The Vancouver Factor
Vancouver 2019 was a tough day for a marathon? Maybe? I’ll try to answer this, but comparing numbers from different race results (PRs on other courses) and different years (younger, but less experienced) is a little hand-wavy at best. In case the charts that follow end up being a total waste of time, here is the conclusion up front.
Race the day. Race the course. Race your personal factors (motivating or challenging or both). Give it everything you have. Then, and only then, race the clock.
The Marine Corps Marathon in 2018 is my PR, run on a mostly flat course with cool weather and a slight breeze. I split a 1:14:08/2:28:13 and was smiley, confident from mile 18 to the finish, perfect. How does that race compare to 2:29:43 in Vancouver? How did everybody else run?
I was warned that if the sun is out (it was) and the wind is blowing (yes), then the late solitary miles of Stanley Park are unusually punishing and exposed. The first half is rolling, but net-downhill, and those observations together pretty much define how the elite field raced. My second-half fade of 2 min and 52 sec was reasonable compared to the other top finishers.
Next, only 5 of the 30 elite field runners set a new personal best and all 5 faded in the second half. The yellow dot on the chart that compares Fade to Relative PR is the mean performance of the elite field (with a few results excluded…large fades that indicate something else went very wrong). I’m the blue dot. I faded less and finished closer to my PR than the average mark.
It was a good race! My initial reaction at the nearest burger/beer shop was, “10th place in that field is very solid. Forget the clock.”, but now it is, “That was a nearly perfect race! PR effort.”
I say “nearly” because I beat myself up mentally towards the end by worrying about my watch. Turns out, I was just fine and probably could have saved a minute if I had stayed happier. That, and the data for 2019, gives a new meaning to positive split.