Sunday, July 26, 2015

Race Report: Nova Scotia Half Marathon

The good news is Husband ran a strong 10k and I finished the Half, earning some pretty sweet bling in the process. The bad news is I felt miserable for much of the run and finished in a disappointing 2:16.

Realistically, I figured 2:10 was as fast as I could go in any case, given my current level of fitness (or lack thereof) but I made a couple of stupid mistakes that cost me at least 5 minutes.

First, I went out too fast - a newbie mistake I should never have made. In my defence, it was cool and foggy and the race started on a downhill so I didn't feel like I was running too fast. I knew my pace was 5:30-5:45 in the first few kms and that it was unlikely I could sustain it for 21.1k but I still had a hard time making myself slow down.

My second mistake was not checking out the course beforehand. I'd read it was flat, and that was my recollection from when Husband and I drove it in May. However, a major portion of the course is in fact on a road with a slight uphill grade. The grade isn't much but it's enough to add a degree of difficulty I wasn't expecting. By the time I reached the high point around 18k, I had too little left in the tank to take advantage of the downhill to the finish line.

Other factors that led to my disappointing finish time today included the relatively warm temperatures, high humidity, and an inadequate taper. It was only about 20C but it felt much warmer with the humidity and I quickly finished all the gatorade I'd brought with me. At around the 17k mark, I started to feel chilled - an early sign of heat stroke - but, fortunately, the aid stations supplied plenty of water and sponges, which cooled me down nicely. On the other hand, there was nothing I could do to make up for the inadequate taper. I've had a rough couple of weeks at work and they took their toll. :-(

I hasten to add that I didn't feel miserable the whole race. In fact, I felt quite good for the first 8k or so - which was a pleasant surprise given that I'd been nursing a sore back all week. I also enjoyed exchanging gripes about the long uphill with my fellow runners. But the best moment of all was this one.

The young woman in the photo and I had been leapfrogging one another for most of the race, and like me, she struggled in the last few kilometres. As we approached the finish, I sensed she was slowing down so I yelled at her to "give 'er" if she didn't want to get passed by an old lady. As I hoped, my challenge motivated her to sprint to the finish, with me close on her heels. After the race, she thanked me for helping her finish so strongly, but of course she helped me too.

A quick word about Husband's 10k. Since he hadn't done much training and didn't have a particular time goal, he began the race conservatively and focused on maintaining a steady pace. As I write this, he's up near the barn chopping and stacking wood so I'm certain he could have run more quickly if he'd wanted to. :-) However, the important thing is that he enjoyed himself and felt great afterwards, and I'm very proud of him for doing so well.

Hats off to the race organizers and volunteers who did a terrific job, and to the many local residents who took time to cheer on the runners. It was a pleasure participating in the 45th Annual Nova Scotia Marathon event, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in running a midsummer race in one of Nova Scotia' loveliest communities.

Now, friends, I think it's time for an afternoon nap.

Happy running and writing!


  1. Congrats to you both - I figure if you end the run upright and smiling, it's a win!!! And those 'flat' or 'rolling hills' descriptors can be deceiving - the Port Greville half was touted as 'rolling hills'...from my Prairie perspective, they were more like mountains!!!

    Love the bling - and the shirts :)

    1. Thanks, Janet. The route really was pretty flat. I just hadn't trained well enough to manage the slight grade and heat without suffering. It was worth it for the bling though. :-)

  2. Pacing is hard! But to be only a few minutes off your realistic best pace, means you pretty well ran the best race you could have.

    1. I guess you're right, Keith. The frustrating thing is that in the past few years I've run similar distances at the Cabot Trail Relay (a much tougher course) at about 5:45-5:50. Though I've tried hard to train regularly since January, events, bad weather and various health issues have conspired to keep me from getting back into the same kind of shape. Hopefully, I'll have more time and better luck next year.