Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Harvest Half Marathon 2011 Recap

Since I'm currently not running due to my stupid right heel hurting, I'm going to do our write-up for the 2011 Harvest Half Marathon. My wife is currently running out in her Vibrams while 3 of our kids are at piano. How I wish I could be out running. Alas I want to be smart so I'm going to rest until my foot feels better. Better to go slow, than to hurt my foot any more.
So on to the Harvest Half marathon. This was our first race that we had ever done. When we had started using the Couch to 5K program we had originally thought of doing just 5K or even a 10K race. When we were doing our runs and easily got up to 10K we thought we would reach a little further for our first race. So we chose the Harvest Half marathon. We chose it for a number of reasons.

1. It was late in the season so we had plenty of time to train for it. Keep in mind that we both couldn't run for 3 minutes at a time back in March, so we needed a later half marathon to build our distance training.

2. The time worked great for babysitters, who were my wife's parents. They are Snowbirds and so at the beginning of October they are getting ready to go back down to the US. It's colder so they can't golf as much, plus they would still be in town. They were more than happy to watch our 7 kids while we ran around for a couple of hours.

3. We love the Fish Creek area and so the route for the race was just beautiful. We even had a date just the two of us to run the route once before the race. I must say it was even nicer during the race with the leaves starting to change colors.

Enough rambling about why we did it, on to the race report.

The 2 days before the race we decided to carb load. Definitely a fun way to prepare for a race, especially since we had been counting calories before. Nice to just relax and have to eat carbs. The night before the race we got into bed and we both actually had a pretty good sleep. Not so surprising for myself since I sleep like the dead, but my wife can be a light sleeper and sometimes has insomnia so that she got a good nights sleep is pretty awesome. We did get into bed kinda late though. I guess that would be why when our alarm went off at 5 in the morning, we both decided that we could spare another 30 minutes and went back to sleep until 5:30. We woke up, I had a quick shower, we got dressed and headed downstairs. For our morning meals, we just had some toast with peanut butter. We had also grabbed a banana each for the drive over, but we didn't end up eating them. We didn't want to have too much in our stomachs for the run, so we stuck with what we knew worked.
And of course Tea. Tea was essential.
One more check to make sure we had everything we needed and then we were out the door. Well one more stop for some 'before' pictures. Robbie opted to run in her base layer from Costco, running shorts, Bondi-band and her Ghost 4 shoes. At that time I was planning on running in a short sleeved short, shorts, Bondi-band and my Vibram KSO. I was debating whether or not I would need a long sleeved shirt over top so I grabbed a massive old shirt I had from when I was much bigger. Oh and we also each had on a pair of cheap magic gloves.

Robbie looking awesome.
Whereas I had to ham it up.

 Then we began the long drive down from Coventry to the start of the race. We parked a little bit away from the community center, right by the parking lot to the Midnapore lake. Only about a 5-10 minute walk, and there were much closer parking spots, but we wanted it that way. With Robbie's asthma we wanted to make sure that her lungs were accustomed to the colder air. Less of a shock to her system when she does start running so then hopefully she will not have any problems with her asthma while running the half.

We arrived at the community center at about 7 and headed in to the gym for the Facebook group meet-up. Along the way we ran into the facebook group Admin Barefoot Neil.
Although I must say false advertising. He was wearing Vibrams at the time. ;)
We ran into a couple more people from the facebook group including Dave and Peter who recently posted his awesome headcam of the HHM. It can be seen at his blog here. We then wandered around for a bit and tried to kill time until the race started. I noted a couple of other people wearing Vibrams and even two guys who were running barefoot. Awesome. We shall see about running the HHM next year barefoot. That would be pretty cool to do that. About 15 minutes before the start we had bathroom breaks and then headed outside.
15 minutes to go and everyone was still milling about.
About 5 minutes to go and we went to the start area. Seeing as this was our first race and we were being pretty casual about it, we headed to the back of the pack so as to not get crushed or pushed around or whatever else we thought was gonna happen at the front. Either way we enjoyed a more casual start to the race.
And we are off. Thanks to Barefoot Neil for the picture

The race started and we headed out, walking till we got to the timing point and then we started our garmins and started running. I ran with Robbie for the first .3 miles and then I got a little anxious to get going. I said Good-bye and started passing people. I must say, starting near the back of the pack is pretty great for me. I tend to be kinda competitive and don't like it much when people pass me. Starting near the back of the pack was great because it allowed me to do most of the passing. In fact, I believe that once the runners thinned out a little no one passed me which I liked.

After I parted with Robbie I realized that the course was different than what we had run before. It was due to construction we were later told. totally cool with the new course change until we got to the gravel. Now like I said before we had run this course before. The last time I had run in shoes, so while this was the first time I was doing it in my Vibrams at least I knew what to expect. I knew that there would be a short little bit of rocky trail right after we got into Fish Creek. I had run in other rocky conditions like that so I knew what to expect. This however was a gravel alley. And about half a mile of it. Ouch. I sucked it up and ran down the gravel as best as I could. I tried to pick the best path but inevitably stepped on a couple choice rocks. And once you get one sore spot it seems like the rocks seek out that spot for more pain. My wife told me later that the two barefooters just went along the grass right next to the alley. Don't know if that would have been better or not as I have heard that grass is dangerous as it hides sharp things. At least on the gravel I knew what I was getting. Helped to prepare my feet for the onsalught.

Coming out of the gravel I ran into another lady from the facebook group. Chatted with her for a little bit and then I went on in preparation for the first hill.
Under the Macleod Trail bridge, start of the hill
This hill starts under the Macleod Trail bridges and continues until you get to Fish Creek at the top of Evergreen. It's about 2 miles uphill with an elevation gain of about 160 ft. Thankfully (or not depending on your point of view) we live in Coventry Hills so we get hill training everytime we head out the door. Personally I love hill training, so much more than speed training or anything else. I get such joy out of conquering hills. An example of one of the runs that we did in preparation for the half is on my Runkeeper page here. After all the hills in our previous runs, this one was a piece of cake. Even felt better than when we ran the course before.

Near the top of Evergreen I ditched my gloves at an aid station. I never really used the aid stations at all but we tried to bring everything that we needed. For my fueling I had a fuel belt with 4 water bottles. As well I had two Chocolate mint GU packs in a gel flask mixed with water and a pack of Sharkies. Note about gummies for future races. While they might be nice and soft in the store, once running outside in colder temperatures they start to resemble the consistency of rocks. My wife had a package of Honey Stinger candies that were nice and soft the whole time. Must try that for next time.

Got into fish creek and the next rocky/gravelly section. Unfortunately for me there was a bit of a bottle jam so I had to run with a pack through the ouchies. But I made it through that and on we went into fish creek. The next while in fish creek was a gradual downhill section and my favorite part of the the race. Downhill, winding back and forth and lots of trees. My strategy for the race was to aim for a 8 - 8:30 minute mile. So far going up the hill I was keeping good time and I was feeling strong and loving it. Didn't take any pictures through this section, wish I had taken more pictures.

About the half way point I did get out my phone for more pictures.
Beautiful fall colors
This picture was taken just after the half point, right after going under Macleod trail. The runners had thinned out quite a bit and I certainly enjoyed passing groups of runners.
The open fields in Fish Creek leading up to the main parking area
While I do enjoy passing people and part of me hates to be passed, I also wasn't going to be stupid about killing myself to keep people from passing me. It was at about the above picture that two women came up behind me. They were running at a good pace, keeping right behind me. Eventually they did pull out and pass me. Totally cool with me. However they then stayed in front of me and didn't continue their quicker speed. Very puzzling to me. Pull out in front and then pretty much slow down. I passed them and continued on my way.
My determined look

Looking at picture of myself that people took, I always look far too serious in all my pictures. My wife has this was of always smiling while she is running to matter what. I love that, that she is smiling and friendly the whole way. I tend to get a more serious determined look on my face but I want to change that. I want to be the happy guy in Vibrams or who is barefoot.
Heading towards the Sikome hill
As anyone who has done the half before, the next fun hill is the Sikome hill. It's pretty short, but steep. Thankfully once again our hill training paid off and I ran the whole thing. Slowed down a bit and near the top I was feeling pretty tired, but it was awesome.

The Hill! Might just be the angle of the picture because I don't think it's actually this steep.
Once the Sikome hill was over it was just a matter of getting to the finish line. Ran through the neighborhood and then turned into the field near the community center. Such an awesome feeling to be so close to the finish line and to have everyone there cheering on the runners. Also pretty great for all of the people cheering all along the race route. Right near the end I spotted my parents, sister and sister-in-law and was beaming. So incredibly happy to be done.
My bad form for the finishing picture. Stopped too quickly.

Crossed the finish line and was so surprised to know that I was around the 1:46:XX mark. If you want to see my race on Runkeeper, you can find it here. Met with my family and then waited for Robbie to come in. We both have iPhones and so I fired up Find my iPhone to locate her. Didn't have to wait long though because my wife is a rockstar. (Part of that may have been written by her, but I do agree).
My rockstar wife finishing strong
Robbie finished with a final time of 2:02:XX, which is stinking awesome because she had her A goal as 2:15. She originally thought she would come in at about 2:30. Half an hour earlier is amazing and I want to go on record saying so. Way to go B!!!
Tired, but happy and feeling great.
We had a fantastic first race that went smoothly. We'd would like to thank Barefoot Neil (who managed to trade our size Medium shirts for Small) and the rest of the Harvest Half volunteers for putting on a great race. We look forward to running this race every year. Hopefully next year we will both be barefoot. ;)

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