My journey to my first half marathon wasn’t exactly as I had planned. A few injuries took me out of training much longer than expected. My emotions were all over the map. There were quite a few times along the way that I thought I was going to have to call it quits. So as I boarded the plane for Vancouver to accomplish this goal I had been fighting to complete I was nervous and excited and full of anticipation!
My husband and I decided to turn this trip into an anniversary getaway as well. We will be celebrating 9 years of marriage on May 23. We were able to leave the kids with their grandparents for a little parent-cation of their own. (We have such amazing family!) So I was excited to spend four days exploring Vancouver with the hubs. We stayed downtown in order to be in the center of the action. We were super impressed that between their transit system and the close proximity of our hotel to all the sights we wanted to see, that we didn’t miss our vehicle or need to cab it at all.
We arrived downtown Saturday afternoon, dropped our bags and headed straight to the Health & Wellness Expo. This is the first race expo I’ve ever been to so I was pretty excited to see what it was all about. We arrived at the perfect time and walked straight in without a line to collect my race package.
Walking into the expo the first stop was the free 5 minute massages by Pain Pro Therapeutics. There were only a couple people in line so I decided to take full advantage. I’m so glad I did! Although it was short, it was a fantastic massage! After that we started perusing the merchandise. As I walked past The Running Room’s exhibit I noticed John Stanton standing at a table talking with people. I was immediately star struck. He’s such an inspiring person and I was dying to go up and talk to him but…well I’m a wuss. I’ve been in situations before where I’ve had the chance to talk with famous awesome people and I always screw it up. I never know what to say. I either stand in the background without saying a word or I start talking, my words get all jumbled, and I end up looking like a blubbering fool. So I walked away feeling slightly disappointed in myself.
We kept going and sampled coconut water, yogurt, many a protein bar and even a wine! Bondiband had a booth so of course I had to stop by and pick up a new headband. And then I was on the lookout for a new armband or something to hold my iPhone during the half.
I know, I know…you should never try something new before a race. It’s one of the commandments of running. But the problem was this: since all my running was done during cold weather I never had the chance to run with my armband and bare arms. The Thursday before the race it was a cooker outside so I finally got to run in a tank top. After only a 10k run my arm was completely raw and sore from rubbing where the armband was. So I figured nothing could be worse than what I was already using. It was actually painful just to put the armband on again.
I ended up finding a great waist pouch, called the Phantom Pak, that holds my phone snuggly and doesn’t bounce whatsoever when running. Sold! I was a little wary of not being able to access controls while running but as it turns out I really didn’t need to. It saved my arm from any more soreness and it was so comfortable that I really didn’t feel like I was carrying anything during the run.
So after hitting all the exhibits, sampling all the samples, making a couple purchases, we left the expo. I was still feeling pretty down on myself for not having the guts to talk to John Stanton. After a pep talk from my hubby we decided to go back into the expo to say hi. We walked up to John at his exhibit. I still had no idea what I was going to say to him. So when he started the conversation first I was so relieved! He was so awesome!! A little too awesome because I almost started crying. (No, that wouldn’t have been embarrassing at all). He was so helpful in calming my pre-race jitters and assuring me that yes, I could do this. His advice to me was this: Treat the first 16k like your long run. You know what a 16k long run feels like. Take it easy, don’t start out too fast. Then after your long run, run a 5k race. You know what a 5k feels like!
I loved that. 16k and 5k. Doesn’t sound like such a big deal when you break it down like that. 🙂 After a quick photo op we left the expo. For real this time. I left feeling much more confident, but full of butterflies.
Back to the hotel to check in and check out all the goods from the expo. Peter and I then headed out to grab a bite to eat. We went to Malones Bar & Grill where I got to sip water while watching my hubby drink his beer. No I was not bitter. It just made me seriously anticipate the post race drinks 😉 I had a great dinner of chicken, potatoes and veggies. Then it was time to head back to the hotel.
One of my other big pre-race stresses was what to eat for breakfast before the race! Since we had to be on the train by 6am I knew there wouldn’t be a place open for us to grab breakfast. Especially since the breakfast we needed to grab would need to be wheat and dairy free. I normally eat oatmeal before a run so I packed a couple servings from home as well as bowls and spoons. But when we got to the hotel we realized they didn’t have a microwave so I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do. But then I had the brilliant idea to do overnight oats! We were able to find some individual servings of coconut milk at the expo so I mixed that with my oats the night before the race and we were good to go!
I wanted to be fully prepared without having to run around in the morning freaking out because I couldn’t find something or something didn’t fit right or whatever other issue I created for myself. So I tried on my full outfit then set everything out ready to throw on in the morning.
So I had breakfast ready, outfit ready, 3 alarms set. I was good to go. All that was left to do was get my butt to bed and get a good nights rest. Check, check and check. I still couldn’t believe tomorrow was the big day! My head hit the pillow and race day dreams quickly followed.
What’s the farthest you’ve travelled to participate in or watch a race/event? Do you have a pre-race ritual?