The Short Story
I went into this race without any real expectations (honestly I would have been happy with anything sub 2 hours) and surprised myself by running a new half marathon personal best of 1:51:59. That’s 3:34 faster than I ran in the Victoria half marathon 6 weeks ago! I think I can attribute my performance to a combination of good training, good conditions and no pressure. Note to self: learn to relax, it helps.
I took the bus up to Vancouver on Saturday afternoon with my sister and her roommate Michelle. They’d been down in Seattle at a concert on Friday night. We made amazing time: the trip from downtown Seattle to Broadway & Granville took only 3:10! We had dinner at Earl’s but I didn’t like the sound of any of their pasta dishes so I had a chicken and brie sandwich with a side salad. Perhaps not optimal carb loading but it was tasty and reasonably healthy.
Sunday morning I woke up at 5am. It was only 3C out but it was not raining! I had oatmeal, crackers and peanut butter and green tea for breakfast. I was strangely thirsty so I also drank 1.5 L of water and about 250 mL of Gatorade. I left the condo at 6:15am for the 25 minute walk over to the Student Recreation Centre (SRC). The whole way over I flip flopped between thinking I was over and under dressed! I wore capris, a long sleeved shirt and vest. By the time the race started at 7:30am the temperature had warmed up a bit and I probably could have worn less but it worked out fine.
My plan (or the closest thing I had to a plan) for this race was run at a pace somewhere between 8:49 and 9:09 min/mile. I configured my Garmin to auto-lap each mile and to display my average pace for the current. I also carried my own water and took scheduled 45-60 second walk breaks every 20 minutes and a gel at 40 minutes and 80 minutes.
Mile Split Cumulative Avg BPM Notes ============================================== 1 8:34.5 0:08:34.5 172 2 8:26.9 0:17:01.4 173 3 8:26.7 0:25:28.1 176 walk/water 4 8:16.1 0:33:44.2 178 5 8:56.2 0:42:40.4 177 walk/water/gel 6 9:05.7 0:51:46.1 181 uphill 7 8:21.5 1:00:07.6 180 8 8:38.1 1:08:45.7 178 walk/water 9 8:29.2 1:17:14.9 177 10 8:22.5 1:25:37.4 175 walk/water/gel 11 8:17.0 1:33:54.4 176 12 9:09.9 1:43:04.4 176 uphill 13 8:12.3 1:51:16.7 178 13.1 42.1 1:51:58.8 181 ============================================== Total 1:51:58.8 Avg pace 8:32.9 Avg BPM 176
My first mile came in at 8:35 min/mile which seemed pretty good. The next 3 miles were all downhill and felt comfortable and relaxed. The first challenge of the day came on a long slow uphill during miles 5 and 6. It wasn’t too bad but I knew it was going to be challenging during the second loop. I tried really hard to keep all PB thoughts out of my head during this loop, stay relaxed and enjoy the race. I wasn’t monitoring my total time but I did see that the race clock was just over 1 hour as I ran past the finish line.
The second loop was the same of as the first but with a shorter out and back out SW Marine Drive. I was feeling pretty comfortable at this point and decided to aim for holding 8:30 miles. My legs started tightening up around mile 10 or 11. That’s always the way it goes with me: my leg strength (and flexibility?) seems to be my limiting factor. It wasn’t too bad until I got to that steady uphill during mile 12. I just tried to keep moving but it slowed me down. I didn’t look at my cumulative time during the last few miles because I was just focused on pace. During the last mile I was pretty certain I was going to PB so I just tried to coast on strong through the finish.
I was thrilled to see my time but immediately after finishing I got very cold very quickly. I was shivering by the time I got back into the SRC. I hit the food tables and was very excited to see that they had date squares! I love love love date squares and they were the perfect post race snack. I briefly considered smearing peanut butter (hey, I was hungry) on one but I resisted. Three people independently asked me if I was cold (I presume I was pale and visibly shivering) and directed me to the coffee and chili. I went for the coffee and it helped a bit. The second round of date squares helped more!
This race felt much more comfortable than Victoria did. Of note is that my average heart rate was 5 bpm less than it was in Victoria. I think some of the credit for my new PB goes to the training program I followed for the past 5 weeks. It was a tougher program than I’m accustomed to but it seems like it worked. I guess if it’s good enough for Ryan Hall it really is good enough for me! There’s a good chance I’ll use this program again next spring when I aim to knock my half marathon time down to <1:50:00. That’s right, next time around I’m aiming for the 1:40’s.