The Police Half Marathon. My first half marathon, 2 years ago. A race course that beat me and left me waiting to redeem myself on it.
I made the difficult choice not to run it last year. As a self coached athlete, I wasn't confident in my ability to blend my half ironman plan with a half marathon plan. Plus, I knew that my tendency to favour run training over bike training had to end. Last year, that was the right choice for me. This year, I have a coach that believes in me and consequently a program tailored for me, rather then one out of a book. Game on.
I arrived about 45 minutes early for the race. This turned out to be a good amount of to find parking, use the facilities and grab a photo with the Calgary Police mascot.
|This might be "Simon the safety Bear", but google was less helpful then I had hoped in identifying him.|
Prerace, I managed to connect with some friends and Team Trilife teammates. The helped calm my nerves some as I chatted a bit before heading out.
I was nervous about this race. Could I hold my pace? Could I handle the hills? Could I stay strong at the end? Would my foot hold out for me? I was a bit worried about that one, given I'd had trouble with it the previous week.
I had talked about it with my husband the night before. "If I don't pull this off, I'm going to have to do this race again next year," I told him. I didn't want to have to do this race again. If I ever decide I want to, fine, but I wanted to lay to rest the need to redeem myself.
Before the race, I chatted a bit with Shannon, a team trilife teammate. We'd met before, but never talked a lot. Her need to finish this race was similar to mine. She'd done it before and never held on, the way she wanted to, in those last few kilometers. She needed to put it to rest, just like I did. We lined up and then headed out...
The first few kilometers felt alright. My pace felt fine, although I had to pull myself back a bit. It's mostly downhill at the start, so it's a matter of finding the balance of accepting the free speed without going too hard and burning out early. My foot twinged at me a bit, up until I hit about kilometer 4, just letting me know that it wasn't quite happy. Then it let up, and I didn't think about it again until after the race was done.
Km 1: 5:59
Km 2: 6:01
Km 3: 5:55
Km 4: 6:12
In the 5 km, I noted the point where I bailed and ended up on my hands and knees last time I did this race. Not much risk of that this year. Aside from a bit of wind, the weather was practically perfect. No ice or snow.
Km 5: 6:24
Km 6: 5:58
Km 7: 6:23
For some reason, I felt like walking around 7 km in. I did a quick self assessment and almost laughed at myself. No pain, I wasn't even really uncomfortable. Just my body trying to play games with me. I carried on. I did take a quick gel somewhere in there, during which I allowed a few seconds of walking to avoid choking.
Km 8: 6:08
Km 9: 6:26
Km 10: 6:12
It was somewhere after 10k that I started getting uncomfortable. No pain, but this wasn't easy anymore. The whole course is hilly, but this is the point where it shifts to far more up then down.
Km 11: 6:33
Km 12: 6:18
Km 13: 6:14
Km 14: 6:19
During km 14, I took another quick walk for a gel. I had been planning on taking it around 1:20 into the race, and I was past that, but I wasn't seeing any garbage cans, so finally just took it. As I took it Shannon came up behind me. We said a few words, but I don't think either of were up for too much talking.
Weaselhead was coming up. I always think that I might actually run it some day, but I remember in Calgary 70.3 last year, the people coming up it when I went down were mostly walking. So, if athletes finishing a half ironman 1.5+ hours before me walk it...
Km 15: 7:26
Even walking up the hill left my legs feeling a bit toasted. At this point last time, I felt like I had been forced into walking. This time, I'd made the choice and I was good with it. Once up though, it was time to run again.
Km 16: 6:16
Shannon and I were still running together, and I was totally thankful for it. When I knew we were into the last 5 kilometers, I turned to her and said "This is where we decide if we're going to do this race again." I needed to remind myself. It was starting to hurt, and I needed to remember that I didn't want to spend 2 more years regretting the choices I made in the last 30 minutes of this race.
Km 17: 6:07
Angie and I had talked about countdown to hurt prior to the race. Basically, she reminded me that it was going to hurt. In fact, if I raced it right, it would hurt. One technique she suggested was doing a countdown to hurt. I am generally really good at figuring out pacing and how long it will take me to run, but I just couldn't make the math work. I knew I was running a bit over 6 minutes a kilometer, and just couldn't calculate.
Km 18: 6:48
Frick. It hurts so much. Shannon's still running. Man, I want to walk. My calf is really tight. I might be getting muscle cramps. I might have to walk a bit to shake off those muscle cramps? My legs are burning. Keep running...
Km 19: 6:08
Who puts FUCKING HILLS so close to the end of a half marathon?! They didn't seem this steep going down them at the beginning. Damn it, this hurts. I can't feel my legs. They've gone numb and tingly. Run. Countdown to hurt? Um, 20 minutes? 12? 18? I can't figure it out.
Km 20: 6:29
Crap. I think I might need to crap. Maybe I should detour to that tree. No, that's an excuse. It's not really that bad. Keep running, damn it. Shannon's still running. If I stop to walk, she'll know. Have some pride.
Okay, just around that building and into the finish. DAMN IT! It's not just around that building. It's another building that looks so much further away. RUN.
Km 21: 6:27
Finally, around the building. We've done it! Okay, not quite. Let's finish!
Somehow, I had a finishing sprint in there. We turned the corner, and gunned it.
Final 0.36km (as measured by my garmin): 1:57 (pace, 5:22/km)
Final time: 2:14:49
More important then the time:
The course didn't beat me. I beat the course.
An ice pack on my foot, some time hobbling around, and bloody incredible satisfaction.