05 March, 2012

Banner Day: Half Marathon PB & a Lick of Paint

Burlington's Chilly Half Marathon
1:34:33 - 26/237 AG, 244/3294 OA

Had a blast today competing for the second time at this event. Compared to last year's ice-pocked surfaces, this edition had dry roads going for it, although the 40+ km/hr headwind gusts along the final 8kms made me want to shift to a lower gear at times. A group of about eight of us seemed to bunch closer together as we approached Burlington's downtown for the finish across from city hall. The pace steadily picked up in the final 2 kms or so, different people taking turns surging ahead. It stirred up some long-forgotten race craft memories for me, and I quite enjoyed it; as we turned right and headed up from the lakeshore to the finish line we all let it rip with the crowd's yells and cowbells ringing in our ears. I thought, This must be what it is like in one of those campy heist movies when the getaway car breaks down and all the crooks try to outrun the police and no one wants to be last, in case they're caught. Good fun - and no doubt we all had better times than we might have otherwise. I don't recall a finish quite like that, and hope there are more racers like this surrounding me in the future. Too often I think everyone is in their own world (of pain, preoccupation, fatigue, whatever) as a race runs down - especially the longer ones, perhaps, which can devolve more into being just about completion than competition - and we all just seem to slog across the finish, maybe breaking into a valiant hustle for the last few dozen strides. But this was a good barnstormer with competitive adversaries.

The organizers did a solid job putting on this show. Loads of volunteers, lines of (not lines for, lines of) shuttle buses at both ends of the morning, a wonderful venue for remaining warm (the newly-opened Performing Arts Centre... how often can you sit back in a plush theatre seat to await the call to the start corrals?) lots of easily-accessed refreshments at the finish - including chilli & beer! - not to mention the coolest "twist" to a finisher's medal I've seen!
The little chilli pepper guy in the middle of the medal not only has a "rhinestone" inset but he also spins like a top!
The GPS Inside Us

Like most everyone, I was hoping to improve my time at this distance. Doing so would set up my Ironman Mont Tremblant training in the best possible way, motivation-wise. In keeping with my low-key (read: cheapskate) training methods, I continue to not own a GPS pace watch, in favour of RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) to set my tempo. I rationalize this as a great way to remain in touch with how I am feeling at all points of an event. In this case, I wanted first & foremost to improve my 1:39:xx personal best time, but my A goal was to get as close to 1:35 as possible, assuming all systems felt good throughout. It would stretch me to near the limit I thought I could hope for at this point in the season (and in my life!) This meant a goal of under 23:00 mins. for every 5kms covered, ideally closer to 22:30. I knew I had a chance to nail it as I kept hitting my Split button on my watch at the 5/10/15/20 km intervals and got back readings of 22:33, 22:21, 22:23, 22:31! Between my adrenaline of seeing the consistent numbers, and the clot of like-minded runners surrounding me in the last 15 minutes, I had no choice but to come out with a new personal best!

The Honey-Do List Gets Trimmed

After the usual post-race shower & self-congratulatory food fest I found myself dressed in old clothes, so I took the opportunity to apply a second coat of Benjamin Moore eggshell acrylic to our entire upstairs, including the two story staircase. Lots of up-and-down on the ladder, with nary a cramp or tweak of knee pain. In hindsight, it was probably a good way to remain limber in the hours following an event like that. Can't help but wonder now if I could have sprinted even harder at the finish...

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