The first thing I would like to say is, if you ever run a half marathon, you should run it with Kelly! I know I would not have finished in nearly as good a time as I did with her cheerful positive nature! I was truly hoping that I would come in less than 3 hours - my longest run in training was 18 k and it took me 2 hours, so I figured as long as I could do the remaining 3.1 k in less than an hour, I'd be happy. I mean, after 18 k, I didn't figure I'd be running at the same pace... plus, my training has been abysmal since I got sick, so I thought 3 hours was a good goal (although truth be told, I really thought that I could do 2:45). But with extra adrenalin of the race day atmosphere and the cheering of the crowd (which was helped along by Kelly yelling to them, "Cheer for the runners! They are working hard!"), I managed to complete my very first half marathon ever in....
drum roll please.....
Needless to say, I was VERY pleased with that time!
Other pertinent points for the day:
- I got up at 5 am. This, in and of itself, is a major accomplishment.
- Parking in Vancouver is ridiculuous. While we were paying for parking (with our credit cards), a woman walked up and asked "how much is it to park? We said, "15" and she exclaimed "DOLLARS? I guess my loonie isn't going to cut it!"
- The Weather Network is made up of a bunch of liars. They promised me 10 degrees C, cloudy with sunny breaks. There were NO sunny breaks! And I hadn't even brought a plastic bag to carry my camera in, because I had believed that it was really not going to rain. I mean, it's Vancouver, right? Kelly later decided that it was actually cloudy with breaks of sunny disposition.
- The route for the half was described on the VIM* website thus:
Start at South side GM Arena, Approximately 150 meters ahead of the Full Marathon. Course moves through ChinaTown, into Strathcona, historic Gastown, scenic Coal Harbour and beautiful Stanley Park before exiting onto Beach Ave. Finish at BC Place Stadium.
- You'll notice the above description does not say "scenic Strathcona"... there is a reason for that.
- Once we got to "historic Gastown," it's an extremely pretty route to run.
- There were huge line ups for the Port-o-potties and we are too hardcore to allow our race time to be screwed up by waiting in a five minute line. So we ran into a coffee shop along the route to use their bathrooms - no line up. This also represents the first time I have ever entered a coffee shop and left without a coffee!
- Upon entering Stanley Park, we were overcome with an amazing floral aroma... one of the other runners near us exclaimed "Something smells wonderful!" To which Kelly replied, "Oh, that's me, thanks!"
- This is me and Kelly on the run through Stanley Park. I always find it shocking how red I get from the slightest physical exertion!
- At mile 8 (of 13), we started a wicked killer hill, which went on for what seemed like 10 miles up to Prospect Point (although the map tells you differently, my legs are convinced that 10 miles of uphill is accurate). Here is the course elevation, with the arrow indicating where I was ready to die:
- It was at about the above indicated point where Kelly declared, "This hill really is a mofo!" She also said it again when we (finally) got to the friggin' top of the hill.
- This arrow indicates where Bethy caught her second wind. Gravity, it seems, is your friend.
- Once we got out of the park, it really started to feel like we were getting to the end of the race, as we ran down Beach Street and back across downtown to the finish line, which was at BC Place. This is also the point where the winner of the full marathon passed us.
- When we could finally see the finish line, we got a last burst of energy and sprinted. My legs felt like jelly, but it was super cool to pass a tonne of people who were dragging along at the end. And to cross the finish line with my arms raised high!
- At the end of the race, you get a cool blue plastic blanket to keep you warm and a "finisher" medal. There were a bunch of people giving out the medals, so I chose the cute boy who was wearing a Canucks hat. He said, "Way to go!" and I said, "I like your hat!"
- Speaking of cute boys in Canucks hats giving out medals, here's a shout out to all the VIM volunteers - thanks so much for coming out so early on a slightly rainy Sunday morning to hand out water, patrol the race route, cheer the runners on, give out blankets and race food and finisher medals - not to mention all the other behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting on Canada's largest marathon! You people rock!
- And speaking of rocking, thanks Kelly, for coming all the way to Vancouver to be my personal running coach! I had tonnes and tonnes of fun hanging out with you, making dinner, and the race was way more fun running with you than it would have been running on my own. You are the best! Oh yes, and a genius! You rock!
*VIM = Vancouver International Marathon.