Oh man! What a week that was. Lots of stuff happened. Let’s start from the beginning.
After a near 11 hour workday for me, Dan and I packed up the car and journeyed west into the sunset, destination Vernon BC.
Half an hour out of Calgary we narrowly escaped death by two ill-restrained armchairs flying out of the back of a pick-up truck. It was like a video game. We were behind this truck in the passing lane, then the two large chairs come tumbling out. We swerved then counter-swerved into the other lane, got back on track and pulled over to the side of the road to process what just happened. Buddy from the truck was collecting his smashed up chairs, and you could see our tire tracks from skidding at 120km/hr. The rest of the trip went quickly and smoothly, yet we occasionally discussed how lucky we were to get out of that alive, and what could’ve gone wrong. If we were following any closer, faster, if it was raining out, if it was dark, if we weren’t paying as close of attention etc… we would’ve been SOL.
Slept in, made some breakfast. Dan went off into town to skateboard with some friends, I stayed at his parent’s house and got some work done, occasionally breaking to play with the dogs.
Just as Dan came home I left for a 2 mile shakeout run, aiming at my goal pace of 8:35/mile and in reality did 8:27 so that was nice. The first mile was downhill mostly downhill and took me 7:52. The second mile, as you may guess, was mostly uphill and took me 9:01. Makes sense I suppose. My guts did a freakout afterwards. If you’re wondering what I mean by this, the best way to describe it is 10 minutes of an intense Charlie horse of the intestines. Sounds fun hey? I basically can’t do anything but sit or lie in a ball and sweat it out. Then it goes away and I am fine, no residual pain. Dan happened to witness it all and suggested that it might be stress related, which makes sense (I had been going through some work stress that week) and I hadn’t considered it before. Either way, it made me nervous that it would occur during my race on Sunday.
That night I drove to Predator Ridge for a work retreat, drank a couple beers and drew some sharpie tattoos on drunk colleagues. Good times.
Friday was a relaxing day at Sparkling Hill Spa. My friend Diane and I visited most of the saunas (of varying temperatures and humidity, one of which is perfect napping conditions), the whirlpool, the foot bath (you walk through alternating cold and hot water), the infinity pool (where we discussed winning the lottery), watched bald eagles fly above the valley in the tea room, read (and napped again) in the ‘serenity room’, and generally had a lovely day.
This was followed by a dinner at the Kelowna Yacht Club and early to bed for me.
Woke up early and left at 7am for the five hour solo drive to Vancouver (Dan drove out with his mom the day before). It was fun and uneventful, minus one pressurized Nuun explosion container over my window. Rocked out to my ‘marathon mix’.
Once in Van I picked up my race stuff, bought leopard print compression socks, and ate a burrito before heading to Dan’s sister’s grad dinner and art show.
After, I got my race stuff ready, had Pre-Race Pie-Time (a necessary tradition) and hit the sack.
My 5am buzzer went off and I was up and at-em. I ate some oatmeal and a Pro Bar, threw on my gear, did some yoga, Body-Glided everything and left for the start line. Since the start and finish are in two different places (not close to each other), racers get a complimentary transit pass, which I took to get to the start. Dan, since he was biking the race route, met me at the start area in the same amount of time it took me to Sky Train down there.
We watched the half-marathoners take off, and the one wheelchair racer. Poor girl, the beginning of the race is uphill, so she ran out of steam early but one of the bike leaders pushed her to the top. I hope the rest of her race went well!
I went to the bathroom three times, ate some Honey Stingers, forgot to re-Glide my thighs and threw my Body Glide into my checked bag (which I regretted later), and checked my bag. Dan left to post up near the start and I got myself into the zone and found my corral. At 8am, the gun went off and the full marathoners left the start line in waves.
My focus was to take it easy the first half, but not slack. I was aiming for 8:30-9:00/mile pace, water at ever mile and gel at every three.
Mile 1 9:05 (9:06/mi)
Started out easy and slow, on the uphill. It was pretty crowded. I saw Dan at the side and got excited, which he took a picture of. I passed a girl running in a Hello Kitty hat (?). It was going to be stinking hot that day so I wonder how long that lasted.
Mile 2 17:31 (8:26/mi)
Mile 3 26:31 (8:42/mi)
Downed half a gel.
Mile 4 34:42 (8:29/mi)
Mile 5 43:03 (8:22/mi)
Mile 6 52:49 (9:46/mi)
Super big hill, and definitely my slowest mile. I saw Dan right before, he had made a friend who was also on the girlfriend-running-a-marathon support team and they biked together for most of the way. I started to feel drained at this point, so I took a quick walk at the water station mid-hill, took a full gel and continued upward.
Mile 7 1:02:24 (9:34/mi)
Finishing hill. Mentally ready to get back on pace.
Mile 8 1:11:22 (8:59/mi)
There was a slightly annoying switchback, and I saw a guy dressed up as Darth Vader with a sign reading “The End is Not Near”… thanks buddy. I really needed to be reminded of that.
Regardless, the miles seemed to fall away and I was happily on pace.
Mile 9 1:20:06 (8:44/mi)
Mile 10 1:28:32 (8:26/mi)
Mile 11 1:37:22 (8:50/mi)
Mile 12 1:46:11 (8:49/mi)
Mile 13 1:54:19 (8:08/mi)
Halfway! At 13.1 I hit 1:55, which is my half marathon PR!
Mile 15 2:13:31 (9:12/mi)
Mile 16 2:22:10 (8:39/mi)
I knew around this point it was going to get difficult. I remember cursing Jericho Beach last time around, not caring that there was a beautiful view to my left. It was kind of a no man’s land, but I kept forcing myself to find the positive in the moment. Dan also appeared around this time, with his new friend who was also chasing his girlfriend on the marathon. Turns out, this guy was carrying an engagement ring for his friend who was running the half with HIS girlfriend, and was proposing at the finish! How cute is that?! Apparently it went off without a hitch! (HAHA pun, get it?)
Mile 17 2:31:31 (9:20/mi)
I was slowing down, due to heat and impatiently getting to Burrard Bridge, which leads you to downtown and that much closer to the beautiful Sea Wall. This part was tough, but I kept positive even though my pace dropped, and tried not to be hard on myself.
Mile 18 2:41:00 (9:30/mi)
Mile 19 2:50:12 (9:12/mi)
By this time I was regularly splashing water on myself and my earbuds kept falling out of my ears.
At this point we had started to enter the Sea Wall area of Stanley Park aka my favorite part of the course. It is incredible and such a treat to run at the end of the marathon. At this point even though my speed had dropped, I knew I could get under 4 hours if I tried. I dug deep, took a gel, let my tunes amp me up and thought of the Oiselle saying “Head Down, Wings Out”, relaxed my body and let it ride.
Mile 21 3:08:07 (8:38/mi)
Yep, that’s better.
Mile 22 3:17:09 (9:02/mi)
Drinking in the surroundings and passing people.
Mile 23 3:25:39 (8:30/mi)
Drinking in the surroundings and passing people. Only 3 miles (and change) left. Time to push it and get that sub 4. I felt an exploding sensation in my left pinky toe. I assumed it was a large blister popping and although it was incredibly painful, I decided I was too close to the finish to let it bother me.
As I was approaching Coal Harbor and the end of Stanley Park, my right hip flexor also seized for a bit. I hobbled and lightly punched it a few times until it decided to fire properly again. I see Dan, his sister Jacklyn and her girlfriend Laura, all on their bikes cheering me on. Definitely gave me a boost!
Getting so close! The path narrowed and was made of bricks right now, which was annoying me. But the crowds grew and their energy pushed me on.
Mile 26 3:51:37 (8:56/mi)
Out of Stanley park and back downtown. The spectator crowd is large now, and I’m looking for the finish. We do one turn to get onto Pender and my Garmin reads 26.2 but the finish line is in the distance. Fuck.
I focus on the blue arch marking the finish and aim for it, running hard but hanging on by a thread. I knew at this point I was going to be under 4, and I also felt like dying so I wasn’t running terribly fast. Dan’s family yelled at me on my left and I flailed happily, probably looking something like this:
Finally I step over the last timing pads as the clock reads 3:59:26 and I stop my garmin at 3:56:11, which was also my official time! The distance according to my garmin was 26.82 miles, and the last 4 1/2 minutes I averaged a 6:26/mi pace. Holy shit!
The volunteers shuffled the finishers through, and John Stanton himself gave me my medal! He asked how my race went, and I responded with “IT WAS FUCKING FANTASTIC!” and hobbled through the finishing area, grabbed water and a banana, got my picture taken and picked up my bag.
We sat on some steps, I ate a bag of chips and surveyed the blisters on my toes. GROSS WARNING! I had a blister on every toe and in the arches of my feet. I guess running in the same shoes and socks as I did for every long run did not prepare my feet for this. Oh well. Also my pinky toe that ‘exploded’ had no definite blister but the nail was bleeding. Gross. I apologize for describing all that but I did warn you.
I also called my mom, who was very excited to hear my results! While we were at lunch she texted me my official results. I placed 60/359 (top 17%) in my age category, 317/2145 gender place, and 1118/3978 overall!
Afterwards we ate burgers at Rogue (awesome burgers but the bathrooms are downstairs and it was difficult to get down them) and then I laid at the beach, watched the hockey game and drank beer with my friend Sarah. All in all, a perfect race day.
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful but very enjoyable. We hung out on the beach, visited with friends in Vancouver and more of Dan’s family in Vernon. We got back on Wednesday night, and I was very happy to see my own bed.