Even before I was invited to run the Twilight Half Marathon, I was excited to hear that there was an evening race in Vancouver. With a start time at 6pm, its whole premise is that nobody likes alarm clocks. They’ve got my vote there! ! And the Twilight Half was everything I hoped it would be: A fantastic event, touring the area of Vancouver Lake and Fishermen’s Bend, with mostly farm land and some views of the water, so lovely in the evening light.
However, as they say, mistakes were made. I totally ruined my own enjoyment of this event by committing rookie, rookie fueling mistakes!
My mistake #1: The night before the race, I realized that I was out of my usual gel packets. Not wanting to make a special trip to the store to get more, I just tucked some dried apricots into a baggie to carry with me during the race. Should be fine, right? Ahaha, no. So much fiber is bound to upset some things. I mean, they did sort of work okay-ish for awhile. Sticky to chew while running, but tasted good, and something was better than nothing. So far, so good.
My mistake #2: Then, about halfway through the race, I felt my energy flagging, so I started ALSO chugging the electrolyte drinks offered at the aid stations. BIG, FAT ROOKIE MISTAKE! I knew better: NEVER drink electrolyte drink during a race that you haven’t used in training! It’s quickly absorbed and digested, and bad bad things can happen.
Even while committing these various offenses against my innards, the run continued to go well, and I was able to keep my place among the other back-of-the-pack runners, enjoying the scenery and looking forward to the food and beer at the finish party. It wasn’t until after I crossed the finish line feeling exhausted but accomplished, that I started to feel terrible. After ducking out of the burrito line and visiting the porta johns, I stumbled back to my car feeling lightheaded and managed, with a lot of positive self-talk, to make the drive home before paying for my mistakes with the contents of my stomach.
So, due to my own failings, I missed out on the fun post-race party, the delicious burrito from Laughing Planet and not one, but two Hopworks beers! D’oh! Next year, I will be back for a do-over on this beautiful course, and I will have my trusted gel packets in hand.
Distance reviewed: Half Marathon
Elevation gain: About 46 feet
Size of field: Around 1,400 finishers in all events
The Charity: Children’s Cancer Association
The Brews: Beer from Hopworks Urban Brewery
Evening Start Time – For this race, you don’t have to pry your eyes open at the crack of Too Early! I’m all for it. Rather than racing in the morning and wasting the rest of the day being wiped out, You can get stuff done during the day, go race, then if you’re wiped out you can just have a nice, hot shower and collapse into your cozy bed.
Early start option – To get everybody back before it starts to get truly dark out, the Twilight Half Marathon has an earlier start time of 5:30 for anybody who will be moving slower than 14 minutes per mile. This has the effect of mixing up the field a bit, and it’s fun to see all the walkers who will finish before runners, with plenty of fanfare and enthusiasm still on the course.
Good volunteer organization – Every single volunteer I encountered was great. They all seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and I didn’t see a single one with that deer-in-headlights look you sometimes encounter. Not one! They were all helpful and friendly.
Flat course – You’ll run on paved paths, paved roads, and just a short section of very runnable gravel road. This course is pretty dang flat!
Cool weather – At this time of day the temperature was just right, and even better when it started to rain just a little bit. Ahhh, natural air conditioning.
Sweet medals – The medals for the half are awesome chunky hunks of metal with the Twilight Half Marathon owl logo! The 10K distance also earns its own medals.
Glow-in-the-dark shirts – The owl on the front of the race tee glows in the dark, pretty sweet! They even gave out little keychain flashlights to charge your shirt with. I saw lots of folks wearing their race shirt during the run.
I’m excited to come back to the Twilight Half Marathon next year for a do-over on this beautiful course, with my trusted gel packets in hand! (Or in fanny pack. Don’t judge.)
What’s your favorite lesson learned on the run? Let us know in the comments!