Am I a runner now? MEC Vancouver Road Race Report

β€œIt is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

πŸ’¬ Ursula K. Le Guin

Over the past few years I’ve ran intermittently, running the Vancouver Sun Run (10K) most years, but I’ve had no particular goals or training plan. In an attempt to provide some more structure/motivation to running, I signed myself and Kyle up for the MEC Vancouver Road Race Series – five low key races featuring plentiful bananas, but not much fuss. And to force us to actually need to run regularly and train, I signed us up for the half marathon distance (21.1K) at the final race of the year on September 29.

Training

It took a few months, but eventually in April, I found a reasonable half marathon training plan, re-installed Runkeeper on my phone and started running regularly.

Training was going fairly well up until the beginning of June when I developed shin splints. I went to physio for the first time in my life and started faithfully doing the exercises and took a break from running. Between a trip out of town to do trail maintenance on the GDT and settling into my last term of school, it was almost a month before I ran again. Thankfully the time off running allowed my shin splints to completely heal and other than a few odd runs with tight calves, they didn’t bother me again.

Since I missed nearly a month of runs, I searched online for shorter half marathon plans and cobbled together a new plan. The rest of training went fairly smoothly; we did our final long run of just under 20 km two weeks beforehand and then tapered for the race. While tapering, Kyle got a pretty bad cold which I also caught a mild version of, and it was raining a lot, so we cut one run short and skipped another to try and make sure we were better in time for Sunday.

Pre-Race

I woke up in the morning to discover I gave myself a charley-horse in my left calf while sleeping. I did my best to roll it out, then ate a small breakfast and walked (so convenient!) to the start of the race to pick up our race packages. There was a surprisingly long line at package pickup, but it was only a few minutes wait. I snagged an extra gel at pickup to supplement what I brought. We still had a lot of time to kill before the race started, so we walked to Starbucks to give ourselves a destination (and line-free washroom!) and then walked back, arriving about 10 minutes before the race was scheduled to start.

Race

KMPace
0 – 56:15
5 – 106:00
10 – 155:43
15 – 205:23
20 – 21.15:07

There were enough people participating they were releasing runners in waves. We positioned ourselves in the last wave since based on results from last year and the fact we were sick earlier in the week, I expected us to be finishing in the back-middle-ish of the pack.

Even though we positioned ourselves in the last wave, I initially started out too fast. When I checked my pace at the first kilometer marker, I was way ahead of my target, time to slooow down. Checking my pace again after 2K, I slowed down too much, time to speed up a hair. After this point, I figured I was in the correct zone and ran the rest of the race by feel/effort.

Around the 5K mark, the crowds thinned out and I was really able to settle into running. The route continued to be dead flat, alternating between gravel and paved paths as it followed the Fraser River past playgrounds and the Olympic Oval.

We finally reached the turnaround point! Now to just take one step for every one I’ve taken so far. I was feeling good, so started to push the pace a bit (at least it felt like I was). We went past the cool playgrounds, Olympic Oval, and finally rounded the corner for the last 5K.

I had my last gel and tried to push a little bit faster. I was definitely starting to feel the run at this point and was getting a slight stitch in my side. The stitch didn’t last too long, but the pain instead moved to my feet/toes. At the last aid station 2.5K from the end, I started questioning if I had started pushing too hard too early and if I was going to be able to keep up this pace until the end.

Managed to keep going past the radio transmission towers and cows, there was only 1K left now; only 5-6 minutes more to endure. Rounding the final bend and the finish finally came into view and I tried to give one last push to the end.

Close enough to read the clock, I initially thought I read it wrong – I was ahead of my goal by over 10 minutes! Crossing the line, I was pretty stoked with how well the race had gone – especially considering how poorly my long run last weekend had gone. I finished with an official time of 2:03:55!

Post-Race

I had pushed ahead of Kyle at the final aid station, so I found a spot to watch the finish line and wait for him. Several minutes went by and I started to get somewhat concerned; he wasn’t too far behind me, was he? Suddenly Kyle appeared behind me; it turned out he was only a hundred or so metres behind me, had lost sight of me once I crossed the finish line and assumed I went to get food/drinks immediately so he went over to the food and drink tents and then when he couldn’t find me, realized I must be waiting for him at the finish line.

We both got some food and electrolytes, grabbed the bag with our sweatshirts and set off to walk home. Once we were home, I rolled by calves with a frozen water bottle; the left one which I charley-horsed last night had a knot, but otherwise no issues.

We’ve signed up for another half marathon in April and I’ve put together a schedule to keep us running regularly in the meantime – let’s hope it sticks!

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