Tap, tap, tap. It’s been a while…
My training this year has been littered with hiccups, from injuries (heel fat pad syndrome in February, patellar tendonitis in March) to random accidents (stepping on a nail in our home reno zone in May), and I just haven’t felt the desire to write through these challenges. It has been impossible to get any traction beneath me and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling defeated and frustrated.
Thankfully, things have taken a turn for the better recently. I’ve slowly been able to get back to running and added a new fitness component to my life by joining Crossfit Newmarket Central. I’m going 3x per week to supplement 4 days of running, and juggling the schedule week-by-week.
After 3 DNS’ this year (Chilly Half, Sporting Life 10K, Goodlife Toronto Half), I had my eye on the Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon and didn’t want to miss another race. Toward the end of May I was able to put in a 15K and 17K, my only long-ish runs since March 8th. They were both struggle-fests but I knew I could finish the distance and so Barrie Half was on.
And that brings me to Sunday, June 7th – my first distance race in 20 months, and first race of 2015!
(Official photos included herein are courtesy of Cllik Photography. They were just indexed and published yesterday, but downloads were free so we can’t complain.)
We lucked out with fantastic weather – it only got up to about 20C with sun but no humidity, and a cooling breeze most of the way. In our usual race day style, our group arrived obnoxiously early and had plenty of time for multiple bathroom stops and to wander around shaking out the legs.
We had a big group of Newmarket Rogue Runners at the race – excellent company before/after and lots of familiar faces along the double out-and-back course.
My friend Patti offered to keep me company/pace me through the entire 21.1, which was a relief for my nerves and also guaranteed it would be fun. I knew she could offer just the right amount of support and whip-cracking. We had a loose pace target of 6:00/KM with short walk breaks at water stations (we ended up skipping many), which I thought would be challenging but doable.
I remembered (from when I ran it in 2013) the first half being fairly hilly and then flattening out on the waterfront trail after that. There were a few significant climbs and I expected to struggle since hills have been kicking my ass on training runs lately. Surprisingly I felt really good tackling each one, which gave me loads of confidence – must be that race day magic!
KM 1 – 5: 6:05, 5:58, 5:57, 5:55, 5:47
Patti took a pit stop at the first turn-around point so I slowed down and then decided to stop and wait (it was less than a minute). We were about to head uphill and I didn’t want her to have to bust ass to catch up. We were then on our way back toward the start/finish area, tackling all the hills in the opposite direction. The half and 10K runners merged along this stretch, but didn’t cause any crowding issues since we were all fairly spread out by this point.
KM 6 – 10: 5:47, 6:30 (pit stop), 5:58, 5:42, 6:07 (gel)
Around the 10K mark, we veered off the road onto paved paths through the park. It was my turn for a necessary pit stop so I picked up the pace to run to port-o-potties up ahead while Patti took her time through the water station before we re-grouped.
We were now running along the waterfront trail where we would remain for the duration. It felt good to know we were past half way with just one more out-and-back to complete. I remember feeling strong – the pace was just beyond comfortable, the breeze off the water felt amazing and I was in a good place mentally.
KM 11 – 15: 5:33, 6:13 (pit stop), 5:41, 5:43, 5:47
We hit the gravel portion and I broke it down in my head to 4K out then 4K back to finish. I remembered sloshing along this trail and getting covered in muck during the downpour of 2013. The trail was much easier to run on this year!
We spotted hubs who was on his way to a great finish (1:24:33 for 6th overall and his 2nd fastest half marathon time). Meanwhile, I still had plenty of race left…
Looking out and cheering for other other friends was a great distraction. I was getting noticeably tired, as expected, but just kept plugging along and chatting (mostly listening) with Patti.
There was a short, steep hill just before the turn-around (evil) but it felt great to know we were turning around to head toward the finish. I was counting down the kilometres in my head by this point. Passing the 17K mark felt like a milestone since I hadn’t run farther in many months. It was just about hanging in there now.
KM 16 – 20: 6:09, 5:49, 5:52, 5:52, 5:47
I took one last walk break at the final water station around 18K and knew that I was really, truly almost done. Patti was telling me “just 15 more minutes” which was a lie because we weren’t running 5:00/KM, but I didn’t argue. She offered to carry my empty water bottle which felt like unloading 10 lbs.
Before I knew it, we passed that 20K sign and made our way toward the cheering crowds. We had to run a small loop away from the finish first (also evil) but I knew we were so close, and picked up the pace as much as I could.
KM21 – 21.1: 5:14, 0:12* (*my watch measured slightly shy of 21.1)
It was such a victory to race again and finish this distance. I was well and truly spent and sore everywhere, but finished strong with a negative split and feeling so happy. The Barrie Examiner captured this moment just after the finish perfectly.