Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 Forest City Road Races Half Marathon Race Report

Trying to train through the unrelenting Polar Vortex Winter of 2013/2014 left me with a big unknown in my preparation for my first goal race of 2014.  It was a modest goal.  Try and better my 2011 finishing time on a tough course. 
Most of my training consisted of one hour 10km runs on the treadmill at an easy 6min/km pace.  Only once the weather appeared to be getting better was I able to transition outside for some longer-ish runs on the weekend.  I had a couple of bad weeks at the end of February, beginning of March and was continually struggling with annoying tenderness in my right hamstring.

As the race became closer, I pushed through some much harder training runs and spent considerable time on the race route focusing on the hills that permeate the last half of the route.   I could get my pace dialed and was actually quite happy that my plan to finish between 1:45 and 1:47:30 was achievable.

When Lucy asked if she could run with me as my plan would give her a PB under 1:50, it seemed like a no brainer.  On one of our runs along the route she was cranking out solid 5:04min/km.
Race morning arrived crystal clear and cold.  Temperature at the starting line was hovering just above freezing.  It was also going to warm up nicely as the sun rose higher into the sky.  The wind was brisk at times out of the northwest but shouldn’t be a factor as the routes constantly changes direction it a large figure eight.

With the morning being so close to freezing at 2C, I opted to wear a long sleeved Under Armor shirt under a loose fitting bike jersey, my Zensah calf sleeves and thigh sleeve over my cranky right hamstring.  I knew it was going to be a bit risky if the sun really began to warm things up but I couldn’t risk letting my lower back get too cold early in the race.  I went with two shirts and hoped to finish quickly.

As we positioned ourselves on the outside edge of the start, Lucy locked and loaded RunKeeper on her iPhone, donned her earbuds and we were off.

Around the park, past the finishing chute and the easy downhill to Wharncliffe passed by exactly on plan and pace.

As we entered the University and began heading to the park, I could feel we weren’t tracking close enough to a 5min/km pace.  I was seeing numbers all over the place on my watch. Through the parks, past the London pacers water station where my wife and kids were volunteering  and into old north,  we rolled through 10K Along Cheapside in 50:37   Well on pace to finish just under 1:47 but I was having quite a bit of tightness through my lower back and high in my right hamstring.  The early morning cold was working against me.

We started giving some time back along Adelaide incline and Windemere hill(s) and that continued as we passed through the University gates and back into the Park.

Breaking the race down after the quick most downhill first 5K, we dropped about 3 seconds per kilometer when you break the race down into 5 kilometer sections.

Pace S1
Pace S2
Pace S3
Pace S4

Not exactly text book pacing.

The toughest segment of the race is transitioning out of the park system as you begin to approach Ann Street after running under the Oxford Street bridge.  Unless you know the course, you think your hill is done until you see Talbot climbing slowly towards the traffic light at Central.   Even Central has a grade to it until about 100 meters from Richmond.  It was this section that sucked the life out of me in 2011.  

I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again.  I trained this section and although I wasn’t having the greatest day though my right side posterior chain, there was nothing going to stop me along that section.

Until I crossed Richmond.

Calf twinge.



This is not happening.

And another one

My internal dialogue would not have made it past the network censors.

I watched Lucy get ahead of me and drifted in behind her for the first time of the day.

According to my watch, if the race had been an even 21 kilometers, we hit 1:47:28.

It wasn’t and that last 100 meters was a race against my calves.  Watching the video of me crossing the finish line my right side is a disaster.  
Lucy was happy, she set a new PR and finished second in her age group!

I was happy (the race was over).

My physiotherapist who I see very shortly, I’m not sure that he’s going to be happy.  


CheapRunnerMike said...

Jeff you forgot to mention the part where you gleefully informed all the other runners that they had crested the final hill outside Starbucks on Central brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces!
I really learned from running the race last year and saved a little bit for that final Talbot hill...that's where I passed the two guys ahead of me in my AG. I'm that sick bugger that kinda likes hills :)
Good work pacing Lucy to her PR, and way to hang on through that painful final 100m...double calf cramps, wow. Very OUCH!

Anonymous said...

Finding the right outdoor weather conditions during the winter months can be tricky. Although I am not a runner I do strive to get outside as much as possible most all times during the year. I have a handy weather app from that I use for planning. It allows me to plug in weather parameters and get alert.