Valley Harvest Results

I've said this before, but one thing that keeps me running, biking, and otherwise exerting myself is the fact that I can look at the statistics afterwards and gauge my progress/success. And so the Valley Harvest (Half)  Marathon came and went this past weekend. The weather was nice, if a bit chilly in the morning (4C), which complicated my tights vs shorts decision making, but seeing as how I love my CW-X tights and they certainly do not get too warm, I opted for them. I would be in the minority of people wearing tights that day, but so be it.

The course was one I knew quite well, having biked it for several years during the MS Bike Tour. I knew it was rolling hills, with a few ill-placed hills that would earn my ire before the day was out. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ian-the-Marathoner picked me up, along with Trish and Angela, both running the 5km race that day, at 7:30 and we headed to the fieldhouse at Acadia University in Wolfville. While we got ourselves aquainted with the spandex-clad surroundings and waited for the race time to approach, we found some friends that spanned the boundaries between our two groups (mine and the "runners", that is). I learned that I would know at least another person running the Half, and had forgotten (but would learn afterwards) that The Lovely Wife's boss's wife and son were also running the Half. I also realised that, although I was well prepared for the morning of a race (I enjoyed my oatmeal in a hot bath to start the day, trying to soak away the back pain from the hotel bed), I had forgotten my Nike+, so it would not be making the 13.1 mile journey with me. Just as well; I didn't want to break any frowned-upon rules of MP3 players on the course, and I still had my trusty Timex Ironman watch.  Ironperson? Whatever.

We lined up en masse about 15 minutes before the race was to start, and receieved the obligatory pep-talk from the race official and the President of the University. Sponsors were thanked, and one runner was singled out as just about to start his 100th marathon. I applauded appreciatively. The gun went off, and about half a minute later I shuffled over the mat and my shoe chip sang out with that of a thousand other runners.

The course took us around the downtown area before heading out into the hills, which meant more turning while weaving through the crowds. A few runners were really hauling, and I once again struggled to find my pace. Out on the open roads a kilometre later, things started to fall into place and I found a pace (and, if I'm being honest, a well-honed butt in front of me) that I could stick with. And so we run.

Just over 5km into the race, I hear two guys beside me talking about a Garmin watch, so I ask them how our pace is. I'm reassured that we've got a decent pace, in around 7:48 or so per mile. That fits well with my primary goal of bettering my time at the Bluenose Half Marathon (1:50:51), and my stretch goal of 100 minutes (1 hr 40 minutes). I would keep up the conversation and make a new running friend for the day. Peter and I would run to past the turnaround point (just beyond half way), keeping a good pace the whole time, before he went ahead to catch someone else in his sights. Looking back at my stats, I didn't slow down much after he sped up.

The course itself wasn't too bad, and the volunteers and other sideline friends were extremely supportive. Brendan, one of Ian's friends and also a competitive runner, would surface a couple of times and get some not-too-flattering shots of me cresting hills and rounding corners. Still, he said I looked fairly energetic for the pace I was keeping.

I neglected to take my desired split times with me on a sheet of paper (or on the back of my hand, which I saw someone else with), but I knew I was going to be pretty close to my stretch goal, and as long as I kept things below 5 minutes per kilometer, I would get a personal best on this run.

My splits looked like this:

And I would dive into the chute knowing that I was close to my stretch goal. I had no idea just how close, however, until I saw the time on the finish line as 1:40:XX. Briefly dismayed, I plugged on, not realising that my chip time was going to be about 30 seconds better than the gun time displayed on the line.

Final Time: 1:39:48
Final Placing: 96/662, 30/92 for age group (M3039), 4:46 average pace/km.

I beat my stretch goal by 12 seconds. And boy, was I proud of that. Check out me and my adoring fans:

Ian would finish the marathon in 3:12:16 with a 4:35/km pace overall (I KNOW. WTF.), just missing the Boston Qualifying Time by two minutes. Sad, but I guess that means he'll be running another marathon for sure if he wants to eventually run Boston. I think I'll do some training with him, as my training plan gets a little dull after a while. Just not those 35km runs. No, thank you very much.

And that brings my 2009 Half Marathons to an end. Will I do more in 2010? Probably. I'm thinking next to the Hypothermic Half, here in Halifax, and possibly the Bluenose again.  I have a feeling that unless I drop a few (15?) pounds, this personal best will stand for a little while yet. And will I ever train for and take on a Marathon? I'm still not sure, but having two friends just complete marathons makes it quite tempting. But then again, there are a lot of Halfs out there to compete in, plus all those 10k runs... and the duathlons! Really, I could keep myself quite busy without losing my entire Sunday to training and races.

Posted bythemikestand at 3:11 PM  

1 stepped up to the mike:

Sue in the North said... 4:23 PM, October 15, 2009  

Way to go Mike!

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