first half marathon race recap

I never thought I loved running enough to race for it.
I never thought I loved running enough to do it for over an hour, almost two.
I never thought I loved running enough to watch my pace.
I never thought I loved running enough to want to do it every week.

But, then something changed.

I started getting curious about races and how they work.
I started enjoying running for longer periods of time without stopping.
I started racing home after running to see how my paces were and if they had improved.
I started planning running into my weekly routines.

And, then I entered my very first half marathon.

The Oakville Half Marathon to be exact. Here’s my full race recap of it, which took place on Sunday, September 25th, 2011:

My goal time
My plan was to follow the 2:00 pace bunny, which is exactly where I started. With the 2 hour pace bunny, it was a run/walk combo – I wasn’t looking for the walk part, though. So I started off following her, but when she stopped to walk, I kept running.

I thought my pace was fairly good from there on, but about 5 minutes later, I noticed she had caught up to me even with her stopping to walk – this didn’t fly well with me. So I kept up running with her until her next walk break and I then never saw her again. My new pace marker was 1:55 – hello guy in short shorts (seriously?!?!).

How I felt the day of
Ok, so the crappy thing is, I caught this cold about a week before the race. Stuffy and runny nose combo, morning cough and just the feel of being sick. I don’t know about you, but I like to breathe out of my nose for the majority of my run because it reduces the energy I have to use breathing out my mouth (or is this just me making stuff up?), so when I say that I woke up Sunday morning with a running/stuffy nose, you know what I’m getting at.

Do you think I remembered to bring kleenex with me to the actual race? If you said, no, then you’re correct.

I had hoped thought this would have been gone by race day, but it wasn’t, so I just had to deal with it.

Overall, it sucked and I had to run with my mouth opened the whole time (just reiterating that fact that PB for breakfast was not a good decision), but I made it! (The answer is yes – I’m still sniffling three days later).

My pace
I managed to keep behind the 1:55 pace bunny for the majority of the run – sometimes closer to him, sometimes farther…and this probably gives you some indication of my finish time.

My pace was pretty constant, but I don’t know exact numbers since I don’t have a running watch and rely on a program on my phone to do that jazz (read: total bummer, since pace is pretty important to me now). But, I wasn’t about to carry around a blackberry for almost 2 hours, so I just ended up averaging total distance with my finish time to figure out pace.

Fueling up
I stopped at pretty much every drink station (remember: PB mouth!!), which consisted of gatorade and water. I usually only drank water, but double fisted the one time. This really meant one sip of gatorade and then 10 sips of water. I felt so rebellious tossing those cups to the curb – go me!

I think oatmeal was the perfect pre-run fuel (for me) because I didn’t feel hungry the entire run…just thirsty (have to fix that con for next time!)

The course
Thank goodness I didn’t end up doing a lot of hill training because the only hill that existed was a very small that didn’t last long at all. I kind of figured the track would be mainly flat, and flat it was! This was a huge advantage to me!

It was also nice to run in a very rich town. I ran by at least 30 million dollar houses – all huge, gorgeous and home-drool worthy. I had lingering gazes at the house, where other runners probably thought I was looking at them!

One of my fears was a shoelace coming undone (which happened on my 7 mile run today), but luckily, this never happened on race day (yessssss, I can tie my shoes properly!). Because you know what stopping means…speeding back up to where you should have been if you hadn’t stopped! What do people do when they have to use the porta-potty during the race – did I seriously just go there??!!

Mu-saaac (aka music)
One thing I did want to do before race day was complete a race playlist in iTunes, but I didn’t get around to it and just randomly shuffled all songs in my library.
Pro: Everything has a chance of getting selected – new or old.
Con: I have about 100 motivation audio files on there which has a high chance of getting selected.

As much as I like my motivational audio shhtuff for long drives, I do not like it for long runs. It’s awkward trying to press the next button, but I somehow manage every. single. run.

Another pro: new music gives you the ‘omphf’ you need to almost repush you. The new Rihanna song came on at 14k (woulda preferred it at 20k iTunes, but we’ll talk about that later!), and put a little hop in my step run.

Was I nervous to run?

I think so. There’s that moment that you’ve waited so long for something and then you just want it to begin/be over with. The picture above pretty much sums up the ‘get this thing started already!’ idea. Or was I looking for the husband in the totally wrong spot? Let’s play, “guess what’s going on in this photo.”

The weather
Signing up for this back in July, I was a little worried what the weather might be like at the end of September – sometimes it can be super warm, but other times it can surprise and lead into an early winter.

I didn’t really check the weekly forecast leading up to the race because I didn’t want to get disappointed if rain was anywhere remotely around Sunday…so, I checked on Saturday. It said rain in the morning (doh!), but I shrugged it off. And good thing I did because go figure, the weather was wrong. Again.

It was the most beautiful morning ever – I actually overdressed (you’ll see how I reworked my running outfit to get some airflow).

Run, Forrest, run!
I like running in miles, but being in Canada and all, they do the km thing. So the race was technically 13.2 miles, but was marked with km’s (for a total of 21).

The first 5k breezed by, and even til the 10 I was fine. It was the next 11 where I was fine keeping up my pace, but I knew it was going to get harder if I wanted to pick up my pace closer to the finish line.

(stolen from the race website – I didn’t wanna pay for it, so don’t mind the writing through me…more to come)

My goal was to pick up pace for the last 5km, but once those last 5k approached, I changed it to 3, and then to 2, and then to 1, and then it was like…just really run the final stretch. So I did just that.

I think I started fading a bit after 15k, which is when there was a station that was giving out gu’s followed by gatorade and water. I grabbed a gu and had planned to have it after the water. Water was drank and then when I was trying to open the gu package, I dropped it. Like stopping to tie a shoelace, there was no time to stop and pick up the gu. I silently screamed ‘noooooooooo!‘ in my head and kept going.

When I saw the 20k marker I was pretty stoked to know there was only 1km left because by this time I was thirsty, feeling a little sick-ish and getting pretty tired. I actually contemplated walking for a bit, but thought running was more efficient to make it to the finish line 😉

Finally, I knew the line was coming up. There was no time to look around for the husband and the mother…my eyes were on that wee little pad I had to step on in order for the chip on my shoe to record my time. A lovely little pad it was. It signified the end to not only a great race, but a great accomplishment.

Total running distance: 13.2 mi / 21k
Total running time: 1:55:11
Finish standings:

  • placed 13/33 for my age category (25-29)
  • placed 83/321 for gender, and
  • placed 307/715 overall

It was a great, great experience (enjoyed by the husband as well), and I’m so happy I chose this as my first half to enter in. Just another goal to cross off the list. I definitely want to run another one – preferably the Princess Half Marathon at Disney World in Florida in February, which just so happens to take place during my reading week from school. I think that would be a more manageable goal than the next one on the list – trip to Europe!

Here’s a few pictures to summarize this awesome day! Happy running!

I did it!!!

(can you tell the husband was amused by this guy? good thing I didn’t pick up my pace or I woulda finished close to him and might have missed getting my picture snapped!)

(me and the chicken – what a coincidence :P)


pre-race freak outs

What did you do yesterday?


Oh, just ran my very first half marathon. No biggie. Just one of those defining moments in my life, that’s all.

But really, you know defining moments aren’t complete without a few freak outs; the ones you can laugh at after it’s all said and done. Here are a few of mine:

Pre-race freak out #1: I forgot my ipod.

If you’re gearing up to run 13.2 miles (!!!!!! – or 21k if you will), I’m pretty sure you’d want some music to pass the time. Specifically, if you got a new ‘clip on’ ipod (ie: nano) for your birthday to replace the bulky ipod touch that you used to run with. Did I mention you traded this bulky ipod for the new nano specifically for running purposes?! So, when you arrive at your run destination (read: staying at the g-rents because they live in run destination, plus they’re away and live right on the water…sweet deal), and find headphones unattached to ipod, you might freak out…just a little bit. You curse; curse yourself for being in such a rush to leave home, curse the headphones for not reattaching themselves back to the ipod after charging, and curse the ipod itself for being so small and dumb.

You might contemplate driving back home, even if it is an hour away because 13.2 miles without music is a loooong time. Until, wait, could it be?

Thanks for the freak out, little guy.

Pre-race freak out #2: Where do I pick up my race kit?

It’s all nice and lovely that the race started and ended in a park, but to have the race kit pick-up there, as well, when you’re new to the area (read: haven’t set foot in the park since your grandma used to take you there when you were three) isn’t so lovely. Oh, did I forget to add that I was in a time-crunch to head to work after picking up said race kit?!

Yes, I enjoy nature, being on the water, and perfect weather. Yes, I enjoy kids laughing in the park. But, no I don’t enjoy being rushed while witnessing these things, especially when work is in the near future. After walking around the park (witnessing some family bbq’s – nice for them), I finally found the tents tucked away in the back. Picked up my race kit as quick as I could and jetted.

Pre-race freak out #3: Starbucks it OUT of the way to go to before the race.

And yes, I actually lost sleep over this. I think I dreamt in map routes to minimize travel time to the race from Starbucks. But whatever, I got my ‘bucks and drank about 5% of it. Successful fail.

Pre-race freak out #4: My mouth is so dry from the PB I put in my oatmeal.

Damn, peanut butter. My obsession was also my demise yesterday – pretty much a mouth hazard! Such a hazard that I made the husband run back to the car and get my water bottle, which I shouldn’t have left there in the first place (oops!). Which leads me into freak out #5…

Pre-race freak out #5: Where is the husband?!?! The race is about to start!

Did I forget to mention that I started complaining about forgetting my water bottle ten minutes before my race was scheduled to start?! My bad…

The overly generous and speed-walker husband went back to the car and then made it back in time to sprint to the start line with me. Ok, I exaggerate. He made it back in time to walk with me to the starting line and even managed to snap a few pics. My peanut butter mouth thanked him.

Even with the freak outs, we made it there safe and sound and I ran my little heart out. With ipod. With my bib from the race kit. With 5% of an iced coffee in me. And lastly, with a PB mouth still intact.

Thank goodness for drink stations.

Full race review coming at ya tomorrow!