The short story
I put 14 weeks of directed training into the 2007 Royal Victoria Half Marathon. I’m happy to report that I was able to average a pace of 5:29 min/km and set a new personal best of 1:55:33. What follows is a detailed race report but here’s the short version: I ran hard and it was great.
I woke up at 5:30am on Sunday morning and had green tea, oats, 1L of water and half a banana for breakfast. The weather forecasts were calling for scattered showers and about 10C during the race so I chose to wear shorts, a long sleeved technical shirt and a running vest. It was only raining very lightly when I left Matt’s apartment at 6:45 am. It was about a 20 minute walk down to the start/finish area. Because Matt was going to meet me at the finish I didn’t bring a bag down with me to check. After a quick porta-potty stop, some shoe adjustments and a Garmin sattelilite search I was at the starting line about 15 minutes before the start. I lined up between the 2:00 and 1:50 signs slightly closer to the 2:00 sign. At this point it was about 12C, cloudy but not raining. I was a little worried that I might have been overdressed but there were a lot of runners wearing a lot more than I was (long pants and jackets) who were obviously prepared for the windy rainy worst case scenario.
km 1-5 in 5:43.3 / 5:16.0 / 5:28.4 / 10:46.6 (avg 5:26.9 min/km)
It look me just under 2 minutes to cross the staring line and from there I was off and aiming for a steady pace of 5:27 min/km. I wasn’t feeling nauseous but my stomach wasn’t feeling settled so I was a little worried about how the race would go. I tried to settle into my target pace and just take the race as it came. I’d decided to pace myself in km since they were marked on course. This worked well in all aspects but one: it totally threw off my water/gel/walk breaks. I usually have water and walk for 1 min every 2 miles taking gels at miles 4 and 8. I think I managed to get the 2 mile walk in but after that I was totally off schedule. I hit the right average pace over the first 5 km but it felt harder than I would have hoped considering this was the start of the race!
km 6-10 in 5:41.5 / 5:48.2 / 5:17.8 / 5:32.9 / 5:19.6 (avg 5:32.0 min/km)
This section started with us running in circles through Beacon Hill Park. It was sort of neat to get to see runners both ahead of and behind us in the race. Kms 6 and 7 were a bit slow due to some slight uphills. Sometime in there I took my first gel. I was concerned that the gel was going to do bad things to my unsettled stomach but strangely it actually made it feel a bit better. Up until now I’d been feeling a bit warm but once the course hit Dallas Road on the coast the temperatures seemed to drop and I was happy to be wearing my vest. Even through there aren’t any major hills on course there were several small hills and my downhill kms (see 8 & 10) were coming in much faster than the uphill ones. At the end of 10 km I was still hanging in but I could tell I was really pushing my abilities.
km 11-15 in 5:27.7 / 5:25.9 / 5:45.5 / 5:09.4 / 5:24.1 (avg 5:26.5 min/km)
Amazingly I nailed my pace in the first few kilometres of this section. There was a bit of confusion near the 12 km mark where for some reason runners coming in opposite directions were crossing through each other’s paths. It was a mess (and I hope they fix it for next year) but I didn’t let it upset me. I had a slow km 13 where I took a walk-water-gel break and then another walk break through a water station. All the water stations on course were well stocked although they didn’t seem evenly spaced so I relied a lot on the 16 oz water bottle I was carrying. By the time I hit km 15 I was hurting. However I was back on Dallas Road so I tried to convince myselft that I was really heading home now.
km 16-20.1 in 5:44.3 / 5:40.5 / 5:36.4 / 5:24.5 / 5:51.0 (avg 5:32.7 min/km)
My legs really started to protest as the kms ticked away. I saw the marathon leaders run by so I tried to focus on that for distraction. Kms 16, 17 and 18 were over my target pace and I was getting passed more than I would have liked. I stopped really monitoring my pace at this point and I just tried to run as fast as I could. I figured sub 1:55:00 probably wasn’t possible but I was still on pace for a huge PB so that was enough motivation to run hard. I look my last walk break during km19 and after that I resisted every urge I had to slow down and walk. There was no 20 km sign (or I missed it) so that last split is a 1.1 km split.
km 21.1 in 5:10.8
I tried really hard to “throw down the hammer” in the last km and I managed to pull out my second fastest split of the day. The last km had a lot of turns and I just kept waiting for one of them to reveal the home stretch. Matt (who had run the 8K earlier in the day) was cheering in the last 100m but I totally missed him. I had “finish line tunnel vision” again. I was exhausted and a bit wobbly when I crossed the finish line but I was thrilled with my result.
Finish time 1:55:33 (avg 5:29 min/km or 8:49 min/mile)
Mile splits: 8:56 / 8:38 / 8:44 / 8:49 / 8:50 / 8:41 / 8:45 / 8:57 / 8:25 / 8:57 / 9:03 / 8:41 / 8:38 / 1:29
After picking up my medal and downing some water and gatorade I picked up half a bagel and fruit and went to meet Matt in front of The Empress hotel. I was still a bit spacey but I was feeling great. A fellow runner took the picture of Matt and I below. I’m still a little amazed that I pulled off a 1:55:33 half marathon. It was hard and I was pretty uncomfortable for most of the race but it was great.
Place overall: 1290/3869 (66.6th percentile)
Place in gender: 488/2377 (79.5th percentile)
Place in age group (F2529): 84/301 (72.1th percentile)
Placing is based on gun time (1:56:50) and includes walkers.