Edmonton Half Marathon Aug 16, 2012.

My favourite race shirt so far

Road trip.  We are staying at the Delta downtown for 2 nights.  It has been very hot and sunny; Sunday has a forecast high of 31° and sun.  Heat is a big concern for the race.  The Olive Garden is on the agenda for Saturday on the way in followed by the Expo at Northlands.  I pick up bib #2187; now I have to do well (I'm a Pens fan).  We get a room looking into the mall; I can see the Elephant & Castle and a row of mannequins below in the department store.  Do they move by themselves at night?

Hello Wayne

Saturday is an odd day, a waiting day - we are thinking about the race.  I have my nails done in the mall near the hotel for tomorrow, I firmly believe bright nail polish prevents toenail loss.  The pre-race food in the fridge is partly frozen by accident.  We have Timbits, E&C dip with tortilla chips, a sandwich (partly frozen) and an early night.  The Delta bed is fluffy and glorious. 

Race day

The alarm goes off and we have giant bowls of cereal.  We become disorganized and get delayed after I stop at the ice machine to fill my water bottle and can’t figure it out.  My pace chart is jammed awkwardly in my watch band. 

We head through the mall to the LRT past closed stores and janitors.  One line is closed and we are not sure if our train will stop.  Finally one other solitary runner shows up on the platform and I feel calmer.  The train rolls in and we join a few others including ‘bike pacer guy’.  It is a beautiful clear warm morning with light wind.  There is a small walk from the station to the race; we stop at the shiny Expo centre for bathrooms with no queues. 
As we cross the parking lot the National Anthem plays and the marathon runners are on their way.  Time stops.  We warm up and stretch in the back with other runners.  The start line is not crowded but we are near the back.  Only 1300 runners in the Half.  Losing My Religion plays as we cross the line and start the watches.   Everyone has started fast so I check my watch and slow down.  The 2:30 pacer group is ahead of me for the first 1k or so then I gradually pass them.  We are already in the sun but it’s not too hot and there are shadows from buildings on both sides.  We pass policemen eating chips.  The traffic is stopped.  I see our hotel and know I will be passing it in the other direction soon. 

Running feels good, we have already passed water stations but my ice bottle is still filled.  We run over an overpass, I stay on the pavement instead of the metal road grid.  I feel like I’m flying.  The race moves into a leafy student area, there are a lot of people with signs.  Tequila is on my I-Pod.  The future marathon winner passes us on the other side, it is inspiring and impressive.  At 10k we are in a residential area, a dog is barking on the other side of the road.  I stop at the next water station to pour water in my hat.  The turnaround has a timing mat and I walk to have a gel pack for my slowest km at 7:24.  It is slightly uphill now and a struggle to get moving at my pace.  I see a huge blue bird – woodpecker? – halfway up a tree on the other side. 
I cross the grid bridge again - it’s getting hot but there is still shade downtown.  I see a sign advising I can slow down as I won’t be winning today and it irrationally annoys me.  I talk to another runner as we pass 15k and the race gets hard.  I force myself to keep moving and my pace slows.  I need the water stations to tip cups over myself and into my hat.  We pass the hotel doors again and suddenly it seems we’re getting there.  

So. Incredibly. Hot.

The sun is fully on us now and it is HOT.  The wind has dropped.  Nothing sounds good on the playlist and I am jumping tracks.   We pass the last water station just before 18k and I douse myself from head to toe.  A marathon pace group passes me.  At 19k I realize my overall time is good.  My pace improves from 20k to the end and I think I can finish before 2:20, ahead of my goal.  I start picking up my pace for the finish, probably too early.  I have to keep it up from the turn off the main road through to the finish line.  I see supporters with glittery pompoms and wish I could slow down.  

Finally I see the end and manage to run through smiling.  I try not to stop too early and look on the verge of collapse.   I stop my watch at 2:19, 12 mins faster than Calgary!  This is far better than I had hoped.  Kev is right there and we go into the cool giant shower.  There is time for a few photos in the sun then we go upstairs for the brunch.  We are surrounded by tired happy runners.  Kev has beaten his last time by 1 min.  Results are already posted by the finish line on a board.

Yes please

We return to the hotel by train, it is extremely hot.  We both need a jet tub before going out, Kev’s knee is bothering him and I am sore all over.  Celebrations commence in the beer garden of the Sherlock Holmes.  The marathon winner is one table over.  Ryan Day from BC, time 2:36:40.


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