Sunday, April 17, 2011

Montreal Half marathon

By Duncan Marsden

I came to Montreal with a dual purpose. To race a national championship in Canada and to go sub 70 in the half for the first time. 1 out of 2 isn't bad.

Getting off the plane yesterday we were met by a torrential downpour. Coming from London I enjoy running in the rain. "As long as it doesn't get windy" I thought...

Somehow on the bus I managed to bash my calf. An innocuous little knock which got really painful. I knew it wouldn't affect me during the race but it hurt like hell.

The morning of the race was, in a word, windy. Gale force sounds dramatic but the metal barriers for spectators were even being blown over. I decided to forget about times and just race. I'd put myself in the biggest group near the front and hide as much as I could. Luckily, the biggest group was about 10 deep and was running exactly the pace I wanted. I needed an average of 5:20 per mile and although the splits were hugely varied depending on our direction, we were holding an average of 5.19. Perfect.

Part of the race is actually run on the grand prix circuit and it was great to be running at pace with a group of 10 guys on such a good surface.

I managed to hide from the wind in the first half. I was 33.21 at 10k and feeling great.  Bang on pace. At 11k we had a long 4k straight (on the grand prix course!) straight into the gale. No one wanted to lead and we almost walked half a k. Then we agreed everyone would take 15 seconds leading and we did that crocodile thing for 4k. At 10 miles I was still on pace for about 70.30 (although my calf was really sore) and although the group had dwindled to 4, I thought the wind was going to be behind us so thought I could still get sub 70. With 2k to go the group split and then we headed back into the wind. I had my virtual partner on my Garmin on 70 pace and I was 58 seconds back from "him". I dropped another 45 seconds battling into the wind those last 2k and finished 14th overall in 71.44. It was crazy. Dustbins flying. Barriers blowing over. Even my legs were getting blown into each other.

That said, it was great to just race for once. In a championship that's how it should be. The time can wait for another day.

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