What a weekend! We are home and recovering and have plenty to say about the half marathon we did! On Saturday I was able to get off work early and head down to my Aunt’s house in Airdrie in the afternoon. The weekend forecast was perfect and we had the best fuel for the road… Starbucks obviously.
It was a nice and relaxing night in Airdrie and I wasn’t event stressed out (as much) about the race! We arranged for morning race package pick-up so it didn’t really feel real yet because we hadn’t picked up our bibs or anything. The race didn’t start until 10:30 am but we had to be there between 8:30 and 9:30 to get our bibs. Even though we had a 90 minute drive from Airdrie, we still got to sleep in a bit compared to the Calgary marathon.
We picked up our bibs and race packages and attached our chips to our shoes. I don’t think I have ever had a shoe chip before! I untied my shoes to put it through the laces close to my toes so it wouldn’t move around. That means I am now too lazy to undo all of the laces to take it off so it will be there until the shoes hit the trash… which is actually pretty soon.
It was already getting hot when we were waiting for the race to start. The late 10:30 am start was intentional due to the dusk to dawn animal presence in Banff. I don’t think 10:30 was absolutely necessary and by the time we were ready to go it was smokin’.
Stuart had his now-traditional 5-hour-energy drink before the race. The one thing I did like about the late morning start was that I had time to digest breakfast before the race. Too often I feel like my bagel with peanut butter and banana is just sitting in my stomach when I start the race but this time I felt good. I definitely didn’t drink enough water the morning of the race because I didn’t want to have to pee on the course.
We snapped a few pictures and then at 10:00 the marathoners started their race. Hanging out in the sun for a while made us just want to get it over with! At 10:23 we lined up at the start. We stood around the 1:45 pace sign because that was what were going to try and target… but with no pressure 😉
After waiting around for over an hour we were finally off! The course starts up a hill, nice. The course actually had to be changed at the last minute because of two competing Grizzly bears on the road to Vermillion Lakes, where the original course was plotted. The road had been closed on and off because of these bears and a mother and her cubs had also been spotted close by. If there is any legitimate reason to relocate the course I think that is it! Instead of the Bow Valley Parkway we ran on the path along the Trans-Canada highway from Banff towards Canmore.
The first couple of miles were great. Nice and shaded in the streets of Banff and on the first part of the trail. Then we hit the sun. The rest of the run out to the turnaround mark was in direct sun and there was absolutely no wind. At mile 4 I got a major cramp but just stopped and walked for less than 30 seconds with my hands stretched up and it went away. We struggled out to the turnaround and back and both felt pretty dizzy and hot out there. We took water and walked through 60% of the aid stations. I felt great when we hit the shade on the return and was able to coach/talk to Stuart the rest of the way. I felt really good for the last 4 miles but I think Stuart was hurting so we kept it at a nice and easy pace the rest of the race. We didn’t even plan to be in synch coming down the finishing chute!
We were a little short of our 1:45 target but happy with our race. The clock was just over 1:50:00 but our chip time was 1:49:54.
I downed tons of water at the end because I was so incredibly thirsty. I had half of a banana and a quarter of a Powerbar at the finish and then lots more water.
Our car was super close to the park where the race started and ended so we changed into our comfortable shoes, filled our water bottles, and laid in the grass by the finishing area. It was nice and shady and we watched a few people come in at the finish, took some pictures with our cute medals, and then waited for the awards ceremony because a couple of people texted me that I had placed 3rd in my age category! I mean the views were terrible at the park but we managed to suffer through.
Thankfully they started with the youngest age categories because we were baking in the sun and starting to get hungry. I did in fact place third in my age category (F20-24)! I had placed a couple of times in races (albeit SUPER small ones) but never received a medal (Hello second place female at the hypothermic half… I’m talking to you!) so I was really happy to receive this one! The first and second place people in my division had already left so I got to stand on the top of the podium and pretend I won.
I guess it kind of looked like there was no one else in my age category when I did that… I promise I wasn’t the only 20-24 female there. Stuart placed 5/7 in his age category because apparently the male youngsters are even speedier!
We finally left the finishing grounds and were more than ready to shower and eat… not necessarily in that order. Overall I highly recommend this race for the views alone. You can’t find a race course that doesn’t have amazing scenery in Banff. The organization was EXCELLENT for the inaugural race, they did a great job! I didn’t love the 10:30 start because it got to about 24 by the time we were running the race and even though that is not extreme, when you are running in no wind and direct sunlight – it feels extreme. EACH aid station had gatorade, water, AND gels and there were awesome volunteers with music at every one. It was a perfect race, minus the heat, and I would definitely run it again! We had some awesome food and such in Banff after the race but I will tell you about that tomorrow 🙂