Where did we leave off last year?
A drug-addled 2:50:49..fell short of my ultimate goal of sub 2:50, although I did manage a 4 minute PR.
Fast forward a year..
I have a bunch of new running partners, 2 more marathons under my belt, and a few bad races that left me wondering about my ability to bring mental toughness on race day.
Anyways, every March, ATB seems to be a huge confidence booster for me. This was the first trip around Hamilton Harbour for Sam, she might be faster than me, but I have the experience.
Race morning, Sarah, Emma, Sam and I got a drive from Marina. Got to Copps nice and early and said hi to a bunch of Daily Mile peeps, including Paul, Robin, Nicole, Richard, Spatula Ali.
Decided to take one more bathroom break before heading outside only to find a HUGE traffic jam in the concourse. Sam and I had just gotten in the corral, I was about to adjust my shoe and we were both about to take off our sexy throwaway gear when the horn went off. I threw off my sweatshirt and took off, covered with gray lint balls on my black top. I also had a throwaway water bottle to wash down my pre-race pretzels, but decided to hang onto it for the first little while.
Last year, my average pace was 5:41/km, so the pre-race plan was to run 5:35/km. The race elevation calls for a slight positive split, so after we started, Sam suggested we run 5:30/km for the first 10K and and see what happened.
splits kms 1-10 - 5:30, 5:33, 5:34, 5:32, 5:36, 5:34, 5:29, 5:32, 5:22, 5:32
After awhile, my left shoulder (which I messed up in that ST accident almost 2 years ago) started feeling funky again. The old injury was exacerbated during my recent HM pacing gig, holding a sign for 21.1K isn't good for your upper body! I saw Beth cheering and threw my bottle at her. It was so much easier to run with both arms!
Just before the 10K point, there is a rail crossing. There is a local marathon that used to go down the same street (course has since been changed) and a couple years ago, a train went by through the race and caused major havok. The unthinkable happened yesterday, the red lights started going off and the train arms started to lower just as Sam and I approached the crossing. "RUN LIKE HELL!!!!!" screamed Sam and we took off. We were almost the last ones to make it across the tracks (the arms were already fully lowered) before the train came.
splits kms 11-20 - 5:40, 5:34, 5:35, 5:36, 5:32, 5:36, 5:37, 5:38, 5:38
Heading into the hilly portion, my race strategy has always been the same: run the hills with even effort, ride the downhills. Last year, this was the point where I developed a calf cramp and had to stop and stretch. Sam was struggling at this point due to stomach problems, and we only walked for a few seconds through every other water station. The water stations did not line up with my planned gel breaks, so I was running a lot of the time with a gooped up, dry mouth.
splits kms 21-30 - 5:35, 5:48,5:43, 5:51, 5:40, 5:21, 5:49, 5:41, 5:35, 5:27
Hmmm, I didn't think we slowed down that much, but the splits tell another story. This can definitely be improved next year! This section of the course is pretty much flat/downhill except for the infamous Valley Inn hill at km 25.5-26. It was not my best trip up the hill, but at least my calves were not screaming and I always find it motivating to pass people who have slowed to a trudge. I was DETERMINED not to walk at the top of the hill - that walk plus the calf stretch was what cost me the sub 2:50 last year. Sam stopped to walk and I kept running, not a very fast run, mind you..but better than walking!
Sam somehow caught up with me and a mental check showed that we were still on pace. As per the plan, we didn't push the pace until 28K, when Copps was in view.
This race was the confidence booster I needed, and although I am extremely happy with the result, in a way I am still bummed because it leaves me wondering even more why I can run 30K so well and yet unable to break 4:15 in the marathon..
Official chip time: 2:48:56
Pace: 5:38 / kilometer
Field Placement: 2651 / 6848 (38.7%)
Age group: 30 – 34
Group Placement: 137 / 369 (37.1%)
Gender Placement: 835 / 2737 (30.5%)