BMO Vancouver Marathon Recap

It’s amazing people can run the exact same route, on the exact same day, and have such drastically different experiences. In the past couple days I’ve read a couple different recaps from runners I follow on Twitter, like Karla’s and From Fit to Ripped- (congrats! great job ladies!) and felt inspired to get mine down while it’s still fresh.

It was sad going to this race alone! I missed my running roomie, and missed the fun road trip atmosphere when we all went to Victoria. I arrived 45 minutes before the start time, and immediately headed to the bathroom lineups, and tried to talk myself out of the usual race anxieties. Did I eat the right things yesterday? Am I packing enough gels? Should I run with my water bottle afterall? Did I sleep enough? Am I being an idiot by trying to run this while injured?? Did I lose all my fitness by pretty much exclusively pool running throughout my taper?? I spent so much time before this race worrying about my injury, I was so concerned about getting to the start line that I didn’t think much about how I would actually get to the finish! I definitely debated not running, trying to get better and maybe doing a later spring marathon like Seattle, but I just felt like I worked so hard towards this one, and invested so much time, energy, and emotion into it. Armed with my kinesiotape, compression sleeves, and sage advice from my mum (“if it gets to be too much, just stop.”), I was ready as I would ever be!

the before shot

I obviously chose the wrong line, because I was still waiting 40 minutes later and still had to check my gear! By the time I got to the crowds at the start line, the slow shuffle across the mat was already underway, and I was stuck in the way-back behind the 4:15 pace group. It’s ok, I told myself. Stay calm. Run your race. This part of the race is a bit of a blur, but I remember thinking the pace groups were keeping crazy paces. I didn’t want to get trapped behind too many people, but also didn’t want to burn out in the first 5k, but I felt like I had to go really fast just to get by the 4 hour group! I concentrated on pushing away the frantic feeling that was creeping up because I started so late. Stay calm. Stay calm.

I remember the first 5km (the first 30km!) at the Victoria Marathon feeling totally shocked at how amazing it felt to be running, and how I had to make a concerted effort to hold myself back to my goal pace and conserve. This was absolutely NOT my experience on Sunday. This time around, I worked from the very beginning. I knew I wanted to be somewhere within 25 minutes at the 5k mark, and I was, but rather than feeling easy breezey, I felt TIRED. I tried to ignore the panic that my race fears were materializing (what if I can’t keep this pace? How am I going to run 37 more km if the first 5 felt hard? What if I don’t even finish??) and just kept moving, knowing that Jason was waiting for me around km 7 to run one of his last long runs before the Ottawa Marathon.

I felt a lot calmer once Jason started running with me, and I ranted for a minute about the erratic pace groups, and the water station where I couldn’t get any water, although I still felt like I was trying way too hard for being within the first 10k. We hit the 10km mark at 51.11. Ok good. Right where I want to be. At this point we were leap frogging with the 3:40 pace group, which we continued for the ENTIRE RACE. Every time they stopped to walk, we passed them. Then towards the end of their 10 minutes running, they would pass us. The thoughts that go through your head while running a marathon are hilarious. I was convinced the chatty pace bunny was making a big show of how easy it was for him to run this pace, with his constant talking, SINGING, and at one point in Stanley Park, picking up a sign from a spectator. I wanted to yell at him, “OH MY GOSH. THIS IS REALLY HARD FOR ME!”

Jason schleping water for me leaving gastown

We hit the halfway mat in Stanley Park at 1:46, although the 3:40 pace bunny informed everyone within earshot (several times) that he thought the mat had been placed too early. My Garmin read exactly 21.1km, and that was good enough for me. Still on track. I was nervous for pipeline rd, but I don’t even remember running up it really, except thinking there hadn’t been a water station in a long time. At this point my tummy was starting to feel a little wonky too, but I just tried to relax and ignore it and force another gel. It was so great running with Jason. Thank you so so much for all your positivity and encouragement!

At around 25km, we spotted Alan waiting for us on the side of the course. At this point, my achilles was getting really sore, and kind of making my whole leg numb, but now having Alan running with us felt like a new section of the race had begun. I tried to follow his advice and just keep my eyes on his feet and match his turnover. Thank you so much for your no-nonsense pacing, Alan, you made me feel like I was on a mission. Soon we were running over Burrard Bridge, and I knew we just had a couple km to go before I would see some familiar faces cheering. I was totally inspired by a huge group of people cheering at the bottom of the bridge, all dressed in blue with awesome signs (I later found out they were from lululemon). These people were so enthusiastic, I couldn’t help but feel a rush of adrenaline.

I can’t describe how great it was to see all the Broadway ladies cheering at Cornwall and Yew. I was feeling a little mentally fuzzy at that point, and I felt like I was dragging my right leg behind me like a peg leg, but you girls perked me right up with your awesome signs (‘Pain is Temporary, Pride is Forever!’). To my pleasant surprise, Evelyn jumped in and started running with us toward the turn around point. Thank you so much, friend! I felt so important to have a 3 person support crew!  It was super inspiring to see some clinic members before and after the turn around point, especially to see Laurie looking so positive with the walkers.

Blurry Alan in the foreground cheering me on during tough times. Just to be clear, I didn't wet my pants! I just poured a lot of water on myself.

I was really struggling when we got to the loop around Kits point. It was so hot! Within the last 7km, I honestly considered quitting many times. I’m not ashamed to say if it weren’t for Alan and Jason pushing me, I might have just sat down on the curb. I knew I was outside my 3:35 goal by now, but was still leap frogging with the 3:40 group, and tried to tell myself the Boston Qualifying time of 3:40.59 (for one more year!) was within reach. Jason had planned on parting ways with me before Burrard Bridge to round out his long run, and I am so thankful he kept going. As I shuffled (this can’t be reasonably called running) up Burrard (it seriously looked like a mountain, and my garmin was reading 6+ min/km) Alan cheered me on from a few steps ahead, while Jason reminded me how many times I had run this. Finally we were going back downhill, and my quads were screaming!

It is pretty rare that I pass people at the end of a race (if ever), but Jason and Alan made me believe I could do it. Jason encouraged me with, “pain is temporary”, while Alan gave me tips on my technique (“lean forward!”) as my time crept up in the high 3:30s. Although my garmin read an average pace of 5:10/km (obviously off a bit!), I knew I was going to be cutting it close. I can honestly say I could not have run any harder, and I’m proud of that. That stretch between the bridge and the finish felt sooo long, and when I crossed the finish I could not run another step. The clock read 3:42, but my garmin read 3:40 since I started so far back. I found out later my chip time was 3:40.49… a 5 min PB and a BQ by 11 seconds!

I felt so emotional at the finish! So many mixed feelings at once. Happy to see Dave and Greg at the finish line! Sad I missed my 3:35 goal,  proud of the PB (and the BQ!), thankful I decided to do the race, relief it was over. Extreme gratitude to my personal pace bunnies.

Jason- thank you so much for running with me nearly the entire way, for providing company and encouragement, and not being offended that I was pretty much a non-participant in our conversations. Thank you for getting water for me, and sticking with me all the way to the finish. You are going to tear. it. up. in Ottawa! Alan- thank you so much for agreeing to pace me just 2 weeks after your massive pb in Boston, for your advice, wisdom and encouragement (before and during the race!), and for complying with my requests to “dump water on my head.” Evelyn- thank you for jumping in and running, your positive affirmations and support! Sorry to all of you that I was no picnic to run with, you are such truly wonderful friends.

Thanks so much to Andrea, Mrs. Malo, Christina, Kristine, Keri, and Winnie for cheering so hard! You were all so inspiring to see and really kept me going! And of course, thanks so much to Dave for all your hard work with the clinic in getting us all to this point. Congrats to every single person that ran on Sunday, and a big thank you to all the volunteers. Now. Time to pick a marathon for fall…??

May 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm 3 comments

Extreme tapering

Note to self: shave legs/moisturize before any more photo shoots. Sorry, everyone.

I can’t believe that tomorrow is May 1, and I’ll be running my 3rd marathon! The past few months have flown by in some ways. Overall, I’ve been proud of my training, and have pretty high expectations for myself for tomorrow.  Even though I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the last 3 weeks with a bag of frozen edamame attached to my achilles tendon, and more time in the pools of Van than on the road, I’m trying to stay positive that my goal of 3:35 is within reach!

Fingers crossed that one extreme taper, a few chiro and massage appointments, lots of kineseotape, ibuprofen, traumeel, and easter chocolate and wine are the recipe for a great race!

GOOD LUCK to everyone running tomorrow, should be a great day! See you on the other side!

April 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm 3 comments

Gully 34km- aka emotional roller coaster

After a lovely weekend on Cypress with my running buddies, I was wracked with guilt for ditching the Sunday long run! Ok that’s not really true. But after two pretty slack weeks in a row, I wanted to get my mileage back up, and felt like Dave was dangling a challenge with all the hype about the infamous “Gully Run.” Enter my longest solo run ever, which was somewhat of a physical and emotional roller coaster, but overall pretty epic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The play by play:

Kilometers 0-5: Everything great. Sun shining. In love with Vancouver and life.

Kilometers 5-8: WTF. I am in a blizzard. Sidewalks are slippery. Vancouver drivers are maniacal. Majorly regretting wearing short shorts.

Kilometer 12: QE Park. Blizzard conditions have subsided. Ok this isn’t so bad afterall, major hills behind me, but I’m soaking wet and freezing.

Kilometer 17: West 16th ave. Halfway! Sooo cold. Spontaneous detour for pit stop at home to put on warmer clothes. In and out in 1 minute.

Kilometer 20: Dunbar and West 16th. Garmin is dead?! Secretly happy, can now run as slow as I want.

West 16th-West 26th: Forgot there were going to be hills after QE Park. Rageful.

West 26th-41st: Downhill is awesome. Have literally never been to this part of Vancouver. When did it get dark out?

West 29th: The directions I wrote down are terrible. Is this Imperial? Or is THAT Imperial? Does 29th just become Imperial? (For the record, yes it does.) So frustrated and confused. Taking scary dark road by park. Might be crying. This new Adele album is really heartbreaking! Need more reflective gear/headlamp.

West 16th: Phew made right decision. So relieved to know where I am again. Guessing I have 8-10km to go? Chocolate gel, all is right with the world.

West 8th and Blanca: It’s mostly downhill from here, right? I can do it! Calves aching. Dreaming of chocolate milk from Timmy Hos that I will be getting post run.

West 7th and Fir: Last push! Hips getting sore, but feeling strong! Can see warm inviting glow from Tim Hortons.

Broadway and Fir: Made it! 34km! So proud, I am a beast afterall! Realize I left chocolate milk money in shorts at pit stop. Devastated.

All in all, a solo long run wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be, with the exception of briefly getting lost! I definitely missed my crew though, and am thankful I’ll have company this coming Sunday!

Either need a printer for Dave's directions, or better penmanship

 

 

 

 

March 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm 3 comments

oh yeah, i have a blog

hello, there.

remember when i used to blog about my marathon training, and my kitchen adventures along the way? i’m still here! and still running. and still eating! since my vic marathon recap post, there have been a couple fun running events worth a mention. first, i DFL’d (Nova Scotia Surf League slang for coming dead f-ing last) in the inaugural broadway beer mile. beer miles are mistakes, never do one… unless you want to look like a sad, drunk ballerina that’s secretly scoping out shadowy places to vomit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

next up, the run club crew headed to the haney-to-harrison 100k relay in november. can all races please be relays? so fun.

only positive aspect of the beer mile was these t-shirts

 

anyway, now that i’m 6 weeks deep in training for my 3rd marathon, i figured i should probably set some goals, and then release them to the internet in an effort to hold myself somewhat accountable to them. so here goes.

2011 RUNNING GOALS:

1. marathon #3 time goal: to be faster than marathon #2. and that’s that.

2. general running goal: do more fun races.

i think i’m on the right track to achieving #1 so far- i’m covering more miles (with the exception of this week where i’ve been home sick) than in my previous marathon training cycles, but not being such a crazy-pants about my pace with my garmin like i was leading up to Victoria, and so far i’m injury free (*wood=knocked).

as for #2, i’m going to try to do all 5 5 Peaks events this summer, and more shorter races. first up is the st. patrick’s day 5k in stanley park in a few weeks. over and out.

 

 

February 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm 3 comments

The Good Life- Vic Marathon Recap

It’s hard to believe a week has already gone by since the race! It was such a weird feeling in Victoria, that all the hard work over the past few months was culminating. I can’t say enough good things about the organization of this race, everything just went so smoothly. Jason, Alan, Evelyn and I arrived in Vic on Saturday, just in time for the longest bus tour of the course imaginable. This experience was actually pretty traumatizing. It took TWO HOURS to drive the course, and it seemed so twisty and turny and HILLY that I felt carsick. How were we going to run that far?

The next morning, we got to the start in plenty of time to check our bags, grab a coffee, wait in a couple b-room lines, and see the first few finishers of the half. Jason, Ev, and I positioned ourselves in the crowd at the start line somewhere halfwayish between the 3 HOURS and the 4 HOURS signs, and spotted fellow clinic members Krista and Travis. Before leaving the hotel I had written ‘easy, light, smooth, fast’, a mantra from Born to Run, on my forearm, and ‘BELIEVE! ACHIEVE!’ on my sneaks, and tried to keep these things in mind as we waited for the gun to go off.

I think the first half of the race was one of the only times I have experienced a true ‘runners high’! It felt so great! I kept thinking, ‘Ooooh, this is what being tapered feels like!’  We had planned one minute walk breaks at each of the water stations, but when we approached the first one, we just sailed through. We hit the 10km mark at 51 minutes. Somewhere around 13 or 14 km, I spotted an older woman holding a sign that said, “YOU ARE DOING IT.” I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, WE ARE!’ I was so proud of us! We didn’t talk at all except to keep our pace in check and pull ourselves back when we approached 4:45/km pace (?!). We kept our average pace steady at 5:07/km  all the way to the half, where we all PB’d! As we approached the turnaround point, it was so motivating to see some familiar faces, everyone looked so strong!

I ended up being thankful we did the bus tour, mostly so I could remind myself that the hills weren’t soooo bad. It truly felt like we were always going up or going down. It amazed me that there was no point were I felt like my pace was slipping a little, or that it was starting to get a little harder- no transition period, just all of  sudden, it got SO HARD. Around 32km, I noticed Ev and Jason were a wee bit ahead (“how did that happen?” i thought). I suddenly i felt like my legs weighed a hundred pounds each, and it took all my strength just to keep shuffling a long. Wait a sec… wasn’t this just feeling really good? What the heck is happening? I kept thinking, ‘is this the wall? am i hitting the wall?’ I felt like i might be sick, and so light headed, and kept trying to do the math in my head of how slow i could let myself get and still keep a 5:14/km pace and hit 3:40, but I wasn’t thinking straight at all. I still had one gel left, and tried to take it around 37km, but decided I couldn’t choke it down and tossed it- stupidest move ever! I remember thinking, this is actually the worst i’ve ever felt in my life. Including when I was in the hospital with parvovirus b19 and had to get a spinal tap. It’s amazing that you can come 37km, and then 5km feels insurmountable! I pulled into the second last water station just as Evey and Jason were pulling out, but they were out of reach. I tried to keep Ev and Alyson, who had come back to pace us- after a 1:31 half!- in my sights as they headed up the last hill, and they looked SO strong! Just keep going, I thought. Relentless forward motion. I may have been waddling at this point. There was nothing easy, light, smooth, or fast about I was doing! Going up the last hill, I think my pace was approaching 6min/km. Yikes.

The bus tour guide commented that the last km would feel like the longest of our lives, and he was not kidding. I felt like I was trapped in a maze. Every corner I turned the finish got louder, and I kept expecting to see it, but then there was just another corner! WTF? I felt like the signs telling me how many meters I had left (800 METERS TO GO! 500 METERS TO GO!) were taunting me, I kept thinking about how long it would take to run those distances around the track, and I felt like crying. Actually, I might have been crying.

And then it was over! In 3:45.04. Alan and Dave were the first people I saw at the finish line, and I was SO thrilled when Alan told me he went 3:08! Congrats, friend! I really thought if I didn’t achieve my goal of 3:40 I would be so sad, but I’m actually not choked at all. I couldn’t be more proud of the PB, and couldn’t be more proud of the race we ran, until it turned bad! I’m proud of myself for hanging in even though I felt like passing out, and I know I’ll keep improving. Evelyn and Jason- it was so great to race with you guys, and congrats on the amazing races and PBs!

Marathons are multicultural

 

 

Lessons learned:

1. You can never have enough body glide. Really. I couldn’t put on pants on Monday.

2. Electrolytes are really important. I felt SO SO crappy during the last 10km, dizzy and light headed, and I think nutrition has a lot to do with it- gels+water are not enough, and I need to start experimenting with gatorade (or maybe something that tastes better? does anyone else HATE gatorade? any recommendations?)

3. Destination races are awesome. The road trip aspect of the race was so fun! I was nervous about not getting a good sleep in the hotel, and eating at a restaurant the night before, but everything worked out so well.

4. It takes a village to raise a marathoner- how some people train for the whole thing on their own boggles my mind. I know I couldn’t have made it to the start line, let alone the finish, without the support of several people. So… a huge THANK YOU to Dave for all your hard work, encouragement, creative routes and believing that we’re fast. Oh and also for designing the BBP logo! Thanks to all the babes for all the chats over tea, wine, and pavement. Thanks to Ev and Jason for being the most wonderful race buddies I could ask for, and Alyson for coming back to pace us (sorry I wasn’t there?). Thanks to my former running roomie for motivating me to get out of bed on sunday mornings.  And also to the family blasting the ‘Chariots of Fire’ theme on their front lawn during the race.

BABE PATROL- mission accomplished

 

Love this quote: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett. Even though I didn’t reach my goal, I am so happy with how far I’ve come with my running this past year. Last year at this time, I ran the Turkey Trot in 54 min and felt like I was dying! I can honestly say running has become a passion, and I will most certainly try again for 3:40. When we were going to bed at the hotel saturday night, I commented to Ev that I couldn’t believe the race was here, that “it was all over.” Ev reminded me it’s not over, we are MARATHONERS, and have many more to go! Thanks for the “positive affrimation,” friend! ;)

It was so so fun to see everyone finish. A huge congrats to all the broadway runners for amazing races!

Replenishing your fluids post race is important

October 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm 7 comments

Taper time

Feeling anxious? Nervous? Antsy? Frazzled?

Baking and consuming copious amounts of carb-o-licious treats?

 

Chocoloate chip cookies

 

 

Banana-squash bread

 

 

Andrea and some guy that showed up at our clinic party

 

 

 

Struggling to spell basic english words?

Experiencing the inability to distinguish songs you are describing from those playing on the radio at that very moment?

Having difficulty putting together a current and socially acceptable outfit or hairstyle?

These symptoms, along with incompetency in writing blog posts longer than a few sentences, most definitely indicate you are experiencing the taper. Luckily, treatment is readily available, and life should return to normal after simply running 42.2km. Right…?

A huge THANK YOU to Michael for putting up with us last night, and cooking an amazing meal! Also a huge CONGRATS to Summer for her news! Yay!

2 more sleeps. I’m trying to stay positive, visualize the finish in under my goal time, and keep in mind that all the hard work is behind me. The hay is in the barn, right? We’ve trained hard, run miles and miles in the heat, rain, on the road, trails and track, and are READY. Best of luck to everyone running Portland, Okanagan, Valley Harvest, Athens, San Fran and VICTORIA! It’s been such a pleasure training with all of you, and have a great race!

October 8, 2010 at 10:12 am 2 comments

Final Countdown

Eeeek less than a week out from Victoria. I am definitely feeling the taper-related emotional roller coaster. This time last week I was feeling ready, confident, excited, sure of myself…. and then right before the weekend I was bombarded with a flood of self-doubt, allowing negative self-talk to sneak in on my runs. Thursday we hit the false creek sea wall for one final speedwork sesh, aiming to alternate our ‘race pace’ with easier intervals, and I found my thinking was often along the lines of, “Who am I kidding?? There’s no way I can run this fast!” I have such a love/hate relationship with tapering. On the one hand there’s more time on your hands to just chill, but it also means more time to obsess and stress about every little detail of the race. I’m feeling a lot more positive after Sunday’s 16km run to ‘stonehenge’ and back, which was nearly race-pace the entire time and felt pretty comfortable, but I am feeling so anxious at the same time. Sunday, hurry up and get here!

After refueling at starbucks with the elite running boys club, Ev and I had a race POA pow wow over tea. The verdict: rather than doing regularly scheduled walk breaks (aka 20 and 1s or something along those lines), we will walk the water stations. I feel good about this, and feel good having a race PLAN. Thanks for indulging my nervous obsessing, friend!

One last thing- a HUGE congrats to my lovely friend, former team mate, Halifax running buddy and comedic genius, Alison, who ran her first marathon in Maine yesterday, clocking a speedy 3:34! AMAZING!! I literally just scoured the internet for photos of us competing in Surf League together, and somehow this is the best I could do, circa Nationals 2005?

Alison, Jenni, Me

We’re clearly not competing in anything in this photo other than gunning for the least-focused-competitiors award. If someone had told me back when we were doing those 2km beach runs that some day we would both be running 42 km I would have laughed in their faces! So fun we’re both doing this on opposite sides of the country. So proud of you!

Ok 6 sleeps and 3 runs to go until the big day!

October 4, 2010 at 11:43 am 2 comments

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