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Race Report: Goodlife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon

Posted Oct 09 2012 12:17am
The nice thing about having places to visit for Thanksgiving is that it has given me the chance to run some really great events around BC.  A few years ago we did the Okanagan International Half Marathon in Kelowna as part of a Thanksgiving spent up at the cabin.  And then this year I finally got to run the Victoria Half Marathon because we spent the long weekend with my husband's family on Vancouver Island.  Score!

My husband's family lives in Port Alberni, BC.  And while it is on the island, it's about a 2.5 hr drive away from beautiful Victoria, BC.  This is about the same drive between the cabin and Kelowna that we did in 2008 so I figured it wouldn't be such a big deal.

However, that was before my youngest son ended up being sick all weekend and I spent most of each night being up with the poor little guy.  We are lucky our kids are good sleepers so after a few nights with very little sleep I felt like a zombie.  Not exactly how you wanna feel going into your 11th half marathon and second half marathon in 7 days!

A rare moment of him sleeping...
I managed to get myself to bed at 9:30 but then laid awake until 10:30 hoping Riley wouldn't wake up all through the night again.  Which sucked because my 3:15am alarm was fast approaching!  Luckily I had a decent, albeit short, sleep and jumped out of bed feeling amazingly rested.  It was a quick and quiet get ready before I jumped in the truck and headed south to Victoria.  I had a long drive ahead of me so I cranked up the tunes, sat back and enjoyed the drive.  It was soooo quiet but I actually enjoy driving so I didn't mind.  It was far too early to eat before I left so I had a few PB&J sandos to keep me company along the way.

I made record time and arrived in Victoria faster than I can run a half marathon.  Exactly 2 hrs, oops, lead foot I guess.  I managed to get there in time to see the early marathon start and then headed off in search of the race-day bib pickup.

The Parliament buildings looked
really pretty all it up in the pre-dawn
As I was about to close the door on a port-o-pot visit I heard someone call my name and it turned out to be a friend from our run club.  I haven't seen her in ages So we had a quick chat.  I tried to meet up with a few other friends but I got stuck in a long port-o-pot line later on and ended up missing them...

"Throwaway chic" at it's finest!
By the time I finished I glanced down at my watch and it was only a couple minutes before the gun was going to go off.  I hurriedly rushed over to the start and tried to get everything all ready before the gun went off.  Headphones in, arm warmers on, Garmin ready, chews stashed, throwaway thrown - I barely got myself organized before I was starting to run!  I don't like a rushed start like that!

Immediately I was freezing.  The temps would end up being quite comfortable but I would have given anything to have a pair of gloves at the start.  Brr.  Immediately my hands were numb and it bugged me because I just felt like crap right away.  I was cold and unrested and quickly getting grumpy.  Grrr.

If you read my post the other day ( "To PR or not to PR..." ), I had been toying with the idea of trying to get a new PR.  I decided that I would give it a try but in that first few kms my heart sank because I just knew I couldn't do it.  It was a pretty defeatist and weak way of thinking but I felt like crap and just didn't think it was going to be a good run.  Then I felt embarrassed that I'd have to admit I didn't do it (get a PR) and then that made me grumpier.  Whoops.

I tried to find a groove but just couldn't.  I felt like my cold, stiff legs were constantly trying to catch up my upper body.  My legs just felt behind.  We were headed into a really pretty park for the next few kms and all I could do was be grumpy.  Where was that positive attitude when I needed it?  Oh I know, not anywhere in my stiff, grumpy, freezing body!

When we got to the highest point in the park I couldn't help but feel a bit optimistic because I caught a glimpse of what our view would be for the next chunk of distance.  It was really pretty but I was still struggling along.

And then it happened.  My friend from the port-o-pots came along (queue the singing angels here).  We started to chat and catch up and it wasn't very long before I forgot that I was running what felt like my crappiest run ever and it was a total saviour.  We exited the park and started along down the coast, so pretty and so much better running with a friend.  I wasn't sure what our pace was going to be like but since I still had it in my grumpy little mind that I would like to PR, I decided to keep pushing a little and see what happened.

And what happened was that we continued along for the next 10kms and it was great.  My run was completely turned around 180 degrees and I was enjoying it.  Phew!  We chatted and met up with other runners she knew and enjoyed joking and laughing with other runners and spectators.  It was a really nice, friendly atmosphere.  Having her run along with me took my mind off my so-far crappy run and I guess having my spirits lifted my body followed suit and I felt so much better.  We managed to keep up a pretty good pace but when I unfortunately lost her around the 18km mark, I glanced down and didn't think I'd be able to PR after all.

My new and incredibly tough and always PR'ing runner-friend Solana (of Cavegirl on the Run ) has been encouraging me to find my "beast mode" when I'm out there on the course.  And even though I didn't think I could do it, I had her "beast mode" theory in my head and decided to keep pushing anyways.  I'd never get tougher if I didn't push and it was really only about 20 mins left so I tried to find that beast within me.

I guess I could only find an itty-bitty beast because I felt like I was going to die by the time I neared the finish line.  I sure hope they didn't catch me on camera in that last km because I'm pretty sure I had a wicked-grumpy grimace on my face.  I wanted so bad to tough it out and just go for it but I'm not good to doing that and the discomfort kept me from going as hard as I probably could have.  I guess I'm still just a beast-in-training.

When I finally saw the finish line I pulled out whatever I could find and sprinted.  I should have started sprinting a bit further back (mental note for next time).  It felt like forever after crossing the line before we got our medals and something to drink but thankfully it was chocolate milk so I was happy.  I reluctantly checked my Garmin and it wasn't a PR but it was close and that made me really happy considering the crappy start I had to the race.

Our pretty medals...
And check out how nice the back is...
After grabbing snacks (they had donuts!) I headed out to the Parliament lawn and laid in the sun for a bit.  It was so beautiful and warm for October, such a treat to be laying in the sun to stretch.  A few last pictures before hobbling back to the truck...

Cold in the shade of Parliament
A kind runner offered to snap this one
for me
As I sat in the truck and struggled to get my compression socks on (do they shrink in the wash?) I started to think through my race.  I was disappointed I didn't PR when I realized I was only 45 seconds off from doing so.  If I had found a bit more "beast" in myself out there I probably could have.  I just need to learn how to get over being uncomfortable otherwise I won't ever get any faster.  I have always struggled with this and maybe need to believe a bit harder that I am capable of more.  Maybe if I hadn't chatted so much along the way I would have focused on my splits a bit more - but I suspect that without her I could have more easily gotten more discouraged and slowed down even more.  I am certain she is what turned my race around and I am thankful for that.  A big part of my running is the pure enjoyment of it so I'll take a good race with no PR over a bad race any day!

Here are the official details
  • Chip time: 2:10:42 (45 seconds behind my 2:09:57 PR)
  • Average pace:  6:11/km
I know that for a good part of the race my average pace (including walking breaks) was sub 6:00 min/km so I'll have to go through my data to figure out where I slowed down.  I think my block to finding "beast mode" is more a mental one than anything.  The lack of sleep in the last few days prior didn't help but I think in future I need to psych myself up a bit more to go out there and rock things.

The drive home was a lot longer than the drive there but with such a beautiful day I had the sunroof open and the tunes cranked way up.  When I got home I put on my bathing suit (but left the compression socks on for a bit) and headed down to the dock for a bit of sun.  Our weather has been so lovely it was a huge treat to rest after a big race on a dock, in a bathing suit in October!  I mustered up a bit of courage and even jumped into the lake for one last hurrah of the year before heading up for Thanksgiving dinner.

Post-race recovery doesn't get much
better than this!
So it started out poorly but got turned around completely thanks to a running friend.  The Running Room taught me how to run but also taught me how to find strength in those around you when you need it the most.  If you're ever in Victoria in the fall I highly recommend this event, the course was absolutely gorgeous!
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