Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Race report: 115th Boston Marathon

Right before the start line, I took my last few photos, then tucked away my iPhone, putting it on airplane mode. No, I wasn't going to fly, but I had no use of the signal. I would go radio silent. I lined up at the back of wave one, considering that if I had lined up with my corral, I'd be stuck in a group of runners gunning for faster times. Today wasn't the day for that. I figured that the back of wave one was probably the best place to be. Fast enough, but not in any one's way. It was, after all a training run.

My route to the start was not without some little blunders. I was still in the athlete's village at 9:15 a.m. waiting in an insufferably long lineup for a portapotty when I decided I should probably exit with the rest of the wave. I promptly found myself in the wrong buses and had to run to where we dropped off the bag. Oh well.

Later, I decided to get that last pee break before the marathon. The porta-johns right beside the start corral had big lineups and I realized that I was lining up behind a runner who had just done the London Marathon the day earlier, and landed in Boston at 10:30 p.m.! He also let us know that he had his bib pulled last year when he was peeing in the bushes.

I was really really excited waiting at the start. I had not run for a good three days but I was feeling good. I had gone through a lot of debate about what I should actually wear race day.

6 a.m.: T-shirt

8 a.m.: Hmm, maybe T-shirt with a singlet underneath

8:30 a.m. inside a porta-john: T-shirt, good to be cold

9:55 a.m. at the start: Maybe a singlet would have done.

The wind? Well, that's pretty much the underlining theme. If this marathon had a backbeat, or the background sound, it was that wind. You'd only hear it through the rustling trees, or the discarded Gatorade cups and went blowing ahead of you with every gust. It was a cold wind, but it was at our back. The perfect combo.

The start

I went out at a reasonable pace, embracing the first downhills but not too pleased by the rollers. Oh well, I guess I was prepared for it. It was so much fun to be reacquainted with the number of people who would come out to watch the race. The crowd in Hopkinton was just unreal, really made it so joyful to run the marathon. Immediately, my I tuned into two possible issue areas. First, my right heel was a little tender, I'm not sure where it originated but I do remember babying it a bit without having it do anything major to my stride. Second, my freaking legs weren't that fresh. I felt a little tightness in my calves and legs. Three days without running and literally no warmup meant I was to spend these downhill miles 'warming up'. Not good.

5K split: 24:47
1. 7:48 (4:51)
2. 7:58 (4:57)
3. 8:03 (5:00)

In my mind, I wanted to go a bit faster than last year, maybe go for some sort of a paced run. By this point, I was keyed into runners around me and decided to go out at a very comfortable 8 minute mile pace. I could comfortable hold the pace but I was hoping my legs would shake out from the tightness earlier.

Although I was going easier than race pace, it really wasn't a pace where I could take a lot of pictures or tweet. I was also avoiding from doing too many high fives, though probably did trade high fives a dozen or so times (as opposed to dozens of times).

4. 8:01 (4:59)
5. 8:15 (5:08)
6. 7:55 (4:55)

Random picture I took (took very few)

10K: 49:47 (5K split in 25:00)
The day? Absolutely gorgeous. The previously cold weather was actually perfect. The wind was actually pushing us toward Boston, and at times, I could feel the wind at my back. Too easy, I thought. The pace was good, nothing to really write about, I just tried to divide my time between just keeping on proper pace, taking in the downhills and uphills, enjoying the crowds and the other runners.

Boston course is so great, rarely are you left to run on your own, which is actually a nice thing for pacing. The miles were pretty uneventful. My legs were feeling better. I was recognizing some of the same runners who were at my pace. a few people from the wave behind me were starting to catch up but not many. At around the 9 mile mark, I saw a porta-john and I decided that maybe my stomach was bothering me. So I ducked in for a washroom break. Never fun to do, and you do lose time, but sometimes it's well worth it. Mile 9 was about a minute a mile below the pace I was trying for.

7. 7:55 (4:55)
8. 8:05 (5:02)
9. 9:00 (5:36)

15K: 1:16:01(5K split in 26:14)

Doing a systems check, I got back into pace and started at it again. At this early point, I was already counting down the miles (10 down, 16 to go). Maybe that's not a good sign. By the time I hit the 15 kilometre mark about a minute behind 3:30 pace, I still thought I should aim for a 3:30. I knew I wasn't racing this (too late at this point) but I could at least not find excuses to slow down. This early in the marathon, I was concentrating on getting in the proper fuel mix: At least a sip or gulp of Gatorade at each stop and maybe some water. The plan was a gel about every 5 miles, which would mean I could down about 4 to 5 during the marathon. Good practice, I thought, especially since my last 30K I only brought one gel and forgot to take it. Doh.

I tried to remind myself what it feels like to run easy. I tried to remind myself that 8 minute kilometres is easy. By the time I had done the next 5K, I was back on 8 minute kilometre pace.

10. 8:07 (5:03)
11. 8:06 (5:02)
12. 7:48 (4:51)

20K: 1:41:03 (5K split in 25:02)

Seeing the word Wellesley brought back happy memories. About Ryan Hall egging on the crowd. About that Scream Tunnel. Last year, it was a blast. I decided to take some pictures so you guys can see what it's like. You enter into the campus area and you hear this distant cheer. Within metres, the volume escalates, then you see this:

And this little video.

Wow, eh? So that would make it my second stop for the marathon.

13. 8:00 (4:58)

Half: 1:46:25

So I had reached the half with a time that was a full 1:25 behind 3:30. Oh well, I had work to do. Exiting the college, you get a little bit of a high but you know they're coming, and you have no choice but to face them.

14. 7:48 (4:51)

By them, I'm talking about the words Newton and Hills. By them, I mean those four mothers of climbs. People talk about the final three hills which culminate in Heartbreak hill all the way in mile 21 (I forgot that it ends at 21, not 20.. yes). But the first one, that starts when you cross the river and following a massive plunge. I took the downward bit a little easier, using it to conserve some energy.

15. 7:57 (4:57)
25K: 2:05:35 (5K split in 24:32)

So the next 10K is basically the miles that can break many a runner. It was on that first rise, at mile 16, that I started seeing a lot of walkers, and when I started to really notice I was passing people. The first one is a long unrelenting hill over an exposed overpass. I don't remember much fan support. I took that mile in a crazy 7:42. Huh? I'd like to think my Garmin misfired but looking at the elevation gained, it looks real. Wow.

16. 7:42 (4:47)

The next five miles features three hills and also a turn in the course! The first two hills are moderate climbs, each followed by some downhill portions or flats. I found the trick was just like we take any hill. Change up your stride, use the same effort. I think I relished in taking the hills a tiny bit more aggressively. The great thing about the last three hills: fan support. Tonnes of it. I think it really helped us get through. I used markers in the distance as my targets and thank god for those Canadians who flew flags on the hills. They were really nice motivational signposts. When i'd get there, I'd point at them, point at my Canadian flag hat, and run on strong. Next two splits aren't bad, huh?

17. 8:09 (5:04)
18. 8:03 (5:00)

30K: 2:30:37 (5K split in 25:02)

So I had just done the first half of the Newton hills in exactly 8 minute 5K pace. Nice. I wasn't feeling too winded, almost too comfortable. Miles 19 - 21 includes a slight fall plus the last two hills. In this stretch, they had set up a big Jumbotron. There were tonnes of water stations and a gel station, and more fans. Seriously, that got me up the hill without thinking about bonking. As I was climbing Hearbreak, I was almost enjoying the mother. It hurt a little but I was not close to going over the edge.

19. 7:54 (4:55)
20. 7:57 (4:57)
21. 8:05 (5:01) (Heartbreak Hill!)

35K: 2:55:23 (5K split in 24:46)

Wow, I'm very happy with my two 5K splits in the Newton hills. They were pretty damned good. In retrospect, I think I turned the game on around mile 16. Before that point, before Newton, I was flirting with a sub 3:30 but just thinking training run. By the time I hit the hills, I knew I wanted to run them well.

Boston College is freaking awesome. It was so loud and rivals Wellesley. I was running near some guys wearing alumni (Badgers) that were getting massive cheers. They were two uberfit guys who looked like they were in their 40s just out for an easy strong run. They were hamming up the crowd and were running pretty strong. I was feeling just as energetic so I decided to match their pace. We were going downhill, the crowd was going crazy, they were heading into Boston. Why wouldn't I run faster.

So I ramped up the pace. Suddenly it wasn't 3:30 pace but a little faster. Great. Felt good. Didn't feel like I would blow my training at this point by ramping it up. In fact, what other confidence booster is there by finishing your marathon at your fastest. Those miles into Boston were great. A blur in bits. Part of it was just trying to negotiate the crowd of runners. Many were slowing down, some were walking and I was trying not to lose pace. I was really enjoying the crowd. I wanted to run Boston, almost race Boston. That, at least, was what I could give back to this course, some good pace that got me here in the first place.

When the race enters the Boston area, it goes a whole new level. It turns from this historical marathon route that's lined by local community into a Big City Marathon. Not that one is better than another but the fact you get both is pretty rocking.

Splits speak for themselves. This is the speed I remember.

22. 7:42 (4:47)
23. 7:37 (4:44)
24. 7:36 (4:43)

40K: 3:19:10 (5K split in 23:47)

Those three miles pretty much reeled back in that time I lost in the portapottty and then some. I was on track for the 3:30.

Now it's important to note that 1) I didn't run with my fuel belt 2) I did not have a pace band 3) I really didn't pay attention to my splits until I would hit a 5K split. So it's pretty hilarious that when I hit 40K, it was very simple math that led me to the conclusion that a sub 3:30 was a possibility. I remember last year waiting hopefully for the Citgo sign to come out so I could take a picture. This year, I couldn't wait for it to show so I can run right up to it and past it. I was thinking of the game I went to Fenway a few days earlier and how close it was to the finish. With the last two miles, I was basically counting it down by each 400 metres. Possibly because of the downhills, or maybe because of the faster pace, I was feeling mini cramps creeping. I continued to hydrate (I didn't take my fifth gel) and resolved to run off the cramps.

There was one hitch to my run fast to grab the sub 3:30. R. She had texted me and I checked the iPhone after Heartbreak and she told me she'd be across the street from the Hynes Convention centre, on the left. I knew that I had to spot her, and I love to stop and chat and give her a little kiss. It's my way of thanking her for standing there since 9:30! To do that, I would have to run faster.

25. 7:32 (4:41)

With the last mile, I was still near the uberfit guys so I stepped it up to give me a little buffer. Running under the bridge and then turning onto Hereford and left on Boylston was just as amazing as ever. I stayed on the left side and tried to keep pace while scanning the crowd. I saw R. in the distance waving and ran over to her. Said hi, gave her a kiss, took a picture, then asked her to take a picture of me. This might have taken 15 seconds but she and the people with her were telling me to go! I said 'gotta run!' and 'meet you at the hotel!' and soaked in the final stretch.

Proof I stopped.

26. 7:25 (4:37)
The rest: 2:46 or 4:30 km/pace.

What a great feeling it was to run Boston consistent, strong, and with a great finish. All through the marathon, I was trying to save the memories for the years I won't run Boston, to try to run Boston so I can get familiar with it, and to really savour its course. It's one of a kind.

Final time: 3:29:25

So, what's the deal with Boston, you're asking

You know, we all know we have an obsession of getting to Boston. Even those who may not admit it, we do. I think we really try to BQ because it is hard and it is there. Does it separate good runners from great runners? Does BQing when you're young more of an achievement than when time gives you more literal time? Do we really understand what it's all about when we say I want to do Boston? I first set my sights on Boston because it was that holy grail. The qualification stood for personal excellence and it was an important milestone to reach. By reaching the time, you reached Boston. Or not really.

Once you get your BQ, you get something that probably goes unsaid by those who have done it before. It's something that's hard to capture even in all the pictures I've collected over the past two years. To those of us who run it year after year, I think I know why you come back. It is a special race, putting aside exclusivity or elitism. The course is technical and it takes a lot of training and heart and tactics to run it well. But it is not just the course. It's the weekend, the 'Marathon Monday' when this event becomes one that's owned by all those communities between Hopkinton and Boston.

A mere hour or so after the marathon, I walked into North End for a decadent lobster roll and with the simple medal draped around my neck. I don't often keep them on after most races, but I have for Boston, even for one night. In the space of two hours, a half a dozen people stopped me to congratulate me and ask me about the race. They, Boston citizens, were genuinely happy for me, in a little awe of the event.

Because it's not just ours, us runners, it's a Boston thing. In a little way, we're allowed to take centre stage in a spectacle that has gone on for 115 years. No matter who shows up to be picked up by those school buses next April or the next 30 Aprils, it'll still be 'Boston'. We'll all come, from different states and countries, for the privilege to be part of that spectacle. BQing gets you a chance to be part of something greater than the 26.2.

Split recap
5K: 24:47
10K: 49:47 (5K split in 25:00)
15K: 1:16:01(5K split in 26:14)
20K: 1:41:03 (5K split in 25:02)
Half: 1:46:25
25K: 2:05:35 (5K split in 24:32)
30K: 2:30:37 (5K split in 25:02)
35K: 2:55:23 (5K split in 24:46)
40K: 3:19:10 (5K split in 23:47)
42.2K 3:29:25 (2.2K in 10:15 or a 23:17 5K split)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pre-race report (mostly pictures): Boston Marathon

Because the trip to Hopkinton to the start is four hours, longer than I ran, I have way too many pictures and video to share, so this little post will just contain some of that stuff.

Met my buddy Lee after 6 at his hotel near Boston Common. Then it was school time!

And if you wondered how big the lines are? Well, how else you going to get 20,000+ to Hopkinton

An hour plus later, we arrived.

The usual sign with a Jumbotron behind it

We did find a patch of grass to sit in. It's sunny but when the wind was blowing, it was freezing

Trying to warm up

And there was a juggling show

On our way to the start

View from the back

Runners arriving after with minutes to go.

Video of us walking up after the gun went off

Another one

Next: The actual race report (fewer pictures and video)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Boston done, negative split!

I think when I put my iPhone on airplane mode, it was a sign. I would not tweet. I would take pictures, but I wanted to concentrate on the run. Maybe not race until the 30K mark (which I did) but 3:29:25 is a time I'm proud of. Race report to come. Bad food and beer imminent.

The splits
10km: 0:49:57 (8:02 pace)
Half-Marathon: 1:46:25 (8:07 pace)
30km: 2:30:37 (8:04 pace)
Finish: 3:29:25 (7:59 pace)


Ready to have some fun. Ready (in my mind) to run those hills. Ready to do another victory lap. Ready to say, holy !@#$, I'm running Boston!

Bib number is 5618. May tweet a few times. Trackable here. And I know in Canada at least, it's on TSN at 9:30. No, you won't see my bobbing head.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Doing Boston

I think I'll save all that marathon excitement for at least another 12 hours. I often tell myself of my own city, "If I could only play tourist, what would I actually do."

So this weekend so far, aside from swiping my credit card at the expo time after time, I was looking forward to enjoying some other obvious to the point of being touristy:

A cannoli from Mike's Pastry. Yes, I actually do like Maria's a bit more. Just got swept in by the modest lineup. And I actually really liked their biscotti.

If there was an organized sport that I loved while growing up, it had to be baseball. The Jays were in their peak (playoff) running seasons between 1984 and 1993, when I watched them battle out the Sox and Yankees (and the Tigers) for the AL East and, well. I loved baseball. Still do, in many respects. So today's trip to Fenway was a long-time wish fulfilled. As I was walking toward it, I was feeling downright giddy. R. could tell. Now I've seen Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field and Fenway. Soo happy. Explained the finer points of baseball (and all those abbreviations) to R. We shivered so we had hot chocolate and I had a hot dog. And yes, it was actually colder at the concession stands than at the seats.

And yes, I cheered the Sox and the Jays (more silently).

Ah, a real ballpark.

While I'm showing pictures.

The bib (a lower number than last year)

Random Boston art to get you excited

The famous final turn of the course (and one of five on the entire route, we're reminded)

And this world could always use a little more...

To cap it off, I think I need some chowda, but that's for another day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Come so far, so far to go

Today, I finished a day of work and ran 4 miles. I packed (as all of us who are not from Boston for a little trip) a little earlier than last year, trying to figure out how many combination of race outfits I'd need depending on the weather we get on Monday. T-shirt, singlet, shorts, long T? rain gear? Who knows).

So the passport, Canada hat, bib pickup card and watch are ready to go.

Funny thing about the watch, I checked the total mileage I've put into my Garmin 405 since I got it in September 2008. (Yes, the new 610 got me thinking of replacing it one day)

The readout: 8,102.02 kilometres in 706 hours, 9 minutes, 8 seconds. That's more than 5,000 miles.

Back then, my 2008 self was trying to aim for Boston. Didn't end too well. The 2011 self, I thought during my run on the trail I've run day in day out for many years, has come so far, yet so long to go. Boston 2011 will be awesome in the lets squeeze out every drop of energy I put into running and then reset things. Reset because now with two visits to the hallowed grounds, the third one is no guarantee for a while.

Knowing that I gotta get back to work to book a future trip is humbling. The new standards are actually the same my younger self in 2008 aspired to. So it's really not that out of reach. What has changed is what I want to do next. Race for a BQ? Er, check with me in June. Maybe not five marathons every year from now on. Lots of 'sole' searching, I know. Whatever, I'll leave that runner's dilemma for another day.

For this weekend, god damn, the plan is to bask in the greatness of others, to once again fool myself into thinking I belong (okay, I do, but still, not in my mind). Boston on marathon weekend is a special place. Actually, the route to Boston is pretty awesome too. If we aim for sunny skies, and the crowd is into it, that's the one rave run everyone wants to bask in. Run fast, run for a PR, run for the hills, run for the crowds, run to Boston. And maybe make a pitstop or two.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Running to (and through) Boston

In my head, I've been trying to put that word "taper" aside till later this month. It's not happening, at least the big kind that I often look forward to. In 8 days, I'll be in Hopkinton lining up to run to Boston. Today, I just finished my week before the marathon mileage and all week, I've been pretending I'm in normal training.

The taper monster is around the corner. It wants me to kick back, relax, luring me with the promise of more carbs, more salt and more time to not run so I can do things like twiddle my thumbs, not drink alcohol, blog more and watch running movies.

The last time I had a massive goal marathon, back in the fall of 2009 (yes, that long ago), I was peaking at 70+ miles a week. I saw in that schedule the week before my marathon, I put in 42 miles. Not bad. This cycle, I'm not peaking at more than 55 miles a week, yet last week I put in 54 and I just finished 46 miles for this week.

A lot of marathon programs, even the more 'advanced ones' have you ramping down for the three weeks before race day. The usual formula for a 55 mile peak would be

Three weeks to go: 46 miles
Two weeks to go: 37 miles
Six days leading up to marathon: 22 miles

I really like to rest up the week before the marathon. I'll go as low as 10 miles (which I did on the week leading to my BQ marathon) as long as you throw in some short quality and pace work in.

Which leads me to running through Boston and tapering in general.

I want to treat Boston as yet another victory lap, but also acknowledge that I have no business going out fast. I've been too lazy and time-strapped to do the type of training I did in the summer of 2009. So Boston will have to be a training run. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go out at just long slow distance, but I'm not going to test the red line by any stretch. I have a time goal in mind that on paper will look pretty good and not have me slamming into a wall (fingers crossed).

On tapering in general, I believe in keeping the body at alert. The three week taper is a good idea, only if you don't totally take the foot off the gas. I like the Pfitzinger program I've been following for the past four/five years in that the mileage doesn't drop too fast, and it also calls for enough quality work, speedwork and races to keep your legs (and heart) ready for race day.

So while I'm gearing up for Boston, I also don't want to bonk on that course in a big way. Next seven days will be a 'step-back' week with an ultra long run at the end of it. If I get no more than 15 miles pre-Boston, my body's not going to fall off the cardio wagon and I'll lose 3.5 months of training. I know it, my body knows it.

So with that, the one-week taper is on. What will be more interesting is rebounding from the marathon to get some peak mileage the week after so I can really taper for May 15.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A race as a work of genius

"Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration," Thomas Edison is said to have coined.

It's a phrase you or I would apply to art, to science or to creating an idea that we would all look upon with wonder. But why does it have to be a scribble on a disposed paper, a eureka moment or something sculpted into a form visible to the eye.

What if a run was a work of art, as much a creation as other works of -- dare we say it -- genius?

(If you want the short form of my argument, just watch a world-class marathoner run)

Somewhere in the middle of my long run this weekend, while my body was still waking up while my mind was fully engaged with one of my favourite podcasts, Radiolab. It was a typical episode, slightly less science-bent, with a segment called "Me, Myself, and Muse." (Listen)

In it, the hosts and their 'guests' talked about the writer's struggle to overcome deadlines, to find inspiration, to perspire and sweat and toil to craft that perfect work that would transcend even their greatest hopes and their perceived talent.

All this talk of sweat got me literally thinking about the parallels between writing and running. In some forms of my professional life, my cohorts struggle to find their voices. In running, we pound the pavement to find our stride. We sweat over pen or keyboard to find a rhythm -- cadence, in the running parlance -- in the ways our words and foot strikes mesh on paper and pavement. In running, you continue to dutifully put in the miles, not unlike the inches of type writers pound out day after day. You are as good as your last story, like you feel of your last pace run. To run is to equip yourself with the syntax of human movement -- quick strides, smooth turnover, easy pace over long distance, which, in the writer's world, can be translated into flowing sentences, carved only by the smooth curvature of a comma -- abruptly interrupted by other more blunt devices.

Writing and running, no wonder there are so many books by runners for runners.

But of that first phrase, 1 per cent inspiration, I find big solace in that the runner's world has its equivilant.

Liz Gilbert (yes, that one, I know, I know), in the Radiolab segment, likened the writer's technique of pausing, letting the muse strike at unknown times to give that 1% inspiration. I remember being told almost 15 years ago in one of my first feature writing classes that if you had done your reporting and you still didn't know how to start your story, the best thing to do was to walk away. And let inspiration strike.

"It's a bargain to get 1% inspiration, it's a miracle," she said. She spoke about speaking to your work, of how she couldn't come up with the title of her book until she addressed it fully (yes, a little odd), but how different is that for those of us who speak to our bodies or body parts. "Hello legs, will you give me a miracle?"

Ninety-nine perspiration? I believe that is what makes a runner. Race day is where that 1% comes into the picture.

I guess this flows through my mind because I was thinking of how one achieves the perfect race. True, in everyday running, I sometimes pull off the most amazing splits, when everything feels just perfect. Those 7:15 miles feel easy, tempo is not problem, trackwork is painful but at the same time a joy, if happiness is defined by being hunched over, or catching your breath with your hands on your hips. You know what I mean, especially on those other days when everything feels so... ordinary. Too many of them.

I guess when I look back at my progression as a distance runner, there are many moments that I would not be out of turn when I describe them as "great works." My best 30K run on a hot muggy day in the dark in the middle of heavy training. Wish I could put that one on the wall. My marathon PB? Gorgeous. Messy at times, but I look back at my calm mind, my smooth first half, my finishing ability and the artful way I dodged the wall?

I may have a huge-ass medal, a nice little race picture and even a trip or two to Boston, but in my mind's eye, that kind of run is one that I love to appreciate, to try to recapture. It's a showing for one, one of best long runs a marathoner could get. And that was a work of genius.

The best part? To this day, I still love to put in the 99%

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Race report: Harry's Spring Run-off 8K

This year's edition of the Harry's Spring Run-off was a little different. The last two years, I ran the 'double,' that is, I ran the 8K followed less than an hour later the 5K.

As races go, no matter how more corporate the Run-Off has begun, it is clearly the first big race of the spring. It has a legendary hilly course and it ultimately very challenging if you set to go race the sucker.

This year would be my chance again. No excuses of a back-to-back schedule. The week before the race is supposed to be my taper for Boston, but I was still throwing mileage instead of taking it easier. From Monday to Thursday, I put in 30 miles, not a bad amount given how busy it is.

Speedwork? That's gone to crap this spring. Haven't done it. Tempos have been non-existent and the last time I visited the track a few weeks ago, I ran two miles at marathon pace, no faster.

Anyways, having done plenty of endurance and pace training, I was ready to hurt. I ran enough of these races to know it's probably better to have your heart going so I did some 100 metre pickups. Man my heart hated the pace.

I watched my co-worker head to the front of the first corral while I let a good crowd get between us. It's my own race, I thought, and psyched myself for 35 minutes of pain.

The start was good, I tried to keep it comfortable without getting my heart rate up to high. Already people were jockeying for position but I kept a good cadence and just watched racers around me who looked comfortable.

The run-off has two major downhills, two major uphills. The first downhill comes at the mile mark (1.6K) and we plunged down the hill.

1 04:06
2 04:12

Obviously, we weren't going quite at full speed. At the bottom of the hill, I sensed that the runners around me had clearly gone out too fast and were settling into slower paces. I remember the moment well, because it was when I moved from behind a runner to beside him, and started to race.

3 04:19

The first crappy uphill is around the 3.5K mark. You can see my splits around here aren't bad, 4:19 to 4:27. I passed a few runners but I knew it wasn't the hill that was the issue, it was the recovery on the flat past the half way mark so I could race the second half in a good way.

4 04:27

The path had thinned by this point so if I wanted to make some ground, I'd have to pick it up. The start of the 5K mark is the second big downhill. I decided to go a little harder

5 04:09

That was followed by small rollers. I was hurting a little at this point. My body is not accustomed recently to such speedwork, so I relied on, what you call it? Guts. Or it was more like, Body: "crap, I want to stop so badly." Mind: "STFU, just get to the 4 mile mark, you can do one mile after that in your sleep."

6 04:04

Not bad. The last two kilometres slowly rise, so I just kept going, trying to pace okay to save some room for the last big hill.

7 04:20

Now, I'd like to write about the final hill. Spring Road. We plunged down it after mile 1. I ran it the other day and marvelled at how freaking long and painful it was. There are good tangents to run it, but in the end, it's pretty much relying on your guts.

The hill itself is about 350 metres and you rise about 850 feet. That is after you have risen 50 feet in the half mile leading up to that point.

Anyways, here's a shot of the hill more than halfway up. See the pain?

Took it hard but had enough energy to run it in and turn the corner.

8 04:31

Final chip time was 34:16, or about 20 seconds off my course PB. Happy with the 4:19 pace. And my legs weren't banged up that much, just put in a strong long run this afternoon.