Sunday, June 24, 2012

Race Report: Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon - June 24, 2012

New race bling!
Today's race, the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon was so good. Real good. It was my third race of the year, and a really fun day. Although my first race of the year was also a half marathon distance, my goal then was just to have fun rather than focus on finish time. My second race of the year was my first marathon, so the focus there was on completion, rather than on finish time. Today's race was different - a distance I'm more than comfortable with now and an opportunity to squash previous finish times. I did just that.

I was hesitant to aim too high with my race finish time goal. But I am very confident when it comes to believing in my abilities as a runner. My true goal was to simply set a new personal best. I had hoped to break the 2-hour barrier, but I told myself I'd be ok with it if I didn't do that. I didn't do it, and I am indeed ok with it. And I did achieve a new personal best finish time for this distance. 

I have another chance next month at the Kamloops Half Marathon to get my time down further. And I'll likely run another half marathon later this year too. I learned a couple more things today that I'd like to apply at the next race (look at me, the teacher, talking about learning...). And I'll be running with a friend who also wants to break the 2-hour barrier. I have a feeling we'll push one another to meeting our goal.

My speedy friend, Matt
It was a warm and sunny morning, perfect for running. The crowds were large, and I could tell everyone was having fun. I also knew many of the runners on the course today. I enjoyed being able to chat and cheer them along if we happened to cross paths. And meeting up at the finish with a few as well was great! It makes a difference when you realize you're not in the race alone, but part of a community of runners. This included a community of my friends and family, and also those I've met through my professional life. 

Awesome race today, Tanja!
Among the community of runners were also a couple of firsts. My friend and former co-worker, the amazing Tanja, completed her first ever half marathon today. I was sooooo excited to see her smiling face, beaming with pride! Great work today, Tanja! Perhaps you'll let me interview you for my blog some day, as I suspect you've been converted and will run many more races :-)

And another runner, Monica, I unfortunately didn't see her at all at the race, before or after. But we did connect at the expo, and I've mentioned previously that I'd be writing about her race experience soon when we're able to connect. Stay tuned!

With TNT coach Karen and TNT Director, Mary
And I also mentioned previously that this race is a great community race, supporting several local charities. As a result, Team In Training was quite involved as part of the Charity Challenge. So I represented by wearing purple and a TNT headband and cheering on all the runners I happened to spot. And it was brilliant seeing team members, current and past, sporting their colours with pride along the course. And the Go TEAM! and Go Zahida! cheers made a real difference too! Loved every moment of it! What an amazing community!

My race started really well. I started strong, at a good pace. But I do suspect I started a bit too fast, again. I set the virtual partner on my Garmin so I could see how far ahead, behind, or on par I was with my target pace of 5:40/km. I was ahead of the game, but perhaps too far ahead. I assumed that that would allow me to be on par when the more challenging parts of the route came along and I'd inevitably slow down. I was right in that the challenging parts made me lose time, but I think I zapped my energy too by getting too far ahead that ended up falling too far behind to catch up again (did that make sense?). I even had to take a walk break up one of the hills - a hill that normally wouldn't even be categorized as a "hill" in my mind. I need to figure out what pace I ought to start at, and how far ahead I should allow myself to get on easy sections to allow me to not fall behind at challenging sections. This is what I mean about learning! Racing is a real art and science combined!

The other challenge was that as we know, races are measured on tangents, but it's very difficult when amongst a crowd to run in tangents. So I completed the 21.1K distance well before the finish line. So I originally thought my finish time was around 2:02 based on what time my watch showed as I crossed the finish. Little did I know (as I was using a new setting on my watch), that my watch stopped when I completed the half marathon distance when I had likely another 200m or so to run. I'll likely need to adjust my pace again to allow for this extra distance next time. Regardless, I am pleased with the finish time today. 
Barney stole my thunder

And I find it hilarious that I crossed the finish line with one of the world's most famous dinosaurs. He's taking up a lot of the frame though so you can barely see me next to him. Cam didn't even realize he photographed my finish. He just wanted a photo of the running Barney. haha!

Another highlight of the race were the elite runners. First off, at UBC there's a turnaround point where you get to see all the runners who are ahead of you turning around and going the other way. Ahead of the pack are the elites, just burning pavement. It's simply inspiring to witness such grace running. 

And then of course this was compounded by bumping into Canadian Olympic team member, Reid Coolsaet after my finish. I read somewhere some advice to check out videos or articles about elite runners the day before race day to calm your mind and for inspiration. And so, I did just that. After seeing Reid at the expo, I googled him and came across his blog, which I read through last night. It's a great read, and so ridiculously inspiring. I believe in my abilities, but seriously, I can only dream of ever being as fast as he is. I spotted him in the crowd at the finish before I found Cam (who had my camera with him), and approached him like a sheepish fan girl. I had no idea who won the race at this point, because I just finished it myself and was catching my breath. So I asked him how he did. His response was a very humble, "Oh, I won". And that he did - he won at an impressive 1:03:15 in his last race before the London Olympics. I was thrilled that he took the time to ask me how I did - about twice my speed, he genuinely thought my finish time was impressive. Class Act! Go Team Canada and Go Reid!!! 

Here are my not-too-shabby stats for today's race:

Gun Time -  2:05:15.4
Chip Time -  2:03:43.4
Average Pace -  5:52/km

Category -  F30-34
Category Place -  138/356
Gender Place - 839/2182
Overall Place - 1918/3638
Split at 10km -  0:55:41.4

And saving the best for last, my photo with my sweetheart and favourite fan, Cam. Thank you again for waking up insanely early to come out to my race to watch me start, cheer me on, and see me finish. Sorry Barney got in the way :) Love you!


  1. What an incredible race & race report :) Perfect way to start my week and digest all of yesterday. And I agree, the weather was perfect, the crowd was energetic & the race was a lot of fun!

    I also love that you and Barney finished at the same time, who knew purple dinosaurs could run so fast?!

  2. Haha! Thanks for the message! Let's connect real soon :)