Race Report: Vancouver Half-Marathon 2009

Eric and I arrived at our hotel around 3:00 on Saturday. After getting all checked into our hotel we took a short walk around Stanley Park since our hotel overlooked it. So pretty, but unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy.

We then went out for the most amazing pasta dinner at Ciao Bella, an adorable little pasta place and piano bar, right down from our hotel. It was such a great little place with an awesome atmosphere, loud music, red and white tablecloths, and little italian men running around taking our order and saying ‘Si, si’ and the food was AMAZING! I had tortellini and Eric had lasagna and I dug deep into the bread basket! I was SO stuffed afterwards that I could hardly move. I even had a glass of red wine with dinner! I was trying not to drink any booze before the marathon but it was calling my name so I had a glass of the merlot!

We ended up having an early dinner because we hadn’t ate since breakfast and were starving. Plus, Eric wanted to be back to the hotel in time to watch the Canucks play. He almost bought $600 tickets off of Ebay for the Canucks game that night. Thank god he didn’t since it was a disgraceful game.

Anyways, I was all hopped up on nerves so I had a bath, read my book and finally fell asleep around 9:30. When my alarm went off at 5:00 I hopped out of bed ready to go. For the last week or so Eric has been debating about whether or not he’d run or not. He kind of gave up on training about five weeks ago. After he took time off of school to go home for the funeral, he got behind in school and training fell to the wayside. He picked up his race package and everything but when 5:00 rolled around he decided not to come. I was fine with it, I wanted to really push myself and it would be nice to have him meet me at the halfway mark for some extra support!

So I had my toast with peanut butter and a banana and Eric got up and had coffee. I caught a cab to meet H-woman and Carol at their hotel room (my first blogger meet-up!) This was H-woman’s fourth time doing the Vancouver half so I was excited to go to the start with her. I was feeling pretty nervous as I’d never participated in any kind of organized race before! Carol was running the full marathon but me and H-woman started the half together. It was nice to be with someone at the starting line rather than by myself!

I think I might have pushed myself a little too hard at the beginning of the race. I’m a competitive person and I hated having other runners past me so I started running faster and passing other runners. Eventually, I settled into a good pace and started to enjoy the scenery. We were crossing a bridge in downtown Vancouver and had a great view of the Vancouver skyline, it was really pretty. About two miles in my stomach started grumbling since I had breakfast at 5:30 and didn’t start running till about 7:15, so I had a couple bites of my pecan pie larabar. It satisfied my hunger and I was good for the rest of the race!

We kept running through the city streets and I caught up to a girl wearing really cute, pink running gear. I decided to keep pace with her for awhile so we ran side-by-side for the next 30 minutes or so. I lost track of her when we got to Stanley Park because she stopped to say hi to a friend on the sidelines and I was looking for Eric, by this point I was parched and wanted my iPod. Unfortunately, he was on the opposite side of the park waiting for me so I wouldn’t see him for another 7 km or so (about 4 miles). Up until we hit Stanley Park I felt like the time was whizzing by. I wasn’t winded, my body felt great and I was keeping a good pace.

Stanley Park was where it started to get more challenging. It was a beautiful trail, right along the ocean and through the tree’s, but there were a lot less people standing along the sides cheering you on. Runners also started getting a bit more scattered by that point. I had finished up the water bottle I’d been carrying by then and suddenly the water stations seemed few and far between. While it was nice scenery I kept looking up ahead and wondering when or if we would ever emerge from the trees. It was at this point I cursed myself for not having a watch. I had my cell phone in my water belt but it was just too difficult to try and dig out while running. We went up a hill and I was thinking that it was the big hill that they was on the race map,

‘Pleeeasse this is nothing,’ I thought.


Ya, that wasn’t the hill. The real hill was about another kilometre up the road and it was huge (it’s in red on the race map up there). Even though it wasn’t extremely steep it was LONG. I ran the whole thing though. It was easier to push myself when there were other people all around me who were running too. When I got to the top of the hill it was the closest I came to walking the whole race. It was right around the 13th km and my hips and knees were starting to hurt and I was soo thirsty. If I’d been running by myself I probably would have walked, but I thought about all of you guy’s and how Erin ran her entire first half last weekend and the beautiful good luck card that Nora sent me in the mail. I knew that I couldn’t quit running now, I’d made it so far. So I just slowed down my pace a bit but kept running. I felt good again soon.

When I came out of Stanley Park and saw Eric on the side of the road I was so relieved I almost started crying. He jogged along beside me for a little ways and gave me some water. He snapped a couple of blurry pictures and gave me trouble for wearing blue. Apparently, TONS of people were wearing blue and he kept snapping pictures of girls he thought were me while he waited for me to come out!

This last stretch of the race was the hardest. I was hot, sweaty and sore. I was ready for it to end. There was only about 5 km left, but that seemed like forever. The closest I came to stopping was when there was 2.1 km to go and I had to stop for about 10 seconds to loosen my right shoe. My foot had gone almost completely numb and I was going to try and tough it out but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it for 2 whole km! So I quickly loosened my shoe than ran quickly to catch up to the people who’d been surrounding me.

At the end stretch I was SO tired I just wanted to stop, even though the finish line was in sight. About 50 metres from the finish line I broke into a full-out sprint, I just wanted to be there and it felt great to push myself for everything I had that last little bit. After crossing the finish line I could hardly breathe, my legs were so stiff and sore and I was taking in shallow breaths! Eric was waiting for me at the finish line but there were so many people crossing it all around me that he didn’t even see me cross, or get a picture, so I’m hoping the race people did. Once again he scolded me for wearing blue.

In the end I ran the 13.1 miles in 2:15:40, I averaged a 6:26/km pace (10:21/mile pace). I finished 3643. Not sure how many people were running the half, there were over 12,000 runners altogether doing the half and full though.

I’m really proud of that time. I honestly didn’t expect to finish that quickly as it took me about that same amount of time to run 12 miles a few weeks before. I guess the race atmosphere makes all the difference.

I know I pushed myself because I’ve never been so sore from a run before. I didn’t even eat any of the free snacks at the finish line because there were so many people there and all I wanted to do was get back to the hotel and have a bath. I also experienced my very first ice bath on Sunday and I must say, it was wonderful. As painful as it was to ease into the bath, my legs felt so much better afterwards. I then laid in bed for about an hour, I was so exhausted. My knees were still sore Sunday night, which is unusual for me after a long run. I usually just ice them and the pain goes away after an hour or two. Well my quads are still burning this morning and were REALLY sore all day yesterday and last night.

It was an amazing experience, it really taught me what my body can do. Right now I can’t even imagine running double what I just ran I was so sore by the end. Then again, a few months ago I couldn’t imagine running a half-marathon either! I also feel kind of nostalgic now. All those months of hard training and dedication and it’s all over! Maybe this is why I’ve been looking into doing another half-marathon soon, I think I may have been bit by the running bug!!?

Unfortunately I’ve misplaced my camera cord so I have no pictures for you today! This is such a long post so I threw in a picture of the half-marathon course to break it up a bit! I will post other pictures as soon as I locate my camera cord!!

Thanks again for everyone’s support through this training process, I really don’t think I could have done it without you! XO

27 Responses

  1. Lisa from Lisa's Yarns says:

    Congrats!! I’ve been stalking google reader, waiting for your race report. You did awesome!! I ran my first 1/2 in 2:17 so our times are very close. Way to go, Amber!! 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    WOW your did freakin AWESOME!!!! I’m so proud of you!!! I loved and hated reading your post….lol I so wanted to be there!! Oh well next year in Van we will be there with bells on! Eric is hilarious LOL Ya I checked the results and Erics name didn’t come up. I think we’re going to start training again for the Melisa’s in Canmore or Banff this fall, I think its in September!

    Katrina

  3. Children of the Nineties says:

    This is so great! Congratulations! It sounds like you did an amazing job 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    WOO!!! That is fantastic girl!!!!

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  5. erin says:

    OHMYGOD that is AMAZING!!!! that is EXCITING! i’m so glad you pushed through and ran the race!!!!!!

    congrats. I’m sure you’ll have pictures coming up from the race people in a week or so!

  6. nory says:

    That sounds like an absolutely amazing time to me! So proud of and happy for you =) You should be incredibly proud of yourself.
    Hugs!

  7. Anais says:

    you did amazing!! Congrats 🙂 I can’t wait to see pictures 😉

    I hope your knees feel better soon! 🙂

  8. Sassy Molassy says:

    Awesome job and time Amber! I think that sore feeling is always like a badge of honor for kicking your own butt. Way to go!

  9. Anonymous says:

    YAY! Great job Amber! I am so proud of you! xoxo
    Jenna

  10. H-woman says:

    Holy Moly, Girl! You kicked my ass–I was just coming down Prospect Point as you were finishing! Congrats on a fabulous first race. We’ll have to do it again next year!

    How was the first day of internship?
    H =)

  11. Bi0nicw0man says:

    I need a nap after reading this. Congratulations!!! I hope your legs feel better soon. Didn’t you start a new job yesterday too?

  12. Ashley says:

    Congrats Amber! I’ve always loved the energy that surrounds races.

  13. Carissa says:

    you are like super girl! congrats on making it all the way, pushing yourself and not giving up! you are amazing!

  14. Lindsay McHugh says:

    You’re really inspirational. Proud of you!

  15. Shoshanah says:

    Congrats Amber! I read the whole thing, and I’m really proud of you!

  16. Counting down says:

    Awesome job on the run, sounds like you rocked it! Thanks for the eating tip, I’ll definitely have to practice that for my next distance run!

  17. curlytop says:

    Amber,

    Hooray! Great job sweetie! I threw up in MY first race so you did much better than me! 😛

    Have a good night!

    With Love,

    Emily

  18. Ruggy13 says:

    Good For you!!! I’m so happy for you! that takes SO much dedication to do what you did. I know the exact feeling your talking about when you know you just pushed yourself harder than ever to finish what you started!

  19. Megan says:

    Congrats on your first 1/2 marathon! I ran for the first time in years a month or so ago, and it hurt so bad (and I ran maybe a mile), so I can’t even begin to imagine how you must’ve felt after over thirteen miles! I’m happy for you!

    Give your body some rest, and good luck on the next one!

  20. Amanda says:

    Aaah you did awesome! Not stopping is especially impressive for your very first half, and don’t worry about starting out fast, every runner I know has done that on their first big race.

    Congrats!

    Amanda

  21. Carolina John says:

    2:15? HOOT! great job sister! my half pr is 2:21, thanks for making me look slow.

  22. Healthy Hunter says:

    I LOVED your play-by-play. And 21 comments on your post…you are so loved in blog world!!! A great inspiration for all of us!

  23. Jordan says:

    Awesome story! I really have caught the running bug lately too and want to run a half. Congrats on the time! You’ve really inspired me 🙂

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