BMO Vancouver Marathon

218 Days / 1 Day

And just like that my 2013 A-race is set! Extremely excited to #RunVan again. Goals coming soon, but I have a half to run on Sunday first.

Finding The Best In The Worst

PW. Personal Worst. I got one on Sunday. And I’m happy about it.

This marathon was unlike either of the preceding two. I had no expectations. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Things were unplanned. Things went wrong. And, while I care, I don’t care. It was seriously one of the best races I’ve ever done.

Let me explain.


I originally signed up for the BMO Vancouver marathon in the fall (to take advantage of cheap rates, of course). I signed up for my local clinic. I had lofty goals of breaking five hours, maybe even coming in somewhere between 4:45 and 4:30. And then I went and got my heart rate tested. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know that I was devastated. I pretty much dropped out of my clinic because I could no longer keep up. I rented myself a treadmill and focused mainly on learning to run more efficiently.

In the last two months all of my runs have been inside. I have done long runs up to 4:45, but at a pace that would constitute walking for most of you. My tempo paced runs have been few and far between. My hill training non-existent. I came to the realization that this marathon would not be any sort of goal race. Essentially I showed up on race day because I paid for it and, darn it, I was going to get that medal!

Race Day:

Colin and I got up at the ridiculous time of 5am on Sunday morning. Spud was at my parents’ house for a sleepover. Even so I think we only got about 6-1/2 hours of sleep. We had set out our things the night before because we knew we had to be out the door by ten to 6 at the latest. I ate my old race day standard (plain oatmeal) and made sure things were moving in the right direction, if you catch my drift…

Surprisingly for the family that’s always late we made it into the car on time. We had a 20 minute drive to the Skytrain and then about half an hour and two transfers on transit. Once we finally got to our destination it was about a five minute walk up to the corrals. We were there just in time to see the start of the half marathon. Those guys and girls were looking speedy only a couple of minutes in and they had a 5km downhill to start!

Prior to the race we saw a few friends who were running, both from run club and from work. It was nice to be able to share our race day jitters. Mostly Colin and I were concerned with getting our bags checked (it was point to point so they had to get on the UPS trucks) and generally sorted out. It was a good thing I had Colin put my phone in my pack because he discovered that I hadn’t put on my chest strap or GPS yet – oops! After a quick trip into the rec centre (where I swore to the ladies in line that I wasn’t budging) we were set. Colin and I said goodbye and good luck at this point since he was in a different corral. I chatted with some friends for a bit and then we were off.

The Race:

While the half marathon got to go downhill at the start of the race the full marathon got to go up.  It wasn’t huge – just steady.  Of course, I went out too fast.  Even though I had no pace/plan I knew it was too fast.  But it was such a perfect day for a race.  Taking my own advice I stopped at the very first aid station (they were every mile) for a pit stop.  Nothing dire, just too much water pre-race!  It was at the top of the hill so I knew I could “make up” time by booking it for a few blocks.  The route headed west and the rolling hills started.  Really it was average Vancouver terrain, but if you were from out of town it might have seemed like more.  There were timing mats at two major intersections where traffic had to be let through.  I got stopped for about a minute at the first one (thankfully not the second).  It wasn’t a big deal as I knew they were deducting that from my chip time.  The crowd support through this section was surprisingly good.  The neighbourhoods are more affluent than a lot of Vancouver so I wasn’t sure if people would be excited to have the race close down a major street or if they’d be all NIMBY about it.  Since I was just rolling along – and still going too fast – I made sure that I went a bit out of my way to high-five the little kids.  Really, what’s a couple of steps out of my way to make them smile?  I especially liked the Dad who was shaking one of his little girl’s toys (that we have too) since it had bells on it.

Eventually I came to the hill.  It wasn’t steep (for here), but it was long.  My feet were feeling off – 2nd toe on left foot was hurting – so I was smart and just walked the whole thing.  That’s the good thing about not having time goals – there was no pressure to haul butt up the hill!  At the top of the hill I had to stop and fiddle with my shoes.  My toe was just not shutting up.  And my quads were pretty mad too that I’d not paced myself at the start.  Fun times!  I started running again and it was a lovely shaded back street through a park.  I even saw a raccoon!  Once we came off that street we headed out to the University of British Columbia.  I was taking walk breaks often and was generally mad at my foot for hurting in a place that’s never bothered me before.  I made it to 16km/10mi before I sat down and finally dealt with my shoes.  You see, I had a feeling something might go wrong.  My shoes had a fair amount of mileage on them so I thought that the heels might go like they did at HTC.  I randomly put a pair of Dr. Scholl’s cheapy inserts in my backpack before leaving the house just in case.  Turns out it was the best decision I could have possibly made.  I took the time to put the insoles in under the ones in my shoe.  I made sure to loosen the laces so my toes had wiggle room (still re-blacked the same toe on my right foot though…).  It didn’t completely stop the pain in my toe, but helped enough to get me back on the road.  If I hadn’t had the insoles I probably would have called it a day before the half-way mark and DNF’d.

It was at this point that I picked up a running partner.  I was running alongside a girl who had just found $5 in the gutter (someone probably wondered where their bus fare went later) and we got to chatting.  I asked if she wanted to run together for a while.  It was her first marathon and she seemed up to having company at that point.  We ran together down the hill out of UBC and eventually came to the 21km mark.  This part was a little weird.  We were shifted off the road into a large parking lot, taken past an aid station, turned back to run over the timing mats, and then out the entrance we just came in.  I know they probably had to add distance to the course at some point and that it’s an odd area to put an aid station on the road (not very wide), but it was awkward.  And kind of demoralizing since forward progress was detoured…  I said goodbye to the girl I was running with at that point since my legs were so tired and I didn’t want to hold her back.  I hope she had a good second half!

I can’t say too much about the next few kilometres of the race.  It’s the same route that a summer half marathon runs along so I’d done it before.  I knew what to expect in terms of hills, etc.  I walked a lot of it.  There were a few runners I kept leap-frogging along here and a few that looked like they might want to give up soon.  I had a nice conversation with a guy on a bike.  Crowd support was sporadic, but the people that were out were still awesome and supportive.  I came to the Burrard bridge (slight incline, nothing like the hill at UBC) and walked.  I knew there would be a photographer at the end of the bridge so I made the effort to at least look like I was moving at more than a walking pace.  I ran to the next aid station out of pure vanity.  My legs hurt with every step, but only one lane was closed so there was oncoming traffic.  Someone cheered for me by name, which freaked me out a bit because I wondered if I knew them duh, name on bib remember?.  Finally I was at the turn down onto the seawall and I knew that I only had about 10km left.

The last 10km was flat and winding on the seawall around Stanley Park.  The problem was that there was always just one more corner…  It’s beautiful, though, which at points was it’s only saving grace.  I was again leap-frogging the same runners.  I chatted with a few; I asked if others were okay.  I knew that I would have no problem getting my medal since there was an 8 hour time limit.  I tried to do a jump for a photographer at one point, but only one leg lifted off the ground – my brain obviously kept the other one firmly on the ground out of self-preservation!  Even though I was moving so slowly I was thrilled when I came to the final stretch (not so thrilled that it was slightly up hill).  I knew that I was close to 6 hours (chip) and I really didn’t want to go over.  A woman came up behind me and said she’d been trying to catch me for a while.  She passed me by a few steps and then I decided that I couldn’t let her beat me.  I’m sure I looked ridiculous trying to hobble-sprint, but I did beat her as there was a very tiny downhill to the finish line.  Apparently Colin cheered for me at that point, but I didn’t hear him.  I cheered for myself with my hands up because I finished my 3rd marathon!

Once I was over the line I got my medal, had a couple of pictures taken, and grabbed my bag lunch (so NOT hungry).  The bike guy from earlier stopped by to say congratulations.  I met up with Colin and asked how he did.  While I may have ended the day with a PW I’m proud to say he finished in 3:42:11 – a 10:42 PR!!  We celebrated by going out for appies and drinks.  We recapped our races for each other and bemoaned the fact that the restaurant’s bathrooms were upstairs…


  • Winging a race is a stupid idea.  Had I lined up with the 5 hour pace bunny I might have been able to keep up.  If I’d fallen behind, though, I would have become very discouraged.  So it worked out well for me in the end because there was no pressure.  However, I can’t recommend it and I don’t think I’ll ever do it again (for a full – see you in 6 weeks RnR Seattle 1/2!)
  • My form has changed substantially and my Asics don’t work for me anymore.  It’s the end of an era!  I think that running in my Vibrams so much really made me more of a midfoot runner.  I think my toe problem on race day was due to me blowing out any padding the Asics had left in the forefoot.  I’m getting a pretty pair of Saucony Mirage’s tonight.
  • I’m not ready for a fall marathon.  Colin and I had a constructive grown up conversation about it and I realize that I can’t focus on heart rate based training and marathon training at the same time.  Right now it’s more important for me to get better running in zone 1 than it is to pay for and only finish another marathon.
  • I ran this race because it was paid for, it’s a gorgeous route, and I knew that I’d be able to finish regardless of time.  Simple as that.  I want the next one to blow my 5:07:18 PR out of the water.

Sometimes the race gods look down and give you a perfect race.  On Sunday they gave me the perfect worst race.

Winging It

That’s right. I have no race plan for Sunday. It feels weird and liberating at the same time.

Any other training cycle would have found me printing off pace bands and stressing about where I would be when. This time I’m just winging it. I don’t mean that I’m coming into the race totally un(der) prepared running wise. It’s just that my training has been kind of unorthodox and I have no idea what to expect. After my heart-rate test I completely changed the way I was training. The vast majority of my runs have been on a treadmill. Most of my runs have been zone 1 with only a small amount of zone 3. I haven’t done hill training – although I know spinning has made my legs stronger. I did a lot of runs in my Vibrams and now my Asics feel so different (and I will be running the marathon in them). BMO Vancouver marathon is no longer my A race for the year. To be honest if I hadn’t already paid for the entry I probably would have sat this one out.

So here I find myself, three sleeps away from race day, with no clear idea of how I’m going to tackle the route. For once I don’t have a time goal. Yes, part of me wants to PR. But I don’t think I’ll have the same huge letdown that I did last year if it doesn’t happen. In the past I’ve done run/walk of 20:1. I know I’m not up for that this year. So do I do 10:1s? 5:30s? Walk at the aid stations that are every mile? Walk when I feel like it? It’s a quandary.

It sounds blasé, but I really think that I’ll be making it up as I go along. And, oddly, that seems to suit me just fine.

Itchy Legs

I’m 6 days out from my 3rd marathon so, if you’re a runner, you know what that means!  Let Taper Madness – or, as I call them, the Taper Crazies –  begin!

1.  Sunday has finally shown up on Environment Canada’s website.  I’m not sure if I’m happy or if I’m scared.

Let me explain why.  I am slow.  I run a 5+ hour marathon.  I will be finishing my run probably right when the day is getting to be its hottest.  Last year was roughly 15 (or more) degrees C, sunny, and it was pretty uncomfortable by the end.  While I love the no rain aspect I’d really like a little more cloud, although I can hope for wind off the water during the second half.  To be honest I’d be happy if it was even a little bit drizzly.  Downpour or steady rain no.  But if there was a bit of precipitation it would be okay.

2.  I have itchy legs.  I really wanted to run today.  However, I have my runs for this week planned out since I kind of over did it Friday with the 16km Vibram run.  Add onto that the 11 hours I spent at work yesterday and I knew my body needed the rest.  It just seemed like I was doing nothing today (aside from the mound of laundry…).  I’m running tomorrow while Spud’s at playschool.  It’ll probably only be for about an hour, but it will be my first outside run in a very long time.  Should be interesting.

3.  I am losing my mind and doing exceptionally stupid things.  I know that hydrating isn’t stupid.  But it is when you try to do it on auto-pilot.  Here’s the story; feel free to laugh.  Or be disgusted.  We have two Halo 3 Slurpee cups that we use fairly regularly.  Not sure why we kept them other than they’re big.  Whenever I drink water, which admittedly isn’t as often as it should be, I’ll use one of the cups.  They’re 22oz and since they’re blue plastic I convince myself that I’m somehow not drinking water.  Anyways, they weren’t in the cupboard so I pulled one out of the dishwasher, popped in a Kona Cola Nuun, poured the water, and carried it to the bedroom to drink while I attacked the aforementioned laundry.  Since the drink is brown I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.  Unfortunately I noticed a kind of sludge on the inside of the cup when I was about 3/4 of the way through.  I thought, “that’s weird, Nuun doesn’t usually leave much residue.”  And then it hit me.  The dishwasher had not been run.  What I was drinking was Kona Cola Nuun with the reconstituted remains of Colin’s banana-pineapple smoothie from the night before.  I gagged a little, wondered if I was going to poison myself since it had dairy in it, and then thought, “meh, at least I had about 2 cups of water.”  No, I did not finish the Nuun once I realized my mistake.  That would be gross.

4.  I am starting to get paranoid about getting sick.  My allergies (along with a glass of wine) made me think that I was coming down with the plague on Saturday.  Thankfully I felt much better on Sunday.  It’s going to be a long week since I take Spud to his drop in playschool program every day…

5.  Nightmares: haven’t had any yet, but they’ve made an appearance every training cycle so far so I’m not expecting anything different this time around.

Any “Taper Crazies” I’m missing?  

Can anyone top the drink story?  Colin’s comes close: he poured a glass of milk and couldn’t figure out why it kept getting sweeter the more he drank.  Turns out he used the cup he’d already made powdered iced tea in.  Ugh.

I Need Your Help!

Please help me win a trip to Seattle!  

BMO Vancouver Marathon is holding a “Running Ritual” contest and I’ve obviously entered.

All you need to do is click on the link ( like the photo on Facebook.  

Easy-peasy – the contest closes 19 March and the photo with the most “likes” wins!

My run ritual is wearing my Nuun visor on every run.  

And my race ritual is wearing my Team Sparkle skirt 
(who knew I’d like being “that girl in the skirt”?)

Thank you so much for your help!!!

If I’d Waited Until Thursday It Would Have Been A Month…

Greetings from the land of rain.  To quote How I Met Your Mother right off the bat, “You know what they call this in the ‘couve? Barbecue weather.”*  Autumn has officially arrived in Vancouver.  Well, it showed up a while ago, but it wasn’t big enough news to write an entire post about.  To be honest, it’s darn near winter.  They’ve closed the ever popular Grouse Grind which is apparently fun, but climbing 2800ft just for the heck of it still intimidates me!  And they’ve opened at least one of the local mountains for skiing/riding. 

I haven’t been blogging lately and it’s been kind of nice.  What kind of crappy blogger does that make me?!?  I’ve been reading blogs and commenting, but when you aren’t running it’s hard to come up with things to write about.  And, let’s face it, what runs I were getting in were either so short or so slow they would have been exceedingly boring to read!  Not too much has happened in the last month.  Ran a little, walked a little, worked a little, Spud dressed as Mickey Mouse for Halloween (3rd year, 2nd costume because he outgrew the first one).  That said, if you’ve been stalking my blog – coughmumcough – you’ll notice that the only updating has been to my mileage.  As of today I have run 936.38km/581.84mi.  I had higher hopes at the start of the year, but after burn out I’ll take what I end up with!  

Speaking of burn out I think/hope/pray that I’m over it.  While I am running I’m not getting out quite as much as I’d like.  Ideally I’d get to 4 days/week.  Right now I’m at 3 so it’s not much to add another day in there.  Having Spud in playschool really helps because I can get a longish run in on one of those days.  I thought I’d see what I had in me the other day so I picked one of the biggest hills to run up and over.  I proved to myself that, yes, I could still do it.  However, my hill training has completely gone to pot.  I wasn’t silly enough to try and run without stopping.  I did intervals.  I’m sure that all the drivers coming down the road (and up for that matter) were wondering why I was choosing to run up it.  At about half way I was wondering the same thing!  At least the downhill was fun.  After 1.7km up getting to run 2km down was lovely.  My shins didn’t quite think so later that day, but it wasn’t raining, the view was great and downhill is what I love running the most.

Fun gear I have bought/won since I’ve been away aka “nothing helps you get back into the swing of things like new running gear”!  

CEP Compression Socks:  I won a pink pair on Facebook at the start of October. You can never have too many pairs of compression socks.

The green socks are next!  And if not then the green sleeves!

Sugoi Midzero Zip:  I had time to kill one morning before work so I was perusing the aisles of Winners (that’s TJMaxx/Marshalls up here).  Usually I laugh at how crappy all of their stuff is – with the exception of their toys/books.  But I started looking in the women’s athletic section and was completely surprised to find a Sugoi top.  And a nice one at that!  So I had Colin stop by the next night after work and pick it up for me.  He had to go back the day after that to get one for my friend so we continue on our tradition of being twins!

There is no reason to ever turn down a deal as good as the one I found: $35 for a shirt that retails for $100.  It reminds me a bit of Grimace from McDonalds, but I’ll just have to come to terms with that.    

Any idea what he actually is?

All joking aside it really is a comfortable shirt.  It’s still a little warm – I was pretty hot in it this morning.  However, I’d much prefer to be too hot in the rain and soaking wet than wear my water resistant shell and have it not breath well enough.

Under Armour Recur Over The Calf Sock:  When I saw these at work I really wanted them!  They’re just this side of obnoxious.  The picture doesn’t really do them justice – they are fluorescent.  I’m not sure if I’ll wear them running (I’d need a new skirt since mine will clash terribly), but they seem like they’d stay up if I were to try. 

Let’s Talk Racing:

I registered Colin for a race this morning.  It’s the first half marathon in Vancouver (aptly called “The First Half“) in 2012.  I volunteered at it last year and it’s a well run, relatively flat course.  Unfortunately I am going to be signing up for the full marathon clinic and this was sort of Colin’s “fairsies” for that.  It took all of my willpower not to sign up myself at the same time.  Not only is it the first race he’s doing that I haven’t, but a ton of friends are running it too.  Alas it is now sold out so I will be a spectator extraordinaire come February.

Our plan after that race is to continue training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon.  It’s at the start of May so we’ll have plenty of time to prepare.  It’s a brand new route this year and I think it’ll be a nice change from last year.  We’ll register for this one in December since that’s when the price will increase and I really don’t want or need to be hit with an extra $20.

The “Fun Race” of the year will be the Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  We’ll both be running it.  I’m super excited about it since there will be many bloggers/Hood To Coast friends there.  I’m a little apprehensive about not knowing the route, but I’m sure I can suck up all the hills they’re sure to throw at us for 21.1km/13.1mi.  Thanks to Megan (who’s flying out for the race!  Yay!!!) for reminding me that there’s a $20 discount on Friday to celebrate 11.11.11!    

So.  That’s what’s going on here right now.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll write every day, but I don’t think it’ll be as long as this last hiatus/sabbatical/random disappearance.  Hope your running is going well too!  I appreciate you all for sticking around – except for that one person who left a couple of days ago (I understand, though, since I wasn’t here…).       

* If you’re from Winnipeg then it’s completely acceptable to say “The Peg”, but no one calls Vancouver “the ‘couve”.  Unless you’re a tool.

Almost Wordless Wednesday: New Course!

The BMO Vancouver Marathon has new routes for the full and half marathons!  Will you be joining me 6 May 2012?