Banff Half Marathon
I did a lot of training prior to the Banff half marathon and I felt prepared. But once again, a destination race was difficult! The course had hills, but they were manageable, I really think the altitude is what got me. At mile 3 I felt very winded. I know now that my Kilimanjaro trip is going to be challenging! I'm ready for it but I will be taking training more seriously than ever now.
I stayed in a hotel very close to the start and was grateful that the half start was at 9:30, I was hoping to finish around 11:30 so that my friend and I could carry on with our Banff sightseeing, have brunch, and make a 7 pm reservation at Park Distillery. (more on that later)
I did a lot of long runs on flat land, in heat, etc. I'd run that very hilly half in Cincinnati 6 weeks prior and felt great after the hills of that were over. I don't think that I started with overconfidence, but I do think that I was not quite prepared for a half marathon at 4400 feet in elevation. So I am glad that I had the experience, it was a beautiful race, very well supported, light on spectators since it is in a Canadian national park and thus, set in beautiful NATURE. :)
All I can say is that after mile 3, I was drinking a lot more water (at every stop) more Gatorade than I've ever consumed in a half marathon, and taking my sweet time by snapping photos on my phone. Around mile 8 or 9, I texted my friend to let him know to expect me for a noon finish because I was having a difficult time. The shrugging emoji was included. I could not do anything about it. Such is life. Again, I'm reminded why I keep signing up for races, because they're a lot like life. I can prepare for things or be well trained, but I never know what curveball life is going to throw at me or if I am going to have a terrible race day, despite all of the prep. I like running solo, with a friend or two, and with several of the running clubs I've found in Chicago. But I like races because they can be humbling. Sometimes I need that and sometimes I don't. I do want to go back and run this race again, but probably not ever the full marathon.
After I sent that text, I put my phone back in my pocket and shuffled along just trying to maintain pace and stay hydrated. I was so happy to see a familiar and friendly face back in town when I had about a mile to go (he took the photo in this post). And I was so happy to just have a friend at the finish who hugged and congratulated my gross, sweaty self.
It was one race where I was ready to cry and collapse when I was finished. I felt kind of like I did after the Riga marathon, just SPENT and I could not really pinpoint the reason for all of my emotions. I don't necessarily think I was exhausted like after a full marathon, but I was definitely really tired. I felt queasy. I knew I needed to eat something and yet the thought of food turned my stomach. I was also kind of upset with myself that the altitude affected me and that I was being so hard on myself.
I showered, stretched a bit, drank a ton of water, and then we set off for some breakfast. I was not ready for a celebration beer at that point. I commented that I felt queasy but needed food and my friend suggested we find some Pedialyte and I was SO GRATEFUL. I would not have thought of that on my own and I think some kind of sports drink like more Gatorade would have been too much. After Pedialyte, we ordered one huge breakfast plate to share at Melissa's Missteak. After nibbling on a bit of breakfast, drinking a ton of water, finishing that Pedialyte, and a walk around town, I felt like a functioning human again and ready for some celebration beers at Banff Ave Brewing.
The race was beautiful and overall, my trip was amazing, this 2 hours and 27 minutes just happened to be difficult. But luckily, I had support before and after :). I'm so glad that I did it and I would do it again, I just had a particularly rough day and know a few things I can do to be better prepared next time. I also know that I was not the only one having trouble out there.
Sometimes I need to be reminded that destination races are about seeing the sights and enjoying the trip and not speed and to enjoy it. I am constantly working on not being so demanding of myself, but I've set goals and have not been achieving them. Also, rereading that, I think that needs to be my life mantra right now. I'm taking a little break from any races and I am reassessing what I want out of running in my life. Perhaps my next race will be this same one next year? I might need that long of a break from races. I could go back to Banff every year though. Gorgeous.