Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rain Dance at the Run for Water 1/2 Marathon!

So my quest for this year was to become a Half Fanatic (HF). At the end of last year I picked a couple of local races that were just 6 days apart (well, when I say local they're the same province, but still 4 and 7 hours drive away!!) thus meeting the criteria for the Neptune level of HF. Game on.

Somewhere around mid-March I was seriously questioning my sanity for signing up for Spring races. I mean, this is me, seasonal runner, who 'retires' for the winter. I didn't start my training this spring until March, logging a lousy 21 miles in March and 51 in April. I finally got back into the groove come May - but by then the first race was 4 weeks away. Thankfully running a marathon last fall changed something in me. My mental attitude was that a Half is way more 'do-able'. I'm not saying I could knock one out without training but, it certainly didn't seem quite so daunting and far! So with the slow start to training I had settled on just getting through these spring races (for Half Fanatics sake) with minimal training and aim bigger later in the year at my usual October goal race.

So I went into this weekend with NO expectations whatsoever. I'd commented on Facebook just last week about how nonchalant I was about the race. Whilst I was looking forward to a weekend away I wasn't psyched up for the race one little bit. Whilst I'd run a 12 miler a couple of weeks back, my training had been slow and meh' so I just planned on 'getting 'er done'!

Abbotsford, BC gave us an absolute downpour washout of a race in true lower-mainland style! Ah joys! Funnily given that I pretty much never train in the rain 3 out of my 4 Half Marathons have all started in the rain. However this was the first that continued to rain every.single.step.of.the.way.

You may have guessed by the name that the Run for Water has a big charity component to it - raising money for clean water in Africa. It gave the event a fabulous local, community feel to it. The 'expo' was better than many larger races I've been to with some good exhibits and free samples (sorry, but it IS all about the freebies!). The tech T-shirt came in women's sizes, and we had personalized bibs (because I like seeing my name in print!) - all for a $50 entry fee!

Come the morning of the race we had an 8am start time following a mostly out and back route, with much of the course run on small farm roads alongside the international border. I had noticed on the course elevation map we had around a gradual elevation loss of 180ft or so over the first 4km of the race, plus the matching 4km uphill on the way to the finish (ergh!), but other than that it was a flat course.

I set off front of the middle of the pack of around 600 runners, and after a few hundred metres realised my Nike+ hadn't started. In fact the whole iPhone had frozen up. Since it was strapped to my arm, under my jacket I wrangled one arm out of the jacket and continued to run trying to sort out my technology. After a shutdown and restart things were back on track. But from that moment on I couldn't trust the stats coming out of my Nike+. It was counting away, telling my I ran my first mile in 7:30! Somehow overall distance and time were both about right, but my average paces were a little off so I really didn't know how fast I was going.

I actually loved the downhill start. I often take a good couple of miles to find my rhythm without feeling like my lungs are about to explode so the gravity assisted start was kinda nice! By the time we flattened out I was well into my groove and smoking along! The first 7 miles whizzed along and I was even able to pick off a few people. I gave it all I had, well aware that I may run out of steam later, but a tactic which is proving to serve me well now and in the past is to 'enjoy it whilst it lasts'. I had the motivation to push it early on. I'd worry about slowing later but by then I had some good time 'banked'.

Even though I work in miles the course only had km markers (obviously, this is Canada eh!) - so that passed the time whilst I figured out what was what and just how it was comparing to the Nike+. I figured out along the way that it wasn't that off. And that I seemed to be doing rather well, like a PR and sub 2-hour was in my sights (previous PR was 2:00:17). Even though my average pace was slowing on each mile it was going to have to go really pear-shaped to not make it.

I kept pushing, even on the final 4km uphill. All I wanted at this point was that sub 2-hour. It was obviously a goal of mine for this year, but I just hadn't thought about it as a possibility for this race. That was gonna happen, but I really hadn't thought what else might be possible. And really, It didn't matter. As I headed towards the finish line and the clock came into focus I truly didn't care what figures I saw. I hadn't planned for this so really had not given this race any goals at all. The numbers had a 1 in front!!

Final Chip Time - 1:53:26! Just shy of SEVEN minutes off my previous PR. OMG!

To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. Even if I'd given the race some thought and A and B goals they would never have been this lofty!

The post-race event was awesome, just like the expo. It was outdoors, but they made the best of the miserable rain. Runners all got Mylar blankets with their medals and there was a super organized and efficient process to get us all fed - a brown paper bag with all our post-race food collected together to get us through and reunited with our families and the entertainment area. We had cookies, bagels, bananas, orange slices, boiled eggs and chocolate milk. The exhibitors in the post race expo were handing out coconut water and protein bars and Starbucks were serving up ice-teas & coffees. The place was buzzing post-race - as well as the Half Marathon there was also a Full, a 10km and a 5km so it was wonderful family event with around 5000 runners spread across all 4 events, there was face painting for kids, entertainment on stage, and lots of happy faces! Including mine. I haven't been able to wipe the smile ever since.

One-fifty-flipping-three!!! Yee-ha!


  1. WOW Congrats!!!!!! Great recap!

  2. Way to go matey! An awesome time! Wonder what you can do next race? xXx

    1. Next race is in 2 days time! In Whistler. No expectations. It's hilly and at altitude (more than I'm used to). Plus it's a pretty course. I'm going to enjoy the view, get my half Fanatics status and have a long weekend away with friends. Hangovers aren't conducive to good results!!!


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