My friend Marco had moved out there a little over a year ago, and said I could stay with him. He made sure I knew all the tips about when to book my flight; being an Air Canada Rouge flight attendant, I could not have asked someone more knowledgeable! By using every one of my Amex points, I got a sweet deal on the flight. Booked it, registered for the race few moments later, and the excitement set in. Van City!
I landed on the Friday before the race into Vancouver. It was HOT! Everyone kept saying how "It is NEVER like this here!". Great weather all around, for racing not so much. I stayed optimistic that the heat wouldn't ruin my race experience.
What do you think the first thing I did was after I unpacked my bags? Run of course! I knew Marco was a bit jet lagged from his travels for work, so I got out of his hair to allow him some time to nap, and set out along the Sea Wall. The scenery on the run was simply amazing. I could not believe how lucky I was to be running there! Mountains, ocean view, a cool breeze and all the sunshine! I had gotten up at 3am Toronto time to get my flight, but this run quickly made me forget how tired I was.
I really don't think the views here can ever get old.
Later on we set out for a late lunch and some exploring of Vancouver. A grocery shopping trip through Granville Island Market was so much to take in. So many things to see and do. The apples were the size of my head!
We did some touristy things, like take a ride on one of the tour boats throughout False Creek. For the most part we were both wiped by 6pm and went to bed. Waking at 2am that morning was 5am home time. I was right on schedule! :p
My 4:30am shake out run the next morning was interesting. I had already been up since 2am, and I wanted to see the sunrise, so I set out the opposite way I had ran the day before along the Sea Wall. The streets of Vancouver and the Sea Wall are a VERY different place at that time of the day. I had planned on a 5:30/km pace for the run, but it may have ended up a bit faster almost as soon as I walked out the door. I was definitely out numbered by some creepy Granville Street characters, but by the time I got to the Sea Wall, all seemed well. Other than the sex trade worker in the middle of her task at hand, I saw few people along the Sea Wall! :/
However I did get some beautiful pics and nice views if I looked the other way!
We headed up to Whistler the next day. I didn't want to be on my feet too much the day before the race, but I also didn't want to miss out on anything. So I thought sitting in a car for a few hours that day wouldn't hurt. A quick trip to pick up my race kit first and we were on our way. I got to see my friends Alison and Mike who were also at the race expo! Of course we had to take the obligatory race expo pics. These guys are two of my favourite people. Seriously. Vancouver first got Marco, and now Alison and Mike! Lucky place.
I enjoyed Whistler, but I have to admit I spend most of the day before a race trying not to think about the race, and trying to calm my nerves. Trying to stay hydrated. Trying to stay off my feet. All this trying kind of stresses me out more than it needs to. I should have planned it better like I did for the Reggae Half Marathon. Arrive less than 24 hours before the race, then enjoy the rest of your vacation. I learned my lesson for the next runcation!
Race morning came quickly. I was able to have my normal pre race breakfast, but wasn't able to have my normal pre race coffee. I took care of this by putting a GU gel containing 40mg of caffeine in my oatmeal. I usually only have mashed banana in it as a sweetener, so it was extra sweet, but at least I got my dose of caffeine! Mike saved the day and leant me his watch. Mine had been finicky for a few weeks prior to the race, and I had a feeling it wouldn't work come race day, and I was right! It ended up being cool-ish at 6am, but the race itself was HOT. Way too hot to be able to run what I knew I was capable of. And going all out and then feeling terrible and wasting the rest of my vacation with heat stroke or something just was not worth it to me. So I went in with a positive mind set. Told myself I would stay on the pace Rejean had set out for me (4:05/km) unless I felt good and wanted to drop to 4's, or if the heat was getting to me I had to make a decision. The course is net downhill, and I should have learned by now that means rolling hills. And some big ones too. To combat the heat, I tried to stay in the shade if there was some, I slowed at every water station (4 or 5 of them?) and drank from one cup and dumped a second cup over my head to cool me off. Despite the water being warm, they felt like ice water once it hit my head. The hills were killer for me. Once the rollers began, they seemed to not stop. Them a MASSIVE hill at 18km, right near the end. OUCH! Despite the heat, the numerous stops for water and the hills, I still managed a personal best time of 1:27:36. I can't be upset about that! A tough course on a tough day and still run a PB?! I will take it! I realised after the race that I had taken almost 10 minutes exactly off my first half marathon time of 1:37:27, in 2011. Marco was waiting at the finish line for me ringing the bell the whole time. I always feel lucky when I have friends who will take the time to come and cheer me on! The support means so much!
I usually will not spend the outrageous $30 that is charged for these pics. But this is one I just had to have.
A post race pic! Devon asks me: "You have already showered and changed?", Ahhh, no just managed to finish the race soaking wet from the aid stations. :D
After the race a group of us hit up Cactus Club. A patio right on the Sea Wall with a great view, good friends, and good beers made my heart so happy! Alison did not have the race she had hoped for, but her spirits seemed to have lifted a bit by the time lunch was over.
Second in my age group?! Another awesome surprise!
Post race lunch. Every meal I ate out in Vancouver was delicious.
Since I borrowed Mike's watch, I had to quickly jot down my km splits on a napkin before I returned it. Yes, I know I can put them I my phone, but I am a paper and pen girl! I can tell where all the hills were. Especially the big one from 18-19km. This, and the fact that I was not sore at all the next day, tells me that a flatter, cooler course in the fall, and I'm really hoping that sub 1:25 is within reach for me. This is the first longer race ever that I have not had any foot problems at all! I wore my Altra One2 racing flats. Perfect!
My last full day in Vancouver was the next day. I had to get myself onto a mountain! I could not come all the way here without a hike. Marco had not been to Grouse Mountain before, so it was the perfect opportunity! Day after the half marathon, and I wasn't sore? Maybe I should try and make myself sore. :p
Grouse Mountain is only 3km up. That's it. Imagine 3km though straight up. Well nearly straight up. It is so steep, you are not allowed to go back down the way you came. You must buy a gondola ticket and ride it back down. Alison, Mike, Jenna and Nick joined us. Such a fun group! It is an intense hike up, but so worth it at the top. A definite must do when in Vancouver! I really hope I get to return one day.
Beyond excited to be there!
The height of the trees was like nothing I have ever seen!
Alison's face here kills me. :D
Some parts had man made steps, others were more technical.
How small do I look here?!
Marco and I proud of our achievement!
A group celebration at the top! Beers and food waiting for us.
The view from the gondola is so overwhelming. Crazy to believe how high you just climbed!
My last morning in Vancouver, I took a solo walk along the Sea Wall. Reflecting about how lucky I was to have had this opportunity and how amazing it was to see so many friends I had not seen in so long. Makes me so happy to know that we can all just pick up right where we left off!
I spotted this painted on the ground on my walk. How fitting! I noted I will have to remember this when I retuned home to real life again.
I tried to wake my kids up when I got home around 11:30pm on the Tuesday. They sleep like logs and wanted nothing to do with me. Haha. It has been full blast into summer since I got back, and we are all loving it!