Sunday, May 20, 2018

Race Report: Bluenose Marathon Weekend - Boyne Clarke 15k

I'm snuggled in by a fire tonight recovering from my first race since last fall - the Bluenose 15k, which I ran this morning in just over 1:38. I haven't downloaded my Garmin data yet so I can't tell you precisely how much elevation was involved but, judging by the way my legs feel, it wasn't insignificant. (Not surprisingly, organizers avoid highlighting elevation info on the event website. Halifax is no place to come for a Boston qualifying time.)

The day started early because we hoped to be on the road by 6:15 to make it to the city in time for my 8:15 start. I woke up at 4:00 to pee, then laid awake listening to rain pound on the roof until the alarm went off at 5:30. By then, the rain had let up some and temperatures were mild enough that I resisted the temptation to bail and scurried to get ready, while Husband made coffee and fed the critters. We scarfed down over-sized pieces of mum's delicious blueberrry pie before finally hitting the road at 6:25.

The drive to the city was largely uneventful - though the rain got worse as we headed downtown. After a quick stop for a pee at a gas station on Quinpool Road, we lucked out and snagged a parking spot a kilometre or so from the start line. Amazingly, I stopped twice more to pee before lining up! Apparently, nervousness is a diuretic. Who knew?!

As we waited for the gun to go off, it was still pouring rain so I kept my jacket on, figuring I could take it off and tie it around my waist if the rain let up and I got too warm - which is exactly what happened just a few kilometres in. Next time, I'll take the risk of being a bit cold and leave my jacket with Husband.

Once the race was underway, I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt. I had tapered thoroughly over the past week, running only a few kilometres in all, and made a conscious effort to run an easy pace for the first few kilometres so that I'd have plenty of gas in the tank for the long hills ahead. I also resisted the temptation to check my Garmin since my only goal was to finish "upright and smiling". Instead, I ran "by feel" -  running "easy" up hills, and as fast I felt like running down them.

The route took us around Citadel Hill and along Agricola Street to North Street, where we made a right turn and headed downhill for a couple of blocks before starting the first climb up and over the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge. I hadn't run across the bridge since it reopened to pedestrian traffic a few months ago so it was fun checking it out, and of course I enjoyed the long descent to Wyse Road on the Dartmouth side. Unfortunately, after Wyse, there was a series of longass climbs up Nantucket, across Slayter, and up Woodland before we turned to run down a steep hill past Mic Mac Mall to Lake Banook. My legs were tired and tight by the time I reached the relatively flat path that took us around the lake, but I got a wee break when I stopped for one last pee just past the 9k mark. (I know! I've no idea where it all came from!)

As we circled Lake Banook and headed back towards the harbour, I was in familiar territory since I run there regularly, and the long descent to the water gave my legs a chance to recover a bit before it was time to tackle four last hills en route to the finish line. The first took us up Alderney Drive to Wyse Road, where local race organizer and photographer, Tim Chesnutt, took this shot. I look much happier than I actually felt at that moment.

The second hill took us up and over the bridge, the third up a steep block from the base of the bridge to Gottingen Street, and the last up Brunswick Street to the finish line. I had to walk for a minute at the top of the bridge, which gave me the chance to grab this quick photo.

Fortunately, having previously run 4 other Bluenose events (the 5k, 10k, half and full marathons), I knew better than to sprint to the finish line. The last time I did that, I came perilously close to losing my breakfast. This time out, I focused on covering the last 300 metres as quickly as I could without inducing vomiting, and crossed the line in a chip time of 1:38:12 - not bad at all, given all the hills and my minimalist approach to training. Here's a pic of me with race mascot, Myles, after the race.

My takeaways from this experience? First, running "by feel" really seems to work for me - especially on hilly routes. I'm a decent downhill runner so can make up a lot of time on descents as long as I don't push too hard on the climbs. Second, Husband's help was invaluable in getting me to the start line - and I don't mean just today. With one thing and another, it's been tough to train this spring, and there's no way I'd have managed it without his unwavering love, support and encouragement. (Thanks, honey!!) Third, race volunteers are awesome. Hundreds of them braved miserably wet and windy conditions and gave up huge chunks of their long weekend so that a few thousand runners could do what they love, raising hundreds of thousands for charity in the process. It's wonderful that so many people are willing to help year after year. Hats off and sincere thanks to all of them!

It's too soon to say what my next race will be. Husband and I are heading "across the pond" to Ireland on vacation soon and I don't expect to run much while we're there - though we hope to do plenty of hiking. Added to which, I may soon have exciting news to share - news that will have major implications for all aspects of my life, including my training. More on that when/if things come together.

Until then, happy running and writing, friends!

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