(Alternatively, “The Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon 2007 recap.”)
And I won!!
Oops, let’s start at the beginning….
* Having slept around 11:30, it was moderately easy to wake at 4:45AM, head out, and arrive at UBC by 6:30. Got the routine down pat, you know, water bottles ready, what to eat, timing chip already on my right shoe. I don’t, however, sleep in the shirt I will race in.
* We had to wait for everything. Wait in a winding queue to store our gear. Wait and anxiously watch the clock while in the porta-potty queue.
* There’s a feeling of isolation going to a race alone where there are thousands of others. Many of the people stood in small groups. Granted, I saw J.Lo. on the trolley, Run Club girls in the queue, and Henry before the race.
* To make conversation while in the porta-potty queue, the man behind me pondered with his female friend about the demographics of the half-marathoners present. For example, how many people who were racing were related to each other? What kind of professions do we have – would there be an observable trend? He also suggested that we would be predominantly alpha types. Just relaying what he said….
* I thought that having two Start arches was cool, how we ultimately merged into one group hopefully without a distance penalty to either group!
* I made a drastic change that was to not run with music. It was the first half-marathon in two years where it was just me, my wandering mind, and the road for two hours. There was no guarantee that I would see CM at the start to run together. (She kicked butt with her first sub-2-hour half!)
* One of these days, I’m going to overcome my self-consciousness and don a garbage bag at the start line. In yesterday’s case it would be for the sake of staying warm without having to carry an article of clothing. No matter what, I was going to get the full dousing the day had in store.
* The first part of the race course consisted of a long southbound stretch on Marine Drive that doubled back on the other side of the divided parkway. It was cool to see the three front runners running in a tight pack, elbow to elbow with an escort car driving ahead of them. Before doubling back, it was nice to see the people who would finish 1:30-1:50 and then when I made it around the turn, it was likewise nice to see the people who would finish 2:15-2:30.
* I stripped off my jacket after ten minutes and tied it around my waist. The zipper slapping against my leg was a distraction for a while.
* I didn’t have a pace band either. Whittling down to the essentials, perhaps, except for having a GPS-linked timing device. I was checking the time at every kilometer marker. Fluctuated between 5:25 to 5:46 minutes to complete a kilometer.
* Knocked off the first km in 4:52?! Darned adrenaline rush at the start. Or sneaky people on campus had pushed the marker around overnight. Completed the first four KM in 5:30 on average.
* My training group did the route two weeks ago, arranged by CM, but I still did not have memory of the terrain (until I’ve been over it about ten times)
* Was pleased with the downhill stretch that preceded the downhill stretch. It was a great mental booster knowing that for several kilometers it required less effort to maintain that 5:30 pace.
* Oh, but did my (right) knee hurt a little after the downhill stretch!
* Completed 10K in 57:04. =) I have an official 10K race next weekend – the close timing of these two races was an accident on my part!
* There wasn’t a “Half-way” sign but I guess I passed that point at 60 minutes. That’s quite usual for me.
* A torrential downpour began and was heaviest around 8:00-8:15. =S
* I thought about the Run Club that was setting out at 8:30 and how it’s tough to voluntarily get up early on a Sunday and run in a downpour.
* Northwest Marine Drive feeding to 4th Avenue was full of potholes! I sort of fell into a hole. Didn’t sprain anything, thank God.
* I did, however, land squarely into a deep puddle – it was unavoidable – around Jericho. With both shoes puddle-filled, the next 2K were so discouraging.
* On-the-fly visualization trick: Knowing that it’s a flat race with a large net drop in elevation (250 feet), I convinced myself that even flat portions had a slight decline. Otherwise, I would constantly have reminded myself how tremendously difficult each and every step felt!
* Having to run over the Burrard Street Bridge – though we’ve done it tens of times by now – at the 18th kilometer was hard!!
* There was an official race photographer on the bridge to capture
our my straggling form with the bridge as a backdrop. My teeth were chattering uncontrollably and I forced a smile and a wave. I had just seen the brewery marquee that scrolled weather information: it was a mere 9oC!
* The two hour mark arrived at the end of my 11th 10-minute running interval and I was only at English Bay. =(
* I though I still had five minutes to go so I took the last walking break that started at the 2-hour mark.
* Chui, who was finished and totally rocked the race, was already headed home sweetly encouraged me to keep running because I was close to the end. That encouragement prompted me to cut short my walking break by 8 seconds. =P
* The end was indeed close by – closer than I anticipated!
* So I slid in at 2:02:36.2!!
* I am happy: all I wanted was to have a course PB (best time on the course) and to test my mental strength without music and companionship and with the constant desire to quit early because “nobody’s watching.” I accomplished all of that.
* I was so wet by the end of the race. As wet as taking a shower and wetting my hair. Good thing I didn’t wear the pretty white race-issued t-shirt — the event had some similarities to a wet t-shirt contest. =P
* I clenched my teeth so hard from being cold, I heard something inside chip. =S
* In my opinion, it was a great race to fire up marathon training.
* Unlike the Vancouver Marathon that has B.C. Place as a headquarters, this event set up tents at the start and finish. On a crummy, rainy day, it was trying on your patience that there wasn’t real shelter. We were most displeased that our stored belongings were lain out on a grass lawn that had flooded.
I have mixed feelings about my race results. =( I can easily get hung up on the numbers like missing an all-time half-marathon personal best by 24 seconds. I had it in me to squeeze that difference out… easily. In terms of that elusive two hour-half’er goal, it was like my fingers really brushed the goal but didn’t grasp it. I hear of people making enormous improvements on their time when I’ve been within an 12-minute window for the ten (official) half-marathons I’ve randomly and leisurely participated in. Since the window is so small, since I’m only two minutes off that elusive goal, I feel that it’s not a big difference. That is, it’s not that much faster I need to go. Really.
I also have mixed feelings about my last two races and “equivalencies” that keep running in my head. About six weeks ago, I ran a tougher course four minutes slower. I had a horrible motivation breakdown but the weather conditions did not work against you. Yesterday, the biggest positive was not mentally crumbling. Can/did I improve in six weeks? What’s the big deal if I can finish within 1:59:59 only at the easiest half-marathon course in Canada? With that final thought, I’m happy with my palindromic 2:02. =D
All the stats —–
Chip time 2:02:35 / Gun time 2:03:21 — 5:49/km pace
1,814 overall (field of 3,350)
759/1,884 female finishers
136/313 women 25-29 finishers