Dad and I drove up to Vancouver on Friday morning and spent the day visiting friends. Then we met Matt and his parents for a delicious curry dinner at the Banana Leaf. Saturday morning started with brunch with C&J and then it was onto the marathon expo. We spent about half an hour at the expo picking up our race kits, visiting the booths and picking up free samples. I was impressed that they had lots of chilled drinking water and real glasses (i.e. not paper cups) out to help satisfy the runners’ hydration needs. After the expo we all headed to Stanley Park for the afternoon.
First we drove the Stanely Park segment of the half marathon course so that Matt could see the Prospect Point hill. We also stopped to see the totem polls and to check out a few of the view points. We got to the aquarium and waited in a super long line to get in. I guess a cloudy Saturday afternoon isn’t the best time to see the aquarium! Despite the crowds we had a great time at the aquarium and caught both the dolphin and beluga shows. Of course that meant I had Rafi’s “Baby Beluga” song stuck in my head all afternoon!
The alarm(s) went off at 5am on Sunday morning and I had my usual oats, green tea and banana for breakfast. The weather was perfect for racing. I didn’t check the temperature (would you believe that one channel wouldn’t come in on our hotel TV and it was the weather channel) but I’d estimate it was 8C and partly cloudy. We left the hotel at 6am and after an initial wrong turn (mostly my fault) arrived at BC Place at about 6:20. Between dropping off my bag at bag check and the porta potty lines we didn’t have a lot of time to spare. Matt and I made it over to the start corral and tried to position ourselves correctly. We had decided not to run the race together but lined up together since there was a serious lack of useful pace signs (we only saw 1:30 and 2:30 pacers!). The race started on time and we started to inch our way to the start line.
I pretty much outlined my plan and goals in a previous post so I’ll just reference that here. The goal was to average 8:23 min/mile and if all else failed just go as hard as possible.
My first mile came in at 8:45. Given the congestion I was happy with my start but wished that it had felt a little easier. Miles 2, 3 and 4 were the only ones of the day that I would actually manage to do under my goal pace of 8:23 min/mile. I don’t know how to best explain this but I just didn’t have the legs I needed in this race. I was happy with the pace of those 3 miles but I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain it. It just felt way too hard. In fact it felt like I should have been racing a 10K not a half marathon. I saw Dad just after mile 4, exactly where he said he’d be, and that gave me a nice boost of energy.
I took a water and gel walk break during mile 5 so all things considered, 8:36 for that mile was pretty good. We entered Stanley Park during mile 6 and hit a few small inclines that slowed me down a bit. Still I hit the half way mark (a quarter marathon?) in 55:34 which was only 34 seconds behind my goal. However, knowing the hill was coming I thought that sub 1:50 probably wasn’t going to happen for me but I though a new PB (<1:51:59) was still a possibility.
Miles 8 and 9 contain the 200 foot climb up to Prospect Point. Two years ago when I ran this race my goal was to run, not walk, all the way up that hill. This year I was in survival mode. I was afraid that if I tried to run all the way up I’d push myself into a place that I wouldn’t recover from. So I instituted a run 200 steps, walk 30 steps pattern. I certainly got passed a lot on the hill but I managed to make it to the top in one piece. Miles 8 and 9 came in at 9:44 and 9:41 which sort of blew the PB hopes out the window.
I should mention that the weather and scenery were beyond gorgeous for the race. Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate that while you’re racing but I did my best to soak it in.
I tried to loosen up and run down the backside of the hill as fast as I could but it still felt slow. By the time I hit mile 10 I was ready for the whole thing to be over. I pushed hard in those last few miles despite the fact that I didn’t feel like my legs were responding to my demands on then to move and all I really wanted to do was stop and sit down. I saw Dad near mile 12 (once again, exactly where he said he’d be) and gave him my water bottle to bring back to the hotel. I was hoping the dropping the weight of the empty water bottle would make running easier! I saw Matt’s mom a bit later and then tried to put the push on to the finish.
I finally crossed the finish line in 1:54:00. That was 4:01 off my goal #1 and 2:01 off my personal best. I have to be honest, I felt horrible after I finished. Mentally I was disappointed in my result and physically I was spent. I made my way though the finish corrals, down into BC Place, picked my bag and had a bit to eat. I really wasn’t interested in most of the food but I did force myself to eat half a banana and a cup of chocolate pudding. I also swapped the size medium shirt I’d got at the expo for a size large shirt. I met Matt and his parents at the “Family Meeting Area” and then sat on the floor for about 15 minutes getting my wits about me.
Matt had a super race (1:41:44 for his first official half) and was in much better physical and mental shape than I was. We walked (slowly) back to the hotel for showers and then went to brunch with my Dad. It wasn’t until I got three blueberry pancakes with syrup into me that I felt mentally better.
Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on my race results the disappointment of not achieving my primary goals has faded. I ran this race 16:42 faster than I did two years ago and that’s a huge difference. However, I’m still left with the following concerns: (1) I averaged 184 bpm which is ridiculously high; (2) I didn’t feel I had the leg turnover that I needed; (3) I got a little down on myself mentally during the race and (4) Hills continue to be a big challenge for me. I’m going to have to address these over the coming weeks.
Mile Split Cumulative ============================ 1 8:45.1 0:08:45.1 2 8:13.3 0:16:58.3 3 8:18.2* 0:25:16.5 * averaged since I missed mile marker 3 4 8:18.2* 0:33:34.7 5 8:36.5 0:42:11.3 6 8:34.4 0:50:45.6 Half 0:55:34.6 7 8:36.0 0:59:21.7 8 9:43.9 1:09:05.6 9 9:41.0 1:18:46.6 10 8:31.9 1:27:18.5 11 8:47.0 1:36:05.5 12 8:45.4 1:44:50.9 13.1 9:09.1 1:54:00.0 (a 8:19 pace) ============================ Total 1:54:00 Avg pace 5:24 min/km, 8:42 min/mile Avg BPM 184 Place overall 1298/5595 (76th percentile) Place in gender 462/3583 (87th percentile) Place in age group (F2529) 108/643 (83rd percentile) (places are based on chip time and include walkers)