Monday, 23 February 2015

PRR First Half Half Marathon 2015: 10 years of race results, and a new PB.

On Sunday February 15, I completed my 10th Pacific Road Runner's First Half Half Marathon. With it, I managed to run yet another PB on possible the most ideal conditions ever for this race.

Since January, I have made a diligent effort to work on my speed in prep for Boston. Weekly hill repeat, track sessions, back to back long runs on the weekend, and the regular morning runs have all worked into my training. I am running about 7 hours and covering an average of 80 kms per week. Couple that with cutting out beer and crappy foods, and I was feeling good about the prep that I have put into my Boston Marathon training.

One aspect of training that was a question mark was that I have not been diligent in including tempo workouts. The big question for me was: Could I run 21 back to back 4 minute kilometers, as I had in the previous two years?


Trusting in my training and race day prep, I did not know exactly what I was capable of. The last few nights have been rough with sick kids and sleepless nights. Also, after a week of new classes at work, and M.Ed classes at SFU, I was punching in a bit of sleep deprivation. Nonetheless, I figured this race would prove to be my one tempo run-where I would push myself about as hard as I could go at this point.

After a warm-up through Yaletown, I lined up with Spencer Bass. I did not want to get caught up in attempting to follow anyone, rather than running my own race and keeping to a loose plan. Risking injury now could mean doom for what is to come, and I am not down with that. With a moderate 1st kilometer, I tried to deliberately back off and build my speed, rather than blowing it all in the first half of the race.

That seemed to pay off, as my Ambit 2 was reading 3:50 min/km through the first 3k. I backed that off a bit by the time I hit English Bay, watching Spencer run away from me up the road. Unfettered, I kept to the plan. By 7 km, I met David Myers--he greeted me by name. I had no sweet clue who he was. But with Brian Dickson a common connection, we ended up running together through the first 10.5k. 

Things were good: my body was holding up just fine--no aches or pains, no need for hydration at any point. I was actually running faster through the middle seawall section of the course, picking off people in front of me. 

And it felt great! By third beach, I was running fast and hard. The 9 mile marker went by, and I attempted to kick it up slightly. By 10 miles around Lost Lagoon, I was turning my legs over faster, surprised by my lack of fatigue. The strain was setting in, but it was nothing that I could not deal with. I backed off the gas heading out of Stanley Park, climbing the slight incline at pace near 11 miles. Knowing that I only had 2 miles to go after the English Bay aid station, I ramped up for the final 3 kms. 


The map details my HR zone by color. The last 3 miles have me in the red.
David, who I last saw at the halfway aid station had caught back up to me. I asked him how far behind he had gotten, and he said 10 seconds. We then made an unspoken pact to destroy the last 2 miles of the race--pushing to the limit. 

Running fast to the Burrard bridge, Pacific, then up under the Granville Street bridge, I was hurting. Cresting the top of the hill, it was down hill to the finish--a beautiful reprieve for anyone who has done this race. I pinched beside David and the outside curb median with .1 of a mile to go, and made a long sprinted to the line. I could see the clock ticking 1:23:52, :53, :54.... I kicked for a sprint....


At the line. Running partner David Myers just behind me. Photo credit: Pacific Road Runners. 
1:23:58 Gun time.
1:23:53 Chip time.



Good enough to call it a 1:23 half marathon (Anyone who runs always rounds down. Sounds good to me!). Stoked to finish better than the previous 3 half marathons in the past year, this race indicates that I am on the right track with my training. The real question is: can I run 4 minute kms for 42.2kms? At this point, that is a pretty lofty goal. However, I credit being smart about my training--not running too hard when tired, track workouts, and again, diet: eating well and cutting out alcohol, to be the biggest factors in helping me run fast.

I am pretty happy with this effort--minor goal achieved. Now it is time to work to keep this pace!
Post race, me and Spencer ran a cool down 2k mirroring my warm-up. In previous years, I would be hobbled and stiff. After this one, I was right as rain!

Yes, it feels good to get a PB. But again, the time in any race is irrelevant. As I said to David, I was out there racing myself.




A couple of days out, my body is in remarkable shape from this event. I have no DOMS, tightness or stiffness in my legs. I am about as good as I have ever been after a race. It seems like the half marathon is the new 10k. 


I look and this and think: "Man I should have been over 170 for longer."
                         *                                                   *                                               *  
As I said to Spencer, and earlier on this post, this race was not the goal. Yes, it is nice to post a PB. Yes it is great to run under 4:00 min/km. But the biggest take away for me from race was not those things.

The Boston Marathon is the key goal--to run a sub 3 hour marathon on that course. That said, I do not know the intricacies of the Boston Marathon, nor can I plan for race day weather. I do have control of my training, and physiological and mental capacity in training for the race.

Some closing notes:

--Following the First Half, I was able to take a cool down with Spencer for 2k, and I was not shattered--no aches and pains, no stiffness or fatigue. I ran hard, perhaps a bit too slow in the first half even.

--I ran a consistently paced race with a negative split.

--I had little to no DOMS following the race. I did, however, get mildly sick, but dodged the stomach flu that my wife and kids had for the days prior to and following the race.

--With the first block of training done, I am geared to stretch my endurance, pick up the pace, and change up the workouts.

--I am confident in bumping up my mileage to 100+ kms per week.

--Lately, I do not get hung up on if I cannot get out for a run, or if I feel terrible. There is always another day to run, and completing a workout for the sake of itself is risking injury or fatigue when I am sore or tired. Basically, I don't get bent out of shape if I miss a run.

Gear: 

Sugoi BC 2014 Shirt and Shorts
Sole Run Socks
Suunto Ambit 2
Defeet sleeveless undershirt

Nutrition:
Breakfast: Earl Gray tea; Oatmeal w/ raisins, nuts, cinnamon, milk, Udo's 3-6-9; One gel prior to the start; sportlegs capsule x 4

I took no gels on the run; I took no water on the run