Friday, April 22, 2011

Calgary Police Half Marathon Race Report- April 17, 2011

Pre-Race
I had a pretty good night's rest and woke up just before 6:00am. We quickly got ready and scarfed down some scrambled eggs and packed a smoothie for the drive. We met up with our running group to car pool before driving down to the race location.
The snow continued to fall all morning so there wouldn't be clear pathways for the course. It wasn't too cold out, about -5C so I wore long tights, compression socks, a long sleeve technical shirt, jacket, headband and gloves. I felt a little cool walking outside so I knew I would be perfect on the run.
We went inside to stay warm before the race started and the line up for the bathroom wasn't too long. We did get there about 30 minutes before the race which helped. I know a lot of other people complained about parking and directions to the start but we had no problem.

Just before 8:00am we headed to the start line. I just wanted the race to start. The anticipation was awful! I think the race started on time, but I wasn't really looking at the clock so I don't know for sure. As soon as they said "GO!" apparently a few people fell right at the start line as it was slippery.

Race

1K-5K
It didn't take long to get through the Start- I think a lot of people were still inside when the race started. The first couple of KMs were on the road and it was slushy!! It was so hard to keep your balance. The snow was coming down and sticking to our faces. I ran with Penny, my clinic instructor the entire way which was awesome.

The course footing alternated from slushy to snowy to icy. There were lots of volunteers out and they did a great job of pointing out icy sections. Around 4K we were on a fairly narrow hilly pathway. Unfortunately it was extremely icy here and a lot of people fell. I pretty much just walked all the downhills as there was no point in trying to run them. Later I heard that there were broken bones, sprains and concussions that people sustained from the icy conditions.

5K- 10K
The course started to get a little better closer to Heritage Park and along the Reservoir, probably because it wasn't as hilly. This area was really familiar to me as this is where I did my Learn to Run clinic in 2008. Thinking about how far I have come along really got me through this part of the race. We even saw one guy cross country skiing!! I was slightly jealous of him! (He wasn't racing). It was during this part that one of our running buddies ran up behind us and screamed in our ears. Needless to say we weren't too impressed. Jerk!

I remember around the 10K mark seeing my watch at 1:16 and thinking there was not going to be any PRs today! I was going to have to a negative split to beat my time from my first half marathon!! I still had a couple big hills to tackle so it wasn't looking promising!

10K-15K
Well the rumour of part of the course being under water was slightly true. There were a couple spots that were almost flooded. It was made worse by the number of people trying to get through the area at the same time- making waves. It wasn't terrible though and by the time you reached that spot your feet were already wet.
The big Weaselhead hill was around 14K. You could hear the crowd of people cheering at the top for quite a ways before you reached the hill. That definitely pumped me up!  I ran the 1st half of the hill and then started walking. I ran the last quarter of the hill but I was hyperventilating at the top so I had to walk for a minute to catch my breathe! There was a bagpiper at the top and it was such a great feeling to conquer that hill. I wish I could have run the whole thing but I was just too tired from all the nasty footing.

One spectator had a sign at the top that said "Run like you stole a cop's donut!" which made me laugh!! It is the Police Half Marathon after all and there were plenty of cops around! Once we reached the top of that hill we were in more of a residential area. We were running mostly on the road and it was no longer secluded. There were way more spectators and volunteers cheering us on.

It was around 15K where I heard some people shout my name to cheer to me on. I looked and saw a lady holding a toddler. I smiled and waved back, but had no idea who she was! I was sort of out of it at this point! Then I saw the other people she was with and it was my father-in-law and brother-in-law!! The lady is a family friend of my in-laws and it turns out a few members of her family were also racing. It was great to see them out cheering us on and it really gave me a second wind as I was starting to crash at this point.

15K- 21.1K
Pretty much throughout the entire race I was repeating mantras in my head. A couple days before the race I read an old Runner's World article about mantras so I repeated some of those plus a few of my own.

"You are stronger than you think,"
"You have done this before, you can do it again,"
"You can run 3K in your sleep,"
"Let's get this sh!t done" (is that even a mantra?? :)

I really felt like I hit a wall at 18K. I almost felt like I couldn't go on- my whole body hurt so badly. I had developed blisters early on from walking in water and snow. The only thing that kept me going was that stupid finisher's medal!! I had come too far to quit and really, I never truly felt that I needed to quit. It is supposed to hurt or else everyone would do it!

Finally the finish line was in sight. I attempted a sprint right at the end. My instructor ran with me the entire race and we finished together! A volunteer handed out the medals still in the wrapper so my instructor took mine out and put it over my head.

I FINISHED THE RACE FROM HELL!!!!!

Official chip time - 2:33:32- personal worst
Average Pace- 7:15

Lynn and I celebrating our finish!!
Pic stolen from Karen
 Post- Race
I was so incredibly sore and stiff once I finished. I chatted with a couple of our running buddies who had finished already and we also ran into our family friends who were racing. Hubby went inside to get some food (he finished in 1:58 so he had been waiting around for awhile) and I followed him a few minutes later. The food was in the gym and you had to go down a huge flight of stairs to get to the gym floor where all the food was. There was no way my legs were ready to go down stairs so I waited at the top and stretched until I found hubby and we went home.

Me and my medal!!
 I have never wanted an ice bath so badly in my life!! As soon as I got home I filled the tub with ice cold water and willingly jumped into it! Crazy but it helps so much! I sat in it for 10 minutes reading a running magazine- how appropriate!
Best recovery aid ever!!!
 After the bath, I promptly had a 4 hour nap!! Heaven!!

After Race Thoughts
- I would be lying if I said I wasn't slightly disappointed with my PW, but I know I am faster than that and a lot of things out of my control made me slower. I am injury free which is most important.
- While the race conditions sucked, it was great to see so many people we knew at the race. Congrats to Deb, Lynn and Jackie on finishing their first half marathons!!
- This race was mentally the hardest for me. I feel like I did everything right in my training and the day of the race so I can only blame the weather for sucking all my energy and making the last part of the race so hard.
- I am disappointed that there wasn't an official photographer snapping pics along the way. I would have liked some photographic evidence that I ran this race!!
- Huge thanks to all the volunteers who helped put together this race. I was amazed at how much support there was along the route, especially considering the conditions. I think it is time for me to give back.
- I am happy my in-laws surprised us by coming by and cheering for us.

I worked HARD for this baby!

Some of my amazing running buddies!!
Picture stolen from Karen

3 comments:

  1. You have no idea how glad I am that I didn't sign up for this race. I feel for the people hoping to start their season with a good race and ended up injuring themselves.

    You'll have lots of races to improve your times. What this race did was improve your mental toughness. There will be some race down the road where you are ready to poop out. All you'll need to do is think of this race and you'll be able to keep going.

    Congrats on finishing in one piece!

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  2. The 16k mark is the mental barrier in my head. Those last 5k can be killer.

    Glad you finished! No sweat on your time. You can't have a PB every race, otherwise what fun would a PB be?

    Who puts food DOWN stairs after a 1/2???

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  3. Hey Beautiful,
    I think you need a change in mindset there love. You just finished a 1/2 marathon. You should look at it in the terms of that is your personal best for that race, or those conditions. It sounds like you did amazing all things considered!!!
    I also love that you found a use for the orange jacket - pretty much the highlight of my day today.
    I'm super duper proud of you!!!!

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