This was not my best race, it was not a pretty race, I did not push my pace, I did not pull off a personal best, I did not have much gas in the end, and when I crossed the finish, I was weaving and swaying like a drunkard and pretty much collapsed under the closest ant ridden tree I could find. But,
The Vancouver Scotiabank half marathon and I have a bit of a jaded history. It all started in 2008, what was to be my very first half marathon. Oh, and it was all so new back then. I had hopes. I had dreams. I had visions of the perfect race. And could only pretend to imagine that thing called post-race running endorphins. I wanted it so bad, I could taste it. I’d already had my appetite whetted several times over with 5 and 10 km races, but by then, I wanted the full meal deal.
And then, BAM! Injury struck. I had been working with a running guru who was super heavy on the speed work, and not much anything else. It was all well and good, I enjoyed cursing him following each session, but the problem was, I was still relatively new to the running scene and hadn’t build up ANY core strength whatsoever. So that fateful day on the seawall when a small, yappy dog came at me on one of those extendable leashes and swerved to avoid the little demon, my body was not strong enough to keep the alignments where they needed to be. Out went my hips, fire went my IT.
Two. Weeks. Before. The. Bloody. Race.
For a few years after, I put Scotia out of my mind. I focused on other races, and seemingly scheduled a lot of travel around that time. Totally unintentional. But then last year, I had loaded up on the races and the timing of Scotia was perfect.
The timing was perfect, not the run.
Some of you may recall the tears. The blood sugar dramas. The unfinished run. The first and only time I had ever DNF’d. The hour of sitting alone at about the 11 km mark at Jericho Beach waiting for my ride to pick me. The tears. The tears. The tears.
And so, when an opportunity (read: deal of a running lifetime) presented itself to register for Scotia once again, I was, admittedly, hesitant. Did I want to put myself through that again? What if the universe was sending me a signal? What if it outright killed me this time? But, I am a runner; it is in our very nature to embrace torture. So, that is exactly what I did.
And torture it was.
The heat: Holy freaking hell it was flaming hot! I, and pretty much everyone else, wasted so much energy gravitating to every shady spot we could find. The two sprinklers out (thank you people for that) had nearly every one of us splashing through, some twice over! My liquid fuel and water were pretty much gone in the first 10 km – I never get through all my water! This was the first time I’ve ever used water stations before (another thing that surely slowed me down) and pretty much it was solely for dumping on my head, in my face, down my back, down my front. The volunteers could not keep up with the people grabbing at their paper cups.
The 12 km mark: Redemption Song entered my head and wouldn’t leave. It’s still making me smile.
The nausea: At 14 km, my stomach turned. This is a familiar feeling for me, but something I had hoped to tame with a bit more natural fuel source (homemade applesauce with salt and matcha) rather than just pure shot blocks. Frick. I still had 7.1 km to go, I would need more fuel, but trying to get anything into my mouth let alone down into my belly without hurling felt impossible. It took probably 10 minutes (no joke) to chew one shot block afte that. So, that was a bit of an issue.
The final push: I had none. My intent was to run conservatively at the start with the hope I’d have some gas left in the tank to crank it up for the final 5 km. Read above. The heat. The nausea. The heat. Left me with nothing. I had a couple bursts but they flamed out pretty quick. I kept trying to tell myself it’s just like training, push, push, push, you’ll soon be done. But my brain would not listen, would not let my legs charge forward.
The end: For the most part I had maintained a solid pace throughout, albeit a bit slower going up, and overall about 20 seconds less than my personal best in January. I did sprint to the finish in the last kilometre, but I was so out of it that I didn’t recognize the people cheering for me on the sidelines, I didn’t spot my rings at the 21 km mark, I didn’t even see the time clock at the finish. Across the line, I wanted to puke, I was weaving, could not walk straight for the life of me, and it was all I could do to find a tree with a smidge of shade to collapse under.
But again, I finished. I slayed the dragon. And I did it with PERFECT blood sugars. Scotiabank is no longer my rosebud.
VANCOUVER SCOTIABANK HALF MARATHON
• 7:00 a.m. BG before: 6.4
• Carbs: 3 shot blocks (no bolus)
• Temp. basal: -50% (started 1 hour before the run)
• Distance: 21.1 km; first 10 km: 1:00:45, second 10 km: 1:00:23
• Time: 2:01:08; 6 minutes off from my PB
• Average pace: 5:40 min/km
• Fuel: shot blocks and applesauce every 30 minutes
• 9:30 a.m. BG after: 6.3
• Temp basal: +80% 1.5 hours
And has become a post-race, we celebrated with sweet and savoury waffles at Nero Belgian Waffle House. The rocket is my favourite! Yum!