Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Oakville half marathon race report 2014

Some days you are the windshield, some days you are the bug. And you know people only use that phrase when they were the bug, which should give you an idea of how this race went.

Saturdays before a Sunday race are always weird. It just feels wrong to sit around instead of going for a long run or ride. Trying to laze around but being so full of nervous energy the 'lazy' part is always a fail. I ended up doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen. I really know how to party.

Midmorning I headed over to Oakville to pick up my kit at the expo.

No need for my high fashion Hello Kitty umbrella this year! At least not at the expo...
I learned the valuable lesson that if you bring an adorable small child to the expo with you, the vendors are more generous with the free crap. Got me a couple of new water bottles thanks to my younger daughter being all extra cute, and scored a couple of Subway gift cards.

Oakville always seems to have pretty solid race kits. Lots of random free stuff (a full roll of KT tape? nice!). And the shirt this year is one I'll actually use!

After the expo, I aimlessly wiled away the time, got my shit organized for the race, hydrated, etc. Tried not to worry about the windy/rainy/humid weather forecast, because really there's nothing you can do about that.

Flat Emma, which I do before races just to try and make sure I don't forget anything important.
Race Day

Got up, had a cup of tea, toast with peanut butter, the requisite bathroom visits, etc. Patty picked me up at 6:15 and we collected the rest of the skirt brigade and headed over to the race, where we met up with Zindine and Irina and Kim. It rained while we were in the car, but stopped when we got to Oakville so I felt optimistic about the weather.


Skirt brigade/carpool group. Wearing a lot less pink than usual. Even Sam is barely pink at all! Photo via Irina.

Did some pre-race chatting, and pre-race porta potty lining up. Bless Landmark sports group for their commitment to having a million porta potties at their races - both this race and Mississauga always have plenty and the lines move really quickly. Unlike some races, *cough* Around the Bay *cough*.

Me, Amy, Patty, Sam, Kim, Zindine. Thanks to Irina for the pic! Can you believe we let Zindine in this one? He's not wearing a skirt! Way to let down the team, Zindine.
And then it was time to line up and get this thing started. I would be running solo, since unfortunately Nicole had to go to a hockey tournament and I lost my personal pacer. There was no pace bunny for 1:50, so it was just me and the road with a few hundred of my closest friends.

Waiting for the start.
First 5k: 26:01

The first 5k went well. I had my watch set to only show my pace at each km, and I didn't always hear it beep, but I felt good and it seemed about right. A touch slow but better to be a few seconds slow at this point and negative split the back half. (I would insert a 'hysterical laughter' gif here but I'm too lazy to find one)

Shark! pic via Irina

I got passed early on by the Connor's Runners mascot - a guy in a shark costume. That was somewhat demoralizing. Although I can't decide if that's better or worse than being passed by a joggler. Random aside, but I really admire the jogglers, because I know how to juggle (really, I do! I have hidden and weird talents) and I can't even imagine running fast while juggling. Like it doesn't even seem like it should be possible.

At some point it started to rain. Light rain, so not too terrible. It was also pretty humid out, but not oppressively so. YET.

10k: 53:06

I'm not entirely sure what the hell happened here. I was still feeling good at this point, but my legs just wouldn't go. The 5:33 is the bit with the one 'hill' on the course (it's not very big) but for whatever reason I couldn't get my legs back under me after the hill (but even before that things weren't great, obviously).

It might have had something to do with the SUDDEN TORRENTIAL RAIN that hit while I was on the uphill.

I half expected to see these guys. Image source. 
I like running in the rain. I am not so fond of racing in the rain, it turns out. My tank top was sticking to my stomach (ewwww, clammy!), the water was cold but the air was warm so somehow I was overheating while still being cold (what?), and it was just generally pretty miserable.

Water water everywhere.
I also had the most difficult time I've ever had during a race eating a gel. I almost threw the damn thing right back up again.

So, hey, this race was just going great.

15k: 1:19:51

And more rain. My basic thought process through this section:

"I hate racing. Why do I sign up for these things? At least my feet are somehow still dry. And there's another massive downpour and I'm not sure I can get any wetter at this point. Oh except I just stepped in a deep puddle and got a soaker, So I guess I can get wetter! YAY. When this is done I'm never racing again. I may never run again. Oh there's the shark up ahead. I bet his costume must weigh like 20 pounds more than when he started what with all this RAIN. I wonder if his support crew would like to trade positions for a bit? She could run, I could ride her bike. It would be way nicer to ride a bike right now. Hey, there's Irina! Pretend to be having a great time when you clearly are not!"

This thumbs up is a LIE. pic via Irina
I'm pretty sure that 5:32 was during the fourth or fifth massive downpour. Soaked to the bone. You win, Mother Nature. I was feeling pretty defeated, just hoping to get to the finish in one piece and without too many blisters from running in soaking wet socks.

No thumbs up for you, photographer, because this fucking sucks. You're lucky to get a smile.
At 15k I was doing the math in my head and realizing just how sucky a day I was having. I started wondering if I'd even manage to finish under 1:55.

20k: 1:47:31

I walked the aid station at 18k, which proved to be a huge mistake, because as soon as I started again my left inner thigh started to hurt in the same way it did last year at Scotia. No, really, am I a hockey player? How do I keep straining groin muscles in races? WTF?

The other reason walking that aid station was a mistake? The 1:55 pacer passed me as I walked . Fucking hell, I thought, this race is turning into a titanic disaster.

But I did pass the shark at some point! So I had that going for me! And a lady on a bike told me I looked strong (LIE) and my outfit was cute (true). This is why I wear the skirts, for the unsolicited compliments. I'll take any positive feedback I can, really.

Just before 19k I spotted my tweep* Prasheel cheering, which did provide a nice boost. It's amazing how a friendly face provides a pick me up during late race suckitude. Give him a follow and cheer him through his first marathon next month!

*that's what the cool kids call someone you know largely through twitter, although I did meet him at a MEC Burlington race first. I am not a cool kid and should probably stop trying.

The last kilometer took forever, as per usual. And for the second time this fall a dude came roaring past me in the finish chute at a million miles an hour (also happened during the duathlon). What is up with that? Like maybe you guys should have used some of that energy during the rest of the race!

Just a few more steps until I can quit running forever...
Final time: 1:54:23.3
5:18/5:08 pace for the last bit
Place: 275/671
Gender place: 80/331
Age group place (F30-39): 23/105 (what's with the 10 year age groups??)

So I dunno what was going on with that 1:55 pacer passing me, but I did get under that mark at least. And now I know: humid day + pouring rain = gonna have a bad time.

Post race with (most of) the Daily Mile crew, and Richard's son Nick who did his first half! Congrats, Nick! Photo via Richard.
Sooooooooo. Didn't hit the A goal. Didn't even come close. But the weather was shit, seriously. So I'm kind of OK with the result. It wasn't what I wanted, but given the conditions, what can you do?

The acorn on the medal is cute.
So now what?

I've registered for Road to Hope the first Sunday of November. My husband wants to run it, and we do love our 'run dates'.

However, I'm not sure I really want to take another shot at a PB at this point. I might decide to just do R2H for fun and hang out with my various awesome running friends. I dunno. I'm taking a few days - heck, maybe even a full week - off running to let my legs recover, because the DOMS after this race has been ridiculous.

Depending on how I feel when I do start running again, I'm leaning towards going for it at Road to Hope. My tentative plans for next year don't include another stand-alone half until next fall at the earliest (read between the lines on that one!). So I likely won't get another shot for a while. But it also wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to shut it down for the rest of the year and just bike and run easy and enjoy the fall weather.

Next blog post will likely be a Run for the Toad race report, since I'm bored of writing training recaps. I don't know if I'll have decided what to do by then, but at least there will be pretty trail pictures!


  1. No Chilly? WTF?!?! You basically NEED to run chilly. It'll help with 70.3 training (I don't even need between those lines).

    Congrats on pushing though, going sub 1:55 and most of all, beating the shark. Reminds me of the PEC half I ran last October.

  2. The R2H is the best bet if you want a PR. All downhill schuss!! I love that race and I am bummed that I'm not gonna race it... Zin is going for a PR there too. Will see you soon!

  3. I see the 1:55 pacer out running in the mornings a lot. In my mind his name is Myra. Do not ask me why because I have no idea. Sunday was ass and you did well to push through. Onwards and upwards. See you at Chilly. You know you'll be there you said the same thing this time last year. LOL

    1. Ha, I know! But I already have enough ugly jackets! Stupid Chilly.

      Myra? lol

  4. we are going to be sub 1:50 buddies with hubby RPs at R2H.

  5. Nice work on a not so nice day! That photo of you underneath the canoe one is look so fierce in it! Exciting to read between the lines :) Next year gonna be great for you I'm sure!

  6. Good work on a nasty day! Our brains protect our bodies from complete exhaustion, that's why we ( not just those dudes at your recent races) don't speed before getting closer to the finish. The good news is that the coping distance can be increased with training! The ability to sustain speed while being exhausted is a difficult skill to learn...

  7. Looked like you "jumped the shark" too ;)

    And I see the weather was as miserable in the GTA as it was in Ottawa on Sunday...

    Reading between the lines is pretty obvious... does ATB count as a half?

    Congratulations on toughing it out!

    1. Ha, not the most subtle, am I? I confess the sting of not getting near my goal is secondary to how excited I am about going after a big new challenge next year!