Tuesday, October 12, 2010

GoodLife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon Race Report

My first half marathon race: 2:24:04

I had a BLAST today - I enjoyed every moment of the day. First off, I decided that the most important part of today is not how fast I run, but rather a celebration of the fact that I am healthy and fit enough to do a half marathon! I was amazed at how much simpler it was to pack and prepare for a running race, than a triathlon and how "un-nervous" I was feeling. in fact, I never really got nervous at all until I was actually standing in the road, waiting for the gun to sound.

There were 6800 people registered in the Half Marathon so the street was packed. Erik's 8km race started at 7:15 and by the time we parked and got to the race area, it was already 7:00 and we didn't have much time to go check our bags. I had really wanted to watch Erik set off on his run but I still had to go to the bathroom (long lines) so I wished him good luck and he headed off on his own while I got in line for the porto-potties and then took the bag back to the car. I was at my race start at 7:25, ready to run.

I stood about 20 metres back from the 2:15 pace sign. I was supposed to meet from internet friends beside the 2:30 sign but there was no such sign and the area was SO packed with people that I didn't even bother to try to find anyone.

The plan was to try to stick as close to a 10:45 mile as possible which is about a 6:40-6:45/km. I had a hard time keeping my pace that slow for the first 4 km but eventually was able to settle in once the rolling hills started. Here are my splits for the first 7km.

1 km 6:24
2 km 6:22
3 km 6:30
4 km 6:25
5 km 6:42
6 km 6:47
7 km 7:03

Around the 6 km mark, I started to get that familiar tightness in my left knee. "NO" my brain screamed, and I tried to relax and run loose and continue to use good form. "I am feeling GREAT, do NOT let my ITB tighten up right now. I haven't had a SINGLE ITB issue since Oliver, please don't let it happen now."

But tighten it did, so I quickly pulled over and did two 30 second stretches to loosen it up, and got back on the road. It felt better. I ran for a little while and then it began to tighten again. I tried to switching up my pace, lifting my heels up a little more, trying not to land too hard etc etc. But no - it was getting painful and starting to lock up. I kept on running but I was starting to slow down a little. Over the next 7 km, I had to stop and stretch my ITB about 5-6 times, each time losing about a minute of time. When I ran, I was able to keep a good pace but overall, I was slowing down. Several times, my knee locked to the point that I had sharp stabbing pain and/or it would buckle when I put weight on it. For awhile I opted to do a Terry Fox kind of hop thing and put a lot of weight on my right leg so I could swing my left leg without bending it very much and take the pressure off my knee. However, I could only do that for awhile before my right quad started to cramp up with all the extra work it was doing. Argh.... Here are my splits for the next 7 km

8 km 6:42
9 km 6:54
10 km 7:32
11 km 7:11
12 km 6:54
13 km 7:57
14 km 6:51

You can easily see the places where I stopped to stretch. Luckily, because I had gone out a little fast for my first 4 km, my overall avg pace was still around 6:50 which wasn't too far off my goal.

Then suddenly, around the 15th km, my knee finally settled down and let me run. I worked hard at my form and staying loose, and I don't know if it just went numb by that time or what, but I was happy. I started running a little faster, knowing that I wasn't far from meeting up with Carlos at the 4km and finishing up.

15 km 6:44
16 km 6:40
17 km 6:55 (one last stretch after a hill)
18 km 6:40
19 km 6:19 (kicked it up now)
20 km 6:16
21.2 km 6:01

By the last 3 km, I was feeling great and felt like I could really push to the end. Don't get me wrong, my knee still hurt and both hips are stiff and sore, but this was pain I could live with. I was SO happy that I could have enough in the engine to run hard at the end, I was grinning as I crossed the finish line, and other than my stupid knee, I felt like I could have run a marathon today. It was great to see Erik there at the finish, huge smile on his face! He had good news for his race too.

Thanks to everyone for all your good wishes and support through my running struggles. I loved this race SO much today. It felt so much less stressful than doing a tri - maybe I should change my name to Kelownagurl Runs? lol, just kidding...

In the meantime, here's some video that Carlos, the Jackal, recorded when he ran with me today. Thanks Carlos!!


So - my overall time was only about 2 minutes slower than my goal and I figure if I hadn't had to stop to stretch, I could easily have come in 2:15. Next time. :)

After the race, they gave me a plastic sheet to wrap around my shoulders and I got in line for the food. After a few minutes, I realized it would be a long time before I would reach the tables, so I decided to by pass and go meet up with Erik and Carlos. We took a few pictures and I started to get chilled. I was shivering uncontrollably and needed to get some food and into a warm bath so Carlos headed home and we walked back to the car. We stopped at Starbucks to get a coffee and I bought a snack and then we headed back to the B&B. My legs were really starting to stiffen up by the time we got back and I could barely get up the stairs to our room. I iced my knee for a little while and then had a hot epsom salts bath and ate some crackers and cheese. Later, we went out for a walk and wandered over to the Penny Farthing Pub in Oak Bay where we sat drinking beer and wine with a few internet friends for the next few hours.

I was high on endorphins for the rest of the day for sure! I LOVED this race. LOVED it! I can't imagine how cool it must be to actually run a race without having some sort of injury issue - it must be awesome and I can't wait until my next one. :)

Other stats and gear:

Temp: 13C 55F
Weather: mostly overcast, strong headwind along the water on the last 5 km.
* Sugoi Fizz tank
* Long sleeved tech shirt (Yellow Club Fat Ass shirt ;)
* Tri shorts
* Socks
* Newton Motion Performance Trainer
* Sugoi Zap vest that I took off and rolled up onto my pack after the first 3 k
* Oliver Half Iron running cap
* North Face Women's Hydration Pack with 2 litres of water, 3 scoops of Carbo Pro (336 cals),
and 3 Citrus Nuun tablets.

Gun time: 2:27:53
Chip time: 2:24:04
I was 208/384 women in my age group.

Erik's Stats

Goal time: 42:00 minutes

Race time: 42:08!

11/53 in his age group which I think is AWESOME!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If you haven't got anything nice to say....

...don't say anything at all?

That's what my dear departed daddy always used to say.

OK, it's not like my life has sucked for the last 6 weeks since the Apple triathlon - far from it. I'm back to school, have a great class, and good friends, I'm enjoying Erik's retirement as much as he is, and the fall weather has been gorgeous - what's not to like?

It's just that this blog mainly focuses on my training, and whenever I'm in a training funk and/or struggling with injuries, which tends to be a lot of the time, I find it harder to blog without sounding like a big freaking whiner.

And how many times do you REALLY need to read about my shins? I mean seriously? You all post and comment and say super nice supportive things when they are messed up, and then you get all excited and happy and "yay, it's finally over" when they're good, and then they get effed up again. I'm sure you are running out of things to say. I don't blame you.

And so I haven't blogged.

At any rate, here's the update and my race plan, for what it's worth.

Update since August 23

As usual, after my last race (Apple Triathlon), my shins hurt. It happens after every race, and quite often, after any run faster than a 10 min mile. So I did a test run about 4 days after the race, and they hurt enough that coach benched me for 10-14 days and said I had to pool run or do the elliptical. I opted for the elliptical because I actually enjoy doing it, as opposed to pool running, which you know I despise.

I hit the gym about 3 times a week for longer and longer elliptical sessions for two weeks until I was totally sick to death of the elliptical. 1:45 is bordering on cruel and unusual punishment, but it was integral to keep my fitness level up and do SOMETHING that simulated running without the pounding. I usually did intervals which helped to make the time go faster.

Two weeks later, in mid September, I got to try a gentle run. It felt ok. So I tried a longer run (1:30 on the weekend) and all went well. For the next two weeks, I had to really baby my shins, as they were always on the verge of trouble. If I ran long, I had to take 3 days off before I ran again. If I ran faster than an 11 min mile, I had to rest for several days. I was able to get two 90 minute long runs in during that time and then suddenly, it was already time to taper for the half marathon.

Tapering with almost no training in a month. Interesting. I feel like my endurance is suffering because at the end of the "long" runs, I am slowing down and I'm not sure if I'd be able to run for another hour if I had to. And so, once again, I am entering a race with a big question mark over my head.

Ya know, for once, I'd like to do the training and not be quasi-injured, and actually be able to race in top form. That has not happened since my very first triathlon, 3 years ago.

So - Victoria. We have our B&B booked for Saturday and Sunday night. We have reservations for the ferry, and a house sitter booked. We should arrived in Victoria just in time to be able to pick up our race package before 6pm. We will likely hook up with our ultra runner friend Carlos, the Jackal, and we'll drive the race course, check into our B&B, and get a light dinner.

Erik's 8k race starts at 7:15 am Sunday, and mine, 2 blocks away at 7:30. I am hoping to see him off but nobody will be there to take photos of us so, oh well...

Pacing plan: Coach and I talked on Skype tonight about how I should approach this race. In a perfect world, I could maintain a 6:15/km pace (10 min mile) for the entire race and come in around 2:15. However, the course is rolling and I haven't run a lot of hills. It could be raining, and I haven't run in the rain. It could be cold. I have no idea what to expect. But we've decided that I'll start out at a 6:45 pace, which is about a 10:40 mile, and hold that for about 10 miles if I can. And then, if I'm feeling good, I'll push the last 5 km. I have absolutely no idea if I can do that, but I sure want to.

The interesting thing is this - my shins will not likely be a problem DURING the run if I rest this week. And since I haven't had any problems (KNOCK ON WOOD) with my ITB for the past month and I'm now beginning to think that's because I haven't been riding my bike. (Interesting aside, I've always thought running caused my ITB problems but now I'm starting to think that's not the case). It was my ITB that caused my slow 2:58 run at the Oliver Half Iron last June. So - if I can run the half without shin or ITB pain, and I tape up my PTT nicely, the only thing to slow me down would be fatigue. That's a serious possibility since I haven't trained long for awhile, but it's a problem that could be overcome mentally.

So Sunday may become a test of my mental endurance. And that sounds more painful than shin splints. LOL...

Bring it on - I'm ready. :)

For those of you who are curious, the Good Life Victoria Marathon (formerly the Royal Victoria Marathon) will be streaming live finish line video for the first time this year. If it works, you can find the video here or here.

And I will attempt to embed it here.

The earliest I could finish would be in 2:15 - about 9:45 am, but I won't be starting near the front so it could take me 5 mins to reach the starting line (me and 6800 of my closest friends). More likely, I'll be crossing the finish line between 10:00 and 10:15 am and maybe even as late as 10:30. But who the hell knows. :)

Erik, by the way, should be done his 8km race in close to 42 minutes, putting his finish line time just after 7:55. I don't know what time they start the video, but check it out if you are up and about early Sunday morning. :)

Oh, by the way, Erik's bib #13641 and mine is #6292

Race Results can be found here.

See you on the other side!