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Race Report: Golden Ears Half Marathon

Posted Mar 10 2013 11:47pm
Alternative title for this post: The One Where I Actually Finished and Then Ran Some More...

Let me just start off by saying what a pleasure it is to write a race report for a race that I actually finished.  Ha ha.  What wasn't a pleasure about this race was my poor running buddy for the day, Krista, wound up with a horrible cold, complete with fever and everything.  Considering she's heading to New York next week to run the NYC Half Marathon (jealous!) she decided to opt out of today and even though I know it was tough for her I know she made the right call.

When I got to Pitt Meadows and parked it was raining and feeling pretty yucky outside. I hid in my car until the last minute and after a quick bathroom stop in the community centre I jogged down to the start line.  This was a very small race and it was kind of cool that the start was just one of the organizers (and the rest of the crowd) counting down from 10.

Even though I had two great runs this week I didn't want to have any expectations for myself and this race.  Well, other than to hopefully finish it, of course.  I didn't wanna take a DNF two weekends in a row!  I was pretty sure I'd be able to do that but I wanted to finish feeling good so my plan was to go out nice and easy and just have a relaxing run.

For the first 5km the pack pretty much stayed together, except for the real speedy people up front.  I was happy to get through that first bit feeling good.  It wasn't hard to settle into a rhythm and just plug along.  We got to the Golden Ears Bridge right in the last bit of that first 5km and I was kind of excited.  I sort of have this thing where I love running over bridges and that's what attracted me to this race in the first place.

The Golden Ears Bridge is a relatively new cable-stayed bridge in the Lower Mainland.  It was opened a couple of years ago and connects Langley with communities across the Fraser River such as Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Mission.  Being a bit of a geeky engineer I thought it was pretty cool to run right alongside the huge support cables and probably spent more time running staring up into the sky to the top of the piers than not.

Once we got to the other side we ran down the corkscrew pedestrian ramp, under the bridge, through a quick water stop and then back up the other corkscrew ramp and up to the opposite side of the bridge.

Uh oh, my squinty eye decided to make an appearance in that last shot.  I can't control that unfortunately and don't even notice when it happens!  Creepy.  Anyhow, here's a shot of the whole bridge on my return back across...

By the time we crossed the bridge we were somewhere near 9 or 10km.  I was still feeling great.  As long as I stayed nice and relaxed and natural in gait then my knee didn't bother me at all.  As soon as I'd think about it, I'd subconsciously compensate and then it would feel wonky.  I had to remind myself lots during this race to relax and run naturally.  I ended up listening to a lot more of the mellow tracks on my iPod and got lost in a lot of cool songs.

After the bridge we headed towards the river and passed this awesome sign put out by one the residents on the street we were running on...

I actually had to stop and walk for a minute because I was laughing so hard.  This race was already going well and seeing such a funny sign kept me feeling happy.  We soon turned onto a packed gravel trail that followed the river and it was just beautiful.  By this point, still feeling good, I just had to admire the beautiful scenery on this run.  It was right up my alley.

The gravel trails eventually led us onto some country roads through farmers fields and around the airport.  This part was fairly long but I kind of enjoy the consistency of running along country roads.  Its easy to get lost in your thoughts and just enjoy the music and carry on.  And since I had to be extra careful about staying on level ground I appreciated the straight, flat roads.

It was somewhere during this part that I realized if I was still feeling good at the end of the run I could probably tack on an extra 8km and make up the full distance on my training schedule.  Because I wasn't sure of how my knee would be, I hadn't planned to try and make up that extra distance but all was well so I figured I should honour my marathon training plan and get 'er done.

The final stretch was 4km of crushed gravel along the river.  I hated this part.  Flat, crushed gravel shouldn't be difficult or unpleasant but it was just uneven enough that it was putting a bit of extra strain on my knee.  It wasn't a big deal but I felt kind of sore by the time I neared the finish line.  I was so thankful to get off the gravel and onto the paved pathway.  Since I'd pretty much made up my mind to add the extra distance after the finish line, I didn't bother sprinting to the finish.  I came in at 2:16:16 which isn't that speedy for me anymore but considering I've been dealing with my pesky knee I couldn't have been happier about how the race went.  I was super pleased to have kept my pace below 6:30/km.

I got my medal and jogged to the parking lot to drop off my race bib and medal in the car and refill my water bottles.  We lucked out and it was totally dry and just perfect temperature-wise for the entire race.  But wouldn't you know, as soon as I ran away from my car the rains started again.  Great.

I decided to just head out along the first part of the course again and turn around at 4km to make up the extra 8km I needed.  I did okay but this last part of the run wasn't nearly as awesome as the race.  I was tired and my knee was feeling kind of tender from that stupid gravel trail.  I was getting cold and my average pace was quite a bit slower than for the race.  Oh well.  I plodded along, got 'er done and was so thankful to get back to the car with 28.3 km under my belt.  Oops, I miscalculate my turn around because I ended up about 700m short.

All in all, I really enjoyed this race.  After a couple weeks of feeling bummed and uncertain because of my knee, it was a total confidence booster.  Here are the details
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