I did it!!! I set a Personal Best for the Half Marathon and beat my previous PB from 1988 by 4 minutes and 25 seconds. I set that record when I was 22 years old. I was shocked that I had such a good race. I finished 10th out of 306 in my age group, 68th out of 1897 overall men and 81st out of 4408 overall.
Last night I was concerned that I was going to have one of my worst races. Earlier in the day I was cleaning the barbecues, getting one ready to sell, and was on my feet for a few hours and working hard, lots of scrubbing. I was getting a sore upper back and my left thigh seemed to have lactic acid build up. I didn't get a chance to lie on the couch and rest until around 7:30 pm. I was also concerned that I didn't Carbo load properly. I had a barbecued steak and potato dinner last night, about 9 creamsicles, and chicken and ribs the night before. Not the ideal Carbo loading formula.
My other concerns were physical. Would my lower abdomen be okay? Would the ball of my left foot be okay? and would my left knee be okay? All of these are minor injuries and would they get worse? Would they get worse and jeopardize my triathlon performance this year.
I got about 6 hours of sleep last night and was up about 3 times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, which is a good sign that I was well hydrated. I did have a concern because one of the times I got up I was sweating like crazy and my body felt like it going to burn up. Not a good sign a few hours before a race. When I woke up I did the regular pre-race ritual of having coffee, a bagel with butter, lots of water and an Advil.
My biggest and most difficult decision was to determine what clothes to wear for the race. It was only 7 C outside and it's a difficult temperature to dress for. The decision I had to make was whether I go with a singlet or long sleeved shirt. I decided to wear a singlet and put a long sleeve shirt on top and figured when I got to the race I'd make the final decision at the starting line. Driving to the race I was really second guessing myself and wondering if my leg strength would last for the entire race and wished I had eaten better and rested more in preparation for the race.
I did about 10 minutes of light jogging and a few surges before the race. I was really worried because my heart rate was higher than I would have liked it to have been. In the car driving to the site it got as low at 40 bpm resting and in the 130's during the warm up. My legs still didn't feel fresh after the warm up.
It was cold and windy at the start. Very few people had a singlet or armless shirts. At the last minute I threw off the long sleeve shirt, which I never got back, and went with the singlet. It was a good decision. Within 200 meters of running I felt fine, although I was second guessing myself about how well I'd do and had to do some "positive" self talk. Then I remembered what Mark Allen said about racing, "empty your mind, don't think and stay in the moment". Which I did and I settled into a "blissful" state.
For the first two miles I averaged a 6:38 pace. I then settled in at a 6:41 pace. I was focusing on running "light", with good form and keeping my cadence as high as possible. Once I got going I knew my core was rested enough because for 75% of the race it was at 145 bpm or less, but I wasn't sure about my leg endurance.
I was concerned when my legs started to feel the lactic acid building as early as mile 3. My strategy was to try and keep it from building until I got to the half way point, as that is when I feel the race really begins. About mile 6, I could see down the road that a Canada Goose was in the middle of the road and was attacking runners as they passed by. The crowd was having a great time watching this. As my luck would have it, the goose lunged at me and I had to jump out of its way. Once I did that my legs broke rhythm and my thighs started to feel tight.
So far in training I've had a deer jump in front of me, dogs chase me, a cat chased me (yes a cat), I ran over a squirrel and now a goose attacked me in a race, what is it with me and animals. I can't imagine what's next?
I didn't panic after the goose attack and tried to get back into my rhythm quickly and relax, hoping the lactic acid would flush out of my legs. My legs eventually did feel better. At the half was point I was averaging a 6:42 pace and kept focusing on relaxing and keeping my cadence high. At this point I was feeling confident that if I could just relax and not injure myself that I'd break 1:30, but I wasn't taking anything for granted. Anything could happen. My legs couldn't go any faster without losing form.
My plan was to wait until 5 kms to go before I opened it up. I tried to go a little faster but noticed that my legs started to quickly get tight so I went back to my normal pace. I didn't want to blow up with 3 miles to go. I then decided I was going to open it up with a kilometer to go. The last kilometer I went a little faster and was able to bring my average pace down to 6:40 by the time I finished. All I focused on was smooth form and not getting injured. For the last 200 meters I was flying.
Crossing the finish line I felt great. At no point during the run was I even breathing hard, even on the up hills. I'd be passing guys who were huffing and puffing, which I normally do, and I'd be breathing regularly. It was a weird and great feeling. I knew I broke 1:30 and was thinking I had a chance to break 1:29. I didn't look at my watch until I finished and was shocked and "pumped" that I broke 1:28. I crossed the line and saw 1:27:51 and did a "fist pump".
Surprisingly, this was the easiest half marathon I've ever done. Afterwards my legs didn't even feel that sore. I'd say a 6 on 10 on the soreness scale and I was even able to jog across the street to get to my car afterwards. The only thing that was tight was my hamstrings, which was a first for me. I didn't stretch much after the race because it was so cold and I was getting the chills, but I did made sure I ate, and drank lots of water.
My main focus was to get on the bus going back to the start line so I could get in my car and go home. The one good thing about finishing before everyone else is that there is no line up for food and the buses are fairly empty. When I got home I was so cold and the first thing I did was have a hot shower, put on some warm clothes and had a good stretching session. With all the water I drank and the stretching, my hamstrings started to feel normal again. The only thing tight was my iliotibial band and it started feeling better as the day went on.
For the rest of the day it was go, go, go. We had a great mothers day brunch and I ate lots of "guilt free" food. I didn't get a chance to relax and watch Tiger play golf until 4:30 pm. The good news is that all my hard work cleaning the barbecue paid off, I ended up selling it and got a whopping $35 and even felt good enough to lift it and put it in the back of the women's 4 x 4.
Mississauga Half Marathon - 1:27:51 / 13.1 miles / 6:40 pace / Avg HR 146