To prep for January’s Goofy Race and a Half Challenge I wanted to try and run back to back races in training. Typically I might wait for the Last Chance Half in November to run something a little closer to the big race weekend. The weather has not been all that favourable the last few years though. Instead I decided to run my back to back races this weekend at the Robert Hamilton Memorial 5 Miler on Saturday and the MEC Half Marathon on Sunday.
Robert Hamilton Memorial 5 Miler
I had to pass on this year’s running of the Little Bloggy Blue Birds at the Banff Ekiden Relay because I wanted to run the Robert Hamilton 5 Miler. I figured a race near home would give my legs a better chance to recover between races. The race started at 10:00. I met up with Ange, one of my fellow Calgarian Oiselle Flock runners before the race.
I had specific instructions from Coach Angie on how to approach this race. She wanted me to run the first four miles at endurance pace, then pick it up to a tempo pace for the final mile home. The race was short on volunteers this year so at the pre-race meeting the 5 mile runners were told to watch the chalk marks on the pathway and there would be an arrow in chalk and cones for the turnaround.
I kept a strict eye on my Garmin to make sure I didn’t start out too fast. The first mile went by in 10:03 and the next in 9:55. I was feeling good at this pace! As I neared where the turnaround should be I was keeping an eye out for the ladies just a ways ahead of me to start coming back towards me. Before that happened the girl in front of me paused over an arrow on the ground and turned around. By my Garmin it was a little early, but sure enough it looked like an arrow…just with no cones beside it. I just assumed that maybe the people in front of me got a little excited and missed the turnaround.
On the way back a lady passed me and I mentioned my confusion over the turnaround. She mentioned that the arrow was originally in the wrong spot and the cones were just a bit farther ahead. Doh! I turned around too early! Oh well, nothing I could do about it now, I just had to keep executing my plan. Mile 3 went by in 9:53 and mile 4 in 9:55. It was now time to turn things up and race back to the finish line! My brain was fighting near the end but I kept telling myself there wasn’t much farther to go and I was right on track.
I crossed the finish line at 48:36 with 4.95 miles on my Garmin and a 9:18 pace on my final mile. I told the race director about my confusion with the turnaround and she mentioned a few other folks had issues too. We got a gingerbread medal and a bag of coffee when we crossed the finish line.
This race was also special because this was Peat’s first spectating gig! He seemed to have a blast seeing all the runners.
After the race it was home to eat and to put some compression socks on! I had a half marathon to race the next day!
MEC Calgary Half Marathon
This was my very first MEC race and it was hard to pass up the opportunity to run a half marathon for only $15. There was also a marathon, 10K and 5K. My friends Victoria and Michelle were running the full, and Ange, Jen and Tina were running the half. I wanted a chance to say hi to Victoria before her race started so Ange and I met her bright and early at the start.
It was so chilly out! Despite multiple layers I was freezing! It was great to catch up with these two ladies before the race though. Soon enough 9:00 came around and Victoria was heading out for her marathon.
With about half an hour to go before our race I figured I should visit the porta potties. There were special ones for the ladies!
Soon Jen and Tina arrived…
…and I dropped my gear bag, took a gel and we were off! My instructions for today were to attempt to negative split the race. I also wanted to race a really strong half marathon on tired legs. I’d stick with my 9:1 run/walk intervals, gels every 40 minutes, and I was carrying my own bottle of Osmo nutrition so that I could drink fluids on my walk breaks instead of relying on the water stops. Luckily within a few minutes of running the temperature felt comfortable, the feeling came back into my feet and I was happy with my decision to race in short sleeves and capris.
Again I kept a watchful eye on my Garmin to ensure I wasn’t going out too fast. I wanted to be sure I’d be able to get that negative split! It was also really pretty running through Pearce Estate Park and into Inglewood on the east side of town. I’ve never run this part of the pathway before!
The miles were ticking off like clockwork and my legs still felt great. I hit the halfway point at 1:05:36 with an average pace of 10:00/mi on my watch. Alright, I knew what I had to do now! I also knew the tough part was ahead…where my legs might start to feel tired and my pace might start to slip off. I needed to stay smart and on top of things. I also knew I needed to keep up with my gels and hydration plan through this final stretch. With two miles left to go I attempted to pick things up just a tiny bit. Time to forgo the walk breaks and up the pace just a tiny bit. I told myself to stay focused and to keep pushing, that this was the part of the race where I would show what I was made of.
I looked down at my watch to make sure I had that negative split in hand and I realized I was running the course long. I hit 13.1 miles at 2:10:43, a nice little negative split of 29 seconds. When I realized I was going to have to run a little longer my brain wanted to rebel and give up but I quickly gave myself a stern talking to and this was not the time or place to give up! I pushed it to the finish line and crossed in 2:12:40. Immediately after I finished I filled up my water bottle at the hydration station...
…then headed back to the pathway to cheer Ange and Jen in...
…and later Tina!
My takeaway from the weekend:
I feel like my weekend of back to back racing was a success! I was able to execute my plan and my pacing was spot on. I think this may have almost been the first time I’ve ever negative split a half marathon before as well. I was able to silence the negative voice in my brain and to keep my effort up when it would have been easy to slack off. My time wasn’t a PR, but it was fairly close to my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon time in May. Last year I was chasing a 2:15 half marathon all year and I just couldn’t get close to it. To come in under that time now, on tired legs, feels really good. I’m thrilled with my race execution.
And with that…bring on the rest of training for the Goofy Challenge!