15 September 2008

prince edward island half marathon

I have registered for the PEI Half Marathon on 19th October 2008. You can find all the information about this event at Prince Edward Island Marathon. Gulp!

I don't like to do something without testing it first from every angle so I assessed the five months of running already in my legs. Then I examined the published results for last year's event and discovered I would need to run quicker than two and a half hours not to disgrace myself. I have been running for fitness since May this year and have built up to twenty-five miles a week. I keep meticulous records for times and distances so my performance is not a mystery - I know what I should be capable of.

But until I've run the actual distance - 13.1 miles - how do I know I can go that far? My longest run to date had been ten miles. So to answer the nagging inner voice I mapped a route of precisely 13.1 miles and headed out to test myself. I ran at a modest pace which I guessed was around 6mph, covering a mile every ten minutes. My only "way marks" were points I had made a mental note of (like the halfway point, which I reached in an hour and five minutes) so I kept my pace on track. Luckily the early morning, weekend traffic was light and half my run was on the Confederation Trail, a great rural trail on a former railway line.

My heart and lungs were holding up well after an hour and a half but my legs began to feel very heavy whenever the road went up. Even so I managed to keep going without stopping and reached the twelve mile mark just after two hours. The final mile to home is downhill and I knew I was going to make it. My time? Two hours and twelve minutes. I was well and truly spent though.

Because I kept the pace sensible I wasn't out of breath, just physically exhausted. During the day I ate a lot and drank pint after pint of orange juice and water to replace the six pounds I lost in weight. Oh, and I slept like a log! Inevitably muscle soreness hit the next day and I was hobbling whenever I had sat still for too long. Two days later I was ready to hit the road again, on reduced mileage of course!

So I proved I could last the distance and I know what my approximate time should be in October. However, it ain't over till the fat lady sings and she isn't exercising her tonsils until 19th October! The Prince Edward Island Half Marathon is a modest but prestigious event with a small field. There will be hundreds of runners not the thousands we are used to seeing on TV at London or Boston. In other words there will be nowhere to hide!

I will be returning to England later this year, after a lot of consideration, plenty of talking and much sadness, so the run will be a kind of finale for me in Canada.

07 September 2008

running with Hannah

Ellen's Creek.

If you're still with me you'll know about my new-found interest in running. I chose not to blog about it daily but in hindsight perhaps I should have as it has become something of a passion for me.

I always reserve Sunday for my longest run of the week. This morning I mapped a new run on Map My Run following a long section of the abandoned railway line, now reborn as the Confederation Trail. The round trip measured a whisker under eleven miles, my longest ever!

Today I ran with Hannah and she was a tough partner - Tropical Storm Hannah. I set out in light rain and the threat of a lot more. After only a mile the heavens opened and I was drenched in seconds. I mean soaked to the skin. There was no point in turning back as I couldn't possibly get any wetter now. Hannah gushed across the road, surged in the storm drains, and coursed through culverts barrelling towards North River. I stopped avoiding deep puddles as there was nowhere else to run. My running shoes were full and heavy. A pole carrying electricity cables sizzled and crackled as I passed then suddenly a bright flare leaped from the top of the pole and the same instant I was deafened by an almighty clap of thunder. I think the pole was struck. There was no sidewalk for the first few miles but traffic was light and I was grateful the few cars and trucks were slowing to pull around me!

I had the new route fixed in my head and picked up the trail about three miles from home. The rain was torrential and I was reminded of this morning's "severe weather warning" - the remnants of Tropical Storm Hannah had spun up the Atlantic seaboard and was blowing herself out over Prince Edward Island. After an hour I still felt good and guessed I was easily maintaining my planned sub ten minute miles. Unsurprisingly I saw no other runners today. One lone walker on the Confederation Trail raised his hand and called, "Good morning" as I passed him, adding it hadn't been like this when he started out. "Me neither," I agreed.

One section of the Trail was barricaded and signed for repair work but I ran around the barrier and sloshed through some deep red mud before the gravel path resumed. An hour and a half in, I felt at this rate I could certainly manage a half-marathon. Today wasn't the day though as I was pacing for eleven miles. Even where the trail crossed roads I didn't need to stop, very few people were braving this deluge even in their cars.

As I crossed the bridge at Ellen's Creek where the road inclines up I felt my energy draining and was glad I would be able to rest my knees, hips and ankles in just a few minutes. I completed the 10.69 mile course in 104 minutes and 3 seconds. Michelle had run a bath ready for me and I sank gratefully beneath the warm water to soak my old, aching body. I love running!