week six – 41.1
2020 to date: 343 KM
I planned on writing about something else I read this week and then yesterday I woke up and made a cup of coffee and checked in on social media before my race eve shake out run and this was everywhere and I read it and if you haven’t read it yet then you should click the link above and go read it because it is way more important than any nonsense that you’re going to read here today. And if by the time you’re here the G&M has taken it down or moved it behind its paywall then just let me know and I will post the PDF that I saved in anticipation of that happening one day. I am horrified at the complete institutional failure on the part of the University of Guelph and Athletics Canada. Reading it made me sad, but it’s an important read and Megan Brown’s courage is commendable. I hope if nothing else that it spurs positive change. The response to the article posted by Athletics Canada does not inspire much confidence.
It was race week and as is my luck the throat tickle that I was fighting became full-on plague that had me wiped out all week. I ran Wednesday’s workout solo so as to not spread it to the crew and my solo effort was awful. I was pretty disappointed. This was my fourth crack at the First Half half marathon, and this race has proven to be my nemesis in spite of it being on the Seawall and a counter-clockwise loop of Stanley Park – my most frequented running route. My first crack was just bad luck – the annual Vancouver snowstorm (that every year everyone seems to forget happens every single year) happened to fall on race weekend and, for the first time in its history, the race was cancelled. In 2018 I went into the race with a niggle in my knee and finished barely able to walk (but too prideful to walk off rather than finish, to my detriment). Last year I wrecked my achilles a bit beforehand, and ended up using the race as a load test to see if I would be able to start a marathon build. It was fun, I suppose. I jogged the first seven and when things seemed like they were going okay I picked it up to goal marathon pace for the next 14, according to stats passing 147 others after 10 km, but still finished a rather disappointing (for me, at the time) 1:37:43. This year was going to be my year but my luck and a pesky virus had other plans. I resigned myself to go out at A Goal marathon pace around 4:25/km and if things held together well enough, shoot for a negative split and at least set a new course personal best. But that’s not how it went at all. As the countdown to gun start I threw out my run plan and decided to race.
I’d lined up with a few Mile2Marathon crew mates in the start corral – a couple on my level and a couple a few steps quicker – and decided to hang with them until I blew up or coughed out a lung. It was a stupid plan but that’s what I did. And it went great. We swapped leading a few times and for the most part held the pack together until crossing the 10 KM marker in 41:09 – on pace for a 1:26 finish – then I started to really feel the pace. I managed to hang on until 15 KM (Strava says 1:01:20 for my fastest 15 KM but I reply “bullshit.”) After that the fade was on. But I was having a pretty good day and I knew sub 90 was a realistic finish.
I took my last Maurten at 18 KM and hoped to kick at 19 KM to home but it didn’t kick. The hill from the Seawall to Beach winded me and I had little left for the next hill from Beach to Pacific under the Granville Bridge, but cresting the top I knew it was all downhill to the finish line. I rounded the last corner and checked for the clock but it was obscured behind the finish arch. I didn’t see my time until I’d crossed – 1:29:36 – for my second fastest half marathon on a day I figured I was going to call-it-in after just barely deciding not to stay in bed. I had a bit of a coughing fit in the finish chute for good measure. Later at home I checked my stats. I’d taken over eight minutes off this course but over the second half of the race I was passed by 65 other runners. What a difference a year makes. I’m convinced that if I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t have suffered the fade, so there’s going to be some lingering thoughts of missed opportunity, but right now I’m just thrilled with the race. It was a great day and I’m so glad I decided to give it hard from the start. Next up, a week of altitude training at 7,300 feet. Excited!