You know it won’t be a typical run when you wake up to snow falling in downtown Vancouver.
But let me back up a bit. Because this is my first official race report, and because I’m especially impressed with this young, up-and-coming 10k/5k (this was its 3rd year), I want to start from the beginning.
A lot of the running bloggers I follow, and who inspired me to start this blog, are somehow connected to the West Van Run. At some point, I connected with @WestVanRun and loved the energy behind the tweets – so I signed up!
Quick pre-race highlights:
- Great website; engaging social media presence
- Good communication around package pickup (including a couple of email reminders)
- Friendly volunteers
- Awesome WestVanRun water bottle (I got the teal), and nice zippered running pack
By the end of yesterday’s 27k training run (yes, I’m working towards my first marathon, but that’s a future post), I knew that today’s 10k was still on the books, but had no expectations of making it a personal best (PB) – which, for a 10k, is 50 minutes on the nose. Some of my running buddies from Forerunners told me I was crazy for doing a race right after a long run…but I wasn’t going to miss out on this one!
Now, about this morning’s snow. When it’s snowing in the city, you know it’s snowing in the burbs. While huddled under a tent near the start line at Dundarave Park, you could feel that winter had reasserted itself yet again!
We most definitely needed to warm up! Because this is a small local run, I got myself close to the start line, and had no problem hearing what was going on. With a glitchy microphone, I’m not sure everyone at the back could hear. But when we got a wave going from front to back, there was lots of enthusiasm. We had to wait a few extra minutes for last-minute check-ins, so I learned that the lady next to me was doing her first West Van Run – the 5k. And since this was her typical running route, she was looking forward to the familiarity. I only wish I had paid attention to her bib number, and I would have looked up her results. I trust she had a great race!
And we were off! I wasn’t at all familiar with the West Van seawall, but the first couple of kilometres took us right along the water to 18th Ave, and then along Argyle Ave to Ambleside Park. By the 1k mark, the snow was coming down and, well, it hurt! Not especially cold, but something akin to hail, making it tough to see. Then there was the slush – oh, the slush. And the puddles. While I will not hold the weather accountable for my results, I certainly needed to shorten my stride while navigating those few kilometres.
The snow finally slackened, but then I started the mid-run reflections: Did I go out too fast, along with all those 5k runners? Um, probably. Was I starting to feel a bit worn out by the second switchback at the halfway mark? Yes. But was I delighted that I was still under 25 minutes by that time? Absolutely!
The second half of the race involved two more switchbacks. I went in feeling a bit uncertain due to my lack of familiarity with the route. But everything was well marked, the volunteers pointed the way, and I kept encountering all those people who were ahead of me on their return (**mentally cheers & shakes fist at the same time**) – so I didn’t get lost.
An interesting element of this run is that at the last 1k, you can see the finish line – and you know exactly what a kilometre looks like. And it’s scary. And far. And snowy.
But at the final turn, I could see the clock, and knew it was going to happen. I was going to make a PB. And I did – 30 seconds faster than my 2013 Eastside 10k best…49 mins 29 secs!
Will I run 27k the day before my next race? Probably not. And yet I still managed to best my best!
If I could have had my way, here are the things I would have wished for at the West Van Run:
- A couple of km markers (preferably at 1km and 5km) – I had my Nike+ app telling me where I was at, but it isn’t always accurate
- A more detailed route map on the website, maybe with turn-by-turn instructions – especially because I didn’t really know where I was going!
- And nothing else! Because this was a great race!
I think today’s snow just made the experience even better. Plus, I got to meet a couple of folks from Twitter, and I had an even better race than I expected. The West Van Run is definitely one of the most well-organized of the smaller races I’ve attended. I think I’m going to add this run to my regular rotation, and look forward to seeing it grow over the next few years!