When I ran my first half marathon in 2011, it was the BMO Vancouver Half. My finish time was 2:15:36.
Two years ago, due to family circumstances, I hadn’t planned to run. I flew back from Ontario two days before the race, so I figured I might as well give it a go. My finish time was 2 hours and 9 seconds.
This year was…something else.
For my ‘objective’ race report, scroll down. But if you want the full, subjective story…read on!
RUN VAN – Start Line
As a point-to-point race, the BMO Vancouver Half (and Full) Marathon, starts in Queen Elizabeth Park, a bit of a jaunt from downtown. I’m used to walking to the start line. But I got myself out of bed at 4:45am, had my coffee and oatmeal, and found a nearby car2go and got myself where I needed to be.
Unlike last year’s marathon, with torrential rain, the weather today was perfect. Best weather imaginable. Here’s a comparison of ‘START LINE SELFIE’ 2014 vs. 2015:
A lot of my Forerunners peeps are running Eugene next week, and another bunch were running the full this morning, so I didn’t see a soul I knew. No matter. 15 minutes before gun time, I took a single EnergyGel (Double Latte), and got to my corral just as the national anthem was wrapping up.
In keeping with the ‘Run Van’ theme of this race, each neighbourhood we toured through was appropriately signed. I think this is especially great for visitors to Vancouver, who might not otherwise know where they are. So, I’ll stick with that theme in my report!
Exiting Queen Elizabeth Park, the first 3 kilometres are a solid downhill. I knew this, and made a concerted effort to pace myself accordingly, to avoid tiring myself out. I knew my goal pace, and I kept myself solidly on track.
People always hold up some great signs during the race, but I saw my favourite right at the start:
All toenails go to heaven
This made me smile as I recalled it throughout the race, and even heard a couple of girls mention it ages later.
At the foot of the hill, we headed up over Cambie Bridge. I thought to myself, “If this were the Sun Run, we’d almost be done.” Then I saw a couple of guys holding a big sign that said:
But with my terrible eyesight, I could swear it said:
Cuz that’s kind of how I felt.
Just past the Chinatown gate, there’s a surprise uphill. I’ve walked it many times, but it has a whole different degree of ‘slope’ on days like today.
Favourite sign #2:
Run like someone called you a #jogger
Rounding a corner, the PowerGel station caught me off guard, and I didn’t move myself into the right lane in time to grab one. My reflexes aren’t very good.
And then there was Mr Swishy Shorts. I actually noticed him near Science World. He was wearing some nylon shorts that swished with every step. EVERY STEP. The sound reminded me of ski pants. It occurred to me that he’d better be wearing some long skivvies, or he’s going to have some pretty nasty chafing. Later on, I thought of calling him Captain Swishy Shorts, but only if he passed me. He never did.
RUN WEST END
A very familiar part of town, along the water by English Bay. And also the halfway mark. And I was on pace. Just where I wanted to be.
RUN STANLEY PARK
Beautiful, right? Did I mention it was a perfect day? We were coming up on the 14km mark (2/3 mark!) – and that goal time was still in sight. And I still felt strong. Could this happen today?
Favourite sign #3:
Find a cute butt and follow
There’s another nasty hill heading up Pipeline Road through the park to the Seawall. Killer. One of my slowest kilometres. But I knew the end was…if not in sight, at least within reach. I didn’t let it stop me.
RUN COAL HARBOUR
As we rounded Brockton Point, I caught up with this guy:
That’s right – the 1:45 pace bunny. Did I mention that my goal time was 1:45? That’s right. So I decided to stick with him for awhile. You can’t see it really well, but he’s doing the Running Room ‘Run 10/Walk 1’ approach. So when he slowed down for his final walk…I kept going.
After the Sun Run, I was convinced that I hadn’t ‘given my all’ at the end, that I could have had a stronger finish. With 1 kilometre left, I kicked it up a notch. With 500 metres left…I pushed as hard as I could:
And that was all it took!
I’m proud to report that the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon was a PB! A 3-minute PB actually. I actually beat my goal time – and managed a negative split!
Chip time: 1:44:24
Average pace: 4:56 min/km
Place overall: 824/7850
Age category place: 85/426
The BMO Vancouver Marathon/Half/8K is arguably Vancouver’s premier race. It’s actually the only full marathon in town. And it’s in Vancouver – the best running city!
I can’t comment on this year’s expo, since someone else picked up my bib for me. If it was anything like previous years, there were long lineups. And a lot of people at the expo. Decent swag and some free samples.
I liked the t-shirt this year. Nice medium grey. Saucony brand. Definitely an improvement over the see-through yellow shirt from last year.
I think this year’s medal is the best yet. It’s bigger than previous years, and has a nifty cut-out Vancouver skyline.
Since I’ve outlined the course above, I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, it starts out with a downhill, has a few short by painful uphills, but it’s a mostly flat course. And beautiful. As expected.
There was a bit of entertainment along the way – a few bands and singers.
I had prepared ahead, with a couple of PowerGels and a glucose tablet (grape). I felt well hydrated. I only used one of the water stations (just a few sips around English Bay), but there were plenty en route (8 in total, according to the map).
The announcements at the finish line, giving us directions, were loud and clear. I heard someone say it sounded like the end of the world – very ‘big brother-ish’. I even heard someone it sounded like the end of the world. Straight after the medals and photos, volunteers were handing out juice, bottles of water, and sports drink.
The food included a banana, SunRype Okanagan Energy Bar, Kettle Chips, and a half sandwich from Bread Garden (including veggie option – but a little dry). If anything could have been improved, I would have wanted a bit more food variety – and maybe a bag to put it in (although that does go against my inclination to avoid waste…)
I was anxious to get to brunch, so I didn’t stick around for the Street Festival. I saw where they were selling souvenir items – but as a local and a returnee, I didn’t feel the need for retail therapy.
Excellent! Well organized, solid social media presence, good communications and updates, everything running smooth and on time. Great volunteers, top notch across the board.
Did you race this weekend? How did it go? Have you ever run Vancouver?