Well, what to say about this race? It was… hard. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I’m glad I ran it, Vancouver is still my favorite race so far, but this one kind of kicked my ass.
Dan and I drove from Calgary to Vancouver on Friday. Aside from trying to navigate around semi trucks in the pouring rain for the first five hours (in which I got to drive the whole time), it was a relatively uneventful 11 hour drive (unlike last year). That night we stayed with my friend Sarah, ate some tacos and I proceeded to consume a fair number of liquid carbs while catching up with friends at an 88 Mile Trip show (our friend Dave is the lead singer).
Saturday I picked up my race stuff, wandered the expo, and felt a little sad that my mom wasn’t there with me and instead had to get an MRI of her ankle that night. Her name was still up on the Saucony ‘Find Your Strong’ board and she made me promise I would run extra hard for her.
I checked into the vrbo we were staying at for the remainder of our trip then visited an awesome little running store nearby called Distance Running. This is the only place in Canada that sells Oiselle, so obviously I bought a few things.
A couple friends and Dan’s sister came over for dinner, pie, and a hot tub. I had borrowed a Polar RC3 GPS (since mine needs repairs) and I fiddled around with it for a while. I tried to set up training pages to mimic how I set up my Garmin for races with distance, average lap (mile) page, and average overall pace. I couldn’t seem to figure it out, and reluctantly decided to just scroll through it’s default training pages to see my current and overall average pace. I did the usual pre-race prep aka pietime (aside from taking a picture of my pie… maybe that’s where I went wrong?) and hit the sack. I had a crappy sleep and woke up a million times.
Sunday morning I woke up on the later side (6am for a 7am start) since I planned to eat a ProBar and hit the road. We stayed ~1 mile from the start, so I thought I would run there for a warm up. Since I knew it was raining outside, I donned one of Dan’s old hats and cut some holes in a garbage bag to wear to the start. When I stepped outside, I realized that it was raining a bit harder than I expected, so I woke up Dan so he could drive me to the start. As if I’m “warming up”. Staying dry as long as possible became the new priority.
At the start I quickly checked my bag, went pee, and found my corral right in time. I tossed the garbage back and embraced the rain. Before I knew it we were off.
I was generally relaxed and optimistic at this point. For the first few km I was exactly where I wanted to be, just a bit slower than goal pace. I realized quickly that although I had set up the watch to lap at every mile, it wouldn’t show the time it took me to run that mile, unlike my Garmins. But I could deal with it.
Running down Cambie (start to km 3.5) I basically zoned out and ran through the rain and wind, all a nice gradual downhill. When we crossed the Cambie Bridge and ran into Chinatown. I began to feel a bit of tightness in my abdomen. Of course, stomach cramps. There you are, old friend. I slowed down heading into the out-and-back, watching my average pace dip from 8:13/m to 8:42/m. Thankfully the dull pain subsided and I picked it back up again.
There was a small hill around Quebec St (~6km), so I didn’t see my pace change much. I switched from average pace view to current pace, and it seemed to fluctuate between 8:00/m and 10:00/m. Keeping track of that was annoying so I switched back to average pace and it stayed at 8:42/m. For the REST OF THE RACE.
I was determined to make the pace on the watch move so I kept pushing. It would not budge up nor down. I gave up and kept intermittently calculating my finish time based on the stopwatch and km markers.
The rain let up a bit for the run through Stanley Park. I kept pushing as hard as I could and forgot about the watch.
The last 3k I tried to focus on intermittently picking up the pace, attempting to utilize some fast twitch muscles as my tired, slow twitch-ers were pretty exhausted.
With 1km left I dug deep and focused on seeing Dan and getting warm again. Soon enough, the finish line was in sight and I gave it all I got. I kept looking side to side to see if I could see my man.
Then I inevitably crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:55:42. Gender place: 1094/6113, category place: 270/1105.
Past the finish I sobbed a bit. I was relieved yet disappointed yet proud yet unhappy. Such a mix of emotions. I had really hoped for even just a little baby PR to make me feel like despite the injury, I managed to improve. I ran hard, and gave it my all, but that wasn’t enough.
I needed a hug. So I kept looking for any sign of Dan. I made my way to the gear drop tables and checked my phone. Dan had gotten stuck in traffic, and was just able to park, so he missed my finish. My heart broke. I was wet and sad and alone. I felt so defeated. It wasn’t supposed to go like this. It was supposed to be the day I ran my best full marathon and qualified for Boston, with Dan and our Vancouver friends and my mom cheering for me at the finish, after my mom had run her best half marathon. Not a wet, injured half marathon non-PR, walking towards no one in the finishing chute.
Don’t get me wrong, things could have gone way worse. I’m glad I was still able to run and not run a personal worst. I still had an ok time. But not great. Everyone kept telling me I should still be happy but I couldn’t be. I confessed this to Dan later, and he agreed that I should be allowed to feel sad about it. I had my pity party and I’m now moving on.
I finished the day with food, beer, and hot tubbing with some friends.
I think watching movies where the unlikely underdog takes the win can give you a false expectation when it comes to your own personal athletic pursuits. I knew I was under-trained going into this. The two weeks prior to the race, I didn’t even really try to taper. I essentially gave up. I didn’t even feel much like swimming or biking, and to be honest, I didn’t have much time to do either. Frustration got the better of me. But, at the same time, I wished and hoped that I could somehow pull off a PR and feel magically better about running again. Clearly that did not happen, and I don’t feel better about running. In fact, we’re on a break right now. Not permanently, no, HELL NO. But I need some time away to regroup and let my body heal.
I only have three other races that I’ve registered for this year: two 10ks and one half (which I am not racing). I am not sure if I will register for any more. Maybe I’ll feel better in a few days/weeks/months, but we’ll see. I’m over being injured and I need this time to regain my strength, however long it is.
Till then, you can find me swimming, lifting weights, eating peanut butter pretzels and watching cat videos, plotting my epic return. I’ll leave you with one to lift the mood of this overly pouty recap (lolz).