Sunday, 10 February 2013

First Half Half Marathon: Another PB!!


I tackled the Pacific Road Runner's First Half Half Marathon on February 10th, 2013. This is one of the most scenic and beautiful road courses I have ever done: a flat, fast course on the seawall around Stanley Park, starting and finishing at the Yaletown Roundhouse. This race usually is blessed with a beautiful day of February weather, and today was no exception.

I think that the reason this race is so good is that it is a Variety Charity fundraiser. This year the Pacific Road Runners donate 40% of the registration fees to Variety, which amounted to $50,000! The other 60% goes to putting on one of the best races going, bar none. That goodwill is evident in the volunteers and in the race organization.


2013 was my 8th time running this race, and my 9th half marathon over the last 10 years, 2004-2013. 8 times is a lot of running shirts that come with the registration of this particular race. I did skip out on 2006 for some lame reason or another, probably because we had one child, and I could not make time to run and keep fit with how busy I was. Lame. 3 kids now, and I run when everyone is asleep, or when it is dark out. Usually everyone is asleep when it is dark. I digress.

Today was a sort of seasonal goal to set a PR, and to see where the winter has got me in terms of fitness. December investments in running are paying off huge right now, as my 10k a day challenge has helped me build a huge base to work from. Although I would like to save something for the spring and summer races, today sets up the whole year. Over the last year I have taken some time away from my bike, and have cranked up my run in the last few months. I can tell that this has helped my run, but hurt my biking fitness. I can run faster for longer, have better/ more balanced races, and don't blow up fantastically near the mid to end of my races. The speed and diet changes as of late have made a tremendous difference to my running, and I can notice it in everything from keeping a steady pace, to my recovery, to how much I am taxing myself during the event.

To the race: my goal was to keep a very consistent race pace, not really shooting for a time goal. This is a departure from my previous method of painstakingly writing out the splits, laminating them, and then trying to run to meet them. A surefire recipe for disappointment, as I have experienced in my early attempts at this one.

I kept checking the average pace on my watch rather than trying to meet km or mile markers. What happened? I ran a steadily fast run. I did not hurt myself or blow out my O-ring like in Kamloops, and my recovery (so far) has been outstanding.

The Plan:

4:00 min/km pace for the first 15 kms. The plan was to try and push the last 3 to 4 miles at an accelerated speed in order to try and come in around 1:22. I think back to Dave Cressman of Distance Runwear's BMO RUN VAN goal last year, and I thought that this would be doable considering we ran together at Remembrance Day. With the scale this week showing 176 lbs, 4 lbs heavier than what I weighed in 2002, along with the speed, hills, long, and tempo runs Sean and I have been doing to get quicker, the goal of 1:22 was a bit pf a pipe dream to cut 5 minutes off of last years time. However, if I fell short, I would still PB if I could come in faster than my current 2012 PB of 1:27:38.

So I set three race time goals: a longshot goal, an achievable goal, and a last ditch/wheels-fall off goal.

Dream=1:22,
Realistic=1:24,
Fight or die=1:26

I woke at 5:40 and jammed back a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar (1 tsp), cinnamon, a half cup of tea, and a glass of water. It took a while to get organized and er.....ahem.. sorted out in the bathroom. Once that was finished, it was smooth sailing into Vancouver.

Me, Sean, and Philip left at 6:45 to get to Yaletown and warm-up unhurried. Some of the same volunteers manning the bag check were back from last year--(Thank you so much vollies for putting on one of the best organized races in our region--it is the reason I keep coming back to flog myself on the most beautiful roads around). I jammed back some of my PEDs (Sportlegs), which is really a placebo effect, and a chups of water. Nipple-y outside during our 3 km warm-up, as that was all I needed to get ready. I met up with Darbara Ghuman at the start line--he was recovering from a quad injury, gave a high-5 to Mike Murphy who unfortunately DNf'd from this race for reasons I do not know. Poppa Philip, Sean, and I did our obligatory 3km warm-up to get the body moving and flush out the cobwebs.

The race started after the singing of Oh Canada, and I settled into a comfortable pace around 4 minutes for the first kms. I could tell that my foot pod was off the pace a little bit, because it was short of the km marker through every checkpoint, showing that I still had some to go, even though I had already passed the markers. This kinds screwed up my run, because I knew that my watch was showing me that I was running slower than I actually was. It would go this way for the entire race.

I managed to hit 4 minutes for every km until I came through 5 kms in 19:55. 5 seconds under my goal pace. I blew through the English Bay water station which I typically stop for water, and right around Lost Lagoon.  I spotted Canadian ultra trail runner Adam Campbell spectating, and said "Hi" to him, as he is nursing a sore hamstring. The 4 minute pace continued along until the 10km point, passing it with a time of 40:24, my 3rd fastest 10kms ever!

I did take a water break at the halfway point on the north side of Stanley Park for a few seconds, letting my group take off ahead of me while i walked through. In less than a km, I had clawed back up to them. The next marker was for 15kms, which I hit at 1:00:48. With 6kms to go, I needed to do 4 minute kms in order to go sub 1:25.

As I said, my plan was to run comfortably hard until 10 miles, then jump and pick up the pace. However, it was difficult to break the 4 min/km rhythm, and I resorted to waiting until 11 miles to try and kick again. That is until I spotted Darbara Ghuman, who ran the whole race in front of me with a torn up quad! I became inspired to track him down quickly, knowing that at the top of the hill out of Stanley Park and into English Bay, I would only have 2 miles to go.

Upon passing him, I patted his back for encouragement, then took off down the hill. This is a part of the race, where people have been straight knackered, and I have taken advantage of that by blowing past into the finish. I threw down a 3:30/km pace for the last 2kms last year, and tried to this year. But again, cranking up was so tough to do. Outside of the aquatic center, I hit 20kms at 1:20 and change.

The hill up-under the Burrard Street Bridge was a bit of a slug, but not as hard as it has been in previous years. Cresting it, I again tried to kick it into 6th gear to make it to the line in under 1:25. But no jam in the tank to sprint. I cruised down the hill, and into the finishing chute for a new personal best of 1:24:34!

This race did not hurt nearly as much as in previous years, yet  I ran as fast as ever.
At the first half, I was running at a 42:36 for 10.5 kms.

The second half looked like this: 41:48. Which puts part of my second half as a sub 40 minute 10km, less the .5km. Yikes. A negative split. Something I have not done very often.

On a sour note (but not really), I missed my time goal by 2 minutes. But am pretty happy to cut 3 minutes off of last years time, and 7 minutes off of 2011. That is a huge increase!

Pacific Road Runners First Half Half Marathon Results 2004-2013

Year                   Time       Overall        Age Cat.                                Comments

2004------------  1:42:04  407/ 1890  21/42  in M25-29                   *First Half Marathon Ever
2005------------  1:43:28  460/ 1988   29/50  in M25-29

2006------------  Did not enter this year because I was a big puss

2007------------  1:42:29  337/2011   32/84    in M30-34
2008------------  1:37:41  280/2007   34/104  in M30-34        *New PB set
2009------------  1:36:41  268/2031    35/95   in M30-34        *New PB set

2010------------  1:30:04  41/1374      3/64     in M30-34        *Fort Langley Historic Half--Olympic Year

2011------------  1:31:25  174/2020    26/93   in M30-34
2012------------  1:27:38  134/1983    22/121 in M35-39          *New PB set
2013------------  1:24: 34  84/1916     14/97   in M35-39         *Latest New PB


Results are here.

At the finish line I grabbed some Powerade, water, and a protein bar. I met Mark Rowat, whom I have not seen in a year--Hi Mark!!  Perhaps we will see each other at the Chuckanut 50?

Finally, I met Darren Walton who I finally had the chance to meet. I do remember meeting and speaking with him last year after the Derby Reach race. A great racer and a great guy!

Sean came in with a personal best of 1:31, and Philip came in at 1:42. he turns 60 next week on the 16th! That is amazing! When I was 27, I threw down a 1:42 for my first time, as listed above. He is on the right path to running fast and competitively again!


A huge surprise was seeing my co-worker Mandeep Dhaliwal come in 2 seconds in front of Philip. I did not even know that Mandeep was a runner, or that he was running this thing! He threw down a solid time for running only once a week! WHAT!!! Well done Mandeep! You are super fit. Another day of running to your week and you will drop your time considerably!

Analysis of the day:

What is awesome is that I am getting faster and better at this. I think next year I will shoot for a sub 1:20 half marathon. That sounds not as bad this year as it would have last year. In fact, it seems completely doable. Perhaps I need to adjust my expectations. More speedwork, drop some weight, gain some strength. Today comfirms all the training I have put in has paid off. A new 10km time goal: 35 minutes, which would be 3 minutes faster than my current PR.

Thank you so much Pacific Road Runners and all of your amazing volunteers for making this one of the easiest/hardest races to do. The thought, effort, organization, and amenities make this race one of the best of the year. It is always good to catch up with running buddies at this race. I hope it goes on for a very,very long time. You have outdone yourself once again!!

Food:
Breakfast: 1 cup of Oatmeal, raisins, tsp of brown sugar, 1 cup of tea with honey and a bit of milk
Pre-race:  water
Race: 1 mocha Gu at the 10.5km mark

Post race (So much for my low carbs and no sugar):
1 Bowl of chicken soup
1 Banana
1 Iogo berry yogurt
4 small cups of powerade
1 Gu Brew lime
1 Skratch berry

Late Lunch:
1 Veggie, cheese and chicken 3 egg omlette
Triple O's BC burger combo with a Coke and a Barq's rootbeer

Dinner:
5 pieces of pizza
3 beer

Clothing:

Sugoi BC short sleeve
Sugoi merino sleeveless undershirt
Specialized armwarmers
BMO Van blue gloves
Sole double protection run socks
Sugoi Notch short
Asics GT2160 B width, size 13
Giro Havik 2 glasses, clear lense
Suunto T6C w/footpod

I will savor this PB. A massage tomorrow will make all things right again!

Some finish photos of my buds:

Sean Baker capturing a PB!

Poppa Philip days away from 60, running a time of his life!

Mandeep Dhaliwal cruising in for his first Half Marathon! Way to go!

The speedy Darbara Ghuman having a good race. Well done!