What a race! I kept a
3:56 pace for the 18k tempo with Roberto 13 days before this race, and that was
hard and I felt myself flagging at around 14k in that, but it was a bit warm
for that run, so I was hoping with cool temps I could do 3:55 pace for this race,
but that was B goal. C goal was to not
totally embarrass myself (totally dying, not placing top 10, a bathroom
incident, or 4:xx pace would all qualify).
The “A” goal was to run faster than my average pace at the Standard
Chartered Half marathon, which was 1:22:05, which was 3:53 pace. This course definitely was rolly in places,
but the hills were manageable, nice and wussy, the perfect kind of hills for
me. I thought I would go out at 4:00/k
the first couple of k’s to warm up, and try to keep the pace comfortable the
first half, then keep a good effort up the biggest hill between 16.5 and 18k,
then use the downhill to kick it back into a gear and finish strong. With the above overall paces as guides
depending on how I FELT.
The race started at 9:30 and my hotel was a scant 500m from
the start line, which enabled me to have a relaxed morning (that is up until 20
minutes til race time, then I was scrambling).
I ate a substantial breakfast (one packet of oatmeal, two hard rolls
with brie). I then did a walk to the
race area to ask a couple of questions, then went back to my hotel and
stretched and rolled. In my hotel I have
the smallest TV screen I have ever seen in a hotel. It is about a 14, maybe a 15”. And all channels are in Italian, but there
are three music channels that play mostly songs in English, so I would go
through those (Mtv, Virgin and Playme), catching up on what’s hot, though they
would also play old songs too. Anyway, I
went outside and ran 2.5k, enough to see the first 1k of the race, and it is
flat the first half then a gradual uphill. This suggests no faster than 4:00
first k, because of hill and warming up.
I have some issues getting my back to the drop off. I can’t find my glide, I never did, and got a
couple of reddish marks thanks to that.
I opt for no sunglasses (it sprinkled a bit in the warm up), and no
gloves. I don’t know what the starting
temp was, but I would take a stab at 10C.
I had light arm warmers (black knee high nylons with a hole in the
bottom for my hands), but 5 minutes to the start the sun came out and I rolled
them down, but I kept them around my wrists because there were darker clouds in
the direction we would be running (I never used and dumped at 10k). At the start the top 10 or so male and female
runners are announced. There is a
helicopter taking video. The start was
very obvious (a 10 count down in Italian with people changing in English) but still
an (apparently) Italian man jumped the gun, however the directors don’t make us
come back. We start out fast. Within 300m I probably have 10 ladies ahead
of me, I look down at my watch and pace so far was about 3:45. So I dial back a bit. We hit the uphill and I take it easy, come in
at the 1k at around 3:52. I don’t want
to start that fast but that k is now done and there’s nothing I can do about
that. There’s some headwind coming off the lake, and I am at the back of a pack
that is about 12 men and 3 women strong, so I hang with them and draft, draft,
draft. The whole course was very curvy
so I also paid close attention to tangents.
I stayed in the back of this pack for probably 3-4k, we are going a bit
faster than I would like (about 3:52) but I am afraid there might be no-man’s land
behind me and wanted the pack for strength and drafting. Naturally and slowly the pack broke into
smaller groups, and I would hang with a group, draft and pass, draft and
pass. At one point (probably 10kish) I
was taking the wind and was thinking, “How did this happen?” Probably a combo of a good tangent and the
group spreading out. Sometimes a runner
would be 20m ahead, then I would do a better tangent then all the sudden they
are 10m ahead, so that’s one way I picked people off gradually. Green shirt girl and I were back and forth
for the first 4k, then she fell back, then another girl who was at the lead of
the pack and I traded off for a while, but I never saw her after 9-11k. First 5k was 19:20ish, second 5k was
19:05. I was trying to keep the effort
relaxed, but was also concerned about my pace thus far. Around 8k we entered a tunnel and I thought,
oh no, a repeat of Yokohama in the same part of the race—don’t go too
fast. So there was a person ahead of me
and I told myself to just go the same pace as him, and that helped me stay
calm. I think I might have passed him by the end of the tunnel but at least I
didn’t tear it up while gps-less. By
13k, I was feeling good and knew I just needed to stay relaxed through the hill
at 18k. Team Italia was able to send me
because of one of our sponsors, Unigasket paid for the race. Well the Unigasket
contact/big wig biked the race beside me or just ahead for 2k on (he had a bike
permit so was officially sanctioned to do this). He had been silent up to this point, but I
told him, “Over halfway done!” I had an African girl ahead of me about 200m,
and my goal was to slowly catch her by 18k (the top of the hill). Big Wig tells me I am in 7th or 8th
place for the women. Well I passed her
at around 14.5k without a fight, which made me miss my 15k split but according
to my watch’s automatic 5k split it was 19:15. That then brought me to blonde
petite chick. (I am not mentioning all the men I also passed, there were
probably 2 guys for each girl I passed?) and I passed her and a man on the long
uphill at around 17.5k! Me, this is me,
we are talking about. Passing people on
the uphill. I crest the hill and try to
push the downhill, going quite a bit faster than 3:50 pace for a k or so. I remember being at 19.2 thinking 7k left—that’s
nothing! The fourth 5k was 19:04. Close to this point big wig tells me that the
next girl is about 200m ahead, but I don’t see her. Then he tells me she is 150m ahead. And I am wondering if he is feeding me a line
to keep me going. Then by 22.5k I am
getting close to passing a man during a really curvy section of the run, and I
look at the man closer and realize his butt looks a lot like a girl butt. This is a girl butt! So I pass a short haired girl who doesn’t
respond. This is fun. Now there is no one in sight. I have one last gu (this is the psychological
gu) at 23.5k and I know I have one mile to go.
Right after taking the gu I fall apart for about 50m. Those who know me know that means I slow and
start to whimper-cry. Big Wig has been
encouraging me since 15k or so, and I know I have a witness if I wuss out at
this point, and it is totally unnecessary.
So I got my crap together and decided I would not slow. So there you go. The 24.5-25k bit is a nice uphill, probably
only 1 or 2 percent but it’s cruel to put at the end. Big Wig tells me to not give up now, and I
don’t, though I can’t say I conquered the hill.
My last split was 19:07 There is
a short downhill then 50m flat for the end,
and I see 1:35:xx when I can finally see the timer with my sorry eyes,
so I give a wussy mini-kick and come in 1:35:53.
My watch showed the course short, 24.85. Big Wig says it is 25.2 and that’s what the k
markers showed. There were some long
tunnels with curves that would have affected my gps. I did a mapmyrun and it came in just over 25k
but I didn’t have the patience nor the satellite image accuracy to get all the
curves right, so I think it was 25k-25.2k, somewhere in there. I would like to think it was 25.2, that would
be awesome because that actually puts my ave pace at 3:48. Either way, it was one of those magical races
where all went well, and my race was as good or even better than my
training. I am grateful, so grateful for
I am grateful to Unigasket, Team Italia, and Roberto.
Roberto is the one who obtains the sponsors for Team Italia, the one who helped
me navigate preparing for the event, negotiated workouts with me, trained me on
the three Italian phrases I know :D Plus
he helped me not despair when I moved to the HK.
Paul has been a dear with the kids, even taking them to
church in my absence. Normally they take
a “church holiday” when I am gone, and they have to wake up at the crack of
dawn (for him :D)—7:30 to get there on time.
He said they got to church 10 minutes early—WHAT??!!! Being here alone has been a bit lame, so I am
excited I am coming back in 2013 with Paul (he has a conference in Milan).
Ciao (yup, that’s one of the phrases).