for the first and only time in the race. But it was GLORIOUS. The guy (Blue Shirt) was doing great. He turned and chatted with me for a bit. I didn’t notice at first, but I had picked up my pace to stay with him. It was then that I really realized, I’m not doing so bad myself – I can finish this strong! In fact, I hit my best pace with Blue Shirt (3:43/km on kilometre 19). Side note: While with Blue Shirt, I heard two ladies on the side of the road talking. “Look at those legs. LOOK AT THOSE LEGS! Hey, nice legs!!” Eventually he sped up and I didn’t risk holding on (though I should have; he only finished 19 seconds ahead of me). The next 2k without him however breezed by in 3:53 and 3:49. As always, the race finished near where we started – in front of the Legislature Building in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. There was, as always is, a great crowd welcoming you in to the finish, the race director shook everyone’s hand, and the post-race snacks were delightful. Results I was very pleased with my results. I clocked in at 1:22:19, which was a PR by 7 minutes and 20 seconds. I came 44th out of around 3700 people, and was 6th in my age group (25-29). Overall it was a great race, and I can’t wait to do it again in a few months. Takeaways
- High mileage does good things to me. Over the summer I jumped 3 VDOTs.
- From my race photos: I am a dirty heel striker. It’s a lot of wasted energy.
- As I get faster, running these longer races will get lonelier and lonelier 😦