Sunday, 4 September 2011

Quebec City Half Marathon report - with movie!

In Quebec City I met Irene - hurricane Irene that is. I suppose I've had worse first dates...

I had booked everything in June, training had gone well since then and I felt I'd picked up speed. The only trouble had been the monday prior to the race when during a "recovery run" I got caught in heavy rain and did the last 15 minutes very fast, then had a little soreness in the right groin muscle later. It faded a few days after.
Arriving on thursday, at the expo the day after I also stopped by the Ottawa Marathon stand. On the last sunday of May (just like the Calgary Marathon) Ottawa next year might just be where I'll aim to do my Boston qualifier.

The day before the race, I started hearing about Hurricane Irene on radio and TV. Into the afternoon and questions began appearing on the Quebec Marathon's facebook page. Early evening it said that the runners for the full would get buses all the way to the start instead of a ferry across the river. Around an hour later it then announced that the full was cancelled and those runners were welcome to do the half. Those hoping to qualify for Boston must've been gutted - though as I later found out with the wind, very very few would've done it that day.

Race day: Walked to the finish line to get shuttle bus to the start line. As the photo shows, it looks like I'm off to prison.
A-Chang just wanted to get back to the hotel for breakfast.
Got to the start very early, the toilets didn't have any soap or hand sanitizer :( I spent much of the time sitting on the curbside to stay as warm as I could.
Lining up just before the start and I finally felt warmer. It was a touch crowded and I found myself further back than I would've liked. Lots of cheats people also climbed over the side fencing to take up position in front of me - so for the first time ever I would have to get past a few people at the start. Most of the photos to come are screen captures from the bullet cam I was wearing on my headband - I edited the video into 5 minute highlights at the end.
The aim was to get a PB - 1:28:56 - and I set my watch to get me just under 1:28. I felt the wind would stop me, but decided to try anyway. No huge deal if I missed out on it.
2km to 6 or so km was a bit of a climb up to the bridge, on which everyone got sideswipped by the mother of all cross winds. Runners took caps off, put one hand on their heads, or in one case had to do a quick 90 degree turn to catch a piece of runaway headgear.
I was on target still heading down the circular ramp at the 9km mark which then passed under the same bridge. One girl up ahead got bumped and took a fall and had the medics with her in seconds. She was crying and had bloody knees - a reminder that it can get dangerous out there even on  a closed course.
It was within 1km of getting to the bottom that my energy faded. The wind was gusting head on at 30-50 kph and my pacing had been structured to get me to the finish with nothing left as if there were no wind, so I felt drained very quickly. From here on, I did not pass anyone except walkers - though some had a tougher time than me and did this - several people passed me. At points I was able to draft for a few hundred metres here and there, but all those who passed me were most likely people who had kept the conditions in mind from the very start.
It can clearly be seen where the headwind started.
Oddly enough, at the airport afterwards, I got chatting with a lady who said that this race is frequently unlucky with the weather, so she goes to Montreal, Ottawa, etc. to race. This wasn't the end of it though. With around 2km to go, what felt like 3 gentle electric shocks went through my right hamstring. Running with my leg a little straight, I felt another couple of pulses a couple of hundred metres later. Best have a precautionary stretch before the finish line I thought - I'm happy that I was able to think straight at that point instead of getting all matcho and running myself into the ground.
The crowds were great on the home straight - I got to the finish line running as fast as I safely dared. 1:32:58 was my time, 319th out of 4,504.
Overall I am pleased with this - given that I've gone from weighing a third more than I do now to being slightly frustrated with getting a 1:33 in blustery conditions with a strained hamstring.
Now to the movie! Set to "24 Hours" by Athlete. My "headcam" experiment was a resounding success, enjoy!


  1. Well done! You are really fast and will still improve your time a lot. Hope the hamstring is ok.

  2. Tony Mitchelmore (Dad)11 September 2011 at 10:40

    A good result Peter considering the conditions and your condition. It's not just us oldies that pick up injuries, it seems!