I always love visiting Vancouver, but this time was extra awesome because my best friend is back in the city after a year of teaching in Hong Kong! We hadn’t seen each other since my wedding in August 2016!! Sarah happened to move right back to where she lived before she left the country, so we picked up where we left off in the West End. Love!!
The Fall Classic is a run I mostly wanted to take part in because it’s a perfect three weeks out from my fall goal race, the California International Marathon (CIM) on December 3rd, and because it’s in Vancouver. I love Vancouver! Ten years of my life were spent living in this fabulous city, and it is also the most accessible city to race in for those of us living in Prince Rupert. Perfect.
On Friday the weather was spectacular and I had an easy 6.5km to run in the morning along the Seawall which had me reminiscing about my first marathon, the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May 2016, which is also a RUNVAN event. That marathon is epic, and I try not to use the term epic. But it is! Run it. I plan to again one day!
My friend Becca and I went back to our old hood on Main for lunch at Slickity Jim’s and to browse around (currently on an unofficial shopping freeze) and then grabbed my bib and RUNVAN gloves from the package pickup at Forerunners! The gloves are awesome and SO MUCH BETTER than an ill-fitting race shirt!! Next up, Sushi.
On Saturday after a day of brunch at the Score on Davie and browsing around downtown, I went for a little jog and some strides (east on the Seawall this time) and then Sarah and I had one of our ritualistic Thai dinners before a lazy evening. Flatrunner and chill.
The University of British Columbia is where I got my degree and it’s a REALLY beautiful campus. And hilly. It was so nice to go back there as a non-student on Sunday morning to go do my favourite thing ever! The weather was supposed to be pretty rainy but not very cold, or for me, borderline warm at 8 degrees haha. I decided on long sleeves and shorts, tall Sac Stripes Procompression socks, no mitts and free ears, but a hat on my head for a rain forcefield if necessary. Turned out to be pretty bang on choices.
I went into this race with a few options, one being to really go for it if I felt good that day, OR, to practice my goal marathon pace for CIM if it wasn’t feeling like a day to run a hard 21.1km. If I did feel good, the “A” goal was of course a PR, ideally 01:49:xx, since my current half PR is 01:50:48 but a sub 1:50 would be soooo nice! After coach Andrew and I checked out the course on Strava, we both kind of felt that it would need to be a super best-case scenario, based on the profile and the fact that I wasn’t really resting up for this race, but running it as a tune-up for CIM.
He entered a ballpark perfect-day-goal on Training Peaks of 01:50. I went in without much of a taper, feeling strong and healthy but with lack of sleep, and my main priority was to do my very best, not “cook myself” on the first hills, and to flex my mental muscle in this dress rehearsal for CIM.
Car2Go was my transportation of choice and I left the West End just after seven on Sunday morning to arrive on campus, park and walk over to the Nest by 7:30. The half marathon start was at 8:30 am and runners wanting to utilize the free gear check (me) were advised to arrive at least an hour early. Apparently like twenty volunteers were late from their volunteer meeting and the gear check wasn’t ready to rock until closer to eight but this didn’t cause me a single problem. It was quick and easy, plus the AMS Student Nest (the new, fancy and massively improved SUB that didn’t exist back in my day) was the start and finish venue, so all of us runners were warm and dry with real washrooms and lots of room to hang out!
There weren’t corrals, but this race is pretty small, so when it was 8:25-ish I went into the starting area and found a spot somewhere between the 2:00 and 1:45 pacers. We started on time and it was time to run a half marathon!
The first three kilometers were super downhill and I ran by feel, faster than my goal average pace, but not pushing, just running controlled on the significant decline. I remember hearing UltraThai from November Project congratulate everyone around us on a good job up the first hill, I think that was a little after 3km. I was thinking, sweet, that was child’s play. Then came another downhill all the way to the turn around point of that out-and-back portion. The long (longest) uphill after the 5km turn around wasn’t too bad, it was definitely long but not steep. Since this course is almost two exact loops, all hills were run twice, and the short but steep hill in kilometer 10 shortly before the timing mat, and then again in kilometer 20 was just mean! LOL. The second time I even walked a few paces, I just felt so heavy and my heart rate was cray. MY SEVEN SECONDS wahhhh why did I do that?? By the time I was finishing up loop two, the hills had added up and I was ready to be done.
It was awesome running the big downhills a second time, shortly after crossing the 10k timing mat, and it was also wicked to finish on a short but significant down slope back to the Nest. My pace for the last 350m was like 4min/km! I wanted a PR SO BADLY!!! It was hard to tell by my watch since I ran 21.35 km in total, so my average pace wasn’t going to be accurate for 21.1. Maybe I should start manual lapping.
Alas, I came up seven seconds short, but I am SO HAPPY! That course was not easy whatsoever! It really tested my mental strength. All those hills accumulated and had me feeling pretty cooked around 17-18km, but I repeated “later-fun” to myself and had some really great runners around me reminding us all that we didn’t have far to go now! I finished REALLY strong, and had I run the tangents better I’d have gotten my sub 1:50, as Training Peaks tells me! My official chip time was 01:50:55 and I’m PUMPED on that and so was coach Andrew! I also know for a fact that I were were to run a half marathon on a fast, flat course at this point in time, I would get that official sub 1:50, no questions asked!
A medal was handed to me seconds after crossing the finish line, and then I caught my breath and found the snack table. Juice boxes, oh hell yes. There was tons of other food too, but I wanted to get inside. I chatted with a girl who was near me during the last section of the race and then made my way indoors. Included in our registration was amazing food on top of all the bananas, juice and other snacks outside; a food tag on the bottom of the bibs gave us the choice between pizza, sushi or chili inside the Nest. If you know me, you know what I chose. ‘Zaaaaaa.
It was so perfect to have a big, warm, beautiful building to go into immediately and use a real toilet and not begin to freeze. So grateful! By this time it was raining pretty hard. I easily got my checked bag from the covered area just outside the entrance I initially arrived through on University Blvd, changed into dry clothes and destroyed a slice of pizza. I found a Car2Go less than 500m away and was ready to head back to Sarah to spend our last afternoon of the weekend together. I left UBC super impressed with this event and with a great sense of accomplishment from pushing through that course. Many times it felt really hard and more than once, for a split second, my brain tried to trick me into changing gears to full marathon pace. But I didn’t. Yahooooo.
Post-race epic meal time: BANDIDAS, bitches. We drove over to Commercial Drive (another one of my old hoods, nostalgia overload) and had the best meal possibly of my life!!!! We were ravishing, as Sarah would say (*ravenous) and the tortilla soup and Wolf & Goat tacos were to die for.
Fall Classic weekend was a success!! I already knew that RUNVAN knew how to put on a good event, having run the BMO Van Marathon last year, but they impressed me again with the Fall Classic! Well organized, great swag, fantastic start/finish venue and although very challenging, A GORGEOUS course!!!! Thank you, RUNVAN!