Okay, as promised, I’ve done the report on the Okanagan half marathon! It really was a fantastic day.
I arrived in Kelowna the afternoon before the race. The expo and both the finish and the start line were located in City Park, which is to the left of the bridge I was coming in on. I drove up with my brother as my support team (although his duties were limited to driving only) so we stopped to check out the expo and pick up my race package. The expo was very small, just a tent with a big space for Running Room gear and a couple other running-related companies. Picking up the race package went very smoothly. The tech shirt they included is very cool but a bit too big… I like my shirts tight when running so we’ll see if I ever end up wearing it. See the picture.
We headed over to my Grandma’s who lives very nearby. My Grandma was the absolute best! She declared me princess of the weekend and gave me my own room to sleep in. She told the rest of the family off if they commented on what I was eating (people tend to judge me as a vegetarian athlete…) and wouldn’t let me help out with dinner or anything. See my previous post about everything I ate (because you’re so interested right?). I went to sleep at my usual time, which is 8pm. Yeah… I do that. I woke up also at my usual time at 5 to eat and then did some schoolwork until it was time to get ready.
I wish I’d taken a picture of all my gear and everything but it’s not like it was very special. I had my iPod on my arm because I still like to listen to the music during races. I also used my Nike+ device to record the workout. I was a little nervous that the thing had been overestimating my distances in training so I wanted to compare to make sure. It worked great, only off by 150 meters, which is pretty good.
I prepared a protein shake and banana to have after the race, which made me late. I almost missed the start you guys! The race was scheduled to start at 7:45 but I naturally assumed it would start later. So I got to the park around 7:40, noticed they were getting ready to start, and I still needed to hit the port-a-potties! And you know how long the line-up was! I was in full panic attack mode but some very kind 10kers (who started after the half) let me in front of them. I got in the starting corral just before the wheelchair racers headed out to my extreme relief! I had wanted to get near the 2:30 pace bunny but I was too far back in the crowd. There were about 1500 people doing the half so it was a good size but not too big.
We headed out and I tried to spot the bunny but couldn’t see him at all during the first kilometre. I just focused on not starting too fast and watching out for other runners. The first 10k of the race went through a kind of industrial district in Kelowna that I actually really liked. There were very few spectators but the buildings were interesting. I was still on the lookout for this pace bunny when I saw him ahead of me leading a small group of people. And I realized then that they were going way too slow for me! I didn’t have much of a pace goal but I knew then that I was capable of running faster than a 2:30. So I headed off and focused on staying strong. But you know I needed someone to chase, and I set my eyes on this giant of a man dressed all in yellow. He looked like a gigantic banana running along and I wanted to keep him in my sights. Unfortunately he raced off and I settled on keeping ahead of the group of people that were running my pace.
I don’t know quite what happened but I was feeling great the entire race, never quite like I was topping out. I kept setting my sights on people, passing them, then finding a new person to pass. I was feeling fantastic! I had a little water bottle with me and I had a sip at each water station. I had gels for the 6, 12, and 18k marks. I wish I’d had more space because Gu was handing out free gels and them being my favourite brand, I wanted to stock up!
My one complaint about the organization of the race was that the kilometres for the half were not very well-marked. The kilometres for the full marathon were bright red and easy to see, and though it was nice to pretend I had already run 35 kilometres, it was hard to see where my actual kilometres ticked off.
Around the 10k mark we had circled back to City Park and there were a lot more spectators which felt nice! Our bibs had our names on them so I heard lots of “Go Margaret!” through my music. There was about a kilometre that followed the waterfront that was really beautiful. We then left City Park again for a 10k tour through the suburban streets to the south, which was much quieter. This part I didn’t like so much, because there were very long stretches of running in straight lines through the very well-organized blocks. But it was sprinkling a little and it really helped to cool me off. It was by no means warm out (a solid 12-15 Celsius I’d guess) but I’m used to running very early in the morning.
And you guys, I was still feeling really good. So, around the 15k mark, I just decided ‘screw it, I’m givin er!’ and really picked up my pace. I have no idea what my pace was but I’m sure it was at least 45 sec/km faster than my training pace of 7:15. I was just pushing it and feeling a little bit of that racer’s high when, around 16k, my banana man materialized out of the mist! I laughed out loud and passed him and that set the tone for the rest of the race. I spent the last 5k passing people and trying to maintain a good fast pace. I gave it my all for the last 1000m and ended up with, I think, a very respectable time of 2:17 (roughly).
YOU GUYS that’s 15 minutes off my personal best! I ran a 2:33 three months ago, then went into training just hoping to run maybe a couple minutes faster. Not only did I improve much more than a few minutes, my training was also interrupted by a case of acute appendicitis in August. That put me out for two weeks and then made me work my way back up to the high mileage. So this is a universal SUCK IT world because I’m awesome and good at running.
Okay that’s the end of my bragging. Sorry, but I’ll listen to your brags whenever you want!
The end of the race was fine, not too crowded. The volunteers (who were awesome by the way) handed me my finisher’s medal (see photo) and a water bottle.
The crowds were small and I headed off to the entrance of the park to meet the bro, who snapped this photo:
And then we headed home! All in all it was a great day, and I’m so thankful to the organizers for putting on such a great event!