Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Race Recaps: Calgary Half Marathon and 5K plus London's first official race!

I apologize in advance for how long this post is but I have three races to recap and a lot to say ;)

Normally, I write my race recaps the same day I run. I am usually so excited to get the details down in print. This time, it's a little different. I have mixed feelings about my experience at the Calgary Marathon this year. It took me a couple days to get over the disappointment about my performance and to focus on what I can take away from it.

In case you missed it, I posted PART 1 of my Calgary Marathon experience, the pre-race activities HERE.

I actually slept well the night before the race. I was asleep shortly after 9 o'clock and woke up before my alarm just before 4am. I ate my peanut butter sandwich and scrolled through social media while I drank my 500ml of water. It was really cool to see all the chatter on twitter, facebook and instagram from others who were getting ready to race!

At 5:30, Dad and I headed down to the Stampede grounds where the race started and ended. As soon as we got there, I headed to the starting line where I had set up a pre-race photo op with a few other local bloggers. It was great to see everyone and get rid of some nerves.

My dad and I before the race


I used the bathroom, one last time, and then headed to the start line with Jo. We had decided to run the race together and met up with Amin and Jordan too. We grabbed a quick photo, talked about our goals and were off!

I made it about 30 seconds before the pain in my back started. I had planned to start out slow but I wanted to stick with the group. The others were running about an 8 minute mile and I tried to keep pace. After about a mile and a half, I decided to slow down and let them run ahead without me. Despite the pain, I managed to keep my goal pace for 5 miles.

At the 5 mile mark the pain became too much. I dropped from an 8:30 mile to a 9 minute mile and then, by the 6 mile marker, I was down to almost a 10 minute mile. This is when the 1:55 pace group caught up with me.

Over the past few months, I made it very clear that this was my goal race. This was going to be the race where I finally got my PR. Despite injuries, illnesses, my separation and other "hiccups" I was ready to fight for it. When the 1:55 pace group finally passed me at mile 7 I knew I had lost the fight.

I burst into tears but I still kept running.

The pain had spread from my back, down my legs and into my left foot. The back pain was constant and then every few minutes I would get a shooting pain that would travel all the way down to my toes.

That's when I considered walking off the course.

I remember passing a Starbucks and thinking that I should just go inside and call my dad to pick me up. Somehow, I forced myself to keep going. I thought about London waiting for his mom at the finish line. I kept repeating "you can do hard things" and I forced myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. That's when the 2 hour pace group passed me.

I took walk breaks... something I have never done in a race before. I even sent out a tweet "this race is now just about finishing" and texted my mom and a few close friends telling them it wasn't going well. I also texted my dad to tell him I wouldn't be at the finish when I thought I would be. He immediately called me and asked if I was okay. I only managed to get out "I'm really struggling" before I burst into tears. He told me to take it easy and that I was almost there. He told me he knew I could finish." His words and the text messages, I got back from others, helped so much.

The long out and back section of the course is my least favourite. It seemed extra long on Sunday. I tried to distract myself by looking for friends. Jen finally spotted my and shouted an enthusiastic hi. I managed to give her a wave and half-smile. I know I didn't look happy but seeing her helped so much. I also saw Leana and Sam and it made me think about how lucky I am to have met so many awesome people through running.

Around the 10 mile mark my mind drifted to the finish line (as it usually does in race) except instead of envisioning myself sprinting across the finish line I thought about doing something different. Since time didn't matter anymore I decided I would find London, scoop him up, and run with him across the finish line. I thought about how much that would mean to both of us. I kept moving forward.

At mile 11, something amazing happened. This girl ran up to me and asked how much longer we had left. I mumbled about 2 miles and she told me "thank god, I'm struggling." I said I was struggling too and we both laughed. She asked if she could run with me and, of course, I said yes. We spent the last two miles chatting about her upcoming wedding, the fact this was her second half-marathon and she had just ran the weekend before. As we approached the final stretch, she thanked me for running with her and said she would have walked if we hadn't stayed together. I told her I felt the exact same way.

Me and Cassandra helping each other finish

Clearly struggling

As we rounded the final corner, I told her to sprint to the finish. Her PR was 2:16 and she was about to CRUSH IT! I had something I had to do...

It didn't take me long to find him. He was in my stepmom's arms, watching me run with a big smile on his face. I sprinted over to him (it was probably the fastest I have run all day) threw my water bottle and phone at my dad and picked him up. I told him he was going to run with mommy. I put him down, grabbed his hand and we ran the final stretch together.

I'm disappointed in my finish but obviously had no control over what happened with my back. It wasn't my day. I AM proud of myself for finishing though. I've never had a tougher race day and I definitely am walking away a stronger runner because of it.

TIME: 2:05:37
OVERALL: 1525/3304
GENDER: 636/1867
AGE GROUP: 135/353


After the race, I headed to the Grandstands to meet up with some of the ladies who ran the Half Marathon and 10K. It was great to catchup with BeckyJen and Leigh and finally meet Brie and Amelia (even if she was sleeping!)

Before I knew it, it was time to get changed and head to the starting line for the Kids Marathon which started at 10am.

London was excited to race until we got the starting line and then he got a bit nervous. Luckily, as soon as we started running he seemed to be enjoying himself (aren't we all like that though?)

The kids race was a 1.2 KM loop. London would run for a bit and then walk. He was one of the youngest participants and a lot of onlookers kept commenting on how cute he was. I could tell he loved that people were cheering for HIM!

When we hit the turn around he wanted me to carry him but I explained if he ran the whole thing he would get a medal. That's when he picked up his pace and started sprinting. We took two more quick walk breaks before a final push to the finish line.

He was just about to cross the finish when a mascot popped up to high five him. Well, London is terrified of mascots so he stopped and tried turning around and running the other way! Poor kid!! Ha Ha! I had to wave the mascot out of the wave and grabbed him hand to help him to the finish. We crossed, together, in about 9 minutes.

Another mascot tried giving him a high five so we quickly moved out of the way to collect his medal. He was so excited!!!! We also got a freezie (yum) before we left.

Seeing London run and the look on his face when he finished was one of the highlights of my day! Thank you to my family and friends who came to watch him run and for taking the photos for me!!!


After the kids race, we had about two hours before we had to get back in line for the 5K race. Despite the pain in my back, and legs, I was determined to run my third, and final, race of the day. A few months ago, I promised one of my best friends that I would pace her in her first race.

We spent the down time getting London some food and enjoying the sunshine. It was a warm day in Calgary and, at 11 o'clock, it was about 27 degrees. 

At 11:45, we headed to the start line with Melissa, Jen (who had crushed her half marathon earlier in the day) and Laura (who rocked the Run with Women last weekend!)

Melis was feeling a bit nervous so I tried to distract her by taking a selfie and saying we would just go out and have some fun.

At this point, London was getting a bit restless, so he was cranky. He wanted to run with us but didn't understand how far 5K was. Thankfully, he fell asleep about 10 seconds after we started.

The energy at the start was awesome. The 5K was marketed as more of a family fun run and you could tell a lot of people were feeling relaxed and excited. It was slightly different than the nervous energy at the start of the marathon/half marathon/50 Ultra in the morning.

At 12pm, we were off. Melis was hoping to run around a 12 minute mile and I was hoping to push it to about 11:30 to finish close to the 35 minute mark.

Melis, Laura and I decided to run together. There were a lot of people walking and we spend most of the first mile dodging people. I wish we would have started closer to the starting line as the weaving was tough, especially with a stroller, and slowed us down quite a bit.

Pacing some is totally different than running your race. It's fun and really inspiring! I loved being able to encourage and support Melissa!! I knew she was struggling once we hit mile 2 but I quickly spotted the area giving out free photographs so we decided to ham it up with some cheesy "thumbs up" poses. I love how happy we both look!

We were running a strong 11:30/mile for most of the second half. Laura had passed us at one point and then we ended up passing her. We decided to walk up the big final hill before picking up our pace as we approached the home stretch. As we made the final turn into the Stampede Grandstand we spotted Melissa's boyfriend and made a quick sprint to the finish.

We threw our hands up in the air and crossed with big smiles on our faces (except London who was still fast asleep...)

I'm SO SO proud of Melissa!! She only started running a few months ago and has already come so far. I can remember the first time she texted me saying she had run for FIVE MINUTES STRAIGHT! She's already signed up to run the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon in November!!!!

TIME: 37:08
OVERALL: 754/2346
GENDER: 387/1416
AGE GROUP: 59/189

We spent a few minutes taking post/race photos before I spotted my co-worker who surprised me at the finish! We headed to the massage station for a quick massage before I left for a long walk to the train and then a painful two hour drive home!

Despite a disappointing personal race I had a blast at this year's Calgary Marathon. I love representing the event as a forerunner, connecting with so many inspiring bloggers and runners, watching my son run his first official race and pacing Melis to her first finish line.

I'll be back next year Calgary!


  1. Ok, this made me tear up. And I don't cry easily. I'm so proud of you for finishing the half. And then going on to run twice more. I think it's so adorable you got London for your finish too! Such an awesome Mom. London did awesome!! So fun that he's into running!
    I hope your back is feeling better, take the needed rest for now and you'll be crushing that PR in no time!

  2. I teared up reading about when you picked up London and ran with him across the finish line. You're a real inspiration Kaella!

  3. Ok. I cried reading this post, nearly the whole recap of your half race. You are amazing and so strong for pushing through and doing the whole race. I'm certain I would have given up at the Starbucks. I love that you had support from your family and friends during the race, to give you encouraging words. My favorite part though, is that you brought London with you across the line! My absolute favorite part! Then that you went on to do 2 more races!! You are amazing! Seriously!!! I hope your back feels better soon! XO

  4. I really wish it had gone differently for you that day, it's amazing that you powered through! Even when it's beyond your control it's so hard to let go of that goal time when you've spent months building up to it mentally. I have no doubt you will be back in action before long and working hard toward New York! -leighannp