Hmmm…where to start. The one and only time I had run the Victoria half marathon was four years ago. Beautiful course – I was under trained and did it on a whim. Turned out to be a very painful half marathon. It was the second worst half marathon I had run ever and I learned my lesson.
This year, I signed up for the RV half marathon as one many running races this year. Memories from the last Victoria marathon were still fresh.
I wasn’t planning to race a fall marathon but as many of the Broadway crew and friends were racing the full – I thought it would be fun to get away to the island for the long weekend and race something. My training consisted of having run Boston in the spring, and racing at least once a month since June – distances ranging from10km – 23km, road, trail race and relay. I had also signed up for a speed workout clinic in September. Weekends = long runs had me running solo or with Broadway and my new run group. I ran anywhere from 15km – 29km. I wasn’t specifically targeting a half marathon pb in training. I just wanted to run.
Saturday morning, my ride picked me and along with Melissa and Emma, we made our way to Victoria on an early afternoon ferry. I was pretty relaxed – probably the most I have been for a race the marathoners were er… little less so. I didn’t go into this race obsessing about a pace I was insistent on running. To be truthful, I didn’t know what I could do. Based on my races I figured I was close to my pb shape. Like the obsessed distance runners we were though, the first task after package pickup was to lay out our race gear, pin our bibs, etc., lay out shoes etc.
Saturday night we grabbed dinner and ended up chilling by the fire place in the lobby. We were in bed by 10pm.
I was cautiously optimistic I could beat my pb from last February, set at the First Half, but I knew nothing was guaranteed.
Our hotel was only a block or two away from the start line. Nevertheless, I woke up at 6 am – for a 7:30am start. by 6:45 am I was ready to go. Rather than wait in the hotel room, I left the marathoners in various stage of preparation and made my way in darkness to the start line. It was so peaceful and I was the calmest I had been before a race. Frankly, I didn’t really care at that point – and perhaps because there wasn’t a huge build up to this race. I told myself that this race was for me, and somehow the expectations melted a little.
It was chilly outside so I checked into the warm clothes I was wearing (too nice to chuck away and I hadn’t thought it threw to bring throw away clothes). I did a quick warmup to see how the leg felt and then I situated myself between the 1:30 and 1:45 signs. I heard a runner telling another fellow runner the first turn was to the left. Hastily, I made my way to the left side of the chute
7:30am and then we were off. The first few km were slower as I got stuck behind some runners apparently targeting 1:45 half marathons. I was getting impatient so I hopped on to the sidewalk and then cut back into open space.
I found a happy pace, and I guess being petite has its advantages as I would slip between two runners if there was nowhere to pass. I had my head down and eyes on the garmin. There were a couple sections where the course looped back and it was great to see my faster friends coming back. That and the elites who blew past like we were standing still. Geez. I was reminded that there are always people much much faster than you. Immediately following, I reminded myself that we all have our own race to run.
I couldn’t remember the course well at all, but knew it was rolling so I was cautious. I hit the 10km mark in around 45 minutes..close to where I wanted. I wondered in my head or thought to myself this was a good day for a pb – but it was too early to count on anything.
As we ran out along the water, we got to see the sunrise, I had forgotten how beautiful the course was. I had to remind myself it was a race and that I shouldn’t dawdle too much. In my head I wondered if this was a pb day. I thought it would be close. But as I kept running, I felt good – somewhere in there I managed a 4:09km and I reminded myself that was way faster than I needed to run on this day for a pb.
I chased a girl with rainbow knee socks (secretly I wished I had worn my hot pink compression socks:p) and passed her and then played leap frog with a woman (who ultimately ended beating me by 15 seconds).
By 17km I knew I would run a pb – the question was by how much. I figured unless I blew up in the last 4km,I could slow down considerably and still have a pb. I passed a guy in a black shirt who cursed as a woman pushed a stroller right out in front of us. Err..
I saw throngs of people ahead of me, on that last gradual climb, like ants in the distance. I gave an inward sigh, and prepared to climb (I knew from the first portion of the race that we had a downhill immediately following) so I figured we were mostly home free. I was tired, but I wasn’t about to cave with 4km to go! I reminded myself that if I wasn’t tired at the end of the race, I hadn’t raced hard enough. I changed my turnover a bit, and passed a guy in a yellow basketball jersey who had taken off on me very early in the race.
Psychologically at least, the 5 weeks thus far of speed training seemed to have helped during the race. Instead of panicking each time I glanced at the garmin and saw a number I didn’t expect to see or feared I couldn’t hold, I reminded myself that I had held much faster paces during speed work. Such speed sessions had consisted me running as fast as my little midget legs could carry me and being the tail end by er quite a wide margin, of a wicked fast group of women. Nothing during the race could compare to the pain I felt during those speed sessions:p.
One mile to go. a volunteer informed us. A quick glance at my garmin told me that I would pb – perhaps even more of a pb than I thought ( I would have settled for a 30 second pb on this day). A woman cheering for her spouse yelled to him to finish strong. I picked up the pace.
500 meters to go. 400 meters to go. It really hurt at this point but it’s not really cool to walk during or do a slow trot during the last 400 meters of a half marathon. One lap of the track I reminded myself. And with the finish line in sight, I sprinted – only to be out sprinted by two guys I had just passed. Oh well. I crossed with the clock at 1:34:02. At that point I figured I had run under 1:34 (my previous pb was 1:35xx).
I passed a lot of people in the race and I can count on one hand the number of people who passed me, so I will take that as a sign that my pacing skills are improving. Well, either that or I started too far back.
I am happy with my pb, but not completely satisfied:p. as know I have better in me. Yes the obsessive runner in me always comes out.
I was quite happy with a chip time of 1:33:42 – exactly 1:30 faster than my last race. Other than feeling as though I was going to vomit afterwards – it was all good. I grabbed cupfuls of water – and a chocolate milk (though I was wary of drinking the chocolate milk cause the bottle was felt warm). I eyed the food but all it did was make my stomach churn
I collected my medal made my way to bag check and asked a volunteer to take an iphone photo of me. I made my way back to the hotel tp shower and change- before I came back to cheer on the broadway gang running the full marathon. It was a day of pbs for many, and some huge pbs to boot. It was awesome to celebrate with so many.
The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect for racing, and it was one of those days that everything came together.
The day after I feel quite decent, so I will take that as a good sign – and a sign that I can run faster.
Stats: ended up 9th in age group (9/382). 42/2857 women. and overall 205/ 4672 runners.