Saturday, 4 July 2015

Scotiabank Charity Half Marathon: Triumphant Recap

This year I signed up for the Scotiabank Charity Half Marathon in my capacity as a Friend of the Vancouver Public Library, to raise money for the Vancouver Public Library Foundation. I signed Matthew up to race with me because misery loves company.

Last I wrote, Matthew and I had diligently completed our training run. I also had narrowly exceeded my minimum fundraising target of $200. So we were all set to run that thing.

On Sunday morning we set the alarm a bit later than we had the year before (because last year we spent half an hour waiting for the darn bus!!). I had humbly signed us up for Green corral (for slow-pokes) because I did not trust that we could improve on our time of 2:15. Wow was I wrong.

It was searing hot like a wok when we were not in the shade. There was a good lot of shade on the course, especially in UBC and Point Grey, but by the time we were in Kitsilano it was glaring UV pretty much all the way into town. Some desperate joggers (me included) dashed through the odd neighbourhood sprinkler when the opportunity arose.

At Spanish banks, just before the 10km mark, we had the surprise and pleasure of overtaking the 2:15 pacers. And we did not see them for the rest of the race. There were two excruciating bits that I recall: this first was the hill at the end of NW Marine Dr up from Locarno/Jericho beach area (about 11kms in). There were motivational race volunteers barking "Don't slow down! Don't give up! Don't stop!" in loud, serious tones. We jogged all the way up that bastard and even got a little sprint on at the crest into 4th Ave. The second excruciating bit was coming onto Burrard Bridge (at about 18kms). The Molson sign said it was 22 degrees although it felt like 30. At my request we slowed down to a walk for about 3 minutes to catch our breath. I'm not proud of walking part of the bridge, because I don't think it is in the spirit of the event, but it was all I could do to keep going. We saw one fellow racer sitting down stretching his legs, and other being carried. Tough times.

Anyway, we stiffened the upper lip and ran on for the brief rest of it, crossing the finish line in Stanley Park at 2:13 race time and 2:08 chip time! (FYI: race time is how long since the gun; chip time is how long since you personally crossed the starting line; a half-marathon is 21 kms or 13.1 miles). Significantly faster than all our training runs and also last year's race.


We were immediately rewarded for our efforts with a drink of water, a medal, and a family of ducklings who were very distressed trying to navigate through the middle of the event. Baby animals are very soothing. We parked it in the grass and did some stretching (we still had ahead of us a hike up Davie St to the bus home, we remembered how challenging this felt after running for so long without a proper stretch). We located the Vancouver Public Library Foundation tent in Charity Village. Our fellow Friend Ann was manning the tent, so we stopped for a chat, brought her some snacks, and took advantage of the photo opportunity!

Ann and me at the Charity Village

I would like to take this moment to thank my family and friends for their generous sponsorship of my run. We are lucky in Friends of the Vancouver Public Library that we don't need to "sell" our mission; everyone recognises the civic and philosophical importance of the public library. But it is quite another thing to acknowledge this importance by giving money. In total I raised $265, and the greater VPL Foundation team raised well over $5000. Thank you for giving your financial support to this great and equitable Vancouver institution!

I would also like to thank Matthew for signing up with so little fuss, for foregoing precious Sunday sleep-ins to run all over Vancouver for the last 2 months, and for staying no further than a metre away from me during the whole race (even though he could easily have galloped off and left me in the dust). It is a great pleasure and privilege to be able to run with Matthew.

p.s. I promised Matthew that I would not make him run another half marathon.

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