1:57:58.220 Official for WFPS Half Marathon – race report for my 18th half marathon.

As always – a big thank you to all the volunteers who were out in the cold today! Awesome work folks! Us dumb ass runners couldn’t do what we do without your help!….I guess that makes you enablers…

Ok – to set the stage…We drop the kids to stay at Heather’s Mom’s place the night before the run…I half jokingly suggest blowing off the run in the morning and just going to a lounge for the evening…definitely not in the right mindset.

But we were good and went home and went to bed at a decent time. Alarm and backup alarm set!

We were both running and planning to go at our own paces so I brought a drop bag with a sweater and dry gloves figuring I would need them after the run while I waited for Heather to finish. The weather was cool with a fairly strong wind so standing outside waiting was most likely to be a chilly affair. And Heather really wasn’t sure where she would end up so I couldn’t just wait inside in the warmth as I might miss her finishing.

Bag drop off was very easy – well marked areas to drop your bag based on your bib number. The volunteers were very efficient and taking the bags and putting where they needed to be. It looked like they had a pretty solid system going.

At this point we still had 45 minutes until the scheduled start so we stayed in the nice warm areas for quite a while and then finally headed out to the start line. As we wandered around I saw someone I know who had done the Dopey Challenge back in January and saw another woman who had on the 2015 WDW Marathon shirt. I had on my 2015 Dopey Challenge shirt and I knew there was at least one other Dopey / Goofy Challenge racer that was going to be there as well. So the runDisney community was well represented!

Heather lined up in the sub 3hr area and I went and got in the sub 2hr area. I lined up ahead of the 1:55 pace bunny – I didn’t know what I would be able to pull off but based on some of the more recent training runs, sub 1:55 seemed possible.

I didn’t really know where I would end up – I knew I was probably not fully recovered from the 12 hour Lemming Loop and I have been having issues with my left ankle off and on since before that race (but it has gotten worse since). The ankle hasn’t been an issue on any training runs but it has not been happy after the runs and I have taken more rest days than I would like trying to get that sorted out. Beyond that I had spent a total of about 5 hours driving the day before so I was pretty stiff. Really all things I have dealt with and pushed through before but you just never know on race day.

OK – now we are off. At little slow at first as we get through the first corner and people start to spread out. Luckily my ankle doesn’t seem to be a factor but my legs (thighs specifically) are already feeling fatigued. Not even an mile in and I am already feeling it? Crud.

First mile ends up being at about a 6.8 mph average speed. Sub 2 hours which is the only real goal but I wasn’t sure what that would look like later in the race if I started to feel even more fatigued.

So I make a quick decision – I will push hard and try to get above 7 miles in the first hour and then see how it goes. Not normally a good race tactic but I knew from that first mile I was most likely going to have issues by the end of the race and I hoped I could get far enough in that even when things went south I could still get the sub 2 hour mark.

I figured a few things could happen – it could energize me and I could end up with a great time, I could fully tank and Heather would catch up with me as I stumbled it out or I would build myself a bit of a time buffer so that I could deal with issues in the second hour of the race and still hit the goal.

Mile 2,3,4,5 – 7.1 mph, 7.2 mph, 7.1 mph and 7.2 mph average speeds – decently steady with a strong push – still feeling pretty good.

Mile 6 – 6.7 mph – first walk break for solid fuel – still decent speed considering there was some walking there.

Mile 7 – 7.1 mph – back up to speed and made the 7 miles + goal in the first hour. Excellent. But I was starting to feel it now and I took a very short walk break at this point to switch out my electrolyte drink in my hand with my flat Coke from my belt holster. If you read my Lemming Loop post, you know that the electrolyte drink I have been testing out has no calories and at this point I figured I need more fuel in the system.

Mile 8 – with that walk break mentioned above this ended up a 6.6 mph average speed mile. Not too bad.

Mile 9 and 10 were both 6.6 mph average speed miles as well with very minor walking.

Mile 11 – 6.2 mph average speed – I walked after the mile 10 marker as I consumed some more solid fuel. Around now was when the 1:55 pace bunny passed me and I was starting to lose sight of the various runners I had been keeping pace with for most of the race. Starting to slow down but not desperate yet.

Mile 12 – 6.3 mph average speed – about half way into this mile my stomach tied up in a ball and I almost had to bend over to relieve the pressure. I had a bit of liquid and felt better and was able to start running again. That whole incident was maybe 20 seconds – no idea what it was though and I have never had it happen before – very strange. At this point I am pretty sure I still have sub 2 but my legs are trying to die at this point and if I give in to what they want I will lose the goal.

Mile 13 – 6.2 mph average speed – feeling a bit rough here but know that I am hitting sub 2 hours so am able to keep pushing but have no energy for a sprint finish.

And I finish out the last 0.1 miles with and average speed of 6.1 mph.

Grab my medal and head to the milk truck and grab a chocolate milk to slam. That felt pretty good going down. After hot races the chocolate milk seems to thick to me but on a cooler day it was great. From there into the refreshment tent…mini cinnamon buns! Whoohoo! And more chocolate milk.

I pass by our daughter’s teacher and say hi and congratulate her on her race and wander in to the bag drop area to get my stuff because the cold is really starting to sink in now.

Again the bag drop volunteers were very efficient – I was handed my bag as I got to the front of the line – I didn’t even have to ask for it, they saw my number and grabbed it as I was coming up. Awesome! (can’t say it enough – great volunteers at the race today)

As I wandered out of the bag area, I heard someone yell “Dopey!” I had forgotten I had on my Dopey Challenge shirt but I snapped my head around and saw a lady who was wearing a 2015 WDW Half marathon shirt. I wandered over and said hey and we chatted a bit – she did Dopey back in January and she had apparently just done the Dumbo Double Dare – awesome! Something I would love to get to someday. She asked about the Paris Disneyland Half Marathon and if I was going – I said I had to lay off the Disney races until the Canadian dollar improves but she was looking at ways to make it work and I hope she gets to go. Winnipeg is well represented at runDisney races and it would be great if a Winnipeger got to that race as well. Unfortunately I didn’t get her name – so if by some chance she reads this, drop a comment on the blog – it would be interesting to hear about the Paris race if you manage to go.

Anyway – back on topic. I wander over to a clear spot and swap out some of my cold, wet gear and put on dry gloves and my sweater and check the time. It is getting close to the time when Heather could be coming down the last stretch so I wander out to the barricades to watch for her.

Man, I am glad I brought a warm sweater because the wind was really biting at that point.

Before too long, Heather came trucking down the last stretch and I grabbed video of her crossing the line of her 4th half marathon. Maybe not her fastest but she has run into the same issues I have with life interfering with training over the past 6 months. It is still a race she is proud of though because to get the time she did, she had to push the whole time. It could have been easy to not push but she pushed. Awesome! Definitely something to be proud of.

After she got her medal we wandered out to our vehicle and drove home.

Heather was feeling a bit burnt after the run but recovered quickly – though I have to say my legs feel more trashed now than after the 12 hour Lemming Loop 2 weeks ago. Just awful, and my left ankle is pretty unhappy. It makes a nice clicking sound when I walk…yay!

So, how do I feel about the race? I’m not disappointed in the race or my performance as such – but I know I could have done so much better (1:46:00 half marathon PR – I can do better). That being said, I think I did the best I could with the shape I am currently in. I pushed hard and know I didn’t cheat myself on the race…in the months leading up to it, yes, but not during the race itself.

Yeah, I ran 50.33 miles in 12 hours 2 weeks ago. Yeah, my ankle was hurting. Yeah, my legs were stiff. But I have managed to work through those kinds of things before.

For example, I did the 12 hour Lemming Loop last year and got a touch over a mile less in and still did a 1:47:51 at this same race a couple weeks later. I can and have done better on tired legs.

The core issue with all of these issues is that I haven’t been running this year the way I was last year. 1971 miles last year with a few 200 mile months and I am no where near that this year. Those miles last year trained my body and my mind how to run hard when I was tired – I have lost a big portion of that.

But, what do I do about it?

Well, first off I have to get this ankle healthy – so maybe a week off running with only walking to stretch it out. Or maybe just some short runs interspersed in there.

Secondly, once I have the ankle strong again I am going to go back to basics and rebuild from scratch. So 2 weeks after running a 50 miler I figure I need to go back and start all over? Yes.

If you have been reading the blog, it is no secret that my motivation has been in the toilet lately and I need to turn that around. The best way I know how to do that is to go back to square one and start off with shorter runs again. Rebuild my speed on those runs and slowly relearn how to fit the running back into the my life schedule. 5 days a week is easier to take if the runs are a lot shorter…

Thirdly, I need to get my weight back under control – I am still basically fueling to run what I was last year and without putting in the miles the calories have to go somewhere. So diet needs to get repaired.

For the first time in over 3 years I don’t have a next race scheduled. Which means I have the luxury of taking this approach and getting back to where I need to be.

So – new goal – break my 1:46:00 half PR next year sometime (no race specified yet as I need to figure out the ankle first). My last half PR stood for 12 years – I’m not letting that happen again.

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