Race report: 2010 Fall Classic Half MarathonPosted: 22 November 2010
One word: COLD!
The public-address announcer declared this should have been called the Winter Classic. Snow on the ground, temperatures hovering around -1°C (30°F), and even falling flakes during the race: definitely not a typical autumn run in Vancouver.
With these conditions, I joined other hardy racers at the start line. A mere six weeks after my last half marathon, I trained as well as I could. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any major problems after the Okanagan Half, unlike in past races. However, I didn’t ramp up my long runs properly, such that I had two consecutive runs in the 16-17 km range in the two weeks before this race. I therefore went into the run knowing I won’t break my PB, but I would still run it as hard as I could.
The course involved two loops around the UBC campus. It was relatively free of snow and ice, except for the section on Old Marine Drive, and in the plaza in front of Koerner Library, which was surprising as this is a major university building. A big thank you to all the volunteers throughout the course who cleared excess snow and warned us of slippery patches.
The markers indicating each kilometre seemed to be off, or my pace just fell off completely between km 1 and 2; my watch recorded 5:30 after km 1, but almost 12:30 after km 2. Every subsequent check of my watch indicated I was going over 6:00/km. When I calculated the 5 km splits afterward, I noticed that the out portions of both out-and-back loops were faster than the back portions (average 6:00/km vs 6:26).
The one thing that (almost) tripped me up was my shoelaces untying, especially in the last 5 km. It was a frustrating experience, even more so in a race. I was almost tempted to throw them away and finish barefoot. Fortunately, I’ll be transitioning to another pair over the next few weeks, as I’ve trained with the current ones for most of this year.
The timing for this race was different as well. The chip was attached to the bib, so instead of mats at the start and finish, the sensors were at waist level. My official time was 2:09:51, which seemed a shock to me, as my watch recorded over 2:11. With traditional chips on shoes, the difference between chip time and watch time (even accounting for the extra seconds after crossing the finish line) was mere seconds. But more than a minute?! And it seems that I’m not alone in such a discrepancy. We’ll see if the race organizers will address this issue.
With the finish of this race, I’ve now completed 10 half marathons; half of them have been done in the last 12 months. Overall, I really enjoyed my progress over the past year, as I’ve chipped away at my PB from 2:09 (unofficial first half at Victoria 2009) to the 1:57 in the Okanagan in October. I feel I can still improve, and I hope to prove that soon. For now, I will rest and recover as I get ready on a 22-week journey that will take me to the Vancouver Marathon in May. It should be an interesting training cycle, as winter has only just begun…