Sunday, May 04, 2008

half-marathon in the park

Even though it was foggy when we left home, by the time we drove out of whoville we were out of the fog. The weather was perfect: cool, sunny, barely any wind. I decided to wear my event shirt (the freebie shirt you get with your race package) even though this is a bit of a no-no because those wiser than I suggest that wearing a new shirt you’ve never run in before is risking chafing or other such uncomfortable annoyances that could affect the joy of the race. Normally, I take the advice of more seasoned runners seriously, especially after running in a new pair of shoes on a race day and feeling uncomfortable the whole way since they were still fairly stiff, but today I decided to wear the event shirt because it’s one of the nicer ones I’ve received and it fit well. There’s also an Aboriginal design on it that is the Guardian Spirit. Plus I thought it would be cool to have a photo of me crossing the finish line in the even shirt.

Rushing to the start line was not the way I wanted to begin my 2008 Vancouver half marathon, but the marathon and half marathon runners were all in the narrow passage towards each start line (the marathon starts a half hour later than the half).
The announcer was telling people to hurry towards the start. I ran when the pack opened up and tried to find a comfortable starting point about a third of the way back. I didn’t want to start at the back and get jammed up with a lot of people. I was barely into place just in front of the 9 min. mile sign when the race started. I started my watch and away I went.

It took me a while to settle and realize what I was in the midst of: all of these runners each with her or his own goal, running together. Like I’ve said before I like the group run. I didn’t feel as relaxed as I usually do and by that I mean that I was more focused and driven on this run. I didn’t look around as much or let my thoughts wander too far from the task at hand. I checked in with myself after 10 minutes and asked: am I having fun? (Yes) Do I believe in myself? (Yes) Am I going for it? (Yes). Easy enough to say 10 minutes in though isn’t it.

Along Cordova St. I saw db and that would be our one meeting point until the finish. I stopped, dropped off my long sleeves and kissed db before taking off again. I felt pretty good, but was nervous because I felt I was having trouble finding my rhythm.

Stanley Park was next and I was really looking forward to running in the park, big hill and all. I kept looking for that 10k mark and I’d already hit my 52 minutes. This concerned me, but I reached the 10 k mark at 55 minutes. Three minutes off my pace and a big hill ahead looked like a big challenge. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run up the hill and hoped my walk break would be timed half way up (I run 10 minutes and then walk 1 minute; the idea is that your body recovers better from this kind of training/running). The hill looked worse than it actually was. Once again I asked: am I having fun? (Yes) Do I believe in myself? (Um…I wavered and then, Yes!) Am I going for it? (Definitely). I switched gears and was about 50 meters from the peak before it was time for my walk break. This push up the hill seemed like a risk, but I had to keep running and stick to my plan (10:1). Then just like last year I went for it on the downhill because I knew this was a perfect opportunity to make up some time. After we exited the park I really didn’t know how I was doing because the markers along the route were so few I could only go by my memory of last year’s race.

I kept focused and pushed on. I started to see runners I hadn’t seen before and new I must be progressing. Then it came…the 1 mile to go sign. I checked my watch and I knew I’d make it under 2 hours and beat my time from last year AND could run a personal best if I kept doing what I was doing. Then I could see the spectators lining the fences towards the finish. A woman faltered next to me. A police officer was there to help her. I kept going. Then I was in the chute. There would be no way I could see db. I heard my name be called out. He was there and there was the finish ahead. I sprinted and crossed at…
I’m still waiting for the official time results, but I stopped my watch at 1:54:55. A personal best! I’m elated.

Later, I was back out there as a spectator looking down at the finish line from an overhead walkway and was there in time to see the first woman cross the marathon line in 2:36 (I think her official time was 2:37) and get surrounded by cameras and media while others continued to finish behind her. It was very cool to see her cross.


Vegan Run Amok said...

YAYYYYY! Congrats on your PR! What a great race! :)

Wandering Coyote said...

OH, I am so, so glad for you, sp! Excellent show! Self-talk is such an important thing to learn I have found; it can really get you out of a lot of holes, but it is a skill like anything else and not always easy to acquire.

I was thinking about you yesterday; I marked your run on the calendar so I wouldn't forget, and I was thinking of you as I did my three hour, three cemetery tour...

Captain Karen said...

That's so fabulous! Congrats on the PB, SP. And what a beautiful setting it must have been. I'm going to try the "talking to myself" tip next time I go for a long walk and see if it helps me!

Anonymous said...

Moving and exciting!!!
L, L.