Vancouver Half Marathon

Q: How do you know if someone has run a marathon?

A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. 😉

Runners love to talk about running, espically their races. So without further delay, our race reports from last weekend’s Vancouver Half Marathon!

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Kacey’s Race Report

Back in February, I blogged my thoughts about starting my Vancouver half-marathon training program – And now, it is go time. I have anticipated the start of a new, fresh, uninhibited training program for months. And mixed up with all my fears, is a lot of hope for a personal best come May. Something to reset my confidence as a runner. Something to build on.

Well, the hard work paid off. Last weekend I ran a 1:32:43. I knocked 3 minutes of my previous personal best. It felt so good.

Training went along swimmingly over the previous 12 weeks. I hit some high mileage weeks (made possible by a solid base) and was running some of my best tempo and speedwork paces. Little by little my confidence grew.

Taper week was pretty typical. The drop in mileage left me full of energy. I was waking up before my alarm every day (this NEVER happens). I realized how much time I spend running when I found myself with all this extra time. I could not think about the race too much, it made me really nervous. I spent some time envisioning success on the easy taper runs. I felt ready.

Nick and I flew to Vancouver early Saturday morning. We checked into our hotel, did a shake-out run with the crew, picked up race packages, laid out race gear, and had a carb-heavy dinner at 5:30pm. I was tucked into bed nice and early.

When the alarm rang at 5am, my gut was rumbling with nerves.

First up, coffee, carbs, and water. I had my usual hotel-pre-race breakfast. A package of sickly sweet instant oats, half a banana, peanut butter (golden ticket to success).

Next up, bathroom visits x 1 million. I’ll let your imagination run wild here.

Nick and I met up with Andrea and Kendall in the hotel lobby at 5:45am. We had a 10min train ride and 20min walk to the start line. We met up with Josh, and proceeded to make a few more bathroom (and bush) visits. I had my pre-race GU exactly on schedule with 15min until the start.

And there we were, in the start line corrals. Josh and I had planned to run together so we went over our plan and discussed how we would tackle the initial downhill 5k. We were standing just a bit behind the 1:45 pace bunny. This concerned me a little bit because I did not want to be stuck behind crowds of runners at a slower pace. I thought we would be okay though, since people commonly start fast.

First 5k – Woah, this really is downhill. And why the hell did we start so far back? Those were my thoughts for 5k.  There was a lot of weaving in and out of runners. I tried to focus on staying relaxed, letting my legs go while not going out too fast. And not stressing about the weaving. It was hard to hit a steady, even pace.

When we got to kilometre 5, I was actually sort of relieved that the downhill was over. I was anxious to get into a nice rhythm. Josh and I were side-by-side, it was good company. I was having fun.

6-7k – We saw Owen, he gave us a few “cheers” (in a way that only Owen can). Yay for spectators! We also saw Nick, Kendall, and Andrea as they turned back towards us on the course. 7k was GU time. Things always go best when I stick to my nutrition plan (gel every 7k), so out came the root beer GU. Mmm.

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7-14k – We hit a pretty big hill just after 7k, I told Josh that we should take stick to an “easy” effort up the hill and then we would settle into our pace. And that’s what we did. The pace came easily after the hill.  We saw another friendly spectator around 10k and got a little boost from that. GU #3 came out at 14k. Things were good.

14-17k- We were in Stanley park now. It felt a bit lonely, it was darker and there were no spectators. The 14 & 15th kilometre were tough. It was a bit hilly and my legs were becoming more and more difficult to get going after a little uphill section. I was starting to feel tired. I reminded myself that this was how I was supposed to feel in a race and that everyone around me probably felt the same way.  I focused on keeping a steady pace and staying positive. I knew I was on track to hit a personal best, I just had to stick with it. Not let up. I could do this. There was even a chance I would go sub 1:32 at this point (my goal for 2015).

17-21k – We had hit the seawall. In my mind, this was the last leg of the journey.  Josh started to pull away a bit around 17k. I tried to go with him, but my legs just would not turn over any faster. I was motivated to keep him in sight, so I focused on that.  It was a good distraction from my deteriorating legs, which were jello by 18k. I kept telling myself to just keep moving and a PB would be mine. I came up on Andrea somewhere in there, she told me to go catch Josh. I had a little bit of energy, pushed the pace a bit, but struggled to maintain it. So, I settled back into my planned goal pace. I knew it would be enough for a PB.

Finish chute – SO long. SO uphill. There was no sprint. My last kilometre was the slowest of the day.

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There was a lot of things I did well – I maintained a very even pace for the majority of the race. I stayed positive. Fuelled well on the course. I would like to work on my finish. Get stronger in the final stages of the race.

Another major highlight of Vancouver was running alongside Josh for most of the race and seeing him crush his goal and reach new limits.

Did this race reset my confidence as a runner after injury? Yes.

Is this something I can build on? Hell yes.

Nick’s race report

I was pretty pumped for the Vancouver Half Marathon last weekend. Watching Jen, Anushka, Tom, Nadim, and all the other runners have amazing races at the EPF half was incredibly inspiring! And I got a new orange hat.

I really didn’t know what to expect going into last weekend’s race. I was feeling pretty good but hadn’t quite been hitting the paces I was supposed to be hitting according to my training plan. I’d also been dealing with some ongoing injuries in my “pelvic region”, which tended to flare up when I pushed my pace faster.

My goal for the race was to race hard and shoot for a new PB. I want to go under 80 minutes in a half marathon this year, so this race was kind of a test to see where I was.

Having now run over 20 half marathons, I can say that I raced this one very well. I ran a pretty standard race for the first 9k. Left, right. Left, right. That sorta thing.

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Owen loves my hat

As any runner will tell you, seeing friends on the course does wonders for your mental well being. I was lucky enough to see both Owen’s big hairy face and Kent and his camera in the first 9k. That was nice!

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Photos by Kent!

9-14k was a challenge, but just getting to 14k is a big mental win for me. “Only 7k left”, I lie to myself, “you can do anything for 7k.”

Then kilometer 15 came out of nowhere. I’m notorious for not studying the course maps before races and then being “surprised” by things on course. Had I looked at the course map, I would have known that pretty much all of this kilometer was uphill. At about 15.5k, I thought I was done. My legs turned heavy and wobbly, my brain was mush and I was pretty sure that I was 30 seconds away from dropping out.

But I kept running and eventually that stupid hill ended (who knew!). My legs came back, my head cleared (a little), and I turned on my hunt mode. I pick a person ahead, hunt them down, and blow past them. I know I know –  it makes me sounds like a jerk but I find it really satisfying to pass people at the end of a run. Would it be weird if I told you that I repeat ‘hunt’ to myself over and over at the end of races? Oh it would? Well, I don’t do that…

Anywho… I pushed myself quite hard over the last 3k, knowing that I only had a slight margin to still get a new PB. I was able to pass about 5 people, including 2 in the last few hundred meters to finish in 1:23:10. A new PB by 25 seconds; not a lot but I’ll take it!

Even with a shiny new PB in hand, the best part of the whole weekend was  running, cheering, and celebrating with the crew. #RCR4LYFE

Then I drank beer, ate a burger, and lived happily ever after.

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