Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Blog #12 End of season reflection, first half of 2013

So I did the last race of my spring season this weekend, a half marathon in Vancouver! It was a nice trip, and Canada Running Series was nice enough to provide travel and accommodations to elites, so that was pretty sweet. With Reid having an unfortunate biking accident a few weeks ago, I would be the lone Speed River guy in the race. The main competitors would be Rob Watson who turned 30 on race day, Kip Kangogo who was racing for the first time as a father, and two other Kenyan runners who I never raced before. My race strategy was to feel out the pace for about 5k, then make a conscious decision whether to keep with the leaders, or hold back if the pace seems unsustainable. That way I could conserve a bit on the down hill with the hopes of catching guys who fall off from the leaders later on in the hilly portion of the race. 5k went by in 15:10, which is fairly quick for me. I felt that trying to keep with the leaders during the downhill portion from 6k-10k would not be advantageous for me, and that I would be better off coasting the downhill so I would feel in control in the more critical last 10k of the race that features a few tough hills. So even though there is 4 prize money spots and 5 of us in the lead pack at 5k, I felt as if my best bet is to let the pack of 4 go, most of whom have significantly better personal bests than me. At the bottom of the hill at 10k, I was on my own, nearly 30 seconds from the leaders. It is a bit of a challenge running on your own, but I did get some help, as one of the runners from the lead pack was fading, so I could use him as a target to chase down, which I did at about 16k. I finished 4th in 1:05:25, which I felt was a decent result to end the spring season. I was hoping for sub 1:05, but that's just a number I through out there, and I was close enough.

Now that I am finished with the first half of my 2013 racing season, its time to recover, reflect, relax for a week or two, then move on to my first marathon build up for the fall! I am excited about both my time off and the marathon. It's important physically and mentally to take a break from training, and its always nice when you do that by choice after a race you've been focusing on rather than being forced out by injury shortly before the race you were focusing for. Looking back at times where I took time off after a season not due to injury, usually I would make improvements during the next season. For example, the last time I was able to do this in the winter of 2011, I had a breakthrough result in the ATB 30k in March.

Hopefully, this fall, I'll have a breakthrough result in the marathon. I'm still a virgin to that, and all though you could consider a 30k 'third base', I still haven't experienced going 'all the way' before, so I have a mixture of nervousness and excitement about this new venture, and I'm not completely sure what to expect. From what I've been told it'll hurt a little but the feeling afterwards is definitely quite something. Yes...I am still talking about marathons . If you were thinking I was talking about my actual virginity, I do plan to wait until marriage, but that is not an important topic for today.

But anyways, due to my lack of experience in the marathon, I could do some simple mathematical analysis of people I race often who run marathons to predict what kind of time is reasonable to shoot for while limiting the risk of bonking really bad late in the race. For example, Watson beat me by about 1 minute in the Vancouver half marathon this weekend, and he's a 2:13 guy, so 2:15 sounds realistic. If I do the same analysis with the times Reid and Eric ran on that course last year, it predicts me to run around a 2:15 also. Although subject to change based on how my training goes this summer, it seems like a reasonable upper bound for a 95% prediction interval of what I might run for my debut would be in the 2:15 range. Of course, from what I've seen, a lot can go wrong in the marathon, so the times that an individual might run are probably not as normally distributed as the shorter races. The distribution is probably skewed, but that is irrelevant in my attempt to get a result somewhere in the top of my bracket of potential, which I believe from the information I have now is around the 2:15 range. So my tentative goal is to break 2:15.

Based on where I was a year or so at this time, I know it is important to thank God for the blessings he has given me so far this year. It's always a blessing in this sport when you can go through a season without any major injury troubles. It's natural to cry out to God for help during times of trouble, but its equally important to thank God when things are going well. A lot of times, the same people who cry out to God during times of trouble often forget to thank him when things go well, but rather attribute success to themselves. I don't want to do that. You can't take anything for granted in running and in life in general. I know very well there's a fine line between having a great season and getting injured. This is a sport where it is clear you need to rely on God's grace and have faith that things will come together in His timing. I'm calling the first half of 2013 a success, and not just because of running. I also have a girlfriend now, believe it or not! And she's not imaginary! Her name is Anne. She's doing her master's degree, and this is her first year in Guelph too. She does triple jump. We met at this cool group on campus called Athletes in Action,  a group that meets once a week to have fellowship and occasionally talk about what it means to integrate faith and sport. She's second generation Asian, and in that culture, it's considered respectful if a guest eats a lot... so I had no problem impressing her parents when I came over to visit last weekend!

Now its time to relax, and look forward to what God has in store for me next!

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