Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big Run Half Marathon April 30, 2011 Race Report


The weather wasn't looking too great on Friday morning- snowing yet again, but when I woke up on Saturday the sky was clear and no threatening clouds in sight. I still opted to wear long tights instead of capris because it was below 0C. I packed about 3 different shirts in my bag in case the weather changed drastically before the start of the race.

We quickly ate a breakfast of scrambled eggs. Our blender died a couple days before and I haven't had a chance to replace it. Normally I like to have a smoothie for breakfast as well.

We arrived at Bowness Park around 7:15am and quickly found a parking spot. It was a bit early and the race crew was still setting up. It is a small race- only 200 racers for three distances. Our running group slowly trickled in and we waited around anxiously for the race to start. I debated on whether or not I should wear my jacket. There was nowhere to drop it off partway through the race and it was still a little too chilly to ditch it at the start. I almost forgot to put my Garmin on! I ran to and from the car to retrieve it so I had a short warm up.

Just as I was heading to the start line, Leigh came up to me. I briefly met her hubby, B and their adorable dog, Harley! Leigh was racing the 10K. We wished each other luck and then it was off to the Start line for me.


The start was pretty anti-climactic as we couldn't hear the race director over the generator. The first 5K was great. A group of us ran together- Penny, Paul, Howard, Kristen, Catherine, Karen and I. It made the time go by so quickly. By the first walk break (10 minutes) my jacket was off and around my waist. Paul ended up stashing his jacket behind a tree in the first 5K as he didn't want to carry it around for the next 20K!!

We did the first 5K in around 32 minutes so I was right on pace, if not a bit fast. At this point a couple people started to drift off and then it was only Karen, Howard and I running together.

There were lots of volunteers along the Half Marathon course and once we reach 6K we were running on part of the course for the Hypothermic Half that I PR'd at in February. Part of the course is an out and back so we started to see people come back when we were at the 7K mark. Hubby looked strong!

One thing I found odd is that the first aid station was at 9K- it was the turn around point of the out and back. I always carry my own water during a long race so it didn't really affect me but if I was depending on the aid stations I wouldn't have been too happy that the first one was so late into the race.

I looked at my watch at the 10K mark and I was around 1:07. I was pretty happy with that but knew that the tough part of the course was still to come.

Around 13K we turned into a residential area and uphill we went. I hoped this hill was the gruelling hill we had been warned about but it wasn't. It was just the baby warm-up hill. We turned onto the pathways and the real hills started! They were rolling so there was some relief in between each incline. Karen dropped back and Howard and I tried to power through the hills. I ran some and I walked some.
Even with all the hill training I did, the hills were kicking my butt. I didn't want to reach the top of the hills with a super high heart rate and outta control breathing so I power walked a few of them.
At one point I lamented to Howard that I am disappointed that I was walking some of the hills and he said there was no point in killing yourself on the hills unless you are trying to PR. Well, that's what I was trying to do!! He said that we had about 5K to go and if I wanted to secure a PR we needed to do a sub 30 minute 5K. I haven't been able to do that in training or in a race but I was willing to give it a try.

The last hill was a one super steep downhill which I took advantage of. Howard didn't want to trash his legs so he walked down it. I was by myself for about 1K until he caught up with me again. I continued eating my Gu Chomps as I had been since about 40 minutes into the race. I was fading but my legs felt pretty good still and I wanted to get as close to my PR time as I could.

17K- 21.1K
Around 18K you run past the park where the finish line is, except that you are on the other side of the river. Seeing that finish line made the end of the race seem near so I tried to stay on pace. I knew that the sub 30minute 5K wasn't happening (this time!) but a half marathon PR still wasn't out of the question.

It's funny how in those final kilometers you feel like you are going so slow but I was right on pace. I had stopped looking at my watch because I didn't want to beat myself up about how I wasn't going to PR. I resolved myself to be okay with being in between Goal A and Goal B- 2:25.

At the 1K marker, I looked at my watch and saw 1:15. If I pushed a little harder I could sneak in a PR! The finish line was in sight but it didn't seem to get any closer I gave it everything I could (while still feeling like I wasn't moving) and even managed a sprint at the very end.

I got my PR- by 19 seconds!!! 2:22:14

I had to wait until I got home to check my Hypo Half time as I knew I was either just above or just below my previous PR.

What a great race and I definitely redeemed myself after my PW 2 weeks ago.

This race was too small to have an official photographer and our "unofficial" photographer, Howard paced me instead.

Sprinting to the finish...


More bling to add to the collection!
Post- Race

I waited a bit for the last runners in our group to finish. Everyone had a solid race and there were lots of PRs. My quick hubby did it in 1:50:xx. Great job honey!!
My amazing running group
I grabbed some post race food (banana, juice, granola bar, Crackers, water and Hot chocolate) and we headed back home. I prepped an ice bath and made sure it was cold enough. It sure was- my feet hurt so badly and I could barely read my book as I was shivering! Not smiling like I was last time I did one! After I warmed up I took another long 4 hour nap.

Big Run Medal

I guess I can take back my comment about this race being jinxed as the weather was amazing!! I wish it was a degree or two warmer at the start so I would have been comfortable ditching my jacket at the beginning but it didn't end up being too annoying around my waist for 20K.

I talked to a couple of the other runners who did both the Calgary Police Half and the Big Run and the consensus is that the Big Run is a harder course due to all the hills. The weather really does play a huge factor in how the race goes.


  1. Awesome race Nicole! My hands were cold for the first little while of the 10k, but I am glad I didn't wear a warm shirt because I was warm by the end, so I don't blame you for ditching your jacket!

    Nice bling! I can't wait to finally get one of my own!

  2. Redemption is yours!!! Way to go out there girl! I always hate when you get stuck with a jacket or something because you warm up that's why I always try to pick up some throwaway's from the goodwill or salvation army so I don't feel guilty about it. Love the bling and the 4 hour nap! You earned them both! Congrats to hubs too!

  3. Nice work! Awesome personal best! Nice bling also! :)


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