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Canadian Half-Marathon Championships Race Recap

Results: 1:19:01 (PR PB) 6th female.

What a ride.

Oh wow, where do I start! This is quite possibly the most amazing running experience I have had post-college. The entire weekend, from walking into my hotel room at 11:59pm on Friday to meet my sleepy-eyed roommate (now newly found friend) Erin Burrett, to now, in my hotel room with a glass of the least expensive wine on the Sheraton's hotel-restaurant menu, and a bowl of very Canadian french-onion soup.
I could not have had a better weekend.

Sure I finished 6th by a second. That one second was the difference of walking away with $250 dollars, to walking away with nothing. But running this race was not about money. It was just about feeling like my running was truly important in the eyes of Canadian Road Running.

You see, I have never ran well at a Canadian Championship. To go back..way back to the beginning of running for me, here are a list of my past Canadian Championship performances:

-As a senior in high school I went in to Junior Nationals with an 18:47 PR in the 5k. I got heat exhaustion and ran 19:30. I think I beat somebody..maybe.
-At cross nationals during my freshman year at state, I was looking for a top ten finish. I got a stitch and fell apart. I finished 17th.
-also my freshman year, I ran the 5k at Senior Nationals (track). My best going into that meet was 17:20. I ran 19:04. I beat one person.
-My senior year at state I, again, towed the line at cross nationals. I finished 33rd. That was 2005. I have not run a national race since.

So today was a very new beginning. And I have many people to thank for that.

Of course, the Montreal Endurance group, John was really awesome for helping me out and getting me in touch with the Canadian Road Running Series folks. Ryan was the awesome-st (is that even a word?) cousin ever.

I have to thank Alan Brooks, Brenden Williams, the Canadian Running Series folks for all their help. They comped my room, the arranged travel to and from the course, they loaded us up with pre-race food, gatorade, coffee. They were inspiring and so accommodating. I really felt like an elite runner. And though I hid in the corner most of the time as the "no-named blonde" I really had a great time and met some awesome people, like my fast friend Erin and her coach.

I would not have changed anything for fear of losing something.

Seeing Ryan, Virginia, my Uncle, my Aunt. How awesome was that! Beyond awesome. Ryan and I talked about running almost the whole time. It was so much fun! They really took care of me, I am so thank for for all the help and support. I have great family that I wish I could see more.
Ryan and I at the Montreal Endurance team meeting.

Now, about the race....

We will start with the morning.

Erin and I went to bed early, like 9pm. So by 5:30 I was wide awake. I felt good. These past two weeks leading up to this race I battled a sinus infection and stomach flu. This morning I felt normal for once. I was thankful for that.

Being that we were staying in a Sheraton, I was spoiled with Starbucks coffee in the room. We ate, showered, were dressed and race ready in the lobby by 7:45am. The elite shuttle took us right to the race start where we were shuffled into an elite holding area with cots and more free snacks. Wow, we were spoiled.

Soon after I started my warm-up, I found that my garmin was completely dead. Apparently it had not charged. Coach John ended up lending me his (seriously, wow, what an awesome coach, that's a big deal) after I asked. I was going to have to run this race without a single mile split.

For me, that would be "never in this lifetime" sort of thing.

The gun went off at 10am sharp and I found myself in 5th place. My teammate David was looking to run around 1:17:30, so we ran together from the beginning. I felt good, but not knowing what pace I was running, I ended up going out to fast. Caught up in the over-taper, and finally free of sickness feeling, I went through 5k in about 18:02. However, I had no idea at the time. I missed the 5km sign.

The course was kind of neat, nothing like I have ever raced before. I felt like I was re-living cross country days as most of it was on packed dirt trails and a race track. The start took us around the St.Helena Parc Jean-Drapeau and then the island of Notre Dame (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve). It is not what I would have pictured for a half, but it ended up being pretty fantastic...with the exception of the wind.

(Course Map)

Everything was going pretty good early. I moved up to 4th and felt great for the most part. Where things started to crumble was 7km when I got a sharp sudden cramp in my chest. This was a result of the stomach flu that has left me a little dehydrated the week before. I slowed quickly, moved to 5th while gasping for air. I spent a few kms trying to find a breathing pattern that did not hurt.

It wasn't working very well. I fell to 6th place and went through 10km in 36:55.
Working hard. In my Montreal Endurance singlet
I was probably on a pretty good pace at 10km, but I was slowing down at that point not getting faster. Not to mention that I found myself in no-mans-land during the sections into the wind (great) which mean I was doing all the battling alone. The early fast pace and the cramp in my chest were causing me a lot of problems. I kept staring at John's watch having absolutely no clue what the numbers meant, "what mile is this? 12km? What does that mean, exactly? What pace is this?"

Not only did I not get a single split, but I couldn't talk to anyone. Most of the men spoke French...not English. I would be running with someone and they would try to talk to me, I would answer back in my Southern-Canadian, "What? What pace are we?" that was the end of most conversations.

It was probably a good thing, anyway. I think I dropped some 6:15s felling sorry for myself.

It was around 8.5 miles that I decided that things needed to change. I don't remember what section of the course I was on, but I needed to find a fast man to latch on to or I was going to get eaten up. I could see out of the corner of my eye that there was a huge pack behind me. It was around this time that a man in calf sleeves came flying by. I grabbed a hold.

We started rolling.

It took me about a half-a-mile, but I started feeling good again. I thought for a second that I may be able to catch 5th. I could see Josiane ahead of me, maybe too far but worth a try. We were really moving along now. I looked and saw a sign for 15km. I didn't know if I could hang on for 6km at the pace we were going but I was going to try my best.
Somewhere around 18km, I managed to smile for my Aunt. All I remember is my legs screaming. 

I kind of tried to tune out here. From 15km to 18km I just let calf sleeves drag me along. I thought of races and workouts that I just gave it all I had, I felt like we were about 5:45. With about 2 km to go, I finally caught Josiane. I also was cramping bad in the chest and hurting badly. I tried to move but she responded to everything. With about 600m to go I felt a sudden surge of adrenaline. I kicked like crazy, as hard as I could and felt her slip just a bit. I went harder, and harder, my legs kept responding to every shift in gear. I ran up through the crowds of spectators, my legs pounding forward hard and fast. I really thought I had 5th in the bag heading into the line..this would be my day.

Then from nowhere Josiane slid right in front of me. Bam, done. Damn. I would finish 6th. 1 second.

As disappointing as the finish was, I was so happy with myself for getting back on it at the end. I really didn't have any more gears at the end of that kick, and I have never kicked like that- ever.
Me at the finish, just got out kicked and coming home empty handed. Hurt for a moment there.

A 1:19:01 today was also good, for me that is a PR. Being that it was windy, not many people ended up with a best time. It could only mean that there is a bigger race in me this year.

I believe with a little more time (and no chest cramping) I will get my 1:17:30. My quick trip to Montreal to run a 37 second PR and visit some awesome family, well worth every penny. I am so motivated by these past weekends events, it has only made me realize that I am doing what I need to do, and I am heading in the right direction. I want to work harder, I want to run more, I've got a long way to go but I'm still moving forward.

Last year at this time it seemed impossible that I would every run 6:01.8 pace for 13.1 miles. I did that, today. I still can't believe it. Maybe with a few more glasses of wine :)

Tomorrow I will travel home. Back to work, family, Maddy, Daddy. I am so excited to see my family. I missed Maddy so much. Those little hugs will be well worth the wait. I can only imagine the fun she has had at her grandparents. Hopefully she is excited to see me as I am to see her.

Its been fun! And, well worth it. I might just go back next year.



Yes, bigger races in you yet!! Congrats to you! What an awesome race and a great recap. Loving the picture of you smiling at this part of the race...such joy in using your gifts!
I am always impressed with how good you are on "problem solving and adapting" when you race. You have improved tremendously and are only beginning. Huge congrats!
Congrats to you! I stumbled across your blog and realized I finished just after you at a race in Nashville a few years ago. Anyway, I just had a baby a few weeks ago and find your success inspiring.
Lize Brittin said…
Congratulations! I love what Amanda said about your photos. It's great to see you running and racing so well. Woot!
Erin said…
thanks for the shout out Meggan! Great to meet you this weekend and I hope to see you at future events (next year, same event, faster results?)!
Fantastic race, congratulations.
SBVOR said…

Found a blog and thought of you...

Melissa Stockwell seems to have something close to your competitive spirit. I thought you might like to add her to your blog list:

She has one heck of a story:

Best Regards,
A-Pi (Peter) said…
Tremendous time! I hope I can deal with mid-race challenges the way you can next time I race.
Jesse Armijo said…
Awesome Job at such a high caliber race! I can't wait to see another stellar performance, especially in the marathon. You are going to exceed you marathon goals!
Anonymous said…
loved the recap. awesome! -ad

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