Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oak Bay Half Marathon Race Report

Wow, can't believe that the race is done and over!  The Oak Bay Half Marathon is a fairly small and intimate race that  winds its way through the beautiful streets of the Oak Bay neighbourhood in Victoria.  At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like it since most of the races I've run in the past are pretty big with thousands and thousands of entrants, but overall I have to say I really enjoyed a smaller race.  More room to move - nothing drives me more crazy when you have to deke in and out of people who run five abreast (grrrrr!) - and no massive line ups for the portapotties.  Excellent!  They also do a relay at this half as well, which I took part in a few years ago through the bootcamp I go to. 

For about a week before the race, all I kept hearing about on the weather reports was about an impending weather system that was going to hit us - you guessed it - smack dab on Sunday.  I kept obsessively checking the weather and it just kept getting worse and worse - rain, rain and more rain!  Argh!  I haven't raced in the rain before, so I didn't really know how to handle it or what I was going to wear.

As usual, Hubs and I set out our gear the night before.  I kept changing my mind and eventually changed the shirt to a short sleeve - I figured the rain would just make any sort of sleeve unbearable.  I also decided to wear a fuel belt as the course map didn't note what kilometre the aid stations were at.

I also did something this race that I hadn't tried before - a pace band:

Note the time..hee hee:

The last race I ran I really wished I'd had one - I had my garmin so I could see my pace, but I didn't know if I was losing or gaining time.  Because I knew it was going to rain, I covered it in packing tape so it wouldn't turn into a big soggy mess on my wrist.

For this race, we never ended up running the race course so we decided to drive it the night before to get an idea of the hills and markers.  SO glad we did this because there were some long gradual hills that were pretty killer, so we knew that we had to gird our loins.  The start of the race course was fairly flat and there were some good downhill portions, but the second half wasn't pretty.  There was one fairly big hill at the end, followed by a short one that crested just before the final sprint to the finish line.  This hill would haunt me as it stayed on my mind the whole race.

Our plan was to get up at around 6:30am to get down to the race by 7:30-ish.  Hubs didn't have a great sleep, but I slept fairly well the night before and felt pretty refreshed.  Of course, the first thing I did was look outside and sure was a torrential downpour.  To keep ourselves dry while we waited for the race to start, we tried to stay under some awnings and had brought along garbage bags to cover ourselves with.  I was actually going to bring my iPhone with me so I could take photos, but I knew it was going to be way too wet, so sorry guys...not many race photos!  We meandered our way over to the start line, and hung out at the back of the pack.  At 8am sharp, off we went!  I gave Hubs a kiss, we wished each other luck and I took off.


The first few kilometres flew by and to be honest, I don't remember a whole lot about them.  I kept checking my garmin to see what my pace was, and was surprised to see that I was hoofing target pace was 5:41, so my goal was to stay below that for all my splits.  My race strategy in the past was to go out conservatively and try to run a negative split but I decided to try to maintain a 5:30 pace this round to start and try to hang on to that.  I was feeling really good, so went with it but tried to keep mindful of the fact that I didn't want to go out too fast and risk burning out at the end.  For the most part, the majority of this section of the course was flat or downhill, resulting in some good splits.  I also kept checking my time against my pace band, and was happy to see that I was banking some time. 

1K:  5:28
2K:  5:33
3K:  5:27
4K:  5:30
5K:  5:22
6K:  5:22
7K:  5:24 - Gu time!


I was feeling strong up to about 9K, when I hit my first hill - not a sharp one, but a long gradual climb.  I started to feel winded, and thought uh oh...not good considering I wasn't even half way yet.  I tried to put it out of my mind, but was wondering if I had gone out too fast.  I had to really start concentrating on my stride and was trying to find someone who could pace me.  I ended up picking this girl in a hot pink shirt that ran around the same pace I was running, and tried to keep her in my sights.  I was really happy to see the halfway marker and boy, it was raining hard.  At one point, I took water at the aid station and sloshed it all over myself but it didn't really matter since I was already drenched!

8K:   5:18
9K:   5:25
10K: 5:22
11K: 5:25
12K: 5:35
13K: 5:32
14K: 5:36 - Gu time!

Time at the halfway point - 57:00


This last stretch was pretty tough and admittedly, I had a bit of a mental breakdown.  The hills were really getting to me, and I ended up taking many 10 - 15 second walk breaks to gather myself as I was really, really tired.  The only saving grace of the hills was that around halfway through the race I started to get a stitch which was made worse by the downhills, but going uphill made it better.  A double edged sword!  I was running slower on the downhills because of the sidestitch, but ran faster on the uphill - I guess just to power through it.  I kept thinking about the big hill that was waiting for me, and I started thinking that I wasn't sure if I could even run it.  I knew I had some banked time, but my legs were feeling really heavy and my mental focus started to disintegrate.

At around 15K, I grabbed some water at an aid station and took a quick walk break when one of my bootcamp instructors who was in the relay spotted me and screamed out "Goooooo Cindy!!!"  That really perked me up and gave me energy to keep moving.  A few steps later, the owner of my bootcamp  absolutely screamed out my name which gave me a huge giggle!  Feeling brighter, I found the energy to keep moving on.  I was exhausted though...and you can tell by my splits I was totally slowing down.  I'd lost sight of my hot pink race bunny ages ago.  As my garmin chimed out 20K, I looked up and saw the nasty big hill was ahead of me.  I really had to dig deep and managed to run the whole thing but it wasn't pretty.  As I crested the last hill I could see the finish line, and could hear the announcer counting down to how many seconds left for a sub 1:56 finish...gaaah!  I can admit this now - anything in the 1:55 range was "my secret whisper goal"...but I just didn't have the kick in the end.  Sorry I held back on you guys.  Final splits:

15K:  5:34
16K:  5:39
17K:  5:45
18K:  5:39
19K:  5:53 <-----  as you can tell, this is where I completely fell apart
20K:  5:45
21K:  5:47

I couldn't believe A goal was anything with a "1" in front of it, but I was stunned that I'd done four minutes under that and a personal best by five minutes!  As I grabbed my medal, I hobbled off to the side to wait for Hubs to come in - I could feel my legs cramping up almost immediately and my feet were raw from the friction of the wet socks.  I watched and cheered some of the other racers coming in and as always, it's absolutely part of the race that I enjoy so much.  I soon saw Hubs and cheered him on - he finished with a time of 2:08:54, and was happy with his time especially considering he could barely run 10K last fall without being in pain!  So proud. 

Here's a picture of what the weather was like (photo credit to Body Dynamics Bootcamp) was absolutely pouring out, and I was soaked right through to my underwear.  I didn't feel it at first, but after I found Hubs and we started walking back to the car, I started getting really, really cold.  I actually think I was carrying around an extra two or three pounds of water weight as I was wringing out my vest.  Apparently a girl who was walking the race started going hypothermic and they had call an ambulance, poor thing.  I didn't feel the rain when I was running, but I am completely and utterly thankful that there was no wind because that would have completely horrible.  Definitely the long, hot shower I took afterwards was the best.thing.ever.

Chip time:  1:56:09
Pace:  5:32/km
Overall:  388/777
Age Group (F40-44):  26/62

1 comment:

Hunnybee said...

Congrats again on the sub 2!