It was about 5 or 6 years ago that I ran the inaugural Historic Half Marathon in Vancouver, B.C. Then, it started from the HMCS Discovery in Stanley Park. HMCS is a “Royal Canadian Navy Reserve division and shore facility” based in Vancouver, B.C.
Since then, the start of the race has moved to the Stanley Park Pavilion by Pipeline Road, which is literally at the back of the Vancouver Aquarium. The Stanley Park Pavilion is “one of the most distinguished buildings in the entire park and the most historic. Built in 1911, it is a rustic building located in the park’s famous rose gardens”. The setting is totally English Garden-esque.
The race was on November 27, 2016, and it was cold and rainy…pretty typical for a November day in Vancouver. Yet, it didn’t deter many runners from coming out to run the half, 10k and 5k distances. Parking in the park was such a premium. The public washrooms were open, but very unpleasant as it was freezing cold in there. That is one thing I don’t like about winter running. Lots of inconveniences.
I stayed in the car until about 8:15 and then headed up to the start. The pavilion opened early for runners to store their gear and stay warm before the start. But it was so crowded that I did not bother going inside. With 5 minutes to the start, runners began lining up.
This course involved running a double loop around the Stanley Park Seawall. Very picturesque except the weather was extremely lousy. It was raining heavily and even hailed during parts of the course; the hail was so strong that it stung when it pounded against my face.
I felt the double loop course was repetitive and boring. The water stations along the course were limited which did not help at all. I would suggest for next year having an aid/water station every 4K or so instead of every 5K. And just to serve water was not quite enough for a half. Some snacks or powerade would have been nice. I hope they will try to improve on this issue for next year’s race.
Although I say the Seawall is pretty, it can be a very deceiving route. With all the curves and bends, it makes me feel like I’ve gone further than I really have. I have had this same experience with the many races I have done around the Seawall.
It was an uphill finish. With Half a k to go, my legs were very heavy. I tried to charge up the hill as best I could, but I could not do it!
I was so soaked from the rain, that as soon as I entered the pavilion, I headed straight for the wood-burning fireplace. It was the nicest feeling! It was a tiny fireplace, but every runner was so wet from the race that everyone tried to squeeze in a spot to warm our bodies. I was so cold that I had no interest in grabbing any post-race food. My hands were too numb I could not even peel a banana. All I wanted was to get out of those wet clothes, get into the car, go home to take a nice hot shower.
This was my 3rd continuous weekend of racing which had lousy weather. I know that Vancouver always has rainy weather around this time of the year, but somehow this year seems worse than previous years.
The name corresponds well with the number of halfs I have run so far this year. It was a very “historic” half in my own books. I cannot help but feel gratified that I was able to do this. I thank my family for encouraging and supporting me over these years to follow my goals. As we head into the holiday season, make sure to spread love and thank those who support your goals too!