Did Around the Bay last weekend. I've done it a few times over the years, but it's always been part of a training run with a portion of it at marathon pace. The training plan had an 18 mile long run with 14 at marathon pace. Around this time last year, I did this same run at 7:15 min/mile pace for the marathon pace portion (not at ATB, but on a normal training run) so I thought I could try that again. However, if I were able to hold that pace for another 4.6 miles I might qualify for the silver medal which the race gives out to those who finish in under 2:15 gun time. I wasn't sure however this would be doable. A 2:15 30k equates to a 3:15 marathon according to McMillan which means if I'm roughly in the same shape as last year, trying for 2:15 would be racing at my limit for the 30k distance.
I stayed overnight in Hamilton at the same place I've stayed the previous two years. Have that down to a science now, breakfast, consisting of oatmeal with brown sugar, bagel with PB and jam and a waffle with syrup and a little bit of water to wash it down. Left hotel room 10 minutes before start, jogged to the start line for a brief warmup, stood around for a few minutes and then the race starts.
Gear consisted of shorts and long sleeve T over a short sleeve T which was about perfect for the conditions, just above freezing, windy but no rain.
I had initially planned to start with the 2:15 pacer and scoped out at the expo that there were actually two pace bunnies this year. One of the guys was the same guy who ran the 3:15 marathon last year at Goodlife and who had started out too fast, the other guy seemed to have good pacing performances in the past with nice even splits, so I was going to run with him and use the group to block the wind at the start which was coming from the NE. However, once in the corrals on race morning, the guy I had intended to follow had dropped down to pacing 2:25 which meant that I only had one option for pacers which was the fast start guy.
Having thought about it some more, I decided not to try to stick with pacer because I was pretty sure he was going to go out too fast, add to this that he was actually at the back of the first corral which means he also had to make up the gun-chip difference. I thought trying to chase after the silver medal wouldn't be worth it. Medals don't mean too much to me. I have shoeboxes of medals in my closet that I haven't looked at since the day I got them. I thought I could still chase 2:15 for a chip time but I wouldn't try for the gun time because the forecasts were predicting wind and I thought it would be better to start off a ways back so I would have people to block the wind for me.
Some general comments. I decided not to run the race with a pace band. I normally always have a pace band, but I thought the math would be easy to do on the run if needed (4:30/km, 9:00/2km). The markers seemed all over the place at times. Pretty sure the 10k marker and timing mat was misplaced because everybodies 10k split time seems slow and everyones 10k-15k split time seems fast. The first 15k of the race is into the headwind at times and I tried my best to tuck in behind people where I could. I wasn't too concerned with split times or pace but just tried to run a good effort level and found that keeping my HR around 170 seems to work. Didn't have any HR issues early.
The 2:15 pace bunny was behind me for the first mile so maybe he was going to be okay, but then he took off and I let him go. Looking through his Strava race, half of his miles in the first half were sub 7 min/miles with a couple of sub 6:45's in there (a 2:15 30k is 7:15 pace) Glad I didn't try to stick with him. Approaching the 15k mark, I could see the clock was around 1:07:30, in fact checking the split times after I hit the half mark at EXACTLY 1:07:30 (gun time) (1:07:11 chip) which was putting me on track for a 2:15 guntime finish. This actually surprised me as it means I had made up the chip gun differential and the first half had the head wind. I started giving thought that maybe I could still chase after the silver medal. The next little bit would have a tail wind where I could bank some time which I could give back up when I got to the "hill". Easier said then done, because the rolling hills on the next 5k, even with the tail wind, didn't allow me to bank any time whatsoever. Crossing over the 20k mat, I was about 5 seconds over where I needed to be for the silver medal, but with the hilly part still to come, wasn't too sure that I was going to be able to ramp up the pace. This was compounded by my HR spiking just after the 23k mark. At this point, I had run 14 miles at marathon pace and was contemplating slowing down/stopping to try to get the HR to reset. I ended up just continuing to run and not bothering with split times anymore.
Down the hills and then up to "heartbreak" which was not pleasant, but thankfully this hill is relatively short and over with quickly. I think I did one time check within the last 5 km which I think was at the 28km mark because I remember thinking at the time that 2:15 chip time probably wasn't realistic, but that I would comfortably finish before 2:16 (The split had me 40 seconds over 2:15 chip). However looking back in hindsight, the 28k marker was severely misplaced as it seems like I was a lot closer than I thought. If I had checked at the 27k mark, I would have seen that I was right on the bubble. In the end I finished in 2:15:10 chiptime. Gun time was 2:15:30 which means I missed the silver medal by 30 seconds. Could I have found an additional 10 seconds over 30k? yeah probably. Could I have found 30 seconds? Maybe. Pretty happy with the effort level though.
Splits are as follows. Polar data is here.
|KM||Time||Split||Time relative to 2:15|
So the race went pretty well. I'm still not sure that I could sustain this pace over the course of a marathon as it's been 9 years since I've been able to do that and fitness wise. I don't feel that much better in terms of fitness than I was last year where 3:10 was a pipedream but who knows, maybe the taper can increase my pace by a few second per km which might put me in the ball park. I don't necessarily need to run a 3:10 marathon, but just close enough to clear the BQ cutoff under 3:15. What that cutoff is though is a bit of a crapshoot so the more time the better.