Sunday, September 7, 2014

Springbank Half Marathon - Half Decent Time (1:41:56) but walked A LOT.

By all accounts, this should have been a great half marathon. Still, I was just hoping for something close to my personal best in this race -- 1:41:23 ( back in 2010.

The route started at the cottage near Commissioners Road and took us around the loop 1.5 times before heading up the trail system into Harris Park before it turned around.

I was ultimately hoping for a 1:40 Half in my optimistic case. Something close to my PB in this race (1:41:23) for my mid-range goal, and something faster than I did in the spring in Toledo (1:44:56) for my "holding it together" goal. Anyhow, I started out looking for a 4:44 per kilometre pace which would put me across in 1:40. And I was hoping that if I could get to the turn-around point in Harris Park, I should be able to keep the pace going downhill all the way back.

So the first part of the plan went well. I got through the first 12 kilometres to the turn around without significant problem, despite the fact that it was gradually uphill pretty much the entire way. Here are my splits until the turn-around:

4:29 (downhill)
4:32 (downhill)
4:39 (uphill)
4:33 (downhill)
4:39 (uphill)
4:38 (gradual uphill)
4:44 (gradual uphill)
4:36 (flat on average)
4:38 (gradual uphill)
4:35 (gradual uphill - Terry Fox Parkway)
4:37 (hilly up and down)
4:43 (hilly up and down)

So my time until the turn around was excellent. Aiming for 4:44 on average and I only had two kilometres in the 4:44 range -- even though I was consciously trying to keep it slow. But at the turn-around, the strategy started to unravel. My next kilometre out of Harris Park was slow -- and I was already considering that I might have to take a walk break. But instead, I toughed it out and just decided I'd slow the pace and take it easier. Here are my next splits after the turn-around:

4:55 (hilly up and down)
4:47 (gradual downhill - Terry Fox Parkway)
4:46 (gradual downhill)

And at that point I lost the mental toughness that I know I'll need to get through the marathon. I was struggling -- possibly overheating -- but my legs were telling me they needed a break. So at the water stop before the 16K mark, I actually stopped and took in some water, and then carried on.

4:53 (pace for 570 m.)
4:50 (flat on average)

So the strategy seemed to work -- a bit. I felt stronger when I took off, but was still struggling up any minor hills, like the little one around Wonderland Gardens. And after that little hill, I had to take another break -- this time just walking:

5:20 (pace for 140 m. -- 0:46)

But, again, I picked up the pace and it wasn't awful. From there on, it was walk run to get to the finish.

4:47 (gradual downhill)
5:06 (pace for 370 m.)
4:40 (pace for 800 m. up the dam hill)
4:36 (pace for 820 m.)
4:43 (for 320 m.)
4:30 (pace for 840 m.)

I was able to kick it up a notch once I saw the finish line and came across strongly in under 1:42 -- but that was about the only thing I was able to salvage from the run.

Jenny came in at just over 1:45 -- which is 3 minutes off her personal best - she found the hills tough as well. Bernie LeForte and Anne Hughes both set personal bests by a wide margin though (5 minutes!).

So it was both a disappointing run for me, and a run that gives me hope for the marathon. Certainly disappointing that I had to walk so much. But when I wasn't walking, my pace was pretty comfortable, despite the hilly course. And my time wasn't awful -- just not as good as I would have liked, especially considering how well training has been going.

Looking at all the times I stopped or walked, if I had been able to keep going, I could have taken 4:34 off my finish time -- 1:37:22. But that wasn't going to happen. What I could have done, though, is sucked it up in the last 2 kilometres. If I hadn't walked during that last 10 minutes, I would have taken 2:20 off my time giving me a personal best and hitting my goal time.

An interesting observation is that when I weighed myself in the morning when I got up, I was 186 lbs. (above my target weight of 181). When I got back from the run, I was at 186 as well -- but I'd consumed water along the course plus 6 or maybe 7 cans of soft drinks and lemonade. That is a lot of fluid that I lost. So maybe the heat was taking its toll and I didn't know it. It was only 19 degrees when we were done the race -- but I'm sure the bright sunshine made it feel more like 25 degrees or more.

A good benchmark for a full marathon is to take your Half time, double it, and add 10 minutes -- although I've never seen that math work for me. But if that match works, I'd be at 3:34 marathon, which is 6 minutes slower than I really should have if I want to qualify for Boston. So I'm going to have to figure this out. There are 6 more weeks until the marathon so I have 3 more weeks of hard training before I start to taper. I think I have to want the good finish time more. I didn't want it enough today. I have to fight the urge to walk. But it would be just so much better if I didn't get that urge to begin with.

My strategy for Columbus may be to get 2 minutes "in the bank" under a 3:30 finish time and then coast at 5 minute K's until the finish. Something worth considering.

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