Sunday, May 14, 2006

Race report: Mississauga Half Marathon

On Friday, I printed out three pacing charts, one for a 1:35, a 1:40 and a 1:45 half. My two half marathons last year were in the 1:34 and 1:36 range, so I knew I could aim for 1:35. But, given my on and off running in early April and the fact I ran a 10K race last week left me feeling a bit unsure of what I could do.

Up at 4:45 to eat the bagel and banana, then napped then packed my bag. I threw in my light sleeveless windbreaker at the very last minute, even though it said 11 degrees. Thank god I did.

Frank arrived and he drove us to Mississauga. Just after 7, we spotted the line of cars waiting to get into the lot. We did a few test runs in the parking lot and I decided that a sleeveless top would not do. I put on the windbreaker and some ladies who were in, as I saw it, full winter gear said to me 'that's what we should have been wearing!' It was windy, cold and cloudy. Good to be cool, bad to be cold AND windy.

We lined up, me in the sub 1:40 area, Frank just behind me in the 1:45. He was aiming for 1:50. Me, I was studying my list of times I'd need to do a 1:35. 5K in 22:16, 10K in 44:30, 15K in 1:06 and 20K in 1:29.

We were off and unlike last week, I didn't run hard, just tried to find a good easy 'training run' pace. I was up near the front, so not a lot of jockeying. I let people pass by and didn't give chase if they were going too fast, I judged the pace of others around me and hooked on to those who seemed to have a good stride.

At the 2K mark, I saw that I was a bit faster than I wanted, so I said to myself 'run an easy 10K, then let the racing begin. As it turns out, I did the first five just a bit faster than target. I hit the 5K about 20 seconds faster than planned, not bad, I thought.

We turned into Mississauga Road, and I knew we would have a downhill, followed by a run into the University of Toronto campus. Downhill, followed by a little uphill. I took a steady descent and saved up for the uphill and thanked ourselves that we'd done a drivethrough on Saturday.

Then we turned back into the course and I ran just behind a dad and his baby stroller, one hand on the stoller, he was effortless in running and steering. Wow. We hit the bottom of the big hill before the 10K and I knew it was the test. My GPS says I did that kilometre in about 4:40, so that was actually quite quick.

Fast forward to the 16K mark, and I thought that with 5K to go, the racing could begin. I decided to shake off the group I'd been running near and use up the reserve stores. Which explains two fast kilometres (4:19 and 4:14).... By kilometre 18, I felt good that I could maintain a 4:30 pace until I hit the wind. Wow, a cold, gusty push-you-back wind. My last 2K were both about 25 to 30 seconds slower per kilometre. I was passed by about 10 people, including two or three in the last 300 metres. I didn't care, cause i had nothing left.

By the time I hit the finish line, I looked down to see 1:35, just barely. Overall, I think I ran a fairly smart race. The first 10K was measured and I had room for a 2K burst that I either paid for at the last 2K or that bought me the seconds that almost brought me into 1:34 territory.

Frank had a great race. He hit 1:43:28 (4:57 kms) for an overall of 444. Great time, seeing as his target (conservative, I thought) was 1:50

Final (chip) time: 1:35:02
Place overall: 162/3985 (96 percentile)
Place men: 139/1583 (91 percentile)
Place group: 21/191 (89 percentile)

And last week's mileage: 27K (including 10K race)
As of May 12, year to date: 731K

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