This year was definitely too busy to train for a full marathon, so I decided to do two halfs. One at the opening of the summer to help with general fitness and one in the fall that would be about performance. My goals were to break two hours with the first and then run a sub-1:45:00 personal best in the second. Not going to hit them.
I’d only done one previously half, last May. It was to kick off my 2015 running season, and prepare for running my second marathon last fall. A friend invited me to run in the Goodlife Fitness Toronto (Half) Marathon. She’d been nursing a knee injury and was committed to participate as much as she could but after jogging out for the first few hundred meters, knew that it wasn’t going to happen. I walked with her for about 5km or so before heading off on my own to run the rest of the race.
I do remember feeling pretty great when I started running. It was an interesting run, since I started so far back in the pack I was continuously passing large numbers of people. My goal had been to try and break two hours and I finished in 2:10:20.1 but the ran the front 16k at 6:23/km compared to a pretty fast (for me) 5:19/km for the back 5k. Also, weird splits. So I knew that breaking two hours should be readily doable.
My first race this summer was the MEC Toronto Race Four on Sunday, June 19. I’d trained okay up to the race but didn’t prepare much for race day. I had put off buying running gels until the last minute and ended having to forego them. I’d assumed I’d be able to at least grab something on the course but the race didn’t have any gels or snacks out on the course. And they only had water stations, no gatorade sports drinks except some sorta pink lemonade at the halfway point.
For a half marathon it might have been okay if it weren’t for the fact that it was during one of the early summer heatwaves that just sapped the strength from me. I was on pace early in the race but knew I was in trouble around 7-8km. My pace started slipping and around the 13km mark I just started melting in the heat. I’m definitely not a fast runner but I’m generally pretty good at maintaining a steady pace. Not this day. I could jog for a few hundred meters but not much more. I went from a 5:03/km pace for the first 8km to a 6:09/km pace with km-14 coming in at my slowest split of 6:58.
I finished the race in 2:00:56, missing my goal by just 56 seconds! 121st overall, 88th for male. I was faster than both the average and median finish times of all finishers (barely, by a couple minutes each) but a couple minutes slower than both for males. While I wasn’t pleased with missing my goal, it was the early race, and with the heat and lack of race prep, I wasn’t completely unhappy.
That said, it hasn’t been a very motivating factor for me to be training hard for the fall race.
With the wedding and honeymoon, and lots of summer social commitments, training runs haven’t been as frequent as I’d like. Also, I ended up playing summer hockey for the first time in Toronto, and since starting to run. Playing ice hockey on a Sunday night meant I was trying to do long runs of the week on Fridays. I tried doing one on a Saturday and had no spring in my legs on the Sunday. But working all day/week and trying to do a long run after meant I’d often skip it or tone it down.
I’m about a month out from fall race day and at this point, I’m no longer focused on an aggressive time. Heck, I’ve only run 4 times this month! I am still keen to finally break two hours and will make sure to be ready with full kit on race day — including running gels to help with the wall. Running in October will also mean I don’t have to deal with a heatwave. Hopefully it’ll also be rain free.
I think next year I’ll scale things back to a 4-times a week schedule. It’ll make it easier than a 5-times a week to reschedule runs. It will also give me more time to actually enjoy the summer, instead of feeling like I should be training all the time. Still happy that I managed to get out and run a bunch this summer. Feel like I’ll probably sign up for races to stay motivated, though not focus on times. In fact, I’m running a 5km relay race next week with work!
This is probably a long, roundabout way of finally admitting that I’m runner.