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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Race Report: 2009 Peterborough Half Marathon

The following takes place between 9:00am and 10:00am

I woke up this morning, looked out the window and saw snow. Blowing snow. Lots of it.

Now at this point I hadn't even registered for this race... I could easily have just scrubbed it and got on my bike for a few hours instead. That's the way I was leaning, but thankfully my friend talked me into running anyway... something about shoveling and it's not that bad and you have to do something long anyway. I bought it.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

I tend to enjoy the "triumph over adversity" races, and this one was looking very adverse... even as we made our way to the start line the snow was coming down in huge flakes, it was a winter wonderland.

The road was snow-covered and a bit slippery for the first few kilometers, and it wasn't looking really good for a personal best! But from there on it cleared up quite a bit, and at least there was a clear line where the cars had driven where there was asphalt.

The wind was blowing quite hard for the whole race, but it was the head wind on the way out that really stunk... the tail-wind on the way back was great, though!

The strategy

I stuck to what I said I wanted to do in my last blog post: walk breaks (10 and 1's) and negative split. The last times I did this race I didn't take the walk breaks, and I'm quite sure I had positive splits as I totally died by the end.

As usual I went out a bit hot, and by 5k was almost a minute ahead of where I was supposed to be. I dialed it back a lot, and then was able to pretty much hit my pace from there to the half way point. By half-way I was right on my planned negative split 56:05 vs planned 56:15 - now it was time to dial it up.

I might have been a bit too exuberant at that point, but I had a tail-wind and was going a bit downhill... I started picking people off and was loving it. I stuck to the walk breaks, which meant I was really running quite a bit faster than those around me (when I wasn't walking!).

The beginning of the end...

I found myself right near the 1:50 bunny with about three kilometers to go. My goal for this pace was 1:51, but I felt I had the legs to make it stick so I matched his pace and kept going. This worked out great, his pace was right on and he even gave me a pep talk to help kick out those last 500m!

The end!

My final time was roughly 1:49:21 - almost 2 minutes faster than my goal time. I'm delighted, especially in those conditions! Give me a clear day and peak form and I know I still have more left in me.

2007- 2:07:06 (first-ever 1/2 marathon)
2008- 1:53:55
2009- 1:49:21 (roughly)

Analyzing the Strategy

If you've never intentionally negative-split a race, I highly recommend trying it! I'm sold. Pick a "B" race and go for it.

I don't know the physiology behind the negative split, but I know psychologically speaking it's a huge boost to be speeding up as those around you are struggling to keep their pace.

First half: 56:05
Second half: 53:16

A closer split is probably ideal, but consider the way out had a head wind and the conditions were a bit worse than the way back and I think I got it about right.

I think my result is also a big testament to walk breaks - I was easily able to beat last year's time, and last year I ran straight through in far better conditions (although I don't think I got the nutrition right last year...). I certainly felt much much better through-out this race.

The only thing I would have done differently would have been to increase my pace a bit slower after the half... I went pretty quick in kilometers 11-14, then ended up slowing in the last few. I don't know how much difference it really would have made, though, I felt I got almost everything out of my body that it had in it today.

Next up: Around the Bay!

30K run around the bay in Hamilton... stay tuned!

Post-race navel-gazing...

My km splits:
1- 5:05
2- 4:58
3- 5:18 (walk)
4- 4:58
5- 5:24 (walk)
6&7 - 11:29 (5:45 avg, includes a walk)
8- 4:53
9- 5:39 (walk)
10- 5:00
11- 5:32 (walk)
12- 4:48
13- 5:15 (walk)
14 - 4:30
15 - 5:24 (walk)
16 - 4:51
17 - 5:19 (walk)
18 - 5:06
19 - 4:58
20 - 5:11
21 - 5:05
21.1 - 0:28

I was all over the bloody place... started out too fast, slowed down too much, way too fast after the halfway point, then held on to the end. Obviously that's something I need to work on... although my friend said his Garmin showed some of the markers were off by as much as 100m, so maybe it's not as bad as it looks! :)


Aaron said...

Rocked it! Tailwind, schmailwind. That's an awesome progression from year-to-year. Congratulations!

cdnhollywood said...

That's great work! I'll have to try that 10/1 stuff next time. For some reason, the half marathon's never really been kind to me.

runwuf said...

Good job man! if you did the Chilly half yesterday I think you would beat 1:48!

Road condition was great and I felt the entire course had a lot of downhills, or maybe it's just illusion?! :-)

John C said...

was bored so I went back and read some of your old stuff Jon.

Re why negative splits work... I bet you know this by now. During any endurance event lactates build up and this increases the effort required. With a negative split you defer the buildup of lactates. With a positive split, you carry all those lactates you created in the 1st half of the race, further impairing your 2nd half performance.

Jon P said...

Interesting, thanks. I was just reading this post the other day, actually. :) I'm rid of the walk breaks on my long runs, so we'll see in a few weeks how I do in Peterborough with a negative split and no walk breaks.