Race Report: BMO Okanagan Half-Marathon

I’ll start by saying, I blew my last two half-marathon times and my own personal time goal out of the water.

Now, if you want to ruin the fun, you can scroll down and peek at the time OR you can read the fabulous race report, soak up the experience and THEN check the time. Your choice. The race report is really good, though. Just sayin’.

After picking up my race package at the expo, I also bought a fuel belt and two new flavours of Clif bars. I already had the peanut butter one and it was awesome! The only place I’ve been able to find Clif bars is Costco and it’s always the same three flavours. Bleh. Where else can I find them, anyone know?


Then we picked up take-out from Boston Pizza and headed back to the hotel. I made the mistake of only getting a half-order of pasta, which didn’t even fill me up, so after I ate that we walked across the street to a grocery store and I grabbed a couple of cinnamon buns. Yum, they were good! Then I laid out all my stuff, did some yoga and was in bed by 9:30.


4:45 came early and I got up, brewed some coffee and sat down to enjoy it while reading Runner’s World. When Eric got up I put on my race stuff and we headed to the start at 5:30 to get a parking spot.


It was – 9 C (15 F) and it was only supposed to get up to +2 C (35 F) that morning. I thought I would tough it out and went out to do a warm-up in my shorts, but there was nooo way I was wearing those little things for 2 hours in that temperature. Luckily, I had brought a pair of pants just in case, so I changed into those and was a little bit warmer.


pantsI headed over to the porta-potties because I felt the need to pee again since we’d been waiting around for 1.5 hours. But, of course, there was a HUGE line. So, I peed in the bushes. Yup, you read that right, I went pee in the bushes. Whatever, I wasn’t about to miss the race start and I’m a farm girl; I’ve peed in bushes lots before!

Moving on, I was stuck at the back of the huge crowd of runners at the start. So I took off near the 2:45 pace bunny. I was feeling SO good at the beginning and had to keep reminding myself to hold back and not go TOO fast or I’d be dead at the end. The race was in the shape of a figure eight kind of, it was one small 3-mile loop and then we passed the start again and did another 10-mile loop and finished at the same place we’d started.

I met Eric after the first 3-mile loop and he snapped a couple pics as I ran past.


running-pastShortly after this, around mile five, I realized I was running right behind the 2:00 pace group. What?! That’s when the idea of doing the race in under two hours began to taunt me. I was keeping up with them and feeling really good, so I started to imagine blowing my original main goal (under 2:10) and my super-secret goal (2:05) out of the water and break two hours. I mean, I was feeling good.

At mile 10 I hit the wall. All of a sudden I was not feeling so good and the 8:45-9:00 pace we were running was taking it’s toll. I know there was only 3.1 miles left, and ya, I probably could have sucked it up, but my legs hurt and the last thing I wanted to do was get hurt or not finish. So I backed off and took a much-needed walking break as the 2:00 pace group left me in their dust.

The next 3.1 miles were painful, to say the least. I had a couple of 30-60 second walk breaks, my hips/legs/knees were aching and my stomach was starting to have issues. Finally, my Garmin beeped at mile 12 and I knew it was time to just go, so I picked up the pace and knocked out an 8:45 mile. I just kept reminding myself that my legs had it in them and that gave them the get-up-and-go they needed.

I HURT after crossing the finish line. My legs were shaky and sore, I was stumbling side-to-side as if I was drunk. As soon as I found Eric we went and sat down on a park bench and I would have been happy never getting up from there.


But I did, and we headed back to the hotel where I had my two best running friends waiting; ice and chocolate milk. I then had the coldest ice bath EVER. It didn’t help that it was freezing outside so I was a shivering mess the whole time I was in there and only stayed in for about 10 minutes.


After my ice bath I had a quick nap before it was time to check-out. We then went to FatBurger where I had a huge mushroom-swiss burger. It was DELICIOUS, worth every calorie. I finished off the burger but couldn’t quite finish off the fries.


OK, onto the race stats. So fun that I have a Garmin and can now post my splits!

Mile 1 – 9:41
Mile 2 – 9:25
Mile 3 – 9:11 (I was feeling good here, and going a bit too fast, I think)
Mile 4 – 9:31
Mile 5 – 9:22
Mile 6 – 9:03 (These four miles were all ran with the 2:00 pace group)
Mile 7 – 9:15
Mile 8 – 9:09
Mile 9 – 9:06

Mile 10 – 9:25 (Here’s where I dropped back from the pace group and slowed it up)
Mile 11 – 9:40
Mile 12 – 9:25
Mile 13 – 8:45
Mile 13 – 13.1 – 7:08

Total time = 2:01:40

(That’s my Garmin time, chip time doesn’t seem to be posted yet) Yup, I beat my time from my first half in May by a whopping 14 minutes and my second half by 11 minutes – goes to show what proper training can do!

I was SO close to breaking the two hour mark that I was a little disappointed at the end, but then I remembered that my original aiming-high goal was 2:05, and I totally killed that. So ya, I’m pretty proud of this time and how far I have come in the last 10 months!

That wraps up my racing for 2009, but some goals for 2010 include FULL MARATHON and finishing a half in under two hours. Hell yes!

Good job to everyone else who raced last weekend, and I hope all my fellow Canadians had a great Thanksgiving. I was very thankful this year, thankful for Eric, for friends, for my family, but most of all, for running.

44 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    Wow Amber, that is an amazing time! You have inspired me to attempt a half marathon next year! I was so excited for you the entire time I was reading your post lol. Im so happy everything went so well for you:) Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Lindsay says:

    Congrats! You are such an inspiration. I still don’t know how to find my inner motivation to keep pushing through my barrier, but I know it’s possible (thanks to you)! Looking forward to reading up on your future races 🙂

  3. Heather C says:

    Congrats Amber!!!!! an 8:45 mile at the end?! You did amazing! That sub-2 hr half is definitely there for ya, and in the meantime, *enjoy* this accomplishment and how far you’ve come 🙂 !!

  4. Shop Girl* says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!! That’s wonderful!! I’ve always wanted to run a race / half marathon, and after reading this I think I might do it!

  5. Shannon says:

    Great job!! That’s awesome!

  6. Kathleen says:

    Way to go!!! That’s a great time — and what a nice report.

  7. erin says:

    whoo hooo congrats! you did amazing! and doing that time in that cold weather, whoo. that’s seriously impressive!!!!

  8. AshleyD says:

    Wow! I’m totally impressed! Congratulations on the awesome time!

  9. Nikki says:

    Congratulations, Amber! I’m super impressed with that 8:45 mile at the end!

  10. Becky says:

    Dude. You are AMAZING!!!!!! Congratulations!!!

  11. Anais says:

    Woohooooooo!!! You go girl!! That’s an awesome race time! And I loved the race report, it was definitely worth reading 😉

    As for the clif bars, I don’t know if you have a Loblaws where you live, but if so you can find it in the health section there but they only have the choice of cosco flavors and the 2 you showed (and maybe another one). I’d recommend trying to find a health food store in your are, they’ll probably have a lot of different flavors! Or, go to the States 😛

  12. Carol says:

    Congrats on the awesome time! Wow…not going to be able to keep up with you next year, as if I could this year! 🙂
    As for the Clif bars, I’ve found them at Walmart, Shopper’s Drug Mart, any organic food store or health food store.

  13. Amber says:

    Wow Amber!!! That is so awesome!!! This post was really, really inspiring! I’m glad you made your super secret goal, that is so cool!! 🙂
    Hope you’re feeling good today and had a great Thanksgiving with Eric! I can’t wait for ours! 🙂

  14. Nora says:

    I’m SO happy for you! That’s amazing =) You are definitely an inspiration to all of us.

    Glad that Eric was there for you and that you did so well. Get some much needed muscle rest this week!


  15. Lo says:

    Congrats Amber, that is awesome! I’m so happy for you and meeting your goals. That’s really great to know your hard work and training has paid off.

  16. Carissa says:

    congrats on another great race! you did awesome and it is fun to see your splits! though, I promise, I read the fun race report first, I didn’t cheat and peek at your time 🙂

    I love all the pics of you before, during and after the marathon. my fave is the one Eric took of you running past! he’s a good photographer 😉

    anyway, congrats again. and I know you will have no problem meeting your goals in 2010! you are amazing!

  17. You are amazing. Awesome job lady!

  18. Runeatrepeat says:

    Great job!!!! You totally rocked it and you look great 🙂

  19. Wow – congratulations on an AMAZING run!!!! I cannot believe you can run in that cold of weather!!

    I have never had FatBurger before!! Is that weird? My city doesn’t have one!

  20. Ali says:

    Congratulations Amber! Awesome result. That’s a great time.

    Yum to the burger

  21. Megan says:

    Congrats on beating your secret goal! That’s so exciting!!

    Yeah, if it were that cold here? I’d have to snuggle up under my covers all day.

    I find Clif bars at Walmart. Is there one near you?

  22. Bec says:

    congrats on the race 🙂 I dont know if you have Mac convince stores in Western Canada but some of them in Ontario of cliff bars.

  23. Kelly says:

    Wow Amber you ARE AMAZING!!! That is such an impressive time and it’s so great that you beat *yourself* by so much! I am so excited to follow you in your 2010 goals 🙂

  24. Sassy says:

    Nice work Amber! Such a good feeling to blast away a PR. Congrats on a great finish.

  25. How exciting!! I am so so proud of you! I’ve never tried the Cliff Bars, but see them here at Target and our local little grocery store all the time. I’ll send some your way if I can find your flavor of choice!!

    Also – I really want to do a Disney marathon one year…do you have plans to ever run a Disney marathon?

  26. Morgan says:

    Girl you killed it out there! Good job! I was totally thinking of you yesterday out on the course, I was like; I hope my redheaded runnah from a northern motha is kicking Half @ss right now!!!! 🙂 Rock that PR all the way to Sunday!!!

  27. Amanda says:

    CONGRATS! That’s a great PR, and next time I bet you’ll be able to destroy an under-2hr goal.
    You should do a post on what running snacks you have tried. Clif Bars are great, I remember my favorite was always the carrot cake one. Not sure if you can find that in Canada, but keep an eye out- it’s really good. I don’t even like carrot cake really, just the Clif Bar version.


  28. shoshanah says:

    Congrats on running such a great race!

  29. Awesome Amber – way to go!!!

  30. Congrats – I am SO PROUD OF YOU!! You rocked it. Isn’t it the best feelign to beat your goal, esp your super secret one? Well done, you!

    I’m glad you had Eric there at the end when you were all shaky. I am hoping that things are still going well w/ the new guy when I run my 1/2 on the 31st. I never have any spectators, so it would nice to have him there for me!

  31. mandy says:

    Amber! That is an awesome time, you kicked ass! I am so proud of you! You are amazing. The thought of doing anything outside when its that cold makes me snuggle down under the covers and you run a race. You are awesome. Hope you enjoyed your long weekend!

  32. LeeCee says:

    Good for you! I hate running, but I’ve started working out again in the past couple of months and I can now do a full out run to the bus stop from my dorm without feeling like dying. It’s progress, right? lol!

  33. eemusings says:

    Great job – I bet you crack the 2hr mark next time!

  34. Becky says:

    There’s an award for you on my blog if you’re interested. 🙂

  35. Jess says:

    Whoo girl congrats on the awesome PR! You definitely smoked your time! Congrats on a great race!

  36. LG says:

    NICE WORK!!! That’s amazing!!! Seriously – you’re making me want to do another 1/2. How did you end up carrying your fuel? Did you use gels or those Clifs?

    In Calgary we can get Clifs for $1.40 each at Mountain Equipment Co-op, or recently at Superstore…a box of 12 for $9.99 which is the most inexpensive deal I’ve found.

    Hope you’re feeling alright today! And also I’m’ sorry that Eric had to go. That’s so hard.

  37. J says:

    Congrats on running a GREAT half marathon! awesome PR!!

  38. Kara says:

    Save On has Clif bars in many flavours in the Pharmacy section (unless they’ve moved them since I worked there), and I’m sure I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart as well.

    Congrats on an awesome run!

  39. H-woman says:

    Way to go! What an awesome time!! I am in awe of your speed…

    H =)

  40. Katrina says:

    OMFG you killed it!!! WAHOOOO So proud of you!! I loved reading this blog….gets me excited about doing my first half 🙂

  41. Andrea from Regina Bib #1477 says:

    Good Job:^) I really enjoyed reading your blog! I, too, ran this half marathon last weekend. It was my very first half. I used my Facebook page to keep me on track in my training. I figured that if I involved a bunch of others in my training log…then, I would have people waiting to hear how I did in the end. And, boy did I ever! We flew in from Regina, SK the Thursday prior to the run. I was sooooooo incredibly nervous – this being my first time running a half marathon and all. And, it’s so funny that you mentioned your “super secret goal”…I had one of those too!! I giggled when I read that in your blog and, even told my husband about it! I didn’t beat mine either though:^) I was too far back in the runners chute because I was busy using the washroom in the park that had 7 or 8 stalls…but, only 3 were operational!! lol Your positive attitude is very inspiring and, I really enjoyed reading your story!! I look very forward to running my next half marathon. Hopefully it won’t be so darn cold my next time around!!

  42. […] 2009 I went to track workouts once a week religiously for about 8-10 weeks. Result? I ran a 2:01:40 half-marathon – 10 minutes faster than my previous half-marathon PR three months […]

  43. […] Kelowna BMO Half-Marathon – October 2009 – 2:01:40 […]