The Bob Hartwell Runner's Challenge is organized by the Aurora running community to celebrate the spirit and life of the late Bob Hartwell.
Bob was a well-known Aurora, Ontario businessman, civic leader and veteran marathon runner. Bob died October 14, 2001 while running a marathon.
It had always been Bob's dream to organize an event in Aurora that would appeal to competitive and recreational runners alike. His friends have joined together to make Bob's dream a reality and to honour his memory.
I volunteered last year and loved the community spirit that surrounds a smaller, local event. This year, I was excited to participate in the half marathon - especially since it took place just minutes from where I live. It was also nice that at least a dozen of my running friends were also participating (and hubby, of course!) and my Mom and sister came out to volunteer.
The course was an out-and-back forming a zig-zag, running along only three streets. I enjoy straight stretches of road, but the elevation profile looked pretty intense, especially when all of my previous long distance races have been flat or downhill. Still, I had confidence that I could handle it since my clinic instructor incorporates significant climbs into almost all of our training runs.
I had a difficult time coming up with a game plan for this race. It's week two of a four-week stretch of races, including another half marathon two weeks from now. I knew I wanted to PR, but I also didn't want to wear myself out too much. Ultimately, my goal was to make it to the finish line without completely bonking in the last few miles as I have in all three of my previous half marathons.
On race morning we awoke to a temperature of 8C (46F) and light rain, which was expected to continue all day. We arrived at the community centre (and start/finish area) about an hour early to get our time chips and sign up for a post-race massage being offered by our physiotherapists. We were able to hang around inside and stay dry until just minutes before the start. Thankfully, the rain had reduced to a drizzle by this point.
I approached with first half with a goal of holding a steady pace around 5:30/KM (8:51/mi) without allowing the hills to wipe me out. I felt strong and remained right on target. Some of the hills were definitely challenging, but I was always able to make up any lost time on the downhills. My mantra the entire time was "What goes up, must come down!"
And then the skies opened up. We got caught in an absolute downpour. I had to laugh as I got completely drenched and sloshed through puddle after puddle.
When we finally hit the 7K marker I knew the worst of the hills were over and we turned onto a relatively flat stretch of road (still some rolling hills, but nothing like the first part). As we approached the turn-around, we crossed paths with the lead runners and I also got a quick glimpse of hubby and some friends. It was a good distraction.
Half-way split: 58:03 = 5:30/KM. I was right on target and feeling great!
I made my way back along the flat(ish) road and kept my pace pretty even. Before long, we hit those big rolling hills from the first section of the race. It was definitely more "down" than "up", but I felt myself struggling to hold my pace on the climbs. I took them one at a time and fortunately was always able to recover on the downhills.
I found myself waiting for the inevitable "wall" that I tend to experience around 16K/10mi in a half marathon, but it didn't happen! 16K, 17K, 18K and I was still feeling strong. I was definitely tired, but not feeling like "OH MY GOD, I'M NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT, SHOOT ME NOW, WHY DO I ALWAYS START TOO FAST?" I was proud of myself for holding a steady pace the entire way so far and intended to do so all the way to the finish, hopefully with a little pick-up at the end.
Sure enough, the last two kilometres were my fastest at 5:09 (=8:17/mi) and 4:57 (=7:58/mi). I sprinted around the corner and totally "chicked" this guy who is clearly in pain.
And the results are in!
1:56:16 (PR by almost 2 minutes!!!)
4/11 AG F25-29
4/11 AG F25-29
This was my first half marathon with even splits (second half only 10 seconds slower than the first), my first half marathon without a single walk break and my first post-race trip to the ER... but that's a whole other story. Here's what the affected area looks like now. Ow.
Hubby finished in 1:39 and placed first in his age group! We didn't even realize it until we heard his name over the loud-speaker in the community centre. Yay hubby!
We enjoyed our free post-race massages then headed home for an ice bath before heading to our friends' house for the post-race BBQ.
Thanks for reading!