When I crossed the finish line I did it with my hands in the air and huge grin on my face. I started laughing and nearly crying all at once, gasping for air as the reality of my PB hit me. My coach, my friend, and my husband were all there to share the moment with me – all three having played key roles in why I crossed the finish line with the time I did. I did it! I crossed that finish line in 1:44:39. I had most definitely wanted a personal best out of this race (anything under 1:47:17), but my real goal was to run it in under 1:45:00.
The First Half half-marathon is a popular race. Arguably as popular as the Boston marathon. Well, they both sell out pretty much as soon as registration opens anyway. I’m not entirely sure what attracts everyone to this February half-marathon but some very good runners show up along with the masses. My husband also PB’d with an impressive time (or so I thought anyway, but he is my hunny) of 1:24:11 but this gave him only 15th out of 121 guys in his age group.
The course is beautiful – runners are routed along the seawall and around the entire perimeter of Stanley Park. There’s a killer hill in the last kilometre but other than that, no real complaints. There’s honestly nothing like running beside the ocean. I swear it fuels me and gives me the boost I need to not only keep going but actually enjoy every step.
I’ll be honest – I was definitely nervous the night before the race. I knew that if my 6 solid weeks of serious training didn’t show in this race, it would make me doubt my program. When the gun went off at the start line, I shot right out of the gates, glanced down at my GPS watch and the thought crossed my mind that maybe it wasn’t working because it had me at about a 4:00/km pace. I was supposed to be going out at a 5:03/km pace. Oops. So I slowed it down. To a 4:58/km. Argh, close enough! I fell into something that felt comfortable, found someone I thought could pace me, and stayed close to an average of 4:58. Unfortunately, my pacer stopped for water at the first water stop, so I was back on my own pretty quickly. Amazing how with all those people, I couldn’t find one that was exactly my pace!
I felt strong passing the half way mark, so I thought I’d try picking it up a bit and hit a 4:40/km pace. I quickly realized that this was quite possibly not the smartest race strategy and brought myself back up to around a 5:00/km pace. I passed a guy from our running group and he cheered me on, telling me that I looked good. Of course this was precisely at the point where I was beginning to not feel so good. Coming off of the seawall to circle lost lagoon was where I had to start digging deep. There was a slight incline coming out of lost lagoon and back onto the seawall. I slowed, dug deep, and willed my legs to keep pushing forward. Hills are still my nemesis.
As I came off the seawall and up onto Beach Ave there was another small incline that beat my legs up a little more. I flew down Beach and for some reason thought I was on the home stretch. It was a crushing disappointment to realize just up ahead I had to turn left and make my way up a very steep hill to get onto Pacific Blvd. I turned the corner and there were 3 or 4 of my running friends, not running this race but instead who were out to cheer everyone on as they tried to make it up this killer hill. My face didn’t show it, but it was really nice to see them there. I dug deeper than I thought possible and willed my legs up that hill. Every muscle fibre screamed at me and my vision was blurring. I shut one eye (don’t ask, it seemed to help) and picked my pace up to fly down Pacific.
Soon I could see Drake St, where I’d turn right and the finish line would be only another 75 metres away. For some reason, at that point, I thought I was going to be sub-1:45 with time to spare. I turned onto Drake and realized the clock already read 1:44 and seconds. All of a sudden I realized how close I was, and if I didn’t sprint it, I might not make it. So I did what had to be done. With my form gone completely out the window, I barrelled my way down Drake and across the finish line.
So yes, I got my PB and I achieved my goal of a sub-1:45. I can’t help but be super pumped about that! But arguably the best part about this race is the confirmation that my training is indeed pushing me in the right direction. I am on my way to a Boston Qualifier on May 6, 2012! Six weeks of hard core training down, 12 to go… What an exciting and thrilling journey this is turning out to be!