Saturday, October 18, 2014

Victoria Half-Marathon 2014 Race Report

Continuing the toe saga. The antibiotics helped, but my toe was still red, inflamed, and sore at the end of the course of antibiotics, just less so. So it had improved, but wasn't better. I wasn't sure how my toe would deal with a run of that length, but there was no way I was backing out of this race, infected toe or not. Unless the weather was horrible, that is, as the weather report 3 days beforehand was predicting. Soaking wet, sore toe, all by myself (because no one was going to come cheer for me that early in the pouring rain), no way. Then the weather forecast changed and the rain was supposed to hold off until the afternoon, so I was good to go.

I've never done a race with that many people before. 3 races actually. The Victoria Marathon has an 8 km, half, and full marathon. They start the 8 km first, then the half, then the full, which seems strange to me. But I figure it's about parking. You'd think they'd have some kind of shuttle to get people into the downtown, or that the public transit would be running some special buses to allow people to park elsewhere, but no, you have to be at the race site too early for transit. Having the races start backwards means they can leave some roads open until the last minute, allowing the shorter race participants to get to the site before they shut down the roads. Anyway, I figured I better get there early to get parking. Almost 10,000 runners in all 3 races meant that there would be a lot of demand. In the end, I had no problem. I had been waffling about leaving my extra gear in the car and just taking what I was going to need to run with me, but in the end, decided to use the bag check. I had anticipated long lines and waits, but they organized it very well and I never waited for more than 1 person. I had to use the service more than once, because I forgot my sunglasses in my bag - checking your gear while it's still dark out can do that - and had to go back just before the start of the race to get my bag and then recheck it. (I have migraines, and the sun in my eyes can trigger them, so sunglasses, even on cloudy days, are pretty important for me.)

Went over to the start area, got dive bombed by a duck. Too strange to explain. Chatted with a woman from up island next to me in the corral wearing a Shawnigan Lake Triathlon shirt. (It's funny how you can spot the triathletes at runs (even without the shirts). We wear our numbers on race belts, not pinned onto our shirts. That was how I notice her, then I saw her shirt.) Then the race got started. We were pretty much walking, as it took a while to cross the actual start line. I held back, not wanting to get caught up in the rush and go out too hard.

Turns out I did a really good job of not going out too hard. I ran the first km in 5:48, waaay slower than my goal pace., which was...hard to say. I had originally wanted a sub 2 hour half. But with my toe, and lack of training for 3 weeks prior, I was now just aiming to finish, hopefully within 2:15. But I felt pretty good, and my toe didn't seem to be bothered, so about 3 km in after I did ks 2 and 3 in 5:35 and 5: 31 without too much effort I decided to try for a sub 2. That meant a 5:30 km average pace and so some catching up to do. I don't have a watch that shows pace, I was just timing myself from marker to marker, and I'm decent at keeping a cadence going, even uphill. So I figured it was worth a shot. I had my own hydration (Nuun) and Gus, so didn't need to stop at stations. The race was on. I had 3 Gus with me, one for 40 minutes, another for 30 minutes later (the third was an emergency back-up). This timing should keep me in energy, and avoid me ever feeling like I was running on empty. I had cramped up in my left thigh pretty early on, combination of weeks of not running with the cold I think. It never really relaxed, but I managed to keep it from seizing up, which was good enough.

I was good until about 15 km. I was really starting to feel the pace. But I turned it into a mental race, rather than a physical one. I began to really run in my head, instead of with my legs. That worked pretty well until 18 km, when I developed a stitch in my right side. I know I need to do more core work, but with my toe, I can't do any planks, which are really the best, so what I've been doing has been much less effective. I ran hunched over for a bit, which helped - didn't go away, but made it less acute for a few minutes at a time at least. Between the stitch and my legs being in revolt, the last 3 ks were a very mental battle. I was starting to slow down, but I knew that I only had 3 ks left to go. I just kept thinking "3 ks is nothing, you can bang out 5 k even feeling really rotten, you have this, just keep moving, but a little bit faster". I usually have a bit of a surge at the end of a race, but I pretty much had nothing left at the end of this one. My 'surge' meant keeping up the pace I'd been running at for the rest of the race. I rounded the last corner and heard the announcer saying that people were coming in a little faster now, buoyed by knowing they were going to get in under 2 hours and that even better, some might make it in under two on the clock time, not just chip time. I looked up at the clock and it was still under 1:57, and I was about 30 seconds away. I was really surprised given how long it seemed to take to get from where I was standing to the actual start line, but whatever. So I made my legs move as fast as they could (which at this point wasn't very fast at all).

In the end, my clock time was 1:57:29. My chip time was 1:55:55. I finished in the top 1/5 of my age group. My husband rode down to the finish line, but he missed seeing me cross and I missed seeing him when I crossed, but I found him shortly afterward. It was nice to have him there. He hung around while I collected my bag and then walked back to the car with me. Then he took off to get in the rest of his ride, and I drove back to where we staying, showered, and started peeling potatoes and carrots.

I don't know that I would have done any better if my toe hadn't bothered me. Maybe a few seconds, but not much. In the end, I was left with pretty fresh legs, which was good. I hated the last few ks, and now am thinking about doing another half this fall if I can find one that fits into our family's schedule.

It was a really well organized race. And I LOVED watching the pros run by. We saw the front end of the half and the lead runner in the full. I think tris are more fun (certainly more gear, I kept feeling like I was forgetting stuff because I'm used to having to think about way more stuff), but you don't get to see people run like that in triathlons. The runners out front make running a thing of beauty. They move with grace, and speed, and an apparent lack of effort (which is probably a total illusion). The runners at the front got applause the whole way, as the rest of us slowed to appreciate what they were doing. And people were keeping track of when the first woman in the half ran by us; she got lots of cheers, from men as well as women, which was great to see and hear. Not sure if I'll run the same race again next year (depends on family, since I was really over in Victoria for Thanksgiving), but I'll definitely do another half.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Toes toes and more toes

So I have stayed away from running all week, again. My big toe was getting better and I was hopeful that I would get in a run in the last half of the week. Then I got some sort of weird infection in it. It's red and swollen and very very sore and tender. I noticed it Wednesday evening, and called the doctor the next morning to make an appointment. I saw the doc on Friday.

It was quite funny. When I took off my sock to show him the toe he was very distracted by my other two 'problem' toes. One has a black mark (old blood blister) on the outside, the other a red toenail that is going to fall off sooner rather than later.  Neither hurt me at all at this point, and they're pretty typical runners' toes. He was like, "Woah, what's going on with those toes?" and seemed a little disturbed when I responded that they were fine, just part of half marathon training.  He clearly doesn't run.

Got a scrip for some antibiotics and within 1 day it's feeling much better. I should be able to get in a couple of short runs this week, which I desperately need. I've been enjoying bike commuting (even went into MEC and bought myself a second panier and some rain pants, couldn't bring myself to get waterproof gloves yet, although I know I'll need them), but it's not the same kind of exercise.