The race itself was incredibly well organized. Almost 1200 women signed up for the brand new race - some came from down the street, others came from all over Canada and the US - but they came. The swag bag was promoted as the best ever - and it was fun. I'm not a fan of stick on toe nails but I did enjoy the bottle of Château des Charmes wine, the candy and the other goodies.
The race was obviously organized with women in mind. There were tons and tons of porta potties at the start line. I joined the line and didn't wait five minutes before I was next in line. I opened the porta potty door to discover this in the urinal:
And lavender scented spray. And a motivational quote.
I decided then and there that I really like women's races. Not that I don't like racing with the boys - but it is nice to be pampered.
I got my game face on.
Apparently this is my game face
My pre-run blood sugar was 10. I had a gel and crossed my fingers that the blood sugar gods would cooperate.
I joined the runners in the start line. I planted myself next to the 2:15 pace bunny but was quickly sucked forward when I spotted Barb, Klari and Cathy standing at 2:00. These ladies are fabulous and, as usual, looked festive and ready to rock. Their cute skirts, pink hats and bling had me feeling a little like an oversized Amazon - but in a good way. Chris, Janice, Todd and Enzo popped by to say hello and wish us luck. And my Doug was all set to assume the role of my own personal support vehicle. He was responsible for carrying all of my supplies. I wore a running belt to have something to clip my insulin pump on and to carry my kleenex and lip gloss. He carried the rest.
My plan was pretty simple. I really wanted to run a 2:15:00 half. I didn't know if I could but I thought it was possible. With no stops, I would have to maintain a 6:23 min/k pace to succeed. Factor in two blood sugar checks and I figured I needed to run a 6:15 min/k pace to even have a hope. So my goal was to see a number that was lower than 6:15 every time my Garmin beeped.
As we stood at the start line, we were treated to a marching band from Laura Secord high school. They parted the runners like Moses parted the Red Sea as they marched through the crowd.
Oh Canada was sung by one of the runners and then we were off.
The first few kilometres were fast, they always are. I ran the first 5k in 29:40. That's pretty fast for me considering I had another 16k to go but I didn't feel like I was really pushing that hard. It was a fun 5k and I felt pretty comfortable. We ran by Niagara Falls twice and were serenaded by a lovely harpist.
I slowed the pace a little bit enjoyed the next few kilometres. I ran into Cathy and we ran together for a bit.
The course was nice because we had two opportunities to turn around and therefore see runners who were ahead, and behind us. There was a lot of waving and cheering going on.
Cathy, Barb and Klari - fast and fabulous as usual
I hit the 10k at precisely 60 minutes. Still fast but a little more reasonable. I was still feeling good and figured I had banked a few minutes for blood sugar stops. The plan was that Doug would meet me at 11k - with everything I could possibly need ready and waiting. He was right where he was supposed to be with my glucometer primed and my supplies laid out.
I checked and I was 10.9. Pretty fabulous in my opinion. I had a gel, two edisks and a salt tablet. I sucked back some water, planted a firm kiss and carried on. The time for that kilometre went from 6 min/k to 9.
I felt pretty good for the next few k as well. Strong and fast, although I had slowed to about 6:15 min/k. At 16k, I suddenly faded and, even though my blood sugar felt ok, my energy did not. I was done. Despite my best attempts to keep moving, I dropped to 6:30/k and couldn't pick it up again. I saw the 2:15 pace bunny and waved her on.
Not going to happen.
Doug was standing at 17k and I decided to check my blood sugar again just in case. It was 10.6. Stable and holding. I had two more edisks and a salt tablet and he headed to the finish.
At 19k, I stopped to enjoy the most delicious orange slice I have ever eaten (thank you volunteers!) and I trotted on. I was really tired but made myself run to the finish to see what kind of finish time I could get. At the final corner I spotted Erin (hi Erin!). I got a huge grin, a high five and a reminder of why I was running. "Welcome back" she said. Three months ago - this race did not seem possible. Welcome back indeed.
I trotted to the finish - thrilled to be so close. Nauseated from the effort. Too stubborn to slow down. My parents were there and there is no better feeling than being swept into a big dad-hug after crossing that finish line.
I did it.
I ran a 2:18:30 half marathon and missed my PB by 16 seconds. Missing it by that little did one thing and one thing only - it inspired me to try again.
The runner girl is back.