Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CPC Loop Den Haag (Half Marathon) - Race Report

So... Not much to tell. I knew I was getting my eye laser-ing done 10 days before this race, and January and February were pretty low on training. I think I started the triathlon season a bit too enthusiastically and it bit me a bit in the bum... So instead of a race, this was supposed to be a nice long run, with 30,000 of my closest friends.
No seaside running...

And like any long run, I went at it a bit too laid back. Sunday morning (races around here start late), the hubby and I biked to our favorite hangout in Meersel-Dreef for coffee and cake (yum!). We were a bit late on the way back, so I had to rush to get my stuff together. I remembered the forecast called for rain, so I got my hat and sunglasses (needed to protect the super-eyes), my rain jacket and brand new Garmin 310XT. While my mind said to take the running capris and expensive Nike socks, my heart was set on my beautiful running skirt and pink compression socks... I stuffed it all in my pink backpack (easy for gear check-in/out) and ran out the door. I got to the station at 12:07 (train was going at 12:09), hesitated whether I should get food first and take the next train, or vice versa. Decided to make a mad dash for the train and just made it. When I got to Den Haag, I got a banana, coffee and water and ate/drank that along with my luna bar... less than an hour before the start...
Skirt & Compression Socks!

The "Mad Dash" Miles - 1-4
The start was pretty massive and crowded for a long time. Obviously, I started out too fast (sound familiar? see here, and here for two recent examples). I also got hot, really really hot very quickly, but I was waiting for the rain so I did not take my jacket off. Silly silly silly! I decided to wait until the water post at the 5K mark to drink, take a gel, and take the jacket off. 5K came and went (I should have studied the course map a bit better) and no water. It finally came right after mile 4. This is also where I realized that I was NOT going to manage to keep the pace (miles 1-4 went in 8:44, 8:35, 8:36 and 8:40). So I walked the aid station and had 1 cup of water and 1 cup of Extran (sportsdrink I had never heard of) and started running again.

The "Drinking Miles" - 5-8
I finally got to the gel around mile 6 and took my jacket off. It was so hot! And right after, the second aid station showed up and I did the water and sports drink again. Slosh, slosh, slosh. I got really nauseous from all those liquids sloshing around. The pace went south very quickly (miles 5-8 went in 09:34 (aid station), 09:00, 09:23 (aid station) and 09:34.)
How much further?

At least the outfit was awesome....

The Sloshing Miles - Miles 9-11
I gave up on the last aid station and on my gel and focused on finishing. Towards the end of mile 11 I took a walking break. We were in an area of town (Scheveningen) that I knew well, and I really did not think there was any way I could break 2 hours. I was HOT! I gave myself 1:20 (minutes, not hours!) to walk and started running again and kept at it until the end (miles 9-11 were 09:37, 09:24 and 10:14 (walking break).

The "Are we there yet" Miles - 12-13
I knew I was close to the end, and from experience, I know this is the endless part, made somewhat less fun by the guy at mile 12.5 being tended to by two ambulances and a huge collection of paramedics and cops (hope all ended well). The finish was a bit of a let down as it was in one giant mud field. I grabbed my medal, sat for a few minutes and then went to my sister's for a really nice dinner (thanks sis!). (miles 12 and 13 were 09:20 and 09:35).
Yeah! DONE!!!!

About the Race
It's a nice course, well organized race, with good crowds cheering. However, it was a bit too "big" and a bit too "sterile". Perhaps adding first names to bibs like many other races in the Netherlands do would help?
Also, I think there should have been aid stations earlier (at the 5, 10 and 15K marks instead of waiting until almost 7K and then right again at the 10K) and on both sides of the road (would have prevented lines and tripping over each other). I also think organizers should be a lot stricter with spectators making mad dashes (with kids, dogs, bicycles, strollers...) across the runners. One idiot in particular tried to bike across and ran into a runner... IDIOT!

What did I learn?
The same usual: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A RACE! Each race requires thoughtful preparation and especially around here since races start much later in the day.
  • Pre-race nutrition: make sure to take enough calories and fluids long enough before the race so that they can be digested. I did not eat enough and drank too much too late, hence the sloshing and ensuing nausea.
  • During-race nutrition: make sure to know where the aid station are on the course. If they start too late, bring your own bottle that you can throw away. If the race is using a brand that you have never heard of before, try it or bring your own. I did not realize the first aid station would be so late, and that they would be so close together. Also, experimenting with Extran on the day of the race was not smart.
  • Check the weather forecast, and re-check it the morning of the race. Be prepared to have to adjust your clothing during the race. Yup! I failed at that too!
  • Decide on your race strategy before the race based on your training and stick to it!  I knew I probably did not have sub 2-hour in me, yet I got carried away at the start and blew up very quickly. If I had started conservatively, I may have been able to negative split the race...
My next race is on April 24th, the Utrecht half marathon. I would like to try for sub 1:55... So training starts today again!

1 comment:

  1. I think you did great and you look awesome indeed! Thanks for your opinion on the organisation, makes me rethink if I want to do this one next year.

    And you ask me if we could start together in Utrecht? While saying you started to fast? Girl by the time I finish in Utrecht you are already home and showered LOL I'm much slower than you are. I would love to meet but starting together isn't a clever idea I think because I would start way too fast which I'm going to pay for later in the race.