Archive for October 2013

#wfpshalfmarathon – personal race report – how did I do? Just haven’t earned a new PR yet

This post is a race report more about how I did on the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services Half Marathon than about the race itself.  For my report on the race see here.

So some previous milestone race times for half marathons this year:

2:20:34 – Disney World Half Marathon – Jan 12th, 2013

1:56:16 – WPS Half – May 5th, 2013

1:47:14 – WFPS Half – Oct 19th, 2013 – my 5th half marathon this year (also have done 2 full marathons this year)

As an aside I just realized I think I just qualified for Half Fanatics Neptune level with 3 half races from Sept 2nd til Oct 19th – I have to go double check that…

5.5 months for a 9:02 improvement on my half marathon time between WPS Half and WFPS Half.  The Disney World Half finish time doesn’t really give a good indication of where I was physically because of all the delays, etc ran into in the first half of that race – maybe 2:10 is where I should have ended up on that one?

I was quite happy with myself when I hit under 2 hours in May on the WPS half marathon as it represented that I was back in the range of where I used to average when I was younger and in better shape.  It meant that I turned a corner and was back in a better place health wise and I had a new good base to start moving forward.

I trained hard through the summer and even though I said I wanted to hit my personal best, I’m not entirely sure I thought it was possible.  But then I hit 1:49:54 for the Cash Store Run for Diabetes Research half marathon on September 2nd and I realized it actually was possible and I started training even harder.

Hitting 1:47:50 for the Fort Garry Rotary Half Marathon on September 22nd validated that yes indeed it was possible to catch my elusive 1:46:11 from 2002.

Unfortunately I think that even though I trained hard a couple things bit me during the training period that made race day a toss up when it didn’t need to be:

  1. I didn’t get as much weight to come off as I wanted – I wanted to drop at least 4-5 pounds from the last race to this one and I didn’t manage that (only about 1.5 pounds were lost in the end).  It looks like I can attribute not losing the weight to the week and a half I was doing double runs (morning and night).  I was so tired and wasn’t able to adapt my sleep cycle quickly enough and compensated for the lack of sleep with carbs, bad, bad carbs.
  2. I didn’t do enough speed work or didn’t push hard enough on the speed days – again this can at least partially be blamed on the double run days – I was too tired to push as hard as I should have been able to during the training sessions.

So that meant I went into the race knowing it was going to be close and it was going to be about technique and drive and any glitch could cause me to miss my goal time.  I made myself a realistic pacing chart that I thought I could run that would also give me a bit of buffer but I still knew that it was going to be close.  That definitely played a factor in my head going into the race and in the first few miles of the run.

So come race day I was nervous – probably more nervous than I have been at a race in quite some time – but I knew I had to rein in that nervousness so I didn’t go too hard at the start and lose it at the end.  To fight that I decided to follow the 1:45 pace bunny hoping to use their experience to keep my energy in check.  But there was a bit of glitch there – I figured I would run each of the 3 miles at a 8:10 pace or so then speed up to the 8:00 pace I wanted to do the rest of the race – the pace bunny did the first mile in 8:35 – so I was already 25 seconds off pace in the first mile! Crap!  I should have known better – I should have run my own race right from the start.  Not upset with the pacer here – more upset with myself – I knew I should have done my own thing and I second guessed myself and that is really what cost me in the end.

I think the pace bunny then realized that he had gone too slow and heavily picked up the pace to get back on track – I did the second mile in 07:45 and he had already almost lost me.  This meant I was back on track after 2 miles but the nervous energy I had been hoping to hold in reserve for later was burnt up.  And the 3rd mile which I had intended to go slowly on as well was now bumped up to the average pace I intended to start running after that mile was run – so I had to move up to a faster run earlier than I had planned.  At the end of 3 miles I was on track but had burnt up some of my reserves I was trying to hold onto plus now had to fight the mental game earlier than I intended.

I held my pace pretty strong and was running my plan well and was on track until about mile 8 or 9.  It had started a light rain and then a rain / snow mix about the halfway point of the race which lasted about a mile and a half.  That started to soak in and I was starting to feel a bit of a chill and I saw miles 9 and 10 start to slip – not bad but 5-8 seconds per mile I couldn’t afford.

Mentally I think I started to implode during mile 11 – it was about 25 seconds off pace – at this point I knew I wasn’t hitting my PR without being able to almost sprint the last couple miles – and with the cold and the energy reserves already spent that wasn’t going to happen.

It would have been pretty easy to give up at this point and just settle back into a slower speed but I surprised myself and was able to start to push hard again.  The last 2 miles were a touch better than I had planned but nowhere close to what I would have needed to make up the lost time.

In the end it was still an extremely respectable time and was better than my last race so the process of improvement is continuing.  I made some mistakes in the training period that cost me and had a few glitches during the race that contributed to the miss but over all I am pleased with myself.  I was able to get myself back on track and follow a plan during the run and I was able to push through a period where I wanted to shut down to push hard on the last 2 miles of the race.

I see lots of positives from my performance on the race – and I think that is why I am not feeling massively disappointed with missing my PR – I can see that I am still getting better and that record will fall – I just haven’t earned it quite yet.

#wfpshalfmarathon – race report – great race – will do it again!

This part of my race report will be about the race itself – I have a different race report for my personal performance as well but I wanted to keep my review of the race organization separate.

The race takes place at a great time of year and has a great route to take advantage of the scenery – in the area here around Winnipeg it represents that last good chance to see how the summer training went before fall and winter sets in.  It puts a good cap on the summer / fall racing and training season.

Overall I think the race was run extremely well – lots of great volunteers, great organization and a well-marked course.

Package Pickup was smooth – grab your bib number off of the board – head to the pickup table, they grab your stuff and out you go.  No fuss no muss.  Great t-shirts. (pic of shirt and medal at the bottom)

No parking on site was a bit disappointing but there were lots of areas very close by to park so it really wasn’t an issue.  I parked at a school less than a block away and there were lots of places to park on the streets nearby, at a church and a different school than where I parked.  The nice thing was that most of the places where you could park did not require crossing the course to leave when you were done – so heading off when you were done was pretty smooth too.

I got there pretty early and since it was pretty chilly I stayed in my vehicle and prepped my stuff for a while before I headed off to the start area.  Even then I was still pretty early was getting a bit cold even with the short walk over.  Luckily the area where the dry clothes drop off was located was open to all and many runners waited in there for a good chunk of time before heading out for the opening ceremonies.  There was lots of room and no crowding.  I didn’t take advantage of the drop off though so I can’t comment on how well that worked but I heard no complaints and everything was well marked.

There was a minor glitch at the start where the microphone kept dropping out on the poor singer performing the national anthem but it wasn’t too bad as the runners all seemed to join in to sing.

Start corals were well marked by expected finish times and I didn’t see anyone get confused or line up where they shouldn’t have.

The start was smooth as well although one lady playing with her cell phone almost cost the race for a couple folks – she dropped something and turned around to grab it less than 30 paces from the start line causing the guy in front of me to almost fall and I damned near fell onto him.  Once she picked it up she was oblivious to what she had almost done and kept playing on her phone and not watching where she was going…I shifted where I was running in the pack to make sure I was out of the danger zone.

For the rest of the race the course was well marked, had friendly and happy volunteers out cheering people on (I’m not sure how the hulu hoop lady kept going for as long as she did!) and the water stops seemed plentiful with easily accessible Gatorade.  There was also a GU stop around mile 7 that I skipped but nice to see that it was available.

One really nice feature was the heavily marked half way point with a race clock running – it would be nice if more races did that.  I liked seeing it even if it messed with my head a bit seeing that I needed to do a negative split to beat me PR (only had to make up about 10 seconds at that point but combined with the snow and the cold the mental game got tougher at that point).

Second half of the race was good as well – very scenic with the all the trees along Wellington Crescent and along the paths in Assiniboine Park with all their leaves changing colours.  Very nice fall run.  Some of the paths chosen through the Park were pretty narrow but wasn’t an issue due to how everyone had spread out by that point.

For just over the last mile or so the 5k/10k course merged with the half marathon course – this could cause some issues but in the end I don’t think it was too bad.  Most of the slower runners had already moved over to the right and the faster runners were able to pass on the left.

That worked well until the final corner of the race – and this is really my only complaint about the race – with all the slower 5k/10k runners on the right and faster halfers on the left the runners all make a right hand turn and then head the last stretch to the finish line….but the finish line for the 5k/10k was on the left and the half finish line was on the right – so all the runners had to weave between each other.  Besides the one lady that decided to stand in the way to take a picture of the finish line right at that last corner, I had no issues there but I could see how that could have been a source of frustration for some.  I haven’t heard if anyone had complained about that situation but it was a bit of a risky situation that would have been nice to avoid.  Maybe finding a way to split the 2 race groups earlier would help – potentially switching the finish line locations would have been enough.  edit Oct 20th – just saw Steve Lambert’s video of the race and it doesn’t look like there was the same issue at the 2 hour mark – my timing in relation to the other set of runners must have just have lined up correctly for the issue to pop up – maybe not as big a concern but still something to watch for.

At the end got a great looking medal and I headed off – I wanted to get rolling and head home so I didn’t hit the refreshment tent so I can’t comment on that.

Overall – fantastically run event – relatively smooth and quick – I will be looking at doing it again next year!

WFPS half marathon shirt and medal

WFPS half marathon shirt and medal

#trainingrun – 4.5 miles in 40:27 outside – just a wee bit chilly – felt good – looks like no damage from the #wfpshalfmarathon yesterday

I really had no desire to run this morning and actually went back to bed for a while – but I managed to get myself moving in the end and had a decent run despite the cold.  Goofy Challenge training is underway!

It looks like there might have been some snow overnight judging by the windshields of a couple cars but there wasn’t any on the ground and the puddles were actually water and not ice – so that was a positive.

It took a couple miles to get into a groove but I eventually did and was at a respectable pace when I was in the groove so mentally I have recovered from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services half marathon yesterday.  I had no aches or pains either so I didn’t do any physical damage yesterday either.  Puts me in a good place to train hard for Goofy in January.

I will be writing up a race report shortly for yesterday along with a bit of an analysis of how I did as try to figure out why I didn’t hit my PR like I had hoped.

I will be spending the rest of the day playing with the kids and consuming ungodly amounts of licorice as my reward for the run yesterday!

#wfpshalfmarathon – am I ready?

Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Services (WFPS) half marathon is tomorrow morning.  I’m not worried about the distance at all – this will be my third half marathon race this fall and I have had half marathon distance (or longer) training runs pretty much every weekend since mid-August.  I did set myself a goal of getting a PR on this one though and I frankly have no idea if I am going to hit it or not.

The rest of the post is going to be a bit “stream of consciousness” as I try to work through my thoughts – I apologize if it is a bit hard to follow.

Race times for half marathon distance (PR and this fall):

Personal best – 2002 Manitoba Marathon half marathon – 1:46:11

September 2nd – Run for Diabetes Research half marathon – 1:49:54

September 22nd – Fort Garry Rotary Club half marathon – 1:47:50

October 19th – WFPS half marathon – ?


I have been training hard and in general my runs have been getting faster (even my long slow weekend runs are getting faster) so I think I have trained about as well as I can – I missed one speed run in the time between the Sept 22nd race and this one but most of my other runs have been longer than planned and I have done about an extra 30 miles in the past 4 weeks over the scheduled miles.  I am at the point where a half marathon distance weekend run causes no issues and I rarely even take water with me on those runs any more.

So distance isn’t a problem but speed might be.  I have done a lot of speed training in the past few weeks and that does seem to be helping my overall speed but I also wanted to lose more weight than I have in the past few weeks.  I came down 4 pounds between the Sept 2nd and 22nd races and hope for that or more before the race tomorrow.  That planned weight reduction would help hit a new PR for sure but it is looking like I might only be down about 2 pounds or so from the Sept 22nd race so I can’t really count on weight loss to give me a speed boost on this race.

This means getting a PR this race is going to be about the extra speed training I have been doing, fuelling better while on the move and having a more consistent pace.  I can’t train any more for extra speed before tomorrow morning but the second 2 items can be planned for but will require discipline.

On the last race I kept missing Gatorade at the water stops and ended up bonking near the end of the run – since I only missed my PR by 99 seconds on that race the bonking played a big factor in missing the PR.  So I am going to make sure I am carrying enough fuel tomorrow – on that last race I had a water bottle in my running belt that I never touched – I will put some actual fuel in that bottle instead and I will force myself to fuel a bit every mile or so – even if it is just a mouthful it will make a difference.  Also since I haven’t lost the weight I was looking to I am pretty sure I am better fueled going into the race which should also help.

Consistent pacing – on the last race I saw mile paces at the start way faster than my planned pace and then had some miles mid race that were way slow.  Then with the bonking it was all I could do to maintain my planned pace and I didn’t have enough left to push the last few miles faster and make up some time.  Luckily this race has all individual miles marked which will help me ensure my pacing is on track.  I will start doing the first 3 miles about 10 seconds per mile slower than my planned pace then drift up to the pace I want from there  until the last couple miles and then I will see what I have left in the tank.  I am trying to plan for a 1:45 finish time and if I can go faster then awesome, if I am slower or run into issues I will then have a 71 second buffer to work with to still beat my PR.

Weather is going to play a factor too though and what that may be is really unknown right now.  It will be hovering around freezing tomorrow morning (above or below depending on the forecaster) and there is a chance of rain and snow overnight.  I should be ok for gear for the cold but if it rains and it does make it below freezing there could be slippery sections of the race to watch out for – there are areas that will be quite sheltered so it won’t melt quick even if the sun comes out.  Snow itself wouldn’t be a big issue but depending on if it rains a bit before rain falls you could have hidden slippery sections to watch out for.  Basically I could have to make the decision tomorrow morning to go slower than hoped just to make sure I am really paying attention and reduce the risk of damaging anything.  I have to protect the Goofy Challenge in January so I can put up with a pull or a strain from pushing hard but any sort of real damage would be devastating.

I will have to watch the mental game as well – I think my head is in the game as of right now but who knows what morning will bring?  If all else fails I will grab the 1:45 pace bunny and keep on his/her heels.

Anyway – should do a last minute check of my gear and get to bed shortly!

#trainingrun – 3.72 miles in 30 min at 1% incline – took it easy

Last training run before the WFPS Half marathon on Saturday!  Decided to take it easy and not push too hard tonight – don’t want to wreck anything this late in the game.

Picked up my race packet tonight as well – it went fairly smooth with the only real issue being the woman coming around a blind corner on a set of stairs while she texting – I scared the crap out of her apparently.

Run was decent on the treadmill – I think a good balance between pushing and not pushing too hard.  Started with 2 miles at 7.3 mph, 1.2 miles at 7.5 mph and then the remainder of the time at 8 mph.  Finished strong, felt good.

I will do a longer post tomorrow as I try to work through my thoughts on shooting for a new PR on Saturday.  Basic theme is that I haven’t lost as much weight as I wanted since my last race which might hurt my chances, I have trained hard which should help my chances and I have a plan to help reduce my delays at water stops while also ensuring I won’t bonk if I miss a Gatorade or 2 which should also help.  Beyond that there is mental state, weather, etc, etc, etc….  Like I said I will do a longer post tomorrow to work through the variables…then I will throw it all out the window and probably run like a maniac on the day…it is kind of what I do…plan, plan, plan, obsess…wing it.