Date of Event: May 1, 2011
After agonizing over my poor performance during the Malibu half in November I eagerly looked for a race to sign up for to turn my running frown upside down. I’ve yet to do a local race, so signing up for the Vancouver BMO half Marathon was a logical choice for me, it was on my home turf, not only would I have the support of family and friends, I’d also get to run with some of them and it allowed me to have 5+ months of training/prep time to get my booty back in gear. So sign up I did!
A few days prior to the race I had 3 of my best friends in the world come stay with me, 2 of which were also running the half marathon (their first ever) and the other running the full marathon (show off 😉 ). In an attempt to beat the crowds, the Friday prior to the race we went down to the running Expo to pick up our racing packets/bibs and to meander around the booths. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve yet to be really blown away by any of the running Expo’s I’ve attended. Maybe I expect too much, or maybe it’s just because it’s more of the same thing at every Expo…regardless, the packet pickup went smoothing and was fairly well organized.
The night before the race I had my usual “oh-my-god-it’s-the-night-before-the-race-did-I-train-enough-am-I-ready-for-this-run irrational runner freak out”. Lucky for me, hands down, I have the most patient, supportive people in my life that accept that this is just part of my pre-race deal, and they can usually talk me down from my pre-race ledge, however this particular race was a little different. I really overwhelmed myself by putting way too much pressure on myself to make this a “good” race, I had such a disappointing, frustrating, painful last half marathon that I really just wanted to be able to wash my hands of that whole experience and replace it by happy, positive feelings of a good race again. Queue pressure.
The morning of: Surprisingly, I slept fairly well. I anxiously got out of bed, had my coffee, bagel, and banana, got all dressed up in my gear that had been neatly laid out the night before and applied my ever-so-important water-proof mascara (this is a whole other blog), packed up my bag and the 4 of us were out the door at our schedule time of 5:30am.
Start Line: Destiny, Justin and I headed to take our places at the start line around 6:45am, in preparation for our 7am start time. Luckily we managed to get a place fairly close to the front of the pack which was nice. A few minute prior to the start I begin to hear our national anthem, I’m not gonna lie this was a very emotional moment for me as this was my very first race on Canadian soil. Within minutes the race was started and we were off! I don’t know what it is with me, but every race I’ve ever run, I always tear up as soon as I cross the start line, I guess it’s a combination of all the hard work and sacrifices that I’ve put in to training and the adrenaline and just being overwhelmed in general with the feeling of “ok, here we go, it’s all for this moment right now”.
Miles 1-6: Within the first mile of running I knew I was having a good run. The weather was perfect, the scenery was impeccable and my lungs and legs were feeling great. The first portion of the race was a little crowded as per usual and the fact that there were a couple tight turns within the first 1/2 mile just drove that claustrophobic feeling home, but honestly after those first few turns it was all good. I was in a very good place mentally and really enjoying the shit out of this run. I would periodically look down at my Garmin watch and see that I was running in the high 9’s and that just gave me that much more positive drive. Was it possible? Could I be on pace to PR?!
Miles 6-10: Just as I was getting used to the fact that I was having a really good run I quickly realized that something was very wrong with my feet. I had gone from feeling fantastic to feeling bilateral hot spots on the inner area of both of the balls of my feet, which quickly turned into crazy pain. (Keep in mind, I was not wearing new shoes or socks, I was wearing my Newton Gravitas which I’ve been training in for almost 5 months and running socks that I’ve worn numerous times.) WTF?! ARGH! What options did I have? I could (A) stop, take my shoes off and assess the situation…but then what? Or I could (B) push through the pain and move forward. I chose option B. I did what I had to do, I gave myself a chance to acknowledge what was happening and say hello to the pain that would accompany me from here on out and then I gave myself the kick in the ass to suck it up, pull it together and keep on going with that positive energy that I was carrying from before. At this point my pace was starting to slow down slightly and I knew that the bitch of a hill known as Prospect Point was soon approaching. I wasn’t too worried about the big hill, my plan was to run as much of it as I felt I could and then take a time out and walk while I re-fueled with my Hammer Nutrition gels and Endurolyte. So that’s exactly what I did and before I knew it I was on the down hill, running down a gorgeous road that was heavily wooded on both sides, to say that this was an amazing stretch of the race would be an understatement.
Miles 10-13.1: With only 3.1 miles remaining I realize that I have a real potential to PR on this course. I can’t even explain how excited I felt, the tears came and I knew I’d do whatever it took to get that PR! The last stretch of the course paralleled the beach and ocean and then weaved back into the city streets that were at this point lined by fans. I was still in very good spirits despite the ridiculous pain I was having every time my feet touched pavement. Closing in on the 11 mile mark I began to have those all-too-familiar leg cramps. POOP! This is what plagued me during the Malibu half, there was NO way that I was this close and this was going to happen. I gathered my thoughts and stopped on the road, stepped off course and took a couple minutes to breathe and stretch. I felt like I was wasting precious minutes but I knew this was the only way I’d be able to safely continue on. Stretch, stretch, stretch. I had a few fellow runners give me words of encouragement and off I went. Near the finish line, around the 12.3 mile mark I had to once again stop, this time I had cramping down the fronts of my thighs, something that I’ve never had before. At this point I had tears in my eyes, I knew I was SO close, still minutes under my previous PR, I could not let myself down. I stood near the sidewalk and started to stretch when over my music I heard a woman’s voice say “you can do it Kimberley, you’re almost there, you have this!” I looked up and to see a very kind, enthusiastic woman cheering me on. She didn’t know me, and I didn’t know her, but she gave me that extra push that I needed. I quickly said thank you, sniffed back my tears and off I went. Running down the finish line chute is the ultimate experience, it’s always the most populated area by fans and the energy is just electric! I had a Cheshire cat-like grin on my face as I finished my last 1/4 mile. Crossing the finish line realizing that I had indeed PR’d was a really great moment.
Aftermath: May 1, 2011 was a good day, a REALLY good day. Ethan who ran the full marathon PR’d and I couldn’t be more proud of him, he killed it!!! Justin and Destiny not only completed their first half marathon but finished under their goal times and I PR’d as well. Before 1pm the four of us were well into our celebratory beer, wine and rum! Definitely a day to remember. I will definitely be doing this race next year, perhaps even the full! 🙂
- Location, Location, LOCATION!
- Scenic Views: ocean, snow-capped mountains, beach, forest
- The sponsored fuel: Gu Brew! YUMMY
- Not crazy about the shirts, meh
- Although I didn’t personally experience it: lack of water cups was an issue.
- bottle-neck issue post-race to get into the food/hydration area
Race Support: 7/10
RACE ORGANIZATION: 8/10
BONUS: 8/10 (views, excited fans, blue gloves, medal)
PLACE OVERALL: 1803/4161 out of all females