On Saturday I ran Race #5 of the Mountain Equipment Co-op Burlington $15 race series. There were three different distances at this race: 5k, 10k, and half marathon, and I ran the half marathon (which I’m sure you’ve figured out from my post title *grin*).
I personally race for the challenge, fun and camaraderie of running and this race offers all three at a very affordable price. There were only 61 speedy runners in the half marathon distance which definitely adds to the challenge for me. When I race, I always try to find other runners slightly ahead of me who have a strong gait and a pace the same or a bit faster than me – this race was no different.
At 7:30 am my friends Christine and Juliette arrived to pick me up for the race. I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t know that Christine was racing with us ” she was a last minute registration for the 10k distance. I convinced Christine to drive straight over to Tim Hortons for my traditional pre-race Boston Cream doughnut. (I have this crazy theory that the Boston Cream doughnut will fuel me to one day qualify for Boston. I’ve even become kind of superstitious about it where if I don’t eat my doughnut, I ‘ll have a bad race).
I then happily inhaled my doughnut and coffee over the 35 min drive to the race.
Happy FULL runner!
We arrived nice and early to pick up our race kits, use the indoor warm washrooms, download additional songs to our running playlists (I added Wake Me Up by Avicii and Cups by Anna Kendrick), and to get in a good warm up. Brrrr it was a chilly 6C that morning.
I did my dynamic stretches (kicks, skips, hops, high knees etc) while the race lead the group of runners through static stretches. For the life of me I cannot figure out why races do static stretches while their racer’s muscles are still cold when research has shown that dynamic stretches is more beneficial. *shrug*
Finally it was time to race! The start of the race circled through the parking lot, and past the start line so Christine got a great shot of me releasing my inner ninja/tiger:
Juliette and I had established before the race that our goals were not the least bit similar, this was Juliette’s first half marathon so she was hoping to finish in under 2:30, while I was hoping for a sub-2 hours finish, so we separated right away and I went on to find a runner to pace me. I quickly found a tall gentleman with a strong pace that I felt was just fast enough to push me to my time goal. Despite my mediocre training, I had this grand plan to try and beat my MEC Race #3 half marathon finish time of 1:59. I figured that if I kept my pace close to 5:25/km for the first half of the race, I could slow down to a more comfortable 6:00/km pace for the second half and still beat my time from May.
The first 5 km were nice and comfortable and a very even pace with the exception of the first km which in true Janice fashion, I ran too fast because excitement took over:
I continued to run alongside my tall runner friend for 10km. I couldn’t tell if I was ticking him off or not, so I tried to allow him enough space on the path. Every time I sped up, he speedup, when I slowed down, he slowed down and I wasn’t sure who was pacing who. It was very obvious though that our race pace was about the same. I would have asked him, but he seemed absorbed in his music much as I was. I was also running at a pace that made holding a conversation difficult for me, as I guess it should be when I’m “racing”.
The next 5 km felt great. I was still running at a pace that was fast enough to give me some buffer to slow down for the last half of the race, yet still allow me to beat my May race:
It was shortly after the 10k that I lost my tall racing friend. Looking back at my splits, it may be because I sped up during my 11th km, then resumed my 5:25 pace. The turnaround was around the 14th km, and I slowed down a bit to take some pictures of the cute lighthouse at the end of the pier:
At 16k I saw my friend Juliette, she was running tall and strong still and I was super proud of her as this was her first half marathon! I also ran strong until the 17 km mark, then my wheels fell right off. My knees and hips felt like there was glass going through them. Which made total sense because 18 k was the furthest I had run in the 4 weeks of training that I did for this race. This is where my wheels normally fall off because I don’t normally run further than 18 km in my training… I wonder if I can race better if I do long runs that are LONGER than my race distance?
From 17 k to the end I struggled mentally, “should I slow down and give in to the pain of my knees? Or keep on pushing?”. I decided that if I kept pushing the pain will be done that much sooner, so I slowed down a wee bit and kept on trucking. A girl I had passed around 4km into the race, came from behind to pass me with a non-racing friend pacing her, so I tried to keep up except I had nothing left in the tank. I tried to run as fast as I could despite my fatigue. Finally I rounded the corner at 21k and could see the finish line. I stepped up my pace to get to the finish sooner so I could finally stop running and end the pain in my knees.
My official finish time was:
I was ecstatic to see that I set a new personal course record and beat my May time by 4 minutes!
I then waited with Christine to cheer for Juliette. Christine was happy and excited because she had run a great 10k race. It was her longest race since injuring her back earlier in the year, and she was able to run the ENTIRE 10k… no walk breaks!! I felt bad because she had taken so many awesome pictures of Juliette and I, though neither one of us were able to take any pictures of her. We did manage to get one great group shot of us taken at the end of the race after Juliette finished in 2:21!
All in all we had a great time and we’ll definitely be back to race this series next year – Thank you MEC Burlington!