…well here it is, the official HHH Forest City Road Races Half Marathon recap! I think the finish line photo tells it all….I was WET (and so was my family after waiting in the rain for half an hour…thanks guys)! Although it didn’t rain for the first 14 km or so, the 45 minutes of rain I ran through certainly managed to soak me to the skin! I was so wet, I could hear and feel the water squishing in my shoes! My final time was about 2 hours, 37 minutes, which is right about on par with how I thought I’d do. I’m writing this on the couch, with heat on my legs and the royal wedding recap on the tv….internet’s not working, so this might not get posted until Monday, but let’s go back to the beginning….
After going to bed early and getting a good night’s sleep (I was exhausted after only sleeping for 4 hours on Friday night at the ladies’ retreat!), my phone alarm went off at 6:31 (I almost never set my alarms to exact times). I got up and got dressed, ate my pre-race breakfast of champions (a light English muffin spread with peanut butter – tasted pretty good considering I had to make it on Thursday!) and then my mom and I headed down to the starting line.
The half marathon didn’t start until 8, but we got there just after 7 because I had to pick up my packet (I couldn’t get it on Saturday because I was at the retreat). The race shirt was pretty sweet – women’s sized long-sleeved cotton shirt, which I am wearing as I type this. Since we had a bit of time to kill, we went to Starbucks where my mom got a coffee and her favourite treat – an oat bar (I had a bite, but as much as I love Starbucks, didn’t get anything else as I didn’t want to have to make a pit stop during the race).
After adjusting my race bib (I moved it from the center of my jacket to one side, so it wouldn’t cover the zipper in case I wanted to take it off), we headed to the start line around 7:45. I took my place in the crowd and got my music playing and was off when the horn went at 8:00.
I made a pretty sweet new half marathon play list for the occasion – and this is where I admit my extreme geekiness – my first song was Eye of the Tiger. I downloaded it on Thursday just for this playlist, and now I want to start all races with it! Seriously, I know it’s such a cliché song when it comes to sports, but it’s popular for a reason, right? It was the perfect song to get me psyched up. I actually put it in the playlist twice – I heard it for the second time around the 18km mark – again, great motivation for those last few kilometres. I was telling my mom about it though, and she didn’t know what I was talking about. I figured she’d heard it and just didn’t know what it was called, but after hearing it, she still didn’t recognize it – I was shocked!
Now onto the rest of the race. I was wearing my lightweight running pants, favourite sports bra (the tata tamer…LOVE it!) and my super-thin and breathable running t-shirt (all lululemon). My big question was whether or not I should wear my jacket – the temperature was iffy, it was kind of windy, and rain was in the forecast. I decided to wear the jacket because I figured I’d want it if it rained. I was frustrated with my decision almost immediately. Less than 15 minutes into the race, I was already too hot. The jacket came off before I even hit the 3 km mark and I had to tie it around my waist (I know a lot of other runners/bloggers say to wear “throwaway clothes” for layers, but I don’t have any clothing that I want to throw out!). The temperature was actually pretty nice for running – I wasn’t hot at all in my t-shirt. The rain held off until about 9:45, when it really started coming down. My earlier annoyance at my jacket was replaced with gratitude – I was glad to have it, although I still did get pretty wet!
My playlist was AWESOME, if I do say so myself. Do you ever listen to music on your ipod, and think to yourself, “Man, I made a really sweet playlist?” That’s what I was saying to myself as I was listening to it. Eye of the Tiger was a definite highlight, as were numerous songs by Avalon, Point of Grace and Mark Schultz (particularly Steady On, Keep the Candle Burning and Running just to Catch Myself). And when the wind and rain were driving into my face, Michael Jackson’s Beat It gave me a boost. I tried to see if I could cut and paste my playlist from itunes into this post, but no dice. Sadly, I had a music malfunction near the end of the race. About 15 minutes from the finish line, my music faded out ….wicked bummer! I’m not sure what the problem was, I think maybe my headphones and/or ipod just got too wet? I tested both out after the race, and they’re working fine. I’m just glad it only went out 15 minutes from the finish, not 15 minutes from the start! The course itself was good – a few small inclines, but no real hills. I enjoyed running through my “alma matter,” The University of Western Ontario. And a lot of the course went through parts of London I wasn’t familiar with, even though I lived there for 5 years. My favourite part was the paved running trail near the university – how did I not know about it?!? We went through a lot of residential areas, and started and finished downtown. There weren’t all that many spectators along the course, which was a little disappointing. I don’t know what I was expecting, as it’s not nearly as big a race as the one I did in Toronto, but I felt a little lonely at times, especially since I was near the back of the pack. If you live somewhere where there’s a race being run, and you aren’t doing anything that day, come out to cheer on the runners! I can’t tell you how big a difference it makes. And you have little kids, BRING THEM! I love high-fiving the little ones (which I got to do once today).
All in all, the race went pretty well. I definitely enjoyed the half marathon distance (as opposed to the full), and it went by pretty quickly really. I brought a fibre one 100 calorie bar as a “just in case” snack, even though I don’t normally eat it. But between kilometres 14 and 15, I decided to go for it in the spur of the moment for a little energy boost (I’m still not sure how much of a difference it made).
I said it before, but I have to say it again: A HUGE thank-you to my family for braving the terrible weather to watch my cross the finish line, and to my mom and sister for getting all these great photos!
And now onto the “aftermath.” All race participants got 2 vouchers for their choice of Starbucks coffee, Domino’s Pizza or a Booster Juice Smoothie. I’m not a coffee drinker, and we were going out for brunch so I skipped the pizza, but I was happy to take the smoothie – score!
Another amazing perk? Free massages – sweet! There’s a massage therapy school in London, so the students gave free 15 minute massages – wonderful! I asked my therapist to concentrate on my hamstrings, since that’s where I usually feel the pain. After the massage, we made our way back to the hotel. My sister and I took a quick dip in the FREEZING pool and then went for a 10 minute soak in the hot tub. After that, it was a quick shower and stretch session, change of clothes, then headed downstairs for brunch.
The brunch at our hotel, the Delta London Armouries, is supposed to be the best in the city. Our family has enjoyed it on special occasions in the past, and it did not disappoint this time! I had just ran 13 miles, so I was not going to hold back – an 80/20 day for sure! This is my first plate – all cold, mostly salads, some yummy marinated veggies, fruit (as I said to my sister, nothing tastes as sweet as pineapple that someone else has cut up ) and a roll.
Round two was the hot stuff (plus bread and fruit and a few more of the marinated veggies) – ham, chicken, roasted potatoes, veggies and some Asian veggie/noodles. All were delicious!
The brunch buffet was the second event I was at this weekend with a chocolate fountain (how often does that happen?), so I dipped a MASSIVE strawberry and a marshmallow in that, and took more of the fruit. Most of the desserts looked so-so, but I managed to snag a delicious piece of cheesecake and a small chocolate-dipped brownie. The drink you see in this photo was a banana-mango smoothie – AMAZING! They had pitchers of this stuff and I think I had three glasses!
I had to include this photo just to show you all that I do clean up nicely – this is what I look like when I am not a rain-soaked runner. The brunch was great, but what made it even better was that it was FREE! Part way into our meal, the musicians and a couple of other men came over to our table and asked for everyone’s attention. I thought (and apparently everyone else at our table did as well) that someone had arranged something special to celebrate my completing the race. But a man announced that the hotel was starting a new promotion and buying one lucky table their brunch every week – and we had been randomly selected! They actually took our bill and burned it at the table – SCORE!
After brunch, it was time for home. I immediately changed into comfy clothes, put my stuff away from the weekend, and sat on the couch with a cup of tea, heat on my legs, and royal wedding coverage playing on the tv. I’ve had a serious case of the munchies since getting home, so I’ve been eating bits and bites of various things (some healthy, some not-so much). My “supper” was delicious – although a bit unconventional. I was craving the flavours of peanut butter and banana, and something hot after the rainy weather – so I made a bowl of oatmeal (minus the cinnamon apples) and topped it with the rest of my homemade nut butter and a sliced banana. Certainly more decadent and calorie-rich than my typical bowl of oats – but delicious nonetheless. On the side is a cafe mocha with cinnamon.
A great race, and a great weekend (with LOTS of food)…recap of the rest to come! How was your weekend? Did you take advantage of Saturday’s beautiful weather?