It’s time to Rock n Roll! The Rock n Roll Vancouver Half Marathon and Cunningham Seawall 10K is back and came at a perfect time… no rain! Last year, I ran the 10K and got a PB. This year, I signed up for the half marathon only. I thought about doing the Remix Challenge but I had another goal in sight… I’m overdue for a half marathon PB. I decided to be a part of the 10K anyway by heading out to Stanley Park and cheering the runners on… naturally I brought my camera with me. It was a gorgeous day for the race. It really showed off the gold, orange and red tones on the trees at Stanley Park. I mean come on… this is just lovely.
I was standing by the Vancouver Rowing Club which was about a hundred meters away from the finish line. It was a great spot to see that final push to the finish. Here are some of my favourite shots from the day.
View the full album here.
The winner of the 10K: Geoffrey Martinson (30:22)
1st Overall Woman: Rachel Cliff (35:18)
After this, I headed over to Canada Place to pick up my race package. It wasn’t busy at all and pickup was a breeze. I like this year’s shirt. Sorry I didn’t take a photo but it is a navy blue Brooks tech shirt with a big bright lime green V on the front and on the back it lists all the neighbourhoods we’ll be passing along the half marathon route. I think that’s pretty cool. I did buy another shirt as a souvenir in addition to the race shirt. They had some neat designs. Beyond the Brooks expo store, there really wasn’t much. Booths for other races, Garmin, Running Room (for all your last minute needs), and thank goodness there was a Nuun booth. I was out of Nuun and they had a show special that’s 2 for $15 and a free water bottle.
Let me tell you now that I have no photos of the course but I can describe it. It’s a beautiful course, made better with the perfect overcast but cool running weather. The race starts near Coal Harbour and runs through the following neighbourhoods: historic Gastown, East Van, over the Dunsmuir Viaduct, the False Creek seawall, and through the winding roads of Stanley Park before ending on the seawall Devonian Harbour Park. There was always something pleasing to the eye, the Vancouver skyline, landmarks, water views, architecture, and of course the natural beauty of the park. Reds and yellows everywhere… a true autumn race. It’s not the easiest course. There are rolling hills in East Van before it flattens out a bit on the seawall, but once you hit Stanley Park there are more rolling hills including my nemesis, Pipeline Road. It continues to dip down and up until you merge onto the seawall by the Vancouver Rowing Club. It’s definitely not a boring race in more ways than one. If the scenery isn’t enough to distract you, the course was lined with 13 bands, about 1 every mile. I feel that it could’ve been livelier but I appreciated them being out there entertaining us. From what I hear, the 10K still only had 2 bands this year… you guys need to change that!
How Did I Do?
I have been training with Karin Femi of Ready 2 Run Training since the beginning of the year. She helped me prepare for my marathon and after that, I hired her again to help me PB the Seawheeze in August. The time to beat was 2:14:48 from last year’s Seawheeze. All the half marathons I’ve done this year were not really disappointments but they weren’t what I was hoping for. 2:18-2:19 seemed to be the magic number for me and I started to really hate that time. I was determined to change that. For 2 months, Karin put me on a rigorous but doable schedule of intervals, speed training and negative split training. I’m not going to lie, the workouts were tough and by the end of it all, I was wondering if I will still have the strength to bring myself to the finish line in under 2:18. The lesson I learned is to trust your coach.
Karin gave me a pacing strategy which I pretty much followed to a tee. She told me to run the first 3 km slower than race pace as a warm-up but I felt ok enough to go slightly below race pace. I was then supposed to speed up and then maintain my ideal speed until the 17th km. I felt that I did that well. It wasn’t quite race pace but I was comfortable with it. Honestly, the race seemed to fly by. I remember thinking, after the Granville Bridge, I think that was about the halfway mark and I thought oh I’m halfway already. I was on track to PB. Heading into Stanley Park, I was already anticipating the hills that are coming but I just told myself to do my best, slow down if I need to, just don’t stop. After some high fives from November Project, I powered onto Pipeline Road and just took it slow and easy. To my surprise, at this late stage of the race, I managed to complete it without stopping! I was so shocked and it pumped me up even more. I was thinking, omg I could finish my first half marathon without stopping, and I’m still on track to PB… even hit 2:10! So I tried and tried my best… by the 17th km I was supposed to speed up even more but the hills just kept coming. I decided to just do it by feel, I slowed down when I needed to going up the hill and then built momentum on the downhills. It seemed to work until I hit the bottleneck by the Rowing Club. I was still en route to finishing under 2:11 but I couldn’t break away fast enough at the end. I eventually did and I finished with an astonishing 2:11:25. I was relieved, shocked, surprised, ecstatic. I felt like I could keep going which really bodes well for me for my new challenge (the BMO Vancouver Marathon). But let me just revel in these achievements first…
- I ran a half without stopping (a first for me!)
- I ran a personal best time… 3 minutes off the last one.
- I didn’t feel like death at the finish.
So needless to say, I had a pretty good race. At this point, I’d like to give a shout-out to Karin for whipping me into shape. Thank you for all the great advice and positive words. You really made training much more enjoyable.
Unfortunately Cuski had a race of his own at the same time so he had to cheer me on in spirit. Thank you for always believing that I could do it. I’ve set a higher bar and now I will need your support now more than ever.
There was a controversy this year. On both race days there was NO BEER ON SITE! WHAT? Yup, apparently they didn’t get their liquor licenses approved on time. Whether this was a Rock n Roll fault or City of Vancouver fault, that’s just unacceptable. They should’ve warned people the day before saying that this could be possible. Lots of people complained on social media about un-redeemed beer. It’s too bad. I don’t know what happened, last year they had beer without problems. Who dropped the beer glass this year? People were re-directed to a pub, Mahony and Sons, to redeem their beer ticket. Unfortunately it was only good for that day and the pub was still another 1.5 – 2 km walk from the finish area.
This is the first time I used gear check as well. Dropping off my bag was a bit of a hassle as I didn’t know where the gear check area was. They had school buses arranged alphabetically but I wish they included this info on a map on the website. A layout of start line booths would be extremely helpful. Finding the buses after the race was a breeze though and there were people on the bus working quickly to get through the lineup. A+ for gear check.
The headliner was already performing when I got there. Music sounded good but there wasn’t a huge crowd at the stage. Everyone was just milling around. I didn’t bother sticking around since I was getting cold.
Medal shot with my Team CTV friends
Would I do this again?
I would run the Rock n Roll Vancouver Half Marathon again in a heartbeat. Loved the course, love the medal, love the energy from package pickup to crossing the finish line. I hope to complete the Remix Challenge next year for some extra bling.