The Calgary Marathon takes place during the kick off of the Calgary Stampede (one of the worlds largest rodeos). The festivities are opened with a grand parade through downtown Calgary.
This is a really cool marathon, half marathon, 10k event and they even have a "timbits" kids run on race day! Get this - the marathon finishers are awarded with a belt buckle in lieu of the traditional medal too (similar to the western states 100 mile finisher buckle). We had a great time at the marathon expo, the people out here are always so upbeat and friendly!
I registered for the half marathon a few weeks ago, not realizing it was only 5 days after the Canada Day 10k race. After my 10k on Tuesday, which ended with a sprint about 800 meters out from the finish, I was quite sore. I decided to take a few rest days on Wednesday and Thursday. With the marathon expo taking place, I never found the time to run again on Friday or Saturday and by the time Saturday night rolled around, I was starting to second guess the decision to run the half on Sunday morning. It's always a bit challenging to run on race day after working the expo skirt booth on your feet for 2-3 days straight, not to mention I was pretty sore after the 10k race on Tuesday. After my traditional post-expo ice bath torture session to help flush the legs, I was feeling pretty rested and I decided to toe the line on Sunday - if nothing else, as a training run to make up for not running over the last few days. The weather was perfect - clear and cool, but not cold at the 7:00 a.m. start. I wasn't sure what I was going to run, but I was hopefully optimistic that if everything went well and my legs were ok, I'd be able to take a few minutes off my last half marathon time and run a 1:30 or better. My race plan was to go out and try to hold a 7:00 minute per mile pace and pick it up on the last 10k if I was still feeling strong.
It was a hillier course than I was expecting, but it was very scenic. The course started downtown and ran through the Stampede Grounds and the runners were greeted by a lineup of cowboys & cowgirls on horseback and spectators that were enjoying their traditional stampede pancake breakfast. It was funny - their wasn't a lot of applause, but mostly people standing with blank stares at us runners as we cruised by. I can only imagine they were thinking "what on earth are these crazy people doing running?!?". I did appreciate the occasional "go girl!" or "go skirt!" as I passed by. The course than ran through the Calgary zoo. I recall seeing a flock of pink flamingos as we entered the park and I was looking out for the Tiger (we were told we might see) cage, but as we started winding up a slight incline out of the zoo my mind switched gears and I tried to get back into concentration mode. On a side note - one thing I really enjoyed about running while pregnant was the nice mellow pace of the races and actually being able to take in the scenery and race spectators, etc. I remember last year when I was here I ran the 10k while about 5 months pregnant and I actually carried a digital camera and snapped photos along the route. After leaving the zoo there was a portion of the course on a small gravel/dirt road and then back to the streets heading back toward downtown. We ran along across and along the beautiful Bow river. I remember seeing a great one man country band, and a few other bands along the route. Once I reached the halfway or probably 12-13k point in the race, I recognized the 10k course from last year. With about 4-5 km left to go I was feeling pretty strong so I picked up the pace a bit. I remember there were a few good hills before the finished and tried to talk myself through them one at a time. Before I knew it, the finish line was within eye shot and I gave it one last push to finish in 1:30:40. Here are my splits: 6:27, 6:50, 6:54, 6:51, 7:02, 7:02, 7:05, 7:01, 6:48, 6:45, 7:06, 6:41, 6:46 finish time 1:30:40. I was surprised to finish as 3rd woman and 1st place age group! I was expecting a lot of speedy ladies to run today, but I'm not complaining - it was great fun to win another prize this week!
We won shiny prize medals & big arse white cowboy hats too! Yahoo!
Results: 10k gun chip
1/242 F 30-34 3645 40:20 1:24:33 1:24:31 4:01 Maggie Finlayson Calgary AB
1/141 F 20-24 3529 40:06 1:27:11 1:27:10 4:08 Erin Sask Calgary AB
1/205 F 35-39 3480 42:58 1:30:40 1:30:38 4:18 Cindy Lynch Barrie ON