The moment the alarm went off I dragged myself out of the bed for a quick easy shake-out run. My mind was willing but the body was still in limbo mode. It was 415am and the first thing I said to myself as I headed outside was “Uh-Oh”. It was very very warm and muggy even at this early hour. The weather forecast was right as it predicted the first heatwave would hit Vancouver on the weekend. I just didn’t expect it to be so warm. I normally find myself racing optimally at a temperature between 2-8oC. My mood was definitely dampen slightly by what might lie ahead later. I was also feeling extremely lethargic few days leading into the race. The same feeling remained on race morning. I waited for the first bus to UBC (race site) at 6am and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it approaching with a bus full of people (mostly runners). I am extremely grateful to be able aboard as the driver decided to skip the next few stops without picking up anyone.
Even at 630 am (an hour prior to gun time), the race site was already quite crowded. There were already huge lineups entering the parkade. I quickly bag checked, changed into my race gear and slowly jogged my way to the UBC track for a good warm up. I did a good 10-15min easy jog and felt terrible as there were no strength in my legs. I was running at least 90s-2mins slower than my race pace and I was already feeling tired. The heat really put an extra toll on the body. I followed my coach’s advice to go through the regular drills we do at practice. Man, I was so exhausted that I barely went through them and had to skip some. While I was at the track, I was happy to see Felipe Edora, a runner that I met last year and had since then saw each other at almost every major race. We are virtually identical in our race times but the only difference was that he used to beat me each time! He is sure one tough consistent runner! It was great knowing that he would be running with me that day! With about 20mins to gun time, I slowly ran back to the start and found myself a nice spot just behind the elites.
I didn’t remember singing the national anthem or may be we did? I was thinking overly onhow I would perform on a day like this. I was tired, hot, sweaty and ready to go home even before the gun went off!!! Then, I remembered the hard runs I had done every Saturday with my Mile2Marathon crewmates. There were so many instances that I felt like crap before the practice but ended killing the workout. I cleared up my mind and was deteremined to put in some hardwork that day all the way to the end. It was back to reality and the announcer was already counting down from 20s.
I knew heading out with the elites would be a disasterous plan. I stuck with Coach D’s plan: run the first 5K easy! Everyone was passing me. The first 5k was definitely a mind game for me. It was a matter of choosing to quit or stick to the game. My singlet was already pretty drenched. The temperature was probably at mid-20s. I didn’t like it, especially after the first 3k where there was a long incline on the unshaded highway. My pace was quite off and the only thing I could do was to stay with a group that was at a pace of about 4’/K. My body was starting to “warm up” after the first 8K and perhaps knowing there would be a long section of downhill made me felt much at ease. Again, I stuck with Coach D’s advice: Do not run the downhill too fast. I just let my legs strided smoothly and my pace slowly dropped to about 3’45″/K. I found myself in a small group of runners in this stretch. Most surged towards the end of the hill. I just kept it easy and passed the half way point at a very slow time of 42:02min. Nonetheless, I was feeling much better. Coach D’s advice here was to run easy as there were still many twists and hills in the next 3Ks or so. I kept at a even pace of about 3:55’/K. Based on the 2014 Half Marathon Champ’s words, the real game begins at the 14th K. I followed the game plan and busted my butts from 14th K all the way to the end. Everytime I see the VFAC singlet, I love catching up to one of them. This time I saw Barry Young on the bridge and that kept me motivated to climb the hill faster. Once I got to near the top, I passed him and he offered me some kind encouragement before I got over the hill. I knew I had 2Ks to go and this was the moment to make it a PB day or not. I decided it to be a PB day. I told myself this would be a 7min workout and it’d be easy with much of it being downhill, except the last K or so. I also passed my good friend Felipe there. I picked up the pace to about 3:35’/K and found a runner Collis Cheng running beside me. He was trying to pass me but I knew this would be a good opportunity to push my pace. I was feeling good and I didn’t want anyone to pass me, so I ran even faster! I ran the last K at 3:30’/K and the last 100m or so at 3:20’/K pace. I ran my last 7.1K on an average of 3:45’/K pace, while my first 14 k an average of 4:02’/k with a final chip time of 1:21:55 and gun time of 1:21:58.
What started out as a real ‘bad’ day somehow ended up really really nice, I PB’d 66s and ranked that day at 29th overall! Thank God I persevered to the end. Special thanks to my coach Dylan Wykes for his coaching advice and first hand experience. Big thank you to my sponsor Skechers Canada Performance Division for all my race gear, especially my favorite Skechers GoRun4.