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JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am
by Jwolf
About a month ago when my friend Greg found out I was planning on running both the BMO Vancouver Half on May 3 and the Red Deer Half on May 17, he worried that two half-marathons two weeks apart was too much. But I assured him that I would be running first one at "training pace," and would consider racing the second one. Sue was planning to run the full marathon at Red Deer and was going to attempt a sub-4:00 finish. She recruited Rob to pace her, and asked if I would run with them. I hadn't considered it, but in theory the pacing would be perfect for me -- I figured if I was feeling well enough I would start with them and then pick it up later in the race, hoping for a faster time than I ran in Victoria in October. I ran BMO at a conservative 2:10, but it still took more out of me than I expected. I needed a few days to recover and didn't get to do a lot of running during the intervening two weeks. I had a few really nice 10K runs both weeks and some good swims. On Thursday I ran what was supposed to me my last easy run before the race, but for some reason my right foot was really bothering me afterwards. This is the one that has bothered me off and on with a bit of plantar fasciitis, but has been manageable with stretching and TLC. This time it was bothering me more than usual, and I worried that I would not be able to run well on Sunday. But I just figured I would take care of it and see how it felt later on.

Friday was travel-to-Calgary day to meet up with Sue who was driving in from Medicine Hat, and Rob who was flying in separately. We all met up at the airport and spent the rest of the rainy day walking around a mall, sitting in the hot tub, and later meeting up for dinner and beer with some Calgary maniacs. It was a great day, but my foot was still achy at the end. On Saturday we made our way to Red Deer, picked up our race kits, checked out the race start/finish area and then met Colleen at the hotel. More hot-tubbing and then dinner meet-up with Ian. It was another rainy day, and Sue wanted to keep off her feet as much as possible, which suited me fine. By the end of the day I was feeling much better.

Race morning, and I was good to go. After two days of bad weather in Calgary and Red Deer, we had as promised clear blue skies and perfect race day temperatures. Sue, Rob, and I lined up in the masses of people about half-way into the crowd, which in retrospect was too far back. When the start gun went off and we crossed the line, it felt like we were still in as much of a crowd as we were when we were standing still. It took a bit of weaving in and out to get into our pace. Their plan was to start a bit easy for the first few kilometres, about 5:45-5:50/km, and then later work down to about 5:35. I started with them, but soon after the second kilometre I knew I had to fall back and run my own pace. I just knew it was not my day for a faster half-marathon; I needed to be able to listen to my own body cues and not worry about keeping up to their pace. We came around a large round-about at around 3K, where I saw them across on the other side of the street and motioned them to go ahead. Sue waved back and they were on their way.

The course is absolutely beautiful, meandering mostly on a multi-use bike/run/walk path around the river. We passed through park land, went over old railway bridges, other footbridges, around a small pond/island, saw lots of birds (mostly geese) -- there was never a dull part of the course. There were quite a few little ups and downs, and some of the steeper climbs and switchbacks surprised me. But there were also some nice downhills where I felt like I was just flying. I was running mostly by feel, moderating how it felt for my foot and for the rest of my body, aiming to run a moderately hard but enjoyable pace. I stopped only for short walks at water stations as I had decided not to carry a bottle. The water stations were oddly placed at the beginning of the course, but were roughly every 3K. I took gels at about 6K and 12K. This was enough for a race where I wasn't pushing to my limits, but maybe would have taken more for a harder effort. I could feel the achiness in my foot the whole time, but I could forget it if I focused on my running. By the end of the race it did start to bother me more, but I never felt like I was doing any real damage. I ran very evenly-paced splits, with fluctuation only for the hills and the water walk breaks.

At about the 12-13K mark the course loops around a small pond, and there is a point where the runners are passing each other in opposite direction about 0.5K apart on the course. I thought if the timing is right I might see Sue and Rob coming around, and sure enough I did. We passed each other with a high-five, and Sue was still looking strong. I tried to do the math and figured out this put them about 3 minutes ahead of me, which seemed to be right for their attempt to be at the half at 1:58-1:59. So they were still on pace at this early stage of their race.

The course continued beautifully around the other side of the lake, eventually reaching the 19K mark where the full-marathoners split off. I was hoping that Sue and Rob were far along by then. I managed to pick it up to about a 5:30 pace in the last couple kilometres, only to be slowed down by one nasty hill near the end. It sets up a beautiful downhill finish, but still slowed me down in the last kilometre. Still, I was thrilled to hear the announcer say my name as I crossed the finish line at 2:04:15. I saw Colleen and Tracie cheering for me in the finishing chute, and came around to see them after I went through. I felt amazing at the end. (The story is not over yet, but if you want to see the data from my race, here is the link: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/778630364)

After I finished I was still able to walk around and even jog well ok. Post-race food was awesome and the sun was still shining. Everything was awesome about this day so far! About 15 minutes after I finished, Rob texted me when he and Sue were at 25K to say they were dropping off pace a bit. I knew at that point that unless I heard something again they would be over four hours. Later we would learn that Sue's race got quite a bit tougher after the half-way point and they were slowing down from there. I missed watching the first fast marathoners come in because I needed to keep moving and change into my dry clothes. Colleen and I found a place to sit to watch the marathoners finish, and Ian eventually found us. From our vantage point we could see people coming by the lagoon at just past 20K mark, and after the four-hour mark we were looking for Rob's bright green shirt. Eventually we saw them so we knew they were about 5 minutes away. The nice thing about this race is you can see your marathon friends coming in down the hill from a far distance away. Since the number of marathon participants is on the low side they are pretty well-spaced by this point. We saw Sue and Rob coming down the hill and then in front of us before the final turn to the finish. I ran along side them on the course, cheering them in, while Colleen played photographer. Sue told us, "My leg is killing me!" but she still looked strong coming in. She took Rob's hand to run through the finish chute, and I had tears in my eyes. It wasn't the finish time she wanted, but as we all know there are so many things about races that are more important than finish times. Shortly afterwards, the five of us celebrated with Sue's awesome apple pie. Later, Sue, Colleen, and Rob and I went to Boston Pizza for lunch and beer, and then Colleen and I drove to Sherwood Park while Sue brought Rob to the Calgary airport. My weekend finished with a delicious dinner and relaxing day with Colleen and her family before I flew home.

My race was very enjoyable and the entire weekend was perfect. I got to spend time with some wonderful friends, and we were all sad to see it end. But we are already scheming for the next one. Who is with us? :)

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:18 pm
by purdy65
Nice report! :D

As I said to Sue at one point - If you listen to your legs closely enough, they will tell you exactly what to do. You listened well - as a result - a very enjoyable race!

Hey! Depending where it is, I'm in for the next one! Hmm..... still thinking Ottawa next year could be a good one!

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 12:30 pm
by chunkymonkeymelonhed
Great weekend, great race, great report. I am so happy that you enJOYed the entire weekend. Awesome. 8)

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 2:16 pm
by Habs4ever
It was a wonderful weekend that went by far too fast. I'm so glad you enjoyed a little taste of Alberta and had such a good experience with your race.
Xo

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 2:35 pm
by runJrun
Great job on the race! Glad you listened to your body and got to enjoy an Alberta race.

Next year = yes please!!

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 5:19 pm
by IronColl
I am glad you had a wonderful experience and happy that you enjoyed the course as much as I do. It was wonderful spending time with you.

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 6:58 pm
by Spirit Unleashed
Nice report, thx

Maybe it was all that hot tubbing that kept you loose.

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 7:07 pm
by Jo-Jo
Great report...lots of detail...but most important...you sound so darn happy :D :D

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 7:10 pm
by scrumhalfgirl
sounds like a great weekend and race!

(and yes...come to ottawa!!!!)

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015 10:31 pm
by RobW
I'm glad you enjoyed the course and weekend as much as I did. My favourite part was around the pond. I wish I got a photo of that part as it looked so cool and weird with everyone running in different directions but on different parts of the trail. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed reading your report. I'm working on the hot tub report and will post it shortly. :wink:

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Wed May 20, 2015 7:58 am
by IronGoddess
You sounded so happy in your report. What a great weekend and race. So what's up next?

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Wed May 20, 2015 8:06 am
by HCcD
Awesome to read about your happy experience, Jen ... :)
Congratulations, again, on another half marathon under you belt ..

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:19 am
by Robinandamelia
Love the race recap/report. Sounds like a great day!! Nicely done.

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Wed May 20, 2015 10:56 am
by 5km
Congratulations. I'm glad you had a great experience. Nice report too!

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Thu May 21, 2015 5:12 pm
by Wu wei
Completely forgot you were in Sherwood Park this past weekend.
Will have to get out to Vancouver to finally meet you in person some day.

Isn't Red Deer an awesome place to race?
I've done both the half and full in Red Deer when that race first started many years ago.
I love running in Red Deer when I get the chance.

JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Thu May 21, 2015 5:20 pm
by Jwolf
Wu wei wrote:Completely forgot you were in Sherwood Park this past weekend.
Will have to get out to Vancouver to finally meet you in person some day.

Isn't Red Deer an awesome place to race?
I've done both the half and full in Red Deer when that race first started many years ago.
I love running in Red Deer when I get the chance.

Yeah sorry I didn't message you and Naomi (who Colleen knows apparently :) ). (And that wasn't you in the first sentence of the report- another Greg - I don't think we've talked about my running lately.) We ended up not having that much time and I didn't have wheels.

Red Deer was really nice- I would love to go back and run it again. And yes you should come to Vancouver- everyone should. :D

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Thu May 21, 2015 5:23 pm
by Wu wei
Jwolf wrote:
Wu wei wrote:Completely forgot you were in Sherwood Park this past weekend.
Will have to get out to Vancouver to finally meet you in person some day.

Isn't Red Deer an awesome place to race?
I've done both the half and full in Red Deer when that race first started many years ago.
I love running in Red Deer when I get the chance.

Yeah sorry I didn't message you and Naomi (who Colleen knows apparently :) ). (And that wasn't you in the first sentence of the report- another Greg - I don't think we've talked about my running lately.) We ended up not having that much time and I didn't have wheels.

Red Deer was really nice- I would love to go back and run it again. And yes you should come to Vancouver- everyone should. :D


No worries, we were out having dinner and tea with friends until about 11pm that night anyways.

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Sun May 24, 2015 9:33 am
by grimskot
Congrats! Sounds like a great experience :)

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Mon May 25, 2015 6:07 pm
by Ken B
Great race and report, Jennifer. Congratulations. The best part is how good you felt after you finished!! :)

Re: JWolf's Red Deer Experience

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:21 pm
by barebuns1
Thanks for the race report. :)