Back in the spring, I had registered for the full marathon at PEI with visions of a PB dancing in my head. The running gods had other ideas – I wasn’t able to put in the training required and finally (reluctantly) changed my registration to the half marathon only three weeks ago.
The culprit for my hip woes (at least in my own mind) was deciding not just to run, but to race the 5k event at the Bluenose Race Weekend only six days after completing a marathon in very tough conditions. More seasoned runners with many more miles under their feet may be able to get away with something like this, but I was not so lucky. Instead of listening to my body and resting or taking it very easy, I pushed hard and paid the price.
Ironically, one of the reasons I chose to check out the Bluenose was the three Atlantic Chip medal challenges – one of which came to a conclusion this past weekend in PEI. The Maritime Challenge involved participating in any distance at three events in the three Maritime Provinces – the Bluenose (in NS), the Marathon by the Sea (in NB) and the PEI Marathon (in PEI). If I wasn’t going to be able to race this summer, I guess I decided that I may as well at least check out as many events as possible.
To make a long story short, I found myself in Charlottetown this weekend with my co-conspirator Stefanie (aka @epileptrick) preparing to do the half marathon. Stefanie and I have run together at several events this year and travelled to a few of the various “challenge” events together. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but we are both seeing it through the final race next weekend at Legs for Literacy.
For PEI, I set myself a goal of 1:55 – which would be 3 minutes faster than I had run in Fredericton four weeks earlier on a much flatter course. The other part of my goal was to run it like a hard workout – not to push too hard – as I’m still recovering and building back up my strength and speed.
Just as important to me was a planned meet up for some of the runners I have gotten to know via Twitter this past year and who have been regular participants and supporters of the weekly chat I moderate, the Sunday night #RunAtCan chat. Knowing that us runners would want to carb up and also get to bed at a reasonable time the night before a race, I booked a table at The Old Triangle and hoped for the best.
I was really happy to see a solid turnout, as a dozen people all told made it out – some of them even bringing family or another runner, meaning we weren’t a scary group. Stefanie and I got there a few minutes early to make sure the table was ready. Ahmet (@10X10K) and his wife showed up first, followed by Chris (@turbona), fresh off the Chicago Marathon last week(!) and Nicola (@irishnicola). We were also joined by Myles (@irunmc) and his friend Dave from Truro, Renee (@rayvenevermore – who I actually went to high school with back in Newfoundland!) and Kendra (@kendra_shepp08) who brought her mother. Last but not least, Rod and Jo Paul (@rod_paul and @CasaJos) – who are killing it with half marathons galore this year, capping 2014 with their first full next weekend – were there as well. There was a lot of shop talk, of course, but overall it was just a nice and relaxing time. It was a perfect inaugural meet up for #RunAtCan and hopefully it’s something we can repeat at another race.
With the success of Saturday night’s get together really picking me up, I was really looking forward to the run on Sunday. I went through the routine of checking and double checking my gear – including the traditional “Flat Paul” photo.
The 5k, 10k and half marathoners all started together at 9 – a later start then I’ve seen this year, but the extra rest was welcome for sure. I talked to most of the folks from the night before as well as some other familiar faces including Andrew (@paris_andrew) another awesome supporter of the weekly chats – and his wife.
The race itself was very well organized and went pretty much as it had been described to me. The course is mainly on road, with some trail in the middle. There are some decent hills, both for incline and length but nothing too crazy. It is also a very scenic run and the volunteer presence was amazing. Traffic control in particular was done perfectly and runners were definitely in no danger from traffic at any point along the course.
I found the trail section harder than I expected and found the trails were where you felt the humidity the most. The road sections were much more open and the weather held off (yay for no hurricanes!). Crossing the line in 1:55:17, I felt very satisfied as I met my goal and didn’t push too hard or hurt myself in the process.
I definitely would like to return to PEI at some point to do the full marathon, as I feel it is a little bit of unfinished business now – it’s not likely going to be next year as other plans are in the works, but it will happen. For this year, I was proud to get a beautiful finishers medal as well as my Maritime Challenge medal – both well earned and among my favourites.