2013 BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon Race Report

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I have another BMO Vancouver Marathon medal to add to my pile. I ran this race for the first time back in 2009 and it was my first race, and first half-marathon, ever. I then did the full marathon last year. I absolutely LOVE Vancouver and I LOVE this race. It is really well organized and a wonderful way to see one of my favourite cities in the world!

I was staying in a hotel with two high school girlfriends. One running the half (her first) and one running the full (her first!) The half started at 7 am and the full at 8 am so Janine and I got up at 5:15 to get ready to go. I wore a new pair of yellow lululemon shorts I had bought the day before (I already own two pairs of the same shorts in a different colour so it wasn’t like I was wearing something totally new on race day) and I also wore a teal/blue tank top. I wanted to wear blue and yellow for Boston and even though my blue wasn’t quite the right colour I was happy with my outfit. I knew it was going to be about 22 – 23 C that day so dressed accordingly!

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We met a group of my Kamloops running friends a few blocks over and all caught the skytrain to the start together. We actually ran into a blog reader on the way to the start (Hi Monique!) Thinking about this now, I think this is the biggest race I’ve ran to date. 10,000 people were doing the half-marathon and the start was BUSY! There were a bunch of people I was hoping to see at the start but I didn’t get to see any of them. It was impossible to see much of anything with all the people. See the blue ‘start’ line WAYYYYY forward in the below picture?

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We crossed the start line a good 25 minutes after the race actually started. And right away I lost sight of all of my friends. There were just too many people! I went into this race not really knowing what to expect. I was more there to support my friend doing the full marathon. I hadn’t trained specifically for this race and have mostly been in the trails the last few months. I also knew it wasn’t going to be a PR and I just wanted to enjoy myself. I purposely went to the start line without my iPod and planned to run without any music and just take in everything happening around me. I’m SO glad I did this!

Mile 1 – 9:40, Mile 2 – 9:28, Mile 3 – 9:44ย 

We were treated with a lot of downhill right at the beginning of the race and a few km in we got to cross the Cambie Street Bridge and were treated to an amazing view of the Vancouver skyline!

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This race felt like it had a lot of downhill to me. I definitely started out a bit fast at the beginning (a classic trait of mine) and then slowed down in the later miles.

Around mile 4 we started running through Chinatown which is an area of Vancouver I haven’t explored much before so I just kept looking around and taking it all in.

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Mile 4 – 10:05, Mile 5 – 10:28, Mile 6 – 10:10, Mile 7 – 9:47

I would say the first 8ish miles of this race absolutely flew by. I was looking at things around me, thanking the volunteers, smiling and just generally enjoying myself. We got two little out-and-backs on this race course and I spent the time scanning the opposite crowd for my friends (I saw three of the five of them!). The race was just flying by for me.

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Around mile 7 we entered Stanley Park and spent the last half of the race running under tall, tall trees with views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean poking through here and there. I love that about this race – half of it is urban and you’re surrounded by skyscrapers and the second half is in a beautiful, forested park by the ocean.

Mile 8 – 10:11, Mile 9 – 10:03, Mile 10 – 10:02

Throughout the race I was thinking about the possibility of running a sub 2:10 race and I decided if I felt good at mile 10 I would push it the last three miles. However, at mile 10 the heat and all the walking we’d done in Vancouver the last two days really started to take it’s toll and I was getting tired. I decided I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself and would just finish the race at whatever pace.

Mile 11 – 10:01, Mile 12 – 10:10, Mile 13 – 9:52, Mile 13 – 13.1 – 8:44

The last stretch was HARD. They changed the route so you ran down one long street to the finish line instead of turning the corner like last year but man, you could see that finish line for a good 5 minutes of running and it was hard seeing it so far away from you. I gave it my all and sprinted the last little bit like I do in most races.

Final Results:ย 

Chip time: 2:10:37

Pace: 6:12/km and 9:58/mileย 

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Honestly you guys, this is close to the top of the best race I’ve ever ran. I smiled almost the ENTIRE time. I wasn’t focused in and I didn’t have music on so I really took in everything that was happening around me! Some highlights of this include;

  • Seeing a runner go off course and start conducting the marching band for a photo opportunity. So funny!
  • Seeing some HILARIOUS signs (my favourite is pictured below courtesy of the BMO Vancouver Marathon’s twitter feed) and one that said “You thought it said RUM didn’t you” hehe
  • Saying thank you to as many volunteers as possible
  • Encouraging other runners along the course
  • Really being in tune with my body. I didn’t look at my watch much the first 8 miles. I quickly realized that in the heat I slowed down but as soon as I was in the shade or on a downhill I sped up. I also forced myself to run all the hills since my big goal race this year is going to be mighty hilly!
  • I also got teary more than once thinking about how much I LOVE running and how much this sport has changed my life

hilarious sign

After the race I spent about an hour cheering on the marathoners while I waited for my friend Robyn to finish! I was cheering at about km 41 – soooo close to the end – and people looked beat from the hot hot day out there.

Here comes Robyn (she did amazing and ran her first marathon in 4:16!!)

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It was a lovely weekend in Vancouver (more on the rest of the weekend tomorrow!) and I had a great time running the half-maathon. I loved the course just as much as the full last year. I really cannot recommend this marathon enough. I think it is really well organized and it is an absolutely gorgeous and scenic route. It would be perfect for someone who has never been to Vancouver as you get to run through a number of different areas in both the half and the full. I will definitely be doing both courses again in the future.

How was your weekend? If you were in Vancouver, how did the race go for you?? Have you ever ran a race without music? Would you?ย 

23 Responses

  1. Andrea says:

    Congrats on a great race! Vancouver Marathon looks beautiful – hoping to run it someday.

  2. Kelly says:

    Vancouver is so beautiful- I’m so glad I got to go there last summer and I hope I get to go back at some point! I’m glad the race went so well for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I would love to run the Vancounver Marathon some day. Vancouver is one of my favorite cities and the course sounds beautiful. I am glad that you had such an awesome race. I bet it was nice to just go out there and enjoy yourself and not stress about your time! And then you ended up running a really strong race after all, so way to go!

    Robyn looks awesome in that photo!!

  4. AshleyD says:

    That sounds like such an awesome race! Congrats! I’d love to run the Vancouver marathon, especially after seeing these pictures!

  5. Heather says:

    Great race!!! I love when races are so well done the first half goes by quickly and you have time to enjoy it

  6. Erin says:

    so so glad you had an amazing race. Those are the best races — ones where you’re just feeling good and smiling!

    i cannot wait to check out Vancouver one day! Hoping we’ll do that in the next year or so!

  7. Nicole says:

    Congratulations on a great race! You rocked it! Sounds like an amazing course and I can’t wait to do SeaWheeze in August. I love Vancouver and running is the best way to explore it.

  8. Great race! What a beautiful course. I have a friend (local, non-blogger) who did the full there as her first full ever and finished right at 4 hours; she said it was incredible too. Great job!

  9. Wes says:

    Isn’t it great to just enjoy a race? We all have out time goals, but I think it is very important to do a race for fun sometimes. Snap a few pictures, catch up to and run beside someone that is struggling to keep them company and encourage them. I think we all get into pb’s and pushing ourselves so much that everyone should run a race every once in a while with the main focus of having fun!

  10. Caroline says:

    Ahh I really want to go to Vancouver one day! Congrats on an awesome race, often times my best races are when I’m relaxed, low expectations, just doing it for fun : ) That’s awesome you got to cheer on your friend, too! She rocked it!
    I crossed the start line about 20 minutes after the gun went off at Chicago, quicker than I expected.. but the longest 20 minutes of my life.

  11. Jen says:

    Congrats on a good race!!! Looks like a fun time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Monique says:

    Hi Amber! Loved reading your race recap – sounds like you had a great one. Mine was a struggle after being sick the last month but the course was beautiful and the signs oh so entertaining. Besides the fellow who’s photo you posted, I also enjoyed the group (they must have been from a running clinic or group/team) over on Beach, just past Denman with the “You didn’t run all those Prospect Point hill repeats for nothing” sign, amongst others.

    Hope to run into you at more future races – good luck with Squamish!

  13. I love races that are just for FUN! Definitely adds a different perspective to racing when you’re not worried about PRing or running as hard as possible. Nice work.

  14. Morgan says:

    Cracking up at that spectating sign! Great job out there chica!

  15. Crystal says:

    Congrats on a good race! Looks like a very pretty run with lots to look at. That’s what I loved about the Disney half marathon is so much to look at it keeps you from worrying about the running. Medals rock, don’t they ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. abbi says:

    Congrats on a great race!

  17. Dominique says:

    I came across your blog a few months ago when I was Googling stuff about the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I just ran it this past weekend, first marathon ever and first time visiting Vancouver. I was hoping for cooler temps but, can’t control the weather! If you were by KM 41, then you probably saw me stumble by!! It was a gorgeous race, and quite an experience. I finished in 4:12:43 and my legs were in pain when it was all done, but I would definitely do another one.

  18. Raquelita says:

    Great photos! Hooray for having such a great race! As I said during our chat, I wish I had felt better physically because the course was beautiful and it felt like such a shame that I didn’t enjoy the experience more. Part of me wants to run this one again next year, but part of me is realizing that I need a couple of weeks between the end of the semester and any sort of a distance race in order to have a better performance.

  19. Awwww Amber . . . I’m thrilled that it was such an awesome race for you!!! The weather was great and the race course is indeed beautiful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Naomi says:

    I’ve commented before on how much I love this race and it looks like it was another great year! I love your 3 medals! Well done on another race!

  21. Travel Spot says:

    I love that you have run this and enjoyed it each time. It looks like a beautiful course! When I went to Vancouver, I really enjoyed hanging out in both the city and Stanley Park. I think the best races are the ones where you don’t look at your watch and the miles just fly by!

  22. Sarah MC says:

    I never understand why they put the half starting an hour earlier then the full. We had a group from our running room store go to Vancouver to run their first full. They loved every second of it.

  23. […] I have not been running on the road at all. In fact, since the Vancouver half-marathon in May the furthest I’ve ran on the road is 10 km. So I wasn’t entirely sure how my […]