On Sunday, May 2, I ran the BMO Vancouver 21.1 km Half Marathon.
I started running recreationally in 2005. Just little runs here and there around my neighbourhood. My dad had got into running and it inspired me. By the spring of 2008 I started running to help me loose weight and get back into shape. Sadly, I injured my legs really badly – I had stress-fractures in both legs, so I had to give up on running for almost two years. In January I finally started running again (well, I took February off for the Olympics).
When I signed up I estimated my time at 2h 05m. My 20 km training run was 1h 46m. I revised my estimated run time around 1h 50m – 2h. In the end, I estimate my running time at 1h 43m (I haven’t found my official time online yet).
Before race day I had done a little bit of preparation. I had reviewed the race route, done two trial runs (a 16 km and a 20 km), and have been going to boot camp the last two months. Generally though, I had not done any real training to run this race – I just decided to give it a try and see what I could do.
My dad has been running for the last 6 or more years and he gave me the friendly reminder to carb-load starting the Friday night before the race – so literally Friday night through Saturday night all I did was eat pasta and protein. I also went to hot yoga on Saturday afternoon to detox, stretch out the body and clear my mind. I was very cognizant not to drink any caffeine or alcohol all weekend and kept up with drinking plenty of water.
Fast forward to race morning…
Jay and I walked over at 6:30am, the race started at 7am. I’m not going to lie – I was honestly nervous all weekend – I just couldn’t wait to get started and get out there. I was excited and wanted to “get ‘er done”.
Right as the race started I realized the music wasn’t working to I had to restart my iPhone, which was extremely frustrating, which also meant that I couldn’t use run-tracker! A few moments later my shoe came untied, so I had to stop for that. The run wasn’t off to an overly great start.
Once all that was sorted out I decided to settle down and just get into the run… right at that moment, it started to rain. I hadn’t run the beginning of the course, so for the first 5 km I was a bit uneasy. Once I got through Chinatown, Gas Town and Coal Harbour I settled down entering into Stanley Park.
At this point it was completely pouring rain and I was concerned about my iPhone and that it would die from getting soaking wet from the rain. It was at that moment that it stopped playing music. I pretty much gave up on my iPhone assuming it got water logged and I was going to have to buy a new one. About 45 seconds later it just started playing music again. Life was good.
I strategically grabbed gel packs and water / gatorade at the recharge stations. I don’t normally take water breaks when I run and I’ve never tried gel packs – turns out I really like the gel packs and will probably continue using them in the future on longer runs.
One of the official photographers took my photo in Stanley Park – I gave him a big smile and wave – I hope I find it online when they post the pictures.
At 13.5 km there is the big hill in Stanley Park – which I climbed without an issue. When I got to the top I saw that one of the runners had given up. I felt bad because he had made it through the hardest part of the course.
Once I got to the top of the hill and started heading down and back out of the park I was feeling confident. I had run pretty consistently with a small group of people who really pulled ahead of me down the hill, but I caught up with them in the West End, but later lost them coming into Yaletown.
At one of the water stations towards the end I felt horrible because I accidentally threw a half a glass of Gatorade on one of the volunteers. I didn’t mean to.
Towards the end I was tired but I knew I had to push onwards. Throughout the entire run I was so deeply moved and motivated by the crowds that lined the race route cheering everyone on. It was really great. I think my favorite sign that I saw said “I made this sign just for you”… obviously meant for no one in particular – it brought a huge smile to my face.
The last 3 or 4 km I was tired but I knew I had to push on; I knew I was almost done. It wasn’t until the last 50 metres that I started to sprint. In hind-sight I would have sprinted the last 1 or 2 kms because I still had a energy left.
Crossing the finish matt was such an incredible feeling. I was overwhelmed with a sense of personal satisfaction and pride. Instantly one of the volunteers put a medal around my neck and I proceeded into the next staging area where I got a “blanket” – which ended up being just a big piece of plastic – it was more than welcomed non-the-less.
After that there was a large water station – which was awesome because this year the BMO Vancouver Marathon partnered with Britta and served only filtered water, no bottles! It’s one of the few marathons in North America that has gone bottle-free.
Once I was out of the end-zone I met up with Jay and slipped into my dry gear. I was so thankful for it. Because of the rain my body temperature dropped so quickly – I couldn’t even put on my gloves – Jay had to help me out. haha
As we were about to leave I ran into one of my fellow boot camp mates and we exchanged notes about the run. We both had a great time.
I knew my body was done had had to get out of the cold and into a hot bath so we quickly left and I went home for a hot epsom salt bath.
People I want to thank…
My dad – for being an inspiration, believing in me, encouraging me to be my best, and for his excellent training advice.
My mentor – for encouraging me to set goals and to achieve them
My boot camp instructors – for helping me with my overall fitness, regularly challenging me, and for their positive support
My friends – for their on-going support and encouragement. It’s great to know that I have friends that want to help me succeed and be there for me to help me through my life’s challenges. Especially Jay, for getting up early to be my race support person – pre-race, on-route, and post-race – that was so great and extremely appreciated.
So where does this leave me…
Next weekend I am going to run the 10 km Sun Run. I did it two years ago and want to smash my previous record.
Overall I’m very pleased with my run. I just kept thinking what my dad said to me the night before, “Remember, you’re out there to have fun”, which was completely true – it kept me going that’s for sure. I also had a personal goal not to stop and to run the entire route – which I also successfully achieved.
This is my biggest personal athletic achievement in life and I’m extremely proud of my accomplishment. I never grew up playing sport, but over the last 3 years healthy living and sport have become very important to me, and I look forward to continuing to grow and reach new goals in the future – that just might include a full marathon one day!
Photos from “big day”…