Today was my final race of the year. The Vancouver Historic Half. I’m not sure why it’s called the “Historic” half since the website says it the 4th annual. Perhaps it used be called by a different name. Or perhaps people who have run this race, 5K, 10K or a half marathon, have made history in previous years? I don’t think I can say I made history. But I certainly will remember quite a few things about this race and the days leading up to it. It’s not often your running route gets closed due to high waves and crashing logs just two days before the race along the Stanley Park Seawall. Luckily the seawall was reopened the next day and there was no damage, especially since the 10K route would be right along the section that was closed. This also one of the few races where I actually worried about the weather. Not that it (the weather) would prevent me from running, but it would require more extensive planning on what to wear. Snow was ruled out by Wednesday, but the fact that the temperatures were going to dip drastically over the weekend had me thinking about ice. It had my family telling me to be careful of black ice! Black ICE! And then there was the actual temperature on the morning of the run. Normally, the number I’m most interested in is my finish time (1hr 24) but the number I’m most in awe of is -6.1C. Holy Cow! Big Cow. That would certainly explain why I lost feeling in my fingers 2 kilometres into the run. It was freakin’ freezing! And yes, there was ice. Lots of patches of ice that was easy to run around, except at Brockton Point. There was no way around the ice. The entire width of that section was a skating rink. It was just best to walk, or slide through it. And of all the luck, to enhance the -6.1C, there was a fantastic windy breeze. And who knew that shaded areas of the seawall could be so much colder than the sunny parts. Right now, I don’t know if my forehead is itchy because of minor frostbite or slight sunburn. Since there’s no colour change, peeling skin or pain, I’m ruling out sunburn. I haven’t googled symptoms for frostbite, so I’m gonna just say that my skin is trying to defrost a little which is why it is itchy. Please don’t think too poorly of me. It’s not my first time running in the cold. I was dressed properly. Layers. Wool. Fleece. Toque. Gloves. Long winter running pants. Same pair of running shoes from my previous races. Wool socks. My core was warm. My head was warm. My nose was cold. So cold. And so were my fingers. Perhaps I’ll have to invest in a pair of mittens. And a balaclava. I’ve just never run at -6.1C. The best I’ve ever done was at -3C. If I didn’t already read about it in a “Runner’s World” article, I would’ve had a few fleeting thoughts about freezing my lungs!
Oh well. I’ll know for my next winter race. However, perhaps I’ll be lucky and it won’t be minus temperatures for my next race. The name “Chilly Chase” actually doesn’t bode well for my hopes though. Enough of my hopes and wishes. The Vancouver Historic Half. Despite the cold, I liked it. I like any race that runs around the Stanley Park Seawall. However this race did not go around the entire seawall. We started at the Stanley Pavillion and made our way out to the seawall, about 5.5 K along the route before turning around and returning the same way. It was a beautiful morning, without a single cloud in the sky. The tide was out, the windy was not crazy, the water was relatively still and if it wasn’t for the temperature, it would’ve been a most enjoyable run. If the number in the first paragraph wasn’t a good enough clue, my finish time was 1hr 24 min and 19 sec. Yes, my time increased and Yes I am actually very pleased with that time. Even though I had optimistic thoughts of, “I’ll run faster, so I can finish faster and get out of the cold faster”, I also knew that realistically, it wasn’t going to happen. And since this was going to be my last race of the year, I decided it would be okay to stop along the route and take photos. Seriously, tell me this view was not worth almost 90 minutes in -6C. I love the seawall.
We almost made it to just under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and then it was time to turn around and head back to the finish line. One other thing I need to remember, should I choose to run this race next year, is I need better sunglasses. The position of the sun in the sky as we turned around, meant that the sun was in our face for the return leg. Maybe it is a sunburn. But it’s just my forehead. Guess I’ll know for sure tomorrow morning. Anyway, along the return portion, us 10K’ers were seeing the half marathoners on their second leg around the seawall. And for people who had already run more than 10K, they sure were friendly and encouraging. I got a couple of high fives as we passed each other and lots of “You’re almost there”s from runners and spectators. It was a really nice atmosphere. And yes, there were spectators.
At the finish line, we all headed for the warmest place in the world, inside the Pavilion. There was the standard fare: bananas, bagels…Mandarin oranges? and 2 bite brownies!!! YUM! That almost makes this race a potential repeater! There was water and gatorade. With time, you too will learn to like gatorade. All in all, this was a really nice race for me to end the year. It has been an enjoyable running season and I look forward to the next year. Now if I could only stop sneezing.