This is the final part of my blog series on running the Army Run half-marathon on September 23rd. Previous instalments can be found here (part 1), here (part 2), here (part 3) and here (part 4).

So the cannon went off, and I took off running.

Wait, that’s not right. The cannon went off, and I waited. You see, when you are about 200 metres back of the start line, in this completely massive herd of humanity, when the people in the front start, it takes a while for the people in the back to get a chance to move. A couple of minutes later, we started walking. It was hard, because the people in front of me would change speeds randomly. But, it only took a couple of minutes for the pace to even itself out.

I had paid for an elite subscription on Runkeeper.com so that i could have my position tracked for those people that couldn’t make it, which turned out to be everyone.

At the same time, I had programmed the Runkeeper app on my phone to have me do 10/1 intervals. 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. My goal was to finish between 2:45 and 3:00 for the 21 km, which is between 8:34 and 7:51 min/km. In the training runs I had done previously, I was able to keep this pace pretty easily and not be in much pain at all. I also threw myself in near the 2:45 run/walk pace bunny, to make sure.

While I had set a time for a goal, my overall goal was to simply finish the race and not be in too much pain at the end. To combat that, I had done a number of things. I had taped my knee up, I had a fair amount of presecription-strength anti-inflammatories coursing through my veins, and I also chewed up 3 extra strength aspirin (Mental note to self – Bring water next time. Chewing aspirins leaves a nasty aftertaste.)

The map above shows the course. It was nice. It wasn’t too hard, and the elevation differences were minimal, with only a total of 55 metres of elevation change from the lowest point in the race to the highest point in the race. The total distance I climbed was just a hair over 300 metres.

The organizers had aid stations set up every 3 or 4 kms, and porta-potties a bit more frequently. If you look at my pace, you can see the spike at about 3.8 kms. That was me stiopping to use a porta potty. Despite having gone 2 or 3 times before the race started, as soon as I got into the starting corrall, I had to go again. I managed to hold out until this point, but decided that I had better go anyways, to be on the safe side. I can’t lie, it was rather satisfying.

For the first 3 or 4 sets of run/walk, I managed to keep to my plan. I didn’t feel the need to walk, but I did anyways, to make sure that my knee was doing OK. Then, somewhere around the 7km mark, I made a decision. “Fuck it. If my knee hurts, it hurts. It will go away in time.” So I threw out my training plan and decided to run as far as I could without stopping to walk except for aid stations.

As I mentioned, the aid stations are set up about 3 or 4 kms apart. They were a series of table with volunteers handing out water and/or Gatorade. I would always walk through each station, and take two glasses to drink, one or water and one of Gatorade. I was able to keep up thjis pace up until around the 12km mark. This was a relatively small uphill, but it was after the part of the race with the largest differences in elevations. It went down fairly rapidly, and then a even steeper climb, and another short decline. Overall, this was just too much for my knee. It started hurting like a son of a bitch and I had to walk for awhile. Looking back, it was only about a 5 minute walking portion, but at the time, it felt a whole lot longer.

I ended up having to walk once more (at about 16 kms) if what I see on Runkeeper is accurate. The third spike in my slowing down, at about 15 kms in, is me tweeting that I am feeling pretty good and am happy. By this time, my knee is at a constant level of soreness. Not pain, just a soreness and a mild ache that I can ignore with no real effort at all.

The last 4 kms I did with no real effort. I was feeling really good, and was coming across a lot of people cheering for me. You would be amazed at how good it made me feel and how much it re-energized me to run by them.

The last 2 kms, I knew the end was near, and so I upped my pace. My knee was feeling good, and I was going to push as hard as I could up until the end. With more experience, I think that I could have started running faster about a km or two earlier. I still had some left in the bank at the end of my race.

I collected my medal, and went and had my official picture taken.

I took another anti-inflammatory that night, and iced down my knee over supper. Put some Voltaren emu-gel on it just before bed, and it was fine the next day. A bit sore, but no pain.