Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Victoria Half-Marathon, October 12, 2014

Victoria Half-Marathon, October 12, 2014

Chip time:  1:58:59  (hey, I’ll still call it a 1:58:xx ;) )
Place:  1389/3795
Female :  621/2385
F45-49 :  57/283
10K split:  56:52

I have not had a good half-marathon race in almost three years.  This spring I did have a decent half at BMO Vancouver in May, but I did it as my last training run before the Abbotsford Marathon.  I would not run a half like that again; it took more out of me than I planned, and I ended up having a really tough marathon with a difficult recovery.  It has taken me several months to feel like myself again; in the meantime I have been doing lots of cycling and swimming and I have enjoyed the varied training.  The alternate activities have helped to keep me from overdoing the running and getting injured again.  Pat has started coaching me again, and in the weeks leading up to this half-marathon I have been feeling very good.  The goal for this race was to run strong and as hard as my fitness would allow without overdoing it.   It has been a long time since I have been able to race a half and find that right pace from the start—I needed to get that feeling back again. 

Based on my training I felt I could hold a pace around 5:30-5:40/km.  I have been doing long runs of up to about two hours, and tempo runs and repeats in the 5:20-5:30/km range.  My run mileage has been pretty low (averaging about 40K/week), but I figured the cross-training would count for something.   I thought if I had a perfect day I could be around 1:55-1:56, but I would be happy with anything under two hours.  Mostly I wanted to run strong with pretty even splits and avoid the difficult slowdowns I have had in previous halfs. 

There were no official pace bunnies in the half, but they did have seeding signs; I started out in the 2:00 staging area.  This made for a very crowded start, which allowed me to ease into the pace in the first couple kilometres.   I did the first kilometre about 6:00/km, but then quickly got down to around 5:30.  I tried to look around and find someone to pace off of, but in the end it was my own body that did the pacing.  It felt right, but I started to wonder whether I could hold it.   I pushed out those doubts and just kept going.   

I have to say I really enjoyed the entire experience.  This is a beautiful course; I have done the marathon twice and the half is essentially the same as the full course minus kilometres 14-25.  It is hillier than I remembered, though.  In my memory, most of the hills were in the marathon-only part that goes into some of the Oak Bay neighborhoods.  But I was wrong- most of the course is rolling hills.  We lucked out with the weather; although rain was in the forecast, it held off till later in the day and the morning was mostly dry.  The temperature was good, but it was still fairly high humidity- this did not seem to bother a lot of people, but the humidity always slows me down (I seem to sweat way more these days).

I did not carry water, a decision I sort of regretted in the first 8K when we had so far only passed one water station (note to self—look at map more carefully next time!).  But it worked out well—I stopped for water at about 4K,  9K, 13K, and 16K.  There were gels at 13K but I missed getting one; I had two with me but only ate one (I also ate one right before the start).

I found myself mentally breaking the course into chunks:  first 5K to Beacon Hill Park, then to Dallas Road at 9K, turnaround 13K, etc.  The last stretch along Dallas Road from 16K and to the finish was just gorgeous.  After 18K I picked up the pace and saw a split of 5:13 at 19K; I thought I could hold on to the low 5s, but there are lots of turns and little inclines in the last couple kilometres making it hard to really hammer it.  Still, I held on to a pace in the 5:20s and pushed on for a finish of under 1:59.  

I was very happy with the race overall.  I enjoyed it the whole time and feel like I finally remember how to race a half-marathon.  Now I can work towards continuing to race strong and get back a bit of my lost speed.

Thanks for reading.

My splits (after the first slow kilometre, pretty even when you account for the hills and water stops):
1                              6:02
  2                            5:40
  3                            5:31
  4                            5:18
  5                            5:39 (water)
  6                            5:45
  7                            5:42
  8                            5:31
  9                            5:42 (water)
 10                          5:23
 11                          5:37
 12                          5:41
 13                          5:43 (water)
 14                          5:41
 15                          5:27
 16                          5:36 (water)
 17                          5:37
 18                          5:41
 19                          5:14
 20                          5:27
 21                          5:25

 21.3                       1:37 (5:11/km)