Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon – May 4th, 2014 – The unexpected fall of a 12 year old PR


221 /1445 finishers

168/683 males

23/91   M4044

Yay! A nice new PR for the half distance! Strange thing is I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. Obviously I am happy to get a new PR but I wasn’t expecting it and a few things from the past few days and weeks should have logically prevented that from happening. So now I’m confused more than anything.

Before I get into the PR and how I did on the race I want to say that I found the WPS Half Marathon very well organized and the volunteers were great. There were several places on the course where traffic control was necessary and the volunteers and the Winnipeg Police Service did a great job keeping everyone safe. It was a great run and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it anyone.

Ok – back to me.

Some history – my old PR for the half distance was 1:46:11 set way back in 2002 in my first timed race. I had trained for the Manitoba Marathon full that year but got sick from some nasty heat on a training run and couldn’t finish out my training. That made me back off and decide to run the half for that race and I surprised myself with how fast I went and how well I felt afterward.

My running backed off then for a while and I ran another half in 2004 and then finally got up the nerve to try training for a full again in 2005.  But my time in 2004 was closer to 2 hours and my time for the full in 2005 was 4:15:01 (still my PR for the full).

Since then I have done several other halfs and fulls (including 4 Goofy Challenges) but could never catch the speed of that first half marathon.

But I started training consistently in September 2012 – and finally managed to get under 2 hours on a half again in the spring of 2013 and then ran 3 halfs in the fall of 2013 that each got progressively closer to that magic half PR. To the point that I got to within 63 seconds of that goal. The Goofy Challenge in January 2014 of course included a half marathon but that race wasn’t about me so I didn’t really test where I was on that run.

That brings us up to this race – I had kept training consistently after the Goofy Challenge in January with an eye to 3 potential races in the spring – the WPS half (that I just did), the Fargo Marathon (next weekend which I am not doing but am ready for) and the Manitoba Marathon in June. Basically I went into this half ready to do a full.

So I was fairly sure going into the race that I was in better shape than last fall but most of my running has been done on the treadmill and I do better in races when I have done more outdoor running in training – I think the outdoor running helps me prepare better for racing, maybe something about feeling the distance and being used to it.

I went into the race feeling confident that I would do well but with really no clue as to how well. There were several things I had done wrong in the past week or so that I figured would negatively impact my time so shooting for my PR seemed like a bit of a fool’s errand.

Some of the mistakes? Well:

  • Significant sleep deficit the past couple weeks – bordering on exhaustion at this point
  • Tweaked my knee on Wednesday night’s run and it hasn’t felt right since
  • Went to a bit of a party the night before the race and didn’t get home until after midnight and a few beers
  • Hell, I had tacos for supper the night before the race (if that isn’t asking runners trots I don’t know what is)

On the morning of the race I even slept in a little! And then it was also colder than predicted and I had to change up my gear at the last minute. Did not look promising going into the race.

With all those negatives I really had no game plan for the race at all.

So at the starting line I made a split second decision to line up in front of the 1:50 pace bunny and that I would just try to stay ahead of him and see how it would go.

After the first mile I could tell that by my pace a PR wasn’t in the cards so just tried to settle into the run…by 3 miles in I was back on pace for that PR but there was still a long way to go so I didn’t get ahead of myself.

I walked a bit at mile 5 in order to have some fuel and take my gloves off and the darned 1:50 pace bunny passed me. Dammit.

After a quick break I picked back up and quickly passed the pace bunny and kept a steady pace and things were looking good until about the mile 7 – it looked like that mile took me almost 10 minutes…and then looking at the Garmin I realized the mile marker was way off. Mile 8 ended up being just over 6 minutes! Whoohoo! Yeah balancing out miles 7 and 8, I was on a solid strong pace. PR still possible?

I took another quick walk around mile 10 for a bit more fuel and then kept pushing. Mile 11 felt good and things still looked possible for a PR but I wasn’t freaking out about it. Then at mile 12 I realized it was still just possible to hit it if I really pushed…so I decided to see what I had left. Most of that last mile was strong and as I knew I was getting closer I started to really push – probably did a good chunk of the last mile at greater than 8 mph. I knew I was going to be close and almost felt crushed when I came around the last corner and realized what I thought was the finish line was actually a set of bleachers and the finish line was further than I thought. I pushed with all I had left and had to physically force myself to not look at my watch in case it showed me something I didn’t want to see.

When I crossed the line I stopped the Garmin and was so relieved to see that it showed me that I had unofficially beat the PR by 8 seconds – even if I screwed up my button presses the official time was going to have to be a new PR no matter what.

I got my medal and immediately walked to my vehicle to sit and have a think. On one hand I was very excited to have PR’ed but on the other it was unexpected and I wasn’t mentally prepared to break a barrier that had stood for 12 years. That PR had kind of defined me as a runner until now – it was the number that I would point to and say “I used to be that fast”…but now I’m faster….where do I go now?

Well I am signed up for the Manitoba Marathon in June – that 4:15:01 PR still stands and must fall too. But if that happens then what? Some thinking is going to need to be done.

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