Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grand Manan 1/2 race report

For some reason I'm not able to come up with a catchy title for this post so I'll try to stick to the basics. It's not that there was nothing out of the ordinary for this race located on the island of Grand Manan a 1.5hr early morning ferry ride away from the mainland. The fog was so thick today that we couldn't see the wharf until we were within 50 feet of it but unfortunately a cool foggy day was not in store for the race.

Due to the remote location, this race usually has a small turnout of less than 50 runners but it is very well organized. The mid-summer weather out here in the middle of the Bay of Fundy is also 'usually' cool and foggy and the nearly flat route makes this a PR tempting course. As an added bonus they had also revised the route this year with the removal of the 'hill' (only 100 ft or so) in the out and back section for the 1/2.

After my usual cursory warmup of a 1/2 mile jog and stretching we were lined up at the start and sent on our merry way. By this time the fog had burned off and the sun was beating down on us unmercifully with no cooling sea breezes to speak of. Due to the small size of the race I had lined up at the front and went out with the expected race leader doing my best not to get overexcited and pass him right off. Despite trying to hold back the 1st kilometer went by in 4:24 and I found myself sitting in about 3th or 4th spot.

My plan for the race had been to try for 4:40 per kilometer pace which is the predicted speed for a 1:38 1/2 marathon based on my last 5k race. Of course like all other 'race plans' this was out the window almost from the get-go with the 2nd k in 4:35 at which point my Garmin decided to fog up on the inside and thumb it's nose at me (time to just run Mike!) So I just ran by feel trying to stay within myself knowing it was going to be a long hot run. I was almost immediately passed by 2 runners, including the 1st female but I resisted the temptation and just kept plugging away.

By the time I reached the 10k mark in about 46:40 (according to Garmin as the race marked it a bit short) the temptation to cut my losses and stop with the rest of the 10k runners was very strong with the increasing heat. The prospect of 11+ more kilometers at this effort in this heat (and did I mention the humidity) was daunting at best but I found other distractions (roadkill) to keep me going.

But 1st a couple of plots from SportTracks which I've just started to play around with. You can see my heartrate over the course of 13 miles showed a gradual increase which is more likely due to the effects of heartrate drift as a result of increasing body temperature in the humid, hot, still air and not so much from increasing effort (though I'd like to think so). I definitely did push it harder in the last k trying to get 3rd but more on that later.
This is another neat plot from SportTracks showing my kilometer splits compared with the overall average pace of 4:47/km (goal was 4:40). You can see I was under average pace (faster) for the 1st 7k, popped around for the next 4k and then above average (slower) for the next 10k. The final split of 0.2km was my 'sprint' for the line trying for 3rd but wasn't even close.

Some of that popping around was due to my overtaking a couple of slowing runners (roadkill) who had passed me earlier. I chatted with the lead female as I came up on her that "I didn't want to pass her" but she graciously allowed me to go by without tripping me into the ditch. At this point I was just slowing down less than the other runners and by the 16-17k mark I was able to overtake yet another 'cooked' runner who had gone out too fast for the conditions.

Since the final part of this course was a 5.5k out and back I was now able to determine that I was in 4th place overall with a chance for getting into the money for the top 3 men. My next target was only a couple of 100m ahead with about 3-4k to make up this distance. For some reason he ignored my mental pleas to stop and walk but then it seemed he was slowing in the final 2k. I pushed it as much as I was able but there was just not much left to give as I came to the final straight quite a bit short. My final time was 1:40:30 for 4th overall (with Garmin details here) and race results should come soon (here).

So, it was a good effort but not quite the result that I'd hoped for. My target was for a sub 1:38 with a range of 1:35 to 1:40 in my pre-race notes. It was just the heat and humidity that won out today and was not quite the PR course we'd hoped for. Talking with the other runners after the fact, we all seemed to share the same experience, too hot, too humid, no wind, oh well, try again next year.

That's all I got for now. My next race will be in a week's time on my 55th birthday. I'm doing either a 5 or 10k in Charlottetown, PEI, the same race I did last year on a nice dead-flat waterfront course. Wish me luck and good running!!


Grellan said...

Congratulations Mike - a great race for such hot conditions.
A great tally on the road kill - a sure confidence booster. No harm at all to discard the watch once in a while and run by feel.

Thomas said...

That's a great effort, Mike, well done! You should give yourself a lot more credit than that. On a less humid day the same effort would easily have yielded 1:38, probably better.

The heart rate drift is scary. I have seen it drift before, but never so much and so constant. Be glad you didn't run a marathon that day.

Ms. V. said...

Wow. Great job. I love SportsTracks.

Trevor said...

Great stuff Mike. Have a good race and birthday on PEI.

Michael said...

Congratulations, well done!

Ewen said...

Well done Mike. I agree with Thomas and Grellan that you'd run 2 or 3 minutes quicker in cool conditions. A shame about just missing out on the podium, but at least you don't have to declare those earnings on your tax return ;)

It's funny hearing you talk about heat and humidity when we're freezing our behinds off down here with temps of -4 to 10C on many days.

Good luck in the 5 or 10 in the new age-group.