Sunday, April 7, 2013

Race Report: BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run Half Marathon - April 7, 2013

What a great day it was today! Still living off the high, I thought it just makes sense to write my race report this evening. It was a dry and cool morning, perfect temperature for racing, but definitely lots of wind on the course. While I didn't get the sub-2 result I was looking for, I am incredibly proud of how I finished, and my new personal best time achieved. 

Today I ran my 2nd half marathon of the year, the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run. And yes, my best finish of all the half marathons I've run yet. I headed over to Gibsons yesterday afternoon with Cam and a couple friends, instead of the morning of the race like Cam and I did last year, and it was a nice treat. I got a good 10 hours of much needed sleep and it was wonderful to be able to walk to the start line after a leisurely breakfast in our suite. My TNT teammates Joe and Chrystal joined me at the race after I talked up how much fun I had there last year. We had a great time, and I'm thrilled we all ran so well today!
Leaving the hotel with my teammates
I felt really good and strong coming into this race, being more intentional about my speed work and tempo work leading up to the race. I knew to get my goal time today, I wanted to average about an 5:35/km and that it was a pace well within my reach to maintain for the distance. I believe I made the common mistake many runners make, taking the first few kms too fast out of excitement, adrenaline, the energy of the crowd, and feeling well rested. I tried to hold back, but it was really hard to with the course being rather downhill to start. I was on pace for a 1:55 finish for most of the race, when I was aiming for a 1:58. Bit too ambitious a pace and I learned my lesson.

After the 5km mark, I slowed myself down finally and maintained a much more sustainable pace, but perhaps those first 5km were simply too much and I paid the price later. By the time I got to those hard inclines between the 14-17km mark, I was feeling very fatigued. Soon after the 17km mark, I got my second wind and knew it was downhill essentially all the way to the finish. My right quad and my left calf started to seize. I told them to shut up. The quad behaved, but the calf cramped up on me bad - it was not my best friend in that moment.
Thank you, David!
I kept going as best I could and sometime around the 20km marker, I spotted my friend David running toward me. A very welcomed sight for sore legs and discouraged heart for sure. He offered me the encouragement and the coaching I needed to cross the finish line strong. I could have still achieved the sub-2 time I was looking for at the pace I was going when he arrived by my side, but the cramps would not relent. With focusing on breathing, David's helpful shouts of encouragement, and my own stubborn self not wanting to relent either, I kept running as hard as I could, in amongst a few slow hobbles and yelps of pain when it would flare up to its worst. Then I took the turn on the finish and crossed the finish line as strong as I could. 

Here's my pacing for the race. Not even close to as consistent as I would have liked!

Finishing strong at 2:00:48, a new personal best!
1km - 5:14 - too fast to start      
 2km - 5:00 - seriously way too fast
3km - 5:07 - too fast
4km - 5:25 - better!
5km - 5:43 - calmed down :)
6km - 5:50
7km - 5:33
8km - 5:30
9km - 5:17
10km - 5:58 - Hilly section...
11km - 5:41
12km - 5:32
13km - 5:32
14km - 5:42 - 14-17km were hilly!
15km - 6:17 - yup, hilly
16km - 6:47 - hilly!
17km - 6:12 - end of hilliness
18km - 6:01 - first signs of cramp
19km - 5:30 - still convinced I could get sub-2 and trying to ignore pain
20km - 6:06 - trying hard to continue strong!
21km - 5:44
last 100m  - 5:40 pace   

 So no, not the outcome I hoped for, but still something to be proud of. Knocking off 50 seconds from my previous best on a difficult course, on a windy day, with cramping in my legs, all in all, not a bad outcome. It was another learning experience, and reason to race another half soon and get my goal

I'm also very proud of my friends who raced with me today. David was looking to defend his 1st place finish from last year. I hope he realizes his 2nd place finish today is still something to be incredibly proud of. It wasn't the outcome you looked for either, but who could not be inspired by such a speedy performance! I certainly am inspired to keep learning and improving and grateful for your help today.

And then my teammates, Joe and Chrystal, who I traveled with yesterday.... You did great! So proud of you both! Joe keeps getting faster and faster, taking another 2 minutes off his best time that he achieved only a month ago. Holy quick improvements, Batman! And Chrystal, came into the race with a pulled quad muscle and a forgotten set of water bottles (oops), but managed to keep such a positive attitude about the race and had a strong finish and a giant smile the rest of the afternoon. Congratulations everyone!!!! I am so proud to have awesome running friends! :)

After the race, we hung out at the finish area for a while enjoying the festivities, the great food, the awards ceremony, and great company. After we headed off to Molly's Reach to join the VFAC crew for some food and drink before a fun ferry ride home. Overall, a great day spent with my sweetie, my friends, and a fun race where my performance is one I am proud of. I think I discovered my potential here, and now it's just a matter of realizing it after more hard work, training, and learning from lessons today. And when I got a text from my friend, Patti, telling me I got 10th place in my age category, I smiled to myself. I've come a long way! I'm a good 43 min faster than the first half marathon I ever ran. Today was very much a victory for me. 

Thank you to the race directors Teresa and Larry for another great race! I'll be back next year!

Quick Links:
  • Official race report from the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run
  • Finish line video part 1, first finishers up until 2:00 gun time, care of Keith Dunn
  • Finish line video part 2, gun times 2:00 and beyond, also care of Keith Dunn
    • Note the clock on the screen, as it is synced with the race's gun time. You will see me near the start of this video, crossing the finish at 2:00:48 with help from David running me in on the sideline.
  • David Palermo's blog post about his experience with the race, placing 2nd overall


  1. Good Job Zahida! It is a tough course, and when I saw you just after the 5km mark I thought "geesh" that girl needs to slow down! I didn't run it this year but did it last year and it was so much fun! Glad you had a good time!

    1. Haha, did you seriously see me at 5km and think that? Thanks for the kind words. It is a fun race, and I'm sure I'll be back next year. Maybe I'll see you there!

  2. Congrats!! A 2 hour half-- that's incredible :) I love reading your race reports and so excited to see it posted so soon after the race. Yeah you!

  3. Awwwww thanks Monnie! You're so sweet. Thanks for all your encouragement always.