Monday, February 21, 2011

PRR First half Marathon Feb 13, 2011

It is great to be back at the first half marathon again.
The race was cancelled in 2010 due to the Opening of the Vancouver Olympic last year. It was a bummer to miss it last year but after seeing/feeling all the energy that the Olympic brought to the city, it was all worth it.

I have always looked forward racing the First Half marathon. I don’t race much abroad but I think this race is the most organized race in the lower mainland.
The timing of the race is right; it is a competitive race, well organized and yummy goodies afterward.
Leading up to the race, the whole week not a single day went without the liquid sunshine and Friday and Saturday down pour. My first thought on Saturday was that at least is only a half marathon and should be done within an hour and half not like to be on course for 8 or more hours like in H2H.
Thanks to the technology, now we can follow the weather forecast hourly and between 8:30-11:00 was clear, perfect temperature, if it wasn’t for the head winds would have been perfect race day. For once at least the weather man was right!

This year I was luckyI didn’t have to rush for the registration as I had the competitive entry because of my time 2 years and the only goal I had for this race was again to earn another competitive entry for the next year.

Before the race start, during the bag check met a few friends, lots of hugs and handshakes I was happy to find out everyone is doing well.
About 20 minutes to the race I was rushing to go for the last pit stop and to get back on time for a warm up run and to place myself as close as possible to the start line to avoid the challenge of beating the slower rabbits but this wasn’t going to happen, the line up for the portable potties was huge, it took about 17 minutes for my turn. By the time I was done, I was at the back of the pack, I made my way by excusing some gentle people to about half way but by then we start singing the National Anthem ( Oh Canada, Our Home and Native Land, ….), then the count down and off we went. No warm up run and now I had to zig zag through the crowd, felt like I was doing agility course :).
Got to mile 1 sign at 5:50, mile marker wasn’t in the usual place and it felt a lot quicker. About 200 yard passing the Mile 1 marker, my shoe laces came off, should I continue, could I go all the way to the finish in this condition, I decided to stop and fix it. I moved aside to tie my shoe laces and I thought I left enough clearance for the other racers to pass me but within seconds I could hear “runner down” and some people jumping over me like hurdlers, scary but funny.

I didn’t look at my watch how much time I lost there but it was enough to put me behind and shake up the rest of my race. Now I was on a mission to gain those lost time and within a minute or 2 passed a friend, I heard the comment “Rookie Mistake”. I am grateful for that; this will stay with me forever. I was rushing to tie my shoe laces before the race and didn’t do a good job, something I can compensate in the long races but not half marathon. By 5K marker I was about 20 secs behind the time I wanted to be and have been push a lot harder than I should have been. The next 3 miles were a bit hillier and with the head wind the chance of falling behind was even greater. I kept my cool and the goal of passing the runner in front me kept me motivated and encouraged me to maintain a good pace. Next mile 30 sec behind and the 5th mile 40 sec and by half I was exactly 1 min behind.

I never have run a negative split before and loosing a 1 minute by half ignited the spark in my head and set a new goal. By this time in the race, runners in the front are either faster than me or chances of passing them are low. Before the half way marker I spotted Ellie Greenwood (World 100K champion and world 100K trail record holder) in distance I would say about 2 minutes run. Despite my failure in running negative splits, Ellie finishes almost every race she enters with negative splits. Now having Ellie in a distance sight was also another tool in my arsenal. I set a new goal that I should pass 20 runners before the race is over to keep me motivated.

I kept pushing harder, I passed 3 runners until the Lions Gate Bridge and as we turn around the corner after the Lions Gate Bridge, I had to face the head wind, my worst worry in any races. Every time you think and feel strong Mother Nature Quizzes you to examine how and what you made of, are you really strong as you think, is it ever lasting or with slight challenge you give up and deviate from your goal. While I was struggling to maintain the pace looking ahead and the goal of passing runners in the front kept me on track. Next mile 6:15, 15 sec slower but I was happy. Mile 8 air was calmer, not much of head wind 6:00. By this time I still had a chance to finish under 01:20 if I could bank a few more secs in the next 2 miles; 11-13 is a bit hillier. Mile 9 is in more exposed area in SE direction. I was hoping that wind would be on our back but Mother Nature has its own mind, now facing head winds instead, again. Come on buddy give me a break, will you :).

Mile 9 @6:20, 20 secs slower, mile 10 @6:05 and mile 11 @6:10, I kept push and passing more runners. By mile 12 I already passed 22 runners, Woohoooooo, if nothing else at least I passed the test of beating 20 runners from the half way.

About Mile 12 as I was passing the Aquatic Centre, I spotted 3 more runners ahead, with Lisa Harvey in the lead. Lisa was about turning up the hill to Pacific Boulevard. Lisa has been beaten me in every previous race. The chance of passing her within the short distance to finish was slim but knowing if I pushed harder on the hill I could have a chance. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I saw just a flash of her transitioning to flats on Pacific. Now there was a hill in front of me and a half mile to finish. What I could do was racing the hill as fast as I could and then the last kick. I raced the hill as hard as I could and by the time I made it to the flat, she was nearly 2 blocks away. This was great; I had already gained half of the gap.

Oh boy, I remembered the Tuesday night Speed work, it is only a single 800 Yasso distance left. Now I was Neil Chomos and Lisa was me. During our training runs Neil usually beats me about 100 yards just on the last lap. I was determined to catch Lisa at least by the last corner and I kept pushing harder and just about 13 mile marker I passed her and the roar from the crowd even made me run faster. At the time of 1:20:40 I crossed the finish line. I was happy the race was over and a bit disappointed I didn’t run under 1:20 but with the amount of training I put in toward this race I was pleased with my result.

Thank you to Saucony for the great Shoe, Saucony Kinvara the best shoe I ever run in, I just love the shoe***4********10072-8*M080&productId=4-103850&catId=cat620164

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