Monday, October 8, 2012

Harvest Half Marathon Race Report

** This is the 2nd time I have written this race report since Blogger decided to eat the 1st one. 

I was a bit nervous for this race because of my lack of long runs. I had no problems getting shorter runs in and my hill training but due to an extremely busy summer a lot of my long runs just didn't happen.

I tried to be easy on myself and not get my hopes up but I really didn't want to get a PW. I only had one  longish run to gauge my potential time and it was looking closer to 2:45- 2:50. Not what I wanted at all because I believe the longer you are out there, the harder it is mentally.

Thankfully Audrey had a decent night and only woke up 3x so I managed to get some sleep before the race. The plan was for me to go down with some other friends who were racing and hubby and Audrey to meet me at the finish line a few hours later.

The Harvest Half Marathon takes place in the south of Calgary, where I used to live. I was pretty familiar with the area and the pathways from running and biking them. Fish Creek Park is just gorgeous and that is one of the biggest things that I miss about living at our condo. The running trails close to where I live now just don't compare at all.

At 6:30am I picked up Wendy and Amanda and we drove down to the race location. I debated what to wear since it was chilly in the morning but there is nothing I hate more than racing with a bunch of extra clothes tied around my waist. I opted for a t shirt and capris which was the perfect choice.

Ready to go at the crack-of-stupid!

We arrived about 35 minutes before the race started which was a good decision. The line up for the bathrooms wasn't very long. We were able to stand inside the community centre to stay warm. We saw a few friends while we waited and then our pacer/running buddy/photographer extraordinaire, Howard showed up. I wasn't expecting him so it was a nice surprise! Just before we started, our instructor Penny also arrived! It blows me away how supportive they are. They love running and sharing their love of running with others. They changed travel plans and got up at the crack of stupid to drive to the other end of the city to cheer us on! Wow!

CHRR Half Marathoners and our instructor Penny

Soon it was time to warm up and start the race! The start was anti-climatic- no horn or gun to announce the start of the race. I set my Garmin to a walk-adjusted pace for a 2:30 finish, and pulled out my headphones for my iPod so it would be ready when I needed it. I ended up never turning my iPod on!

It took a lot for me to hold myself back in the first 2K. The rush of the pack just makes you want to go but I knew that I had to stick to my pace and just let everyone pass me. I even had one guy pass me saying he was looking forward to reading about my race on my blog! Who are you? Thank you for that comment! I guess people do read my nonsensical ramblings!

Wendy, Amanda and I stuck together for the first 3-4K but I had a goal in mind so I had to push on. The first 5.5K was in the community on the road. There were homeowners at the end of their driveways cheering us on and a bunch of people with signs. One of my favourites was "You are running faster than Calgary Transit!" Haha!!

Spotting Howard, our personal photographer, at 2K

The start of the pathway was a steep descent on some loose gravel. That was a bit challenging but better down than up! This was the start of the section that I was familiar with. The rolling hills that I used to curse on my bike and while running seemed so small and I powered up all of them. I refused to let any negative thoughts enter my head and I just marvelled at how far I have come in my running. If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be running my 5th half marathon on these same trails I would have laughed in your face! No way would I do something that dumb!! Haha!

At the 10K mark my watch said 1:11 which sounded about right for my goal. I knew that I would have to pick it up for the 2nd half of the race though since the first 3-4K were a bit slower while I warmed up.

Around 11-12K I saw Howard again. Snapping away!

At 14K I saw my running instructor, Penny, our running buddy, Paul and their daughter, Emily, in the distance. I was feeling so great and happy to see them. I may have gotten a bit silly...

When I hit the 15K marker, I was just amazed at how strong I felt- both mentally and physically. At this point I started passing a lot of runners which of course feels great.

Around 16.5K I saw Howard again. I noticed his huge camera lens this time and commented on it.

Just keep smiling!

...and talking

At 17K I approached the "big hill". Conveniently I had a scheduled walk break just before the hill. I joked with the volunteers and then when my watch beeped, I started running. I ran the whole hill! It was about 400m which is the distance of the hill that we do our hill training on.  This hill didn't seem as steep. I felt good so I just climbed it. I had told myself at the beginning of the race that if I needed to walk it I wasn't going to feel bad but I didn't feel it was necessary. Guess all that hill training does pay off come race day!

Just past the top of the hill there was an aid station so I grabbed some water and walked for a few seconds. At 19K I could feel myself falling apart- my legs were getting sore, my upper back was aching and I really had to keep repeating my mantras over and over again.

At this point we were on the road (well the hill was the start of being on the road after 12K on pathways). with "one mile to go" (there was a sign!) we went back onto a pathway in the residential area. My mantra became "keep running!" I hadn't taken my last 2 walk breaks but my legs were screaming at me to walk. I just kept telling myself that I could walk after the finish line. That last mile was the hardest of the whole race. I just wanted to be done and yet I kept winding around, crossing streets, hoping the finish line was close!

I knew the finish line was near as there were spectators sitting on the grass, cheering people in. I looked at my watch and it said 2:28:xx. I knew the finish line had to be around the corner and I was going to have to kick it into high gear to finish before my goal of 2:30. I turned the corner and there it was!!! I ran as fast and hard as I could. I could see Howard taking pictures (I remembered to smile!) and I could hear people call my name and cheering me on.

Sweet- both feet off the ground!

My new favourite running photo!

I threw my hands in the air and finally I was done! 2:29:34!!

Hands in the air!

And done!

I was handed my medal and a water bottle and I stumbled to the sidelines. I found Penny and Paul and waited for the rest of our friends to finish.

This may have not been my fastest half marathon but I think it might just be my favourite one so far!

My lil' family!



Thoughts on the race:

- LOVED it!
- Great course, volunteers, aid stations, weather and medals
- My pacing was near perfect with a negative split. I felt great the entire time
- Hill training is important and pays off
- Can't wait to do it again!

Thanks to Howard and Penny for taking so many photos and cheering us on!
Thanks to my hubby for being so supportive so that I could train and do this race!
Thanks to Audrey for (usually) being such a great running buddy!

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