Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race Recap: BMO Vancouver Half 2012

WARNING: This post contains A LOT of photos!

The day started ridiculously alarm went off at 4am and I immediately started hydrating and getting my breakfast ready.  Heather met us at our suite at around 6:15 and we were soon on our way to the start line.

You can all thank me for the gorgeous rain jacket purchase definitely ensured perfect weather - though I was a bit warm through most of it.

Dorky start line pics:

It just occurred to me that we were totally remiss in getting that complete stranger to include the sparkly skirts!

The crowd was HUGE! 

We were in corral 3 and could barely see the start line from there.   The start was in waves and when it was finally our turn to go - it was amazing how many people were still lined up across the corrals for the porta-potties.  The huge surge of people ended up having to funnel through small breaks in potty line ups.  Not great, but we still made it to the start and headed on our way.

The start was downhill on Cambie.  I'd actually been looking forward to this part since downhills are kind of a specialty of mine.   Unfortunately, the crowd was just too densely packed to get any sort of rhythm going on that downhill - it meant I couldn't bank any time for breaks along the way LOL.

I did, however, attempt to take some pics on the run...they turned out spectacularly (or not):

We had a near panic at the first water station, where JS had pulled in for some H2O and Heather and I had kept going.  Suddenly, she (JS) was lost in the crowd and none of us were sure where the others were!  I was so relieved when I saw her head through the crowd!  After that, we planned the water stops better.

After the bridge, we left Cambie Street for a quick jaunt through Chinatown and Yaletown

I love the public library here...

And it was about here that I started to get the memo from my bladder that I should probably be thinking about a potty break.   I was doing my trademark speed-up and when I looked back at JS and Heather - they had figured it out and waved me on with promises to meet at the next potty.  Zoom-zoom through the crowd I flew.  The timing ended up almost perfect when I hit the 8K porta-potties and they caught up to me right as I was at the head of the line.

After that I felt so much better and was ready to see some shoreline :)

I took my first gel (and what turned out to be my only gel) at around 10k.

Then it was into Stanley Park (these are all out of order)

We were on track for 2:15 (or faster), but at some point in Stanley Park - disaster struck.  I cramped.  Worse than I have ever cramped before.  Doubled over in so much pain it made my eyes water.  Horrific.  It actually scared me.  I had been running so strong up to that point - sure of my goal.   I'm not sure what the cause was - it took a long time after the race for them to go away.  I wasn't dehydrated.  I wasn't lacking for fuel.  I almost wonder if it wasn't something residual from the migraine I had last's always possible...

JS and Heather were awesome at talking me through it and keeping with me as I battled the cramp for the rest of the race.   It was seriously step by step for that last 8k (ish).   I had no doubt I'd finish, but with every stop, I could see the goal slipping away.  So sad.   At one point the goal was modified to "just beat the dude dressed like Barney" - but even that had to slip away as I had trouble staying in front of him.

Dude dressed like Barney:

In the last km, we came around the corner and suddenly Sheena (my TNT coach) and her hubby were right there.  I threw my arms around them - it was exactly what I needed to get me through the next couple of blocks to the finish.

Then it was there, right in front of us.  Heather had kept us pumped up and has come up with the idea that we should all LEAP at the finish line so we did our best to bound up into the air as we crossed the line.  Should be interesting shots to see when the official pics come through...

I shuffled through the finish chute and collected my lovely blue medal from the volunteer...and then the official photos pounced on the "girls in the sparkly skirts" and took a crapload of photos of us.  Between photogs, we snapped some of our own as well.

My thoughts on the race:
  • Much hillier than I anticipated.  I was ready for the long downhill start, but totally unprepared for the little hills along the way
  • It is GORGEOUS.  The unique neighbourhoods, the stunning views along the shore, the winding path through Stanley Park...everything is breathtaking.  
  • Lots of aid stations - I could have easily run this without my hydration belt.  It was never far to more water, Gatorade or Gu.
  • Great entertainment and crowd support.  It was by far the best cheering of any of the Canadian halfs I have done to date.  They are usually pretty sparse.  That crowd support makes a big difference.
  • After leaving the finish area - it was a little disorganized - as police were letting cars through when people were trying to cross the street to meet family at the convention centre and Canada Place.  
  • Great bag lunch at the finish line - though the food bank boxes should have probably been more obvious because we did see several bags in the garbage
  • Awesome shirt.  This is my favourite shirt ever.
  • Really nice medal
Later, when we had met up with my friend C3, we were on the train back to our suite and I caught C3 looking at my medal oddly.  When I asked what was up...she said "You just ran the half, right?"  I answered "Of course" and then looked at my medal closely:

Ya - it appears I got one with a weeeeee little typo. LOL.  The full medals were RED!  I was initially pretty distraught about it and pondered how I might exchange it before I fly out tomorrow, but now I find it hilarious and think I'll keep it as a funny souvenir!   In some ways I did run the full...I've been running this marathon since I was asked to be a Run Van blogger back in January and this kind of commemorates that effort in some small, funny way.  It's fitting that I should be the one to get a medal with a typo like this.

Official time: 2:25:36
It's my second best half time...I'm just now coming to terms with being ok with that.  It was disappointing to not finish at my goal (especially after knowing so many people who smashed through their goals today)

The Garmin Geekery:

The laps are a little screwy because I hit the lap button instead of stop at the finish

It's late and I'm exhausted now so I am going to head to bed - I am sure I'll have more thoughts tomorrow after I've processed this some more.


  1. Congrats on your "funny" medal!! :) And thanks for taking me through Vancouver, I miss it so much. Glad you had such nice weather there, b/c it was snowing here!!

    1. I saw that! Holy hannah - great weekend to be away. We really only had rain the first day we arrived - after that it was gorgeous here!

  2. Was there much downhill in this race? I cramped at a downhill 10K a few weeks ago and then read that downhill running can cause cramps. Just a thought. Congrats on finishing strong. BTW, I love lots of race pictures. I never think about taking them during a race! Oh, and what Garmin do you have? I'm taking the plunge and buying one but I'm not sure which one to get.

    1. There was A LOT of downhill. I always find myself noticing the little uphills but JS commented that it felt like we were ALWAYS going down these long downhills. I should research that more because I really love downhills and I hate cramping so if there's a connection - I might be able to figure out how to solve this.

      My Garmin is the 405CX...I got it at Costco for around $200 but I believe it was on sale on for 149 recently. I love everything about it except how it goes into power save if it isn't started. I've had a few close calls at start lines...

  3. Congrats YOU did it. Love all the pictures.

    1. Thanks! It was a really great race!

  4. Congratulations again on a great race! I know exactly how you felt with the cramping towards the end of the race...I had the same thing happen at Melissa's race last year. It hurt so bad to walk or run.

    Question for you- do you have the ifitness belt? If it is, how come you wear the bottles on the front? I only ask because that's the belt I have and I wear the bottles on the back. Is it more comfortable that way?

    1. Yep - that's the ifitness hydration belt. It's actually meant to be worn to the front - that's why the race bib attachments are there. I find it super comfortable worn this way - when I put the bottles to the back for a training test - I hated the way it sat back there. This way I also have instant, fuss-free access to the pocket. I bought the add on bottles at the Expo this weekend so I could turn it into a 4 bottle belt for some of my long long training runs that are coming this summer.

  5. Great recap Cori! Even with all those cramps you still crossed with an amazing time. It was so great to have met you through BMO and I look forward to hopefully seeing you at other races in the future! Now, gotta go write my recap...

    1. Heather did a great job keeping us pumped up. She is usually around a 2hr half marathoner so it was great to have her there to keep us going and on track.

      I really enjoyed reading your recap as well! It was so great to connect with you through this! I look forward to encounters all over in the future ;)


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