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3rd time is the charm?

Oh Shawnigan-Kinsol Half Marathon, we have such a love-hate relationship.

Actually, no, we don’t, it’s a hate-hate relationship.  I am not a fan.

You at the only race I have ever dropped out of. You are the only race I have ever cried unhappy tears at. You are the only race that has made me this angry.

You certainly aren’t the hardest race I’ve ever run. The Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon wins that title, hands down.  You aren’t the slowest race I’ve ever run. That title also goes to Fort Rodd Hill.

You are, however, the most frustrating race I have ever run.

Let’s start back at the beginning, in 2009, the first time our paths crossed.  It was 3 weeks after my first marathon and I was on top of the world, feeling invincible, even with the nagging pain that had been in my ankle since the marathon. I was certain that, if I had run a marathon 3 weeks ago, a measly little half marathon would be no problem.

Turns out I was wrong.  That nagging pain in my ankle became unbearable around the 8K mark and I had to drop out. I could barely put weight on my right foot and had to get driven to the finish line by a race official. On the bright side, I’ve been told you’re not a ‘real runner’ until you get a DNF (Did Not Finish), so I guess I became a ‘real runner’ in October 2009.  Unfortunately, it took me almost 2 months to recover from becoming a real runner. I didn’t run again until after Christmas!

2010 was a better year, health wise. I didn’t run a marathon, I spent the year focusing on speeding up my half marathon pace. I was uninjured when the time came to run the Shawnigan Half Marathon, I was even somewhat excited to run the race, to complete it. To conquer it after the DNF the previous year.

Apparently, the race had other plans for me in 2010.  It wasn’t finished torturing me.

All 3 times I have run this race, the course has been slightly different due to construction & access issues to the Kinsol Trestle & Trans-Canada Trail.  In 2010, I was happy to not have the uphill finish that was in the 2009 race. I probably shouldn’t have been.  It turned out that the 2010 course, while it didn’t have an uphill finish, had a very hilly last 3km. Just as you thought you had seen the last hill, you came around a corner to another.  And it actually got to the point where I stopped on the side of the road on a hill & told the friend I was running with that I quit, I didn’t want to finish. We were on the last uphill stretch, and I was in tears, not wanting to finish the race.  Luckily, my friend talked me out of it and we crossed the finish line together.

I ‘enjoyed’ the race experience in 2010. We had a girls night at N’s house the night before, and it was nice to run with someone the whole way. A couple friends even placed in their age groups and got fancy medals that were way cooler than the strings of gold stars that everyone got at the finish.

2011, oh 2011. Why did I decide to run the Shawnigan-Kinsol half marathon again in 2011? After the experience of the last 2 years, why would I want to do it?

Apparently, it is the same reason why this ended up being a 2 marathon year for me:  I want to go out and play with my friends.  Once friends started talking about running Shawnigan, I couldn’t miss out.  I mean, now that Shawnigan has become my ‘home’ turf, I had an advantage over this course this year, right?

Once I decided to run, I looked up the changes to the course and started on my mission to familiarize myself with it.  I had run the stretch out to the Trestle a few times, so I was comfortable with that, bur I wanted to check out the W. Shawnigan Rd – Trans Canada Trail section, and the Renfrew Road section that is the last 3km.

I think that familiarizing myself with the course was just what I needed to feel confident going in to it this year. The 3rd time was going to be the charm and I was going to ROCK this half marathon.

With ‘living’ in the neighbourhood, I planned 2 get-togethers for my running buddies. The first was an EPIC girls night sleep over at N’s house, NO BOYS ALLOWED! And the second was a post race coffee/tea/cupcake spectacular!

The girls night was not with out it’s troubles, since the Malahat was closed due to a fatal accident, and 2 of the guests had to take a detour that included parking their car on the side of the road in a residential neighbourhood and walking on a ferry.

The 2011 race was much bigger than previous years. I think the addition of a a ‘half-a-half’ and a finisher’s medal were just what they needed to boost registrations.

I can’t say that it was easy this year. I don’t think running in Shawnigan will become easy for a very long time. The hills are relentless. But, it is a gorgeous area to run in, especially with all the colours of the leaves changing at this time of year.  For the most part, I enjoyed the course, but there was a section of trail that was muddy and gross and uneven.  My physical & mental energy level really suffered at that point, but I soldiered on.

I am happy to say I finished strong, with no tears. I think I even had a little energy to give it a push at the end when I saw the clock ticking away 1:59:10, 1:59:11, 1:59:12, 1:59:13 1:59:14, 1:59:15… there was no way that clock was going to click over to 2:00:00 before I crossed the finish line.

I finished with a gun time of 1:59:21 and a chip time of 1:59:04.

For the first time they had a finishers medal this year. It was pretty cool.  The Kinsol Trestle has undergone a 2 year rebuilding project to make it a safe, useable part of the Cowichan Valley Regional trail. The test was originally completet in 1920 and is currently the largest wooden trestle in the Commonwealth. Our medals were made from wood from the original trestle, to commemorate the first time the Shawnigan-Kinsol Half Marathon had actually crossed the Kinsol Trestle.  I think they are pretty cool, and definitely unique.


So, some of you may ask: What about 2012?

Well, my answer is currently: NOT ON YOUR $%^&ING LIFE!


But as we all know, my decisions on such matters have been known to change.




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