1 year of preparation, 1 torn patella, 56+ hours of physical therapy, 190 mile drive, multiple bowls of rice pasta, sprinkled with a couple moments of fear… and I’m officially a half marathon finisher.
Yes, you read that right – I finished it.
I was majorly doubting my ability to complete this race. I’d tried to run 5km on Wednesday, got 1.25km in and was hit with sharp knee pain. Not exactly the best “last run” before a race.
In an effort to keep active but also let my body recover, I hit the pool on Friday and Saturday for 30 minutes each. Thankfully, it worked… and also reminded me how much I miss swimming.
We headed to Edmonton on Saturday morning with a lunch bag full of goodies and massive butterflies in my stomach. The plan was:
- Pick up my race bag
- Check in to the hotel
- Go for dinner
- Hang out
After taking a couple of wrong turns and threatening our GPS for taking us down the wrong streets, we found the race expo and I found my tag.
Number 2339 – my new lucky number. I say that every time I pick up my race bags. It will never get old.
We headed downtown to check in at the Fairmont MacDonald. We got such a sweet deal on our room and they were able to supply me with a microwave + fridge for free.
The bed was comfortable, the room was warm, and the shower was powerful!
Once we were refreshed with an hour long nap, we decided to take our cameras out for a stroll before dinner.
A stroll turned into a bit of a hike [which you shouldn't do the night before a half marathon]. But there was a festival, I couldn’t help myself!
After walking around for an hour, we went out for gluten-free pasta and headed back to the hotel for an early night.
The race was set to start at 8am so we woke up at 5am to pack and prepare things. I whipped up a batch of homemade electrolyte solution for the run then made a quick smoothie followed up with a quinoa flake bake I enjoyed 1 hour before the race.
Too much food. Gosh, I was so full.
We waited at the start line for what seemed like forever. I stretched, did loads of jumping jacks to get my heart rate up and lined up behind the 2:15 pace bunny.
I haven’t seen pace bunnies at any of my previous races, but was eager to see if running in a group would help me hit my goal of completing in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The course was 1 loop, which was nice because I knew what to expect on my way back.
It was flat, scenic, and there was ample running space, not like some races where they try to fit 1,000 people on a walking path.
The only thing I didn’t like was running on broken down asphalt. There was about 2km of the stuff in total and it was brutal on my toes. But all in all, it was a really great course.
I knew going into this that there was the potential that I would get 1km in and my knee would flare up. I also knew that if I could pass the 5km mark with no pain, I’d make it until the end. Not necessarily the most positive outlook, but I was having a hard time shaking off Wednesdays knee pain.
1km passed, no pain. 2kms completed, no pain. Before I knew it I was at the 4km mark and about a quarter of a km from the 2:15 pace bunny. I decided to take the next 5 minutes to get up to the pace bunny and stick there as long as possible. The pace bunnies were doing run 10 minutes walk 1 minute; exactly how I train; so it worked out perfectly.
I stuck to that bunny like no ones business. The 10km mark sailed by, the 15km mark approached fairly quickly… and then it started to get challenging. I grabbed for a medjool date I had tucked in my water belt and tried to encourage myself by blasting the music.
The time started to slow down, my legs were cramping up. All I wanted to do was stop, but my heart told me to keep going and there was no way I was going to let that bunny leave my side.
Last water station and second last 1 minute walking interval. I drank 4 dixie cups of water and tried to shake off my exhaustion with another medjool date before picking up the pace.
I kept repeating to myself “2km to go, less than 13 minutes. 13 minutes of my entire life.” I set my favorite song to repeat and I pushed harder.
We could see the finish line. We were 1 minute away from our 1 minute interval walk and I knew I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t shift to a walk and gather myself for a moment.
The deal was: let the bunny get ahead of me for a minute. When he starts walking, I run to him, walk with him. When he starts running I PUSH myself as hard as I physically can and get to the finish line under my goal.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I was happy crying so hard I could barely breath. I was running so fast I felt like I was going to puke. I was so close to finishing this… under my goal time.
I passed the finish line and melted with emotion. I was trying to control my tears but they were flying all over the place! Ack, even writing this and seeing the pictures has me all teary eyed.
I’ve never been as proud of myself than I was in that very moment.
- Chip time: 2 hours 14 minutes
- Average heart rate: 165 bpm
- Max heart rate: 187 bpm (the last 30 seconds)
- Placed 469 overall out of 766 women in the race
- Place 153 out of 240 in my age division (20-29)
Things I said I needed to work on from my last race + how I did…
- Propelling my leg behind me — learned that this can cause some massive groin issues. Never again.
- Push myself a bit harder: aim for a faster pace when training. — I pushed myself so hard there were moments I thought I was going to puke.
- Continue to square off my hips — mastered!
- Send my knee some positive thoughts! — I was sending my entire body positive thoughts and energy throughout the entire race… especially the last 5km.
Things I need to work on for my next race…
- Continue to push myself harder and increase my pace
- Get better at learning how to deal with the stress that comes with racing
- Put together a list of positive thoughts and run through them before each race
- Join a running group or clinic
Finishing this race with tears of joy affirms just how much I love running, so much so that I may have gone straight home and registered for another half. Oops… how did that happen?
I leave for my yoga retreat in just a couple of days. I’m planning to take a week off from running, do a lot of yoga, swimming, and walking. I’ve been looking at joining a running club when I get back from vacation and continuing to train for one last half marathon for the season and maybe a couple 10kms. Then, it’s onto the treadmill I go!
What a fun time. Thanks for all your good lucks and best wishes! You were all in my thoughts as I pushed myself over that line.