Since running my first 10K in 2008, I have wanted to complete a half marathon. However, it had always seemed so daunting, and I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to it. When I was creating my 30 before 30 list, I knew that I needed to add this task. So in January, I signed up for the Centaur Subaru Half Marathon, part of the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. At that point, run day was so far away! But before I knew it, the run was just around the corner, and I still didn’t feel quite ready. Days prior to the race, Mother Nature was not so kind to Calgary. It rained and rained, and I monitored the forecast closely. Regardless, rain or shine, and whether or not I was ready, I would be running the half marathon on Sunday May 29th, 2011 :). And in the end, I would be running with two of my awesomely awesome friends, Paul and Shari. Team 403, as we sometimes called ourselves! We would also continue to tell ourselves that “We’re Awesome!” and “We Got This!” to help psych ourselves up for the big day :D. True words, true story.
The 21.1 km half marathon course is quite nice. Starting in Bridgeland, the run passes by the Calgary Zoo, the Stampede Grounds, along 17th Avenue, through some neighbourhoods and parks, and then on to Memorial Drive along the Bow River. Race day turned out to be gorgeous and sunny (Praise the Lord!), and with such a great course, I was getting pumped…
On the morning of the half marathon, I was up at 4:30 am to try to get my insides sorted out. Honestly, my biggest fear was having to go to the bathroom during the race! Yes, this is share-worthy information, and I’m happy to say that my insides co-operated :). For breakfast, I ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana accompanied by a nice cup of Earl Grey tea. I’m not sure if that’s a great runner’s breakfast, but it was good. Paul and his wife, Vanessa, who was running the 10K, picked me up and we headed down to the race site where we met up with Shari. The energy was amazing- so many excited and crazy people thinking that it’s a great idea to run for hours starting at 7 am on a Sunday morning! I can identify with these people :). Naturally, I had to go to the bathroom right before the race started. I did that last year before the 10K too. At least I’m consistent. Afterward, Paul, Shari and I lined up and the run was on!
As expected, the start of the race was packed, with everyone trying to find their stride and with so many runners of different paces. It was a bit difficult to navigate through the crowd, and it took some time before we found our pace, but eventually we did. It then dawned on me- “I’m actually running a half marathon! This is awesome.” And even though I was focused on my breathing and running, I was able to take in the sights around me. As we meandered through the course, I was reminded why Calgary is a great and beautiful place… when it’s not -40 degrees Celsius, of course.
Around the 12 km mark, Paul and I were absolutely thrilled- we had caught up with the 2:00 Half Marathon Pace Bunnies! We knew if we ran with them, we would finish in about 2 hours, which seemed like a lofty goal at the start of the race, but a goal that we really wanted to achieve. So we ran 10s and 1s with them for a few kilometres, and then around the 16 km mark, we forged ahead. At 17 km, my right foot started to cramp a bit, and my left foot would do the same a few kilometres later. The end was a bit rough, but Paul and I kept to a good pace (thanks Paul!). Overall, with our pacing and determination, and with the help of well placed Gatorade stops, some sports beans/honey stingers/energy gels, and the well-timed voices of Beyonce, Katy Perry (Firework, of course!), Gaga, and Britney, Paul and I crossed that finish line in under 2 hours! Shari would cross not too long after with an amazing time! As expected, I was hurting afterward, but incredibly elated. I am so proud of Team 403 :). To Paul and Shari: It was amazing to run our first half marathon together. We rocked it!
To say that I am happy to have completed my first half marathon within my goal time is an understatement :). Thanks to my family and friends for all of their support! And with that, I am now able to cross off what I think was the most challenging on my list of 30 before 30: #11, Run a Half Marathon. Right after the race, I thought “OMG, never again!”, but as I write this, many hours later, I can’t help but think when the next run will be. Maybe I’ll run another one at the end of the summer. And my ambitious goal is to run my first marathon in Honolulu, December 2012. Anyone interested?
In another note, I want to say congratulations to my awesome friend Dan of Consumed By Wanderlust and face-smashing fame. He completed the 42.2 km Ottawa Marathon on Sunday with an epic time of 4:08. Amazing! I give you a face-five smack to the centre of your face for finishing your first marathon :).
Oh, and what’s a big event without a planking shot, just because. It’s very rare to see Memorial Drive closed off and with no cars in sight. Sometimes you just need to seize opportunities when they present themselves…
(UPDATE: My net time was 1:55:23.50. W00t!!)