Monday, March 19, 2012

St Patrick's Day Race report

Some thoughts before the race report

Yesterday was my first race in four months, and training has been kind of topsy turvy since then.  I let my training volume drop somewhat after my last half marathon.  Then, when I started trying to build it back up, I got sick.  Then I got sick again, and again, and again...

Ultimately, I managed to get past the plagues that my children kept infecting me with and to a place where I felt comfortable starting my half ironman training plan.  Even so, my run volume is lower then it's been in over a year.  I'm following the plan as written, and not adding extra runs or run distance in.  It's part of my strategy to make sure I don't neglect my bike like I have in the past.

With that said, yesterday's race was a running race.  Even with it being "only" a 10K, I really didn't know what I was capable of.  There's no secret that a higher run volume usually helps with the speed as well.  So does running fast, which I haven't been doing a lot of lately either.  After being sick so much, I'd never really got my speed back, and I've been doing most of my training runs at an easier pace, just to get my volume back.

Was I capable of a PR?  (56:33)  I had my doubts.  I set that on a really flat course, at a time where my run volume was close to double what it is now.

Could I beat my time from last year on this course?  (1:00:12)  I hoped so.  Again, my run volume is lower then it was then.  My main goal, at this time last year, was a half marathon that was a month away.  However, I feel like I have way more mental strength, and I've made some serious breakthroughs since that time.

My worries about ice were for nothing.  There were two spots on the course that were icy, and there were volunteers warning us ahead of time to move to the side as well as right before to keep us off them.


I arrived bright and early for the 9:00 race, getting there at about 7:45.  Last year, I arrived with about half an hour to spare, parked really far away and barely made it to through the bathroom line up and to the start line in time.  I'd much rather be sitting around doing nothing for a bit then rushing around madly trying to be ready on time.

I saw Kelly, from spin class, and before long Heather arrived, with a bag of green accessories for us.  I put a clover leaf tattoo on my cheek and accepted a green badge and sparkly necklace (though, I must admit to ditching the necklace before the race because it was bouncing around and bugging me).  Deon and his wife, Tara also joined us.

Deon, myself and Heather
Tara, Deon's wife and photographer extraordinaire (the photographer never gets properly recognized)
Erin, a friend of Heather's who I met that day, also arrived, but she wasn't there for the prerace photo.  She's training for a marathon and had already run 10 or so km before the race.

We chatted for a bit.  I went outside for a short walk and run warm up.  Tried to take another bathroom break, and realized the line up was probably 20 minutes long with 10 minutes to go to start time.  Didn't need to go that badly.  Go line up, and it was starting time!

I found Heather.  I didn't bother to look for Deon or Erin.  Nothing personal; just that I knew they would both finish this race 15 - 20 minutes faster then me, so I wasn't going to seed myself in the same area as them.

The Race

I've learned not to go shooting off at the starting line, so when we began, I held back a bit, and made sure that the first bit felt easy.  Even so, we were running about 5:45km, which is on the fast side for me, but about what I hoped to pace the race at overall.  I had seeded myself pretty well.  I wasn't feeling pressure to go faster by being surrounded by super fast people.  I also wasn't needing to weave about to keep my pace.

After the first km, most of the people around us started to slow.  I still wanted to keep my pace, so I said my farewells to Heather and picked it up a little bit.  I felt good, but I don't think my body is used to a faster pace anymore.  My legs periodically told me to slow down, but whenever I did a self assessment, my head knew I could continue to hold my pace.

Now, while I'm talking about holding pace, that's not actually what I was trying to do.  One of the main things I wanted to do in this race was hold an even effort, rather then an even pace.  Most of the course was long, gradual slopes, either up or down.  Aside from two overpasses, there was nothing that I would call hills, but slopes certainly have an effect on pace, and I was going to let that happen.  When I was going down, I let the slopes help carry me.  When I was going up, I didn't stress about slowing slightly.  I just tried to make sure I felt about the same level of exertion regardless.

It didn't seem to take long to hit the halfway mark, and the water station.  I often use water stations as an excuse to walk for a minute since I haven't mastered drinking from those little cups while running.  Truthfully though, I neither needed the water or the walk, so I just kept running past it.

Then it was up across the overpass and down the other side.  This was the one part of the course I didn't really enjoy.  We were running on a path alongside Glenmore (a pretty major road) and you could smell and  basically taste the car exhaust.  It was also one of the long upward slopes, so I felt like I was dragging.  Fortunately, it wasn't that long of a section, but I must admit it was one of the points where my body wanted to stop and walk.  I didn't though.  After all, the slower I went, the longer I spent on that crappy section.

After that, there's a little neighbourhood loop and back over another overpass.  Before the loop is the one point where you see faster runners coming back, and I got to see Erin on this stretch.  We did a little high five and then I carried on.  I remembered this section from last year and I remembered really fighting and struggling in this part.  This time, I knew I was working, but felt strong.  There were only a few kilometers left, so I could already feel the homestretch coming.

It didn't take me long to get to the final km.  That last km had a bit of up and a bit of down then some more up.  I kicked it up a notch.  I always like to see what I have left in the tank at the very end.  In this case, I had a 5:20 km in me, about 30 seconds/km (45 sec/mile) faster then I'd run the rest of the race.  I kind of wonder if (with proper training) I could run a whole 10k at that pace?  It wasn't killing me; I actually could have gone faster at the end...

I passed Tara and Deon shortly before the end and threw my arms up for a picture.  They almost missed me because I'd ditched my red jacket before the race.

I must admit to cropping this picture, because the arms in the air gave an unflattering midrift shot.
 I saw Erin cheering just before the finish line.  I went in for a strong finish.

Easily broke that hour mark.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the St. Patty's race, so they did a medal.  It's probably the best bling I've gotten from a race, so definitely a nice bonus.

After I finished, we waited for Heather to come in.  She's been dealing with a knee issue, so it was great to see her coming in strong.

The four of us with our medals, (starting from the left) Deon, Erin, Heather, myself
It was fun hanging out afterwards.  This race has great food, and some good draw prizes.  You can win your weight in beer, and this year there was a draw for a weekend in Banff.  Sadly, I didn't win any of them, but I did have fun hanging out and chatting.

I also got to meet Sophia, from The Mama Runs.  I spotted her when I went to grab some coffee, and then she came and joined our group while we sat through the awards.  
Sophia and me
When I got home, Sweetpea immediately spotted and claimed my medal.  I was going to make them take turns, but Spud decided he wanted my badge instead, so it all worked out.

They weren't so into looking at the camera


  1. Great job! Congratulations on the race!! So nice that they gave out medals. I also usually love the shirts they give out as well.

  2. Great race report! Sounds like a lot of fun!

  3. Great race!!!! I love the finishing photo you look so happy! And I really like the braids, cute!

  4. Congratulations on a great race Deb!

  5. Congratulations!! You looked so cute!

  6. Great job, Deb! About the drinking and running: have you tried pinching the cup so it makes a "spout" that you can pour it in your mouth without spilling?

  7. Congrats on a great race (and great race report)! Nice you felt strong during the race too.

  8. Wow, that is one detailed report! I barely remember ANYTHING, altho everything you've mentioned does bring back a memory of it.

    Congrats again on breaking the 1 hr! :)

    PS. Your kids are adorable! At least they stayed for the pic; my daughter would run away....