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Perspective – A BMO Vancouver Half Marathon recap.

It has been a long time since I set a new PB (Personal Best) in the half marathon distance. Over 2 years to be exact.

It feels like it has been a long time since I set a PB at any distance.

After my last attempt at a half marathon, in March at Comox,  I was a woman on a mission.

In the 4 weeks before Comox I ran a total of 53km, thanks to the injuries I sustained in that nasty fall I took in February.  In the 4 weeks before BMO I ran 153km.

I felt strong, I felt confident. I felt ready to run a PB.

1:52:something was the goal.  1:40something was the dream. And in the week before the race, I thought it was going to happen.

Then the weather forecasts started to talk about the coming heat.  We were going to have a record breaking weekend.  And I was going to try and run my fastest half marathon ever?

 

The morning started off well.

I woke up at 4:45 am, at the home of the parents of the incomparable Jess.  I had my clothes laid out, and everything ready.  I got dressed and headed down to the the kitchen were Jess had already started the kettle boiling for my breakfast.

Her awesome dad got up at 5:15am on a Sunday to drive us, along with Jess’s sister, to the start line of our respective races. Paisley was running the 8K, I was running the half, and Jess was tackling the full. We had the entire event covered.

We got to the start area, checked my back and headed over to my corral at the start line. Jess hung out with me for a little while, before she went off to check her bag and get ready for the start of her race.

For some unknown reason, I was in the first corral. I was at the front of the thousands of runners who were lined up.

Knowing my pace, I found myself a spot near the back of the corral and started chatting with another runner.

The race started 25 minutes(ish) late, and for those of you who know how I am about timing my food before my races, you can imagine how annoyed I was getting.   (I will never understand why race directors feel the need to waste our time with aerobics instructors leading a warm up. No one wants to do something new on race day. Don’t waste our time, just start on time!)

The majority of the race is a blur. But I’m going to run down the parts of it I remember.

I remember the first stretch was down hill, and I had talked about this with my coach, and other runners who had raced this course last year. I knew what to expect and I had a game plan.

Hold back.

Don’t get out of control and run too fast on the downhill, it will kill your legs for later.

I checked my pace on my Garmin regularly in the first few kilometers, to make sure I wasn’t going too fast.  I stayed comfortable.  Down the hill, across the bridge, past BC Place & Rogers Arena (and the old finish line), then over toward Science World. A hairpin turn and back where we came.

Out and backs are some of my favourite parts of races. On your way out, you see the fast people who are way ahead of you, and on your way back, you see the people who think YOU are one of the fast people.

Pretty soon it was time for the first up hill of the course. We went through the gates China Town and climbed a hill.  I remember this hill being on the full marathon course back in 2011.

After that, we twisted and turned through Vancouver, and I was starting to get hot and tired.

Plan A was to aim for about 15km before taking a walk break, Plan B was to make it until at least 10km.

My first walk break happened just before the halfway point.  I needed to slow down, get some fluids in and gather myself together.

By this point we were in the west end, nearing Stanley Park.   I was hot and tired, but still on track for a 1:52:00 half marathon.

Between 13 & 14 kilometers, I was having a hard time choking down my fuel. Warm Gu can be a little hard to swallow.  At this point we were winding our way through Stanley Park and it was getting hot.

Around the 15K mark, I really started to feel the impact of the heat. It was draining. And it was clear to me that others were feeling the same.  It was around this point I started to see runners going down.  Some of them slowly realizing they were done,  others just coming to a sudden stop and sitting down, and a few who were already flat on the ground before I passed them.  The last 6km of the course kept the medical volunteers busy!

It was also at this point I saw one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen at a race.

There was this guy running to my right side, and every now and again, he would reach his had out for someone I couldn’t quite see who just just behind me.  He would say things like “come on, we’ve got this” and “just 3 more K, that’s less than 20 minutes”, or “you’re so close to the finish now”.  He was pacing (who I assume was his) girlfriend through the race.

I had realized back at around 17k that I wouldn’t be making my goal. The heat had taken too much out of me so, I jokingly said to him “I know you’e saying that to her, but I’m pretending it’s for me too”, to which he replied “well now I’m doing it for both of you”.

After that, he talked the both of us through the last 2K.

With about 1km to go, we exit the park, and head down the last stretch of downtown streets to the finish line.

This year, you could see the finish line in front of you for about 800m, which was a bit difficult. But between the encouragement of my newly adopted friends, and the cheers of the crowd, I managed to push though.

I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:55:57,  about 2:30 slower than a time that I would have been happy with. But, just on the other side of the finish line, after the volunteers handing out the medals, my new adopted friends were waiting for me to share a post race high five!

 

Now this is where the perspective comes in.

If I had written this post in the hours after the race, it would have been angry and disappointed about not making my goal. But in the days that have passed, I have realized that, as much as I want to set a new half marathon PB, sometimes you have other victories on race day.

This year, at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon I only took 3 walking breaks. I ran the first half of the race without stopping, then I only took 3 breaks int he second half.  That is a HUGE step towards my goal of running a half without any breaks in the near future.

The heat really took a lot out of people at BMO this year, and that is one of the reason I don’t like spring races. I don’t like training in the cool, dreary winter weather, then racing on a warm spring day.  Weather is a HUGE factor on race day!

 

I have another half marathon coming up soon, about 2 weeks from now. It’s much closer to home, so I will be able to sleep in my own bed the night before. Hopefully the weather will be cooler and I will be able to give 1:52:something another shot.  I’ve run this race 3 times before, with my course best being 1:55:28, so wish me luck that I can shave 3 (or more) minutes off of that on May 26th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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