Going the Distance, Going for Speed

This morning I ran my first Half Marathon. It was quite an experience. Right now the runner’s high is starting to ease up and the muscle fatigue is setting in, but I’m still really happy with how I ran.

The route for reference.

5:00 am – My alarm goes off and I’m tempted to go back to bed. But I roll out of bed, make a strawberry and aรงaรญ smoothie, eat a small piece of bread, anad get my gear together.

5:30 – The taxi calls to let me know he’s here. Since the race starts at UBC at 7 am, biking and public transit are out of the question, so I have to resort to a $20 cab ride. I emailed Translink to complain that they don’t run special service for events like the half marathon. 4 thousand runners had to get to UBC somehow this morning, and having everyone drive is just dumb.

5:45 – I arrive at UBC a bit earlier than I wanted. It’s drizzling and all the buildings are closed, so I find a dry spot next to the book store and camp out with some other early bird runners.

6:15 – I stash my bag in a quiet alleyway and do a 10 minute warm up jog, stretch, and loosen up.

6:40 – I’m in a 200 person line up of frantic runners who are all trying to check their bags so they have dry clothes at the finish line. The line is moving quickly and everyone is chatting. The lady in front of me is asking if its ok to eat a power gel that expired. The helpful man behind me asks when it expired. The response – about a year ago. He suggests its best to avoid it. She then reveals she’s running in a new pair of runners she just bought yesterday, and he suggests she might as well eat the power gel.

6:50 – Bag check has turned into a free for all. The one table of volunteers trying to staple tags to people’s bags couldn’t keep up so everyone is just chucking their gear on buses and hoping it arrives at the finish line. I rip off my track pants, toss my long sleeve shirt in my bag, slather Vaseline on my nipples and in my armpits (don’t want any nasty chaffing), and toss my bag on a bus.

7:00 – The gun goes off. I’m somewhere near the middle of the pack. It takes a full minute before I reach the start line. The rain has let up and the weather is looking nicer.

2 KM mark – I spent the last 10 minutes slowly passing hordes of runners and now I’m in a comfortable spot where I can spend most of my time running forward instead of weaving in and out of runners.

4 KM mark – There’s an awesome band playing music. The lead singer is cracking jokes in between songs. “I’m not sure if you noticed, but you’re all numbered. Didn’t you realize you are supposed to be in order. I think you should regroup and fix that.” “How many people bought new shoes yesterday? How’s that going for you?” “Any single guys want to leave their numbers with me when they run by? I want to date an athletic type.”

7 KM mark – Chugging along. I find a group of guys who are aiming for 1:30. That sounds like a good time to me, so I stick with them. They seem to be going a bit fast, but I decide to give’r: 1:30 or bust.

9 KM mark – Extreme downhills. Most of the course is a gentle drop, but the next 2 KM are pretty severe. I let gravity take over and fly down the hill.

10 KM mark – Normally I’d be done by now, but I’m not even half done. I’m feeling good, but slightly worried I ran the downhill a bit too fast. I grab some Gatoraide and keep running.

Wet T-Shirt Finish11 KM mark – The heavens oven up and it starts to pour. I’m drenched pretty quickly, but trudge on.

13 KM mark – I’ve hit the wall. The lactic acid burn is hitting my legs, I’m feeling tired, the rain is slowing me down, and the course is sloping upwards now.

14 KM mark – I run through the wall. Nothing keeps me down for long. I found a girl who’s running the pace I want, so I drop in behind her. There are no pace bunnies and I forgot my watch. I’m not sure what time she’s aiming for, but she has a really cute bottom (no bunny tail sadly) and I think following her for a few kilometres will lift my spirits.

15 KM mark – I’m a leading contender in the half marathon wet t-shirt contest. The vaseline has all but washed away, but my white, cotton t-shirt is firmly glued to my skin and isn’t moving anywhere. No need to worry about nipple chaffing. Need to worry about nipples poking through my shirt.

They’re giving away power gels at the 15 km station. Curious, I grab one. I rip the top off with my teeth, and go to squeeze out the contents, but nothing happens. I squeeze harder and sticky yellow stuff squirts all over my hand. I lick some off (it’s kind of nasty) and let the rain wash the rest away (yep, still pouring).

16 KM mark – I’m skipping water stations. I can just keep my mouth open for a few seconds. If there’s a towel station I might stop. I’ve been ringing my t-shirt out every few minutes, but it doesn’t do much good. The constant ringing and the weight of the water has ripped my bib number from one of the pins.

17 KM mark – I can see the finish line, but English Bay is in my way, so I’ll have to run around. Fancy that, I find someone I know. I catch up to Scott and run with him. I left my pace bunny’s behind a while ago, so I need company.

18 KM mark – Last hill – the Burrard Bridge. After the race someone commented that running up the Burrard bridge felt like a salmon swimming up stream, with all the water flowing toward you. I’m feeling really good at this point and start to lose Scott on the uphill.

19 KM mark – Almost done. I pick up the pace further, sensing the finish line. Only 2 pins holding my bib number to my transparent t-shirt.

20 KM mark – The famous Porter Kick takes over and I start to sprint the last kilometre.

Finish Line – 1:33:07.3. Pretty good. I almost made the first page of results (note: they’re sorted by gun time, so my time is actually faster than the last ten entries). I didn’t break 1:30, but not still pretty good for my first half marathon. 18/95 in my age category. Official Results

After the race I was exhausted. I quickly removed all my wet clothes (underwear too) and put on dry clothes. If you get into the porta-potties early they’re relatively clean, dry, and stink-free.

The bag pickup area was chaotic and most of the bags were sitting in a puddle, but luckily mine was near the front and sitting on top of someone else’s bag. I packed a recovery drink (with dates, hemp oil, dulse flakes, honey, and lemon juice) that my mother recommended and it did wonders to restore my energy. Now to relax and enjoy the rest of the day (which has suddenly become sunny – good timing).


    • Not any time soon.
      My body is shutting down right now. My knees are wobbly, my hamstrings are super tight, and the soles of my feet feel like giant bruises.
      I’ll try a few more halfs first. I don’t think I’ll do my first full marathon for a few more years yet.


  1. Heh, I just got the Cake reference in the title ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Man, I only ran 12km this weekend in a little under an hour. Looks I’ve got a little more training to do to get up to “Porter-Shape”!


  2. Congrats
    Awesome time. Can’t imagine running that fast…ever. Long and slow, with the emphasis on slow, is my kind of run. The advantage being after the end I don’t have to worry about lactic acid build up, just the bruised bottoms of my feet from pounding the pavement. We will have to go for a run when Dad & I come into Vancover in August. You can walk and I’ll run. That should be an even pace.
    Emily must be out of town. You suddenly have time for journal posts.
    Congrats again.


  3. awesome work–seriously. the rest of me has recovered except for my left calf, which cramped up soon after the downpour started and has stayed cramped ever since. I’ve been limping around like an old old lady ever since.
    This half marathon was pretty brutal on most people–cold, wind, and rain aren’t nice to the body. When I compare how I felt after this run, the first half I did (where it was also freezing and raining), and the BMO last month (relatively warm and dry) I think that my puny immuno-crappy body recovers WAY more slowly from the cold and wet. After the BMO I felt completely fine afterwards–enough to tromp around sight-seeing with Scott’s family.
    So in other words…you’d probably feel much better if the weather hadn’t been so horrible–I don’t think it’s got much to do with your state of readiness.
    I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m so tired.


    • I’m really impressed you finished, considering the condition you were in. That took serious guts and mental strength.
      Sorry I didn’t make it to the BBQ after. I was just dead.


      • no worries about dinner. we missed you, but figured you were passed out someplace like the rest of us wanted to be. we both miss seeing you every week, though. now that we’re getting more settled into the new place, we’ll be hosting some parlour game parties involving food and such. I hope you’ll be able to trundle out to East Van to be a part of the festivities.


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