Signing up for the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon was a last minute decision for me. My work has a team and held a lottery for those who wanted to join. I didn’t make it initially until about a month or so ago when someone dropped out. I replied to that email faster than anyone and ended up with a spot. It would be my third race in a span of 4 weeks, with the Paris Marathon and the Vancouver Sun Run happening before it. I knew I was going to be tired and not trained very well but I decided to do it anyway… can’t resist a free race! 😛
I loved last year’s expo and I was looking forward to it again this year. I went with two friends after work and we were greeted right away by volunteers who directed us to the right counter. It was all very quick and organized. The bib is smaller this year but the paper is better quality. We got our chips checked and we went into the main expo room where loads of vendors await us. They’re smart… they left the free transit passes and the t-shirt pickup at the very end of the expo and you can’t get to them until you walked by everyone first. A lot of big brands were there, Saucony, Asics, Altra, Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance and also some European brands like Salming and On. I didn’t set out to buy anything though, except socks but I was looking for a particular brand (Balega) and nobody had them. Nuun Hydration was there too and there were lots of people sampling some awesome flavours. I tried grape for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. I normally don’t like grape. Air France had a contest with a prize that would send the winner to Paris for the Paris Marathon. I entered of course… wouldn’t that be funny if I end up winning it? Redemption! We picked up our Saucony race shirts, which were a nice teal colour and had a bold print. I liked it better than last year’s and it’s very comfortable! I wore it on a particularly hot day and I wasn’t too warm because it was really light. Thumbs up to the shirt. The organizers also discourages riders from driving to the start line so they provide free shuttles for those who live in the suburbs (requires sign-up) and free transit passes for everyone. Great idea!
How Did I Do?
I did this race last year… it was my first half marathon and I enjoyed it. To read about that experience, click here. This year’s BMO Half makes my 6th half marathon so far. Maybe I’ll hit the double digits before the end of the year 😉
So I guess I didn’t actually train for this race. Before the race my last long run was an 18k the week before… which was also my only long run since the marathon. I survived that so I figured I probably won’t do too badly at the BMO. The weather forecast called for heat so I was prepared. I hydrated, I carb-loaded, and I had a last minute change of heart on which top I should wear which I kind of regret but it wasn’t really that bad… I just could’ve had a breezier top. I got enough sleep the night before and Cuski and I got up pretty early on race morning. We left the house at 6 AM and hopped on the Canada Line to King Edward station, where the march of the runners began. We ended up arriving at 6:30. I’m still not thrilled with the 7am start but knowing that I would be done by around 9:30 was kind of nice.
It’s always to great to see running friends before we start the sufferfest together. I ran into Debra and Bradley who are also both Digital Champions for the upcoming Scotiabank Half Marathon. Debra arrived early to take photos of the half marathoners even though her race (the full) didn’t start until 8:30. Bradley did amazing on his race and you can read his recap here.
One of my favourite photos this year is Bradley’s photobomb. Well done! lol!
Off to the start… I thought it was a mass start but this year they waited in-between corrals. Either way, it didn’t take that long.
The first 5 km was fun, just as I had remembered. I was doing really well even though I had to walk along the Pender hill. I was on pace to beat 2:15. By 10 km I was still on pace to beat my time so I pushed on. I could feel myself fading a bit though. I guess I should’ve eaten my gel. I decided not to this time because I could feel my breakfast smoothie sloshing around my stomach during the whole run. Next time, a solid breakfast will be in order. By the time I hit Stanley Park, I slowed down. I knew Pipeline was coming so I tried to prepare for it and I think I managed to run up it for longer than I did last year. I was so focused on that one hill that I forgot how hilly the next 5 or 6 km were. I kept checking my watch and sure enough, my race prediction kept growing and growing. At this point, I just wanted to finish under 2:20. In the last 2 km I can see Cuski’s texts on my watch, cheering me on and motivating me to “dig deep.” I loved that and all but when he told me to “pick up the pace” at the point where I was at a hill, I was just thinking “omg no” lol! I had to save myself for the last 500 m uphill finish! I made it eventually and my time ended up being 2:19:59! I guess I did make it under 2:20 LOL! It was about 2 minutes slower than last year so I was disappointed but I guess I really shouldn’t keep kicking myself with this performance.
The Finish Line
After I received my beautiful medal from John Stanton, the founder of The Running Room, I walked through the chute and was stopped by photographers telling me to get a photo with my medal in front of the backdrop (so I did), volunteers gave me bottles of water, a sandwich, and a banana (so I ate) and then I followed the crowd of slow-moving runners to Hastings Street where I met up with my friend Kim (who did amazing and got a PB!) and Cuski at the CTV tent. It was hot and I thought I was going to have a nasty compression sleeve tan but thankfully it wasn’t too noticeable. There were lots of people at the finish, getting massages, stretching at the Steve Nash area, a long lineup for free McCafe… it was busy and lively. It was nice to know that I wasn’t completely dead after the race, I managed to walk home without too much discomfort.
Would I Do This Again?
Yes of course! RunVan always does an amazing job organizing Vancouver’s only marathon and has so many options for all levels of runners. It’s so easy to get involved. The swag is awesome as usual, I now proudly display 2 gorgeous BMO half marathon medals on my wall… I think it’s time for me to get a red one 😉 Everything is clear and easy, from the website to the expo to all the signs on the road and the knowledgeable volunteers. The icing on the cake was the fantastic weather (although it could’ve been a wee bit cooler). 2 straight years of sun… hoping for 3 in a row. Thank you to the organizers and volunteers for a wonderful time!