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.

It’s Still Funny

I posted this video way back at the start of August last year.  It has been my most popular post and I swear that someone looks at it at least once a day.  If you haven’t seen the whole episode where Barney runs a marathon on How I Met Your Mother you should look it up.  It’s funny and very identifiable if you’ve run a full!

Good luck to those of you who are running this weekend!  I look forward to reading about your experiences in Vancouver, Eugene and where ever else you may be.

Race Report: GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon – 10 October 2010

Before you read my report do you: have a drink? have a snack? need to go to the bathroom?

Make sure you’re prepared before you settle in to read a really long race report! It’s my first marathon; what do you expect?

Our race preparations began on Saturday 9 October early in the morning. My parents were coming to stay with Spudsy at our house. Since we needed to be at the ferry terminal no later than 8:30am for our 9am sailing – always reserve your trip! Being stuck in the line on a holiday weekend is no fun – they were coming over at about 7am. That meant we had to be up by 6am to eat, finish packing the car, and get Spudsy up to say goodbye. Thankfully our departure didn’t mean too many tears, but that could have been because we left
presents for him to open each day we were gone. Once we were on the road it was a quick 45 minute drive to Tsawwassen to catch the boat.

Ferry Terminal – we’re on our way!

It’s amazing how busy travel is on a long weekend. The line up at Starbucks in the terminal was at least 20 people long. Of course we waited, but we were only getting coffee and tea so the wait was okay. I saw a friend from elementary school while in line and had a bit of a chat and then in was time to board. Being that it was (Canadian) Thanksgiving there were too many people with too little seats. We ended up spending 80% of our trip in the car reading those free tourist magazines as we really weren’t willing to sit as singles and it was too cold and windy to be on deck.

View from the parking deck – the trip goes through the Gulf Islands

After about an hour and a half we made it to Vancouver Island and drove the 40 minutes into Victoria. We headed straight to the convention centre to pick up our bibs/race packages and shirts. Honestly, it was nothing to write home about like most of the expos here. You guys in the States really know how to put on a fair (hello, Rock ‘N’ Roll). However, we got the best New Balance race shirts (see picture near the end)! I don’t think I’ll ever run in mine since it’s so nice. We didn’t try them on before the race since we figured it would be some sort of bad luck…
The rest of our Saturday was fairly normal. Colin’s got extended family in Victoria so we visited with his grandmas and then headed to his aunt and uncle’s place where we were staying. We just hung out in the evening and had a great spaghetti/garlic bread/salad dinner (with home-made lemon meringue pie!). Colin watched a movie while I watched the Canucks home opener (NHL hockey) and then we started to get our stuff ready for Sunday.

Race day outfit

Colin’s race stuff

My race stuff

Our shoes!
Now, if you go back up and look at my race day outfit you will see how close to perfect the bib is pinned on. That took me half an hour and most of my sanity. I really hadn’t worried about the marathon all week (by way of ignoring it) and for some reason that bib was my trigger. I just could not get that stupid thing straight! And it killed me. I totally had a mental breakdown and lost it at Colin.
Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “I can’t get my bib straight.”
Colin: “Well, try again.”
Colin: (frustrated) “What am I supposed to do about it?!?”
Me: “Nothing! I don’t know! I haven’t worried about this f-ing race this whole d**m week and I think that I’m f-ing entitled to FREAK OUT ABOUT IT NOW!!!”
It really wasn’t funny when it happened, but, man, is it hysterical now!
We went to bed at 11:30pm since we’re so smart. It’s not that we were too excited to sleep, but rather too lazy to crawl in to bed any earlier.

Race Day!!!
Race day dawned dark and early. Thankfully it was only because we had to get up to have breakfast, get dressed and drive to find parking. As marathoners we got to start at 9am – a luxury – the early marathoners started at 6:30am and the half marathoners at 7:30am. Once we got out the door we stopped to get change for parking, but ended up finding a free street parking spot. We only drove into downtown once and then turned around to go back to the open space we’d seen. It was a good thing that we didn’t show up any later as they were starting to blockade the route for the half. After we parked we decided that we’d jog down to the start line to get warmed up (even though it was an hour and a half until start time). Nothing like an almost 2km run before a 42.2km race! It was chilly, but we had on our old toss-away jackets so it wasn’t too bad. We had to wait to cross over to the parliament buildings where we were meeting friends since the half had started and there were 6800ish runners in the way.
We killed a little time stretching and chatting with friends and then moved over to the start area. There weren’t corrals, just signs with 15 minute increments, so Colin and I hugged, said good luck and then went to our respective times (4 hours and 4:15). I chatted with a couple of other runners – both of whom seemed more nervous than me even though they’d run marathons in the past. Before I knew it they were singing the national anthem, counting down the time and starting the race. I tossed my jacket (which I was only holding onto for sentimental reasons since the zipper was broken) and plodded along with the rest of the runners. Coming out of the first turn it kind of hit me that I was running in my first marathon!
There were lots of people cheering out along the start of the race since we doubled back around the parliament buildings. It was nice that there were so many even if there wasn’t anyone specifically looking for me. I ran through my first planned 10 + 1 since we weren’t really going all that fast. Once we came off of the main street we hit a long, slow uphill. It wasn’t that bad, but it was definitely noticeable. I have to say that the group of people from lululemon cheering made it a lot easier! They were loud and very enthusiastic. Near the top of the hill I saw maybe one of the best spectators – he was handing out kleenex! For a rainy, windy morning it was genius!
At this point I was around the 3km mark. I started taking my 10 + 1s just to make sure that I was on plan. Pacing was going well, if a little fast, but I was feeling fine. It was downhill and there was a water stop up ahead (I had my pack though so didn’t need to rely on them). Somewhere around here I was running along the centre line trying to keep to the outside in case I was going to stop and walk – a little unnerving since traffic was still oncoming – and I saw a guy on a bike go by. Turned out it was Darren, my half marathon clinic instructor, who was over to cheer on the half runners. I yelled at him and waved and then continued running. It was totally random, but nice to see someone I knew since all the other marathoners from our clinic were well ahead of me.
The next part of the race went through Beacon Hill Park. It’s a lovely area, but also hilly. Usually when we’re in town we only go to the petting zoo so it was nice to see the rest of it. This is when I first saw the Elite runners. They were on their way out as I was entering (about 3km ahead of me) and it was nice to be able to clap for them. I can’t believe the pace they keep up! I obviously run marathons while they race them!
We exited the park and headed out onto Dallas Road. At this point there were quite a few half marathoners on their way back. I’ve got to say that some of them looked miserable! I think that they would have been the 2-1/2+ hour finishers and they’d been out in the rain and wind for a while already. I’m pretty sure that I was wearing the same expressions on my face when I came back that way too (and I had sun by then). The road is right on the water so it was all headwind for them. This was the only time that I had the wind to my back. I was feeling good as I hit the 10km mark at 1:03:17. Since I haven’t actually raced a 10km in 10 years so I think it was pretty decent. I had my only wildlife sighting just after 10km. There was a river otter that popped out of someone’s driveway and ran across the road. I’m not sure who was more confused to see whom!
At about 11-1/2km the race route turned into residential Oak Bay. This is to avoid a really steep hill, but having done the area around the hill I think that I’d almost prefer straight up! I previously called this area residential hilly hell and I’m not kidding. They aren’t huge hills by any means, but they are long and slow and gradual and they just totally take a toll on your legs. Nothing too much to note about this area – it was residential. However, the people who lived there were awesome. So many people were out on their yards cheering. It was nice that most of that part of the city really got into it even though the race turned their traffic into a gong show. There was one house that was supporting the Harriers Run Club runners. They had the usual water, etc., but also were offering beer! Not sure how many non-club members took them up on that offer… The only other exciting (and depressing) thing that happened in this part of the race was that the Elites came by again. I was at about 16km and the leader came running the other way with the pace vehicle. The clock on top said 1:43:00. Pretty good for me at 16km, but he was at the 31km mark! Holy fast!!!
After leaving the “fun” of the neighbourhoods we came back down to the water. There was a nice stretch through the Royal Victoria Golf Club’s course. It was really pretty, but it was also probably the steepest hill. I ran up most of it, but wasn’t prepared for the extra little bump at the top! I didn’t feel too badly about walking that little bit as I had to take a gel anyways. We made our way along Beach Avenue, past the Oak Bay Marina with it’s killer whale sign (used to be Sea World). I saw a guy with an early marathon bib walking on his way back – he was military and wearing his boots, fatigues and full pack. That’s guts and determination! There was another group of people cheering around here – they all had Halloween costumes on and they guy carrying his daughter on his shoulders was running after the Elites and telling them to go faster! It was hilarious! We went up another hill to the halfway mark. My split was 2:15:20 – not an unofficial PR – but, as with the 10km split, pretty happy with it. It seemed like I was on track to do my marathon in about 4-1/2 hours.
I saw Colin just after we hit halfway. He was running with a friend and almost didn’t see me. I was waving frantically and had to yell, “hey, hey, nice of you to say hi!” to get his attention. He was about 4km ahead of me which I expected since he was hoping to go sub-4 hours.
The route had a turn-around between kilometres 23 and 24. It was a little odd since they ran us up a residential side street for about 1/2km and then turned us around. It kind of turned too so you couldn’t quite tell when you got to go back. I made sure to have a pit stop here just in case. I looked at the girl behind me in line and she looked like hell. When I asked if she was okay she said she just needed to throw up so I let her go ahead of me. I wasn’t so bad off that I couldn’t wait the extra couple of minutes.
Once out of the turn-around it was time to go back the way I came. This is where my race fell apart. My mind was willing, but my body was weak. It’s not that I hadn’t run that far before. I was only at 24km and my longest long run was 34km. I wanted to run. But it hurt. I’m no physician so I don’t know what was actually hurt, just where it hurt. It was the upper middle of my quad, like if you drew a straight line up from the middle of my kneecap, sort of where the thigh and pelvis meet. I’d run for a couple of minutes and then walk for a few. I knew I was going fairly slow (for this race – it was a ridiculously fast field) when I ran past the runner with the police escort and he was only a few kilometres behind me. He also had to be over 80 years old, but he had a Marathon Maniacs shirt which I thought was awesome. I started walking the uphills going back into the golf course. I always felt so bad for the spectators because you could tell that they wanted to cheer, but didn’t really know what to say. Thankfully no one ever told me just to start running again – there were a lot of “good job”s and “you can do it”s.
Prior to the turnaround the sun decided to come out for the day. It was so nice. Unfortunately it also played havoc with me. I had on shorts, but also a long-sleeved shirt. I got hot. Not ridiculously overheated, but enough that my stomach wanted to revolt. I spent much of the last 10km trying to decide where in people’s yards I could discretely throw up if I had to (and I really wanted to!). Residential Victoria doesn’t have a lot of street sewer grates. At least it helped pass the time. Once my legs and stomach started giving me hell I was in survival mode. I knew I would finish the race, but I had given up on any kind time goal a long time past.
When I got back to Dallas Road I was on the home stretch. There were only a couple of challenging hills left and I tried my hardest to run up them just so they wouldn’t defeat me. The bonus to being slower was that there were no crowds around to run in. I have quite a few nice pictures because I wasn’t running in a group. The last 10km was hard. Not just for the regular reasons, but because I had a headwind for 9 of them. It felt like running in soup. It was a little demoralizing when some of the water stations were closed (again, I wasn’t using them, but still).
When I got to about the 40km mark I got to have a good laugh. For those of you who don’t know Victoria it’s full of retirees and seniors. I was running along (if you could call it that at that point) and all of a sudden I heard music. I figured it was a band or something. However, when I looked up it was a whole bunch of seniors from the care home. They were out in 50s costumes (think poodle skirts) and were dancing up a storm on the sidewalk and road. I had been so focused on finishing for the last 5km that it was nice to have something to smile about!
I was ecstatic when I saw the marker for 41km. It meant that I was almost done! Unfortunately it also meant that there was one more hill and it had a turn in it. Whoever designed this course was pretty mean! I was walking up the second half of the hill as my knee had started to hurt around 41km when I heard a guy ask if I was okay. I looked over and it was a paramedic on a bike. I told him that it was just my knee. He asked if I’d had trouble before, but I told him that my only problem was that I’d been running for 5 hours. He laughed and we chatted a bit about first marathons. Now, that would have been fine, but his 3 buddies that had been taking a break decided to join him. So with about 600 metres to go I had 4 (!) paramedics riding with me. Colin’s sure that they were taking bets as to when I’d drop. It’s nice to know they were there making sure everyone was okay, but I’m pretty sure I looked like a total charity case! After a bit they went on ahead and I knew I was close. A woman cheering at about 400 metres left told me to take my sunglasses off so my pictures would look good – and she was right!
As I rounded the last corner I could see the top of the finish line arch. I knew I was so close and there was no way that I was walking through the finish! I didn’t speed up or anything (like that was possible), but just kept going straight down the road. I couldn’t believe how many people were still at the finish line. It was so nice to come into the finish chute and not have it be totally abandoned which had been my fear. I asked a girl who was walking if she wanted to run in with me. She looked at me like I was insane and that it took all of her energy to say no. I felt kind of bad, but left her to finish my race.
I crossed the line of my first marathon with 5:09:05 on the clock (5:07:18 chip time). It was amazing! I had my hands up and then totally clapped for myself. After that long on the road I had no idea I could smile so much. I’m pretty sure I heard people laughing (nicely) as I crossed – I don’t think they were seeing many happy runners at that point. It didn’t matter that any time expectations I had (which I’d been told again and again not to make) weren’t fulfilled. I got my medal and totally earned it! Once I was on my way through to the food – because that’s what’s important – I heard someone calling and saying, “I can’t walk that fast!”. I turned around and it was Colin. He’d been waiting near the guy with blankets for almost an hour so he wouldn’t miss me. He finished his first marathon in 4:13:38 (4:12:13 chip time). I’m so proud of him!!!
We grabbed some food and drink for me: 1/2 cup of Gatorade, 1/2 banana (of which I only had 2 bites), and yogurt. It’s amazing how not hungry I was after running for that far and that long. We sat on the curb in the sun to warm up and tell our marathon stories to each other. It was amazing. We did the same activity, but had such different experiences. Once we were done we decided to hobble back to the car. What seemed like a manageable couple of kilometres in the morning was so long. It was uphill and the only reason I didn’t feel pathetic was because I was wrapped in my plastic blanket and people understood. The best part of the walk back was that we each got a free calf massage at Lush. They were promoting some sort of massage bar with beans in it, but since the woman getting up said it was well worth it we took the time. It was great. I’m not usually one for massages – this one was painful at times – but I figured that if I’d run that far I could at least try to do something to help. It sure beat an ice bath!

Colin at the car.

Me at the car.

We went home to get showered, changed and relaxed and then went out to dinner. We had certificates (yay, free dinner) to The Keg Steakhouse. We’d planned to have a later dinner, but it was a holiday Sunday and, not only were the stores closed early, it was freezing so we showed up and had our meal at a normal time. My excuse for the huge plate of food was that I just ran a marathon and needed to have lots of protein!

Sirloin Oscar: mmm, steak with seafood on top!

Colin’s dinner: who doesn’t love half a plate of beef?

I kid you not, the waitress asked what place we finished!
I had to explain that everyone got a medal…

Here are a few closing touristy shots of Victoria:

Horse-drawn carriage rides

The Empress Hotel: hoity-toity fanciest hotel in the city.

Parliament Buildings (Victoria is the provincial capital)

Race Day!!!

Know how we do before we do…

There are 2 ways to track us:

Click here to check our live results – there will be timing mats at the start, 10K of Half Marathon and Marathon, Halfway for Marathon, 30K for Marathon and at the finish.

My bib number is #120.

Colin’s bib number is #121.

Click here for live streaming – I think it’s for the finish line, but I’m not certain. I’m aiming for a 4:30ish finish and Colin’s trying for sub-4.

Three Things Thursday

1. Marathon

2. in

3. days

Juneathon 2010

Because my June isn’t busy enough with training for the Vancouver Scotiabank Half Marathon at the end of the month as well as starting my marathon training clinic on the 10th I thought that I would add in a little fitness challenge too!

Courtney over at Run, Courtney, Run! is hosting

For the month of June I get to:

  • Exercise every day. This should be easy as I will already be running approximately 4-5 days/week and only have to throw in some cross/strength/core training to make up the last couple of days.
  • Blog about exercising every day. This might be harder since I’m likely to forget if I don’t write myself a note or mark it off on my calendar.

At the end of June I:

  • Might be selected for a prize.
  • Will be more fit that I have been in a long while.

If you think that this sounds like fun (c’mon, you know it does…) you can sign up too.

It’s Been A Year…

I have wanted to write about my “running journey” for a while, but since it seemed long and involved I hadn’t yet gotten around to it. It seems appropriate that I kept putting it off because when I finally sat down to write I discovered that I have been running for a whole year. It seems crazy that this time last year I was having pre-clinic jitters about even going out to run (which, to call it what it was, was more of a shuffle). So here is the real beginning of my journey to The Marathon…

I started running in May 2009. I had gotten to thinking around my birthday, in March, that I needed to do something for me. I’d had a brief encounter with running in my early twenties, but it didn’t stick. However, it was something that I had enjoyed; obviously enough to try again. The main reason for signing up for a learn-to-run clinic was to have some time away from M, who was 18 months old at that time. That and I was thinking ahead to my “I’m turning 30 midlife crisis” the next year and decided that I would work up to being able to run a marathon by the time I was that age.

When I signed up in March I was asked if I wanted to start that night, but I just couldn’t bring myself to commit since it had taken me so long to even voice the long term goal. I had a month and a half to stew over it and in May 2009 I started running. Well, walk/running – with the emphasis on walk. Looking back I remember feeling really self-conscious about it (and being there by myself too, introvert that I am). But everyone was there for the same reason. We worked our way up to 10 + 1s (run 10 min/walk 1 min) and at the end of the clinic we were prepared to run a 5km race. Instead of paying for an entry fee, I got ambitious and put the money toward a 10km clinic).

My next class started in September. I had anxiety at the start again, especially when I found out most of the class was coming up from the 5km clinic. I discovered very early on that I was slow compared to everyone else. Looking back on my training log there are a lot of clinic-night entries that say “at back of group”. I definitely went through a phase of feeling like I wasn’t good enough and doubting myself because I couldn’t keep up with the faster runners. Of course, I hadn’t quite gotten that it wasn’t a race with anyone but me. This class introduced me to steady runs and hill repeats – I’ll let you figure out which one I liked better. I never got much faster, but the class really helped me get my base up. At the end, my last long run was 16km. It took my 2 hours and 15 minutes which I was thrilled with then, but I’ve gotten so much better.

In keeping with my plan of eventually training for The Marathon I actually began my half marathon program 3 weeks before the 10km class was over. It was really nice to get away 2 nights a week for that time! As with the other classes I was a fairly entrenched “back-of-the-pack”-er. I had all of the same feelings as before and was actually pretty intimidated. A lot of the other people had run halfs or fulls before and I was a little lost. My first run was at tempo pace and even though my log says “felt really good” I know that I had no idea what I was doing. At that point all I understood was that tempo = go fast.

Everything was moving along well until a month in when I had to have my wisdom teeth extracted. I didn’t run for 2 weeks and that first run back really stunk. It was a 10km run that took me almost an hour and a half. My brain wasn’t getting that I had taken time off to recover – all I could concentrate on was that I was the last one back. It was incredibly demoralizing to find out that everyone else had gone home and just the store staff were there. Hindsight tells me that this made me stronger emotionally as a runner (perseverance, what doesn’t kill me…, etc), but that day was probably the worst one I’ve ever had running. After that, though, things started to get better. Quite a few of my entries say how proud I am of myself.

At Christmas I got my heart rate monitor – a perk of my staff discount was that I could get one that had all the bells and whistles that I wanted – and it changed my running. Before I was pretty much all over the place and it helped me get more consistent. I was introduced to more training techniques: hills (more repeats, so thanks Mum and Dad for babysitting), fartleks and a little speed work, which I gave up after one week so I wouldn’t hurt myself.

After floating around in the group and mainly running on my own I finally decided to see if I could keep pace with the 2:15 pace group 2 weeks before my race. Surprisingly I was able to do it. It was a big confidence booster and I really wish I had gotten up the guts to join them earlier. At the end of the clinic I ran my first race – The Historic Half Marathon in Langley, BC. It was a hilly course (my practice run notes call one hill “evil and long”), but I felt really well prepared. It was a warm February day and a great day for a run. I lost C right at the start (on purpose as he’s faster; Mr. 1:55:07) and I just ran for myself. I had my ups and downs, but never really felt like I was out of it – however, I never should have taken my last walk break… I almost didn’t start running again. I’m not sure where I found a burst of energy on the home stretch – most likely it had something to do with picking off a woman that was older than me who I’d been pacing for half the race – but I crossed the line in 2:16:58. Since I was aiming to complete, and I thought 2-1/2 hours would be nice if I tried really hard, getting a decent first PR was awesome.

I’m training on my own now for my second half marathon, but I know I’ve been blessed with good, supportive instructors. Big huge “Thank You”s to Diane, Jenn and Darren!

My next clinic starts 10 June and then I’m on the final road to my ultimate goal. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s not as difficult as I had expected. Thanks so much for your support – please keep sending kind words my way… I’m sure I’ll need them!


Let me introduce myself to those of you who aren’t family and friends that have been badgered into reading this. I’m Alanna. I’m a married mum of one living in the lovely suburbs of Vancouver, B.C. and I have crazily set myself the goal of running a marathon.

There, I said it. I am planning on running a whopping 42km in October, although “running” might be stretching the truth. A good time would be nice, but isn’t necessary. I think I’ll just be happy with crossing the finish line of my own accord.

This blog/journal/online accounting of my journey to The Marathon (capitalized to give it the respect it deserves) is going to be my way of holding myself accountable. Please, please sign up or bookmark this site to follow my journey. You don’t have to check in often (unless you are really that interested in my progress), but I figure that the more people out there who will ask me how my training is going the better.

There won’t be much activity on here for a while as my marathon clinic doesn’t begin until 10 June 2010. I’ll post infrequently about my half marathon training (which my husband C is doing with me) and my foray into bootcamp (which he is not and makes fun of me for). I’ll write more about why I thought running The Marathon would be a good goal to have – something about turning 30… I’m sure that there will be ramblings about things that seem to have very little to do about running as well as my love-hate relationship with the sport.

So, for now, this is me.

In about 6 months, I’ll be a marathoner.