Race report: 2014 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon

Even though I’ve run this course before (the last time in 2010), I found that the hills (up and down) made it more tough when attempting to run for a personal best. But I had an almost perfect training cycle, which ultimately paid off with a new PB!

In my last update, I reported that training had been going well so far, especially in the month of May. It extended for most of June even though I had to juggle my runs around other things happening. There wasn’t much change in the format of the training (three days: tempo, intervals, long run with some race pace), so why mess with a good thing?

Two race bibs, both numbered 444.

The Scotia Half bib is on the bottom. It’s the first time I received a bib number that I have worn in the past. (The one on top is from this year’s First Half.)

On the morning of the race, I felt I had to use the restroom before going to the start line. Considering past experience (in long runs during training), it proved to be a good call (of nature).

Going into the race, I felt comfortable enough that I can finish in 1:55 (very close to my PB of 1:54:44). The first two kilometres were fast and frantic, as I went faster than 5:15/km (8:26/mi). I settled down and concentrated on going through my intended splits.

Between kilometres 8 and 10, the course drops elevation. Knowing what’s to come (two more uphills later in the course), I had to fight gravity and stay in control. I passed the 10 km marker at 53:32.

A little bit about the weather: it was the second day of summer, so it was about 12ºC (54ºF) at race start. There was some sun at the beginning, but clouded over the rest of the way. It wasn’t as warm as last year’s BMO Vancouver Half, but I certainly reminded myself to fill up on gels and I stopped at almost every aid station for fluid.

There’s a piece of advice I read somewhere about finishing ahead of costumed runners. One prominent racer I’ve seen in other races was dressed as Barney. In this race, he was very quick down the hill on NW Marine Drive (noted above), but eventually caught up to and passed him around km 15. There was also someone dressed in a Spiderman costume (he even had a mask, but he was not wearing it). He passed me down the same hill; I briefly passed him on an uphill, but soon passed me again. At least I finished ahead of Barney.

Could the Burrard Bridge (after km 18) be considered this course’s Heartbreak Hill? It’s a tough uphill segment that happens near the end of the race that can make or break a runner’s goals. Fortunately, there is a downhill lasting about 1.5 km on the other side of the bridge and on the road leading to the beach, and unlike the first major downhill, I decided to make my move and go for a personal best. It really felt gratifying passing runners in this final stretch.

I finished in 1:53:36, a PB by more than a minute. This was well-earned, given the hilly course. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a great course, with lovely waterfront scenery for most of it. It’s a lovely experience all around, and I can’t wait until the next time I run the course!

1:53:36 (5:23/km, 8:39/mi)
1016/3334 overall
651/1451 males
115/239 males aged 30-34


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