20 October 2013

prince edward island half marathon 2013

I trained all summer for this autumn's full marathon but five weeks ago I suffered a calf tear which put paid to my scheduled final three long runs. Then I succumbed to a gastric infection which spiked my temperature and killed my appetite for a week. With interrupted preparation, the full 42km would now be out of the question.

I managed three 10k runs last week and was still recovering health and fitness. In an uncharacteristic fit of brinkmanship, I left it until the last day before registering for the half. However, in typical Virgo style I was up at 5am on race day. Plenty of time for oatmeal, bath and general fussing!
Michelle drove me into town in good time and we took some candid race day photos. The weather was fantastic for mid October, a sunny 10C under towering blue skies and a south westerly breeze to help the outward leg. Two hours was my goal and although I have never been quicker than 2:01 before, I have done a couple of fifty-five minute 10ks this summer, my only forays below fifty-six minutes for that distance. This morning I was attempting two of those back-to-back: at five minutes forty seconds per kilometre.
I seldom run with an iPod. Umpteen attempts in previous years have all ended in musical frustration - I couldn't see the tiny screen without my reading glasses; it was stuck on repeat; I couldn't operate the ridiculous wheel; the earphones failed... Today I tried my new Nano 7. I set it up at home and cued a thirty song playlist. On the start line all I had to do was tap the play icon through the transparent holder on my arm and slip in the earbuds (craftily routed through sleeve and head hole). It worked like a charm!
Doing near-miraculous mental arithmetic at each kilometre marker, I regularly assessed my pace at slightly ahead of target. The course is a figure of eight which snakes from downtown uphill to the airport and back. Scooting past the halfway point at fifty-eight minutes was a good sign. Apart from three crushingly steep inclines, it would be generally downhill from here.
I turned onto Malpeque Road by Sears in record time, leaving me a relatively comfortable thirty minutes to run the dead straight final five kilometers to Province House. Roadside support was fantastic as always. Families cheering all runners, and volunteers manning the frequent water and Gatorade stations. Just before the midpoint I sucked down the energy gel I had secreted in my shorts and chased it with water. Fuelling for the half is important but not nearly as crucial as for the full where dehydration and lack of nutrition are potentially devastating.
On the long, undulating drag south on University Avenue I began to feel the effects of my pace but I dug in and counted the kilometre markers down. A gentle kink left brought the finish line into view and on the left, Michelle and the girls waving madly and cheering. I ran under the finish banner with the clock reading one hour, fifty-seven minutes forty-two seconds, even managing a surge of speed for the line; a new record by over four minutes and importantly, under that tricky two hours!

Thank you to Michelle for the great photos!

PS: The official results are in and I ran a chip time of 1:57:29, putting me 30th out of 61 runners in the 50-59 age band. (223rd put of 601 total entrants.)


Russell Duffy said...

You are nothing if not a persistent perfect virgo. Well done. A terrific result especially under such circumstance

Perfect Virgo said...

Thanks Russell. There's not much I restrict myself to doing 'by half'!