About a year ago, I tackled the Trailbreaker Half Marathon in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was my first official half marathon of 2013. I had hoped to possibly break my long-withstanding PR of 1:54:19, but wasn’t sure if I could due to just spending a week enjoying the food and drink of Wisconsin! I managed to sneak out my first personal best of the year, a 1:52:53, and was beyond pleased.
Fast forward to this year; last week to be exact. I got up at 5:30 am on Saturday, March 22nd, got myself ready and hit the road to Calgary for the 10:00 am start of the Run for L’Arche Half Marathon. This race would be my only spring half marathon, as I am saving up for the Calgary full and my attempt at a Boston Qualifying time, in June. I knew in my head I wanted to really go for a personal best and break 1:40, but wasn’t sure if it would be in the cards. An early morning 2 hour drive, an unfamiliar trail to race on, and icy cold weather would be the hurdles to tackle. But I had my inner motivation.
The race started and finished at the Eau Claire Market near downtown Calgary. I had never been here, so was relying on my GPS to be my guide. Made it no problem, and secured a sweet parking spot right outside the food court entrance. Race day packet pickup was also a breeze! I had all my supplies by 9:00 am, so I was very grateful for the indoor seating before this cold race!
About 15 minutes before the start, I shuttled myself outside. I positioned myself pretty near the front of the group; there was officially 236 finishers in the half marathon. It was nice that it wasn’t too crowded; I didn’t feel like I would get stuck behind anyone after the start while on the narrow trail.
The half began, and all of a sudden I was warmed up and ready to rock. My adrenaline just started pumping through but I knew I had to keep positive thoughts. The course was an out and back along the Bow River. The public trail system was not closed to the general public at any time during the race, but it was so cold that the only people out there were die-hards anyway…so I personally didn’t encounter any issue with people being in the way. The runners spaced out relatively soon, probably by the first mile. It was also at this point that I think I never passed any female runners, or had another female runner pass me. I kind of found myself in my own little world.
Since the trails weren’t in the deep woods, and they weren’t as windy and full of blind turns like the river valley in Lethbridge, I could keep a good eye on the runners ahead of me. I kept with their pace and kept on pushing to that halfway point turn around. I was trucking along for the first six miles—7:01, 7:29, 7:27, 7:28, 7:27, 7:27. As the runners headed back after the turnaround I counted five women ahead of me. And once I did hit the turnaround, I saw everyone else closely behind. I knew I had to keep pace, even though heading back I would be hitting some wind and probably the proverbial wall.
I kept a good spirit, as I truly believe this helps during a race. I said “good job” to anyone I caught up to or passed, and exchanged “yeahs!” with people who caught up to me. Even though I was also starting to realize my body was conditioned to this bloody cold, I was really starting to tighten up! Miles 7-10 were 7:34, 7:37, 7:43, 7:37.
When I hit the last 5 km, I knew sub 1:40 was within my reach! I even told guys around me I was gunning for my personal best, and they had to keep me energized! I slowed down a tad over the final icy bridge, and made a push to the finish. My final three miles were 7:38, 7:44 and 7:48. I slowed myself down, got my finishers medal, put my hands on my thighs, and turned around. I had already seen the timer above the finish, but I had to turn around to see it one more time. I looked at my watch and there it was…1:38:40…I had done it! I broke my previous personal best of 1:41:07 from October 2013 at the Bare Bones Half by about 2 minutes and 30 seconds!
The official results weren’t immediately available, so I got some chocolate milk and helped myself to the hot breakfast being served by the Calgary Stampede Caravan. When I finally made it inside the market, I was able to turn my phone on and search for the results. I found out I had finished 6/110 in females, and 1/32 in the 20-29 female age group!
The past year has been crazy. I can’t believe I’ve gone from a 1:50s half runner to a 1:30s. Finding the strength within to run with more determination than ever this past year has paid off. With this finish, I feel even more positive that I can get my Boston Qualifying time this June at the Calgary Full Marathon. I can’t wait to train and race through the springtime!