Sunday, March 30, 2008

Scotiabank Half Marathon 2005

The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon will be my second half marathon. Back in 2005 I ran the Scotiabank Half Marathon in Vancouver.

Here's the race report I wrote after the race.

My alarm was set for 5:00am but, not unexpectedly, I woke up before the alarm went off and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m not a big breakfast person so I went with my usual and was ready to go much earlier than planned. The weather looks perfect; it’s partly cloudy.

We (my wife drove) arrived at the UBC start area over an hour before the race was scheduled to start. My wife, a non-runner, couldn’t understand why I would want to be there so early but the short washroom lines made it worth it. I had plenty of time to get warmed up, almost too much time as seeds of doubt entered my mind as I nervously bounced waiting for the start.

7:30. The horn goes and we’re off. I positioned myself half way back. I wave to my wife as I ran by and decide that the pace of those around me seems about right. At the 1 km mark, I realize that I’m going much faster than I had planned. My “say it out loud” goal had been to complete the race in 2:20. My personal, unstated goal was 2:05. I finished the first km in just over 5 minutes! The rational thing to do was to slow down and save something for later. The irrational thoughts were to keep going at this pace and take advantage of the downhill slope of the first half of the race.

Water stations were every 3 kms. I decided to take a short walk break at each and get some fluids in without spilling most of it. At the 3 km marker I was still at a 5:20/km pace. At 6 km and 9km (my cheap chronograph watch only tracks 8 laps so I only took readings every 3 km), I was at 5:25/km.

Between 9 km and 10 km there’s a 70m drop in elevation and I took advantage of this hill. I hit the 10 km mark at 53:29 which is the fastest 10 km I have ever run. I was pretty amazed by that and, also, somewhat worried. Was I going too fast? Was this going to bite me in the end? Then, it occurred to me! I was on a pace to break 2 hours. Once again, the slightly irrational side wins out and I maintain the pace.

At 12 km, I’m still averaging 5:25/km and feeling pretty good. At the water station, I decide to take some Gatorade in addition to some water. At the Powerbar station, they’re handing out gels. The guy in front of me gets the last of the flavour I normally use. I get a chocolate, which I have never tried. Now doesn’t seem like the time to experiment so I put it in my pocket and keep going. Across English Bay I can see the finish line at Stanley Park. Gorgeous view but it looks like a long ways away still.

By 15 km, the course is getting a little hilly, nothing exceptional but certainly noticeable compared to the mostly downhill of the first half. My average is down only slightly to 5:30/km. By 16 km, mentally, I’m past the stage that thinks there’s a long way to go. It’s only a 5 km run to finish. I know that if I can keep even a 6:00/km pace I’ll break 2 hours.

At 18 km, my pace is still 5:32/km and I’m feeling confident. The random thoughts keep going through my head. As I said, the race started at UBC and finishes at Stanley Park. I had told my wife that I’d be finishing around 9:20 and that she could go have breakfast and that if she got to the finish line by 9:00 that would be fine. I could get there before she does!

Next up is my old nemesis (from past Sun Runs), the Burrard Street Bridge. It was tough and I felt like taking a walk break but I kept going. Once past the crest of the bridge, it’s the home stretch. However, instead of the downhill slope being a blessing, I start to feel an annoying tightness in my groin that’s aggravated by downhill running.

Only 2 km to the finish line. I think about stepping it up into another gear but I find that I don’t have one. Oh well, I take in the wonderful support of the strangers on the sidelines and push forward.

As I run down the chute, I glance left and right for signs of my family. Not unexpectedly, they’re not there because I have finished in 1:56:48! I forget to look at the photographer as I cross the finish line. I get my finisher’s medal placed around my neck and I'm quite pleased as it's my first medal. It took me another 30 minutes to find my family and share with them what I accomplished.

I had a great time and want to thank the organizers and volunteers for a great race.

I was probably in the best shape in my life in 2005 and I'm trying to get back to that level of fitness.

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