This was my second time running the 1st Half in Vancouver. It would have been my third, but last year the race got cancelled due to inclement weather! Vancouver got a shocking amount of snow last year, normally not an issue. I kept my eye on the weather all week because this race is notorious for having crazy weather. The first time I did it, in 2016, it was a full-on monsoon. I remember a guy saying to me, “theres water in my shoes” around the 18km mark last time and thinking yeah man everyone’s in the same position.
In spite of all of this, we were very lucky with the weather this year. It was a crisp day for sure, but the sun was out, and the views were spectacular as ever. When it’s good it’s good. The race started at 8:30am, and our hotel was under 1km from the start, so we planned to run over at 8am. Breakfast was coffee, water and oats from Starbucks. The oats were very dry, so Jo and I poured an Endurance Tap on them, this made them so good!
Our warm-up was only 10 minutes, so we ran around Yaletown, ending up by the start to do our strides and then line-up in the corrals and take our pre-race gel. My focus was to stay on pace and in control to avoid burn-out later on in the race. The start of a race always feels amazing, especially when you have a full taper. The sun was shining, I was running alongside 1500 others in Vancouver and I never felt better. This was definitely reflected on my first 2 km, my pace was showing me running slow, I knew I wasn’t, but, I didn’t feel like I was going too fast.
The first 2km were 4:25 and 4:22, 10-13 seconds faster than my target pace. Km 3 and 4 were 4:50 and 4:30, there was an incline on km 3. Km 5 and 6 were both 4:38. My 5km split was 23:13 according to the race timing, a 4:38 average (this is 32 seconds faster than the sum of the 5km according to my watch). At some point early on the mileage on my watch stopped matching the km markers, and my current pace was never accurate for the duration of the race. I was essentially running on feel. Not what I wanted to do, but the only option. I knew there was a signal issue when I looked at my pace on the first km and it never got better.
Km 7 and 8 were both 4:45. I took my second gel at km 7. Km 9 and 10 were 4:43 and 4:29. My 10km split was 46:29, still a 4:38 pace. I was feeling great at this point. 11 and 12 were 4:40 and 4:32. 13 and 14 were 4:37 and 4:40 as per my Garmin. I knew the last few km of the race were hilly so I was mentally preparing for that.
At the 15km mark I was planning to take my final gel. That was around the time a wave of fatigue hit. I decided not to focus on it and power through. Having a wave of fatigue in a half with only 6km left is preferable to having it happen in a marathon because there is often double the distance left when the pain starts. Km 15 was 5:00! My 15km split was 1:09:56, average pace 4:39.
Km 16 and 17 were 4:41. 18 and 19 were apparently 5:20 and 5:17. This is the hilly portion. Just before the last climb between 19-20km, and as we began to climb a guy yelled, “I’m so excited!” As he picked up the pace, another guy beside me said, “wow, he’s got some pep”. I responded with, “yeah, let’s catch him”. He said, “you go for it”, so I began chasing him. Km 20 was the last bit of hill and 5:23? The last km is flat and then turns into downhill. I zeroed I’m on the peppy guy and caught him just before the finish. Due to the watch error km 21 shows up as only 560m and 2:48. My average pace for the last 6.1km was 4:32, so not quite the splits my watch said!
My finish time was 1:37:45, average pace 4:37.8/km. I was the 85th woman out of 777, and 21/80 for my category. I was happy with how this went, but I know I have more to give, sub 1:35 I’m coming for you!