I signed up for the Midsummer Night's Run in order to help figure out pacing for the half marathon I will be running next month. As this 15K was nearly twice as long as I had raced before, it was certainly new territory and would be a good stepping stone to the 21.1K I am aiming towards. Further adding to the complexity was that this was going to be my first attempt to run a race without the Running Room's walking breaks (10min run, 1min walk, repeat...).
With that said, I have gone longer distances a few times before on my Sunday LSD (long slow distance) runs. The last two weeks (18K and 21.1K respectively) I had done these runs continuously to get myself used to running without the walking breaks. Naturally, however, the pace of those runs was much easier so, while they helped, there was still a bit of a learning curve to deal with.
Either way, looking at my prior performance my goal was to aim for a continuous pace of 4:50min/km, hopefully resulting in a finish of about 1:12:30. I was a bit concerned that this was a bit aggressive, however the point of this race was largely to test my limits so I figured that I could always slow down if it was necessary.
When the time came around, I drove down to the designated parking lot and took the shuttle bus in to the race site. Once there, I stood around a bit in the shade to relax myself a bit and watched as the crowd slowly trickled in. With about an hour before the race, I met up with some people from my local Running Room store and we chatted for a while to pass the time.
Shortly before the race was scheduled to start, I ran into yumke and said hello before I headed off to the starting corral. Due to long lineups for the baggage check and washrooms, the organizers decided to change the start time so that the 30K runners would go out first. As such, I got back out of the corral and waited.
Once the 30K runners were clear, I got back into the corral quickly to ensure myself a good position. I placed myself near the front of the crowd, but was conscious to allow obviously faster runners to get in front of me. When the horn sounded, I took off with the crowd and stayed with them for the first ~150m before I moved to the right and slowed down to my planned pace. I tried to find other runners going at my pace and follow them, however for the first little while most were a bit erratic so I had to break away every once and a while and find another group.
1K 4:33 160bpm
2K 4:38 168bpm
Shortly after the 2K mark, I caught up with a fellow going at about the right pace so I locked onto him and kept things going as planned. When we hit the water station at the 3K mark, I figured that I'd try and use them instead of my own to get some practice in dealing with them. This worked well, and left the water and Gatorade that I was carrying in reserve if I needed it.
3K 4:48 171bpm
4K 4:43 171bpm
Coming up to the 4K mark, the runner that I was with started to slow down a bit so I decided to pass and maintain my own pace. I was well ahead of my scheduled pace at this juncture, was feeling good and my heart rate was under control so I pushed ahead a little more. At this point the crowd was pretty thin, so I was basically running on my own.
5K 4:41 171bpm
At about the 5.5K point, there was a quick dip where we crossed a small foot bridge and then climbed a hill on the other side. The terrain was loose gravel, so while small, the hill took a noticeable toll and I was starting to feel a bit tired. I was a little concerned that I'd gone out too fast at this point, so I slowed down a bit. Fortunately, my heart rate was still relatively comfortable (~176bpm) so it didn't take too long for me to get over it.
6K 4:45 171bpm
Just after the 6K mark, we hit the second water station so I grabbed some more water which helped things out as well. At this point I had found another runner going at a similar pace, so I elected to stay with her to keep myself under control. Within the next kilometer or so, we caught up to a few others who stuck with us as well.
7K 4:47 172bpm
8K 4:51 172bpm
9K 4:44 172bpm
At about the 9.5K mark, the group I was with began to fade and I elected to break off from the group when another runner passed us. While he was going faster than I'd planned, I was feeling quite comfortable again so I figured that I'd stick with him for the time being and just break off if I started getting tired again.
10K 4:26 171bpm
11K 4:51 170bpm
12K 4:43 172bpm
13K 4:39 173bpm
I managed to stay close for the first kilometer or so, but his pace was a bit fast so I started backing off a bit. After crossing the 13K mark, he accelerated so I gave up trying to maintain chase and just continued on my own. At this point I was again running alone, however there were a number of volunteers along the route that were extremely encouraging and helped me to fight through the final two km.
After turning onto Commissioner's St, I caught up to another runner and passed her just as I crossed the 14K mark. I was definitely starting to feel tired at this stage, but with the finish less than 1K away, I opened up to try and get as good a time as possible.
14K 4:37 176bpm
When I turned the final corner and the finish line was in sight, the timing clock had just clicked over to 1:10 so I broke into a sprint to try and hit it before it made it to 1:11. When I hit the finish line, I was moving at a 3:42min/km pace with a 106spm cadence and a heart rate of 184bpm (~90% MHR). That burst of speed was sufficient, getting me over the line in 1:10:51.
15K 4:36 177bpm
Aside from a finish that was much better than I had anticipated, I was overjoyed that I had enough left in me at the end to handle a sprint at that intensity. Dialing this time into the predictor formulae, they seem to indicate that a 1:41-1:42 half marathon is possible, which is much faster than I had initially been planning. Either way, we'll see how the rest of the training goes, but after this race I am a lot more confident in my ability to handle the half.
Chip time: 1:10:51.3 (overall results)
Gun time: 1:10:53.1
Place overall: 45/623 (92.8 percentile)
Place in men: 37/196 (81.1 percentile)
Place in age group: 7/34 (79.4 percentile)
Average Heart Rate: 172bpm (~84% MHR)