… I am planning on running in the Ottawa Marathon! Half-marathons are fun but I’ve decided it’s time to try for the full distance. I haven’t actually registered yet (and probably won’t until the New Year) but here’s the start of my registration form. Full on training won’t start until February but I’m really excited for this next adventure!
My race day started at 5:15 am. From my bed I could hear the rain pounding my window and resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be a wet race. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of plain oatmeal with honey and a banana. When I left my apartment to catch the bus down to Seattle Center it was snowing. It almost never snows in Seattle. I was off the bus at about 6:45 am by which time the snow had changed back into rain.
There were 45 minutes until the start so I headed right to the gear check area. Gear check wasn?t exactly indoors but it was at least in an area covered from the rain. After standing around for a few minutes I finally worked up the nerve to take of my extra warm layers (wind pants, polar fleece jacket and rain jacket) and strip down to my racing gear. I wore almost the exact same outfit as in Vancouver in May. It was a few degrees cooler here so I added warmer gloves but that was the only difference. I then jogged over to the porta-potty line for a quick pit stop, took a gel and a few sips of water and joined the thousands of runners at the start line.
I was surprised that there were no pace signs at the start. I had planned to either line up just behind the 9:00 min/mile sign or find the 2:00 hour pacer but now I had no idea where to be. I stood somewhere around what I thought was the middle and hoped for the best. The snow that had turned into rain had now, thankfully, turned into a light drizzle. The race started on time at 7:30am and about 2.5 minutes later I crossed the starting line.
The course was absolutely packed for the first mile. I could tell that I was running below my target pace but since I knew that I wanted to start slow I wasn?t too concerned. At each mile marker there was a volunteer on a megaphone calling out the race time. Having the actual time called out wasn?t that useful because I wasn?t sure how long it had taken me to cross the starting line but I did appreciate that this meant I never missed a mile marker. The markers were also on the side of porta-potties so they were very easy to pick out.
Mile 1: 9:57.5
Mile 2 continued down 5th Avenue through downtown. The field had thinned out a bit so I made my goal for this mile to hit my target pace of 9:09 min/mile just to see how it would feel. I came in a few seconds under that and felt as though my sub-2 hour finish was a real possibility. I took some water after mile 2 and walked for 30 seconds or so.
Mile 2: 9:02.5
I hit crowd troubles again in mile 3. This is where the course moved from 3 lanes of traffic through downtown to a single lane up the I-90 express ramp. This is also where I first encountered the full marathon walkers who had started 15 minutes before the half marathon. It was a little frustrating trying to maintain any sort of pace with so many people around and of course it didn?t help that the whole mile was uphill! Thankfully I didn?t loose two much time and I figured that the crowd problems would be mostly over after this mile.
Mile 3: 9:31.8
Mile 4 was gloriously flat and wide as we continued along I-90. Most of the mile was in a tunnel so it was actually dry. Once again I decided that I would just try and hit my target pace and worry about making up time later. I took a brief walking break at the mile 4 water station for a gel and some water.
Mile 4: 9:08.1
Mile 5 took us out of the relative comfort of the tunnel and back into the rain along Lake Washington Blvd. I was now on familiar territory since I?d run the rest of the course in training.
Mile 5: 9:10.9
I?d completed the first five miles of the course in 46:51 which was 1:03 behind an even paced 2 hour half-marathon. To be honest, throughout the race I had a lot of trouble figuring out how far behind pace I was. I had a pace band and the cumulative time showing on my watch but the face was hard to read in the rain and my ability to do mental math quickly declined as the race progressed. At this point I knew that I was only a little bit behind pace and I remember thinking that mile 6 was one of the last easy miles for a while so now might be a good time to test the legs and make up some of the time lost during miles 1 and 3.
Mile 6: 8:35.2
One third of the way into mile 7 there was a steep incline with a water station waiting at the top. I muscled up the climb and took a walk break through the water station. At this point I was experiencing some minor cramping and decided that I should take some Gatorade too. I?ve never trained with Gatorade so this probably was not a great idea but luckily I didn?t suffer any ill effects.
Mile 7: 9:30.0
Mile 8 was the killer mile and not surprisingly my slowest mile. First came the short but steep climb up E Galer. I ended up walking up part of it because I wasn?t convinced that running was actually much faster. Then came the climb up E Madison. I managed to run up the whole thing but I?ll be honest, it hurt. Other than the finish, this was the stretch with the most crowd support and I really appreciated the cheering.
Mile 8: 10:04.4
At this point I was starting to seriously doubt I could finish in less than 2 hours. The hills had taken a lot out of me and I wasn?t sure if I?d be able to make up the time. I was supposed to take a gel at the mile 8 water station but when I got there the idea of ingesting anything solid didn?t really appeal to me. I decided to stick with water and hope for the best. This was probably my lowest point along the race. I started to think about changing my goal to 2:05 but then decided to re-assess the situation after mile 10 and just try and run the next two miles on pace. Mile 9 was mostly flat and downhill and I managed to hit my target pace on the nose.
Mile 9: 9:08.9
Mile 10 was had a few inclines and I felt myself slowing down again. I have to say that I think mile 10 was a little long. Since mile 5 I?d been passing both marathon and half-marathon mile markers. Because the courses used the same finish line I knew the half-marathon marker would come 0.1 miles after the marathon marker. I really think there was more that 0.1 miles between marathon marker 23 and half-marathon marker 10. This is probably because at that point along the course there?s no shoulder on the road and I?m guessing they couldn’t put the porta-potty for mile 10 at the exact place it should have been.
Mile 10: 9:51.3
At mile 10 I was 2:52 behind pace. I?m not sure what my mental math told me in the moment but I knew that sub 2-hour was looking more and more unlikely. There were only 3 miles left and a lot of it was downhills and flats so I decided to just give?er.
Mile 11: 7:53.0
I made up some serious time on mile 11 (even if the mile was a little short) but at this point my legs were screaming at me. I started trying to pick people off one by one. I?d sight someone about 50 feet in front of me (usually another women who I could tell was running slightly slower than I was) and work on passing her. Then I?d move on to my next target.
Mile 12: 8:39.5
I checked my cumulative time after mile 12 and I knew I had less than 10 minutes to reach the finish line. I think this was the first point where I truly believed that sub 2 hours was again a possibility. In truth I only had 9:27 to get to the finish line. There was no way I could compute what pace I needed to run over the last 1.1 miles so I just put my head down and tried to finish strong. I kept thinking about how disappointed I?d be if I didn?t make my goal and felt as though I hadn?t given it everything in the last mile. I kept picking off runners, counting 50 steps at a time and trying not to give into the temptation to slow down. The final climb up Mercer nearly killed my legs. When I finally entered Memorial Stadium I decided to sprint to the finish because I knew that ever second counted.
Mile 13.1: 9:23.3
I hit my stopwatch right after I cross the line and it read: 1:59:57. I would eventually find out that my official chip time was 1:59:56. I couldn?t believe how close I?d cut it or how much time I?d made up at the end. I ran the last 3.1 miles in 25:56, an 8:22 min/mile pace. There were definitely points in the race when I really didn?t believe I?d get to the finish in less than 2 hours and I was so proud of myself for pushing it at the end. There?s nothing like setting a goal and achieving it!
I got my medal, a fancy reflective blanket and made my way into the recovery area. I picked up some water, fruit and then a bowl of clam chowder. The steaming hot clam chowder really hit the spot and seemed like the perfect way to end a very wet Seattle half-marathon.
Finally here?s a summary of the race, strictly by the numbers.
Results from http://www.seattlemarathon.org/2006Results.asp
This afternoon I went downtown to the marathon race expo. The first thing I did was pick up my bib and chip. I am number 5010. Sounds good to me. Next I toured the expo and picked up my participant shirt (a long-sleeved technical shirt, so much better than a cotton t-shirt) and goody bag. There was lots of gear and goodies for sale at the expo but I managed to restrain myself and only buy the gels that I need for Sunday. I was planning on staying downtown to maybe do some shopping and run a few errands but then I remembered that today is the busiest shopping day of the year in America. I’ve never seen so many people downtown! There was no way I was going to deal with the crowds so I headed back home to keep hydrating and obsessing about the weather.
- www.weather.com: Mix of rain and snow. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the low 30s. POP 60%
- www.accuweather.com: Breezy and cold with a mix of snow and rain. Winds from the SSW at 19 km/h. High: 4C Realfeel: -2C
- weather.msnbc.com: Sleet. Definite light rain with snow. High 6C and low -2C. Winds light. POP 80%
Two words I’m not so into right now: “snow” and “sleet”
|21/11||4 miles||Slow & easy|
|22/11||3 miles||Slow & easy|
|23/11||5 miles||Tempo run, 3m @ avg 8:43 min/mile|
|26/11||13.1 miles||Half-marathon race day|
|Total||25.1 miles||YTD: 719.5 miles|
I just got back from a tempo run and now my half-marathon training is officially over. The miles are in the bank and there’s nothing left to do for the next three days but try to relax and then give it my all on Sunday morning. I think this makes now a good time to post my race goals:
Goal #1: Toe the line and finish the race. Enjoy the experience … at least for the first 10 miles!
Goal #2: Set a new personal best, in other words finish in under 2:10:42.
Goal #3: Finish in under 2 hours.
I set that third goal about 10 seconds after I crossed the finish line in Vancouver in May. According to the McMillan Running Calculator it’s a realistic goal. The equivalent performance to my Dawg Dash 10K 54:02 in October is apparently a 2:00:14 half-marathon. To run under 2 hours I need to average a pace of 9:09 min/mile. I actually hope to run a little slower than that for the first couple of miles and then run a slightly faster even pace after that.
The weather forecast for Sunday seems to change several times a day. This is now the wettest month ever in Seattle! Take that January 1954! We’ve have more than a foot of rain this month. Needless to say, I’m going to be prepared to race in the rain. Yesterday the forecast was calling for below freezing temperatures on Sunday. I am so not into that. Ice on the road would be so uncool. The other thing that would be uncool is extreme wind. There are some quite exposed parts of the route and I’d rather not be blown off! I know that the weather is out of my control but I do like to be informed.
- www.weather.com: Occasional showers possible. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the low 20s. POP 30%
- www.accuweather.com: Mostly cloudy, breezy and cold with a chance for a rain or snow shower. Winds from the ENE at 16 km/h. High: 3C Realfeel: -2C
- weather.msnbc.com: Scattered Flurries. Chance of light rain showers. High 6C and low -1C. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. POP 50%
PS – Happy Thanksgiving to those of you of an American persuasion
Here it is, 9+1 weeks of training summarized in metric and imperial friendly bar graph form. I take a lot of delight in graphing my training mileage. It’s an intersection between my running life and statistical life. I originally made the above graph without differentiating between the different types of running. I found that graph to be bland (below left) especially when compared to the graph of my training for the Vancouver half-marathon last May (below right). By comparing the graphs it’s clear to see that I (1) did a lot less cross-training this time around; (2) trained for only half as many weeks and (3) maintained a higher average and maximum training load. Interesting.
|14/11||7 miles||Tempo Run, 2 x 2.8m @ 8:53, 8:33 min/mile|
|15/11||5 miles||@ 8:53 min/mile, oops was supposed to be slow & easy|
|16/11||XT||30 min swimming laps|
|18/11||10 miles||Long run @ 9:57 min/mile. Woo hoo|
|19/11||4 miles||Recovery run|
|Total||26 miles||YTD: 694.5 miles|
This was the last week of actual training before the half-marathon. I matched last week’s all-time high mileage of 26 miles. Next week I’ll run just three short runs: 5, 4 and 3 miles. With this decrease of mileage I’m expecting taper madness to hit over the next 6 days. I’ve already been obsessively checking the weather for next Sunday but I’ve decided it’s just too early to tell. I’m not putting any weight in the forecast until Thursday. By then it will be the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ll be able to dedicate much more time to sourcing as many different weather forecasts as possible! Here’s hoping for no heavy rain! I’m willing to accept drizzle, just not a torrential downpour! Then again, I ran in heavy rain on Wednesday and I ran much faster than planned so maybe rain is a good thing.
My greatest fear for next week is getting sick. I considered taking some kind of immune boost supplement but I decided that was a step further than I wanted to go. Instead I will be washing my hands constantly and avoiding anyone who looks sick. I herby apologize to any strangers on the bus I offend by moving away from them if they’re sniffling or coughing. I’m just not taking any chances.
I will probably be funneling some of my nervous energy into blog posts. You can expect a training mileage graph, race expo report, race goals and other half-marathon obsession posts.
The countdown is on.
|07/11||6 miles||Tempo Run, 4m @ 8:40 min/mile on the dreadmill (stupid rain!)|
|08/11||5 miles||Slow & easy|
|11/11||11.5 miles||Long run @ 10:38 min/mile in London|
|12/11||3.5 miles||Recovery run with Matt in High Park|
|Total||26 miles||YTD: 668.5 miles|
This past week included my all time longest training run (11.5 miles) and my all time longest training week mileage (26 miles). Woot! Saturday’s long run was an epic journey along the streets of London, Ontario. OK, epic might be a strong word. The run lasted just over 2 hours and in that time I only saw one other runner. Maybe everyone else was avoiding the wind and drizzle. Not me, I thrive in that stuff. Or so I’ve decided to tell myself. The temperature dropped significantly in the second hour and I’d forgotten my gloves so opening gels was almost impossible and probably somewhat comical to watch. It was actually a big confidence booster to get a 2 hour training run in and prove to myself that I can go for that long. All I have to do in the race is move a bit faster!
There are now less than 2 weeks until my half-marathon. This means that race day (November 26) is starting to show up on long range weather forecasts. I know it’s too early to expect the forecasts to be accurate but that probably won’t stop me from checking daily. Given how November has been going so far in Seattle (we hit the average monthly rainfall 6 days into the month) I predict rain for race day. The half-marathon starts at 7:30am which is the exact time of the sunrise which means that the temperature will probably be much cooler at the start than at the finish. Dressing for the race is sure to be a challenge. I may just have to accept being cold in the first few miles so that I don’t overheat towards the end. We’ll see.
|31/10||7 miles||Speedwork, 3x1600m @ 7:59/7:59/7:59, how’s that for consistency!|
|01/11||4 miles||Slow & easy|
|02/11||XT||30 min swimming laps|
|04/11||10 miles||Long run @ 11:06 min/mile (including waiting for street lights)|
|05/11||2.5 miles||Recovery run|
|Total||23.5 miles||YTD: 642.5 miles|
I did a solid 10 miler in the rain on Saturday. That’s the longest distance in my training program although I plan to duplicate this effort next week. I wasn’t thrilled about running in the rain but then I realised that there’s a good chance it will be raining on race day (this is Seattle after all) so I should get used to it. As it turns out it was quite warm out (12C) so despite the rain it was pleasant. I’m still hoping for a dry race though!
I watched NBC’s New York marathon one hour summary show this morning. It was great! I really wish they’d broadcast the whole thing on the full network but I’ll take any TV running coverage I can get! I was happy to see Lance beat the 3 hour mark and even happier that one of the Kimbia athletes was the runner-up in the men’s race. The whole thing made me very excited for my race in 3 weeks. The countdown is on!!