February 09, 2012

Ready for First Half Marathon

This Sunday I'm running the First Half Marathon in Vancouver, organized by the Pacific Road Runners. It's my third time competing in this event.

The 2012 edition was firmly set on my race calendar for months, so much so that I completely forgot the not-so-minor-detail of accepting my entry slot.

The race, capped at 2,000 runners, sells out in hours. However, the organizers offer elite and competitive entries. The latter is for athletes who ran sub-80 (for men) sub-90 (for women), or finished top 3 in their age group in the two previous editions. But these athletes still need to register; somehow I didn't and by the time I realized this, last week, it was too late.

Thankfully, they do offer transfers (for a fee of $20) and I gratefully bought a slot from a fellow runner in town who no longer planned to do the event (thanks Kathryn). Pfew! I don't plan to race all out (though it might end up feeling just like it as I'll explain) but to use it as one of my marathon goal race pace sessions that's on my schedule this week: it calls for 26K including 16K at marathon goal pace, which for me is an ambitious 4:15 per K.

My main focus of training is the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May.
These marathon race pace workouts, I have found, are exceptionally tough to do on your own. So I'd rather pay $80 to share the experience with a couple of thousand others, which should make it easier. Easier than really hard is still going to be pretty tough, though.

My fastest half marathon time ever is 88:13 (2008 Sunshine Coast Half Marathon), which is a pace of 4:11 per K. Aside from running an 88:30 in the 2010 Scotiabank Half Marathon in Vancouver, it has been my fastest time by more than a minute for the distance in any other event.

The first time I broke 90 minutes for 21.1K was in September 2006, when I ran 89:29 in the Sydney Half Marathon (then a PB by 3 minutes for the distance). Three months later I ran 89:16 to win the Central Coast Half Marathon, another PB and my second-fastest time to this day. 

Next I did the May 2007 SMH Sydney Half Marathon where a sudden vicious stitch reduced me to a jog resulting in a 96:43. Four months later I did a 'half marathon' in the Netherlands in 2007 that turned out be 21.6K, which I ran in 92:10 on a shockingly windy and wet day on an exposed pancake-flat course in the province of Friesland.

In 2008, as mentioned I ran my half marathon PB.

In 2009, I ran the First Half in 89:39 and last year I finished the event in 89:46, both at an average pace of 4:15 per K. In June 2010, I ran 88:30 in the Scotiabank Half Marathon, a 4:12 average, and in 2011 I ran the Scotiabank Half in 89:44, another 4:15 average.

So, I am curious to see how doing Sunday's race as a marathon race pace session will feel. I am completely focused on running the first 16K at 4:15 per K pace; I'll decide on what to with the final 5.1K when it's time to run them.

Writing this post made me realize that I've not raced that many standalone half marathons (I've done at least a dozen of them as part of half Ironman races).

My first one was in October 1998, the Canadian International Half Marathon in Toronto. I finished in 2:04:44 and don't remember much about it. The second was in February 2000, the Peterborough Half Marathon in Ontario, which I ran in 1:54:10. Then I did a bunch of the distance in half Ironman races. My next half marathon was in Lake Macquarie, Australia, in August 2002, where I was stoked to run 95:35.

I also remember that as soon as I finished this race the outside bottom of my left foot was so sore I had trouble walking; I had been absolutely fine during the race. After seeing a GP, who of course advised at least a couple of weeks off running and having Xrays done, both of which I did, a deep tissue massage therapist only needed one session to release a tight muscle along my shin that turned out to be the cause of the pain. Simple.

In May 2003 I ran the SMH Sydney Half Marathon in 1hr 43, though I can't remember why it was so much slower though possibly I was still being careful after having done Ironman Australia about six weeks earlier, before finishing the September half marathon in Sydney in 92:38, a whopping PB by 3 minutes.

Within two weeks, I had an ITB injury that stopped me from running altogether for a few weeks and couldn't be fixed by the deep tissue massage therapist. This eventually led me to ART, a treatment I've used successfully ever since to ward off problems, though my budget allows fewer sessions these days.

Yesterday I had an excellent 45-minute ART treatment from Dr Leah Stadelmann of Chief Chiropractic in Squamish to release the tightness in my calves. You can see why half marathon races make me nervous about injury:-).

In May 2005 I did another SMH Half Marathon, fresh off the plane and returning to Australia after recovering from Ironman New Zealand in early March by hiking around New Zealand for a few months. I have yet to find a note of my time that day.

In September 2005, I did another Sydney Half Marathon, still suffering after walking 100K in 23hr 45min in Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker, in 1hr 40. Trailwalker was a last-minute opportunity and I had already signed up for that half.

In late August 2006, I ran the Lake Macquarie half marathon again, this time finishing in 92:51, only three weeks before first breaking 90 minutes for the distance. The half marathon is an intriguing event for sure and I am very much looking forward to Sunday.

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