Sunday, June 28, 2009

Scotiabank Half-Marathon

~1.5 mile w/u
13.1 miles in 1:22:26
6th overall female
2 mile walk back to the hotel
Course map

Overall, this race experience was head and shoulders above my half in Joplin a few weeks ago. Not only was my time faster, which obviously is the end goal, but I felt much stronger and more focused throughout the entire race.

That said, let's start at the beginning. Tim, Pam, my dad and I caught a cab at the bright-eyed hour of 6am to the race start, which was located at the University of British Columbia's Thunderbird Arena. The morning was cool and overcast, even a touch humid, with temperatures hovering in the low 50s--in short, perfect for a long run.

Now, this may be blindingly obvious to everyone else, but it wasn't until about halfway through the cab ride that I had an "aha moment" realization: there would only be kilometer markers during the race, not mile markers. For someone who neither has a Garmin nor is well-versed in processing pace calculations in terms of kilometers, this induced a slight mini-panic. I spent the entirety of my warmup converting paces in my head and coming up with rough estimates of where I wanted to be at certain points in the race, so by the time I toed the line I felt much better. Actually, as the race went on, I rather enjoyed having the metric system in place. For one, your feedback is more frequent than when dealing with miles, and I found that it almost made the race go by more quickly. It also helped me to break the race up into 5k segments, with the 10k being my mental halfway mark (even though I realize it's slightly short of this). Breaking the race up into four 5ks (or, as I found myself doing it in my head, a 5k followed by a 10k followed by another 5k) really helped me stay focused through chunks of the race where my mind normally starts to wander (sort of like this post is wandering right now).

The race went off at 7:00 sharp without a hitch and we were on our way toward Stanley Park. The first thing I noticed was how much downhill there seemed to be in the first 5k--so much so that I went through in 19:05 instead of the 19:30 I'd planned for. I paid for it during the second 5k, as my legs felt very heavy and sluggish throughout the gradual uphill climb from miles 3 to 5. However, the next two miles comprised the steepest downhill section on the entire course--to the point where I was actually getting tired of it, which is an unusual way to feel about downhill running--and by 10k I was able to get my legs back under me and regain my composure. I crested the 10k mark in 38:33 feeling strong and confident. At this point, I told myself to stay relaxed and conserve my energy for the next 5k so that I would have plenty left for the final 5-6k section. I stopped looking at my watch at this point, as I wanted to just focus on feel, and instead concentrated on passing one person at a time. Unlike in Joplin, where I ran solo for the majority of the race, today I almost always had at least one person trucking along at the same pace as me.

Although I haven't done much justice to the scenery in this post, allow me to pause here and say it truly was a beautiful course. I was flanked by some gorgeous trees for much of the first half, then at one point rounded a corner to find the harbor and the mountains beyond it staring me straight in the face. Just past 10k the sun burst forth from the clouds, adding to the already beautiful morning without raising the temperature too drastically. My legs may have been starting to burn at this point, but I was still aware enough of my surroundings to appreciate the picturesque scene.

Whether it was the scenery or my game of mental arithmetic (my cousin Preston would be proud), I came up on the 15k mark sooner than expected. My plan to really kick it in was foiled when I reached the 3k mark and discovered the long, gradually uphill overpass I would have to traverse for the next mile. This section completely zapped any remaining energy, and from there on out I was definitely in the well. I did manage to pass one girl with 1k to go, which I'm happy about, but was unable to close on one more girl who was within my sights. If I'd only had another 400 meters...but them's the breaks sometimes.

Not much else to say in closing other than that I was proud of my efforts out there today, and I feel like this is a truer gauge of my fitness than my 1:24 in Joplin. I was also proud of my dad and Tim, who ran 1:46 and 1:47 respectively, and of Pam who came within eight seconds of besting her 2:00 goal. I would be lying to say I felt fantastic the entire way, but you'd also be hard-pressed to convince me of a better way to spend a sunny summer morning in Vancouver. Eh?


Team E...Gee said...

I like how your bib number is quadruple digits and the top five have double digits. well done.

Nora said...

Nice work Meagan!

JoKin said...

who are these people you are running against? guys? girls? camels? polar bears?

what about the girl who was only 6 seconds in front of you? why no mention?

KG said...

Nice write up of the race. I never would've thought that there would be no mile markers on the course. Good job shifting on the fly.