I can’t believe I set a new half-marathon PR in Vancouver, considering the three glasses of wine I had the night before and sleeping for roughly four hours on a sagging fold-out couch in a small room with four other people. Oh yeah, it was also cold and started to pour as soon as the gun went off, despite a gorgeous – but windy – day prior.
My boyfriend Tyler and I headed to Vancouver early Saturday, did some shopping and met up with my friend Laura and her husband Jordan later on. We signed up for the race because Laura wanted to try her first half, and I thought it would be fun if we all went along. Laura ended up injuring her foot and couldn’t run, but we all went anyway – I was excited to run in Vancouver, but Tyler and Jordan probably wouldn’t have been upset if we cancelled the trip altogether. I actually thought I may have been the only one running, considering the three pitchers of beer they consumed the night before on Granville Island as we watched the Canucks pulverize the Black Hawks. But surprisingly, they all managed to get up on time on race day.
One thing I didn’t expect for the BMO Marathon was the hills. Heading through town, I felt a little slow through the up and down sections, and I saw Tyler pass me a few times; I tend to slow down a lot on hills and fly down the other side, but the rain made the downhill sections a bit slippery so I avoided going too fast. The rain really started to pour around kilometre four, and I tried my best to avoid manholes and grates.
It was really neat running through town in the rain; to pass the time I pretended I was actually running the NYC marathon. Homeless folks stood scattered on the sidewalks on Hastings; some of them were cheering, others pretended to jog alongside on the sidewalks, but most just stood watching (probably thinking, why would you want to run that far in the rain?!)
There was one part near the beginning where you enter up on the bridge, and you could see all the rest of the runners snaking down from the starting line, a sea of spandex bobbing along the road. Runners stayed fairly close together for the whole race; there wasn’t a lot of space to pull ahead until you reached the downhill section in Stanley Park.
Ah yes, Stanley Park.
I did not expect that long, drawn-out hill. It felt like one of those dreams where you are trying to run, and you think you are moving your legs, but you aren’t getting anywhere. At that point I was thinking to myself, there is no way I am going to beat two hours. Just before that point, I crossed the halfway mark at about 58 minutes. I thought maybe if I can run the last half faster, I’ll do 1:56…but not after that hill. I saw some lady powering-up ahead of me, all muscular and fit with her hydration belt on, pull over to the side to throw up. Oh no, I thought, that’s not a good sign! Thankfully, what goes up must come down, and I forced my legs to make up for lost time by flying down the hill, not caring if I slipped and fell.
After a Cliff Shot, I felt loads better and kept up a good pace, refusing to check my watch until 20km. One thing that I really appreciated was the frequent water stations; the plastic cups sucked, but it was great to have water every two-and-a-bit kilometres. All of a sudden I was at kilometre 20, and my watch read 1:48. No way! I saw the dome of BC Place (or was it GM?), blasted Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True”, and crossed under the clock at 1:55. My chip time: 1:54:16. Beat mt PR by almost 6 minutes!!! I really was getting faster! I also beat my boyfriend by four minutes, which was a first as well.
The elation I felt after beating my PR turned to pain and suffering as I stood freezing in the pouring rain for 20 minutes waiting for Tyler, Jordan and Laura in our designated spot. The food tent was too far away and I could barely walk. When they finally found me, my hands had turned white (I have Reynolds Syndrome, so even the slightest bit of cold is extremely painful), and I was moving at a turtles pace. After we all had a laugh at my boyfriend’s bleeding nipples and my corpse-like fingers, we slowly made our way to the SkyTrain to get back to the hotel. Laura had to help me up on the counter to put my hands and feet in the sink so I could soak them in warm water to get my blood flowing again. We were all total messes for the rest of the day; I didn’t even bother changing!
Right after the race I was thinking, why did I sign up for the Oak Bay Half on May 16? Now, even though I’m still very stiff, I’m excited for it. People can run marathons consecutively, so I should be able to run another half two weeks later, right?