Well, I survived and had fun in spite of the knee pain.
The great thing about this race is that the first wave starts at 10:00am- means I don't have to wake up ridiculously early. I had laid out all my clothes and equipment the night before so I didn't have to rush in the morning.
We had decided that hubby and Audrey would stay back at home and meet me around the time I was expected to finish rather than the two of them hang around for 2.5 hours while I ran.
I have done this race before, but they changed the route slightly. This time it started and finished at Fort Calgary. I arrived there with plenty of time to spare and went inside the building to meet up with my running friends. There were a lot of us racing. We stood around nervously-- exchanging stories and preparing for the race when we looked outside.
|Snow was coming down|
While we were waiting for the race to start, a few of my running buddies talked about pacing for a 2:15. I said right away that I couldn't run that fast. My training wasn't nearly at that pace and with my recent IT band issues I didn't want to push it. My goal was 2:20-2:25 so I told them I would stay with them for a bit but there were a couple of us who felt 2:15 was too lofty of a goal so we would hang back.
|Carol and I|
|Me, Diane and Stefa|
|CHRR Half marathoners|
|A bunch of the gang waiting at the start line|
The race start was fairly anticlimactic. The snow had stopped but it was still chilly out with the wind. There were some icy patches at the beginning which had me a bit nervous since I seem to fall every time there is ice this year.
About 10 of us stuck together for the first 2K. The 2:15 pace bunny was way ahead so I forgot about him and just focused on running my own race. Most of my running friends pulled ahead to try to stay with the 2:15 pacer so just Mark, Margaret and I ran together for most of the first 10K.
We chatted and tried to stay positive. Margaret was quite undertrained so she was having a tough time but she is a strong runner so she managed to keep up with us.
I was so excited to see our friend Ashley working the first aid station at 6K. Normally I don't take anything since I carry my own but I did just to say hi to her. She definitely lifted my spirits when I was having a low moment in the race.
At 9K, my knee was definitely getting more uncomfortable. I could still run without problems but I knew that it was bothering me far sooner on race day than it did during my 20K training run.
We were starting to catch up to our running friends who were trying to run a 2:15. I'm not sure if they were slowing down or we were speeding up-- maybe a little of both? I knew from looking at my virtual partner on my Garmin that we were usually ahead of the 2:25 pace but sometimes we were even a couple seconds behind.
There were a few times that I would get a bit ahead of Mark and Margaret. I needed some quiet to just zen out and focus on my race. They were never too far behind me though. We were following my watch for the 10 & 1s since theirs were a bit off so I think that motivated them to keep up.
|Margaret, Mark & I|
*Thanks to Paul for snapping some pictures
We were pretty close to the rest of our friends at the turn around. Everyone was looking strong and cheerful and the half way mark always helps me mentally since we are "half way done." It was here that I decided I needed to catch up with the rest of the group. They weren't too far ahead but I had to sprint to reach them. I knew I needed them mentally to get through the rest of the race.
At this point my IT band was really mad at me so I mentioned to my running instructor my recent woes and she said that it was definitely my shoes that were causing the problems. I had worn them for 2 full half marathon clinics- 8 months! It then dawned on me that I used to rotate 2 pairs of shoes during my training so they would last 2 clinics but only because I was wearing them for half the amount of time! Oops- I guess my brain has been somewhere else this past year. That made me feel better that this issue will likely be fixed with new running shoes.
Around 14K our group started to separate a bit with a few people slowing down. I was feeling really good at this point- the sun was out, it was warming up and even though I was sore, I wasn't too tired. I knew that if I just kept moving I would be done sooner and I could stop running!
At 17K we had to cross over and under a bridge. It was here that we caught up to one of our running friends, Mel who was ahead of us but missed the under part and went a bit off course. I was so thankful to see her since she is such a happy, cheerful person. I knew she would get me to the finish line with a strong finish.
At 18K I looked at my Garmin and saw that we were under 2 hours. I figured if we kept up this pace we would definitely make 2:20, if not a bit faster. I just had to focus and stay on pace even though I wanted to rip my leg off!
When one of the volunteers told us we had 1K to go I almost hugged her! The end was soooo close! I knew I was going to get a PR, in spite of my IT band. Just before we rounded the last corner I spotted hubby's truck so I knew he and Audrey were at the finish line waiting for me. We dug deep and just gunned it.
As we got closer to the finish line, I could see hubby and a few other friends. He looked very surprised to see me as I waved at him.
|Audrey waiting with Karen|
|Mel and I|
|We were happy to finish- even though it doesn't look like it!|
After I crossed the finish line, I looked down at my watch and saw 2:15:47!!! I did it! I could not believe it and immediately got a bit emotional. I thought that 2:15 was a total dream and here I managed it without even realizing it.
A lot of our friends finished in the next 5 or so minutes and it was great to see so many of them get PRs as well.
Hubby was racing the second wave which started at 1:00pm. He was a little late registering for the race so the first wave was sold out. It worked out in the end since we didn't have to find anyone to watch Audrey.
So while we were inside enjoying our well deserved post-race brunch, hubby was just starting his race. The weather was gorgeous at this point- sunny and warm.
Audrey ended up napping in her stroller while I ate my brunch so I decided to stick around and wait for hubby to finish rather than risk waking her up when transferring her into the car. At one point my running instructor texted me (everyone else had left) to ask if it was snowing or hailing downtown. Confused, I said neither. Well, turns out a big storm was blowing in from the north. Only a few minutes later I looked out the window to see this:
It started to let up so I bundled up myself and Audrey so we could go wait at the finish line for hubby.
|All bundled up & protected in her stroller|
You can see the storm starting to back off in these pictures- barely see the buildings at first and in a span of 15 minutes the snow and fog lifted.
|Snow and foggy- barely see the buildings|
|Lifting a bit|
|Blue sky peeking through|
Finally we spotted hubby coming in.
(What happened to the blow up finish line?)
|Very wet, tired and relieved to be done!|
Thoughts on this race
- I'm faster than I thought I was! I think it has a lot to do with my sore IT band and just wanting to be done. I wasn't having the best race so I knew the faster I ran, the sooner I could stop.
- Weather is unpredictable in this city and it's important to always prepare for all conditions. I did bring another hat, sweater and post-race clothes to change into since things can change so quickly.
- I have the BEST running friends ever! I could not ask for better company. They motivate me to go faster, encourage me when I think I can't go anymore and stick with me when I really do need a break. I feel like I have won the lottery with this group! I could not have achieved this PR without them!
- I love this course, the medal and the post-race brunch. I will do this race again in a heart beat.