Monday, May 11, 2009

Mississauga Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday marked the grand finale of my 4 (races) in 4 (weeks) series: the Mississauga Half Marathon.

After pouring rain and thunderstorms all day Saturday, we awoke to a cool, cloudy and windy (but dry!) morning on Sunday. The temperature was only about 3C (37F) when we left the house, but it was closer 7C (44F) by the time the race started. Still, it was brisk. I was second-guessing my wardrobe choice of capri pants and a short-sleeve top, but decided to stick with the plan and brought an old sweater to toss once we got moving.

We arrived extra early with more than an hour to spare and found a great parking spot just steps from the start line (this worked out great for ditching our sweats at the last minute).

We wandered around a bit and made a few trips to the port-o-potties while we waited. I also got to catch up with several people from my marathon clinic, including our coach. I told him that I thought I had another PR in me.

Hubby took a quick pic of me in my starting corral, hopeful for a sub-1:55 finish. (I would later remember this photo during the race and will myself to keep moving so I would actually be able to post it!)



Before long, it was time to ditch the warm-ups, wish each other good luck and line up with thousands of other runners in our respective corrals. I felt just a slight chill huddled in the crowd and knew I would warm up quickly once we got going. I was feeling good and ready to go!

In the days leading up to the race, I was torn between an aggressive goal/strategy (~1:50) and conservative goal/strategy (~1:55). In the end, I took Yumke's advice and wore both a 1:50 and 1:55 pace band - unfortunately, I didn't tape it well enough and managed to snag it on something, tearing it off before the race even started. Still, I had a good idea of the target paces and resolved to try to keep it somewhere in the middle for the first half and see how I felt in the later in the race.

It took me almost 2:30 to cross the start line and I had numbers reeling through my head the entire time. When we eventually got moving, I relaxed a little and tried to find my 'comfortably hard' pace. It was pretty crowded for a while, but I didn't find myself jockeying too much.

Unfortunately, I don't have splits. I had decided to use the lap button on my Garmin at each kilometre marker, but forgot to turn off auto-lap. Oops. I couldn't be bothered to mess with the buttons once the race had started, so my laps are all over the place and I ended up with 29 laps for 21 kilometres. Oh well - I'll figure this out eventually!

As a result, I relied on a combination of average pace (taking in to account my watch being slightly ahead of the kilometre markers) and checking my time at each marker. I was doing a lot of math in my head, which turned out to be a pretty good distraction.

0-5K

We headed west (straight into the wind) on a slight incline for the first few kilometres before enjoying a sharp decline to about the 5K mark. The wind didn't feel too good, but I knew it would be short-lived and didn't let it bother me. I kept my pace right around 5:15/km and felt good.



5-10K

At 5K we turned south for some relief from the wind. I took in the scenery as we followed a quiet winding road lined with lush forests. I found myself immersed in green and felt elated as the kilometres ticked by. I took my first gel (Gu Tri-Berry) around 7K. As usual, I did not carry my own water, but took advantage of the water stations every ~2KM alternating Gatorade and water. (Side note: I'm getting pretty good at taking water without walking. I can slow to a quick jog for a few paces and I'm good to go.)

We ran a loop within the University of Toronto Mississauga Campus and faced our first real incline at this point. It felt harder than I thought it should, but I hung on and recovered on the subsequent downhill.



10-15K

At 10K we faced the "real" hill. It was a steep climb and it was painful, but I knew there was plenty of downhill to come. Still, it wiped me out quite a bit and I struggled over the next couple kilometres. The usual thoughts started running through my head: "I started too fast," I'm fading," "I have to keep this up for HOW much longer?!" My pace was right on target and I remembered my photo under the 1:45-1:54 sign. There was no turning back now and I was not going to sell myself short because I felt a little tired.

We were running through some really nice neighbourhoods with great crowd support (especially at the intersections) and I took an orange wedge from one generous spectator (yum!). I took my second gel at the same time (Gu Chocolate) as we approached the 14K aid station.

Just before 15K, the marathoners veered to the right as we continued straight. I remember thinking to myself that I was glad not to be running 42.2 kilometres that day. :) (Marathoners rock!) Suddenly, the 6K to the finish didn't seem like much.



15-21.1K



I was tired, but I was on pace and knew I had to hold on. Around 16K we reached the waterfront (paved) trail, which would take us on a winding but relatively flat route (gentle rollers) all the way to the end. I was doing everything in my power to distract myself and keep my legs moving. I slowed slightly, despite wanting more than anything to speed up. I was counting steps, counting people, counting down the kilometres.


Blue = HM

With 2K to go, I glanced at my time and knew that I could come in under 1:55 even if I slowed to 6:00/km (not happening!). I managed to pick it up slightly, but even as I passed the 20K marker, the finish line seemed miles away.

In the final few hundred metres, we followed the path around a bend along the water to the home stretch. It was NEVER-ENDING and I couldn't even see the finish line until it was practically right in front of me.



But sure enough, there it was. The official clock showed 1:54XX and I raised my arms in the air as I crossed the line, knowing I had done it. One more PR in the books!

Gun time 1:54:50
Chip time 1:52:29
Overall 1191/4409
Gender 355/2509
F25-29 62/340




(Hubby also PR'd with 1:31:50.)

We stuck around after the race and grabbed a bench along the waterfront trail to cheer on the marathoners (and remaining half'ers - including Emily and her "army"). I unfortunately missed Yumke finishing a strong #6 in 3:25, but got a hug from Marci as she approached the finish of her 12th marathon - and she was looking fabulous! Melanie's day didn't exactly go as planned, but she was a real trooper and has a lot to be proud of. Upon reading her story, I was reminded of John Bingham's famous quote:

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

Thanks for reading.

35 comments:

Mel-2nd Chances said...

i shoulda turned left with the halfers. Thanks for the shout out, appreciate it :) hugs. Congrats again on holding strong, and completing your stellar streak of 4 races in 4 weeks, what are you going to do with all the extra time this long weekend with no race! :D

Heather said...

Wow, great job! I had to laugh at your pic with the lake path and arrow - I hate that feeling when you know the finish is close but you can't see it and it feels a million miles away. Congrats to your hubby, too!

Mama said...

Great job! I hate it when you can't see the finish until you are on it. The HM I ran this weekend had a tight right at .05 from the end and that's the only time you could see the finish (thank goodness for the 13 mile sign that let me know I was almost done LOL)

MCM Mama

I've Always Been a Joiner said...

Congrats again! I saw some of your friends come in and it was amazing!

Blyfinn said...

Awesome job! Great race report.

Runner Leana said...

Marlene, you are such an inspiration setting PR after PR. Congratulations on another fantastic race. You rock!! Sub 1:50 is in your future now!!

And congratulations to your hubby too. Seriously speedy!!

Run Sarah said...

What an amazing PR Marlene - you are an inspiration for me, as always. Awesome finish to your 4 race series!

Jess said...

Great report and congrats again on your PR!

Mark said...

Fantastic!! Great report and what a great four weeks of running!

teacherwoman said...

Great race report! All these races in such a short amount of time! Way to go!

D10 said...

Nice job! You rocked it out there. Hope you enjoy a weekend of no racing!

Denise said...

Great race report! Congrats to you...and Hubs! You both did great!!

trialsoftraining said...

this was a Great race report!! makes me want to get out there and run in this morning sunshine (taunting me out the window....ugh)! You did AWESOME! I love that quote too - just a 5K with a 10 mile warm up. haha! Every time I see the 10-mile mark I think "just a 5k left!" :)

Marcy said...

YAY Marlene! You're bustin out PRs left and right! Sweetness! ;D ;D CONGRATS on yet another fine performance!

Laurel said...

What can I say that hasn't already been said other than YOU'RE AMAZING!!!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

What an accomplishment!! You rock!!

yumke said...

Hey, congrats on a PB, and I think you can successfully target a 1:50 next time. When's the next half marathon? And did i miss your marathon plans for the fall?

And thank for sticking around for us marathoners, a long wait on a chilly day. I find it hard to spot people in medium to big races.

Toni said...

Congrats on all of your PRs! Great race report.

Lacey Nicole said...

i loved this race report!!!!!! i also feel like you handled every challenge so well- that visual image you had in your head just led you right to success!!! what a great picture, too, and something to "hold on to" while running. congrats to you and hubby!

J said...

You and your husband are racing machines with both of you PRing at the race! Great job Marlene, I am so happy for you and all the accomplishments that you have made these last few weeks!!

tfh said...

Fantastic race report! It's SO hard to finish hard when you can't see the finish line, but you did it!

Road Warrior said...

Congrats on the unbelievable time, Marlene. That's unreal!

joyRuN said...

Excellent time, Marlene! Congratulations!!!!

Jamie said...

Congrats again on the PR! Great job!!!

JenZen said...

4 in 4...WOW..JUST WOW! Great job and great race report. Loved it!

Mike 5305 said...

ran with you throughout .. my first half also .. not my last!! recall doing the math at 15k as well and that endless last k .. see you out there again!!

Mike #5305

aron said...

AWESOME job girl!!!! you are doing so great with all these races!

Dori said...

Well done, Marlene! Congratulations on another PR.

RoadBunner said...

Congratulation! Awesome job!!

lindsay said...

man what will you do this weekend? no race! craziness!! congrats again on a great pr :)

Brian said...

Awesome job! That is one hell of a PR and a great race report. I love the Half marathon quote on there too!

Sonia said...

Everything seem to be going against you with the pacing (funky garmin, losing the pace bands!) but you did it!!! Great race great report! So happy for you! =) PBing can make you feel on top of the world!!

I Run for Fun said...

Congratulations! You did so well. PRs are so sweet!

I love that sign about half marathons.

The Happy Runner said...

I love that half-marathon sign, too!

WAY TO GO!!!!

Fair Weather Runner said...

YAY for a PR, adding to all your others this year. That feeling has got to be good! Congrats.