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Race Report: Abbotsford Run for Water Half Marathon

Posted May 28 2012 12:37am
Wow, where do I start?  For some reason I feel like I have so much to say about this race - the cause, the camaraderie of the event, the abundance of inspiration, the course.  The whole thing was truly great and it all is still resonating with me.  Anyhow, I'll keep this post to my race report and go through all that other stuff at another time.  Here goes
Race Expo:

The expo and package pickup was held at the Bakerview Ecodairy in Abbotsford.  When I first drove up I wasn't sure what to expect because parking was crazy and there were people and cars everywhere.  But upon entering I was struck by a beautiful view of the mountains and fields etc.  The ecodairy shares an amazing property with a farmer's market and petting zoo.  It was truly one of the most scenic race expos I've ever been too and my son really enjoyed the tractors and animals...


The most scenic race expo ever...
My little guy loved the tractor...

 The night before:

I went to bed feeling melancholy.  I hadn't done a ton of targeted training between BMO and Run for Water and in fact suffered a bit of an injury that I still wasn't sure was real or not.  In the past few days I had some little bits of pain and I went to bed worried my leg was going to get hurt and I'd end up with a real, big time injury to my quad.  It just wasn't my usual excited, pumped feeling and I fell asleep feeling kind of sad.

Race morning:

Thankfully I had a great sleep and woke up feeling pretty good.  I was surprisingly calm and had a pretty relaxed morning getting ready and having breakfast etc.  I left the house at about 6:45 but a few mins down the road realized I had forgotten my water bottles of all things so doubled back to grab them.  No harm though, I got from my place to Mill Lake Park in Abbotsford in record time.  And it was a good thing because there was a LONG walk across a HUGE park to get from the suggested parking lot to the start of the race.  I actually had to hustle to get around the lake!

The race:

I didn't have the same kind of jitters I've had with other half marathons.  I knew I could do it, I just didn't know if my quad was going to bug me.  All I could do was give it my best, not push too hard and  see what happens.  It made for a delightfully laid back race because I knew my best move was to just run easy and enjoy it.  So that's what I did.  It was nice because the start line wasn't crowded and crazy - it matched my easy going mood...


The course was fantastic.  From the park we headed east and the whole way was basically flat or slightly downhill.  It wasn't long before I realized that I was feeling great!  My tummy felt settled, my breathing was good, I felt strong and most of all, my quad was totally a non-issue.  The relief that brought me was amazing and probably fuelled me for much of the way.

I wore a backup in case
the Garmin quit again!
Since my m.o. was to just take it easy, I did exactly that.  Other than checking that it was still working, I tried not to look at my time too much.  I listened to how my legs were feeling and adjusted my pace accordingly.  It was a pleasure to look down and see I was well within pace for a 2:15 finish.  And it continued.  Every time I started to feel tired, I switched my stride to smaller, quicker steps and my fatigue eased right up.  It was awesome to find a way I could control how much energy I felt like I was using.  At some points during the race I felt like I could have run forever.  Not long after the turnaround, I passed the 2:15 pace bunny who was well behind me!  That was a huge surprise.

The course went through tons of farmland and the views of the fields and mountains were lovely.  It was a very peaceful run.  I could have done without the farm stench in a couple of places, but it didn't last long.  The stink was so bad in one spot I didn't know which was worse, breathing through my nose or my mouth!  I chatted with lots of different people along the way.  This easy going approach was lovely!


At one point there was a helicopter flying around and I could see a photographer hanging out the side.  I'm hoping he was from the photography company because that would be totally awesome to have aerial photos.  Regardless it felt pretty cool being trailed by a helicopter for a bit - very official!

At around 16km that darn 2:15 pace bunny caught up and passed me.  Turns out she is from our local Running Room and I hear she is a lovely lady, but holy cow, her pace felt so fast.  I think at that point I was just starting to get tired.  Coincidentally that's also where the only incline on the course began.  I kind of panicked when I felt like I was falling behind her, but had to remind myself that my plan for the day was to be laid back and take it easy.  It was hard, but I let go of my disappointment and carried on. Focusing on my turnover and my music and I was back into a rhythm again.

I was worried about the slight uphill over the last few km, but it actually went fine.  Very gradual and good practice for hunkering down and getting up gradual hills.  Before I knew it, we were back on the road that lead to the park and I knew we were close.

The finish:

By the time I could see the finish line, I felt pretty tired.  I was done with the incline and felt like I had nothing left for a sprint at the end.  I knew I wasn't going to finish under 2:15 so I figured I'd just keep up my steady pace and sprint the last couple hundred m instead of killing myself.  Every finish is always so inspiring, I always feel so great and hearing everyone cheering just brings a tear to my eye.  Every time.  Right across the line were my very first half marathon instructors welcoming the runners and it was probably one of the most welcome finishes ever.  They got me across my first finish line and now here they were welcoming me across my 6th.  Very meaningful.

One of my favourite parts of the day was the runner who came up to me right after we crossed the finish and told me what a strong, steady and consistent pace I had.  She said I looked great out there and helped her keep going as she followed behind me for most of the course.  It was the loveliest compliment and I think I'm still blushing.


We were given our beautiful medals and awesome aluminum Run for Water water bottles with "Half Marathon Finisher 2012" stamped on the front.


I spent a bit of time after the race chatting with other Langley runners and watching other runners cross the finish.  Not long after I met up with my husband and the boys and we spent a bit of time walking through the park and chasing the ducks.  It wasn't until I got home that I actually found out my time and I was really pleased in the end
  • Official chip time:  2:16:47
  • Average pace:  6:29
  • Overall place:  376/548, 77/114 in age group
It surely wasn't a PR, but I am extremely pleased that my "take it easy, laid back, not hurry" half marathon time is not around the 2:15 mark.  I used to have to almost kill myself to finish in 2:30 so it is a huge accomplishment to be able to finish easily about 15 mins faster.  It tells me that if I work on my endurance and hill training, I know I can achieve more and I love that.


Closing thoughts:

This is where I find it hard to put into words how I feel.  I am happy.  I ran a good race and I felt strong.  I enjoyed the course and am so pleased to finally have run it.  I am full of inspired feelings having met Ray Zahab on Friday night and listening to his amazing story.  I am inspired by the cause behind the Run for Water and find myself thinking of ways I can be more involved next year.  I am astounded at the growth and success of this event in just 5 short years and admire how much money they have raised for water projects and the outreach they have achieved in schools and education around the Lower Mainland.  The commitment of everyone involved is further inspiring.

Anyhow, I ran a half marathon this morning but it feels like I was a part of something so much bigger and that feels great.

Congratulations to all of my fellow runners who finished everything from 5k to 55k this weekend.  We should all be very proud.

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