Ok – so let’s start off with a big thanks to the organizers and volunteers – the WPS Half marathon is consistently well run and the volunteers are always great. I have done 4 in total (last 3 in a row) and each time I have been impressed. Thanks again!
So how did the event and run go for me?
The day definitely started out different for me than most race days. This is the first real race I have done since we got the pups and I didn’t factor in time to get them out before I headed out so I was a bit rushed. But I gave myself plenty of time to get to the race and get parked and settled so it wasn’t an issue but did require some juggling that I will need to remember for future races!
The race this year had a different start location than previous years – still in the same park but in a different area of the park. Parking ended up being further away from the start line than before so more walking was definitely required but being used to the long walks needed for runDisney Disney World races the walking didn’t bug me. I did give directions to one runner though who didn’t know the park well – the start line is not visible from most of the parking so more signage might have been helpful there.
Weather was beautiful – definitely shorts and short sleeves weather for us northern runners. Sun was up and the sky was clear.
I got in the start corral, absorbed the sunlight and tried to figure out what my game plan was. Anyone reading the blog probably realizes I was quite ill for most of the first part of April and my training plan fell apart quite significantly. I have been able to put in some decent shorter runs in the 5 mile range since then but I haven’t done double digit mileage runs since March. So I knew I was going to have issues with the speed + endurance combined that is needed for a half marathon. I knew that my PR of 1:46 was not going to fall today and I figured I needed to be under 2 hours for my own piece of mind. The 2 hour mark has a weird mental power for me – it represents the mark where I was finally able to tell myself that I had managed to get back into running again properly. I broke back under 2 hours at the 2013 WPS Half marathon and haven’t raced a half slower than 2 hours since and it would have been a tough hit mentally if I had that happen today.
But I still couldn’t figure out what my pace should be.
On top of the illness my right knee (which I have had trouble with off and on since high school) was aching pretty fierce on Friday. It was fine yesterday and didn’t give me any issues running with the family in the Run at the Ridge 2k but it was worrisome enough that I was tempted to wear my knee brace to be safe. In the end I left the brace at home but it was something I knew I needed to be conscious of.
While I was contemplating, I fired out a tweet about my indecision and got some encouragement back from Bill from Florida (@rilla6969 on twitter and blogging over at rillaruns.wordpress.com). I met up with Bill a couple times back at the Dopey Challenge in January and he is always ready to give encouragement. Encouragement…shove…whatever you want to call it.
So with the clock ticking down before the start, I decided I would see what happened on the first mile and then try a solid push and try to stay over 7 mph for as long as I could and if it fell apart then at least I would have a buffer to make sure I was under 2 hours.
And we were off! Accompanied by a flyover from a Canadian Forces hercules (I think)!
A bit congested at the start but nothing to rival Disney so I was able to cope. First mile finished in 8:28 and I felt not too bad – definitely took longer to get my breathing right but I settled in decently enough to try a little faster.
Mile 2 – much faster and less congested – 8:09
Mile 3 – shin splints in my left leg? What the hell? I haven’t had shin splints in years – I was pissed about that! The anger must have changed my form a bit because they disappeared after a few steps and never came back the rest of the race. Decent pace for the mile – 8:12
Mile 4 – this mile includes a 180 that you have to slow down for – not too bad but something to watch for. 8:15
Mile 5 – right knee made its presence known. Not bad but it let me know it didn’t like the steep incline up to a bridge over a river. This became a common theme for the knee – it was fine except on inclines. And it never really hurt, just an ache and a reminder if I did anything stupid it would call me on it.
During mile 5 I stopped for my first fuel break and walked a bit but still got 8:52 for the mile so not awful.
Mile 6 – 8:27 – slowing down a bit but still ok – 8:27
These first 6 miles included a lot of me repeating to myself “these are only mental barriers, they are not physical barriers. Keep pushing”. Starting around mile 7 I was starting to hit actual physical barriers though.
Mile 7 – 8:48 – definitely slowing down. Endurance was just not there for the speeds I had in the first half of the race. I hit the half way point of the race at around the 55 minute mark so I knew sub 2 hour should be there, which was a relief but I could tell even at this point it was not going to be easy, I was going to have to work for it. Wind seemed to pick up a bit along this stretch as well and the area is pretty exposed, and of course we were running right into it! That sapped a bit of energy as did the rolling inclines of the road in this area. Neither the wind or the inclines were really that bad but I was hitting the limits of my recent training runs and felt them harder than I should have.
Mile 8 – 8:48 – steady at least. Still feeling pretty strong.
Mile 9 – 9:01 but including my 2nd fuel stop / walk – so pace was pretty solid still. Lots of corners to slow you down on this mile though (2 180s and 2 90s).
Mile 10 – 9:28 – now back on the same road as mile 7 and the wind was maybe even stronger. Either that or I was sucking wind pretty bad (could be both actually).
Mile 11 – 9:22 – again slower than the first half of the race but feeling a bit stronger again since we weren’t so exposed any more. We were also heading back toward the finish line now and into the sun – that always helps the mental attitude.
Mile 12 – 9:35 – 3rd and final fueling walk – so my pace was actually picking back up.
Mile 13 – 8:59 – stronger pace again – back in the park with cheering crowds and good scenery.
And finished the last 0.1 miles in 0:49 – a solid, strong push to the finish line avoiding the desire to sprint and maybe hurt myself.
Final time 1:55:15. Sub-2hours achieved and my mental state saved!
Got my medal and this year’s gift – finisher socks! Kind of unique. The WPS Half always gives out some kind of finisher gift – I have previously gotten a sling bag, a bib belt and running beanie. Both the belt and beanie get used quite frequently. I’m not sure about the socks but I will give them a go and see how they work for me.
I hung out around the finish line for a bit and went to wander back to find my vehicle when I got stopped by someone calling my name. It was Trevor, a gentleman who works for the same company I do and in the same building. We had a quick chat and he mentioned that he found my blog a while back and that he had been reading along. Cool! My readership isn’t very big and I didn’t think anyone local followed along – nice to know that there is someone – it help keep me honest! It did come as a bit of a shock because I didn’t think anyone around the office knew about the blog but still very cool!
Trevor – congrats again on strong sub-2 hour! Awesome work!
So after a quick chat, I continued my wander back to the vehicle and headed on home.
Now that I have had a bit of time to think and review how I did, I have come up with some thoughts on how to get my mojo back:
- Get the mileage back up – that one sounds simple but my mileage was decimated in early April and I am going to have to focus to get my running back and to rebuild my endurance. No slacking.
- Mid-week medium long runs – these are my 8-10 mile runs usually done on the treadmill on Wednesday nights. I don’t do speed work on these runs but I do push strong, even paces…kind of like you need for half marathons? Even before the illness, I was missing an unusual number of these runs because we have 2 different activities for the kids those nights and I have to start running pretty late to get the miles in. So these runs ended up being easy to ditch. No more! I have realized these runs are crucial to keep sustained speed up past about the hour mark – you can see me crashing out around the 8-9 mile mark and missing these runs is one of the reasons!
- Sign up for the Manitoba Marathon – 7 weeks away – my intention was to wait to see how close I got to PR today and if I was really close I would train speed like a demon and make the PR happen at the half during the Manitoba Marathon event. After the run today, I believe I need the pressure of a full coming up to drive me to put in the miles properly. Basically I will train to get my miles back up and try for a good showing in June at the full and then train hard through the summer. In the fall there are several good half marathons in the city and I will make a PR attempt again then. I also have the 12 hour Lemming Loop coming up at the beginning of October so I need to start rebuilding my base now.
- Sort out my diet and weight – to put it simply I have gained about 5 pounds in the past couple months. Some of that could be contributed to being ill but the big part of it was I have been eating to run 50+ miles a week, and I haven’t been anywhere near that. So time to focus hard on that again. Goal – back down to 215 for the Manitoba Marathon.
- Use the pool wisely – we have our backyard pool open now and I am going to have to use it for additional endurance training and resistance exercises. This will help the weight loss but also help rebuild endurance. Still have to decide how best to do this but I will come up with a plan in the next few days.
- My right knee – my bloody right knee, it keeps coming back to haunt me. I need to strengthen it again. The additional miles will help, as long as I ramp those miles up in a smart way. But I think I also need to do some resistance exercises to – so squats and lunges need to come in and hopefully I can figure out something in the pool too.
Those mostly sound like negatives so I throw in a positive too – I was able to drive myself mentally – I pushed through some crap and kept going. That hasn’t been lost. Good!
So that looks like way more words than necessary to describe 2 hours of running, but there you go.
Once again, thanks to the coordinators and volunteers today! The work is appreciated.