Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon 2012

Waiting for the start at UBC.
What a great event! 

This was one of those races that was on my radar for a while.  K had a conference in Vancouver, BC during the week and then this race was on Sunday.  Hmmm.  It's the perfect opportunity for a quick weekend away and getting in a race in a new venue.  I've not been to Vancouver since 2004 when I did my second (third?) half marathon there in the larger marathon/half marathon event which occurs in early May.

For quite a while I wasn't sure if i was going to run the race.  I knew I'd come up the last day or two of the conference just to see the city. I didn't want to sign up for the race until I knew I'd be at a point in my cycle that would be conducive to running a decent race.  Hey I"ve had enough crappy race days because of this, why bother if I know I'm not going to run well?

And then the timing seemed to work out pretty well and even better I've been running really well.  I started to think that not only would i run a decent race, I could run really well.  Ragnar Relay is a month after this event and that would be perfect for recovery/race stimulus to ensure a good relay.

And then what happened?  I had a double cycle.  It was a good thing I'd increased iron supplements per my doctor's recommendation based on recent blood work testing.  And I fell on a trail one week before the race.  Now those who know me, know that this has happened multiple times often before big events like marathons.

I'd fallen on a flat part of a trail because I was totally excited and distracted to be running with a friend I'd not seen in a while.  Dork!  I didn't think it was a bad fall although my first thought was 1) i'd turned my ankle again and 2) wow, i landed hard on my hip.  Sure enough, the ankle swelled just very slightly but not bad at all.  My knee had taken a good scraping and I was sore for a couple days.  The hip?  Oh yes, i was noticing it when sitting at work and sometimes walking about.  Running seemed to be ok though except for an easy track workout thursday before the race.  During this workout, I could really feel my IT band on that side protesting.  I did my usual work with a foam roller and stick and worked on staying loose and didn't think much of it.  After all, I've fallen before and it's not a big deal.

SAturday I took the train up to Vancouver.  THAT was awesome!  Easy and scenic travel with little fuss.  They were comfy seats (in coach) and hey you could get up whenever you wanted to go the bathroom!  The border crossing was easy. I would totally do that again.  K and I had fun roaming about the city a bit and went to the Expo to pick up our bibs.  The waterfront area was really fun to walk around and I'm glad we had some time to poke about. 

Race day dawned with perfect weather.  50 degrees and no wind.  We'd have a mix of sun and clouds while on the course.  Sometimes it would feel really hot to me but then usually a cloud would come along and help.  We parked over at the beautiful UBC campus and were off right on time. 

The plan?  First mile at 8:10.  Use the downhills and keep it easy on teh uphills.  The course is much easier in the first half and i could expect to be close to 8 flat pace overall by about mile 7 or 8 but would definitely lose time the second half of the course.  There is a larger hill (a bridge) at mile 12 so expect to slow on that.  And I got out just right.  The first couple miles were downhill but then there was a long uphill finishing around the 5k.  It was exposed and warm here so I kept it easy and planned on taking an electrolyte tablet.

The downhill from mile 5-7 was fun and I was happy that nothing was too steep either.  Even better?  The course itself was beautiful. We'd come around a corner and there were stunning views of English Bay and across the water to West Vancouver.  I took an electrolyte tablet and a gel around 5 and 6 and took small sips from teh water bottle I was carrying.  I planned on dropping it around 8.

Things were going great!  I was feeling strong and the miles were ticking off.  and then I started noticing that I was hitting my left foot to the inside of my right calf.  Uh oh.  That's a bad sign.  I typically will only do this now when I am tired at the end of a long trail run.  Doing this now and on roads means something is bit off with my stride.  Yes there were significant downhills on this course but overall there was a lot more rolling on the flatter sections than I was expecting.  After a bit of an uphill in mile 9 I could feel my outer hips tightening up.  Soon the outside of my hip started barking at me and I could feel throbbing on the outside of my leg (where I'd fallen) all the way down from outer hip to calf.


I kept running.  It wasn't to the point where I was doing any damage.  I changed up my stride to see if I could get it to loosen up.  I walked through a water stop in mile 9 stretching the hip as I walked.  And started again thinking I could last.  The hip wasn't having any of this and shut down function especially uphill.  I could run a very easy pace but there was no power.  Done.  And I started walking more consistently from mile 10 on stretching and massaging hip as needed.

Wow.  Was I disappointed but sadly I've been here enough to just continue on.  K was running too and our stuff was checked under my bib number.  I better get done just to get our bag.  It would not be good for K's race if he passed me walking!  I knew he was in very good shape to run a good race and I was really hopeful that would happen since the weather was excellent and it was a good course.

I did notice towards the end of the race as I stopped paying attention so much to running the tangents that there was a noticeable cant to the road.  Running the tangents?  A course is marked with the idea that runners will take the shortest distance between two corners.  For a distance of a half marathon, not running the tangents can add tenths to the distance.  It doesn't seem like much but if you figure every tenth of a mile run will add 30-60 seconds, you can save time. I'd been doing this pretty well which kept me mostly in the gutter side of the road where there was a pretty good slope. We came to one section of the road which was much flatter and the hip felt better.  Hunh.

I've not had problems with road cant in a while but take a hip which is not happy from a fall, add in half marathon pace and road cant and I guess I get problems.  I'd hoped to stay under 1:50 again but I'd done a bit too much walking and came in at 1:52.  K and some other friends have mentioned that this was a really good time and a strong run.  And it is but it is not what I'm capable of and I know it.  It's been so seldom lately that everything seems to be coming together well for race day and it was distressing to watch it all crumble so quickly.  Oh well.  Moving on.

Meanwhile, I finished and grabbed some fluids and my checked bag.  I was in the process of switching to a dry shirt when I realized that it was almost to the 2 hour mark.  K could be finishing!  And I managed to catch site of him shortly afterwards.  woohoo!  at least one of us had had a fantastic run! 

After a long and painful ride back to the car in event sponsored school buses (note to self: pay for shuttles to the start before the race even if it means getting up earlier!), we had a late checkout from our hotel and a wonderful breakfast at a restaurant on the waterfront.  It was an easy drive home with many stops to stretch out tired, crampy legs.

I didn't have a great race but I had a really fun time in Vancouver and I did really enjoy the event.  We are both planning on doing this race again.  It's small and friendly with a lot of crowd support and for a decent price.  It beats the big behemoth event which takes place in Seattle on the same weekend hands down!

And the hip?  It's still a little irritated.  I've been doing the self care which typically takes care of the problem.  I'll make an appointment with the magic PT to make sure everything settles.  RAGNAR is always a goal event and I cannot wait.

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