On Sunday, our group headed out to meet at the Sheridan Running Room location to run a practice half marathon route for our long run.
The planned route was 19.4k with the last 15k being the Mississauga Half Marathon course (somehow, C and I ended up running an extra 600m loop).
The plan of attack was to run easy for the first bit and then to run the last 60-80 minutes at race pace. After discussion with the ladies who I normally run with, we discovered that there were two race paces, the 6:28 min/km that C and I were prescribed and the 6:40 min/km that CH and N had. Thus a strategy discussion took place between C and I (and some early morning math!) and we decided to hit up the last 13k at race pace.
While it started out seemingly cold and rainy, it actually ended up being the perfect morning to run. We started out easy and before long, we were running along the U of T Mississauga campus and close to 6k. C told me that "the hill" (the one and only true hill in the course) was coming up soon and so we'd hit race pace after that. We agreed that no matter what, we'd talk after 7k.
7k came and we hadn't hit the hill yet, so we decided to just go for it increasing our pace from about 7 minutes per km to our race pace. It felt easy and I was glad that I had someone to run with who had done the race before because she was very knowledgeable about the course.
KM 1: 7:17
KM 2: 7:13
KM 3: 6:51 (half a GU)
KM 4: 6:49
KM 5: 6:50
KM 6: 6:46 (half a GU)
KM 7: 6:42
KM 8: 6:22
Based on my garmin, we actually hit the hill around 9k. There have been rumblings about the hill in the clinic group for a few weeks, but the consensus from the repeat half marathoners was that if you could run up our training hill, you could do this one no problem. This turned out to be the case for C and I. We put our heads down (figuratively of course) and took the hill in stride (sorry, I love a cheesy pun).
KM 9: 6:41 (2 GU Chomps)
Right after the hill, we saw the next pace group stopped to take off extra layers and take gels etc. C and I didn't stop. It was almost an unspoken agreement. Even when she took off her coat, we keep running along with me holding her water belt while she figured out her garmin and coat. Then, our speediest clinic member came up behind us (he was running a slightly longer course) and congratulated us on actually taking the hill really quickly (then he sped away!).
I was practicing a new fuel strategy on this run as I felt that the full GU's sat a bit heavy in my stomach on the 18k run the previous Sunday. My plan was to fuel every 3k, but to keep my stomach in mind considering the er, bathroom problems I had experienced earlier in the week. I also decided to try the GU chomps and rather liked them.
KM 10: 6:28
KM 11: 6:25
KM 12: 6:18 (one Chomp)
KM 13: 6:27
KM 14: 6:32
I think it was during the 14th kilometer that C and I got a bit mixed up on the map and actually paused for a few seconds before deciding which way to go. The run was going well and my only concern was the fact that I was rapidly running out of water (I had a 10 oz hand held and a 500 mL bottle in a belt). I was taking water every kilometer, making sure my stomach was feeling okay and that I was still sweating. I'm not worried about race day because there will be water on the way and I plan to take advantage of it. The other bothersome thing was the little black "noseeem" bugs that were EVERYWHERE on the water front trail. It was gross! C resorted to running with the map held over her nose and mouth least she take in extra protein along the way. There was also a biker that told us we were running along the wrong side of the road (we run into traffic) and called us "Stupid Effers", but I guess the Easter Bunny wasn't that good to him that morning.
KM 15: 6:25 (half a GU)
KM 16: 6:27
KM 17: 6:15 (I have no idea what made us speed through this part)
KM 18: 6:30
I was planning on taking the final half a GU at this point, but I had no water and I was feeling okay. Based on what happened during the last two kilometers I will be taking it for sure as I needed the boost and I'm sure to have water left.
KM 19: 6:35 (we see our group at the parking lot and just have to run to them!)
KM 20: 6:25
Total: 20KM: 2:12:26, 6:37/km pace
Oh man, I was spent.
I was very tired and very proud! Of course I didn't know how good were were at hitting the race pace in the final 13 or so kilometers (as I wasn't up to mental math at that point), but I knew we had done it pretty bang on! I spoke briefly with Bing as he was checking me in and could barely get any words out telling him that we ran, "20 minutes in 2:12" to which he gave me a crazy look and I just said "You know what I mean."
This run confirmed a lot to me. I'm fully confidant that I'll be RACING the half marathon on May 15th with an actual goal time in mind instead of just aiming to cross the finish line. I'm aware of what a good fuel strategy is for me now (every 3km worked very well as did taking the Chomps in the mid section). Finally, I'm very happy to have run the course because it is a long run down Mississauga Road and that can get very tedious mentally (especially because Bing is quite a fan of twisty routes).
I'm actually still on quite a high from finishing the longest distance run of my life at a great pace (or maybe that's just my tight hamstring talking!).
How did you spend your Easter Sunday morning?