Up until Saturday, I was planning to run a long warm-up and aim for marathon race pace at the Oakville Half Marathon. And then my legs felt really fresh on Saturday. And I felt the itch to race after the Zoo Run 10K the day before. And I realized that I may actually have a good shot at a PR given how close I am at the 70.3 Relay the week before on a tough course in the middle of the day. And then my running/pacing buddy (Nicole) from Sporting Life 10K told me she was going for 1:40. And then it was a done deal! I didn’t know if I could do it, but I thought I had a good shot at coming close.
Sunday morning 5 of us hit the road together at 5:45 for the drive to Oakville. We arrived about 45 minutes before the start and found free parking nice and close. Unfortunately we ended up dilly dallying at the car a little too long and ran out of time to warm-up after using the washrooms. Oops!
Next thing we knew it was time to line up. Check laces, turn on Garmin, fire up playlist. Ready, set, GO! (Sometimes it’s kind of nice when you don’t have a lot of time to mill about getting nervous!)
The course is a loop starting and finishing at the lake front park and running along various residential and commercial streets. Most importantly, it is mostly flat with just some gradual uphills in the first half and gradual down in the second half. It’s not crowded at all, starts nice and early (7:40) and is an excellent race to shoot for a PR.
Nicole and I were a couple hundred metres behind the 1:40 pacer from the get-go and kept him in our sights, while I checked my Garmin every once for insurance. The pace felt fast, but I knew it was supposed to and I didn’t let that get in my head. I usually
hate dislike the first 5K of a half marathon and this was no exception, but I plugged along and zoned out to music. Nicole and I ran side-by-side, but we were silent. We had agreed before the race that this would not be a “talking race.”
KM1-5: 4:37, 4:37, 4:36, 4:41, 4:41
We were pacing slightly faster than intended, but it felt “hard but manageable” so I decided to go with it. (Overall target was 4:45/KM). I had made the decision to push the limits a bit more than I usually would to see what I could do – hoping, of course, that I could maintain it. We eventually caught the 1:40 pacer and stuck with him for a while. He was clearly on target and it was nice not to worry about checking the pace for a little while.
KM6-10: 4:40, 4:39 (gel at 7), 4:45, 4:44, 4:38 (salt at 10)
Our pace crept a little faster and we gradually drafted ahead. Something must have given me a boost around KM 11 as illustrated in the splits below. I remember feeling good here – I was working hard, but happy to be half done and pretty confident.
KM11-15: 4:33, 4:35, 4:42, 4:42 (gel at 14), 4:46
The sun was high now and it started to get very warm. I was a soaking wet sweaty mess and started dumping water on my head to cool off. Nicole had drifted ahead around 13K and I had to let her go; I didn’t have enough in the tank to pick it up. I kept her in my sights, which helped me focus on maintaining the pace as it got harder and harder to do so. I was by myself for this whole stretch and it was tough. I slowed noticeably and felt 1:40 slipping away, but refused to give up. I lost nearly 30 seconds in KM 16 to 20, which is extremely frustrating given my final time (stay tuned).
KM16-20: 4:52, 4:53, 4:52, 4:43, 4:50
The 1:40 pacer caught me again and I tailed him for the last couple kilometres before finally finding the will to push harder and pass him again. At this point I knew it was going to be close – VERY close – and I high-tailed around the final bend into the finishing chute.
KM21: 4:42 + (0.1 at 3:45/KM pace)
Chip Time: 1:40:06 (2:16 PR)
Average Pace: 4:44/KM (7:38/mi)
|freaky leg muscles!!