I really must stop entering early season road races, it’s always too cold !! This Montreal Scotia Bank Half Marathon was cold, sunny and gave me my half marathon personal best time.
I signed up for that Half Marathon in the dead of winter thinking or hoping for a early warm spring. The two goals for this race were #1 to validate my running fitness before the triathlon season and #2 hit my personal best time (PB) on 21.1k . Oh boy was I wrong !
My winter training went very well, the speed work and endurance build up were both on target. For the first time ever I had no pain in my hips, so thing were looking very good to hit my PB. But, there’s always a but, I caught a really bad cold a month leading up to the race. I spend a whole week fighting fever, congestion, headacks and overall muscle soreness. When I got back to training I was unable to hit any of my intervals, my legs had no speed. I was mentally in a pretty low place, the confidence that I could run fast and long was just not there. It’s hard enough for me to find motivation to run a road race because I like triathlon a whole lot better, now the temperature forecast was around the freezing point and I was not pleased. I really needed to change my race strategy and try to find a goal to keep me going for 21.1k. Luckily, my runner partner Sonia was also doing the race. I figured that if I don’t have the legs to run fast and it’s so cold that no piece of skin can be left uncovered, I might as well have fun !! So we decided to run together for at the least the first 10k. We negotiated the pace to hold right to the very start, she wanted to go between 4:20/k and 4:30/k and I wanted 4:15/k. So we finally “kind of agreed” to go 4:20/k on the first kilometre and then speed up to a steady 4:17/k. And just like the world class runner that she is, Sonia paced me right on those timings. My legs felt OK but my mind was everywhere. I kept telling myself that everything was good, that I was on a decent pace with no pain and to focus on the moment. In the meantime, my running “buddy” kept me entertained by spotting wardrobe malfunctions on other runners and telling me to smile every time she saw an official photographer !
This went on for exactly 10.5k, when she then ordered me to press on and go solo… So, who am I to argue with a lady ?! I then picked up the pace to 4:14/k and slowly started pulling away from Sonia. Again, I really had to focus on the present moment, my mind wanted the race to be over, even though my legs were fine and I was not in any pain. So, I kept up the pace and went by many runner that started too fast and were starting to slow down. This mental battle went on from kilometer 12 to 19. At the 19k, I could feel the end and pushed a little more to finish strong.
I crossed the finish line with a personal best of 1h 30min and 16sec. I’m very happy with this performance, considering the illness and lack of quality training leading up to the race. This places me 32nd out of 256 in a very strong age group !! But hey, I’ll take a PB and a negative split half-marathon over a top 10 finish any day! Things are looking good for the upcoming triathlon season.
And if you are wondering about Sonia’s second half… She was not far behind with a time of 1h31min42sec, good enough for 2nd place in her age group !!
PS: For my friends who love numbers and technology and are wondering how and where could I have shaved 17 sec to get a sub 1h30min, this screenshot is for you 😉