Last Chance Half-Marathon Race Report

So I squeezed one more half-marathon into the race season this year. I am so glad I did!

After all my whining last post about not PR-ing in any distance this year, I have since ran PR's in the 5km, 10km, and half-marathon distances. So... There is that.

Anyway, this story is about the half-marathon. So I was driving to Calgary, talking to my sister on speaker, and she mentioned that she could not wait to run tomorrow. I asked her if she was referring to the 'Last Chance Half' that I had briefly mentioned weeks prior, but had not signed up for. She said yeah, so since we had not signed up yet, I had to get to race package pick up before it ended at 5pm that day.

With the help of my lovely sister in law, we made it to package pick up where I signed both me and my sister up, and deftly forged her signature on her waiver form, and we were all set for the next day.

I was feeling good. It was a gorgeous fall day, and I was feeling hopeful that I could maybe perhaps PR. I got the all clear from my sis that it was cool for us to run solo. I was feeling lucky.

When I woke up however... It was very snowy. I had not run on snow yet this year and was feeling nervous. I bundled up, a bit... Not too much, because I know how much I warm up so I just did the leggings, tank top, jacket combo, and mittens for good measure.

Traffic was slow moving so we got to the start about 5 minutes before the race was set to begin. I could not find my sister, so I just assumed she was somewhere in the crowd and I would find her once the race spread out a bit.

The countdown began, and we were was off. I had my watch and I was going to go moderately hard and see what my pace was at 1km and try and stick with that.

At 5mins in I received a phone call from my sister asking where I was... she had not started yet, haha, she had trouble finding parking. I told her to get moving, and I would see her on the out and back section.

My first kilometre was completed in 5:25. Despite the snow, that pace felt pretty comfortable so that was my new goal. We crossed a couple bridges and the second was was particularly icy. It required almost walking to not slip. I just kept my head down and kept running. Pushing myself onwards.

Here are some splits if you're into that:
1) 5:23     7) 5:26
2) 5:15     8) 5:30
3) 5:20     9) 5:26
4) 5:39    10) 5:40
5) 5:35    11) 5:36)
6) 5:16

So far so good right? But here's the thing. My stomach felt awful. I really don't know what causes it, or how to avoid it, but my stomach was in knots starting just before the 10km marker. I was so happy to see a bathroom right before 12km, so so happy.

So needless to say kilometre 12 was slower.

12) 6:29 - Bathroom break
13) 5:40
14) 5:24

I saw my sister, she was on her way out, and I was on the way back of this one section! Yay! She looked good, we high-fived, and kept going.

15) 5:36
16) 5:37

And my stomach felt terrible again. I was counting down the kilometres until I saw that bathroom again. I was in a bad place trying to get there. Not fun.

17) 7:19 - Another bathroom break! Not cool.

After getting out of the bathroom, my goal was to go as fast as possible and pass as many people as possible.

18) 5:08
19) 5:21
20) 5:11
21) 5:19

I passed 13 people on this final stretch, it felt great. (Side story: I give people nicknames, like neon gloves, or brown hat, and in my head I just say neon gloves I am coming for you. Near the end I was trying pretty hard to pass brown hat, and with 200m to go, I realized he was not in the race, just out for a run. No wonder his legs seemed fresher than mine.)

And so I crossed the finish line in 1:55:30 a new PR by 1 minute.

Here's the real kicker though. If you cut off the time I was in the bathroom, my time was 1:52:15 (The moving time listed on my watch), and you take into account that it was my first winter run, and a run at double the elevation I am used to, I would say I really killed this half-marathon. I am really proud of myself.

I know it is not real or official, but I am choosing to ignore my crappy stomach, and say I ran a 1:52. A PR by 4 minutes. This is my new unofficial PR and I am sticking with it, and no one can make me change my mind about it. So if you're a stickler about the 'rules' too bad.

So I froze at the finish, I wanted to see my sister cross the finish line. (It was her first half-marathon. It is a big deal.) She crossed in 2:18:23. SO PROUD. Since she started late her gun-time was 2:24:11. Almost six minutes slower. She passed 62 people over the course of the race. Good job girl!

Race Recap: Mogathon 2014 Half-Marathon + 1 month of catch-up

So the last time you heard from me, I ran the Edmonton marathon, a gruelling race, and a tough experience. It left me feeling a little lost running wise. Did I even still like running anymore?

Well I had some scheduled time off from running to figure it out. As you may remember, I planned to take two full weeks off running and then decide where to go from there. I had already signed up for the Mogathon Half-Marathon, so I knew I had to keep up some sort of milage.

So my time away from running lasted six whole days. No one was shocked but me, haha. After this time, I felt like there was this hole in my schedule that I did not know what to put there besides running. So I went running. My legs felt good, my bisters had mostly healed, and I hit the ground running. I remembered that 95% of the time, running and I are good friends.

In an initiative to do something active with my husband, and in an attempt to do some form of cross-training/flexibility training, my husband and I both joined karate this fall as well. I was in karate in a past life, so, technically I have my green belt, and after 8 years away, things are slowly coming back to me.

Annnnd, since karate comes with the bonus of a gym membership, I started going to the gym, and lifting weights 3 times a week.

So needless to say I was keeping myself quite busy... and then I got sick. It was terrible, I was achy, and sore, and feverish, and my head felt filled with pressure, coughing, the works. I was a real mess. I did nothing for 10 days, except sleep and try to feel better.

By the time I was feeling 80% again (still had a rough cough but all other symptoms had passed), the Mogathon half-marathon was only 3 days away.

So in the two weeks leading up to the race I got in 2 easy 5km runs and that is it. Talk about tapering.

My PR is from this race last year, and there is nothing I would have liked more than to PR here again, however, I knew being sick, and not fully recovered would definitely take a hit on my time.

I ran a 1:58. with an average pace of 5:35/km. One and a half minutes slower than my PR.

And here is the amazing part. I am SO HAPPY ABOUT IT. This race may have been my best race to date. They changed the course this year, and it was rather hilly, so two of my splits were over 6:00/km.

Only 2 though! all others were 5:30/km or less. I have never felt continuously able to pull off sub 5:30/km splits, and here I was doing it while being sick and undertrained.

So I have learned not every race has to be a PR to be a great experience. (You would have thought I would have learned this, this year already, as I have not PR'd a single time this year, with the exception of running a marathon for the first time.)

It makes me wish there was another local half-marathon this year, so I could really just give it my all.

So I am toying with the idea of either doing one out of town in early November, or just giving it my all one Saturday morning on my own. Time will tell.

So I am still a runner, and am looking forward to what the future might bring for me.

Race Recap: Edmonton Marathon

So it happened. I ran and finished the Edmonton marathon.

- I finished
- I finished strong. Last 2km were @ 5:39/km
- Was on goal pace for 30km.
- My medal is everything I could have hoped and dreamed, filled with lovely red glitter.
- My legs felt good the entire race
- Never did I feel out of breath, and endurance/cardio-wise I felt fantastic the whole time.
- My training worked well, and I will use the plan again for my next marathon.
- The weather was perfect.

- I learned a hard lesson about choosing proper footwear.
- I had the worst blisters I have ever experienced, and in terrible pain for 30km of the race.
- It was a huge metal battle against the pain to finish.
- I did not PR despite being in the best running shape of my life.
- I am disappointed.
- I would say the race was not as flat as advertised. I come from the land of flat. 284m of elevation gain is not flat.
- The second half of the course was mostly in suburban areas, and was rather boring, scenery wise.

In the weeks leading up to the race, I was a serious basket case about what shoes to wear, and here is why. My favourite pair had over 600km on them, which for me, is usually too many, the shoes I bought to replace them had given me blisters in the past, but had been feeling good lately, and the third option were the shoes I had worn over the winter and I was afraid of them, because they are the shoes I was wearing when I got my injury.

In the end I chose my new shoes that had previously given me blisters, and I would do anything for a time machine, to go back and switch shoes. Sadly, this is not possible.

Okay now, let's go back to the beginning.

We drove up to Edmonton on Saturday morning. It was an uneventful drive, which is good by me. I picked up my race package, stopped by MEC briefly, and then headed over to my aunt's and uncle's house where we would be staying.  We relaxed for most of the day, just chilling with family, it was great to catch up. That night I laid out everything I could possible want and went to sleep around 10pm.

I woke up at 5:30-ish, ate a granola bar, and 500ml of Cherry-Lime nuun, got dressed, and had two pieces of toast for breakfast. I felt a little nauseated, which I am now chalking up to nervousness.

We headed to the start-line around 6:15, and made it to the actual corral at 6:55am (5 minutes to spare! That's how I roll, haha)

I lined up with the 4 hour pace group, kissed my husband goodbye, and hoped for the best.

The first 10km were pretty uneventful. I was on pace, and other than feeling the first inklings of blisters, I was doing okay. I was still with the pace group and was feeling strong.

Between 12km and 13km it was uphill the entire time, and it rubbed my feet so badly going up hill. The inklings were turning into real pain, and I was starting to get concerned.

Hit the half-way mark in 2:05, was in a ton of pain, was mentally, feeling very low, and disappointed. Got a text message from my husband saying he loved me, and was proud of me, and I almost cried, because everything seemed to be going so terribly.

Hit 30km in 2:55. Plenty of time to kick it in under 4 hours, but my feet had no kick. My legs were good, lungs were good, feet were screaming. I kept hoping that they would go numb, because I knew I was going to finish regardless.

It never happened though. The pain intensified, and the last 12.2km went like this. Force myself to run 1km, walk until pain subsided a bit, repeat. At 40km I ran it into the finish line. For a total time of 4:26. Two minutes slower than my previous marathon, and nowhere near 4 hours.

I pretty much had a breakdown after I crossed the finish line. I was in pain, and just mentally exhausted, and very disappointed in how everything went.

I told my husband I was done with marathons. He told me that I couldn't be because I was a marathoner now. No chance of going back.

I am proud of myself for finishing, but it was really hard, and I wish I could go back and do things differently.

I learned some hard lessons.

Good shoes are important.

When I got back, my aunt called me crazy, and bandaged my mangled feet for me. That is true love. They were a mess of loose skin, and a lot of blood when I took off my shoes. My husband was right though. I am not done with the marathon. We have unfinished business. So barring any life complications, and getting registered, I have decided to run the Vancouver Marathon in May. When I lived in Vancouver this was my bucket list race. It is the city where I first fell in love with running, and I feel like this just needs to happen.
I am moving on. I bought new shoes, which feel great, despite my blisters still healing, and I am hungry for more. I read this in a magazine I got in my race kit, and its now my mantra.
Training for Vancouver will kick off December 29th, and I will be using the Hanson's Marathon Method once again, for two reasons. One, I felt really strong, other than the blisters during the race, so I feel like the training panned out. And two, running in cold weather is hard, and I would rather run more often (even in -40º) than run farther. I hate being far from my house when it is -40º so I do loops around my neighbourhood. The less loops, the better. 26km is do-able in cold weather. More than that sounds like torture.