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...
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...
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!