Sunday, September 07, 2008

Canmore Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Report

Race report

What a fantastic race I had today! The weather had a fall crispness to it that I just love and the course was, bar none, the most breathtaking I've ever experienced.

Here's me at the start line. Don't I look happy?

I had previewed the course a few weeks ago and as always, that made a huge difference. I knew the second half of the course was all hills.

I had two non-time related goals for this race:
1) Run the whole thing.
2) Run according to how I felt (listen to the body).

The first goal was not achieved; but that's mostly because the second goal was achieved.

The first 10 km, was the fastest I've ever done, faster even than my one 10 km race, which was run at sea level this May in Vancouver. That was the only time I looked at my watch and I thought, "Holy moly, if I can keep this up, I'll have a PR!"

But it was not to be. The rolling switchback hills in the second half reduced me to a walk at times. My Garmin later told me that my average HR through the race was 166, with a max of 181. I felt great the whole way through, but it was the fastest HR I've ever had during a race. That max was pretty near 100% for me, I figure. I worked hard and felt great. It was my fastest race time this year!

The course was spectacular - mountain views, a gorgeous river, green grass. Wow. At about kilometre 16 we were running along a river path and saw three large animals crossing the river.

Now, mountain friends, don't laugh, but they were too far away and the sun was at an odd angle, so I wasn't sure if they were moose or elk, though I'm opting for the latter. Anyway, they were big. Runners were pointing, gasping and making "Oh wow!" comments. It was a very special moment.

As for my time, I've now run 5 half marathons. Today's time was right smack in the milddle of them. Given the hills, the Accutane I was taking all through my training and most of all, the fact that I ran hard and still finished without puking, I was very happy with it. I wasn't expecting a PR today, though I do think that there will be more hill training in my future. One day I hope to conquer the hills, not the other way around.

Oh yeah, and see that finish line photo? I managed to keep my shirt on! That's also a first, I'll have you know. It was mostly because I was too busy enjoying the scenery and the race itself.

I started out wearing a tank top today, but changed to a t-shirt after we arrived in Canmore, since we could see our breath in the morning air. It all worked out just fine, eut I have a new race rule: If it's above the freezing mark, I wear a tank top.

Fun with A.

As many of you know, my friend A. appointed herself my crew member for my first half marathon in July 2007. She's been with me at every half since. I know, I know. Half marathoners don't need crewing. But it's not like I'm going to say no!

She doesn't run. In fact, she hates running. And yet, she hauls her butt out of bed at ungodly hours voluntarily to be there for me during races. I got a chance for some payback this June when she asked me to be her maid of honour when she got married. I joked then that I finally got a chance to crew for her. As far as I can figure, planning a wedding is somewhat akin to training for a distance race. The big day isn't that different from race day. Except you look a whole lot prettier throughout, and you finish up married, of course.

Here are a couple of priceless moments from today:

Anecdote #1: During the drive to Canmore, which takes just over an hour from my place, I got a pep talk from my dear friend, who is a high-powered labour relations officer by day. The pep talk included advice like "Just say to yourself, 'I know it's hard. Now get on with it! You're not here to slack off. Go harder!'" Gotta love friends who are blessed with the gift of inspirational words.

Anecdote 2: After changing into a T-shirt, and doing some general dithering, I said to A. "I know, I know... runners are neurotic."

She laughed and replied, "Not runners, Sarah. Just you!"

As we were in the high school gym before the race, I pointed out that most of the runners it the room were fussing with something or another - shoes, race numbers, etc. Really, aren't we all a little neurotic? (Someone please agree with me here!)

Anecdote #3: After the race, we were at the car and I was taking care of my foot. Unfortunately, I got a blister on my bunion that bled and soaked through to my shoe. Oh well. So it goes. There we were inspecting it with A. making comments such as, "Oh, that doesn't look bad at all! It looks pretty good really! It's usually way worse than that!"

I couldn't help thinking that two people inspecting a bleeding foot could assess its state relative to other times it has gushed with blood. Now isn't there something just a little bizarre about that?

Anecdote #4: We went back to the gym for some post race refreshments. I was stretching and I said to A., as we nibbled on cookies, "You know, I feel great! I know this sounds sadistic, but I feel like I could go for a run right now."

She looked at me and snorted, saying, "Yeah, OK, whatever. Keep stretching."

Ah, blessed moments with good friends,no?

Meeting She Who Makes Waves

For the third time this summer, I've met bloggers at races. First it was Michelle and Eric at the Death Race. Then I met Leana at the Stratmore Women's Tri where I was cheering on friends and today I met She Who Makes Waves.

In a brilliant moment of post-race delirium I introduced her to my friend by the wrong name (Duh!), but it got better from there and she has pictures of us on her blog, so stop by and visit. What a bright bundle of energy she is!

Other tidbits

I ran into one of the trainers from my gym at a coffee shop after the race. Again, in another moment of stellar social grace, we hugged each other and I gasped with envy saying, "You've had a shower! You smell great!"

She confessed that yes, she had had a shower where she's stayed over night. We chit chatted and congratulated each other on our races. Later all I could think was, "Inside voice, Sarah. Inside voice!"

Other than that, I don't really have much to report. I had a blast. I am grateful for a fantastic race experience.


Runner Leana said...

Congratulations on your race! I did happen to notice that you finished this one with your shirt one too - glad to hear you are figuring the clothing thing out! Sorry to hear you got another blood blister though....ick...! Sounds like you have a great support crew!

She Who Makes Waves said...

Congratulations on your amazing race!

What a wonderful support crew you have in A. You make a great team!

It's not just you...I frigged with my shirt, tinkered with my laces, juggled with my belt and so on and so on...

Best wishes and much success with your running!

Downhillnut said...

All racers are neurotic by definition. If we're not agonizing and fiddling with our wardrobe before a race, well, it's just not important enough.

Hey we trained and PAID for this experience. We only get one take. This is as good as it gets!

Great job on your race, Sarah! Look forward to doing some hills with you sometime soon :)

Backofpack said...

I prefer to think of it as "race prep", not being neurotic. I mean, we have to get ready, don't we?

Congrats on a well-run race! You know that when you finish, and then say, I feel like I could go out for a run...that means...only one thing...marathon! You must be ready!

robtherunner said...

Way to go, Sarah! I had to crack up about the inside voice comment.

angie's pink fuzzy said...


And you have to be neurotic to be a runner. I'm pretty sure it's a requirement.