Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Big Race of the Year - Moncton Half Marathon

So after Bluenose in the Spring, I decided that having done so well on such a tough course while being sick, I must be able to do even better on a friendlier course. I chatted with my buddy Craig a bit and we thought doing something big in the Fall (when the temps should be cooler) might be good. We would have all summer to train and once the  heat of summer broke, things would be looking up. Moncton fit the bill. It was a trip, though close to home, flat, and in late october. Now of course it could have been rainy or stormy, but that is a risk with any race.

Training went well, and a few tune up races showed me my pace was in the right area. I wanted to run a 3:48min/km  pace or better, having done 3:54 at the Bluenose. As race day was approahing, I had been doing a lot of travel for work though, and was really starting to feel worn down. I couldn't wait for the race ot actually happen.

The race venue and hotel was great. Downtown Moncton, and the hotel was at the start line. We arrived the day before and managed to hang out with a group of BLT Runners that had made the journey.

We were all kind of wondering what to do about the weather though. It was supposed to be sunny and calm, but only -2C to start at 8 AM. This is certainly a temp we hadn't experienced yet this year. Some members ran out and bought extra clothes. I wasn't sure which way to go, though I knew I would be wearing shorts and a singlet. In the end I decided to wear arm warmers as well and swicth from my normal lightweight racing socks to a pair of lightweight Smartwool socks.

As the morning arrived, I ate my oatmeal, waited as long as possible indoors then braved to cold and hit the start line. There I found Andreas who is a great runner that is very smilar in pace t me. I also found Craig, who was looking to race a PB and a few other BLT Runners (I didn't get a chance to see everyone that early though).

And then we were off. I found out afterward that this was the New Brunswick Half Marathon Championship, which would explain why so many people zoomed ahead. Andreas and I started off easy and then picked up te pace heading into kilometer 2. The course is pretty flat, though it is twisty, narrow and parts are on crusher dust path. I knew this and did a lot of speed work on our crusher dust trail, so this wasn't an issue.

By 4 kilomters in, the sun was up and I could actually start to feel my legs. Our average pace was 3:47 at this point and we were doing well, having formed a pack of 2 runners with a big gap in front and behind.  By 7 kilometers in I could finally feel my hands. By 8 kilomters Andreas obviously decided he needed to take control and jumped in front of me. I tucked in behind and off we went.

The first uturn was at 11 km (ish) and then we wee headed back running against the other runners. This was mostly fine, though Andreas ended up running into a woman that wasn't paying attention. Luckily both we fine and he didn't lose his momentum.  Off we continued.

I know my pacing was better in this race as I hit the 10km mark at about 38 min, fast but not unstainable. I think the cool air was really helping, as I wasn't sweating or feeling hot at all, and this was obviously helping me conserve my energy.

Nutritionwise I took 2 sips of gatorade on course. Just enough to wet my mouth and get a new taste. Also a little sugar can go a long way. I have been happy that my aerobic endurance has been so high this year that I know I am not burning hot while running, or in other words, burning too many carbs. That makes long distance running more sustainable.

As we approached the 17 km mark (having run through some extra twisty bits, on boardwalk and more crusher dust) a woman appeared  zooming up behind us. She was putting on some speed trying t catch up to us. And truthfully, I didn't care at that point as I knew I was finally starting to feel my legs start to burn a bit and my breathing to start to pick up. Our pace was still at 3:48, so I knew this was just time to hold on now.

By 19 km, the three of us were together. Then I was a little behind those 2 as we headed to the final corner (dang things happen fast).  I checked my watch and it seems we were at 21.1km yet the finish linme loomed in the distance. At this point, I picked up my speed, dodging 10km racers, passing the other two and fought to beat the clock to 1:20:59. In the end I failed to do that fficially, getting a 1:21:02. Truly though it was known that the course was long (200-300m). My time should have been 1:20:15. Most importantly, my average pace was 3:48, my goal, and with that I was very happy.

I finished 6th overall and fastest male 40-49.  I trained hard,  smart and hit my goals, all of which were attainable. In total this year I knocked almost 4 minutes off my old half marathon PB.  I also ran injury free this year, thanks in no small part to Alan at Seaside Chiropractic and knowing my limits.

The most important thing I achieved that day though? See the next blog post.

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