Friday, October 31, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon race report

With a start time of 8:15 (so civilized!), I didn't have to be up until 7:00. Had some leftover pizza for breakfast (perfect!), got dressed, and headed out to walk the few blocks to the start.

Other than visiting the girls at the Brook VIP Porta Potty, I managed not to see ANYONE I knew in the corrals. (Weird!)

Because the city of Vancouver was very strict about road closure and reopening times, the organizers decided to start the last corral, #24, at the front of the race, and 15 minutes early. Suz had psyched herself out a bit, so she decided to slide back (or was it forward?) to corral 24. I asked her afterwards how it was to start up front -- she told me she LOVED it -- "When else am I going to get to start in the first corral?"

facing the start line -- and corral 24 getting ready to go

I joined my corral much farther back and tried to get into a running mood. I was a bit footsore -- 3 days of standing on concrete floors will do that to you -- and had a weird pain in my leg. But no matter -- it was time to Rock 'n' Roll!

view from my corral

As usual for me, a lot of the early part of the course is a bit blurry… I do remember running through Gastown, then under the big Chinatown gate, and then through some pretty deserted industrial streets.

see, proof: the Chinatown gate

But just after mile 5 we arrived on the waterfront, and things got a lot prettier from there. I spotted this lady hustling along and asked if I could take her picture-- genius!

love love love this woman!

I had been trying to do the math in my head -- first, kilometers to miles, then also trying to work out if or when I would catch up to Suz. Running + math is hard for me. But I figured that I was trotting along at just under 11-minute miles, that Suz would be running right around 15-minute miles, and since I had started about 30 minutes afterward… hmm, let's start over.

But eventually I was able to get my head around the idea that I'd meet up with Suz somewhere around mile 7. Sure enough, not far from the halfway point, there she was, stretching just at the side of the road. I hustled over, we had a quick chat, exchanged a few cheers for each other, and separated again.

Suz tells me that though she'd been struggling in the beginning of the race: "Well, like a team that is getting pounded in the first half of the game, seeing you was kind of like my half-time. I threw out my game plan and tried something new." She shifted to 1:1 intervals and thinks she actually ran a negative split. Attagirl!

Soon we were running past those wonderful "A-Maze-Ing Laughter" laughing statues by Yue Minjun, and the lovely Sylvia Hotel, both of which made me wistful for a romantic weekend away in Vancouver.

A-Maze-Ing Laughter by Yue Minjun

A bit later the course took us into Stanley Park, and things got even prettier. I don't know the park at all,   but I'm pretty happy to report that we did NOT run up to Prospect Point… though there were some gentle hills here and there. We also ran under the road approach to the Lions Gate Bridge -- so we didn't get to see the pretty lions… except on our medals, of course!

(love this historical image of the Lions Gate Bridge in 1939)

At some point Jess and Kevin caught up with me -- Kevin (running his first half marathon!) looking fresh as a daisy, and Jess her usual gorgeous, happy self.

Two sad and scary moments -- running past two separate runners, lying on their backs. I can't place where they were on the course, but somewhere in Stanley park near the water. The first was being helped by some runners and a small "medic" cart/truck was coming to assist, too. The second, another mile or so along, was obviously in worse condition, as a fire truck and ambulance were moving down the narrow course toward them after I passed him. (Her? I don't know -- once I have seen that a person is being helped, I try not to look anymore.) I sent good running karma thoughts and kept going.

in Stanley Park

view of Vancouver

last couple of miles!

More pretty stretches, views of downtown Vancouver, and then the home stretch -- an oddly narrow walkway with a raised sidewalk of sorts on one side, and spectators along that. It seemed a little narrow… and uneven… but it was nice to have people cheering.

surely this must be the home stretch???

I thought I still had more running to do … but, suddenly, I could see the finish arch. I engaged in a little last-minute racing with a guy next to me (sadly, I think he won), and then tried to make my way through the chute.

Nearly missed picking up a medal because so many people were just standing around. C'mon, folks, get out of the finish chute! I did manage to get a bottle of water and a mylar blanket, but didn't see any food worth eating. (I did wonder if they were unable to import their usual finisher food?)

The finish line party was pretty muddy, very crowded, and, frankly, I didn't need to linger. I had thought about finding the merch tent, but I decided to just get out of there and go back to the hotel. (And, yes, I did stop for breakfast at Freshii. Again. So sue me!)

Some stretching, a breakfast burrito, a hot bath, and I was right as rain. I took the Skytrain to the airport, took a very small plane for a very brief flight back to Seattle, and was home in the mid-afternoon.

Things I loved about the race:
  • Vancouver! What a lovely city!
  • A well-organized corral start. I overheard a lot of runners impressed by the waves and the corrals -- which made sense, because I remember the BMO Vancouver Half being pretty chaotic at the start when we ran that back in 2010.
  • Lots of pretty stretches along the water and through Stanley Park.
  • Seeing my pal Dawn at the Expo.
  • The GORGEOUS medal!
Room for improvement:
  • I would have liked more -- or more obvious? - mile or kilometer markings on the course.
  • The final, uneven stretch was difficult to run on.
  • The GU station was weirdly early -- possibly at kilometer 9 rather than mile 9?
Not sure I need to run this race again, but was really happy to run the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver!

obligatory post-race medal pic!

Inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver Half Marathon medal

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! I'm terrible at maths at the best of times, but trying to work out if I'm on pace or not does help to give me something to focus on when running. Love the bling! Very Rock 'n' Roll! ;-)