Well, my friends – I am excited to share that if you haven’t already seen it on instagram and/or facebook, I have a new half marathon PB (personal best)!!
The ‘First Half’ was literally my first half in 2019…and despite a small case of nerves, it turned out to be a day of fun, sun, and personal success! I crossed the finish line at 1:43:42 for an average pace of 4:54 minutes/km, smashing my PR from well, every previous run, by at least 7 minutes. I’m very pumped.
The ‘First Half’ half marathon is a Vancouver classic that’s been going on since 1991. Taking place every February, it’s one of the city’s most iconic races, highlighting some of the best scenery Vancouver has to offer. So when Will (my good [running] friend from Toronto) mentioned he’d be flying in for it, I knew I had to sign up.
Knowing that this race sells out fast, I hadn’t really put much thought into all of the training I’d have to sustain leading up to it before entering my payment details. And, for the first time in all of my running history, I think I properly trained for this race. Meaning, I followed an actual training plan set out for me rather than running whenever I wanted to and just showing up without a goal in mind.
You can find any number of elaborate training plans online, but the one I chose (mostly for its simplicity) was called the “Half Master,” shared by Runner’s World.
Thoughts on training plans: in my opinion, the basic formula for a great training plan is as follows:
- Run casually at least three days a week (30 minutes)
- Take a longer run or run/walk (an hour to two hours) on the weekend
- Rest or cross-train on your off days
- Run at a conversational pace (safe for on days where you’re pushing your speed)
- And, on days when you don’t want to go out, consider taking regular walk-breaks
Sunday was a beautiful, though chilly, day for racing. I gave myself PLENTY of time and arrived at the race a full hour before the start to meet Will and David and to mentally prep for the -6-degree-blistering-seawall-winds-and-ocean-spray-run I was about to endure.
The First Half is a fast course with not a lot of hills. It starts off at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. You head east on Pacific first and loop around BC Place before getting on the seawall underneath the Granville Street bridge. Follow the seawall and the south Lost Lagoon path and start making your way around the Stanley Park seawall counter-clockwise. Before heading back to Yaletown, you take another detour around Lost Lagoon, this time on the north side and around, heading back towards the seawall, where you follow the same course back to the finish line. The problem areas were mostly around Lost Lagoon as it’s a little more uneven, made of gravel (around the water), and muddy. The hill underneath the Granville Street Bridge at the 20th km was also a killer as it’s steep and by that time you’re already pretty tired. The good news is that the finish line is just a downhill sprint away. That was my favourite part of the race. It was fun just flying down the road for that last kilometre.
A photographer at the race who, by a funny coincidence is also a co-worker caught these shots of me at the 14km mark and in his email to me he said something along the lines of “I love catching runners who look like they’re enjoying themselves on the course, and there aren’t a lot of them!” Which makes me think I could have perhaps pushed myself even more. Next time, next time…
At the finish line, I was greeted by a volunteer who put a medal around my neck. It’s now hanging proudly on my bedroom door knob. We headed to Will’s hotel for a quick shower and met the Mile2Marathon group for brunch and beers at Craft Brewery in Olympic Village. I don’t know how long we were there for or how many beers I consumed but, by the time we left 2 feet of snow had dumped on the ground and I had to be extra careful with my noodle-y legs. Needless to say, I slept very well that night, and, with a big smile on my face. 🙂
Would I Do It Again? Next Race?
Yes! Next race is TBD.