Race report: 2011 First Half Half MarathonPosted: 14 February 2011
In the weeks leading up to this race, I wasn’t sure if I should race this or treat it as a higher-paced long run. After all, I’m now halfway through my training toward the Vancouver Marathon. But the last month of training has told me that I must race this.
This was my first time running the First Half, so named because for many, it’s the 1st half marathon of the year. It’s a very popular race that regularly sells out, and this year was no exception. Vancouver runners were certainly clamoring to sign up since there was no race in 2010 due to the Olympics. The course stays within the downtown peninsula, and features the full Stanley Park seawall. Some construction has necessitated detours, which made this year’s route hillier than usual.
The weather conditions were ideal: slightly cool, and cloudy with the sun trying to break through. One would be hard-pressed to believe that this is a winter race, particularly in Vancouver.
The start of the race was very energetic, and I got caught up in the initial frenzy, and that might have been my undoing. I marked my time at 3 miles (the race stayed traditional with its distance markers) and was surprised to be going 5:35/km (or 9:00/mile). I eased up after that, and averaged around 5:48/km (9:20/mile) the rest of the way. (My Garmin tells me different numbers, but I used only the stopwatch information and the distance markers as placed to come up with the paces here.) The end result was an official chip time of 2:01:24.41 (love the hundredths given).
I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t break two hours, but I’ll take solace that I kept the overall pace under 6:00/km (9:39/mile). If nothing else, with this race and my PB-setting run in the Okanagan, I’ve set a personal baseline for future half marathons.
I have to give praise to the organizers and volunteers for making the First Half a great race experience. I want to make particular mention of the various green initiatives, from bag-less package pickup (just the shirt and timing bib, thank you very much) to the post-run food spread and composting receptacles for afterward. One minor blip would have to be the finish-line chute, such as it was: it meant runners (and even spectators) were mingling around the finish area when they could have been directed to the race’s base at the Roundhouse Community Centre.
Overall, I loved taking part at the First Half, and despite its timing in the local running calendar, it’s definitely a race I’d do again.