Sunday, May 5, 2013

Race Report: Kamloops Daily News Boogie the Bridge Half Marathon - April 28th, 2013

I'm a little late getting this race report out, and I apologize for that. It's been one heck of a week leading up to the BMO Vancouver Marathon (which took place today) where I was very involved in this year behind the scenes. I'll be writing up a blog post about my experience at the marathon this year, given it was my first marathon one year ago, and a great event to have been a part of today.

In the meantime, I'm behind in reporting on the race I completed last weekend, the Boogie the Bridge Half Marathon in Kamloops, BC. I went up to Kamloops for the event to promote Team In Training as Kamloops has a very strong running community and I have met some incredible people within that community that keep inviting me back there. Boogie is a community run like nothing I've ever experienced before. There's literally something for everyone, from a kids run, 5K, 10K, and half marathon all on the same day. It's all about movement, positive change, being healthy, and community togetherness. And it's become such a big event, one of Kamloops' biggest community events thanks to incredible people like Jo Berry. The expo was such a fun experience too. We all set up our tables and then it was a very social space after that. It wasn't so much about people visiting table displays one at a time like most race expos, but about everyone walking around chatting, exhibitors and runners, everyone hanging out, getting to know one another, and promoting our products and programs. Fun fun fun! I met so many wonderful people and everyone was so welcoming!

Knowing that I had to do a long run anyway, I signed up to run the half marathon. Now this race isn't officially called a half marathon, but is advertised as a 21K. Of course this confused me because I couldn't imagine them cutting a race course short by 100m and maps suggested it was 21.1K route. After talking to race director, Vince Cavaliere, my understanding is that the course had undergone significant changes recently, and it hasn't yet received it's certification to be called officially a half marathon. He asked me to let him know what it measured on my Garmin, and I clocked 21.12 that day. So without the certification this year, it's advertised as a 21K run, but it should meet the distance requirement. Small detail yes, but I wanted to be sure my finish time would compare accurately to other races.

My plan for the day was originally to run this race slow and easy, as I would for a training run for two reasons: I wanted to clock a second run that same day to get my long run mileage (I'm nearing the peak of my marathon training), and the fact that after the run, I'd have to get into my car and drive for close to 4 hours to get home. I didn't want to do anything in that run that would make that drive home challenging or make me stiff after the drive. But as I neared the start time of the race, I decided I wanted to push a bit harder. 

I decided not to try for a PB knowing how I was not well rested at all (I think I did about 70km in the week leading up to the race), and that my most recent run before was a long tempo run (which was almost a half marathon in its own right)...and I likely hadn't fully recovered from this. My thought was to take it like it was just another tempo run and see how it felt, then decide if I'd keep on that way knowing doing two back to back tempos of the same distance was a little silly.  And given it was a day I was allowed to go slow, I didn't allow myself to get caught in the idea that I needed to do that. My game plan meant running my first 3km nice and easy/slow then if I felt good, to pour on the heat for as close to a 5:30/km pace I could maintain for much of the way forward after that. 

I went with feel and ignored my watch most of the way. When I did look down I was pleased with my pace. Somehow the faster pace is feeling much more natural and easy these days (more on that another blog post). There were some kms where I felt particularly good and pushed myself harder. And there were some where I just wanted to relax a bit and found a comfy groove from which to enjoy the experience and the surrounding scenery. It was somehow a race and a training run all mixed in one. While I wonder how I would have done had I pushed harder, I'm pleased with how I decided to run as I was able to drive home to Vancouver comfortably after and go for a second run as planned.

There were some real highlights to the run, and some real tough bits too. The highlights were for sure, all the community does to make it special. The first 5km was covered in sidewalk chalk, handwritten motivational sayings all over the place. There was also lots of folks out cheering and great musical entertainment. After the point where the 10km runners would turnaround, it got a little quieter for us half-marathoners. But it was such a beautiful course. I loved running along the river and taking in the gorgeous view! There were a lot of parts that were also covered in the Kamloops Marathon (I did the half there last July) so some familiarity I could predict. But while the part of the course that went out on a dyke was beautiful, I really didn't like the gravel. In fact, I heard that in the past there was an out and back on that gravel trail and runners complained how much they hated it as it's hard to keep pace there. Part of the course changes made for only one way on that trail on this current route. The gravel paired with the gusty wind in that area, made it tough to keep under a 5:45/km pace for those few km there. I got back some time with a long downhill section, but it got tough near the end again. 

The half marathon starts an hour before the other distances so by the time we got to where the 10km runners turn around (ie., with 5km remaining in the race), we had a lot more people on the course. I appreciate the reasoning behind this set up - so that every runner, no matter what distance they run, finishes near the same time. This way family, friends, corporate teams, etc., can all reunite at the finish easily and enjoy together their accomplishment. Most people run this race for fun, but I could tell a lot of the half marathoners, like myself, were at least somewhat concerned with time. Passing all the walkers and slower runners for 5km made it really challenging to finish the race like we would have wanted. That's a long way to go with a crowd. And it got really crowded near the end on this one section along the river where there was traffic going in both directions and very little room to pass... it wasn't ideal. I had to slow at times to avoid collisions and I wasn't excited about it as I was feeling good to run harder. But once I got over the bridge nearing the finish, I didn't care, I ran as hard as I could and parted the crowds with my speed (or so it felt like I did....). I finished in 2:02.15 which absolutely astonishes me. It's really not all that far off of my most recent finish time at April Fools (my PB of 2:00:48) when I really didn't try as hard as I could have at this race. Working on speed lately is working!

My weekly tempo runs are getting longer and the pacing is feeling much more natural (like I said before, more on this in a future post). So I think I'm clearly ready to rock a sub-2 half marathon. It's just a matter of picking a race and making it happen! First thing's first, a full marathon in San Diego in 4 weeks! Then I seriously need to find a half marathon to run. Any suggestions?

I'm awaiting photos from the race and will post them when I have them!

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