Race Report for the 2013 BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon

My mother and I drove from Seattle to Vancouver, BC on Friday morning for a couple days of down-time before the race. Friday we took it easy—had a lovely and fancy dinner at the hotel on Friday night: smoked salmon scones. That’s all I’m saying. I also picked up my race packet that afternoon and walked the expo briefly. Not too much going on there. I did pick up a number belt at the Running Room’s pop-up store. I was going to buy a bright coral “Run Van” running jacket, but they were already out of my size. Saturday I tried not to walk too much but failed pretty miserably. We went to Granville Island for the first time, ate some food, drank some Caesars, and did a little bit of shopping. My feet were a bit sore afterward so we had a Thai food ‘carpet picnic’ in the hotel room for dinner. I made my best effort to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get some sleep but that didn’t really work out. I didn’t go to bed until, probably, 11pm. And then, I just couldn’t get to sleep or stay asleep. So, bad night’s sleep all around really. Wake up call was 4:30am and I popped up and started getting dressed and out the door. Grabbed a tiny coffee on the way and hopped the train to Queen Elizabeth Park with everyone else who was awake at that hour (so, only runners!)

The morning was really beautiful: mild, with a gradual dawning. There was a bit of a long walk to the start unfortunately, but it was a good warm-up I suppose.  I had been hydrating really well so first stop was the toilets while the lines were still short. Then I waited about an hour for the start and ate a few Sport Beans. Unfortunately I had to use the toilet again just before the race started but I didn’t want to hop in the gigantic line so I decided to go on the course, which, in hindsight was a BIG mistake.

The race start was beautiful and fun. I’d never run with that many people so it was a very new experience. I happened to be standing by the 2:30 pacers in the line-up so I ran with them for the first couple of miles which felt amazing and exhilarating but it soon became clear that it was way too fast a start for me. I attempted to use the toilet at mile 1, 2, and 3, but every time I got back out of line because I didn’t want to wait and waste time. But, by mile 4 it was a matter of great urgency and I was very uncomfortable, so I stood in line for 10 minutes. This really threw me off; being stationary for that long and then trying to pick up momentum again. After that I was incorporating walking into my running a lot more frequently, particularly as it was getting much warmer.

I met my mother at the halfway point and gave her my outer shirt, walked with her for a few yards and ate some Sport Beans. The clock time was 1:48. From this point on, each mile was much the same. Many of the water stops had run out of water, which was appalling, and the sun was really warming the place up all along English Bay and into Stanly Park. 

Thankfully the Half-Marathoners were routed through the shadier interior paths of Stanley Park, rather than the Seawall. About 4 or so miles till the end I noticed that I had a lot of swelling in my hands (I’m sure I was swollen in other places too, but that’s what I could see), so I tried to keep them above the level of my heart. I’m convinced this is a combination of the heat, dehydration, and possibly salt loss. I couldn’t follow my nutrition plan (to replenish my sodium) because I needed to drink water with the Sport Beans and it was coming far between at this point. The forest was the most beautiful part of the course though and we also encountered a few bands, which was encouraging.

The last couple of miles seemed to last all day. At this point I was just praying that I didn’t stop moving, that my legs didn’t fall off, and that I didn’t throw up. Running was pretty much out of the question because it made me want to heave. When I finally was within a hundred meters or so of the finish line I did start running and ran until I crossed it, arms up and smiling of course! I didn’t vomit, and I hobbled to pick up my medal, food bag, and WATER. I practically screamed ‘thank you’ to the water bottle volunteer (sorry!).

I think that right after the race I was just happy to be done even though I went a whole lot slower than I would have liked. My finish time was 3:19 and change. I went right into a Tim Horton’s for an Iced Cappuccino on the way back to the hotel and braced myself for my first ice bath. I could only bear 5 minutes of that. Also, oh my god hemorrhoids: another sign that my circulation was really struggling in that ordeal. I was slightly nauseous for two days after. But, I had hardly any muscle soreness, which I attribute to that bath. I did however have lots of blisters on the tips of my toes, but I think I’ve fixed that now by going up a half-size in shoes.

Two days ago I’d built up enough selective amnesia to sign up for another race, the Amica Seattle Half-Marathon on Dec. 1st. It will be WAY cooler and possibly sprinkling (or dumping) which would be fine by me. This time I’d really like to train consistently. I know that if I do so I could achieve a 2:30 easily, going above and beyond as time progressed and I became better conditioned.

And now, I get to call myself a “Marathoner.”

Ran Half



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