My first race of 2016 (and only running event of the season) kicked off in Red Deer at the Woody’s half marathon. Woody’s marathon, half marathon, and 10 k is held every May Long weekend. My wife and I decided to come home for the weekend and visit family all over Alberta. Of course, I couldn’t come back to Alberta and not race Woody’s, so I signed up for my 3rd time running the half marathon at this event.
I was feeling really good coming into the race. The last month of training had been my best yet and I was confident I could run a personal race best time. Race morning started quite early for me and my family as we left from my parents house about 2 hours away. By 5 am we were on the road and a couple of hours later I had my race package and was getting ready to do my warm up. Being May Long weekend in Alberta, of course the weather had to be miserable. Every athlete woke up to and had to race in pouring rain, temperatures just above freezing, and very windy conditions. Not the recipe for running fast times, but I told myself at the starting line I was still going to give it my best.
The gun went off and I went out harder than I ever have. My goal over the past month leading into this race was to break 1:10. With the conditions I knew I would have to work very hard to achieve that. I went through the first mile pretty comfortably in 5:07 which is on pace for a 1:07 half. Even though I felt good I knew I likely wouldn’t be able to hold that for the rest of the race. I slowed my pace and floated around the 5:20 min/mile mark for the next few miles. The miles kept passing by and I went through 10 k in just under 34 minutes. I had a big lead of 3-5 minutes at that point, but soon the race became very difficult for me and I just focused on not stopping and making it to the finish line with the win. I opted to wear shorts on race morning and my legs were getting very cold and were bright red. It felt like my hamstrings were shrinking 1 inch for every km I ran once I hit the 10 km mark. I shortened my stride and slowed my turnover, running a pace that was right on the edge of what I thought could still win the race and what I would hope wouldn’t make my legs seize up and prevent me from finishing. I struggled a lot through the next 10 k going through in 38 minutes, which was 4 minutes slower than the first 10 k, but I knew as long as my hamstrings didn’t spasm I could still win. The last km of the race was fun (and painful) passing some of the runners who were still finishing up the 10 k race and giving each other words of encouragement. I was pumped to be able to finish the race, win it for the 3rd time, but mostly relieved to cross the finish line and not have to run another step for the rest of the day!
Most importantly, I have to thank all the great volunteers! Races like this aren’t possible without them and on days with crappy weather, their time and encouragement is even more appreciated. Thanks to my friend Noel for picking up my race package, as I couldn’t. Thanks to race director Jason Hazlett for getting me into the race and always being so welcoming to me. Thanks to my family and friends for standing in freezing rain all morning to watch me run for maybe a total of 30 seconds. Thanks to Brian and Dawn from Voyager Art and Tile for making the overall winner’s awards, medals and t shirt art. Instead of trophies, the overall winners get to take home an amazing custom Woody’s Marathon beer stein. Thanks to Four Sigmatic for providing me with great mushroom products that keep me healthy and able to keep getting faster in training and racing. Another thanks to Ryders Sunglasses for providing me with great sunnies. This race was very overcast and wet, so I opted for a very bright lens (they make everything look happy!) that are anti-fog and keep water off, which worked out perfect in this race. Thanks to Raw Elements for providing me with healthy food, powders, snacks and most things I consume on a daily basis. Woody’s Marathon is a fantastic event that hopefully I’ll be able to do for years to come and I highly recommend you check it out for yourself next year.