I was up bright and early on race morning for the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. I puttered about our hotel room, making tea and getting breakfast ready (a microwaved egg and some toast) even though I wasn’t very hungry. I forced some food down though, otherwise the race wasn’t going to be pretty! I debated whether I should shower or not, although ultimately I decided I’d like to at least start the day smelling nice!
My husband Neil (cheerleader extraordinaire) and I had a short walk from the hotel to the nearest Skytrain station. With our race entry we got a free transit ticket which the staff at the station were exchanging for a pass that would let you ride until 6 pm that day. We just managed to squeeze on to a very crowded train before it left the station.
Nope, I’m not nervous at all! (Liar…)
There were these cute ads on the train asking you to be a good Skytrain passenger by not being a “funky ferret.” All of a sudden I was very glad that I had showered that morning!
Just a few short minutes later we were at our stop. It was another 10 minute walk to the race start at Queen Elizabeth Park – nothing like the long walk we have before the Disney marathon! The good folks at Marathonfoto were out and ready to take our pictures as we made our way to the start line.
It was going to be a warm one. I could probably have left the hoodie back at the hotel. Neil and I made our way towards the start line and I grabbed a yellow ribbon to tie in my hair.
We said our goodbyes and I planned to make my way to the port-potties. The line ups for them were crazy though! There was no way I was going to be able to make it through the line before the race started. I decided to pass, then made my way to meet up with Krista, Nikki and Solana.
We had just a few short minutes for some hellos and good lucks and then Krista and I made our way into the corrals for the half. The corrals were a little bit disorganized. There were different coloured bibs all over the place and no one seem too concerned about which corral you went into. Ultimately we seeded ourselves in front of the 2:15 pace bunny. Krista and I nervously hopped from foot to foot as we waited for the race to start. We were so sure there hadn’t been enough time to hit the bathrooms and yet the race wasn’t in a hurry to start. As the minutes ticked on I kicked myself for not darting towards the bushes. Oh well, I was just going to have to run with it.
We couldn’t hear any announcements in the corrals but eventually we could hear the Canadian national anthem playing. Finally about 15 minutes after we were supposed to start it was time to go!
BMO Vancouver Half Marathon Race Report
Krista and I wished each other well and went our separate ways. She was hoping to go sub-2:10 and I thought I’d be lucky to run a 2:20 so we had no plans to run together. The beginning of the race is pretty awesome. You run down a very long hill along Cambie Street towards downtown and over the Cambie Street bridge. I definitely ran faster than I maybe should have and I skipped the walk breaks but I decided to go with it. I figured I should enjoy the downhill!
My water bottle belt and race number were driving me nuts. I think I overtightened my belt and it kept riding up and it felt like I was pushing it down lower on my hips every 30 seconds. I tried to loosen it but it didn’t make a difference so I just left it and kept pushing it down throughout the race.
I spotted Neil cheering at Cambie and Broadway for me. I tried to give him a big smile because I was feeling great! As I ran up on the Cambie Street Bridge I decided to pull over for a quick walk break. The race course was absolutely beautiful and Vancouver was definitely showing off. The sky was blue, there was snow on the mountains and it was an amazing day. Even though it was definitely warm out we were lucky that the course for the half was in the shade much of the way. As I ran the out and back along Main Street towards Science World I spotted Krista and gave her a wave. From there we ran through Chinatown and down Hastings Street. These awesome ladies were out cheering us on (photo via the BMO Vancouver Marathon Facebook page).
The transients on Hastings Street were a bit confused about all of the people running by, but they were cheering us on too. It was also around here that there was a hill I didn’t remember seeing on the elevation profile for the race.
We ran by the Vancouver Public Library where Neil was out cheering me on. I wasn’t sure where to look and I almost missed him! This would be my last chance to see him on the race until the finish line.
Up until this point I had been sipping my lemonade nuun from my water bottle but I was starting to run low. Luckily the Scientology Ministry waterstop was ahead and I grabbed a bunch of cups of water to fill up my bottle.
(Photo via the BMO Vancouver Marathon Facebook Page)
It was really no surprise, but I wasn’t able to hold my awesome pace from the beginning part of the race with the huge downhill. I was still ticking off mile splits at a faster pace than I anticipated so maybe this 2:20 goal wasn’t that out of reach after all? I was pretty happy with how my race was going. As we ran along English Bay and towards Stanley Park there were huge crowds of people out cheering us on. It was awesome! Now we were into Stanley Park and the last half of the race.
Right at the 9 mile water stop I spotted a familiar pink sparkly skirt up ahead – Krista. I ran over to her to get her attention and say hi. The lack of bathroom stop before the race had a negative effect on her. She had to pee badly and wound up stopping at one of the porta-potties. The line had moved so slowly that her 2:10 goal was out of reach and she just wanted to finish. I told her that if she wanted some company I was there for her but if she wanted to pull ahead it was no big deal. We fell into step and began running together. I don’t know what our races would have looked like if we had chosen to run separately at that point. If she needed a friend I was happy to be there for her as you never know when you are going to need a push later in the race.
As we ran around Stanley Park I spied familiar sights of where Neil and I had some of our engagement photos taken. It was nice to reminisce and revisit them! Then with about 2 miles up ahead we saw a runner down, medics all around and ambulances speeding towards him. He looked young…I hope he was okay!
As we ran on I let slip to Krista that I wondered if we could come in under 2:20. She said we could if we hurried. It was time to get to work and buckle down for the last push to the finish. Unfortunately right around that time it felt like the arch in my left foot cramped right up. I noticed it, but kept running and eventually I didn’t notice it bothering me. We were now out of Stanley Park and making our way down the long road to the finish.
Krista asked if I could see the finish line up ahead. I could, but it looked like it was so far away and we had three minutes to get there. Damn this push to the finish really hurt! If Krista hadn’t been with me there is no way I would have been booking it so fast to the finish. I really wanted to slow down but I would not let her get away from me!
Ah yes, that is the look of pain on my face as I try to will my legs to run quickly to the finish line. I hear Neil call my name to the side of the street. As we get closer I realize the finish line announcer is the wonderful Steve King – the voice of my two Ironman Canada finishes. I take comfort in his voice and think that he is calling me home, just like at Ironman. We pass a woman walking just yards from the finish line. I tap her on the shoulder and say she can do this. Finally, Krista and I are done.
It wasn’t sub-2:20 but I’m not sad. I was proud of my race because I really thought hitting 2:20 would be a stretch goal. Even though Krista didn’t have the race she wanted I was glad that we found each other. I think it is too bad that we don’t live closer because I think we could be great training partners!
We get our medals, our bagged lunches and paused for an official photo.
We find Neil and immediately there is talk of finding someplace for Slurpees. Krista had mentioned it somewhere around the 10 mile mark and it sounded so delicious!! We hobbled to the nearest 7-11 for a sugary, icy treat.
After that it was time to say goodbye! Krista had to head home and Neil and I were meeting friends for lunch.
All in all I was happy with my day. I loved the course and running in Vancouver will always be a favourite of mine. There were water stops every mile (although I carried nuun with me). If I could have asked for anything it would have been more port-potties at the start. Many thanks to Krista for pulling me to the finish. While you didn’t have the race you hoped for I really appreciated that we were there for each other at the end of the race. Race number seven of my (more than) 13 races in 2013 is done.
- Chip Time: 2:20:09 (halfway split 1:08:26)
- Overall 5501 out of 8564
- Females 30 – 34: 538 out of 1076