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Race Report: Vancouver First Half 1/2 Marathon

Posted Feb 11 2013 12:43pm
Alternate post title: The One Where I Almost got run Over by a Cyclist but Still PR'd...

I actually signed up for this race on a bit of a whim.  Last November when registration came around I was deep in the trenches of Goofy training and really had no idea if I'd ever want to run again after completing the challenge.  But I had runner friends bugging me to do it and never one to wanna disappoint I set my alarm and woke up super early to register as this race always sells out within hours.

When I got home from Florida, since everything went well, I was happy to have the First Half on my schedule just one month later.  That's when Solana issued me the speed challenge and I got working on my speed training in a quest to see if I really could get faster in just a few weeks.  The exciting answer to that question is coming up!

The forecast for this weekend was for full sun but chilly temperatures.  As usual, I agonized over clothing choices for days.  I knew that if I wanted to run hard I couldn't risk wearing too much and overheating so I wanted to get away in just capris and a warm top but I couldn't decide which ones...

I did my usual pre-race fashion show the night before but accidentally deleted most of the pictures so here's one of me trying to check and see if my capris were see through where they stretched across my bum...

This didn't work at all so I checked with a friend,
nope, not see-through!
My husband had taken the boys up to the cabin for a boys-only weekend so I had a nice quiet house and a really great sleep the night before the race.  I woke up on race morning and went about my usual preparations.  I'd laid most stuff out the night before so all I really had to do was try and choose my top and head out the door.

Krista met me at my house and we met up with Solana at her place before heading into downtown.  We had just a few minutes before the gun by the time we got there so we didn't have to wait around for long.  It was sunny all right but it was super cold so I was glad we didn't have to wait long.  Luckily, we had enough time for our pre-race shots...

Here's the final outfit I decided on and it
was just right!

At this point I was nervous.  Not nervous about running the race, I've done it a million times it seems.  But nervous because I'd gone and declared such a big, hairy goal of trying to better my 2:09:57 PR.  Yikes.  I'd done all the speed training Solana had told me to do.  Unfortunately though, you may have read that my back was just horrible this past week.  I'd been having one of my bad back pain episodes and it wasn't letting up - the nerve pain was really bad this time around and my whole right lower back, SI, hip and sciatic nerve jumble hurt so much!  The night before the race I had a nice relaxing dinner with Krista and it was feeling better but come race morning the pain was still there and I was so worried it would totally blow my plans for racing hard.

I'd done the best I could all week to help it along - tons of rest, lots of stretching, rolling, soaking etc.  All I could do at this point was add a couple pain-helpers to the mix (I don't recommend running on medications but in my case I've carefully figured out what works and what doesn't for my particular issues) and hope for the best...

Is this the face of someone who is ready to PR? 
All of a sudden we were off!  I turned the tunes on and tried to get focused and find my rhythm as quickly as possible.  I didn't wanna burn out in the first few km but I wanted to run hard and then slow down a little into my intended pace.  As usual, those first few km kind of sucked and I really wondered if I was up to the challenge or not.  I reminded myself the first few km always suck for me until I settle in so I gritted my teeth and carried on.

I didn't get a chance to post them but I had an A, B and C goal in mind for this race and had printed out pace bands for each of them.  I don't look at my pace bands regularly on the course but I like having them so I know where I should be at key kilometres and also so I know what my average pace should be.  I decided I'd just watch my pace and try to stay ahead of whichever goal seemed most probable.

The course for this race is really nice.  We started in Yaletown and immediately headed east to do a loop around BC Place before turning around and heading back to the beach.  A couple little turns and we were down by the beach working our way toward the seawall.  It was such a pretty morning and this course made me so thankful to live in Vancouver.  It was ocean views, mountain views and peaceful waters and skies the whole way.  Beautiful.  Made it pretty easy to settle in and just run.

I didn't want to get too worked up trying to beat my time so my plan was to run hard and after about 5km decide which goal seemed most attainable.  I passed 5k super quick and realized I was ahead of my A goal by quite a bit.  Wow!  I didn't think I'd quite be able to hold that but felt good that I had a nice buffer started.  I crossed 10km at 55:07 which is unheard for me so I carried on feeling awesome.  By 15km I was still ahead and managing to keep it up so that was good.

At one point I was taking my walk break and had moved way off to the side to get out of everyone's way.  Half of the seawall was dedicated to the race and the other half was for other users - I was walking on the "other" side.  When my break was over I shoulder checked to make sure I wasn't going to cut any runners off when I hopped back in but as I was looking away I stepped out in front of a cyclist and almost got hit!  I was so embarrassed when he yelled "Heads up!" in a really rude voice, but hey, I was the one wandering out in front of him.  I wasn't THAT close to getting run over, but it could have been bad if I'd gotten hit!  He was going sooooo fast.

By this time though my back was really starting hurt.  It had hurt the whole time but by around 16km all I could think about was crossing the finish line and finding a medic so I could get some ice.  I was getting super tired and I think that's what was making it worse.  My form was loosening and not being used to running that fast I think I was kind of losing my focus a bit.  I had to decide if I wanted to keep it up or slow down just a little bit to relieve some of the pressure on my back but still be somewhere within my goals.  I opted to slow down and instantly felt a bit of relief in my hips and back.

Even though I was struggling, I managed to keep it together for the last few km.  I told myself I had to stay focused and keep pushing.  It was only a matter of minutes before I'd be done and I had to be okay with being uncomfortable.  There were two short little hills at the end and I admit, I charged my way up them walking but once I hit Pacific Avenue again I knew it was just a small downhill to the finish.

I picked it up just a little bit and cruised in.  Shortly before the chute I saw Solana (who finished WAYYYY ahead of me) and she ran a short bit with me...

(Photo courtesy of  Solana's  husband)

(Photo courtesy of Solana's husband)
  • A Goal - 2:05 (5:55min/km)
  • B Goal - 2:07 (6:01min/km)
  • C Goal - 2:09 (6:06min/km)
Official Results:
  • Chip Time - 2:01:31 PR!
  • Average Pace - 5:46min/km
  • Overall Place - 1176/1917
This was a fast field of runners so although I felt like a rock star with my 2:01 finish time, I was actually more than halfway through the pack!  That's okay though, I worked hard and achieved my goal and I'm thrilled about that.  A big thanks goes to Solana for getting me there.  It was a great day all round because all four of us girls actually PR'd at this race!

What a pack of speedy Beauties!
(Photo courtesy of  Solana's  husband)
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