Race report: 2013 Okanagan Half Marathon

I last ran this race in 2010. I broke the two-hour barrier, establishing a new personal record in the process. I registered to run again in the Okanagan Half to see if I can run as fast, or possibly faster, as I did three years ago.

The training cycle for this race followed the usual format. However, there was a point during August (because of visiting family) when I struggled to find time to run. Even the high-intensity workouts (such as tempo) were not at the paces that I’d like to have.

I was therefore resigned to go to Kelowna and at least break two hours. It’s a reasonable challenge given the state of my training. I arrived Friday afternoon and basically rested up for the race on Sunday morning (October 13). For the first time in a long time, I was content and relaxed and ready to run.

In the days leading up to the race, the weather forecast had temperatures close to 0°C (32°F), but it clouded over on Saturday night, which provided perfect conditions for Sunday morning: 4°C (39°F) and sunny. After seeing off the marathon runners, I met in person a Twitter/dailymile friend, Courtney, who was there to pace the 2:15 group.

Like most multi-distance races, the half marathon is the one with the most registrants; the start corral was so packed, there was an overflow coming in from the side. I found myself in that overflow and when the gun went off to start the race, I crossed the start line behind the 2:30 pacer.

The first kilometre was a good indicator of where I’d be for the rest of the race. I was already under 6:00/km and the crowd had already spaced itself out. I was still relaxed when I passed the 5 km marker with a split of 27:42 (5:32/km or 8:54/mi). That’s more than one minute faster than my intended time at that point.

By the time I came back to City Park and the 10 km marker, I thought I was struggling but my time showed otherwise: a split of 26:23 (5:16/km or 8:29/km). When I passed the 11 km marker just under 60 minutes, I briefly thought about a training program where I run a set amount of minutes and see how far I can go.

I eased up only slightly in the next 5 km, as my split time averaged 5:29/km (8:50/mi), a pace that was still faster than my first 5 km. When I passed 15 km, I started counting backward, in terms of “can I finish the last 6.1 km in x minutes?” As each kilometre passed, I kept calculating the amount of minutes first in terms of finishing under two hours, then at 1:57, which would be a new personal best. With about 3.1 km to go, I finally started to entertain the thought of breaking 1:55, which is my next personal time threshold at the half marathon.

At the 19 km marker, when I calculated that I had about 11 minutes to cover the last 2.1 km if I wanted to go under 1:55, I just went for it. I began to pass some of the marathoners who had started half an hour before I did. I felt surprisingly strong at this point of the race, which is where one should be when the conditions are just right.

I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:54:44. It was an amazing feeling not just to record a new personal best, but to meet a long-stated goal to break 1:55. I know I like to underestimate myself, but I truly had no expectations on doing either of those during this race.

My performance here also cemented the importance of the Okanagan Marathon in my half marathon career. I ran my first half in Kelowna in 2006; I broke 2:00 in 2010; and now that I’ve broken 1:55 there, this could well be my fall race of choice in the future.

As I’ve noted in the sidebar, I’ve listed my times in each of the races this year. (You can click the links for my race reports.) In 2013, I have established or broken personal bests in four different race distances. That’s impressive, if I’m allowed to boast.

What’s next: one last race this year, and it’s the 10k at the Fall Classic. I’m on the fence whether or not to go for another PB at this distance. If recent results are any indication, it could well be possible.


2 Comments on “Race report: 2013 Okanagan Half Marathon”

  1. […] sometimes in brutal conditions, it’s practically a miracle. I was in maintenance mode between finishing the Okanagan Half and the start of this race. I wasn’t looking to break a personal best, but at least I was […]

  2. […] there that I passed the 10-mile marker at around one hour, 30 minutes (or 9:00/mi). Like I did in Kelowna last October, I started doing the reverse calculation: could I finish the last 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes? It […]

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