I'm finally back home after a great trip to Vancouver and my most favourite race ever. In my humble opinion, Vancouver is the most beautiful city on earth. Nothing compares with running a half-marathon through Stanley Park and along the sea wall, surrounded by 400-year-old cedar trees, panoramic view of the mountains, sun glistening off the ocean...*sigh*...gorgeous.
Even though I had a cold going into the race, I decided to stick to my race plan. I'd been experimenting with negative splits and progression runs during training, so my goal was to start off at a slightly slower than race pace, gradually increase it, be at race pace by the halfway mark, then try to increase that if I could.
The pacing worked really well! I was able to exceed my race pace and could have gone faster but I wasn't sure how I'd hold up with my cold. I didn't want my throat closing up on me. It was hard for the first half to hold back. But I didn't want to fade out at the end when I knew I'd need my energy.
It was also my first race using raisins as fuel. I'd done well with them on training runs, but races can be different. They were perfect and I will definitely use them again! I didn't get the dry mouth from bars and no cramps from gels. I was also worried about not carrying my own water but the stations were well manned and that worked out well also.
The day was so sunny, unusual for May in Vancouver. In fact, I even got a sunburn on my face and neck :) Wow. It didn't feel too warm and the temperature was mild, so I think the burn was from the sun reflecting off the shoreline.
The one dreaded part of the run was the hill up to Prospect Point. The promoters of the race did an excellent job of minimizing it! The climb was about one mile long and seemed to undulate forever. I kept my pace, thanks to hills training (those cursed runs paid off), but what a workout. The downhill portion was probably just as bad: It went on forever and killed my right IT band. Paid for that later in the day every time I had to use stairs :)
There were a lot of runners (for Canada!). About 14,000 runners in a pretty congested location. I'm not used to tripping over others during a race, and often had to elbow my way through the crowds to maintain my pace. If there had been less people, I could have run faster, but I also enjoyed the feeling of being in a wall of runners. That was pretty cool.
My time was excellent for me, couldn't be happier. I used my Garmin to finish at an unofficial 1:58:16. But I think my Garmin wasn't calibrated so my official time was actually 2:00:26. Good enough. Especially because I know I could have done the sub-two time I wanted and that's what I needed to find out.
So, the two most awesome things that have happened to me in the last six months: (1) Becoming a marathoner last October, and (2) finding out that I have a sub-two half-marathon time in me. I'll probably never be a Boston Qualifier but I've never considered myself an athlete either, so there's something awesome about discovering my own personal potential.
I *heart* Vancouver!