Surrey International World Music Marathon – Half Marathon – Race Recap

Last weekend I also ran in the inaugural Surrey International World Music Marathon, on Sunday.  Yes, I did a Half Goofy on the weekend.

The short version :

The SIWMM 2012 was a fantastic event on a beautiful day, and they exceeded my expectations for a first time race!  Everyone I know, really enjoyed the course, had a great run, and would definitely consider running the race again next year.  I personally ran my fastest, and funnest half marathon, so far in my “running career”.

Spoiler alert : I finished in 1:47:29, which is a 7 min PR for me!!

Now, for those of you who want to read the long version, here it is :

Same thing I said on my 5 Peaks Buntzen Lake Race Recap “When I was asked to be an ambassador for the Surrey International Music Marathon, I immediately wanted to say yes, but I already had a race tentatively booked on my calendar for the day before.

Knowing how much I love trails, 5 Peaks, and running at Buntzen Lake, I couldn’t give up this race.  So, I made a deal, with myself.  I would run the shorter distance of both races, and therefore be able to participate in both.  I also made the deal that neither would be a “race” for me, that I would just have fun with both of them.  This sounded way better than making myself choose between the two, so I decided to agree with myself.”

After agreeing to run the Surrey Half Marathon as one of their blogger ambassadors, I decided to convince Mom that this was a good race for her first half marathon.  She agreed, and I worked out training plans for both of us.  Mine was very non-traditional, as I knew the focus of my running over the summer months would be trails.  I didn’t think it would be quite so trails, as it turned out, I realistically did 95% of my long runs on trails, and probably 50% of my other running on trails.  But I can’t help it, I just LOVE my trails.

That being said, I have a good running base, and have no problems running 20-25 kms on a whim, so I figured either way I’d be able to finish a half marathon, I just might not be as fast as I would like, since I hadn’t put in the time on roads.  I was 100% ok with that, because although it was a race I wanted to run, I just enjoy trails that much more, so it wasn’t a “goal race” for me.

It would be fair to say that I was expecting mediocre results.  Just with running 2 races last weekend, not training on roads much, trying to leave it up to my legs to decide my speed, and trying to not go full bore Beast Mode to save my legs a little bit for next weekend’s 50Km Ultra. (Oh, you missed that?  Yea, I’m running Baker Lake 50km on Saturday.)

In the past year I’ve run 2 half’s 1:54:29 & a 1:58, the 1:54 was a solid race that I felt amazing during, and I was about 10 lbs lighter.  The 1:58 I was sicker than a dog, and just happy to finish the race.  So, I assumed somewhere around that range was probably what I was looking at.  Fair enough.

Dad also jumped on the bandwagon to join us running on Sunday, and signed up for the 5km course.  He would’ve done a 10km if they had it, but he was fine with doing the 5km, as it was his first 5km race.

I have to stop and say a big THANK YOU to SIWMM for sponsoring mom and myself to run this race as part of their ambassador team.  I hope that mom and I have inspired others to get off their butts and get running!  I also hope that everyone sees just how amazing it is to have a whole family of runners, and be able to do these things together.  Don’t be afraid of running, and the unknown.  Mom and Dad prove that you can go from being a non-runner to a great runner in a matter of months.  If you ask either of them, if they thought that running would be a part of their everyday lives a year ago, they would both say “not likely”.

Saturday AM, Mom & Dad went out to pick up our packages from the expo.  They were a little under whelmed by the expo, but it’s the first year, and a small event, and they’ve only ever been to the Sun Run expo which is HUGE compared to normal expos.

In our packages was a bunch of coupons for local Surrey places, bunch of magazines & race brochures, a really nice Addidas technical shirt for mom & I, a cotton race shirt for dad, our bibs with timing chips attached and our names on them, and some samples.

I was really impressed with how the race shirts fit – they were very flattering, and good quality.  The only thing I would say is that there was no differential between half marathoners and full marathoners.  I personally don’t care, but I did running my first marathon, I wanted a marathon finisher specific shirt, and I know some marathoners who wouldn’t want half marathoners to have a shirt that just said marathon.  For the most part, people don’t care that much, but there are some people who like the different shirts.  But again, first time event, how much can you expect??

Sunday AM as I got myself dressed and ready to go, I had to stop and smile.  Normally on race mornings our house is dead silent, and I’m tip-toeing around careful not to wake anyone else.  But, this morning, with mom, dad, & myself running, and Jay coming as cheerleader/photographer,  the whole house was moving, and it was such a neat moment to reflect on.

We drove up to Edmonds skytrain, met up with my friend Katy & her fiance Eric at the station, and hopped on the train heading to Surrey.  The ride took only a few mins, and it was really cool to see the trains filled with people in running clothes in the early morning.  Loved how easy it was to get to the start/finish line.  It was literally a 1 minute walk after the train stopped at Surrey Central.

Within moments of arriving, I bumped into Alanna, of who I’ve been chatting with on twitter for a few months.  We headed into the campus and luckily found a bathroom with a less than 5 min wait.  The morning was beautiful, so we headed back outside for last minute preparations and of course some “before shots”.

Mom and I had debated on wearing our jingle belly dancer skirts from last weekend’s Believe I Can event, and at the last minute, I said ya I’m going to wear it, I’m going to have a blast today.  I don’t know why, but I just felt awesome on Sunday morning.

As we headed towards the start line where the warm-up was happening, I was keeping my eyes out for another twitter friend, Nikki, of Slow is the New Fast blog, and low and behold, I found her!  She just so happens to love taking selfies, and I spotted her taking one.  And funnily enough, she actually caught me creeping on her in it!  Too funny!

We were glad to finally meet after chatting online, and stoked that we had managed to find eachother in the crowd!  We took a pre-race shot :

We even look like real-life friends with our matching Lululemon pacesetter skirts and matching silver ipod shuffles!  Great running minds think alike!  Turns out that we’ve actually been at 5 other of the same races in the past yr!  Crazy…

Before I knew it, we were starting, and I wished Katy & Momma good luck, and off I went!  I saw Jay on the side of the road, and I was already in such a great mood, as you can see!

I laugh because mom looks so serious running next to me and I’m grinning like a big kid!  Normally I take road races a lot more seriously than I do trails, but today, I was just into having a good time.

I hadn’t checked my pace calculator, so I didn’t even have an target pace to aim for.  I always start out road races a bit quick, so I just figured I’d just let me legs go, and re-evaluate after the first few kms.

Jay ordered some supplement stuff last weekend, and the container came with a free “BEAST MODE” plastic bracelet.  This was my fave thing of our shopping, and I’ve been wearing it ever since.  I actually made myself laugh at loud during the race because I was telling myself “No Beast Mode” and then I came up with “Baby Beast Mode”, which was perfect for reminding me to let my legs have fun, but not to go into full bore Beast Mode!

My body fell into a 5:00-5:05 pace and felt pretty good, so I just kept going.  After I passed the 6 km mark and realized that there was no way Jay, Dad, & Eric were going to get to see us on course, I hit a bit of a lull, but heading into the Korea music station definitely pumped me up.

I really enjoyed the course, it was nice soft hills, only 1 real noticeable uphill (right after 10km timing mat), and it felt like there was lots of nice downhills to push on.  The music stations for me were a bit lacking, cexcept for the Korea station with the loud music & drums – I found this to be the only really uplifting station, the others were a bit subdued or quiet for encouraging people to run.

I checked my time at 10.5 kms (basically halfway) and my watch read 54 mins, so doing the math in my head, I figured I could probably run sub 1:50, but I had to keep pushing, as I knew my start was a bit faster.

I had another low point around 13/14 kms, right after the short out & back, and going through a little path.  I pulled myself out of it, started to think about how much further I had to go, I turned my music up, and started to push.  I knew that from 18kms it was less than 15 mins of running, so I just had to get to 18 around 1:30 hours.

While I was pushing my way to 18, back at the start line, Dad was getting ready to start in his 5km race.  Apparently he needs some more practice on the crooked bib!

Note : He is rocking his Giro Di Burnaby shirt – which is a fantastic bike race held annually in July that we volunteer at in North Burnaby.  Sweet volunteer swag right??

Back to me, as we turned back towards Surrey Central and I knew where I was, I started to get pumped up.  I decided to push the pace, and from here on out I didn’t have anyone pass me.  I steadily knocked off kills, and kept pushing.  I flew down the little downhill across King George and was surprised to be turning right at 19, when I knew the finish line was to the left.  I started feeling some pain in my right hamstring, and it was hard to push at this point.

I kept pushing, had a couple more kills, and finally turned onto the straightaway back to the finish.  At this point I actually saw someone I knew heading back out on the course for the second half of the full.  I’ve never done a full marathon that has looped twice, but I guess it would depend on how well the first lap went, as to how hard the mental battle would be for the second lap.

It was here that I tried to push for my finish line sprint, but I barely had anything left, my legs were just dead.  My pace wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the last few kms Beast Mode that I wanted.  As I came into the finishing chute, I saw Jay & did a big wave, but I was a bit early, and he hadn’t been expecting me, so he only caught my backside!

After passing him, I realized I still had a few feet to go and dialed up my speed to get across the line, where there was like 20 photographers, I’ve never seen so many!  (I bet they were mostly there for the 101 yr old running the 5km!)

There was also first aid attendants right there, making sure that every participant crossing the line was OK.

I received my medal (HOLY HUGE & HEAVY), filled my water bottle, grabbed a cup of Gatorade and found my way back to Jay, where he snapped this shot before I took off to find Momma.

My feet were absolutely killing me and I could feel the tension in my right hamstring, but I knew it would help mom, especially if she was struggling to head back out and run her in.

I was half hobbling my way back, and received tons of compliments on my skirt and my finish (apparently I didn’t look as bad as I felt?)

Fortunately for me, Mom & Katy weren’t too far back, and I was able to jump in for the last 800 m-ish with them.  They both said they felt good, they both looked good, and I pushed them to push the pace for the last little bit.  Katy was able to crank her gears, and mom picked up the pace a bit, but felt like she had nothing left.  She wasn’t aware that she was going to finish in 2 hours, so that got her really excited!

Again, Jay failed, he said the finishing chute was terrible for spectators, as it was narrow to begin with, and with the flags they had set up, it was impossible to get good pictures of your runner.

I jumped out of the corral so I wouldn’t re-finish the race, eventhough I accidentily went over the first timing mat, so my name was called twice (sorry!)

I decided to go back out and find Dad, because he shouldn’t be too far out by now, maybe 5 mins.  Well, I barely got moving before I spotted in.  I jumped in, and told him the finish was so close, and to push it hard, but that I couldn’t go with him, he had to do the next part alone.  Again, Jay caught the backside!

Silly of us, we forgot to make a meeting spot for after.  And I didn’t tell Dad that Mom had finished ahead of her expectations, so he immediately went back to look for her at the finish line, but on the left hand side, whereas I always run on the right hand side, and Jay always is on the right hand side, it’s just our system.

So, we were able to find Mom, Jay, Katy, Eric, & myself, but we lost Dad.  In the meantime we discovered that post race food  was a little bit hidden, but that there was lots of goodies!  Chocolate Milk (YES!), whole bananas or apples, juice boxes, and bagels.  I grabbed bananas & choco milk for us girls and we took some finisher shots! Before & after finding food!!

We all spread out, and we still couldn’t find dad, but eventually he wandered into my view!  Stupid me, didn’t get a picture of me with my awesome running parents, but we did take this picture after the fact of dad with his 5km shirt & finisher’s certificate.  I really like the logo,  and it’s a nice cotton t-shirt for a 5km.

And mom wearing her shirt, displaying her medal :

After seeing Nikki & Alanna post race, and then going to cheer in Candice, who was running the full marathon, we headed back to Burnaby.

We went for a delicious post-run brunch at DeDutch, and relaxed the rest of the day.

It was a great day for the Green/Klassen Family of Runners!

Our official stats :

Dad – 31:07 – 1/7 in 65-59 age group, 65/149 men, 106/444 overall

Mom – 1:58:02 – 2/28 in 60-64 age group, 91/590 women, 305/1183 overall

Me – 1:47:29 – 8/65 in 25-29 age group, 35/590 women, 153/1183 overall


And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :

Overall, how would I rate this race?

Terrain/Course/Difficulty : B.  I really enjoyed the overall course.  It was nice and rolling, no big hills, almost all nice paved roads.  Every single km marker was well marked, accurate, and easy to spot.  I thought the volunteers and police did an excellent job on road closures, especially for a first time event, but I did hear of issues towards the end of the race – around Surrey Central area – where drivers were coming onto the course due to poor traffic management.  For a half, it felt like a pretty fast half to me, and I was very pleasantly surprised.  Of course running along the seawall is more beautiful, but this was not bad, and it was super super easy to get to from skytrain.  I also liked the Start/Finish area, although there should have been more signage, more garbage cans, and maybe some volunteers designated to help direct runners/spectators (you know the kind with big “ASK ME” signs)

Affordability and Value : B+.  No complaints.  Very reasonably priced, the swag is all really nice, the shirts fit great, the bibs are personalized & colored.  I’m not really into medals, but these are really nice.  They are large, heavy, unique metals, and I’m sure the people into medals would want them.  I really liked the logo as well.  Like I said earlier, maybe different shirts are needed to differentiate the full & the half, but not an issue.

Organization : B. For a first time event, I think they did a really good job.  There’s obviously areas to improve, but I think most of the issues are small things that can be easily improved upon.  For example, the map given out listed music stations with #’s, but they didn’t correlate to km’s or mile markers, so it was very confusing for participants & spectators.  Signage was definitely lacking as to where to go, and where to find things.  Ideally, spectators could have easily walked to a viewing point around 4-5kms, and watched their runners, but with no signage, and the map not being clear, it was hard for them to plan that ahead.  Also, there was not enough garbage cans in the start/finish area.  I had to search and search to get rid of my banana peel before the race.  There could always be more bathrooms when you are dealing runners, and I personally saw very few along the route.  I expected all water stations to have water, but some only had Gatorade, which is not ideal, especially if you haven’t trained with that product.  More water would have been good.  Louder music would have been good.  Encouraging cheer stations other than the cultural music stations would have been good.

And one issue that I really didn’t like, was that the kids run did a little out and back with them crossing the finish line around the 3:30-3:35 marathon finishing time.  I personally witnessed a female runner coming in to finish, and having to dodge around kids blocking her path.  3:35 is the Boston qualifying time for women my age, and if that had been me, I would have been really upset.  To put the amount of training and effort into qualifying for Boston, and to have a kid get in the way, I would be pissed.  Either the timing needs to be changed, or there needs to be a separate finish line for the kids.

Anything else?  I don’t think in a road race it needs to be stated that it’s “strongly discouraged” to wear headphones.  I think that’s silly, and it’s common sense to be aware when wearing them, but newbie runners might take this to heart, leave their music at home, and have a disappointing race because of this.

Oh, and they ran out of half marathon medals.  As long as they are actually mailed, no problem, BUT, at Tough Mudder this summer, they ran out of headbands, and they NEVER mailed them out to participants, including my good friend Hilary.  Bad business.

Overall, I’m so glad I ran this race.  I enjoyed the heck out of it.  I thought it was the perfect running weather, a great route, super friendly volunteers (and tons of them!), I was very impressed with how smoothly everything went for a first time event.  I’m definitely going to run this event again next year if I can!

I’m so proud of both my parents, both did amazing, both exceeded my expectations, as well as their own, and really proved that you can become a runner at any age!  Congrats to them both for their age group placements – you guys rock!



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7 Responses to Surrey International World Music Marathon – Half Marathon – Race Recap

  1. nikki says:

    It’s a little creepy how alike we actually think… Great race Solana, maybe if we hang out more some of your beast (or even baby beast) will rub off on me. :o)

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  3. KC says:

    Simone can get you a Tough Mudder headband. It took 6 weeks, but Simone scared them into sending us 2 each!

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