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!
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!”
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.
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…??
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