Monday, 7 May 2012

2012 Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon race report

Watching the forecast all week, I knew it would be all systems go for a PR attempt, unlike last fall in Chicago. I carb loaded very carefully, although maybe a bit under-hydrated. 

Race morning, my parents dropped me off, a bit far from the start and I was momentarily panicked because I barely saw any runners around with 15 min to race start! This was the same marathon I ran in 2010 with RW Challenge, I certainly missed having the private bathrooms and indoor area to await the start. 

I found the 4:15 continuous pace bunny easily (sometimes they are hard to find) and lined up behind him. His pace should have been 6:03/km but the splits for the first 5K were: 6:01, 5:45, 5:32, 5:18, 5:40. OK, it was downhill, but I was very very worried about burning out. So I asked if he was planning on even splits and he said, "just follow me and everything will be fine." All right then. 

I stayed ahead of the pace bunny for a LONG time, I was a bit faster than my original planned race pace of 5:57/km but not as much as the opening 5K. I felt a pain start in my right arch, I probably should have stopped to retie my shoe but I ran through it, as sometimes this kind of thing dissipates. It didn't. Around 11K, I also got the feeling of a phantom pebble in my shoe, I stopped to run my finger around but couldn't find anything. 

Passed the half in 2:05 gun time and 35K (~22 miles) in 3:30, so I was still on pace for at LEAST a sub 4:15 that late in the game. 

Then I got complacent. "Oh, one little walk break won't hurt." "I need to stretch out my calf and arch." My pace had slowed a bit - the fastest km between 30-39 was 5:59 and the slowest was 6:30 (walk break). 

The course this year was a slightly different route than 2010, this year, the last stretch was out and back. Runners had to go 7K past the finish line (where all the HM people were finishing) before turning around. I don't even like to run 100m past my parked car so this was very difficult mentally! Secondly, there's a hill that we ran down on the same out-and-back leg, I knew we'd have to run back up it, but I had no idea it was at 40K. It's not the biggest hill, but even a 2% incline feels like Everest at that point. Took another walk break just before that hill, even though I had promised myself no more walk breaks after 36K. 

The final km, Mr. 4:15 pace bunny caught up to me, and he was BOOKING IT, about 5:35/km, so much for the even splits. Of course I was already picking it up a bit to finish strong. My calculations according to my Garmin pegged me at a ~4:13 finish, very little room for error. Right as we made the final turn, the bunny turned around and yelled, "GO!" to everyone following, everyone launched into their finishing kicks. My Garmin showed 4:14 and I thought I had achieved my stretch goal. 

But I had forgotten about the stops I made to stretch and to dig at the phantom rock, I have my Garmin set to auto-resume. Plus, despite running the tangents pretty well, my Garmin (and many others) showed the course being quite a bit long, 42.56 kms. 

I am happy with the 9 minute PR, but SO ANNOYED that I missed sub 4:15 by 12 seconds due to a long course. Obviously, I also need some sports psyching tips to keep me from getting complacent in the later stages! I'll have to wait until the fall to try again. 

Official chip time: 4:15:11 
Field Placement: 1046 / 2130 (49.1%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 55 / 116 (47.4%) 
Gender Placement: 287 / 665 (43.2%) 
Weather: 10° C, Sunny 
Statistics: VO2 Max: 35.2 

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