The Wakefield Covered bridge half marathon was set to be a 21.1km (half marathon) trail race on May 4th, 2019. I was looking forward to this run through part of Gatineau park and the Vorlage ski hill as part of a pre-season ramp-up. Unfortunately due to the long winter and heavy flooding, the trails still had some ice on them and Gatineau Park declared the trails unfit and kept them closed. This means the event directors were going to have to switch the half marathon to a road race.
I wasn’t happy about the change but I understood their position. Mostly I wasn’t prepared to run the speed of a half marathon road race and had been training slower, technical running, which I thought played to my advantage a bit. Prior to the race I wasn’t sure I could maintain a reasonable speed. Most of my training to that point had been hills, stairs and lots of long easy slow running.
I don’t like road races very much, but this one was a beautiful location and followed the Gatineau River for a decent stretch. Large and small cottage homes gave rise to people stepping onto the road to cheer racers on and offer high fives. One small boy high fived me in my first and second lap –very excited to do so, but sadly I didn’t see him in my final lap.
Chris (my wife), Matthew (my son) and Titan (my dog) came out to the race to cheer me on and it meant a lot to know where I was going to see them each lap. My partner in suffering (Shawn) was also there cheering on his girlfriend Shauna running the 10km (who also set a PB time). Those little moral boosts helped me through at least the next two km’s each time.
The rule that everything that goes up must come down is true. But in this race, there was one hill that went up and up and up at such an angle, I felt my legs burn and even though it came back down on the other side, there was a significant loss of performance especially on the third and final loop. A good chunk of my splits were in the 4:20’s/km until I hit that hill and eventually I couldn’t get the speed back up (or down?). Despite my hill training, the combination of hill and speed did me in.
There were plenty of water stations along the route but I didn’t take in too much water. I discovered this mistake in my third loop when I could feel the fatigue hit and the need for some calories and water. Looking at my watch with 5km’s to go I knew if I slowed down at all, I’d lose my under 1:40 goal that I had set for myself at some point in the race when I realized I was cruising nicely. Could a couple of well-timed calories and water made a difference? I’m inclined to say yes and I’ll know for next time to plan out my drinking and nutrition a bit better. The advantage of a trail run is that slowing down to eat is easy because you aren’t necessarily going all that hard on the trails and I tend to power hike most mountains in order to eat and hydrate for the moment I hit a flat again.
I finished the race with a PB of 1:39 which I believe I can improve upon by a lot with consistent training. 1:39 was good for 14th overall, 12th in men and 5th in my age group. I’m happy with those results given my lack of preparation for the race but I look forward to the race season and seeing what I can do in my age group moving forward.
Next up: Spartan Sprint Laurentians on May 18th.