Monday, October 7, 2013

Race Report: Surrey International World Music Marathon - Sept 29, 2013

This past Sunday, Sept 29th, I ran my 12th race of 2013, the 5th half marathon for the year too. What an awesome day it was, at the 2nd Annual, Surrey International World Music Marathon. This wasn't a race I had originally planned on doing, but one that piqued my interest as I'd heard a lot of good things about this race from those who ran it in its inaugural year. And among my network of running friends, I was hearing about more and more people who wanted to join the fun this year. I decided the half marathon in Surrey was the perfect race to do leading up to Victoria, when I had in mind to do the full marathon there. But after it became clear I was doing the Victoria half, I realized it was somewhat unconventional to do two half marathon races within two weeks of each other. Not so much about the distance as it is the recovery after taking that distance at race effort. My hesitations about the timing of the event meant that I procrastinated and hummed and hawed about signing up for the longest time.

I was generously offered a sponsored entry into the race from Bosa Properties who were looking to promote their new condominium development coming this fall in the Surrey Central/SFU neighbourhood called University District. I accepted the offer, had them register me in the race, and quickly changed my plans to make this race fit. I was happy and excited to run and wore their shirt for this race with pride. 

Flying to the finish line.

Knowing that Victoria has always been seen as my fall "A race", Surrey was a race with a different sort of goal attached. I'm proud to say I achieved that goal. 

After several weeks of not training up to the mileage I had wanted to (injury, low iron, that stuff I've talked about here before), I had only done one training run above 18km in about 6 weeks. Most long runs hovered in the 12-16km range before I ran out of energy or was in too much discomfort to continue. But in the 2 weeks leading up to Surrey, I took a turn (for the better) and went into the race with the confidence I would do well, but with a plan to not run it too hard: take it as a tempo effort, enjoy the run, enjoy being there with lots of friends and the TNT gang, but don't try to run it with all my gusto and try to get a personal best. It is hard to go to a race with this mentality and maintain that mentality the whole way. I mean, I was feeling good, I lined up excited to go. Anytime you line up at a race, in the company of super charged athletes, and adrenaline in the air, there's a chance to try for a new PB. But I remained true to the original plan. This was not about time - I hadn't trained for that, and that was not the point. It was about getting through all 21.1km comfortably, strong - an opportunity to remember what a long run feels like and to run a longer tempo effort. I did take a couple short breaks (one to even take my shoe off to remove a pebble), and didn't shy away from diverting my attention to other runners on the course that I knew and wanted to cheer on.

I achieved my goal, found a groove at a comfy pace, and finished in a strong 2:06:35. Although this result is slower than I am capable of, it is a result I'm very pleased with. It confirmed to me that I'm back! I'm back, I'm strong, 21.1km is a comfortable distance for me, and I'm ready to give that distance a harder effort at my race in Victoria next week. And since I didn't take the race too hard, I didn't need any more than a day of rest to recover and was able to resume training right away.

The race itself was super fun. It poured rain before and after the race, but was somehow just a light drizzle or even dry for the time of the race, and the temperature was very comfortable for running like an early fall morning should be. So while I got wet, I stayed comfortable and warm the whole run.  But yes, eager to change into dry clothes right after finishing. The route was great, challenging with some rolling hills, but interesting with a mix of green space and residential neighbourhoods, lined with cultural music, dancing, and cheering. There was a lot of unique sounds, diverse musical style, dancing, costume, and so many reasons to smile. And at the finish line, the biggest medal I have ever seen (and ever earned) awaited me!

Dry clothes, friends, and big heavy finisher medals.

This is definitely a race I'll return to and run again. It was a great race, followed by a fun lunch with friends after, and a day filled with great memories. 


  1. I had not even heard of this race before you posted about it and then all of a sudden, all I have seen on transit and around town is ads for this run. Very odd. How was the music every mile? Did it add a lot to the run or was it about average music wise to other runs you've done?

    1. Wow, I'm surprised you hadn't heard of the race, but it is only in its 2nd year and although growing, still relatively a small race. There was a lot of music and much different than you typically see at races. Usually it's rock or cover bands. This was all cultural music, each section representing a country or a region. Music varied from pipers and highland dancers, various cultures' distinct drumming styles, Latin music, and then "Canadian" music at the end. I loved it. I think some of the music stations were more impressive than others. Some had full on ensembles of people in costume, and some were one or 2 people with music coming from a sound system and them adding their cheer to it. Either way, all made us smile on course, and as the race grows, maybe the music component will too.