I first ran a Calgary Marathon Weekend event in 2009. That marathon was AWFUL for me, and I took a break from running full marathons. But, in 2013 I returned to Calgary for their half marathon. And in 2014 for the full. And 2015 & 2016 for the 50km.
This year, my husband and I ran the half marathon. I went in with a few time goals, with my overall goal being to run a sub 2 hour half marathon. Normally, this is no problem as I have been running low and sub 1:40s for a few years now. But, being 17.5 weeks pregnant would be new running territory! If that goal couldn’t be met, I wanted to beat my first half marathon time of 2:05.30. Third goal would be sub 2:10. And after that, just completion.
Weather was set to be comfortable, and the 7:00 am start is always nice. In my experience running Calgary Marathon Weekend event, the heat really kicks in at around 9:30 and on. I would be done before the heat of the morning arose, and off those non-shaded city streets. I was concerned, however, about needing to use the bathroom multiple times. I am needing to stay hydrated more than ever, but that comes with consequences!
Dan and I started in separate areas of the starting corral. I actually started with our cousin Erin, even though I knew she’d be gone from my sight in a few short steps. I started farther up than maybe I should have, but I also know so many people self-seed themselves incorrectly. I planned on pushing the first mile just so I could get some space and not be trampled/ran into/stepped on. This plan worked as I ran mile 1 in 8:33, and therefore had plenty of elbow room.
Miles 2-5 were consistent and uneventful. Actually, the eventful parts of these miles were people running by me commenting on my shirt! “Run Faster! I’m pregnant and still kicking your ass!” I heard a comment from a guy at one point saying he’s done a lot of races and that’s the best shirt he’s ever seen. I got a lot of “congrats” and thumbs up. It kept me smiling and moving, and I’m sure it kept a bunch of other people moving! Miles 2-4 were 8:45, 8:59, 8:58, and 8:59. I was on pace to break 2 hours (ideally wanted an average pace of 9 min/mi…I was on track!)
Mile 6 was my slowest, at a 9:46. This is due in part to my one and only potty break. I spotted two Porta Potties downtown at around mile 5.8 and there was no line. PERFECT! But, they were both occupied. I had to wait probably somewhere around 15-20 seconds, went in and was out quickly. Probably used about 45 seconds there. But, it was needed. Hopefully it wouldn’t come back to taunt me as my time approached the 2 hour mark.
I was never able to get my pace back below that 9 minute mark, but I hovered right around it. Miles 7-10, which mentally were the most challenging as you saw people already heading back to Stampede grounds as you were heading to the turnaround, were 9:05, 9:03, 9:14.
During those miles, I took advantage of the soaked sponges, as I do at every Calgary event! The sun was up, clouds were non-existent…it was warming up! I needed to keep my body temperature down. I kept watching my heart rate and every time it got near 170 I would slow down a bit and adjust my breathing to bring it down to a 150.
On the home stretch I knew I could get that sub 2 hour. I ran a 9:02 for mile 11, 9:08 for mile 12 and a 9:11 for mile 13. The problem was when my watch hit 13.1 miles, I wasn’t at the finish line. This can happen in a lot of races, especially if you veer off the course to use a bathroom, run zig-zagged to go to aide stations, don’t run the tangents of the course….I pushed as hard as I could so I could get under 2 hours. My watch read 13.9 when I finished, and I finished in a 1:59.12! A sub 2 hour half marathon!
Dan was in the finish area waiting for me (I’m not sure how he managed to stay there without the volunteers kicking him out after he finished). He ran a personal best of 1:41.08. This was over 11 minutes faster than his only other half marathon, which he ran a year before this. Look what a little training can do! And with him running that time now, if I can get him to keep on with running, I will have some friendly competition post pregnancy!