I just have to start this post by saying how good it feels to be writing a race report. 2015 definitely did not start out how I had hoped and at one point I wasn’t sure if I’d be racing at all so it feels pretty darn good to be writing about my first race of the year, Vancouver First Half.

After a crappy December plagued with unknown foot issues and then a January mottled with random accidents like falling down the stairs and that time I made a frittata and ended up in hospital with second degree burns, I really didn’t think I’d be in any shape to run what was supposed to be my first big race of 2015. I actually had promised my bib away to a friend and then a couple weeks ago realized I’d be okay to run it so managed to find another bib for her so I could keep mine. Phew.

PSA: always use oven mitts!

PSA: always use oven mitts!

Since it had been so long since I’ve raced, I felt kind of nervous the night before. I actually sat and made a list of everything I needed to bring the next morning which I haven’t done in years! We were in for some beautiful weather so it was nice laying out short sleeves instead of layers upon layers of winter gear.

I knew I’d be running with lots of friends so I packed lots of chocolate milk!

I knew I’d be running with lots of friends so I packed lots of chocolate milk!

My plan for the day was to go out and run at the fastest pace I could hold comfortably.  I obviously wanted to run the best race I could but I wasn’t willing to risk aggravating my now-dealt-with injuries. My friends Marijke, Candice and Sarah all planned to run with me and we all agreed we’d run hard but slow down if need be.

I didn’t actually get a picture of all 4 of us, sorry Marijke!

I didn’t actually get a picture of all 4 of us, sorry Marijke!

Marijke and I got downtown with enough time for a tea before heading to the race venue. As soon as we made our way into the Roundhouse Community Centre, I felt like I was surrounded by friends. Everywhere I looked, I saw familiar faces and it was so nice to chat and say hi to so many amazing people. I truly love my running community.

We got our gear checked and met up with our group of friends before heading outside for a warmup. I had also planned to meet up with fellow Chocolate Milk Ambassadors for a photo so I met Jeremy at the start line for a quick shot, even though we couldn’t find the others.

Fellow chocolate milk ambassador Jeremy (he’s fast!)

Fellow chocolate milk ambassador Jeremy (he’s fast!)

Gathering in the starting corral, I was admittedly nervous. I’d gone from thinking I wouldn’t be able to run at all to toeing the line and feeling great. It’s only been a few weeks that i’ve been back running again but I’ve felt stronger and more capable than I have in ages. Even though it was because of injury, I think the rest has done me good.

Just before it was time to start...

Just before it was time to start…

The gun went off and we started our race. The first couple km were spent chatting and goofing around with our friends but we eventually separated and the faster of us took off. I was determined to just settle into a good pace and do the best I could.

It was a tough choice between black or pink these Wave Riders felt like the lucky ones for the day...

It was a tough choice between black or pink these Wave Riders felt like the lucky ones for the day…

My friends were amazing for running along with me and keeping me going. They all knew how badly I wanted to finish in 2hrs but also knew that I had to be careful. We settled into a quick but manageable pace and I was honestly feeling really good.

I knew our pace was quicker than what I’m used to but it felt good. I felt strong and not sore and perfectly fine to carry on. We had found such a nice rhythm as a group. I was practising running by feel so I wasn’t checking my watch as much as I normally do but was trying to take cues from how I was feeling. I honestly couldn’t believe that for a little more than half the race, I ran quite easily with only quick stops at the water stations.

This was the only picture I stopped to take!

This was the only picture I stopped to take!

This was very different than the 10:1 walk breaks I am used to. It was going fine but I was definitely worried about whether I could keep it up. We crossed the 10k mark around 56:00 mins which is way faster than I’ve ever done it before. I couldn’t believe it, especially since I was still feeling fine to keep up that pace.

We were so lucky to have such a beautiful day for this race. The fog over the water was achingly beautiful and made the city just gorgeous as we wound our way around. The sun was shining and everyone seemed to be in such a great mood. I remarked at one point that this was the kind of day that was so beautiful it could just bring you to tears. I was feeling so very fortunate to be running, feeling so good and being with so many great friends. No matter the outcome, it was a beautiful day.

Love this pic that Solana’s husband Jay Klassen captured of us...

Love this pic that Solana’s husband Jay Klassen captured of us…

It was somewhere around the 16-17 km mark that I started to feel noticeably tired. I don’t know if that’s just my limit for this pace or if I was just running out of steam but I asked my friends a couple times if we could slow down a bit. I felt like we must have built up a big enough buffer that we could afford to slow down and I needed the chance to catch my breath and slow my breathing down. 

For the whole race I felt like we were well within range of finishing in 2 hours yet as we rounded the lagoon suddenly I felt like it was going to be very tight. I was getting tired and knew I needed to slow down a bit. I guess I just didn’t realize how close to the threshold we were at that point. 

This was earlier in the race when I still clearly thought we would finish in 2hrs!

This was earlier in the race when I still clearly thought we would finish in 2hrs!

After the lagoon it’s just a short trip through the park back out to the seawall and around to the Roundhouse for the finish. I knew there were a few short hills though and that made me worry. I was finding the pace tough and I knew I had to go up those hills too, in my mind, I felt the 2 hrs start slipping away. I also knew that this course has an amazing downhill finish so if I could just get myself to the top of those hills…

Anyhow, I tried to hang on and keep running but as seems to be my usual limitation, my legs were getting tight/tired and I was starting to feel like I didn’t trust them. Whereas earlier in the race my legs felt solid and amazing, now I felt like if I pushed them too hard they might wobble and give out and I’m beginning to think it’s totally a mental thing. I made it slowly up the first little hill and carried on. The second one was steeper and I had to walk it and the last one I had to walk as well.

When i got to the top of the hill however, I pulled out every last bit of energy I had and raced toward the finish. The girls were right still there with me and I barked at Candice to move out of my way because I wanted to cut the corner to the finish line. Ha ha.

PR or not, the First Half medals were beautiful this year!

PR or not, the First Half medals were beautiful this year!

I crossed the line, stopped my watch and knew I had just run a wicked race. I still kinda thought we’d at least made a 2:00:xx finish but when I glanced down and saw 2:01:36 I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. I knew that after being injured and missing so much training I had no business getting a PR but everything came so easily together out there (until the last few km) that I really thought we’d done it.

Some of our friends at the finish line, including Shawn on the far left who ran a 1:28!!

Some of our friends at the finish line, including Shawn on the far left who ran a 1:28!!

Anyhow, after double checking the results we stopped for a pic and headed inside. The First Half is actually our biggest Mizuno sponsored event in BC and I was excited to go in and visit with the Mizuno team. I know a few of the reps but hadn’t yet met Bethany, who actually lives quite close to me so we’ll be running together this week.

Yay for reps who live close by!

Yay for reps who live close by!

While we were chatting, I noticed that Dylan Wykes (Canadian olympic marathoner and Mizuno athlete) was there so I asked Bethany if she would introduce me since I was feeling like a fangirl and was too nervous to go up and introduce myself. It was really nice to finally meet him and we chatted for a few moments – he won the First Half in a time of 67 minutes. Crazy since that’s a comfortable 10k time for me!

Maybe some of Dylan’s speed will rub off on me...

Maybe some of Dylan’s speed will rub off on me…

When we finished at the venue we made our way downtown for lunch (read: FRIES) with everyone, definitely a highlight of the day. Since moving away from Langley I don’t get to see this group of running friends as often so it was great to have the chance to visit for awhile after. We had some amazing PRs amongst the group, even though I wasn’t one of them.

It really was a great day. Vancouver was just so beautiful and First Half really is one of my favourite half marathons. As always, the event was impeccably organized and full of amazing volunteers. The course is gorgeous, it’s a Mizuno event and it just seems like everyone comes together for their love of First Half. It’s such a great way to start off the running year. And, considering a few weeks ago I didn’t even think I could run this event, I was thrilled with having run such a great race.

There is definitely a part of my heart that is feeling heavy though. Even though I wasn’t trained for it or planning on it, it always kind of hurts to miss a PR by a couple seconds and a lifetime goal by a little over a minute. It leaves me sitting here asking myself, “Why didn’t I push just a little bit harder?” I mentioned before that I think maybe I have a bit of a mental block in staying strong right to the finish as I’ve lost a 2hr half so many times in the last few kms.

It’s definitely something I need to think long and hard about because even though I was injured, I know I am stronger today and feeling better than I have in so long. It was only a few years ago that I finished this same race in 2:33 and cried with joy I was so happy so I know I’ve come a long way. And with how good I’m feeling, It really feels like now is the time to take it a bit further. This could be the year that I finally push through some of those barriers.

So stay tuned on that one, this could be an exciting year!

A little bit of evening recovery after a race well-run...

A little bit of evening recovery after a race well-run…

 

Related Posts

Comments

  1. Annette    

    Sounds like overall it was a great race! For being recovered from injury for a short time and coming so close to your pr is pretty fantastic in my opinion! I have recently registered for my first half, and I’m shitting bricks, to be blunt. Any suggestions? What should I bring, how to prepare, mentally what I need to prepare for?

    1. slowfastnik    

      You’re right, it is pretty fantastic and I just need to remind myself of that. Your first half! Very exciting! In terms of what to pack, I’d make sure you have enough nutrition (of whatever you’ve practised with and like), plenty of water, any layers you might want to change (hats, gloves, buffs etc.), a pace band if you have a goal time in mind etc. In terms of how to prepare, I like to pamper myself a bit the week before a race. Finish out my runs but have lots of nice baths, roll and stretch lots, get good night’s sleeps and eat well. The best part of a first half is that there doesn’t need to be any huge pressures, just run it well and finish and you’ll be so proud. You have tons of races ahead of you to train and prepare for so make ‘enjoying it’ your number goal for your first. How far away is your race?

      1. Annette    

        Thanks for all the tips. The race is May 24th in Buffalo, and I’m hopeful we will have good weather!
        Annette recently posted…The Mystery Knee PainMy Profile

        1. slowfastnik    

          Perfect! You’ve got lots of time to prepare then. If you have any questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me! :)

  2. Rebecca    

    Great job on the run!!! Oh my goodness – I hope your hand is ok!

    Totally jealous of the running clothes you guys have on. It is so cold in Ottawa – it’s like 5 layers weather (or for me – treadmill weather!).

  3. jencloss    

    Awesome Nikki! It was so fun to see so many familiar faces! It was never my intention to run for speed yesterday since I was running with my sister and it was her first half marathon. She had set a goal of 2:15-2:20 and we finished in 2:18 so she was thrilled, but I was a bit disappointed by how hard it felt. I have absolutely no idea how I pulled off 1:59 at BMO last spring. :( I feel like I lose it in the last few kms too and it’s so disappointing. So, more long runs with race pace finishes? I was sick all week last week so before the race I hadn’t run in 10 days so for now that’s my excuse, and also why I’m so sore today (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). BUT!! Personal goals aside, it was utterly and completely the most perfect day for a run, on the perfect course with SO many friends :)

    1. slowfastnik    

      Yes, yesterday was made for running, so so pretty. I could have walked the whole thing and just taken pictures! Anyhow, so amazing for your sister! I guess my goal for this year is to figure out what I need to do or learn to do in order to push through those last few km. That’s always where I lose it and it’s really getting frustrating. I feel like I’m the last person to go sub 2! (even though I totally know I’m not)

  4. Crystal    

    Great job Nikki! Love the smile on your face in all the pics! You can push through those barriers! Look how well you did and you’ve been injured. Well done, chica!
    Crystal recently posted…The “TMI” side of runningMy Profile

    1. slowfastnik    

      You know, I should be able to push those barriers, I just haven’t figured out yet how to do it. It’s coming though, I know it!

  5. Pam and Christine    

    I found your blog through Runner Dad and the Rock n Blogger FB page. Nice recap on your race and that scenery is amazing. Congrats on getting so close to your goal despite a tough training cycle. I’m working hard on staying healthy for the next 39 days leading up to the Boston Marathon….it will be my first and I just have to finish!
    Pam and Christine recently posted…Running Makes a Difference!My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge