I wanted to make sure I had a gauge for the First Half on February 16th. I’d contemplated the MEC 5k in Richmond last week or the Richmond Icebreaker 8k next week, but neither of those would allow me to set an expectation for a half marathon. The Chilly Chase 15k was a much better fit in that sense. The first race of the 2014 season, after several months away from racing, was a solid run; a decent start.
Editorial note: While not a big field, I was reasonably happy to end up 9th overall out of 195 runners and 4th in my M40-49 age group.
When I left home around 8am it was pretty sunny in SE Vancouver, but, forewarned by Greg on Twitter and then driving down Kingsway, I could see the pea soup fog awaiting. Most of the race would be run in pretty thick mist, but I like those running conditions, so it didn’t matter to me. It was finally dissipating as I left the finish line, after the thing was done.
This was a fairly uneventful race, save for the aforementioned fog. No nice views of False Creek or Lost Lagoon on this day. I tend to get kind of tunnel-vision when I run hard, so I may not have noticed anyway. They stagger the starts, with the half marathoners first, followed by the 15k, 10k and finally the 5k runners. They were about 10 minutes late on the projected start times and, according to my trusty Garmin, the 15k was off at 9:14 am.
While I haven’t been out for group runs in the past several months, the 15k route is an out-and-back in very familiar territory, going from just south of Science World in Athlete’s Village, along False Creek north, looping around Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park and back to the start-finish. With the exception of a couple small rolling ups and downs in and out of Stanley Park, its profile is pretty much pancake-city.
I’ve set a fairly moderate 1:35 goal for the First Half in three weeks, so my hard goal for today was the same pace or a 4:30/km. My soft goal today was a bit ambitious with where I’m at, but I thought if everything went very well I might be able to hit a 4:15/km and do a 1:05 15k. I also wanted to run a little more by heart rate, than by feel as I often do. I wanted to settle in and have an average HR at or near the top of my zone 3.
My strategy was to hold back a bit as I went out for the first kilometre, then ramp up over the 2nd kilometre to a consistent pace for the rest of the race. A finishing kick would be the icing on the cake. I’m happy to report that I followed this plan to a tee. I went out at a 4:36 and slowly ramped up over the next couple splits. I was up and down from kilometre 2-9, but usually somewhere between 4:25-4:30/km. I could tell I wasn’t going to ramp up to a 4:15 and hold it for 13-14k. As I hit 4:20 on kilometre three and knew I wouldn’t sustain it, I settled in where things felt doable. My average HR for the race was 159, pretty much spot-on where I wanted it.
I took my one gel at 10k and decided to see if I could kick it up a notch coming back along False Creek. Even though it wouldn’t be a killer 5k for me on its own, I was pretty happy running the final 5k of the race (21:45) at a 4:21/km pace and finishing with an unofficial 4:26/km pace, or 1:07:04 over 15.18km (Garmin time, of course). You can see my splits here if you’re remotely interested in such things.
It’ll be interesting to see if I can do a 21k in three weeks in similar territory.