Posted by: pursuingsub17 | May 24, 2011

Sometimes it is where you place and how you ran that matters

Well, I have to say it was my best race ever in terms of doing everything right. I had a light pasta dinner the night before and stayed well hydrated throughout the previous day. I had a light breakfast – which, other than my Calgary 70.3 last year, is always a good choice of a glass of oj and a bowl of Special K. I stayed hydrated on the way to the race but not too much. 10 minutes before the start, I had my first gel. Then the gun went off.

The race course was a tough one. There were a lot of steep climbs right from the start and of course the dreaded steep decents. The wind was unbelievable but at least it wasn’t cold and rainy. The temperature was perfect at +15 C. On the first climb, I told myself not to worry about those passing me and the fact that within 10 minutes I had lost sight of the 2:15 pace bunny. I’ll catch up later. No sense blowing up the first 5 k into the race. I remembered as I climbed that I had read somewhere to take short strides and keep it slow and steady going up and work with gravity going down. That strategy worked.

On the flats, I was gaining ground on all those who zipped past me on the first three hills. First it was Ms. Pink shirt. She and I had battled it out for about 8k and she finally gave in after the water station. I slurped my water and kicked it into higher gear as I set my sights on Ms. Orange shirt. On her heels, I kept a steady pace to catch my breath when suddenly, I realized I was now ahead of Orange without even trying. Then I spotted the ears of the 2:15 pace bunny. I kept my pace steady and found I was gaining without running harder. I passed 5 runners in a pack who had been with the pace bunny from the start and eventually caught up to her. Here, I thought “I can keep this pace up for the remainder until 4k left and then rev up the engine.” I was comfortable and suddenly I felt in the zone. No pain, no exhaustion. I felt exhilerated but not so much that I was over-confident.

My nutrition strategy was bang on. I remembered to have my gels and chews every 20-25 minutes – not every 30. The race was well supported so there were a lot of aid stations. Every other race, I would gulp down as much water as possible for fear of dehydration – thus, ending up with a sloshing stomache that made me ill toward the end of a race. This time, if I thought I was thirsty, I would remember I just had water 20 minutes prior and perhaps I just had dry mouth. So I swooshed the water in my mouth and spit it out. Again – this strategy worked and has been mentally noted for future races.

Then the wind hit. The wind was gusting at 35-40km/hour that morning but for the first 6k, we were protected by a wooded park. The next 4k, we had a tail wind. But the next 8k after that would separate the smart racers from the ones who went all out at the beginning. The wind was so strong, I felt I was running uphill. I dropped off slightly but still managed to keep catching up in between gusts. The last two runners with the pace bunny dropped off and I kept up with her until the last 3.5k. Of course, there was a long climb just before the finish. I lost her – but I still had sight of her.

I crossed the finish line 5 minutes after she did at 2:20:19. Not my best time but I thought – hey, it isn’t my A race and it was a tough one. Two days later, I found out I placed 41 out of 85 in my age group. For the first time ever, I had moved up into the top 50 percent instead of the bottom 30 percent. It was a PR for me – maybe not time-wise – but where I finished.

I’d definitely do the race again. Well organized, the best swag I’ve seen in a long time and there was food, a beer tent and live entertainment after! I chatted with some familiar faces and went home content. I kept my wits about me and raced smart. I had finally learned from all my past mistakes. Paced myself perfectly and practiced good nutrition and hydration. Best race I have ever done to date!


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