Sunday, April 17, 2011

Calgary Police ½ Marathon (April 17, 2011)

by Blaine Penny

This was one ½ marathon to remember – snow, snow and more snow!

All I could think about off the start was Duncan’s comment a few weeks back about a fellow runner in the ‘Icebreaker’ referring to his running shoes as bowling shoes (because he was slipping and sliding so much). I think we could all relate today!

The Bow Valley Harriers had a good contingent out today, with at least 3 BVH vests being worn by Mark Fewster, Nick Haddow (welcome back from California!) and myself. My goal for the race was to try and stick with the lead runners for as long as I could and give it a good effort to hold them. I didn’t even wear a watch, so I had no idea of pace or time.

Frank took to the front right away, with Jeff Krar, Jody Draude and myself tucking in behind letting Frank set the pace. Within the first couple kilometers Jeff slipped and went down hard on a corner, which reminded us how slippery it actually was. Fortunately he didn’t hurt himself and jumped back up and in the group. In retrospect, the road conditions were not too bad because we could run on the packed down snow with some form of predictable footing (albeit slippery).

Once we left the roads and hit the pathways (approx. 4 km), the conditions became much more varied. There were sections that were plowed, some with fresh snow on pavement / ice, and other sections with deeper old snow and ice covered with the fresh snow. The toughest section for me (footing wise) was the back end of the reservoir where the snow was more than 6 or 8” deep and really soft and mushy. It felt like running in deep sand and was pretty much survival running.

The pace was pretty steady and things started to spread out a bit as we hit the section by the Rockyview Hospital (5 km). As we made our way through Heritage Park, I took a hard fall (on my hip), but fortunately it didn’t hurt too much and I was able to jump back up and keep going. I stuck with Frank and he led most of the first 7 km. I honestly didn’t know who was with us as I didn’t look back until just a few kilometers to go.

Shortly after the 7 km mark as we were heading around the reservoir, I saw a guy on xc skis, and I thought to myself how civilized that actually looked. It was at about that point I realized that Frank was so steady and strong, and made the running look effortless. As for me, my breathing became pretty heavy and I started to feel it, so I decided to just run my own race from that point and limit my losses.

I kept Frank in my sights until we came out of the Weaselhead, but he definitely started putting time into me when we got back on the flats. I was pretty jazzed to be running in second and felt out of my league considering the company I was running with. I had to dig deep to hold it for the last 8 km, and managed to hang in there to finish it off without being caught by Jody who was pretty close behind in 3rd.

Good work to all the racers who gave their all despite sub-optimal conditions, and especially to the volunteers who had to stand around in the cold to look after us.

Here’s the full results:

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