Race Report: Winnipeg Police Service Half-Marathon

Race Information


Goal Description Completed?
A Sub 1:23 Yes
B Sub 1:25 Yes
S Sub 1:20 ?


Mile Pace
1 6:04
2 6:18
3 6:17
4 6:20
5 6:28
6 6:13
7 6:10
8 6:12
9 6:20
10 6:25
11 6:22
12 6:17
13 5:54
.1 5:28

Narrative | “Only the disciplined in life are free.”

Five years ago, when I became intentional about training and road racing, my first big PR was at this race. I surprisingly ran 1:26:14 when my goal was simply to break 1:30. That year, I would go on to race two marathons, and I managed to get a soft BQ in September. I was also supposed to run a half-marathon in October 2017, which was almost sure to be a relatively straightforward PR after a summer of high mileage, but I missed the race due to unremarkable circumstances.

In 2018, I tried a bit of trail running, and I also targeted a better BQ in June. It was clear from my training that I had run myself into the ground in 2017. I barely survived each race that year, but I managed to get my last road PR in May 2018 in a 20k race.

After another failed BQ attempt, I took a down year in 2019. I did a bit of trail running and I raced a couple times, but I was undertrained. I ran less that year than ever, and it seemed like my running days were numbered.

2020 was supposed to be the year of the comeback. I resumed structured training in January, and had a successful 3 month training block. Needless to say, my June marathon was cancelled at the end of March. I figured I would do a local trail race in the summer, but then I got Lyme disease while training. I recovered, but most races were cancelled or postponed that year anyway.

2021 was more of the same due to COVID. I figured that fall 2021 was a likely candidate for my long overdue comeback to road racing. I eagerly registered for one of my favourite races in October. I put in three months of solid training from June to August. Naturally, the October race was cancelled. I took September and October almost completely off, since Manitoba does not have the conditions for winter road racing.

Looking back on my training and racing logs from 2018 to 2021 filled me with what can only be described as regret and frustration. I had unfinished business from the 5k to the marathon, and I knew that discipline was the only thing that could bring me back. As the great Eliud Kipchoge once said, “Only the disciplined in life are free.”

Training | “The secret is that there is no secret.”

I began a structured base-building block in November 2021. I took a fairly conventional approach with a lot of easy miles. During that base period, I also ran one moderate progression, one hard fartlek, and one moderate long run each week. This weekly structure is loosely based on Lydiard without the hill work. Being in Manitoba, running outside with a day job is somewhat difficult due to low daylight, and of course cold weather and lots of snow. I ran exclusively on the treadmill from November to February.

At the end of December 2021, I started a Half-Marathon Training Plan from Daniels’ Running Formula (Third Edition). JD’s half-marathon training is fairly conventional, or maybe it is seen as conventional because so many coaches are influenced by his 10k training. I modified the plan slightly to include a longer long run because I know myself well enough to predict that I would be tempted by a spring marathon.

At the beginning of March, I transitioned to a 2Q plan based on workouts from the 56-70 and 70-85 mile plans, plus some workouts from the 4-week cycles. I’ve written about 2Q before, but here is a rundown of my training:

Type Frequency Example Effort Pace Heartrate
Easy 4-5 9 miles easy Easy N/A 135-145
Threshold 0-1 4 x 2T w/ 2’ rest Hard 6:10 N/A
Interval 0-1 6 x 1k w/ 3’ rest Hard 5:40 N/A
Marathon 0-1 2E + 12M + 2E Moderate 6:45 N/A
Medium-Long 1 12-14 miles Easy or Mod N/A 150-165
Long 1 3E + 16M + 2E Hard N/A 150-165


I got into Winnipeg on Friday night just as the forecasted rain from the south rolled in. It rained most of Saturday but I did a shakeout run anyway just to get a feel for the conditions. It was probably the most miserable shakeout I’ve ever done – rainy, windy, and cold. Otherwise, the weekend was fairly uneventful.

Gear for the race included:

  • Top: Craft CORE Dry Active Comfort
  • Bottom: 2XU MCS Run Compression Half-Tights
  • Gloves: Nike Running
  • Shoes: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% 2 (Ekiden)
  • Buff: Ginger Runner
  • Watch: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

On Sunday morning, the rain had cleared. It was overcast, about 2-3 Celsius, and a bit windy. Given the previous two days, we were quite lucky to get these conditions.

There wasn’t a mass start for this race – instead, it was by waves. I chose the 7:30 wave because I normally wake up early on race day regardless of the start time.

I did a two mile warmup and a few drills, took off my throwaway sweater, then got to the start line. At least a few guys looked like they were there to race hard.

I didn’t have a concrete goal pace in mind. Based on my threshold workouts, I figured I was in about 1:23 shape, which is 6:15 pace. However, I also ran a hard 8 x 1k workout earlier that week at 10k effort, and I felt quite strong at 5:40 pace, which would predict a 6:05 or faster half-marathon. I wasn’t aiming to break 1:20, but I figured I could go out at about 6:05 and see how it felt.


Due to the wave format, there was no gun start. The Race Director just did a short talk, then said “Go!” for those of us starting at 7:30. I personally hope the “wave start” format is a passing trend, especially for small races. Not only is the start underwhelming, you also can’t really race since you have no idea what place you’re in.

I ran the first mile in third “place” by effort at about 6:05 pace. It felt harder than I’d like, so I eased up a bit. I was passed by one guy doing the relay and then another guy doing the individual half-marathon. I only periodically glanced at my watch after that first adjustment – my main goal was to run hard but to have enough left to kick on the home stretch from miles 10 - 13. I promised myself not to run faster than 6:00 pace until mile 11.

I normally don’t take any gels during a half-marathon, but I wanted to practice for a full marathon at the end of May, so I took gels at mile 4 and mile 8 or 9.

I ran the rest of the race solo. There are parts of the course that overlap with the 5k runners, which was nice and makes you feel faster than you are. You also run into a lot of half-marathoners on the out and back portions of the race.

I felt like I was in rhythm most of the race, especially on the proper road sections. I definitely felt the marathon training in my legs when I tried to run any faster than 6:10. I didn’t taper for this race and I could definitely feel the volume in the fist few miles as I struggled to find the right effort.

After winding my way through a few residential streets and over a couple bridges, I was back running east on Portage. This is where I allowed myself to run faster than 6:00 pace. I ran miles 12 and 13 at a progressively faster pace and it actually felt quite sustainable. The cruel reality of marathon training is that you’re in shape to run fast but your legs barely ever cooperate when you want them to turn over.

The last time I ran this race, the finish line was the same as the start line. After running through Assiniboine Park, I thought I knew where I was going. It turns out they had moved the finish line on a path to the right, and I was totally oblivious as I was coming down the home stretch. I almost went the wrong way despite a marshal very obviously pointing me in the right direction. My head was already in the clouds thinking about what I should’ve done differently in this race.

I crossed the line in 1:22:30. I thought I was fourth, at least among the 7:30 wave, but I’m writing this a day later and I still have no idea of my actual place.


Due to the excessive precipitation in Winnipeg, they had to move all the post-race food to the road. I grabbed a few things and then mingled around, looking for people I recognized. I talked to a couple other runners who were up front and they seem equally perplexed about their placing.

This is my first road PR in at least 4 years, and it’s certainly faster than what I could’ve run back in 2017. It only took me 5-6 months to regain all the fitness I had lost through almost 4 years of neglect and sub-par training.

I’m thrilled about my time, but only satisfied about my execution and effort. I probably could’ve been more aggressive throughout this race, but I also wanted to pace myself enough to finish strong. I accomplished what I set out to do. With a proper taper and maybe even a 10k training block, I think that sub 1:20 is in sight.

For the time being, though, I have a marathon to run at the end of May.

Written on May 3, 2022