Monday, 28 March 2011

The race of my life - ATB 2011 race report

The last 2 years, race morning has been gray and rainy. So I was very happy to see sun in the forecast, but cool temps. Normally cool temperatures would not bother me in the least, except this year, I was determined to wear my BADASS MOTHER RUNNER shirt, because it will probably be too warm for long sleeves at my next race. 

I wore a short sleeve and armwarmers under my L/S, with a sweatshirt to sacrifice at the start, skirt + tights on the bottom and I was toasty. I knew I'd be fine once I started running. 

The race starts outside an arena, and everyone uses the seating area to meet up beforehand. I had my Garmin on to see the time. When I walked to the start, I forgot to restart the Garmin...race started and it wasn't until I looked at the Garmin for the first time that I realized I had no satellites!

^^ So that's why my splits are bit wacko at the beginning. 

My race plan, as stated in my last blog, was to run positive splits, assuming slowdown during the hilly sections of the race (approximately kms 17-26). I started out at 5:40/km, half marathon race pace. All I had to do to run sub 3 hours was to keep the pace below 6:00/km. 


At 10K, I was feeling great and even pushed the pace a little. But I always kept those hills in mind. 

15K, still feeling great. I was "supposed" to slow down, but then I thought, "I should just keep this pace for as long as I feel good, I have some time banked and if I slow a bit on the hills, I'll still be on track." 

Hill time. I cannot stress how helpful it was for me to train on the race course at least once a week for the past 2 months. I ran the race course for my long runs, and I ran the hilly section during the week for hill training. Because of this, I knew exactly how hard I wanted to run the hills during the race. I have a tendency to slam up hills, leaving my gasping for breath at the top. 

There are a series of rolling hills, then a bit of flat/downhill, then the Big Hill at 25-26K. I ran this hill before dawn - it is closed to traffic so no street lights - and in January/February when it was snowy and ice covered as well. This is a video of that hill.

After the hill, it is 4K to the finish, mild downhill. But it is important not to get too excited, because after all, it's still 4K, not 400 metres. I felt myself speeding up anyways, but according to my plan, no HARD running until the arena came into view at 28K. 

Amazingly, very few of the runners around me looked to be struggling. We were all running hard, but when I saw that 28K sign, I put the pedal to the metal. 

last 2 km splits: 

Finished just hard enough for it to be challenging and not with that desperate sprint that characterized my first failed attempt at breaking 2 hours in the half last fall. I RAN EVERY STEP OF THE WAY - no walking at water stations or to refuel! 

I will remember this race as an example of having a plan, having everything go right on race day (except for the Garmin screwup) and being able to reach my goals better than I ever imagined. 

A PR by 22 minutes. 

Official chip time: 2:54:12.7 
Field Placement: 2795 / 5878 (47.6%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 158 / 405 (39%) 
Gender Placement: 987 / 2915 (33.9%) 

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