Race Recap-Red Deer Half “Running: Cheaper Than Therapy”

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I will admit right away that the quote above, “Running:Cheaper Than Therapy” was seen by my own eyes on someone’s shirt at the Red Deer Half Marathon. I think it may have been Nike….not sure, but I am going to track it down and order it stat. If anyone has seen these in stores, let me know ASAP. This is my new mantra.

I have done the Red Deer Half two other times–in 2010 and 2012. I haven’t done a “Race Reflection” post on either of these yet, but the past years I ran this race, I ran a 1:54:19 and 1:56:06, respectively. I choose to do Red Deer on my May Long Weekend because 1) I don’t like camping, and everyone else goes camping on Victoria Day weekend and 2) the location is convenient, as my in-laws live in Red Deer and 3) my husband goes on a boy’s trip this weekend so I have nothing better to do!

The course stays pretty much the same year to year. The race starts near Lindsay Thurber High School, which is about 9 blocks from my father and mother-in-laws. It heads toward Kerry Wood Nature Centre, then onto the Mackenzie Trail system right on the Red Deer River. You wind up and down quite a few daunting hill climbs, go around an island near Heritage Ranch, take a loop at Bower Ponds, then they rudely have you finish by climbing up Michener Hill for about 150 m, at I would say a 55 degree incline. The race ends winding down Michener straight to the finish.

The morning was damp, with weather forecasts for thunder showers all day. I got up at 6 and had my breakfast, only to head out for a two mile warmup. My sick reasoning for this was because I am doing the 20 mile Coulee Cactus Crawl in two weeks and I wanted my total mileage today to be 15…My friend Joe had suggested this. Good thing he did, because while it was only 50 degrees, the humidity in Red Deer is something I am not used to anymore. Lethbridge is dry and arid (yes, you can have Canadian cities be arid). I had to take off my long sleeve layer before race time, which I am thankful I did. I met up with my friend from marathon club, Whitney, at the start line. I also said hi to my husband’s cousin, Erin, who was doing the full. She is my age and was shooting for Boston qualifying. (She got it! Just barely, but it counts. Finished with a 3:34:24. I met her at the start of the hill and ran with her up it for support. She said without me there she may have walked!). At 8 am, the half and full marathon started. There were a little over 950 competitors in total, with 801 doing the half. Whitney and I took off and stuck together for the first 2.5 miles. We were really booking it, and then she started to just step back behind me. I kept on moving, and as each mile passed, I got more and more nervous—-I was running dangerously…..was my pace going to break?

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Since I am familiar with this course, I think I had an advantage. The advantage was I knew where the “dead spots” were and where I would have to find some internal push to get me through. There was many spots where awesome volunteers were located, (IMHO, one of the best road races as far as number of stocked aid stations go! Water and gel almost every 5km!) locations where local musicians were playing (heard a great cover of “Born to Run” and lots of easily accessible spots for everyday spectators.

To make time pass I started calculating what I needed to run the last 5, 4, 3 miles and so on, in order to beat my PR of 1:53:52. I knew by the last 3 miles I was going to definitely beat it, I just wasn’t sure by how much. I could have taken a slow jog the last three miles at 10 min/mile and be ok…but I kept my short ass legs moving. At mile 11, though, my right hip started to tighten. I had worn KT Tape on my right and left quads due to the fact my left one was still very, very sore from The Spartan Race last week. I had an emergency massage on Thursday, which helped greatly, but I had my sister-in-law help me apply this tape the night before the race, just to be safe. My legs were feeling heavy, my hip was starting to sting, and I was starting to regret the two miles I ran at 6:50 am.

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Mile 11 and 12 were quite a bit slower than all my other splits, but in the last mile I knew I would regret if I slowed down. There was a hipster band playing on Michener Hill as I ran up it—-it was easier than the last two times I had done this race, and I thank the Runner’s Soul Marathon Club for training me on so many hills this spring! One thing I regretted from the last two years is that after climbing this hill, I did not take full advantage of the downhill to the finish. I did not let this happen in 2013!. I strode it out down the hill, and once I saw my mother in law, father in law and my dog Snoopy waiting down on the last turn, I lit it up like I was 17 and doing the 800 meter run….but I think I would have kicked my 17 year old self’s ass! Before I hit my stride, I nerdishly yelled Happy Birthday Snoopy! and waved to my dog (like he gave a rat’s ass he turned 6 that day) and I gave those final steps hell. In Red Deer, you run over a timing mat before the final straightaway and this tells the announcer who is coming in. Hearing him say the information I provided in my registration, which included my name, that I am doing many races this year, and that I am running in memory of my dad allowed me to not care about the pain my leg was in!

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I finished with a personal best of 1:47:22.. I honestly did not know it was possible for my body to do this.. I have spent the last 10 years running road races, but I am now finally starting to race in road races.. The competition in the 20-29 female category was ridiculous—127 competitors, and first place was 1:28:15. I ended up being 14/127 in my category, 32/498 in my gender, and 113/801 overall. I was the happiest I have ever been after a half or full marathon.

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A week ago after the Spartan Race, my mom and I were discussing how much dad would have loved to do that race. He would have loved the obstacles! My mom made an interesting statement, that if dad was still alive, she doesn’t know if I would have done that race…if I would have kept doing all the races I have done over the years. I slowly started to change my main interest from dance to running since my dad’s passing, and it wasn’t necessarily planned that way, but it has became that. And obviously, this website was done in his honor. It’s just interesting to think about everything that has happened since April 25, 2004. It crazy to me that just by focusing my competitive drive into this website, into my dads memory, that I am doing things in running I never though I could break. Running is cheaper than therapy….but really, it is the best kind of therapy…give it a try!….

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