Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Calgary Half Marathon

I ran a new personal best in Calgary on the weekend - 2:16:56! (The time on the clock in the picture is the gun time, but my chip time is my official time.)
Before the race I was feeling disappointed with myself, because I'd let my training slip in the last 2 weeks before the race. I was tired of running, particularly the long runs, because I've been in training since the end of January. Mentally, I was lowering my expectations and trying to convince myself that as long as I finished the race I would be happy, regardless of my time.
The morning of the race came early, as I was staying in Airdrie and had to rise at 4:30am to get ready and have Nicole and her mom drive me to downtown Calgary. (They were good supporters, not complaining too much about the early hour, and I saw them at 2 different points along the way, as well as at the finish line. My friend Donna and her kids came out to cheer me at the end as well. After such an extreme effort it's always nice to see a friendly face at the end!)
I lined up with the 2:30 pace bunny with hopes to finish a little bit ahead of her. After a short while I decided on a new "pacer" - a guy with a bright yellow jersey and a serious-looking water belt (he was carrying 8 bottles!). I overheard him say that he wanted to finish the full in 4 hours, 30 min, which means if I could keep up with him, them I should be able to finish the half in about 2:15. (The courses for each race were the same up until the 18km mark).
I felt fairly strong in the first half, trying a variety of mental tricks to keep my pace up. I finally settled on repeating my own mantra in my head, "find your own rhythm and run in it." In a crowd of over 6400 runners, it's sometimes hard to find your own pace and stick to it.
I usually start to bonk around the 14k mark, and was happy to find that I was doing ok at that point. At the 16k mark, I met up with my pacer and we ran together for the next 2km. His name was Wayne, from Edmonton, and I don't think I could have finished the race with such a good time if I hadn't had someone to follow. We talked for 2k until he branched off to continue with his full marathon. It was nice to have the distraction for a little while, when my body was starting rebel a little.
After climbing the hill right at the end (what the heck is a hill doing right at the end of the race?!) I managed to cross the finish line upright, with a new personal best. And having said before the race that this would be my last for the summer, I now wonder if perhaps I might try just one more this season...maybe just a little bit faster?

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