Saturday, September 10, 2011

Race Prediction - Springbank Road Races (Half Marathon)

One of my wordiest race prediction posts yet! :)

This is one of those times when I am extremely grateful for having a blog diary recording my training, my ups and downs, my races, etc. Re-reading this post from last year's 5K and re-reading my post from from my spring Run for the Retina 10K has helped me mentally prepare for tomorrow.

My Learning from last year's 5K:

I was not physically able to run a half marathon "well" by this point, but I recall how grateful I was about choosing a larger venue for running my only half marathon of the season. I had already taken several 'ego hits' throughout the summer so I wasn't keen on yet again being all alone at the end of the pack; I needed positive reinforcement, not yet another reminder about the lack of speed in my stride. :( My perception at the time, as I walked home on the opposite side of the path as all the slow'er' half marathoners ran in, was noticing how much mental perseverance was needed because there weren't cheering crowds or spectators, the path was open to the public (which meant the HM racers weren't given priority/a guaranteed clear path at all; if a racer had a slow group of walkers ahead, that runner had to adjust - the walkers had an equal right using the path as the racer), and there was the smaller race factor ... slow'er' runners stood out more and didn't have as large of a pack to run with like the faster runners. :(

But that's okay because this year I'm ready for it. :) I am heading into this run knowing that I am in it alone, and that it probably will be much more of a mental race than a physical one. It also helps that I have been thinking of this half marathon all along as a "training HM" for my Niagara Falls HM (which I am very cautious about saying out loud because I truly don't want to offend anyone who running this HM for a PR or as goal race). A tell-tale sign that I have not 'played up' this HM was Ben's surprise last Saturday when he realized that I was running a half marathon this weekend instead of the 5K. He's feeling a little guilty because he has annual plans for heading north for part of the weekend; therefore, I had to reassure him that this was okay, that I well aware of this scheduling conflict all along (hence my downplaying about it to him). If it really was of huge importance to me (like Niagara Falls or my 5K PR race), he would have known about it much, much earlier than this. :)

But as it turns out, he will be there. He's cancelled his plans and will be there for me so I really shouldn't write that I am in it alone. Jacquie is running in the 5 km and plans to meet me by the dam so she can run up the last hill in the last km to give me last minute encouragement. This support will go a long way. :)

My Learning from this spring's Run for Retina 10K

I intentionally wrote a more positive post than what I was truly feeling - LOL! I really did not enjoy that race at all; it was a huge disappointment to me (the awesome jacket made up for it somewhat). :) I kept mulling over what was so different about this race than all my others when I finally realized that it was the only time when I didn't feel a racing adrenaline; the rapid heart beating and the excited rush that I get every time I am in a race. I came to the conclusion later that perhaps running this race on the exact same paths that I used all the time actually worked 'against' me because it felt like an ordinary run rather than a race, ergo why I couldn't get 'into' it. Although it's nice to know ahead of time what to expect (what I am truly enjoying about running in most of my races a second time this past summer), I am speculating that there is something about the 'newness' of a race that feeds the adrenaline rush as well. We'll see. But in the meantime, I am factoring this into my prediction. The same thing might happen again; there won't be a PR by a large margin if this race ends up feeling like just another training run similar to this 10K race.

(However, looking back through my blog, I didn't taper at all that week; I kept up my training schedule for my sub-30 goal race. Therefore, I need to factor in my "too high expectations under the circumstances" for that race as well.

So where does this leave me?


To finish the race, and to run it without injury.


I originally established a goal for this race of 2:25:00. This means a pace of 6:52/km (11:04/mile). I am going to do my best to stick with this, even though recent runs give me confidence that I can do better. Here's why:

Reason One: This time will give me a new PR over my NFIM HM time by 12 minutes. I personally consider this is an excellent, realistic chunk of time to shave off a previous HM PR, and that is all that matters ... what I think!

Reason Two: I want to be able to run this from beginning to end without walking (this excludes any brief walking through a water station if I need to rehydrate). The weather is looking cool and even a little rainy so this makes it easier for to achieve this goal without having heat and humidity to contend with.

Reason Three: My goal is try to run this from beginning to end consistently. There are three options I have mulled over:
  • No negative splits; no positive splits - even, concise, I-am-in-total-control splits (6:50/km)
  • Breaking the race into 3-even segments: Run the first 7 km at a slower pace (6:55/km); run the second 7 km at a slighter faster pace (6:50); run the final 7 km+ stretch at an even faster pace than the second (6:45/km). This means a time of 2:23:30, before factoring in additional time for a few sluggish kms which may occur along the way, especially after some of the inclines near the end.
  • Break the race into 2-segments: the first 10 miles (16 km) @6:50/km and then last 3 miles (5 km+) @6:45/km. This means a time of 2:23:39, before factoring in a few sluggish kms.
These are my options. As most people who race know all too well, it's great to have a plan with the best of intentions, but you just don't know what it is going to be like until you are actually in it doing it. It can be a very bad, "off" day. It can be the greatest of all days. It is somewhat of a crapshoot and there are mental games to work through before reaching the end. I am ready with realistic options that I can use to occupy my mind as I react to how my body's performance.

Reason Four: I made the same error at my half marathon in Niagara Falls last year as I did at my Bayfield 5K PR race earlier in June; I started out much faster than I intended, but because I was feeling so fresh, rested, and strong, I deceived myself into thinking that the faster-than-planned pace was good, that it meant that I was 'actually' capable of running the whole event at this faster speed ... before paying for it dearly near the end and by having a very tough finish. :(

Well, I am not going to do this again tomorrow! I would rather run this race at a slower pace throughout and then, if still feeling energetic at certain key, established points, opt to run at a faster pace. This will be of greater assistance to me when planning for Niagara Falls. I do not want to struggle to get to the finish. I have experienced enough races to know that I would rather finish a race strong and feeling great about how I ran it throughout, as I did about my Forest City 10K in the spring, than to PR in a race that makes me feel out of control and completely like shit at the end (my Bayfield 5K).

But the most important thing about this race is to make me feel more confident about my pending NFIM half marathon five weeks from now. I start Track Workouts later this week, and my original goal pace is 6:30/km. The race tomorrow will let me know if I am on track for this or not.


Truth be told, there are two people I would like to beat across the finish line. They don't know me, but I know them. I have done a great job of subverting my 'Type A' personality for a number of years, but this doesn't mean the competitive streak doesn't rear its head every once in awhile. :) :)

I'll do my best to get some sort of race report done for tomorrow evening, but it all depends on how pooped I am. :)

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