Sometimes life throws you a curveball now and then. Sometimes that curveball can work in your favour and you knock it out of the park. That’s what I felt like happened this past weekend at the Chilly Half.
I guess this story starts out in the early morning hours of the Saturday before race day. A normal night at work for us turned into some tense moments while handling an in-flight emergency. I’m glad to say that it had a happy ending but it makes you appreciate things a bit more when these unexpected things happen. Needless to say, I had a little bit of extra adrenaline pumping and a bit of a “high on life” sort of feeling on Sunday morning.
I was running my third consecutive Chilly Half-Marathon in downtown Burlington. Coach Rick and I had planned to aim for a 1:23 high to a 1:25 finish time based on conditions. The weather was great compared to what we’ve been having lately. Around -5C with light flurries and next to no wind with fairly dry roads. Pretty great if you ask me. If you’ve been reading, I love racing half-marathons. They’re my favorite distance and I have a pretty good strategy laid out to them now. It had been awhile since I’d had the opportunity to run a flat course with favourable conditions.
I warmed up with Krista, Ben and fellow GRE runner Alec. All was good. I saw a whole bunch of friends who are nice to see in real life once in awhile instead of on my Twitter feed. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. Probably because of the weather? I was especially happy to be there. I was still thinking that a day earlier, things could have turned out much worse.
Ben and I decided to stick together for the race. We had plans this past summer to race together but never got the chance so it was nice to finally get down to some running business. We started out comfortable. A little off the pace which was planned to be between 3:58-4:02/k. No worries though. It was early and we were having fun and a good chat. I kept a mental note to try to keep pushing a bit more as the race progressed. This was business after all 😉.
First 5k splits: 4:06, 4:05, 4:06, 4:00, 3:57.
As we passed downtown Burlington again heading east, I saw the BlackToe Running gang and a few others cheering. It’s always nice to see them. I haven’t been into the store in a few months and miss that place. It’s a real nice spot they have there in Toronto. I also saw some familiar runners ahead. Leah of Black Lungs, Nate of Pace & Mind and Laura of Longboat. Ben and I eventually caught up to them. Nate took off like a shot. That guy really impresses me. The minute I think I’ve caught up to him, BOOM he hits the gas. Laura, Ben and I stuck it out.
6-15k splits: 3:51, 4:02, 3:54, 4:03, 4:04, 3:59, 3:54, 3:59, 4:06, 4:11 <— “Ew what is that? 4:11?! Get your head in the game kid” – actual race thoughts by Mike Thornton
Somewhere before the turn around, Laura and I lost Ben. She and I kept pace for a good chunk of the race. I’d been wanting to race with Laura for a while. I think she’s one of my favourite runners on the Twitter machine. She’s friggin’ quick too! Around 16km I started feeling good. I had energy to burn. I started feeling a little charged emotionally from Saturday’s events and just turned it into pure energy. I left Laura and started picking off runners. I think I passed maybe 10 in the last 5km. I started hammering. I was really moving. It felt great!
Splits 16-21k: 3:58, 4:05, 3:52, 3:50, 3:48, 3:42
I crossed the line with a chip time of 1:24:46.8 a personal best by 1:45 and 68th overall! Can’t say I’m not happy with that! I’m wondering if maybe I could’ve taken it out at a faster average pace and maybe gone sub 1:24. I’m happy with the way I chose to race. A little on the conservative side since we’re now less than a month from Around The Bay and that’s what I’m building for.
If anything, this weekend reinforced my love for both of my passions in flying and running. What happened at work doesn’t make me afraid. It’s a learning experience and its part of the job. Plus it kind of helped me dig deep when I needed it for race day. I really enjoyed this race. Maybe I need an emergency before every race to get me hyped up? Ha.. Nah I’ll pass.
Around The Bay is soon less one big hill this year. That kinda sucks. We’ll give the race a good go still though. Until next time, friends, keep the shiny side up!