Thursday, July 2, 2009

Race Report: Scotiabank Half-Marathon

I was sold on the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon because of this:

Course profile
Yes, as you can see, the race features a long downhill section just before the halfway mark.  I've run up and down this hill a bunch of times, and I can tell you it's a lot more fun to run down than up.  The race was also a point to point, starting at the thickly forested University of British Columbia campus and ending in Stanley Park, which is a stunning urban park.  I was sold, and signed up in February.
In March, one of the e-mail bulletins from the race organizers mentioned that runners had the option to choose one of 15 different charities to raise money for by running the half-marathon.  Having just lost my dog Fred a few days before, who we'd adopted from the SPCA in 2002, I decided to run the race in  his honour by raising money for the SPCA.  I set my fundraising goal at $1310 ($100 for every mile) and started the campaign.  This was my first experience raising money through running and I am sure it won't be my last.  I was able to raise just over $2000 for a very worthy cause.
I picked up my race package on Saturday afternoon at a local hotel and was greeted by friendly, well-organized volunteers who quickly found my bib and chip, scanned the chip, and then sent me to the T-shirt table. 
This is where things get interesting.  I held up the shirt to see how big their "medium" was.  In this case, medium was huge and I asked if I could get a small.  Instead of being told what that process was for requesting a different size, the crotchety old guy working the T-shirt counter grumbled:  "Over my dead body" and started blathering on about how it's not the way they do things...etc...etc....etc.  As I started to walk away, he made this remark: "You ordered a medium, what happened to you?"
Anyway, to make a long story short, I got my small.  But obviously the volunteers were not instructed what to do if someone asks for a different size, which I think is strange.

On race day, I drove up to the university campus, parked, and jogged about a mile to the start.  I was annoyed yet again when I got to the gear check table to find out there was a $2 cash charge to check bags.  That was a first for me.  Do people have change with them on race days? (our $1 and $2 are coins up here in Canada).  Why didn't they just roll the two bucks into the cost of the race?  Luckily, a nice gentleman behind me in line spotted me so I wouldn't have to run with my backpack.
With about 20 minutes until gun time I headed off to try to find a safety pin and use the potty.  I only had 3 pins and thought the late registration counter was a good bet.  Nope.  They had long since run out.  Slightly irritated, but with no time to waste, I headed to the port-o-potty area to find this:
Port-a-Potty line with only a few mintues until the start
It's safe to say the organizers didn't have enough port-o-potties for the 5000 runners who showed up.  The line was super long all the way until the start.  I jumped out of my little unit with about 2 minutes to spare!
Two minutes went fast, the air horn sounded, and we were off.  I spotted my Twitter buddy, triathlete, podcaster, and blogger extraordinaire Erin (@erin337).  She was holding a huge pink sign with my Twitter name on it (@runningbebe) as well of those of a few other Twitter runners.
The first couple of miles I definitly ran a bit too fast at about 8 minutes each.  I  had to regroup between miles 3 and 4 and took a bit of a walk break, followed by a jog.  Then I got my groove back and settled in.
Tree lined street at UBC taken during my little break

The rest of the race went rather smoothly.  As predicted I thoroughly enjoyed running down the long hill.  After the hill there was a long stretch along the shoreline near Spanish Banks, which is very scenic.  I took short walk breaks at all the water stations and alternated water and Gatorade.

There were two significant uphills where a lot of people walked (miles 8 & 10), but instead I just took it down to a jog and kept myself running.  I had hoped to be able to speed up a lot after the Burrard Bridge (the last uphill) for the last few miles, but I was pretty tired by then and could only manage the normal pace.

With 0.1 miles left I sprinted past everyone I could see for the dramatic finish.  Sadly nobody I know was there to see the heroics and I had to settle for congratulating myself.

I did know my mom was working at one of the food tables, however, and after getting my medal and catching my breath I set off to find her.

Me after the finish, picture taken by my Mom...

I found my mom working the bagel table, like quite the pro, and she was kind enough to take my picture with the fancy new hardware.
My mom working the bagel table.  First race I've done with my mom volunteering
Around this time I started texting back and forth with Winnie and Dana (@WinnieYeo and @CDNRunningGirl) - two more Twitter friends.  This would be our first meeting in person after many conversations online, which is always fun.  We finally met up near the gear pickup tent and had a nice little chat.  Winnie had completed the half marathon in around 2:20 and Dana was kind enough to come out to meet us even though she wasn't racing.

Left to Right:  Me, Dana (@CDNRunningGirl), and Winne (@WinneYeo)

Even though there were a few snags with the organization, I would still recommend this race to anyone looking to do a fun half-marathon in the Vancouver area.  The scenery is very beautiful and it's a fast course.

This Week's Mileage (12 Weeks to QCM):
Planned:  36 miles
Actual:  29.1 miles
Reason:  Made a mistake on Thursday and only did 1 mile warmup and cooldown instead of 1.5 miles each, skipped a 6 mile run on Saturday (the day before the 1/2 marathon) because I only slept 5 hours on Friday night and was too tired.


Nicole said...

In case anyone is interested, my offical chip time was 1:56:50. This placed me 85/368 in my age group, 547/2035 in my sex, and 1400/3638 overall.

Anonymous said...

Pretty good run & fundraising, I'd say!- I had a similar problem obtaining my volunteer T-shirt , I just wanted to try it on and ended up in a tug-of-war with the lady behind the table as I hadn't "signed" for it yet....luckily it fit. 'the bagel lady"

Amanda said...

Great job, and what a great cause to raise money for. I'm all for anything that helps out animals. Long porta-potty lines before races are the worst!

Jamie said...

Awesome job! AND a great race report. You are doing amazing with your training. I'm very proud of you!!! Talk to you this weekend.

jeannie said...

enjoyed reading about your latest marathon. congratulations on your improved time. i can't wait until you run in NYC!!

Mark said...

Sounds like a great race...way to kick it at the finish!

chris mcpeake said...

Sounds like a great race... got to love that downhill. Keep it up

Adam said...

Your my hero ...great job and glad you got together with Dana as I just sent her some gels I use and keep in touch with her...I'm thrilled with the money you raised ..great cause...You did wonderful job and your time is great..your a star


Amy@RunnersLounge said...

Great job on the race! Hope you have some time to celebrate, relax and recover.