I know that it should never come as a surprise to a Vancouver runner when the rain is falling the morning of a race. I checked my weather app the night before – I knew what I was in for. And I know my friends in eastern Canada are suffering in sub-zero temperatures. But last year’s First Half Half Marathon welcomed us with such ideal weather conditions, I couldn’t help but grumble at the Sunday morning wet.
Although I have typically achieved a pretty decent time at the First Half, I figured the puddle jumping would be yet another hindrance. Compound that with the fact that I slept quite poorly – anxious about the race? – I had no great expectations for my first half marathon of 2016.
It was also my 22nd lifetime half marathon – so you’d think I’d have it down by now. But I still learned a few lessons…
What I did wrong:
- Shorts instead of tights – I’ve finally accustomed myself to racing with tights and eschewing shorts; for some reason I elected to go with shorts this time, and they ended up water-logged and thigh-slappy. FAIL
- No pre-run warmup – I simply couldn’t bear the thought of heading out into the rain before I had to, so I just went straight to the corral; my legs suffered for it. FAIL
What I did right:
- Hat instead of toque – I figured correctly that I would overheat if I wore more than a cap, and my fluorescent orange one served me well!
- Dry shoes – for the soggy Ice-breaker 8k I brought along a full change of clothes, but had to put my dry socks into sopping wet shoes. This time, I came prepared, and was dry and comfy once the race was over.
- No clock watching – I refused to glance at my Garmin for the duration of the race, and being bound by nothing but my laboured breathing and wobbly legs allowed me to run
simply torturously by effort rather than time.
As for the race itself…
The start line is just a 10-minute walk from home, so I arrived early enough to check my bag, chat encouragingly with a number of running buddies, and make a couple of trips to the washroom. My sincere sympathies to the female runners who need to line up for the ladies room…I applaud your patience and perseverance!
Within the first kilometre of the race, my shoes were filled to the brim, my feet cold and squishy, as we thundered through puddles and dodged other runners. I allowed myself to go out strong but not too fast, figuring I needed to keep a fair amount in the tank.
Then the curses began. Not my curses, but those of a couple of guys who punctuated their lively conversation with more f-bombs than I am used to hearing, like something out of Trainspotting. Normally, colourful language doesn’t affect me, but I found the banter mentally exhausting so early in the morning. (No, they weren’t cursing at me, like the woman during the Scotiabank Half; I was just being oversensitive.) On the plus side, it gave me motivation to pick up my pace in order to outdistance them, which I soon did.
My own curses came later. Not verbal ones, but the ones in my head. I berated myself for wearing those darn shorts. I mentally shook my fist at the heavens. I felt cold and beaten down.
Bright spot #1: my friend, Rachel, cheering from the sidelines at three different spots along the route!
Bright spot #2: my honey braving the rain to photograph me both going and returning – Happy Valentine’s Day! (That’s where the hearts come in!)
Coming and going!
Because this was my fifth time running the First Half, I know the route pretty well. The muddy loop around Lost Lagoon was probably the most achingly miserable part of the race. However, the familiar last kilometre, with not one but two hills, always feels like a bit of a punishment.
The final stretch, breathing hard and legs close to giving out, I hear Coach Carey shout: “Go, Bradley! Sprint to the finish!” Then Kristin is there cheering me on!
As I turn the corner, I see the clock and realize that – against all odds – I’m going to make a course PB. And I do, but more than a minute and a half!
Celebration and dry clothes!
And a few of the faces of the First Half Half Marathon:
Debra (@debrakato) – my dear friend and costumed photographer – always ready with a themed outfit and a camera. I credit her with not only a lot of the photos in this post, but with getting me out to running events that I wouldn’t normally attend (like last week’s Snowshoe Race)!
Lucy (@candyaficionado) – my Forerunners pace buddy and inspiration. She’s a quick and dedicated runner, and I look forward to sharing more of her story in an upcoming blog post! And Kristin, another one of my Forerunners friends, always there with a positive attitude and a word of encouragement.
Fiona (@f_burrows) – social media connection turned real-life friend – so glad to run into her post-race for a selfie and a quick chat!
Rob Watson (@robbiedxc) – my celebrity sighting for the day! Rob was second overall, a Canadian National Champion – and a nice guy to boot!
And to all the other amazing, talented and supportive folks in the Vancouver running community – we did it!
Chip time: 1:45:53
Average pace: 5:01 min/km
Place overall: 611/1990
Age category place: 56/120
Results from 2014 to 2016 – getting faster!
Have you ever had a race that felt like it was going wrong,
but actually went surprisingly right?
Sharing this race report via the Weekly Wrap LinkUp hosted by HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin – stop by and read stories from other inspiring bloggers!