Friday, October 18, 2013
Race Recap: BMO Okanagan Half Marathon
Last Sunday was my final race of the year. In years past it's been my annual 'goal race', and it was the first Half Marathon I did 4 years ago. I think it will hold a special place in my racing calendar...it's my hometown race, it's got beautiful scenery, the finish line is right next to the lake shore, it's a fast and flat course, and on Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada the temperatures are usually perfect for running. I skipped the event last year, choosing instead to fly to Illinois to run the Chicago Marathon, so this year I was looking forward to getting back to Kelowna!
Since running the Kelowna Wine Country Half last month I haven't really been all that tuned-in to running. The mornings are darker now, and with a big office move, numerous projects and my family visiting from England I just didn't seem to carve out time in the day (which is why I always run in the early morning, before the excuses set in!) I managed 2 short runs this week - a 4 miler and a 3 miler and I felt slow, uncomfortable and heavy, really heavy..Ergh! I was not expecting great things for this race, so I just hoped I'd get a sub 2-hour once again, and finish the season in style!
This was the first time I've run the race in the dry. That could've been a bad sign for me, since I joke that all my PR's have been set in the rain, and until Sunday I hadn't run the Okanagan Half in the dry! It was however colder than usual, with temps around 4 or 5 degrees at 7am. Lines for the porta pottys were chronic and for the second time at this race I was still lining up when they played the national anthem in preparation for the start of the Half. With seconds to spare, my warm-up consisted of a quick sprint across the sports pitch to the start corrals and I luckily managed to duck in just ahead of the 2 hour pace bunny which was perfect.
The moment I ran through the start line and out of the park, onto the course I felt GREAT! The air was fresh, but invigorating and I felt so alive! And I just felt comfortable, from the moment I set off! (rare indeed - it usually takes me a couple of miles to settle down). And so was my race. What can I say, I loved every moment of it. I felt strong and fast and awesome! (and so very different to those little training runs earlier in the week!).
My Nike + app doesn't give me the pace I'm actually running, rather that at each mile I get the overall average pace. Of course that's easy on the first mile and I ran an 8:13. At the second mile the average increased to 8:15 (which afterwards I can see I ran an 8:18), then the third mile it dropped down to an average of 8:11 (which meant that I'd run quite a bit faster to have brought the average down over 3 miles and indeed after the fact I can see I ran a 7:58 which was my fastest mile of the race). After that 3rd mile I settled into an average of around 8:11-8:15 and felt comfortable and confident that this was going to be a good race for me!
Around the 10 mile mark I started feeling it. I slowed a little, but still maintained a strong form and mental attitude. I knew my previous PR was an average pace of 8:33 so I had a glimmer of hope that even as my pace started slowing I had quite a ways to go to slow that much - a PR was in sight! I briefly wondered if a sub 1:50 was possible, but didn't think too hard...
At the 11 mile marker I reasoned with myself that I could do anything for 18 minutes, so just kept on going. I could do this! As I turned into the finishers chute I could see the clock was 1:51:??, I found a shred of energy and sprinted the last 50 yards knowing the clock was most definitely under 1:52 and I'd just scored my second PR this year!
Chip time 1:51:10! Another 2 minutes off my PR from May this year! And I knew I'd pushed hard and deserved it!
It took a little longer than usual to find Chris. Only because he wasn't expecting me to finish quite so early! But he'd also just scored a fabulous result in the 10km - his best time in 15 years with a 44:27 and second place in his age group! Woot-woot - Go Chris!
So once again I'm left wondering what did I do to deserve this result - this new PR of mine? And honestly I'm not entirely sure. I admit I don't follow a training plan, I don't do speed work, I don't do many hill repeats. I do know that I've been having a conversation with myself about discomfort and burn - I think a lot of times in the past I haven't physically over-exerted myself. But this year I've got more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I ask myself 'what hurts'? and usually the honest answer is nothing. So I continue to push.
I also have to give serious consideration to my diet in the weeks leading up to a race. Both times this year I've joined in a Detox program the 7-10 days before the race and both times I've scored new PR's. The program doesn't have pills or potions or anything weird, just lots of whole, natural foods, mostly plant based, and for me I add a little organic meat for extra protein. My primary goal for doing a detox week is an opportunity to mentally reset and get 'back to basics' with good clean eating habits, but with 2 detoxes equalling 2 PR's I'd say that was a 100% success rate in also being athletically and mentally stronger. Coincidence?! (This is the detox I did, and there is a final program starting next week on 21 October. If the date doesn't work for you consider the 'lite' version - you'll still get the full handbook and a fantastic recipe guide with more than 80 recipes in it) - I truly am sold that this has worked for me, I'm not getting paid to promote this, but your Health Coach extraordinaire is my husband - he comes highly recommended ;-) Read about my Spring Detox experience here
I'm linking up today to Jill's Fitness Friday