Niagara Half Pace Rabbit Report

on Saturday, November 1, 2008 at 8:05 AM

So the night before the race didn't go too well. Went to bed at around 11:00pm and set the alarm clock for 6:30. Unfortunately at 3:30am in the morning, the people in the room next to mine decided that they were going to start playing loud music. Actually, it kinda was good, cause i ended up waking up and surfing the net a bit when i noticed the clock on my computer read 4:30. I then realized that the clock radio in my hotel room was actually an hour slow, and I would have woken up an hour later if they hadn't been playing that music. World works in funny ways.

Headed down to the buses which transported us to the start-line and arrived at the start line at around 8:30. Start time was at 10:00am. I kept to myself for the next hour or so. I wasn't wearing my bunny ears and my shirt was covered up so other than the 2 hour sign, i didn't really stick out as a bunny. With about half an hour to go, i figured I should probably make myself a bit more visible in case people had questions. I met up with the 2:15 pace bunny, put on my hat and uncovered the shirt and we jsut kind of hung around answering questions of people that would ask. With about 15 minutes to go I headed off the drop off my bag and do a quick warm-up. Positioned myself in the start corrals with about 5 minutes to go then we were off.

I was carrying the 2 hour sign and had decided I would try and carry it with me for the whole race. This was a bit awkward as I had a bottle of gatorade with me also. First technical problem was encountered about 1 minute into the race. My HR monitor began to slip down off my chest. I tried to yank it back up, but with the damn sign and the bottle of gatorade, it was a bit too difficult. Someone asked me if I wanted them to hold the sign for me, but i being too proud said no. I ended up just yanking the HR monitor strap off and shoving it into my pocket.

Running portion was supposed to be at 8:45 pace, but i ended up hitting the first mile marker at 8:34 which was a bit fast. I had to do 10 and 1's and i'd configured my garmin to do the 10 and 1 thing. About 15 seconds before each split I would yell out that we were walking (running) in 15 seconds. That way it would give a bit of a heads up to people that weren't intending on walking so they wouldn't plow into the back of people. During the first walk break, i surveyed the people around and had about 20 people with me.

By the two mile marker, I had ended up banking about 25 seconds which was a bit fast. I then proceed to slow down a bit over the next few miles to bleed some of the banked time off when I then encountered my second technical problem which was my garmin went all screwy. If you check out the Garmin Route you can see a portion at around the 116 route marker where it appears that the course juts away from the river. Well, the course doesn't actually do that. If you check out the split times, garmin thinks I was averaging 4 minute miles for both the walking and running portions during this stretch. With the incorrect information, I basically was running blind. I couldn't rely on HR to judge pace cause I had taken it off and I just ended up trying to run a comfortable pace. I finally realized that i probably wasn't getting a good satellite lock. I was wearing the garmin on my right hand, but was running on the left side of the road. I was doing this to avoid the aid stations since I had my own gatorade bottle and didn't want to get in people's way. However, I had a bunch of people bunching up around me to the right that were probably blocking the satellite signal so i decided to switch to running on the right hand side of the road which allowed me to get a better satellite signal and the garmin started working again.

Up until this point, I had been drinking some gatorade every time I would walk. The gatorade bottle i was using was the ones with the twisty cap which I've used in the past and really like as it's easy to open and close. However, today the gotaorade bottle i was using must have had a defective cap cause after some time, the twisting action wouldn't work. So a little over halfway through the race, I ended up having to dump the bottle and rely on the aid stations. The water tasted nasty. The aid stations were actually pretty good otherwise as they were manned by some pretty enthusiastic people. Most had screaming cheerleaders and high school kids.

By about the 7 mile marker I was withing 15 seconds of where I should have been at each split and with the garmin working again, i was able to settle into a nice rhythm. i ended up chatting with one very talkative lady from Winnipeg who was in toronto visiting her son and deicded to sign up for the half at the last minute. She said she is mostly a marathoner having most recently done twin cities. I mentioned to her that I was thinking of doing that eventually and we ended up swapping stories of marathons for a little while. It was kinda funny passing people cause they would start swearing when i pulled up beside them. I guess they had a hidden goal of sub-2 hours and when i pulled up, they realized it wasn't going to be.

So getting towards the end, most of the group that I started with were still around and with a downhill portion coming up and most of the people ended up taking off. As mentioned, I ended up finishing at 1:59:46 which was pretty good. I handed off the 2 hour pace sign to one of the group that thanked me afterwards for getting her to sub 2 hours. I was thinking of giving her the hat too, but figured it would be a bit gross with my sweat all in it and such.

So the weather generally co-operated. There was no rain and there was a cross-wind for most of the race and a bit of a head wind at the end. This certainly was fun. I'm thinking it might be fun to try and pace a full since i've never really taken it easy for an entire length of a marathon.


Sonia said...

Great job at pacing people Francis!! Especially considering the garmin working wonky on you!! Hope you enjoyed your experience =)

yumke said...

So cool. I would LOVE to be a pacer one day. Not sure I would be very consistent.