WHISTLER HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

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Me (728) and my angel, Jen (384) coming through the finish chute of the 2015 Whistler Half Marathon – photo by Rob Shaer Photo

This moment was not in my plan for Saturday, June 6.

So much of this moment was not in my plan it’s hard to begin the list. Let’s start with the finish time because most runners can relate to the whole “missed my goal by a LONG shot” at least once.

I finished in 2:13. Still a respectable time, absolutely. A half marathon ain’t half of anything, so 2:13 is still fantastic. Especially in the heat we got (GORGEOUS day). Especially when training left much to be desired (another reason why finishing was not actually in the plan, more on that later). My BHAG time was 1:50; if I wasn’t going to get that I wanted to beat my PR of 1:55; failing that, I wanted to match 1:55; and finally I wanted to at least run sub-2 hours “worst case scenario”.

Yes, 2:13 is totally an amazing finish time. One that I didn’t think I would actually get on June 6 because things got painful, there was lots of walking and the pressure was taken off to chase down any time goals. So, I’m content with it.  Especially when I told myself as soon as I wanted to walk more than run I could drop.

Ya, I planned on dropping. Seriously, I was going to take a DNF. Luckily, my friend Jen (384) was having none of that and informed me at my pre-determined “drop” spot that she wasn’t letting me not finish.

Confession:

I did not train well for this race. Full stop. The level of training I did this year can only be matched to that of my first and maybe second half marathons. That is to say, it was seriously lacking. My heart just has not been in it this year, and I’m okay with that but I hoped that at some point along these training weeks I would have found that spark again and this wouldn’t be an issue. This was not the case, and so mentally I was preparing myself for a really awful day.

The Night Before

We went to the carbo-load dinner. On the way, I took a photo of the Start because even though I’ve seen it five times already, I still think it’s a beautiful Start line.

The prettiest START line that you ever did see

The prettiest START line that you ever did see

Sidenote: Friends, this dinner sells out and if you plan on coming back next year, or you’re already putting WHM on your race list for next year get tickets for this dinner. Delicious, draw prizes, and a great chance to meet fellow racers.

I was organising my clothes for the race before heading to bed, talking to my husband about how much I was dreading even attempting 10km let alone 21.

“I think when I hit the lululemon cheer station I’ll drop,” I told him. “That’s around 16km I think, so that’s pretty good for no training anyway.” He agreed, ever supportive. He was also supposed to be doing the half marathon but had to pull out due to a stress fracture that had only made itself known within the previous week.

Then, right before I went up to bed, I checked Facebook one last time. Earlier in the evening a friend had posted asking who was running in the half the next day and I’d responded that I was. Well, sure enough, my friend and regular running partner, Jen, had replied as well and asked me if I wanted to run together. “Yes!!” Things were looking up, I at least had some form of moral support for a portion of the run tomorrow.

Race Day

I woke up early. I decided to eat something solid as opposed to my usual smoothie. Toast with almond butter, banana slices and a drizzle of honey. Lots of water. Some coconut water because I could tell it was going to be hot, and I’d gotten a little bit of a sunburn the day before so I needed the extra hydration.

All of a sudden it was time to leave, we rushed out the door. And it wasn’t until we got to the village that I realised I’d forgotten my fuel. No stores open. The sponsor tents at the finish area only had samples of bars, no gels. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to take what I could from the race course.

I hit the bathrooms one more time, and met up with Jen for the pre-race warm up. As it turns out, I am not very coordinated early in the morning. I was never meant to be an aerobics instructor, I guess.

Butterflies, and then we were off. The first few miles (sorry, I run in American) throw you right into the thick of it; with Blueberry Hill as your first challenge. Jen and I made it up and over that hill in better shape than I expected, which gave me a good boost of confidence. On the downhill I picked up the pace because I knew I’d be slow later. It’s a long downhill into Lakeside Park, and I usually see the lead runners on their way back out to Rainbow Park along this stretch, which is always exciting.

We made quick pace into Lakeside, I made the decision to take two waters at each aid station; one to drink, and one to dump on my head so I stayed cool. This proved, again, to be one of my smarter moves of the day.

Up and around Nordic hill, we decided to stop at the bathroom. I never NEVER stop to go to the bathroom during a race. Today was the race where I did everything differently, I guess.

Bladders empty, we headed back out onto the course. Up Alta Vista, behind the golf course and on our way out to Rainbow Park. Approaching the halfway point, I informed Jen that I would be dropping at lululemon’s cheer station. “They can comfort me in my disappointment in myself,” I said. Jen just nodded her head. “Okay, sounds good.”

On the out and back from Rainbow Park, my pelvis started to ache. I started to wonder if I would even make it to lululemon at that point. Pain that early, especially when I don’t usually have pain, was concerning to me. And not just on a “I won’t finish the race” level, but on a “I’m probably injured” level.

Jen and I, approaching Whistler Village. I'm only looking positive because mentally I know that I'm quitting very soon.

Jen and I, approaching Whistler Village. I’m only looking positive because mentally I know that I’m quitting very soon. – photo by Rob Shaer Photo

You’re Not Quitting

We’ve gone through Tapley’s Farm and are now along the valley trail beside Whistler Golf Course. Mentally I know, my quit spot is on the horizon. I have less than 1km to go really until I’m done for the day. We walk through the aid station beside The Core; drink water, dump water on head. “Let’s get you to lulu!” Jen says.

And then there are my husband and my girls. Waiting to hand off fuel to me because they managed to get mine and decided to meet me on the course to make sure I had something (hubby knows how particular about my fuel). I told him I was sore, thanked them for being there and carried on. Small boost to the morale, I am so glad that I got to see them!

Just around the corner is lululemon’s cheer station. This is where I’m finishing my day. I high five my lemons, everyone is cheering. Jen looks at me and says,”You are so not quitting. We have less than 5km to go, you can walk to the finish for all I care. Your day isn’t ending here.”

With a sigh of what can only be described as a combination of relief (that someone else had made the decision for me) and fear (I knew it was going to hurt), I ripped open my gel and took it in knowing full well that I needed to get that fuel in me if I had any hope of attempting to get through the next few kms.

THE FINISH

We made our way through Spruce Grove, with me having an increasingly more difficult time moving along. My knee was now hurting, and I knew it wasn’t just a “tired” kind of hurt at this point. Twenty days later, I know that I have some sort of injury going on but this is what happens when you run a half marathon without training….

Back to the finish. White Gold is usually the place where I get angry. I just want to be done and I cannot move fast enough to the finish. I know that it is right over those trees and if I just get MOVING I’ll be done. And so, I think we got a tiny bit faster. Jen was ready to be done too, I know. She was so patient and so supportive with me, but at some point it’s like,”Chick, let’s just get this thing done.” I wanted to give her that. Haha

As we made our way into Day Lot 4, Jen asked me if this was it. Were we done? “Yes, just up and over the little hill to Blackcomb Way, and across the street.” We could hear the finish area; the announcer, the crowd.

The next thing I knew, we were in the Finish chute. I heard them say my name. I crossed that Finish line. I hugged Jen. I couldn’t believe that I had made it through that run. Honestly, the most difficult run I have done in recent memory and 100% I would not have finished it if Jen hadn’t supported and encouraged me to carry on.

Post-Race Thoughts

Don’t run a half marathon without proper training.

It’s all fun to joke about it, but seriously, the only reason I even attempted this is because I’ve done the distance numerous times already (aka I know I can finish) and because I truly thought I was going to have a DNF next to my name instead of a finish time. I should have DNF next to my name.

I have only run twice since the race. Each time, my knee hurts afterward. My right hamstring is not talking to me, and when it does it only wants to get angry. So, I know that I did some damage to myself.

How am I recovering from that? I walk almost daily, I go to yoga and only do what I can with my right side, and I just haven’t run. I know I’ve needed the rest.

And that’s my very long-winded Whistler Half Marathon Race Report. Stay tuned for more Summer adventures! I will be running, I will be taking pictures, I actually have another half marathon on the calendar for August (must.start.training) and I may bring in a guest blogger – lots in the works for the coming weeks.

Never Stop Exploring ❤,
Aimee

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