August 13, 2016 I ran my first official half marathon, and I can check that off my bucket list! I feel so blessed to be able to do it! I call it official, because the last time I did one was when I was with the track team and we ran for practically a half marathon to raise money for charity, and really my physical fitness was in a completely different level at that time. Nowadays, I classify runs and walks more for relaxation and of course exercise, rather than for competition. It's a completely different perspective, and purpose, but doing sports has always been a fulfilling thing for me, I really do enjoy it. I've always thought of myself as a sprinter, so I never thought a long run or a half marathon was something I could do. I could do a long walk, or a long hike, but running the entire time is a completely different story. Endurance running is only half a physical challenge, and half a mental challenge to keep going. One thing that has really helped me focus while running has been reciting my Bible verses. I've mentioned in my previous posts that I've been doing this journey of going through all the Psalms and memorizing as much as I can. Right now, I'm attempting to memorize the entire Psalm 119, and by God's grace I'm more than half-way through! Woohoo! It's just an amazing "mantra" to focus on and it's incredible enriching to think about God's word while "struggling" in exercise.
Now, I will admit that I have only been running since June, so it's not an incredibly long preparation for this half, and I hadn't been running for more than 5-10km. Half marathons are 21.1km. That's a ton more!! I have a funny behind the scenes story to how I ended up running this race, but regardless, I said yes to running this Seawheeze half marathon. I heard so much good stuff about this run and I would say it was really worth it. Like the course is beautiful, the cheer stations are awesome, there's so much entertainment that I didn't even think so much about the run, I just had fun being there!
Friday August 12 was the package pick-up day! I heard it was going to be crazy busy and all, so I really wanted to miss the crowds because I still had a ton of work to do. We went around noon and there was literally no line up, including the entrance to the Seawheeze Showcase store. I would say, Lululemon is SO smart coming up with "limited edition" merchandise like this because of course people want some kind of memorabilia running this race, so you end up spending more money than you already did just getting into the race. Because I'm so tiny most of the small sizes were so picked through already, but I snagged myself a pair of shorts and socks with the course design on it. Lululemon is all about not being too loud about the shirts, so they don't have anything that say "I ran the Seawheeze 2016". The gear bag that came with the running package also came with a pair of shades and some Nuun active pills and plastic water bottle. I would say I am a lover of dark colors and gold, so I definitely loved the bag design this year!
Fast forward to the start of race day. I didn't check in a bag because I was trying to pack light and I felt it was unnecessary. I didn't want to have to check in a bag and have to pick it up afterwards when it's so busy. Besides, there's a ton of water and refreshments throughout the course. So I just brought my ID and card and some cash, my phone, an extra ponytail, some advil and that's it! After the race, they gave us little bags for the goodies we got and I felt like I made the right decision.
I took the transit to get to downtown because of all the road closures. It's only $2.75 on the weekends, so that's a huge bonus than the regular $4.
I arrived around 6:30 and thought it was still the perfect time to get there. Tons of people already, of course, and just so blessed to be living in such a beautiful city!
I hurried to go to my corral. There was a ton of signage so seriously people shouldn't get lost. I found the 2:20 corral and also found some friends, which was a huge bonus. There were definitely limited breathing space, haha. I've never ran with so many people. When I run around my neighborhood it's always just me, myself and I. That arch was the start line, so around 7:15 our corral started moving, which was fantastic! The first 2 km was really busy, so many people running around you, I felt like I couldn't even do my normal pace because everyone was around me. I was concerned that I was training in Richmond where it's flat, and there are some uphills in this course, but honestly none of the uphills was bad at all for me. Maybe all that quad and ham strength over the years have accounted for some benefits.
We started off in the heart of downtown and made our way across the viaduct and then along the seawall. That was fun, it was so beautiful, the weather was seriously absolutely perfect. I didn't take a ton of photos in the first 10k at all because I was so focused on keeping up a good pace, and you had to really weave around people because some would just stop randomly. I passed the 2:20 mark and the 2:15 mark, and right when we were hitting the Burrard Bridge we could see the 1:30 groups sprinting across. It was amazing to see their athleticism, sprinting for such an incredibly long time. After the Burrard bridge, we ran all the way to Balsam St and then made a U-turn. I saw my friend Jessica and her fiance, and it was so awesome to see people cheering for me.
I was initially planning to pace myself after 10k but I felt strong and my breathing was good, so I kept going. After the Burarrd St everything was pretty much flat and we were entering the Stanley Park, which is seriously just gorgeous! The shade also helped as it was getting hotter by the minute.
And oh, I've forgotten about the cheer stations! They were so fun and energetic. If I was them I would have lost my voice after an hour. For a couple of minutes I wondered if they had a script to know what to say, because I would run out of cheers. Haha! We saw a spin class, mermaids, people on a boat cheering, one guy was like floating on the sea with his jetpack, and just tons of positive energy all around. There was also water and electrolyte stations every 3 km. I'm not used to drinking that often during my runs, so I drank every second one I saw, so I stopped 3 times. I guess it's a normal thing but seriously there were still a ton of people who couldn't put their cups in the trash at the least. When you have to stop to drink you might as well take the extra step instead of throwing. There were some food stations but I couldn't bring myself to eat, so I just left it for the end.
Around the 18km mark I started to feel slight numbness in my hands and just fatigue in general, I pushed for around 2km more but around 20km (LOL, I know), I decided to walk for a little bit. It wasn't very long, because the end was in sight and I knew I had to finish strong. I think if I trained for this more I could definitely even push for a 2:00 finish, and if I didn't walk I should have finished a sub 2:10. But I did what I could and I didn't want to hurt my knee too badly. Mostly it was just my right knee, the one with the ACL reconstruction that had some pain and the outer side of my foot, but my left leg was fine. At this point, I couldn't even recite verses, I was just repeating one verse over and over.
Finally, we were one corner away and I broke off to the final sprint and finished 2:14! Yay. All I really cared about this race was finishing, it was a huge bonus to finish in a good time, at least for myself. :) Achievement unlocked.
Here's my sweaty face right after I crossed the line.
Everyone got draped a gorgeous medal just like the Olympics and it really did feel like I was an athlete in the Olympics and I had just finished my event. And seriously, look at that beautiful view behind me! Psalm 95 and Psalm 100 was like on repeat in my head at this time, just so thankful.
Then we had to do the walk of shame, just kidding, the slowest cool down walk ever as we went up the ramp to get our brunch, water and freebies! Yay! Met up with some friends as well, Flo, Cal and Cory!
And me doing the medal bite!
If you noticed they didn't have the bibs at all, I figured Lululemon didn't want us to pin up our gorgeous Lululemon attire (I think 95% of the people were wearing Lulu's, and 45% of them were the special edition ones from yesterday's haul). Instead we had this paper strips with chips in the back, that automatically got our times every 5, 10, 15 and 21.1!
Overall that was such a wonderful experience, I really would do it again. The 21.1 km flew by and I felt like I accomplished so much and it was only 930am! And really, you can't complain when you get to run with such awesome entertainment and cheer squads, beautiful view, and tons of freebies to boot. I love my Saje products so I was very happy to get my little runners reward afterwards.
And that's a wrap! :) Maybe next year C can run it with me, and hopefully by that time he would be so much healthier. :)