Well it wasn’t pretty but I did run the Rock ‘n’ Rol Vancouver Half Marathon. I’m very glad I ran it and had a wonderful weekend but there were a few little hiccups that I learned from along the way.
The expo was very small and somewhat boring. The best part was bib pickup was a breeze. I even saw a few friends and picked up a sweet Vancouver race course tank top.
The only downside of Saturday was nerves. I was super cautious all day. I didn’t want to walk too far and felt bad I made my boyfriend slow down everywhere we went. We ended up walking to the aquarium and around Stanley Park to scope out the finish line. Since we didn’t want to go all the way to Gastown for dinner, we did a quick Yelp search and found Joey. I had a yummy chicken sandwich with yam fries and a beer. Then we headed back to the hotel to watch the Canucks game and prep for the day ahead.
When we got back to the hotel I couldn’t decide what to wear. I ended up with a large somewhat organized pile of all my clothes. Sunday came and I decided to run for the first time in my Oiselle Volée singlet with an old Nike lightweight tank top underneath, my Brooks Running arm warmers, a pair of short spandex shots, a pair of crops over that, and my ProCompression socks. Even with all the layers, I was freezing for the first mile and a half of the race. We will get to that later…
Getting there was a quick 10-minute walk from my hotel. It was a nice warm up. I arrived a few minutes before they called the early start time for corral 16. My biggest mistake was checking my sweats too early and not bringing a throwaway shirt. Whoops… Now I know better! In the 30 minutes or so leading up to the start I walked around the start area and found an old coworker. We chatted for a good while and then I scampered off to my corral, corral 5 (!!). Yes, I somehow seeded myself too high since my plan 6 months ago was to run a sub 2 hour half.
When the corral started I just took off at a sub 9-minute mile. This did not hinder me, it got me warmed up. I know, most people would think it’s a bad thing but I don’t think it hindered my overall race. The course was pretty exciting taking us through Gastown and the Chinatown Gate. At the third mile I started my run/walk timer. Run/Walk? Yes, I am a big fan of Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method and it’s helped me get back in shape since getting sick 8 months ago. I started my timer and carefully worked my way through the miles. By about mile 7 we were almost to North Vancouver and I realized I didn’t eat anything. I quickly opened up some Gu Chomps and kept going.
By mile 10 we entered Stanley Park. It was quite scenic but narrow. This is where I hit the wall. There was a hill, and from the elevation chart it did not look bad but it was steep! I was exhausted and realized that I would have to walk up most of the hill. Then there was another pretty large hill. This was not helping my race mojo. At mile 11 I realized that my GPS was .4 off! Yes, all of the sudden I ran an extra .4 miles more when my watch was pretty much on target with the mile markers. With just two miles left my goal was to finish upright and not worry about a PR. My legs were not happy, the hills took a lot out of me and I was losing steam quickly. By mile 11.5 I was freezing cold, I think it was the trees and slight cloud cover. Once I saw the Vancouver boathouse and was so relieved I pushed and ran a sub 10 pace. Crossing the finish line was a huge relief, those hills were hard on my legs and I just wanted to finish.
The silver lining to all of this was as I waited in line for my World Rocker Medal, I realized I PR’ed the race! Yes, you heard that right, I ran my target of 2:15 for 13.1 and got an official overall PR by 1-2 seconds! I was super ecstatic and it made the walk back to the hotel more manageable.
Overall I am not sure I would run the race again. Even though I PR’ed, I felt like those hills at the end were not fun and made me want to get the race over with. I also was bummed I ran extra mileage between two mile markers and not over the course of the race. But I did get a brand new PR and that is a lasting memory I will take away from this race.
Do you like hilly race courses? Would you rather have hills at the beginning or end of a race?