Three minutes after the starting gun kicked off Joy’s first half-marathon at TRY EVENTS Vancouver Historic Half, I joined the pack behind her for an out-and-back 10k race along the first section of the Stanley Park Seawall. My training hasn’t been as consistent as Joy’s in the months leading up to this event: two runs per week during the summer and early fall, which tapered off to once per week by late October. My usual training distance has been about 7.5 km along the streets and trails of Pitt Meadows.
That said, with an IsaPro shake and a banana as morning prep and an e+ Energy Shot of my own as the racers assembled at the starting line, I felt ready to face the cold morning with the rest of the group. (Again, -6°C/21°F, which is unusually cold for November in Vancouver.)
But, not having raced a 10k since the Sun Run five years ago, I encountered a few surprises of my own.
My Five Biggest Race-Day Surprises
- Even in brisk weather, your body heats up pretty quickly and my fear of being cold through the race was soon put to rest. I had a quick-dry t-shirt, long sleeve running top, and a lightweight jacket. I probably didn’t need it all, though was glad to have my head and hands covered.
- It is really hard to keep your adrenaline in check and just run a steady first kilometer. My opening split time was 4:20, way faster than I intended to start.
- Similarly to HerList, running out-and-back means you start to recognize the landmarks on the return trip and know what you have left to finish the run. I found this a big help to allow me to keep enough in reserves in the tank to finish strong.
- However, I also assumed the course would be exactly 10 km and started my final up-tempo leg a little too soon (based on my iPhone GPS). The course turned out to be about 700 meters long — according to my GPS and most other accounts — and as the trail finally turned toward the finish line, I found myself running on fumes climbing the final hill.
- Running with a group is so much easier than running alone, even if you’re not runners of equal ability. Inevitably, you find someone to help set your pace or to try to catch. (And yes, twice during this race, my pace setter was a 10-year-old kid.)
I, too, took inspiration from my race day playlist to stay energized. Here are the songs that kick-started my run.