The not so grande finale.
The following is a short recap of the grande finale of my spring season -- except not so grand. I capped off a long racing season by lining up for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon, a Canada Running Series race that I just had to be a part of since it was right here at home. With just a week between the Canadian Half Marathon Championships in Winnipeg, and 4 weeks post-Ottawa Marathon I was feeling satisfactory but still noticed the speed had been zapped from my legs. Either way, I was here to try to finish as high as I could and grab a few more series points. My goals were adjusted sufficiently.
0-5K in 16:58
It’s a fairly fast start as we raced downhill towards Marine drive. I slotted in beside Natasha and a couple men as well headed out before hair-pinning back at the 3K mark. I felt fine to start but I knew keeping up with Natasha would be near impossible. I just hadn’t fully recovered from Ottawa and would have be at my best to even challenge her. So as we looped back, and faced a false flat after the 3K, I fell a few steps behind and decided to continue the race on my own as I watched her and her compatriates fade into the distance. Essentially I was in the same position as the last weekend in Winnipeg, alone from 3K onwards. Aiming to maintain my second place finish until the end was all I could do.
5-10K in 17:17
This section of the race includes a long downhill from approximately 8-10K. I like downhills and I made sure to not put on the breaks as I was heading down, leaning forward and letting gravity do the rest. I could see a guy ahead who had fallen off the pack Natasha was in, and I inched closer and closer until I finally caught him at the base of the hill. I was thankful for the downhill and how swiftly it made the first half of the race pass by.
10-15K in 18:06
My new friend and I chatted for a bit before he proceeded to inch ahead. I kept my eyes on him, trying to stay engaged but the last few races I have found it hard to push myself when there is nothing to lose or gain. It’s challenging to dig deep when I know I’m not going to advance in place and racing against the men around me sometimes doesn’t provide the same motivation. That said, my reason for racing post-Ottawa wasn’t to chase fast times, it was to finish as high as I could manage so I guess the goals shift sometimes (it's a conundrum I have been struggling with when I look back at these last few races.) Back to the race, climbing up out of the beaches from about 12-14K is always a treat with some quad-jarring uphills. I kept moving forward despite the lonliness and low motivation. No one was behind me for a long long while so I kept my eyes fixed ahead.
^ Too comfortable feeling comfortable? (pc: Dave Mallari)
15-20K in 18:20
Final stretch and hardest stretch. I knew the toughest part would be the Burrard Bridge mountain which rears its ugly head at 18K. When I approached it didn’t seem too bad but of course it wasn’t particularly fun. I enjoyed the downhill and then focussed on getting to the finish line. It was impossible for me to feel like working any harder than the comfortable pace I had settled into. I knew I was ready for some down time — especially mentally. Another second place, another time that sound like I underperformed, but I knew that coming into it this race goals would have to shift -- post-marathon legs do not want to go fast!
Finished in 1:14:35 for 2nd woman overall.
^ Comin' in hot. ( pc: Dave Mallari)
I am happy I chose to race. The two half marathons I slotted in after Ottawa Marathon allowed me to figure out a recovery protocol that I could use if I needed to race soon after a marathon. It allowed me to get a read on my body’s recovery and in the future I know that what I did worked pretty well. Lots of massage, easy running in the days after the marathon, fartleks to get the legs moving again the week after — they all allowed me to get back racing. I found it challenging to run faster than goal marathon-pace but in the future I think a few more weeks in between races could solve that.
^ Ready to be done but grateful for each opportunity to race -- thanks Alan! (pc: Mary Hinze)
So for now I have been able to have some recovery weeks and mental downtime, and just now I am building back slowly and easing into the speed-work segment of my training that precedes the marathon build. It’s certainly the most hated segment I ever do but obviously that means it’s the most important segment for me. Wish me luck as I try to run fast around the track for the next few week!