Well, okay, maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. But, hey, if I don't make it, I can always cancel the room. The point is that today's half marathon in Wasaga Beach was really strong. The best part was the cool weather -- 60 degrees F (15 C.) at the start.
I was wearing my standard race attire -- mesh shore-to-shore reflective vest, black shorts with reflective stripe, Asics 2120 shoes, some new (and comfy) Champion socks from Costco, and my New Balance running hat from Runner's Choice. I had my Garmin Forerunner 205 (fully charged and ready to go), a bag of 10 jellybeans and 7 Eload tablets in the little pocket in my shorts and another that I carried with my Gatorade bottle filled with Eload mixed at standard strength.
For breakfast I had a bagel with peanut butter and jam, a glass or orange juice and a couple of swigs of my Eload mix.
Today's run was to be 20 miles, so about 25 minutes before the run, I did 2 miles of very easy warm up -- and I mean very easy (9:35/mile average pace). While I was warming up, I ran with my Mars bar and a medium black Tim Horton's coffee which were fully consumed by the time the race started. Then we got into the run.
"Conserve, conserve", I kept saying to myself. So while lots of runners were taking off ahead of me, I kept to my target pace of something better than 8:00/mile. I was chatting with other runners and pacing with some for a while -- but never letting another runner's pace (faster or slower) interfere with my target range.
This was a really flat out-and-back course, generally following a roadway just slightly removed from the beach. I could tell that it was flat because both on the way out and on the way back it looked to me like we were running slightly downhill. Obviously that wasn't the case, but it had a good psychological effect on my run.
My first 7 miles of the run ranged from 7:51 to 8:00 per mile -- a perfect pace. On the way back, I tracked my time but definitely knew that I'd be able to complete the race at marathon pace at least, so when I found myself going a bit faster, I didn't rein it in dramatically. The second half of the race ranged in pace from 7:56 down to 7:24 in the last mile. Overall, my time was a very respectible 1:42:50 which is a pace of 7:51/mile or 4:54/k -- and just 1 minute off the personal best time I set on July 1.But the best part was that I wasn't pushing hard. I could have certainly done a personal best, but I knew I still had 5 miles of running to do after the race to get in my full 20 miles so I didn't push it. I had proven to myself that doing my target pace was not going to be an issue. And while it was only a half marathon, I'm quite confident that if the weather in Corning is cool and we aren't facing a headwind, I'll be able to do the whole thing in my target of 3:30. At least that is how I feel today!
Karen and Tori each ran the 5K today -- but it turned into an 8-ish kilometre run due to some apparently confusing directions on course. The people at Multi Sport Canada, the organizers, were very understanding and gave medals to the top finishers in this 8K, in addition to those who competed in the 5K -- so both Tori and Karen got medals for 1st and 2nd in the under 20 women's age group, respectively. And Jenny did the half marathon and set a personal best at 1:57:50 -- taking more than a minute off her previous personal best. I ran with her for the last kilometre and she ran strongly right up to the end! Jenny's parents, Bruce and BJ Chadwick, were there to watch all the fun at the start and finish!
One thing that has definitely changed for Corning is my choice of sport drink. Yesterday, while I was reading up on the eLoad web site about the eLoad Tablets that I'd purchased at Runner's Choice, I could tell that these people had researched sweat to the nth degree. Now I was on a mission to pick up some eLoad for today's run, and we found some at a running store in Collingwood near where we were staying. Perhaps it was the cooler weather, but I found that I could drink lots of eLoad without getting 'dry mouth' or getting sick of the taste. In fact, I went through 1.5 litres of eLoad and could have drank more if I had more available. I had 4 eLoad tablets during the run to ensure I didn't cramp up and the combination seemed to work quite well. The only time I felt a cramp was after I'd been standing for about 10 minutes and then went to run some of my extra 5 miles. But I worked through that cramp in my left calf quite easily.
So my toughest week is now officially out of the way, and I firmly believe I'm ready for Corning. 21 more sleeps until race day!