I’ll start this race report back on Monday/Tuesday of last week. I had just come off of a 95 km week with a 32 km (20 mile) long run the week before. Olivia had come down with a cold last week also, and sure enough I started to feel like I was getting it also. It seemed pretty minor at the time, just a bit of a stuffy head, and Olivia had gotten over it pretty quick, so I didn’t worry too much.
As the week went on, my nose remained stuffy, but got a bit better every day. Saturday was a bit different though. I felt run down all day, I had a quick shake out run in the morning, and my HR was higher than it should have been. We took my oldest daughter out to a play and then dinner on Saturday, and as soon as we got home, I had a nice hot bath (and a beer). I was tired, and stuffed up, so I took a Nyquil (a half dose so I wouldn’t be too groggy the next day), and went to bed by 8:30. Maiya actually tucked me in as she was getting to stay up to watch part of the hockey game with daddy.I woke up on Sunday morning just before my alarm. I took my HRV as I do every morning, and it had recovered a bit, I felt rested as I’d been in bed for almost 9 hrs. I got up and got dressed, and had a quick bite before heading out to meet Lori for our warm-up. It was a cool day, so I opted for tights, a tank (in case I wanted to take a layer off) and a pullover. For the warmup I also wore a running jacket. We ran an easy 3k, and then I left my jacket at the car, and grabbed my 8 oz handheld bottle.
One of the best features of this race is that Mount Royal College (the starting point) is open before the race start. Everyone gathers indoors, there are lots of indoor bathrooms, and space. We used the bathrooms a couple times to make sure we were clear to run, took a quick selfie and were ready to head out.
Lori and I have had almost identical training and race times for the last few years, eerily so at times. We will often go and do the same workout, on our own, and wind up running almost identical paces. Back in 2013 at the Seawheeze half-marathon in Vancouver, we ended up ‘racing’ each other across the finish line, and though it was a bit funny and ironic that we wound up running the exact same time, it was stressful and neither of us wanted to ‘race’ again like that in a race, worrying that we’d take it too seriously. We both went into this race determined to race our own race and not let the other influence our pace or day.
The first third to the Weaslehead and down (4:43, 4:50, 4:44, 4:55, 4:42, 4:56, 4:46)
We lined up together at the start, said a quick ‘good-luck’ and when the gun went off we were off. We had lined up a bit too far back, and I spent the first half a km weaving a bit trying to get up to pace. The race starts on a downhill, going east, up and over an overpass and then continues at a gentle decline through to almost the end of the 4th km. Right at the start of the 4th km, I saw Lori, gave her a tap and a friendly smile. Once again we were running the exact same pace…
We ran along together but both running our own pace with our headphones in as we headed towards Weaslehead and the reservoir. There is a gradual uphill on the road towards the Res, and Lori pulled away from me. I was unconcerned and just kept my effort the same, running my own race. At this point I was feeling pretty good, my nose was running, and I was sniffling a bit but I didn’t feel like it was holding me back much. My pacing plan was to keep it between a 4:45-4:50/km pace or whatever felt at that effort level.
The next third – through the Weaslehead and back up again (4:40, 5:15, 4:52, 4:38, 4:47, 4:54, 4:52)
I screamed down the hill into the Weaslehead, taking back from gravity all that she’d taken from me on the way there (and what she was sure to steal on the way out). By the bottom of the hill, I had almost caught up to Lori again, but I was still running my own race, not worrying at all where she was. I ran through the Weaslehead and felt good. It’s a really nice scenic area in Calgary to run, and I enjoyed the feeling of being in the trees and away from the city.
The hill out of Weaslehead on the South side is steep, and short, only about 200-300 m’s long. My plan from the beginning was to walk the steepest part, maybe it’s the trailrunner in me, but I don’t see a lot of benefit in killing your legs running up a super steep hill. I hike the really steep ones, and then make up the time once I’m over the top. It worked out alright, as I had one slower km in this section, and was able to get my pace back down into the 4:50’s as I had before. From the top of the hill through to the Sailing club at South Glenmore, there is a gradual decline, I had thoughts of picking things up a bit through this section and trying to make up some time, but I started to get a weird stitch just at the bottom of my ribs and lungs that made it hurt to take a full breath. I think my cold was starting to play a part in my race. I backed off my pace and kept the effort even through the rolling hills between the sailing club and Glenmore Landing.
The home stretch – From Glenmore Landing to the finish (5:00, 5:08, 4:51, 5:03, 4:52, 4:48, 4:55, 4:24 – last 300m’s)
This section is deceivingly difficult. Normally this race is run the other way around, with these rollers in the first 1/3rd of the race, not the last. They decided to change things up this year because it was the 35th anniversary. Until I reached this point, I had thought that I might prefer going this way around (counter clockwise), but as I was running these rollers at the end, I firmly decided that it WAS NOT easier! Ha, but when is the last 1/3rd of a half easy.
It was in this section that I lost sight of Lori ahead of me. I had kept her in my grasp (NOT that I was trying to race her at all, lol) through to this point, but my lungs primarily did not have it in them to push harder. I pushed on the downhills and tried to get over the ups as quickly as I could, until I was back on 50th Ave heading back towards Mount Royal. I actually found this section that had a steady uphill grade, easier than the rollers. I could get a rhythm going, and zone in on pace and effort. I focused on keeping my effort as high as I could at this point, knowing that I should get a PR, but that it wasn’t going to be as large as I had hoped for this race.
I managed a bit of kick at the end, with my last 300 m’s at a 4:24/km pace, and finishing in 1:43:37 (a 50 second or so PR). My previous PR was from last summer in the Stampede half, a race run on a nearly identical course around the res. It was a standalone race that I had tapered for, and was well rested for. I will admit that I was hoping for a faster time on Sunday, I think I have a 1:40xx half in me right now, but this challenging course, coming off a 95 km week, and having a cold all contributed to my being a bit slower. I’m thrilled that I PR’ed though, and think that this bodes well for my fitness. I also think that the other benefit that has inadvertently come from my running a bit slower, is that my legs feel great today. It was certainly my lung capacity yesterday that slowed me down, not my legs. I’m going to be happy this week to not have trashed legs since my schedule has 100 km’s over the next 7 days!
Avg HR: 175
Overall place: 160/1051 15%
Gender place: 23/489 5%
AG place: 7/148 5%