2015 Scotia Half race report

This will be a very short race recap. Originally, I’d wanted to focus on a few key half marathons and work hard to get my time back under 1:30. I had a pretty good start to that with the First Half in mid-February. Coming in just a touch over 1:31, I felt that with a solid season and no major injuries, shaving a minute or more off my half time should be more than doable. Things have changed, and there was a little heat.

As you can see from my tentative plans back in March, I’d been thinking about a mix of longer cycling events and running focused on half marathons or prep races, with possibly something longer in the fall. Hitting the halfway point of the year, I can only describe the past three or four months as a gong show, and I only mention these issues at all as rationale for why I’m pretty much beginning from square one again now.

I dragged my tired, old, injured, untrained carcass to UBC, arriving about a half hour before the start.

A little backdrop

After the First Half, I got a nasty head cold and only did a couple easy runs the following two weeks. Then, as I was ramping back into my training cycles, I suffered a pretty intense calf strain near the end of March. For three weeks, I did tepid weekly test runs and, for three weeks, my calf said “not yet.” As mid-April rolled around my calf was finally easing enough to do some moderate training, but as I hit the first week of May and began playing ultimate, on the very first play of the very first game, I had a minor collision with the guy I was checking and suffered a bruised or cracked rib. While this didn’t completely derail my running, I was doing everything at medium or easy tempos through the rest of May and into June. Then, as the rib was really feeling good and my training was getting on track, I had another ultimate collision – a bad one, skull-to-skull – which may have resulted in a minor concussion. I’ve been dealing with related neck and shoulder tightness and wasn’t able to get back to any real intensity or hard work. And, after all that, exactly one week before this race, a significant lower back strain in the garden for my taper week.

Race details

Vancouver has been under the spell of a very unusual heatwave in the past week or so. It’s been abnormally dry, anyway, but highs close to 30 celsius were expected race day. The 7:30am start meant that the heat shouldn’t have factored too much. I don’t think the overnight low on Saturday went below 20 celsius, so it was fairly warm at the start of the race anyway. And, with how warm it was, I had a pretty spotty sleep, getting four hours if I was lucky. By the time I finished, it was probably 25 celsius and somewhat sweaty.

Anyway, getting up and eating was uneventful and I dragged my tired, old, injured, untrained carcass to UBC, arriving about a half hour before the start. The parking payment machine was very slow and I spent close to 15 minutes waiting to park, instead of hitting the port-o-let and doing my pre-race warmup. So, I basically scrambled for a quick pee break and actually jogged to the start line as the gun went off.

I figured I’d just test the legs at 4:15/km, or a sub-1:30 pace. The first 3km takes you off campus and downhill south on Marine. I knew by the turnaround coming back up Marine northbound that I wasn’t holding that on my untrained legs in the warm weather. Over the gradual 3-4km climb back past 16th, over Wreck Beach and hitting the flats toward the major downhill on Marine, I’d settled into an overall pace of 4:25 or so. By the time I hit the bottom of the hill heading to Jericho, I’d recouped about 5 seconds overall and was doing a 4:20 pace. Holding this would have netted me another 1:31, the same time I did at the First Half. The difference is I’d held onto a sub 1:30 in that race until probably the 15-16k mark and really only faded in the final few kilometers.

There are roughly three little climbs the rest of the way, the most intense being the small climb up from Jericho to west 4th Avenue. I ballooned a little on that 1k split and then was somewhat inconsistent, but slower in general, through the rest of the race. I hadn’t noticed the heat at all really in the first 12-14k, but as my untrained legs fatigued and the temperature climbed, I noticed it more in the final 6k. In fact, my 20k split was the only one from 15 onward that was sub-4:40, so things were taking their toll.

By the numbers

All in all, though, given all the issues I’ve had since April I wasn’t all that unhappy with my 1:36:45. I’d hoped for a sub-1:35, but figured I can allow a couple minutes for the heat. On a normal Vancouver late June day at 7:30am, we’re probably running in a 5-8 degree cooler temperature. Also, it appears the heat was definitely a factor, as a 1:36:45 would never normally get me a 14th place in my M50-54 AG.

Bib: 3774
Chip: 1:36:45 (4:31/km)
Gun: 1:38:04
Gender: 183/1603 (11%)
Age Group: 14/159 (8%)
Overall: 231/3561 (6%)

Next up will be to revisit my planning for the remainder of the year. For the moment, I’m going to shore up the neck and back tweaks and get some controlled harder efforts going. Not just sure where it will lead me, but I figure I’m unlikely to have another 3-4 months like those I just had.