Date: May 5, 2013
Distance: 13.1 miles (21 km)
Pace: 10:10 min/mile
Finish Time: 2:13:13
Overall Place: 4906/10371
Several years ago, I volunteered with the Vancouver Marathon Society as part of their technical committee, helping with logistics of finish line operations. Last year, I volunteered at the start line, basically as human wayfinding as people tried to get organized into their corrals. But I had never actually run this race before. Time to fix that oversight.
The new route for the half marathon (introduced last year to rave reviews from the running community) is spectacular. Starting from the area between Queen Elizabeth Park and Nat Bailey Stadium, the course proceeds down Cambie Street and over the bridge (the least evil of the three False Creek bridges), loops around Science World and through Chinatown before cutting through Yaletown and up to the English Bay. From there, runners cut through Stanley Park before heading to the finish line in Coal Harbour.
My legs were still ridiculously sore after the previous weekend’s age group victory at the Game of Life 5K. I joked that I might run the half in high heels, since walking in my 3″ heels was actually more comfortable than in flats. My original goal was to run the BMO Half in sub-2:00, but that was no longer realistic.
I left my support crew and personal paparazzi asleep in bed, and headed off via Canada Line to the start area. The weather turned out perfectly for the run – a bit chilly in the early hours of the morning, but that’s what throwaway jackets and gloves are for!
Here’s where things got tricky: the first two miles of the course are essentially downhill. My knees started acting up almost immediately. All this time, I’ve been worried about training for hills — as in going up them. It didn’t occur to me to come up with a strategy for long segments of downhill.
After three or four miles, I found my groove and tried to maintain a comfortable pace. Even managed to stick with my 1-mile run / 1-minute walk plan, which is something that I always say I’ll do during races but inevitably throw out the window as soon as the race starts.
My support crew (aka husband) waited for me at three points along the course, to provide the necessary mid-race fuel: iced Americano! A few other runners and spectators jokingly complained that it was an unfair advantage…
Interestingly, the uphill sections were the easiest for me. I powered past other runners who slowed on the hills, but the downhills did a number on my knees.
In the end, I didn’t quite hit my revised goal of 2:10, crossing the finish line at 2:13. The finish line area was a complete zoo (perhaps due to heightened security in wake of the still-recent Boston Marathon attack) and it took me nearly 15 minutes just to work my way out of the finish compound to find my husband and high-tail it home for a quick shower before our brunch reservation.
Check out the Garmin activity report for this race.
Next up? Hills, hills and more hills as I tackle the San Francisco Half Marathon on June 16.