I planned to use the Run for Reach Half Marathon as a training race for Ottawa Marathon. The annual race is put on by Reach Canada, a national charity that supports people with disabilities. I ran it in 2013, six weeks before the Ottawa Marathon that year, and got my half marathon PB. It’s a fairly flat course and is an out and back loop along the Rideau Canal, a portion of the Ottawa Marathon route. It also happens to be a route I run quite frequently. With the race on Sunday morning, Saturday was a pretty low key day. I completed a 20 minute shakeout run on Saturday morning, then ran some errands (including picking up my race kit at the Bank Street Running Room). G entertained my appetite for Whole Foods for lunch. Salad bar, grilled salmon and ginger GT’s Kombucha FTW. We had a chill evening, as I was going to be up early in order to get to the start before 8:00.
The morning of the race I woke up around 5:45 am. I couldn’t sleep any longer. I wasn’t nervous, but there’s something about race mornings that just wake you up. I drank my coffee and sat on my computer for a bit. By 6:45 am I started nibbling on my Picky Bar and sipped on some Nuun. I left the house by 7:20 am and ran to the race start (about 2.5 km).
As I stood at the start line, I really wasn’t nervous. I looked around and overheard many comments about how cold it wast (-9ºC). Interesting, I thought to myself, after running outside for the past three months, this was what I consider to be a beautiful day.
Ultimately, I just wanted to get the show on the road. There were about 115 participants in the half marathon and another 100 or so in the 5 and 10km. The 10km started with the half marathon, which meant I knew the course would thin after they finished.
My race plan was to run a negative split (faster second half of the race). I’ll be honest with you, this has been a unicorn I’ve been chasing for a while. While everyone knows that in theory running a strong negative split is ideal, it’s a hard task to execute. It means you have to really reign it in those first few kilometres, when you’re feeling fresh and could easily run fast.
Kilometre 1-5 I repeated to myself 4:55-5:00. I hung with a group of guys and let them do the pacing work. The guy who seemed to be leading the pack was running a consistent 5:00. I told myself that this was my warm up. YOU WILL STAY HERE.
By 6km, I told myself that we could start working the pace down. Reminding myself constantly that I am running my OWN RACE and not to get spooked by the people passing me (as I suspected, they were finishing at 10km). I reminded myself that I would be in a STRONG position for the second half of the race. That would be where the fun began. I took a Hammer Espresso Gel between kilometre 8-9 (good practice for Ottawa Marathon, I’m planning to take them in 45 minute intervals).
I made it to the turnaround (the 10km finish) and let myself push it a bit more. My coach had told me that the half marathon is supposed to hurt, but it doesn’t hurt forever. You should be in control by the second half of the race. I was. The pace felt good. My legs were responding and I knew I had more left in the tank.
At 15km, the last turnaround of the race, I told myself GO TIME. The plan was to run a negative split and this was the part of the plan where the race would be won. The last 6km is where you reap the benefits of your controlled race plan. My legs were feeling great. I had a great soundtrack in my ears and the sun was shining.
With 3km left I was doing the math in my head. I knew I was going to PR that day. My coach had told me 1:41 was a challenging but very realistic goal. That would put me over two minutes faster than my PB of 1:43. I can’t emphasize how badly I wanted to PR on Sunday. Reflecting more on the race, there was a big difference between my PB there three years ago and this year. Three years ago, my 1:43:57 felt like a fluke. Although it was GREAT, I legitimately surprised myself back in 2013. Back then, I just started being able to run what I considered to be fast.
Sunday’s PB meant even more to me. It wasn’t a fluke at all. I had no doubt in my mind what I was capable of (even on tired legs). I knew I had put in the work. While the half marathon really was a training race for Ottawa, I’m so freaking happy with Sunday’s result.
DOUBT KILLS MORE DREAMS THAN FAIILURE EVER WILL.
Has doubt held you back from something lately?