Monday, May 18, 2009

May 17, 2009 - Detailed Report - Halifax Marathon

well, a 4.08.33 in Halifax this weekend, shaving off 20 seconds from my time last week, a time i am referring to as my POPB (post-op personal best).

extremely sore knees for the duration of the race forced me to go at a slower than usual pace, but it also meant that i was able to run at a consistent pace, hence scoring my first official negative split...

62, 63, 61, 62.5 minutes for each quarter. it was fun flying by so many people on the second half. the hills in dartmouth in the second half were really challenging,

my weekend started with an early morning flight from Nfld to Halifax. i picked up a rental car and drove downtown and found the race expo. there i was greeted by Terry Curley, race director for the Johnny Miles Marathon. really cool that a race director recognized me and wanted to chat. he's hoping that i will venture back to Nova Scotia again next month to run his marathon again!

i picked up a good pair of running gloves at the expo, and also ran into one of my fellow NL runners and had a brief chat.

after the expo, i walked around downtown Halifax for a while on the harbourfront. then the sun came out, so i drove down the coast and visited my old stomping grounds of St. Margarets bay. i went for a swim and sun tan at Black Point Beach, just steps away from my very first home.
then it was onto my hotel in near by Bedford, NS and i found myself a local pizza place for a carb-loading dinner. then i drove around north of halifax and revisited my very first school. hard to believe it was 30 years ago i went there!

had a fairly good sleep and got myself downtown early to find parking. the weather was cool, misty-drizzle and about 8 degrees. not too bad for running. as i was doing some warm ups, another NL runner approached me to say hi. really fun bumping into other Newfoundlanders away.

the knees were very sore even before the race started, so i decided to just go at a very gentle easy pace, running at about 6 minutes per km.

at the 5k mark, i ran into 'momfirst' from the running room website, and we had a brief chat. at the 8k mark, the knees got so sore that i considered dropping out of the race, but decided to carry on but at a slower pace...

at 9k, i was greeted by 'nwt runner' another person from the running room website who recognized me, so we chatted for a bit.

at 10k, i entered beautiful Point Pleasant Park in halifax, for the first time in 26 years! this run really made me realize how old i am getting.. lol
i estimated that i hit the 10.5 mark about 1.02.00. the knees were sore but i was starting to feel better overall.

i hit the 16k mark at about 1.36.00 and it was at this point, that i started feeling better. knees were not quite as sore and i was finally awake and warmed up! after a brief bathroom break, i decided to pick up the pace a bit and actually started flying by many other runners.
the half and full shared the same course for the first 21.1k so i could see many halfers out there starting to fade. there were several thousand doing the half and only 350 doing the full, so it got really lonely out there once i crossed into the second half. i ran a strong 21st k and came in at 2.04.57 at the split.

it was at this point where i set a couple of impromptu goals: run a negative split and come in just under the 4.08.53 that i had run last week in mississauga.

the course carried on with a very hilly trip across the bridge and into dartmouth. there was a loop in the course, so as i was running along 24k, the leaders started darting back on the other side of the road at 39k. it's always fun to see the leaders flying by on their way. amazing how strong they all looked..

halifax certainly had it's share of hills but dartmouth was twice as bad. we ran up this massive hill that was about a k long, then into a park. they had us running on side walk for a good portion of the second half too, which made it even tougher (side walk is actually 2-3 times as hard a surface than roads).

the park was pretty with a pond that had ducks and some geese. which made me smile and think of home.. the park was very windy and the course was not very well marked. the marshalls were not paying attention at times. there were also not nearly enough water stations or bathrooms.
the city of halifax was out to cheer on the runners but dartmouth was basically a ghost town. seemed nobody cared that there was a marathon going on in their town.

anyway, i was still running strong and was consistently passing runners. i hit 31.5k at about 3.06.00, realizing that i had just run my fastest third of the race, and i felt really strong at this point.

even with reduced water/gatorade, i managed to keep a steady pace.. at 38k, i was met with a surprise mega hill climb that lasted about 800m. a hill much worse than heartbreak hill in boston. i slowed to a near walk at this point. then i was essentially harassed by a fan who came right onto the road and started running along side and yelling at me, trying to encourage me.. but i actually felt threatened and frightened.. as tired as i was, i broke into a near sprint to get away from her..

the hill cost me a minute or two, and i knew that i would have to pick it up in the final 2k to come in at under 4.08.53. i gave it my all as i ran across the bridge back into halifax.
just when things couldn't get worse, as i was leaving the last water station which was positioned at about 41.5k, of all places, a little girl in a tricycle drove right out onto the course and almost bowled me over. i had to make a sharp turn to stop and avoid her.. i was so furious. i yelled out "get her off the course"

anyway, i looked at my watch and picked it up to a full sprint and managed to come in at 4.08.33, giving me my first ever negative split and giving me a 20 second betterment from last week's mississauga marathon..

as happy as i was to have hit my impromptu goals, and as happy as i was to have run 5 marathons in 30 days, it sorta hit me that i felt i was selling myself short by running marathons at less than 100%. i really want to take this sport more seriously again, as i did last year. i know i am capable of running much better marathons than 4.08 and now is the time to prove it, well not right now.. maybe in a month or two!

anyway, to run a very hilly course under these conditions, in that time, is certainly something i should be proud of..

overall, i don't think i have ever seen a so-called major marathon that had such poor fan control. people all over the course, children, cyclists, bandit runners, etc.. very distracting. like an obstacle course out there.. at one point the halfers and fullers crossed over each other at a perpendicular intersection. talk about a dangerous potential for collisions!

the event put on a great run for the halfers, but it certainly was not full marathon-friendly. i noticed that only 280 of the registered 350 full marathonners even finished the race yesterday. i think the course is too tough, compared to most marathons.. and they really need more gatorade stops out there in the second half.. and gee, get us off the sidewalk and on the road. it's amazing the extra pounding the knees take by running on that extra hard cement..

and the feeling of isolation out there in that park was not good for someone who feels very vulnurable running as a transwoman in a strange town.. i think these folks should can the dartmouth idea and make the full marathon 2 laps around the half course next year..
anyway, after the run, i went back to my car and took a drive back out west along the south shore. i visited peggy's cove and bayswater and some of my many old favourite spots, then hit the airport and had a routine flight home (wow, 2 trips in a row without weather delays at the airport! that's gotta be the best and most surprising stat of them all!)

overall, fun to run in my original home town for the first time, but i will probably never run that one again unless they make some significant improvements to the course and the race support..
well, i've definitely got the marathon bug.. not sure if i can wait til July to do my next one, or if i will take the plunge and sign up for one the third week in June (Niagara on the Lake and Johnny Miles are among my likely destinations if i do go).

would love to run Ottawa next weekend but won't unless i can somehow luck into an incredible air fare sale.. sucks being unemployed and having to count my pennies.. then again, i have 2 job interviews lined up this week, so hopefully i will be back in business soon.

anyway, the knees feel pretty good today. i just got back from a light 5k morning run and will probably go out for more this afternoon..


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