If I've ever earned a golden carrot, then Saturday was definitely the day. Waking up at 4:45 am in a strange city and running a half marathon a couple of hours later was not an altogether pleasant experience, to be honest.
On the positive side, the weather conditions in Vancouver were perfect when the race began at 7 am: overcast and a little chilly. I started out fantastic along the scenic course, being carried forward by energetic cheerleader children, sassy drag queens, and flirty mermaids. The problem: I was doing a little too well, which I probably should have realized when I suddenly caught up with the 1:40-”pace beavers” [sic] after about 6 km. But it felt so good! My legs were the happiest in British Columbia and I simply couldn't bring myself to slow down when they so badly wanted to do their thing.
I kept up without any trouble until about 15 km, when I started feeling a little queasy. It was as if my body suddenly connected the dots between my poor breakfast and overambitious pace, and decided to simply resign. In short, I hit the wall.
After a feeble attempt to close the steadily growing gap between myself and the pacers I reluctantly concluded that I was out of luck and slowed down to the initially intended 4:50 min/km. However, I had overdone it to the point that even 5:00 min/km turned out to be a painful struggle and every hill, no matter how minor, made me want to just lie down and let the wolves take me (they have those in Canada, right?).
Still, somehow, from the bottom of my stubborn heart, I managed to muster up the energy to keep running. I simply refused to give up, and when I finally crossed the finishing line—drained, dizzy, and utterly confused—the clock had stopped at 1:42:23. Despite my stupidly optimistic start I had managed to maintain an average pace of 4:51 min/km, i.e. almost exactly what I was secretly hoping for before the race, and beat my previous PR from 2012 with more than 2 minutes.
Golden carrot, I own you.
After stumbling over the finishing line and receiving my carrot medal, a
white tube-shaped item was handed to me. In my post-race confusion I
didn't understand what I was holding, but a starry-eyed staff member
happily informed me that it was an ”organic cotton towel infused with rainforest mist” that would reinvigorate and reenergize and...
I wobbled on with my wet towel. The joys of attending a yoga festival.
David and Amelia, my brilliant support crew. And my golden carrot, which I'm biting into because what else am I supposed to do?
The rest of the weekend was fabulous; I recuperated almost curiously quickly after a second breakfast and a shower, and the three of us spent Saturday browsing through stores, eating, drinking, meeting up with some friends of Amelia's, eating some more, and then finally watching the surprisingly clever Inside Out at a theater downtown.
Sunday morning started with a quick breakfast and then another challenge of physical nature: Grouse Grind. I was afraid my legs were going to protest madly as we were climbing ”Mother Nature's Stairmaster” to the top of the mountain, but I can honestly say that they were practically unaffected by yesterday's effort. It's almost a little strange, no...? Anyhow, up we went, and down we rode in the gondola. After that, we celebrated with a fancy, calorie-packed brunch at Chambar before loading ourselves into the car and heading back to the US.
As we made our way over the border crossing, the immigration officer looked at my visa and noted the rapidly approaching expiration date. He turned to me and asked if I was planning a renewal or if I was wrapping things up shortly. The answer sounded alien, but there was no hesitation: ”I'm wrapping things up.”
Two weeks to go. It's happening—it really is.