The initial reason for planning this weekend trip to Montréal was to run the half marathon. Travelling + racing = FUN! We arrived Friday morning and stayed until Monday evening. With the race on Sunday morning, we had plenty of time to explore the city. Stay tuned for a recap soon.
We stopped by a local running store to pick up our race kits on Saturday. No goodies except for the Asics shirt and juice boxes, but I did pick up a new Gu and Clif Bar flavour to try. I’m sold on the Jet Blackberry Gu (yum!) but haven’t tried the Maple Nut Clif Bar yet. We also picked up some “Rosibars” – locally made and all natural. They were delicious with a moist and chewy texture and interesting flavours (such as Pomegranate Almond and Lemon Pistachio).
After our running/climbing/trekking adventure on Saturday morning followed by walking all over the city in the afternoon and evening, I expected to be running on tired legs. I was still determined to head out for the extra 11K/~7mi before the race. I even managed to convince my friend Dave to join me (I was travelling with he and his wife Sylvia – hubs was supposed to be with us, of course, but he’s overseas). Dave and I both have a marathon to run on May 16th – no time to back off on the distance now!
We made chicken, spaghetti and salad for dinner in our hotel room (love the kitchen suite!) and got to bed at a reasonable hour.
Fortunately the 10am race start meant we didn’t have to be up too early. We headed out the door for the first leg of our run at about 6:45. It was a sunny but cool morning – near ideal for racing. Little did we know what was to come! (stay tuned) In order to ensure that we didn’t get ourselves lost or run farther than planned, we ran a simple out and back on the quaint Boulevard de Maisonneuve. The sidewalks and streets were dead quiet as we made our way through various neighbourhoods. We were both feeling surprisingly good after the previous day’s activities, but kept the pace nice and comfortable.
5:48/KM / 9:23/mi
We made it back to the hotel and had some time to freshen up, change our clothes and have breakfast. The break was nice, but I was really curious to see how my legs were going to react when they had to start running again. I also uploaded my run, of course.
Soon we were on our way out the door and took a short subway ride to Parc Jean Drapeau on the island where the race was taking place.
We arrived just in time to check our bag, pick up our timing chips, use the facilities and jog to the starting line. We found ourselves at the very back of the pack just as the starting gun went off. Here are Sylvia and I strolling along either just before or just after the race had officially started.
This is also when it started to rain. It was only spitting at first, then drizzling, and quickly turned to pouring rain. It ended up raining for the entire duration of the race. It was only about 5C/41F and pretty windy, so it was a little uncomfortable, but there was nothing we could do about that.
Dave and I had planned to run together while Sylvia was going to hang back and take it slow (she’s expecting!). Quick pic before starting to make our way through the crowd.
We spent the first few kilometres gradually weaving our way through the crowd, trying to find our pace. The goal was anything under 4:00-marathon pace, or a sub-2:00 half.
The course took as around two islands, Ste. Helene and Notre-Dame. We ran primarily on the shores, but there was also a lot of zig-zagging and loop-backs. It was a tedious route with many turns and combined with people and puddle dogging, I know this is why my Garmin recorded a greater distance than the typical deviation for a half marathon.
(Dave was snapping these pictures along the way. How he manages to take such good pics while running, I will never know! It sure was nice having my own personal photographer!)
We were pacing well and slightly faster than target for the first half. We were both feeling pretty good and picked it up a bit to test our limits.
During this time we also found ourselves running on the Formula-1 race track. This was definitely a highlight of the race – more so for Dave, but I also thought it was pretty neat.
The kilometres kept ticking by and I was feeling fantastic. Dave, unfortunately, had begun to struggle. He’s been training at a slower pace than I have and I knew this would be putting him to the test, but he held on really well. We slowed back down to about 4:00 marathon pace or slightly faster for the last 5K. I tried to stay a few steps ahead of Dave to drag him along. I always knew how far behind he was from the panting and mumbled cursing. (heh) By the last couple of kilometres, he was really hurting, but doing an excellent job of hanging in there. I started promising beer and poutine and crepes and anything else I could think of to keep him moving, and I even reminded him about his pregnant wife back there running this thing. He may have wanted me to just shut up at the time, but I know I kept him going and he told me multiple times that he would have slowed way down or even walked if I hadn’t stuck with him.
Even during all of this suffering, our slowest split was 5:49, which was not bad at all.
The finish line was finally in sight! As we rounded the last corner, Dave found his kick and turned it on for the home stretch. We crossed the mat well ahead of schedule in 1:56:01.
This proved to be another great confidence booster for me. I have memorized 4:00-marathon pace and it feels very comfortable at this point. It was also a fun and rewarding experience to share the race with a friend and drag him through those final kilometres.
We grabbed our gear and headed back to wait for Sylvia to finish. She was a trooper out there and finished much faster than she expected. Here she is crossing the line with Dave by here side. So cute!
And the 3 of us post-race:
Average pace: 5:30/KM (8:51/mi)
Adjusted pace*: 5:27/KM (8:46/mi)