What the 1:45 pace bunny stole from me during the BMO half marathon

Bib, half-marathon, running
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t - you are right.” – Henry Ford

A BMO half marathon race report.

Honestly I didn’t know that this bunny would challenge me to a race within a race until kilometer 4. Coming off the Cambie Street Bridge I was still on cruise control from the long downhill start. I’m busy imagining the conversation I could have with the guy in front of me. On his shirt it says “Klinikum Ingolstadt” (Ingolstadt is the home town of Audi in Germany). However, since the guy (assumingly from Ingolstadt) is already breathing heavily and seems short on oxygen I decided that engaging him in a conversation is not my way to take out fellow runners. And then suddenly it is right in front of me. Happily running and surrounded by a loyal encourage of fellow runners. The 1:45 pace bunny.

I had noticed him 30 minutes earlier in my appointed yellow corral. Max (a NSA run clinic member) points him out approximately 50 meters in front of us. I could see his pink ears stapled to his hat. He is holding a stick with a white paper clued to it showing off the magic number 1:45, which is so out of my reach. Maybe that will be my goal next year. Let’s focus on breaking the 1:50 wall today.

The pace bunny stops and I’m ahead of him.

Running marathon BMO VancouverThen low and behold. Passing the stadium I caught up to him. The interest in the German guy is gone in an instant. Holy! Am I too fast? Did I make the beginners mistake of not pacing myself? I’m checking my vitals. Everything seems fine. Running style -relaxed and upright, breathing – just fine, hair – wet, legs – light tanned. Is the pace bunny having a bad day? Maybe I’m having a great day despite the rain? I decide to become a follower of his cluster – at least for a while. And just when I’m about to settle into his group he and everyone else stop to nourish them self at the aid station at km 5. I can’t stop. Once my engine is up and running, I can’t allow it to change gear until I’ve reached the finish line. Easy come, easy go. I’m by myself again but the knowledge, that the 1:45 pace bunny and his entourage is BEHIND me cheers me on.

Happy chemicals float into my brain. Unfortunately through experience I know they will not last forever. Now with the German guy and the pace bunny gone I have to find something new to occupy my brain with. The last two years I had been spoiled with sunny weather while racing the BMO half marathon and the tank top allowed some tanning while running. Today it’s raining cats and dogs and the long sleeve shirt allows for extra storage room. Tissues and gels submerge nicely to be used accordingly. Scrambling to gather something from the belt-pocket on my back was never a strength of mine.

I suck on GU’s espresso love gel (I don’t know why I always forget to wash these things before use) and follow two eagles that are tattooed on the calves of a stocky short girl with wide shoulders who is in front of me. The eagles probably seemed like a good idea at the time but I’m ready to take flight and leave those eagles in my dust. I examine the Dumpsters in Yaletown closely. They are all closed. What should I do with the empty GU pack? Will a spectator appreciate my gift? Still holding on to the empty GU another boost of happy chemicals hits my nervous system. I see my clinic leader Laura standing under the Burrard Bridge cheering on runners and it gives me extra energy. I dart around the corner and wave cheerfully. Yes, I have decided against the bright orange NSA running shirt with the reasoning that if I want to run like superwoman, I have to feel and dress like superwoman. Bright orange is just not my color. I let go of the espresso love and postpone environmental responsibility to tomorrow.

Running by English Bay I feel the rhythmic sound my fellow runners and I make on the wet pavement. I feel united. Together we move forward. This was fun, now the hard part begins. The eight-kilometer through Stanley Park are impressive but also daunting. The trees with rainwater soaked branches are looking down on me. Sunshine is non-existent and the forest shields even more light away. It’s a mystical feeling. My stomach definitely doesn’t feel like another espresso-fueled gel but in order to bath in the celebrations of the waiting masses at the finish line I have to go for it. It’s torture to my adrenals. I’m not used to these heavy doses of caffeine. Today it’s the only performance enhancement drug allowed on the course (and yes I also had a pre-race diet plan).

“This is going to be awesome until it sucks!”

Things become less and less pleasant. Fellow runners start to breath more intense. Running around water puddles takes more and more effort until I stop caring about water in my shoes. Rain drops form clusters on my lashes and I wish I had used waterproof mascara this morning. I probably look like I feel. I try some positive thinking. At least no one can tell if the stuff around my nose is liquefied snot or rain. I feel much better when I smile. So I smile and try to trick my brain into thinking that this is actually fun. My ego brightens when I see the bright orange shirt of my fellow NSA team member Alex. I try to look as fresh as possible and congratulate him while I pass (he crosses the finish line shortly after me). Team Finn gives it’s best at km 16 to divert my attention. Negative thoughts about hurting body parts creeping in. Kilometer 17 and a hill is approaching. How about I give myself some slack? I’ve run fast. I deserve some rest. I’m about to gear down when the 1:45 BMO half marathon pace bunny runs past me, obviously in a great mood. I remember Simon’s phrase: “This is going to be awesome until it sucks!” I never thought I would pin this moment down to a second. But this is it. It officially sucks. The pace bunny got to me in my weakest moment.

3.5-kilometers to go. I have troubles to keep up with him. The BMO half marathon pace bunny is definitely not having a bad day and makes easy conversation with a friend accompanying him on a bike. Earlier I felt sorry for runners that were out of breath. Now I feel very sorry for my own lungs. I take sips of my Hammer perpetuem caffe latte water (did I mention that I had a double shot espresso for breakfast?). It’s not sweet or sticky but something still forms saliva strings close to my tonsils. I try to cough them out.

My mouth is transforming into a desert. Why didn’t I practice how to drink efficiently out of these tiny water cups while running? At least today it doesn’t matter when you spill the whole thing on your shirt. Water station at kilometer 18 is approaching. Excitement forms. The pace bunny stops again. I still can break the 1:50 mark. I gave myself a cushion of some minutes. I just have to use it wisely while managing the last 3 kilometers. Call me a turtle. I crawl to pass the relaxed and water drinking pace bunny to get some extra meters in before he and his beloved group catch up again. There is still hope. My earlier admiration turns into envy. Imaginary laser shots hitting his back when he floats by. How can someone be so light on his feet after all this? On the back on his shirt it says “Run 10 K, walk 1 K.” Soundless shouts are directed at his enthusiasm. This doesn’t make any sense. You are definitely not walking mister pace bunny! Stop being so strong. He is gone. No more water stations until the finish. He won’t stop again. Now it’s just my agony and me.

The pace bunny floats by light on his feet and able to talk.

I’m alone. I see people standing on the side, cheering me or whoever on. I’m thankful for that. However, none of their words make it to my brain. I’m alone in my shallow body. My legs move remotely. My eyes focus on the sidewalk so I won’t take a false step. It’s peaceful and quite. My brain has stopped thinking. I feel soreness in my quads building up. It was a great race. I gave everything I had in me. It’s out of my hands now. I knew the last 2-kilometer would suck and they hold up to my expectations. Dunsmuir Street. Almost there. There is a fence that keeps spectators from stepping onto the street. It can’t be far now. A last push? The communication connection between my legs and brain is lost. No last push. I can see the blue finish gate. Almost there. Breathe in, breathe out. Almost there. Don’t slow down now. Words make it back into my brain. I hear the announcer. I will make it. Few more steps. I look at the clock. 1:46. Just two more steps. One more step. I’ve done it! Tanja, you have done it!

The 1:45 BMO half marathon pace bunny was the best opponent. My ego just couldn’t let him pass without a fight. He squeezed every little glucose and oxygen molecule available into my cells. He made me resist my attempt to take it easier toward the end. Gone are the days of excuses why I think I can’t because now I know I can. Where did the ‘t go? The pace bunny must have taken it…

Because I crossed the start line one minute after the gunshot, my chipped race time was 1:45:26. After this epic battle over 21.1 kilometre I can not imagine what it would take to run a full-marathon. But apparently it’s been done before…

Lessons learnt:

  • If he can do it, I can do it. “You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.” – Unknown
  • Mind over matter. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t  – you are right.” – Henry Ford
  • Without your knowledge you can become a role model and contribute to positive difference in peoples live. “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James
  • I guess you can go overboard with caffeine.

Vital conditions after the race:

  • Whole body – in caffeine shock, napping impossible during the whole day. Pride extinguishes every feeling of pain I’m experiencing. However, I’m walking like an adult in a toddlers body.
  • Adrenals – absolutely traumatized. I need to eat some maca (8 Superpowders every athlete should consider eating).
  • Toe nails – two show light purple color. I’d say it’s a 50/50 chance of an early end to the approaching flip-flop season.
  • Stomach – in shock. Shuts down completely after a post-race Starbucks mocha. Back to accepting solid foods at dinnertime.
  • Cardiovascular system – Normal heart rate of 54 is reached by 11 p.m. at the same day.
North Shore Athletics Vancouver running BMO marathon 2014

All you need are great running buddies.

If you’d like to challenge your own pace bunny in a race, join a run clinic. All you have to do is show up and follow your leader. A 14 week full or half-marathon clinic costs around $120, which gives you 3 guided workouts a week. Where else do you get a workout and a new family for $2.35?

If you’d like to discover how diet can support your training call me for a nutritional consult.

What the 1:45 pace bunny stole from me during the BMO half marathon by
Tanja Knapp
About the Author
Tanja Knapp

Tanja Knapp is an Explorer, Adventurer and Happiness Hunter currently camping in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Her roots are in Germany where she grew up on a remote farm. A colony of abnormal cells in her cervix taught her the lesson that would change her life forever. Life doesn't get better by chance, it get better by change. She truly believes in creating happiness & health through constant adapting, growing and evolving. Her super power is curiosity. With her blog she likes to inspire others to explore uncharted territory.

If she is not busy writing, running, swimming or cycling, she is expanding her knowledge, exploring the World, and taking on new challenges.

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and graduated with an Honors diploma in Holistic Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2013. She obtained a Hospitality certification in 1998 and a Marketing Communications diploma in 2004. She has worked both in Europe and North America.


  1. Corinna says

    Tanja, what an accomplishment! And now I feel like I was right there with you, one of my esteemed running friends, during your race (as opposed to well behind you, as it was the case in actuality!).
    PS: Bonus points for carrying tissues and wearing mascara!

    • Tanja Knapp says

      Ach Corinna, it all comes down to great running buddies. Without them there would be no half-marathon. Thank you for sharing your Sunday mornings. Congratulations to your great race and accomplishment. Did you know that the most durable tissues are actually from RONA? You can find them in the auto parts department on big blue rolls 🙂 I think if you would accidentally throw them into the laundry, you could use them again. Next best of course is the good old German Tempo tissue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.