May 1st was the Vancouver Marathon weekend. They also included a half-marathon, 10K, and children's race. My "big goal" for this year was to run in the half-marathon -- 13.1 miles/21.1 km. My journey started 18 months ago. At the time, I couldn't run a mile. In fact, I had never run a mile in my entire life. I was the sorry girl walking around the track in 9th grade PE when we were supposed to run the mile. I really wanted to change that though, so I hired a trainer and told him that I wanted to be able to run a mile. It took about two months to get me there, then on February 14th, 2010, I ran my first 5K. And I mean that I ran the entire race. I'd been in several 5K's before, but this was the first time I had run the entire 3.1 miles. I was thrilled!
I then made the goal to do a sprint distance triathlon in August of 2010. I did that, and then another on the same course in September. It felt great to be able to finish those races and to continue to run 5K's. Then I needed another goal. I had several friends, including my physician, who all signed up for the Vancouver race. It was great to hear about everyone's training and progress along the way. I continued working with my trainer to help build my endurance, and Patrick ran with me all the way. He can run a lot faster than I can, but he still stays with me every time we run.
On Friday night, we headed out to Vancouver. It was an easy trip across the border and we arrived at our hotel around 9:30 that evening. On Saturday, we took a walk around China town and then headed to the expo to pick up our packets with bibs and timing chips. We ran into Kathleen and her family and Dr. Bowers and his wife. It was great to see them and share the excitement. After that, Patrick and I went and got dim sum for lunch and then did a little shopping before heading back to the hotel for some relaxation. We didn't do much, because Patrick was having a bad backache and we really wanted that to subside before the race. We had dinner at a fantastic Italian restaurant in Yaletown called Lupo. We walked there and enjoyed the lovely evening, wonderful food, and comfortable walk. We turned in early, because race time would be bright and early at 7:00.
On Sunday morning, we got up early and ate a light breakfast before heading to the race start. It was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, which included a bunch of stairs. It was an easy walk there, but I realized it would be a killer hike back. We hung back at the start line because we (and when I say "we", I mean me) run pretty slow. The race actually started just a bit before 7:00 and we ran over the starting line right at 7:00. The first few kilometers were easy and we got in the groove of the run. There were bands every so often along the way and a lot of people cheering at different spots that were easy for spectators to get to. The first half of the race was great! When we hit the half-way point, it was 1:25 in and I was excited to think that I would come in under 3:00. Even though there was a big hill in front of us, I didn't think it would slow me down by more than 10 minutes.
That was before the G.I issues started. I've NEVER had any problems when running before, but I guess the excitement and stress of the first 1/2-marathon was just more than my body could take. The trouble started just after the half-way mark and right at the beginning of the uphill climb. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I'd walked most of the way up and was in distress. Fortunately, there were bathrooms (real public restrooms -- not port-o-potties!) and I ended up spending way too much time in there. Patrick waited for me by running back and forth so he wouldn't seize up. I, on the other hand, really lost my groove.
After I got back to the run, we had a steep downhill portion of the race. I found out that this is why I should have spent more time training on hills. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, my hips were killing me and I was not doing well. I ended up having to walk a little more at that point (about 1/2 kilometer) then got back to the running. I had already lost so much time that I wanted to push myself, but there just wasn't much extra in the tank. I ran again until about the 18 km mark and walked another 100 meters there, then picked up the pace and ran the rest of the way in. I didn't push too hard until I could see the finish line. We came around a bend and the finish was less than a quarter mile away. At that point, I put on the gas and sprinted to the finish line. It felt awesome! I was so glad to be done. The final time was 3:14, so I definitely lost the momentum I had early on in the run.
After we left the finish line area, we ran into Dan and Holly who had both finished before us. That's when we took pictures of each other holding up our medals. That's one medal I'm really proud to have earned. It was so great to see friends at the finish line and share the joy. Once the running was over, the pain started though. Patrick and I started toward the hotel and both of us just laughed when we saw the steps. You would have laughed if you'd seen us too. We looked like a couple of 100-year old ladies climbing those silly steps. I think that may have been the hardest part of the race! After that, we got back to the hotel and did a lot of stretching before and after cleaning up. We really wanted to feel better, but 13.1 miles of pounding the pavement had taken its toll.
Later in the afternoon, we met up with our friends for a celebration lunch. It was great to hear everyone's stories of the race and talk about our next goals. Even though I said I would only do one 1/2-marathon, I really wanted to finish in less than 3 hours, so I feel like I need a do over. That's why, in spite of my better judgement, I'm signed up for another 1/2-marathon in June.