Last year I completed my first BMO event, the 8km. This year I was a bit more ambitious and took on the half marathon (21.1km), making it my third half marathon to-date. Finishing the race wasn’t my only objective, one of my personal goals for 2015 was to complete a half marathon in under two hours. I am happy to report that four months into the year I can cross this off my list. I finished the race in a respectable 1:58:44, a new personal best.
The race started on a Sunday morning at 7am. I was up bright and early at 5:15 am. I left all my clothes and gear out the night before, so I didn’t have to think too much first thing in the morning. I made coffee and was out the door by 6:20am. In retrospect this wasn’t enough time. After parking, catching the train, and walking 15 minutes from the suggested station, I made it to the start line with nine minutes to spare. The line-ups for the bathroom were completely unrealistic. A man on a megaphone was instructing people to go to their corrals, and that there were facilities along the route. I quickly came to terms with the fact I would start the race needing to pee. I made my way to my starting corral with just enough time to start my Nike running app, adjust my headphones and music. I chose to use the Nike app on my phone, and play music on another IPod so I wouldn’t completely drain my phone battery. However I overlooked the fact that by using a different iPod I wouldn’t know my pace, but by the time I figured this out it was too late.
Race Break Down:
- The first two kilometers were down Cambie Street. I wasn’t completely focused, I was still getting my bearings and settling in after a rushed start. I was also on the lookout for the bathrooms, making my stop the first chance I got. I felt much more comfortable afterwards and was able to settle into the run.
- This portion of the run was relatively uneventful I felt good but didn’t really know if I was on pace for my goal. I remember an unpleasant hill on West Pender, in Chinatown. Living in Richmond where it is mostly flat, hills are my weakness. Somewhere between the 7.5-9km mark I came across my cousin and wished her good luck, we shared a quick hug.
- I remember reaching 9km and being surprised that I had missed many of the marker signs along the course. It was around this time it dawned on me I had started recording my activity on my Fitbit at the beginning of the race. I would be able to use that to judge my timing, and at the 10km mark I was on track to finish around my goal time. I started my PowerBar® Gel Blasts™ Energy Chews (raspberry), taking one every kilometer after this point.
- The 12km marked the entrance into Stanley Park, is when things started to get a bit difficult for me. Somewhere between kilometer 13 and 14 there was a volunteer with a sign reading “Carpe The Hell Out Of This Diem” that made me laugh. If my memory serves me right between kilometer 14 and 15 a women lost money from her jacket pocket (actual dollar bills) and a fellow runner came up to return it (how thoughtful and honest). Kilometer 15-19 were tougher, my legs were starting to stiffen up, and I was starting to get emotional.
- By the 19.5 mark I knew I was almost done, my pace quickened, my legs started to hurt less, but that was only temporary because then came the terrible hill at Deman Street. There was a women at the top, near the corner cheering the runners on, she called out to me, “Your almost there Shannon, keep it up, you’re doing great. “ That really helped me push through when I needed it the most.
Shortly after this I made it to West Pender, the finish line was within sight, and once again I got emotional holding back tears. I decided that my legs hurt too much and I wouldn’t be able to sprint across the finish line. I started to have a bit of trouble breathing and a tightness in my chest. There were so many wonderful people cheering, and putting their hand out for me to slap, meanwhile all I could focus on was the finish line. When I got close enough to see the clock I knew my goal was within sight and in that split second I made the decision to sprint. It took everything I had left, adrenaline pumping, weaving in and out of runners, legs and arms screaming as they propelled me forward I crossed the finish line. Crossing the finish line the clock read 2:02. I was breathless, lightheaded, and overcome with emotions, I cannot think of many moments in my life when I have been that proud of myself.
My family was there to support me at the finish line, which meant more to me than they may ever know or understand. Afterwards we celebrated with breakfast.
Overall I give this race 5 out of 5. The course what challenging, it was well organized with lots of volunteers and the weather was perfect. Above all, I’m proud of how I ran this race, rather than running to finish like the last two, I ran because I knew I could. If you asked me a year ago I NEVER thought I would be running half marathons and I definitely didn’t think I could ever complete one in under two hours. What I am quickly learning is, I should never say never.