It’s funny how you can be very happy with a result and simultaneously kicking yourself over the same thing.
Despite (and against) a number of factors, I scored a personal record in this morning’s half marathon. A PR for my best half marathon ever. KA-POW!
According to the official chip tracking posted on the website and forever immortalized on the Edmonton Police Foundation Half Marathon webpage my time was a respectable two hours and fourty-eight seconds. That’s right: 2:00:48… blasting through my previous best time of 2:03:45 set back in 2012 by nearly three whole minutes.
As a side note: according to my watch, my time was 2:01:45. This is technically wrong, only because after crossing the line I noted that my distance (which varies by the accuracy of the GPS on any given day, was at 21.03 klicks. Strava, which I use to track everything these days, doesn’t give you credit for a half marathon, and thus a record for the half, unless you hit that 21.1 klick mark. No mulligans. No editing or adjusting after. I’ve missed credit on February and March because my watch came up short and with this record I wasn’t missing this one. I think that’s a bug, but whatever. So I walked for about a minute after crossing the line to make sure I got the full 21.1 km — knowing the chip would record my verified race time.
It doesn’t sound like much but in a half marathon, three minutes is a heavy chunk of time. Three minutes is months of hard, fast, painful training pushed out in rain, or snow or at five in the morning when I’d rather be sleeping. That three minutes, for me at least, was hard won.
Back in 2012 I had just trained crazy hard all summer. It was in that few months that a monumental shift occurred in my effort and attitude towards this crazy sport and I’ve yet to look back. Even so, I’ve yet to even come within five minutes of that time since. Two-tens, two-twelves, and even a two-oh-eight once, but always the elusive two-hour mark was far, far away.
Now, a roughly two hour time is not amazing, I admit, and it’s definitely not going to put me into contention for elite status or win me any fame and glory anywhere besides my own head, but for a guy who sometimes (read: often) questions the sanity of this whole running thing, it’s nice to know I still can find room to improve. So all in all you’d think I’d be over the moon right now.
The thing is… I choked. I could see the last stretch and I just couldn’t for every yelling, screaming, berating pep-talk I was giving myself inside my brain, bring it home. With two klicks left to run my legs were not cooperating with my brain: the wall had officially been hit, and…
But let’s back up a bit, shall we?
The weather was chilly, right around freezing and threatening to only warm up a little bit. I got to the race just in the knick of time, traffic and parking being unexpectedly insane and literally jogged the klick from my car to the start to catch the gun. In this moment of haste, I had to decide between the gear I’d brought along, parsing out a few of the options based on weather and weight. I went for the slim belt, no jacket, cap and gloves. I left my hydration fuel belt in the car –dum, dum, dumb– along with my nutrition.
I ran the whole race only stopping at about half the water stations and never taking any extra calories. This seemed fine, at least for the first nineteen klicks. Then it was all I could do to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I even had a few seconds of head-spinny dizziness and walked it off, but it passed. But the effort was lost and the seconds were squandered.
I mentioned in the open that I was kicking myself over a great time.
The fuel is why: I checked my math at 10.5 klicks along and holding my pace I would have hit 1:57. I checked my math at 16 klicks, and with five klicks to go I was still on track for about a 1:58. Ditto at seventeen. Ditto at eighteen. Ditto even as I entered the home stretch at nineteen. A few jelly beans or gummy bears or a couple swigs of Gatorade and I’d probably be rocking a blog post about my first sub-two right now.
Runner meet the wall.
But all that aside, half marathon number four of 2015 was otherwise awesome, and a great run. The route was challenging but amazing. The event was really well organized. And I’m still standing to write about it a few hours later.
And I guess I have a goal for Calgary in a few weeks. Sub-2?