Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Race report: Road 2 Hope half marathon

Last race of the year, last shot at that sub 1:50 half marathon goal.

Going into this I was not feeling confident, at all. After Oakville I took a full week off running, and then eased back into things. I had enough time between the two races that I could have done a three week mini-build with speedwork and tempos and such, but instead I pretty much half-assed it. I mean my training was decent but not exactly the hardcore type of stuff I probably should have been doing to take a real run at a PB. And my right hip was bothering me off and on, blah blah blah excuse-cakes.

So my head wasn't really into it, but sometimes you just gotta try and maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

Or maybe there will be a headwind. D’oh. Am I giving away the ending?

Annnnnnyway, race expo Friday, picked up the ugliest race shirt of the year (the Sulphur Springs shirt was also hideous, but at least it doesn't have the big ol' makes everyone look pregnant swoosh over the belly), took it easy Saturday, woke up early Sunday well rested and ready to go.

Oh so THAT'S how you do duckface. Seriously, I'm not pregnant. WTF shirt.
The husband type person and I made our way over to Confederation Park and got stuck in the massive traffic jam leading into the park – note to self for next year, leave a bit earlier and take the back way to bypass that nonsense.

Many filters applied to this picture to make us look slightly less zombie-ish.
Still we made it onto a shuttle bus and up to the start with enough time to spare to stand in the porta potta line and then meet up with various running friends. My husband finally got to meet Zindine, who I've been cheerfully blaming for all my bike-related purchases. Sorry to throw you under the bus on that one, Zindine!

Pre-race with the girls, photo via Kim. Nicole, Sam, Patty, Amy, Kim. Me.

Soon enough it was time to go. The usual bottleneck at the start, but I just followed Nicole and we got to pace fairly quickly.

About 1k in I felt someone brush up against my butt and was like WTF? Then I realized it was my husband passing me, on his way to a sub 1:46 (and if his ankle hadn't decided to be an asshole in the last 2k he would have been easily sub 1:45). So happy for him setting a new PB! And that it wasn't some random stranger grabbing my ass!

I’d forgotten how very long the first section of this race feels, because you are looking forward to the downhill on the expressway, but there’s still a solid 5k to do before you get there. I was feeling good, though, and the pace Nicole was setting was coming fairly easily.

(I'm going to be up front here - I'm just too lazy to type in all the splits. Send me a follow request on Strava if you are dying to see them. Otherwise just picture the first 14k as going well, and the rest as slow and painful).

On to the Red Hill, where the downhill made us pick up the pace, but the headwind made it not nearly as easy feeling as I would have liked. As we got towards the bottom Amy let us know she would be dropping back, and I thought how nice it would be to drop back with her, but put the thought out of my mind because my legs were feeling great and there was no reason to back off at that point. I took my usual gel at 8k and everything was ticking along nicely. Patty had decided early on to hang back with Kim, so it was down to just me with Nicole & Sam.

Off the Red Hill, where Nicole dropped back at a water station, caught up, but then dropped off for good (which I didn't realize until we were like a km further along – I was in the ZONE through this section). The stupid brick hill was stupid, as usual, and it was obvious there was going to be a strong headwind when we got down to the beach and started the out portion towards Burlington. I wasn't looking forward to that. I made this bizarre pact with myself that I wasn't going to tell Sam that THIS SUCKS until we were at least to 14k. Like somehow if I didn't say it out loud it wouldn't actually be true.

My husband going up the stupid brick hill on our scouting run a few weeks ago - I swear they make it bigger and steeper on race day.

Sure enough once we turned the wind was like FUCK YOU AND YOUR DREAMS OF A PB! HAHAHAHAHA! I turned to Sam and said ‘this wind fucking sucks’ and whoops, the person running just behind my left shoulder was not so much Sam. He did agree with me, though! So I was running solo and largely by feel, knowing I should be reasonably on pace if I could just hold something around 5:10-5:15/km.

That didn't happen.

Not even CLOSE.

My thumbs say yay, but my eyes say wow do my legs hurt. Check out that nice scenery, though - it is a lovely place to run.
Instead my pace into the wind settled into the 5:30 range, and even that was taking a lot of me. When I reached the turn around and was finally heading into the last 5k towards the finish, I glanced at the ‘overall average pace’ on my watch and tried to do the math, which always goes well late in a race while oxygen deprived. I was pretty sure sub 1:50 was out of reach, but realized if I could push just a little harder I could probably come in at 1:50:xx for a PB.

Oh, I'm having a great time, why do you ask? Sam found this photo for me on facebook. Original source.

So I pushed and sped up. And that lasted for a grand total of one km. Then the legs said nope. Nothing left for the last 4k, with my only motivation to not walk being that the sooner I could get to the finish, the sooner it would be over. Also, it turns out I got two giant blood blisters on my left foot, thanks to some overly enthusiastic callus maintenance last week. Don’t mess with your foot calluses the week before a race, kids! It will not end well!

Chip time: 1:52:07
Overall place: 589/1707
Age group place: 40/143
Gender place: 212/1005

Last year's medal was a lot nicer.
So yep, I blew up. But I’m glad I tried! Also, I’m glad that’s over with and I can spend November just running and cycling whatever and whenever I want, with no training plan. That sounds really, really, REALLY appealing right now. I may have a date with this race again next year, though. I am rather fond of it, ugly t shirts and ugly wind and all.

Hot soup at the finish is the BEST THING EVER. I'm guessing it comes out of a giant can labelled Campbell's, but seriously, BEST. All cold weather races should have soup.

Post race also via Kim, with the addition of Patty's husband (first half! congrats to him!) and that dude who hangs out with me sometimes.
Speaking of next year, there are many plans a foot (the upcoming races list over in the sidebar has some new additions; swimming is in my very near future…), but I’ll post about that separately in a few days. Or a week. Or something. Stay tuned! Next official training plan starts in early December!


  1. Great job and a great season!! I can't wait to see what's in store for you next year and hopefully I can find my way into more of your training and racing! (ATB, R2H, Iron Girl?....)

    1. Thanks, Janice! Already signed up for ATB! Iron Girl is on my radar, but I'm waiting for MSC to post their races for next year before I start planning out my triathlon calendar. So many to choose from!

  2. I like you duck face. Super sexy. Sorry I didn't say 'goodbye' I was never sure if you could really hear us talking around you with your headphones in and I actually didn't intend to be gone for long. LOL I read yesterday that MSC registration opens Dec 1. We need to discuss. :O)

  3. That's a fantastic time in the wind...you would have had your sub 1:50 in better conditions for sure. Nice work out there. Looking forward to hearing more about 2015, but will see you at ATB!

  4. Awesome job sticking with it Emma! The day was not the best to say the least. HA. Onward --- to off season! Woo!

  5. It's fun reading this right after Nicole's. Gives it some interesting context.

    And I'm honestly laughing about your "husband type person" grabbing your butt during the race. There are so many ways that could have gone wrong, like you slapping him out of reflex or him grabbing the wrong person... But you're happily married and it all works out!

    Too bad about the wind. Your animated GIF seems appropriate.

    I noticed that the triathlons aren't on your race list for next year yet... ;)