12 Lessons from 12 Half Marathons


12 Half Marathons

Early in 2015, I decided that this year would be the #yearofthehalf. I successfully completed 12 half marathons – and though I finished them all, they were not without their challenges! The result was a lot of great experiences, and a lot of learning. So here they are – 12 lessons from 12 half marathons.

Chilly Chase Half1) Respect the Half Marathon – Chilly Chase Half Marathon

In 2014, I was focused on my first (and, as it turned out, second) full marathon. I went into the New Year with the mindset of “I’ve already done a marathon, so a half marathon should be a piece of cake!” My first race of 2015 showed me that 21.1km is still a distance to be reckoned with, and shouldn’t be taken lightly!


First Half2) Listen to your bodyFirst Half Half Marathon

Rather than focus on accurate pacing, I ran this race by feel. My body told me I still had more to give, and I gave it. As a result, the First Half was a course PB. And a lot of fun to boot! The takeaway:  trust yourself and your body.


BMO Vancouver Half

3) Consistent training is key – BMO Vancouver Half Marathon

Between the First Half and BMO I had nearly 3 months of training. Yes, there were a few shorter races in between, but I set my sights on Vancouver. That, in combination with excellent weather and great support from spectators, resulted in my fastest half marathon to date! Consistency is the key.


Ottawa Half

4) Not every race can be a PBOttawa Half Marathon

Riding high on the success of BMO, I went into this race with equally high hopes. Though racing in the nation’s capital was a great experience, I overdid it on the sightseeing on foot the day before, and didn’t come close to my PB time. Another lesson learned:  rest before a race!

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Scotiabank Half

5) Everybody has bad daysScotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon

An encounter with a really unhappy runner jarred me out of my complacency, and unfortunately tainted my race experience. Then again, it was a hot day and people actually collapsed on the route, so this was a challenging race for everyone. Still, the fundraising component of Scotiabank made it all worthwhile.


Fort Langley Half

6) Local races rock!Fort Langley Half Marathon

With only 100 runners – the smallest race I’ve ever done – I wasn’t sure what to expect of this event. But the enthusiasm of the local community, and the awesome handmade medals, made this probably my favourite half marathon of 2015. Not the fastest, or the easiest, but one of the most enjoyable.


San Francisco Half

7) Sometimes it’s all about the destinationSan Francisco Half Marathon

Just having the opportunity to run the Golden Gate Bridge (twice!) made this race a real stand out. And who can resist the lure of running in one of North America’s most iconic cities? I think it’s good to run a race someone just because it’s so cool to run there!


Yellowknife Half

8) Proper fuelling and hydration are importantOverlander Sports Half Marathon

I did not follow my own advice and overindulged beforehand, so I was slightly ridiculously dehydrated and undernourished heading into this race. I know I could have done better, but my body was not properly taken care of. You are what you eat (and drink)!


Victoria Half

9) Smell the rosesGoodlife Fitness Victoria Half Marathon

Perhaps the most scenic race of the year, I spent most of my time enjoying the view. Perfect weather didn’t hurt, either. That and the fact that my Dad was visiting and was at the finish line to cheer me on (along with my faithful cheering partner) made for a wonderful event. Take time (even if you’re going fast) to smell the roses!


Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half10) Don’t overthink thingsRock ‘n’ Roll Vancouver Half Marathon

For some reason, I spent an inordinate amount of time planning my splits for the Rock ‘n’ Roll. When I found myself falling behind, I got flustered and demoralized. I was disappointed with myself. While strategizing a race is good, don’t let yourself overthink the run to the detriment of your own enjoyment. Ultimately, though, cheering my friend Susan to the finish in her first half marathon was the highlight!

Fall Classic Half

11) Keep an open mindFall Classic Half Marathon

Sometimes you don’t think a race will be all that great. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy the double loop of the Fall Classic – but it ended up being a totally zen-like experience. Be open to opportunities as they come!


Run Laughlin12) Not hitting your goal does not equal failureLaughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon

Held on my birthday, Run Laughlin was my flagship race of the 2015 Year of the Half. It turned out to be my slowest half marathon in over 2 years. But I have no regrets and don’t consider it a failure – since I put myself out there and capped things off by running 12 half marathons in 12 months.


In every way, #yearofthehalf was an absolute success! There were lots of ups and downs (hills included) and I don’t regret a single step. Thanks to everyone – both virtually and in real life – who supported me throughout 2015. I can’t wait to see what the New Year will have to offer!


What lessons did you learn from your 2015 runs?


  1. Susan

    I LOVE your lessons Bradley. Very on target and strong reminders. Thank you so much for your encouragement, support and hugs during my first 1/2…..now onto SeaWheeze together in 2016!

    • bjcjapan

      Thank you! It was good for me to reflect on each race, and look back on what I learned. Glad to have you as a big part of it! Woohoo…SeaWheeze 2016!!

  2. Emily G

    I remember being impressed by your lofty goal when you started the year of the half, and I am even more impressed now that you’ve accomplished it! Glad it was a good experience.

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