Saturday, March 27, 2010

Comox Vally Half Marathon

March 21, 2010

I hadn't originally planned on doing this race since I haven't been focusing on the half distance. While the mileage in my training schedule is sufficient it does not include that many long runs, nor does it currently include any hard tempo runs. Right now, it is all about the track sessions generally with intervals between 150m and 1 Mile. I have a difficult time not racing though and doing Comox would allow me to complete 5 IRS races and get ranked for the series. It's funny how a points system convinces me to want to get that ranking even though they don't mean that much since most of the best runners don't complete enough races to get placed in the overall standings. Anyway, I figured that I could pull it off despite the lack of specific training and given the strong season I have had so far, a PB was certainly possible (I ran a 1:15:21 here last year).

Sonja and I headed up with some other Harriers, Julie and John and despite my missing the first turnoff to Courtenay we still arrived with plenty of time. Given the distance, I only did a short warm up and arrived at the start line with just a couple minutes to spare. Sonja was worried that I would miss the start which would definitely suck, but luckily that has not happened to me yet.

The first few km went well and I posted some good split times. They were sub 3:30 km which was faster than my goal pace, but I knew this part of the course was fast and if I wanted to get my goal, I had to bank a few seconds here. Right away I found myself running on my own with Craig Odermatt, Jonathan Withey, and Neil Holm slowing pulling away from me and no one close behind me. This would be the situation for the remainder of the race and I think this may be been the most alone I have been during a road race.

While I've known a number of people who have had very good times on this course and say that it is fast, it is definitely not flat. From 6-12km, the course consists of either a slight or moderate uphill grade or rolling hills. There is nothing crazy, but it definitely slows your pace and wears away on the energy. Once I started the climb, I began to feel the strain. This was not good as I was less than halfway into the race. I still managed to keep my pace reasonable, with the slowest km clocking in at 3:45 (the entire km is a gradual climb), but I knew then and there that it wasn't going to be a great race for me. As I neared the turnaround I saw the leader David Jackson well ahead of the competition on his way back. When I finally made it there myself, I found that there was no one close behind me as Keith Mills was at least a minute back. Unless I totally blew apart on the return I would be able to maintain my place.

The return downhill was a welcome relief and I was able to pull back a portion of the time that I had lost on the climb. Unfortunately, around 14km I got a nasty side stitch that threatened to really take the wind out of my sails. I'm sure it cost me a few seconds, but luckily it subsided quickly and didn't return. Another annoyance started to creep up in the form of a hot spot on my right foot. I was wearing a pair of light trainers that I had worn for up to 16km with no issues before, so I found it a bit of a shock to be having problems this time. It continued to worsen for the remainder of the race and I knew that I'd have a nasty blister to contend with later, but pushed though the discomfort anyway.

The final few km were tough and my split times were unremarkable compared to what I did on the way out. I was not falling apart, but certainly was not feeling strong like I recall being last year. Despite this, I did notice that I was closing the gap on Neil. He was much closer to me than he was at the mid point in the race so he must have been suffering as well. I focused on pulling closer to him, but just couldn't make it happen. Last year, I hammered to the finish closing the last 1.1km in 3:39, this year it took me 3:52 which shows my relative condition. Despite a less than stellar race in terms of how I felt, I still managed to come in a respectable 1:14:46 which was 35 seconds better than last year and a modest PB. On a good day, I certainly think that a sub 1:14:00 would be possible and perhaps even faster on a flatter course.

Finishing up in discomfort. Photo credit: David Brown

David easily took the win in 1:08:25 and Care Wakely won the woman's division in 1:24:16. This year was more competitive than last year since my time would have given me a 4th place finish in 2009 rather than the 7th I received this year. Sonja ran well getting another large PB and a for the first time ever in a IRS, a first place in her age category! Results.

My splits:
3:21, 3:28, 3:24, 3:28, 3:29, (17:09 5k) 3:36, 3:38, 3:45, 3:37, 3:37 (35:23 10k), 3:37, 3:35, 3:29, 3:20, 3:32 (52:56 15k), 3:27, 3:35, 3:38, 3:39, 3:39 (1:10:54 20k), 3:52 (1.1k).

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