I did the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton today. I really had no idea what I could do, so I targeted my (former) marathon pace of 5 minutes per kilometer which would take me into the end of a marathon at 3:30 and the end of the 30K race at 2 hours 30 minutes. But I knew that my time was unlikely to hold up into the hills in Burlington, so I would be very pleased with a 2:35 finish and happy with anything under 2:40. Here are my kilometre splits:
4:50 10k (49:13 on GPS, 49:27 on the timing mat)
5:03 15k (1:14:12 on GPS, 1:14:32 on the timing mat)
5:17 20k (1:40:08 on GPS, 1:40:35 on the timing mat)
3:33 pace (227 m.) (2:38:40 on the timing mat)
As you can see, I was on a pretty good pace for the first 20 kilometres. But, as predicted, once I hit the hills in Burlington, I ran into significant problems. A lot of the issues stemmed from the heat -- yes, that's right, the HEAT in March. It was getting into 14 or 15 degrees by 11 am, and after 20K I was starting to get pretty warm. The other issue, of course, was my right hamstring, which had very little strength as compared to the left hamstring, and make hills painful and slow. One bright note was that I discovered that if I pushed off with my left (good) leg up the hills, I could make better time than if I looked for a consistent stride between both legs. So while it looked like I was hobbling, I was in fact making half-decent time in comparison.
Note that my pace picked up after the hills so it actually wasn't terrible for the last 2.2 kilometres.
Note for future reference: One issue I had during training was lack of food energy, so Jenny and I made it ia missue to literally stuff myself before this race. It worked out pretty well. I had a large half-decaf coffee, a plain bagel with salmon cream cheese, a butter tart, a small bowl of mini-wheats, a half container of yogurt and granola from Loblaws, and a banana a half hour before gun time. On the course, Jenny gave me a small bottle of Coke at 18K, which really helped, plus a baggie full of fruit (pineapple was the best!).
So now the question is, 'What to do in Boston?' Well, I think we're going to try a similar strategy. Boston starts with significant downhill and flat for the first half of the course. So if I can hold my target marathon pace up until the Newton Hills -- but then hobbling up each of them and stretching out after each -- I may be able to pull off a respectible time. At this point, I'm thinking 3:45 may be do-able.
There are still 3 weeks of training to go, though -- so anything can happen. And if it is a warm day, all bets are off. I'll be just running to finish!
PS: While all sorts of Runners Choice runners had incredible times today, my buddy, vet and personal coach Brian Watson ran Around the Bay in less than 2 hours (1:59:09 to be exact), thereby qualifying for the gold medal. He had a well-deserved perma-smile on his face all day and when I saw him on Wednesday, it hadn't faded!