2016: Canal Run Half Marathon

As per usual, Hancock Canal Run signals the completion of two full years since I took to running half marathon distance and marks the beginning of a new year (#4). Reasons to participate in this event haven’t really changed over these years: a very well organized and attended race in my own backyard, the potential to see and be with a lot of friendly faces from the awesome community I am so fortunate to live in and a chance to sleep in my own couch the night before, and show just about everyone in this community that has ever helped me run (better) that their investment in me wasn’t a wasted effort.

In spite of being on the mend from lack of iron (Runner’s Anemia: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5) and protein in my diet, the preparations for this event were spotty. Treating the week after Run The Keweenaw, A Festival of Trails as a normal week, and keeping up with the volume and intensity weren’t very smart decisions in hindsight. There was also a noticeable dearth of strength and cross training. Given that this was only one two remaining events in 2016 that I was treating as a race, I should have been paying better attention to diet, rest, etc.

Pre-race activities included homemade dinner with Elizabeth, a stroll through downtown Hancock to checkout the Key Ingredients and impromptu communal birthday celebrations thanks to dear friends, … before calling it a night around 10/10:30 pm. For the second time in 2016, I forgot some of the race day activities/rituals, and deviated from the recently proven (only with subjective evidence, all which are my own) full sleeve tee shirt technique. I caught one of the last shuttles to the starting area, and there wasn’t much time left beyond the normal exchange of pleasantries with friendly faces and a brief warm-up run.

13.11 mi, 1:55:39, 8:48 min/mile, 6.82 mph, 148 bpm (72.20% of max)
Splits: (1) 8:29 (2) 8:25 (3) 8:44 (4) 8:47 (5) 8:27 (6) 8:25 (7) 8:35 (8) 8:39 (9) 9:03 (10) 8:55 (11) 9:14 (12) 9:49 (13) 9:17 (14) 0:46
Garmin fenix 3 HR, Garmin Tempe sensor and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress

The race, on a beautiful sun-kissed morning, started on time, and for the first time, it involved a timing strip at the start. Not wanting to repeat the mistakes and mishaps of last year — 6:20 for mile one, 7:05 for mile two, rolled ankle shortly after mile three, puking by mile seven — I opted for a slow start. Plan was to keep the pace in the neighborhood of 8:15/8:30 min/mile through first five miles, and then consider improving it for what remained afterwards. I was able to stick with the slow start through the first five miles and paid a bit too much attention to every little rock on the course but didn’t roll any ankle. For some unknown reason, the pace never picked up after the five mile mark. I stopped at just about every aid station and used my own hydration and nutrition pack fairly well. There was a hint of sharp pain in my right heel right around the 8.50 mile mark. This was something I hadn’t experienced in recent times. Being unsure of what it was made me a bit cautious and kept me from increasing the pace. Worrying about what it could have been made me a bit weary for the next few miles. Each of the remaining mile took with it one or more of the goals I had in mind for this race. If not for Shannon coming up the final hill screaming (not literally; she ran ~7 min/mile for the last two miles — much of it was uphill) and taking me along for the ride in her wake, I would have taken a few more minutes to cross the finish line.

Personal goals for the event (in order of importance)
## Goal Result
01 No walking including aid stations Yes
02 Keep every mile under 9:00 min/mile pace No
03 Improve current PR for this event: 1:48:49 (7.23 mph, 8:18 min/mile) No, 1:55:39 (6.82 mph, 8:48 min/mile)
04 Improve current PR for half marathon: 1:43:02 (7.55 mph, 7:57 min/mile) No, 1:55:39 (6.82 mph, 8:48 min/mile)
05 Keep the 2016 average run time for half marathons under 2:00:00 Yes, 3:48:32 total and 1:54:16 per event

Post-run activities included participating in the awards ceremony, hanging out with friends in the Hancock Beach, and calling it an early night. While the final time was disappointing, there were a couple positive takeaways: Iron and protein supplements seem to be doing their thing and being able to run 13.1 miles for the very first time in 2016 without stopping, and couple lessons: the need to rest well during the week leading up to this race, and the importance of nutrition, rest, and training. Hopefully, I wouldn’t forget these for the next (and last?) race of 2016 in Marquette in about six weeks.

Praise be to the Good Lord and life's blessings, and thanks be to

the opportunities, organizers, sponsors, volunteers, timing folks, law enforcement/border patrol/immigration officials, photographers, fellow racers, spectators, technologists with their creative electronic gadgets and tools, and my good friends in and outside of my community for the often unexpected, undeserved, unrewarded acts of constant encouragement, and offerings of constructive criticism, tested tips and tricks to improve myself as an athlete.

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