race report

Recap: Earth Run {3 June 2012}

If you have read my blog for any length of time you’ll know that I don’t run a lot of short distance races.  That all changed on 3 June.  I was fortunate enough to be an ambassador for Earth Run and ran the 10k at Jericho Beach in Vancouver (there was a 5k as well).  This was the perfect race to be re-introduced to the distance.  There are a lot of larger 10k events in Vancouver – like the almost 50,000 strong Sun Run – but a small event has huge advantages.

1.  Mellow Atmosphere.  A small crowd means less opportunity for race day jitters.  I knew that I just wanted to go out to complete the distance in a decent (for me) time and not having huge crowds made it so much nicer.  It’s definite a family friendly event.  There was a small expo with about 6 tents – some vendors, some beneficiaries.  The Vancouver Aquarium and Young Naturalists’ Club of BC booths had Spud occupied for ages.

2.  Small Race Field.  If I was a faster runner this would be the race I’d want to go to!  Such a great chance of placing since there were only 71 finishers in the 10k and 48 in the 5k.

3.  Easy Package Pick Up.  Considering there was really just the chip (on a returnable ankle band to be no-waste) and shirt to pick up it didn’t seem like there was much of a wait.  I had a bit of an awkward moment when I had to find the race organizer to say I wasn’t on the list (my contact wasn’t present).  He was understanding and gave me my items.  My shirt (a unisex small) went to Colin, who’s quite happy about it.  The only problem with not being on the list is that my result is just a comma since there was no first or last name.  Oh well, I know it was me!

4. No Crowds.  The course was on an open park path and having fewer numbers was totally beneficial.  There was never the feeling that we were in the way or people were in our way.  It was an out and back along the ocean and, since the weather cleared once we started, there was a gorgeous view of the mountains.


5.  Affordable.  The race is $25/5k and $35/10k.  In Vancouver that is a great price.  Generally 5k’s start at the 10k price, so that’s really something that they have going for them!

6.  Plentiful Post-Race Snacks.  I know this seems like a silly point, but it’s nice to roll into the finish line close to the end and know that there will still be stuff waiting for you!  Oranges, bananas, water, and an energy drink were enough to tide me over until I could get to lunch.  Since the race aims to have a low to no environmental impact even the cups were recycled cardboard.

All in all I had a great time at Earth Run!  I was quite happy with my time (1:05:31) considering I really hadn’t done any sort of faster training.  I ran/walked it, but was completely fine with that.  I was breaking in my Saucony Mirage’s at the time too…  My watch did say the course was just shy of 10k, but there were two variables that could account for that: I started my watch a few seconds late and user error on the flour-marked gravel path (I’m sure I didn’t run the exact same path as measured)!  I think my favourite parts of the race were the atmosphere, the view, and having Colin and Spud waiting for me at the finish line.

Thank you Earth Run for letting me represent you online!  I had a fantastic experience and I’m sure Colin and I will come back next year to run!


Recap: Half Corked Marathon {27 May 2012}

The Half Corked Marathon in Oliver, British Columbia, Canada is not as it seems.  It is not a marathon.  It isn’t even a half marathon.  However, it is 18-ish kilometres that’s run through vineyards and wineries and filled with a lot of wine.  It’s also a really good time!

Colin and I heard about the race last year through friends of ours who had participated.  Seeing as we were just getting “into” wine – Colin’s parents moved into those parts and wineries are something fun to go to while we are up there – we didn’t sign up.  This year, though, we were on the ball!  We made sure we signed up to know when the registration date would be.  We made sure that one of us (Colin – I was at run clinic prior to dropping out) was home at the odd opening hour of 7pm on a Tuesday.  And we breathed a sigh of relief when we confirmed that we’d be 2 of the 600-some-odd runners/walkers.  I say it was a relief to get in because it sold out in 3 minutes!

At the end of May we packed up our bags and headed to my in-laws.  Conveniently it was my mother-in-law’s birthday the day before the race so we got to give her the “gift” of spending time with Spud the day after…  We had anticipated making a sneaky escape from the house race morning, but Spud had other plans.  He refused to go to sleep the night before unless we promised to wake him up before we left.  Of course, he was sound asleep come morning, but we knew he’d be upset if we didn’t keep our word so we got him up, settled him on the couch with cartoons (because the grandparents weren’t up yet – it was 6:20am), and said goodbye.

It was about an hour’s drive to the race and we thought we’d see a ton of wildlife on our way because it was so early, but we were disappointed.  After seeing 3 bears, a couple of deer, and a kamikaze mouse who almost bit the dust under our front tire on the way up, all we saw was a marmot sunning him/herself on the side of the road.  So, a pretty uneventful drive.

In order to get to the race start we had to board school buses and be driven about 15 minutes to the start, at Hester Creek and Gehringer Brothers (they shared a driveway).  It was quite comical to ride in a bus full of costumed adults (yes, it’s definitely that type of race!) who obviously hadn’t been on a bus in a very long time.  There was a lot of shrieking from the back when we went over bumps!

Colin and I signed up for the first of three waves, mainly to beat the heat in the early afternoon.  Temperatures that day ranged from 17C/63F at 9am to close to 27C/81F by 1pm so we really wanted to get done as early as possible.  Of course, that’s relative since we finished in just over 3 hours…  We hung out at the start and critiqued the costumes – Colin was “a runner” and I was “a runner in a sparkly skirt”.  The race started fairly on time (not that it really mattered) and we ran down the drive and onto a dirt/sand path.  Thankfully I didn’t get a shoe full of sand at any point!  I had dusty feet, but nothing blister-inducing.  I forced Colin to Colin and I decided to run together at this race since it was just for fun.  In the 3 years we’ve been running it is the very first time we have run a race together.  And, quite honestly, probably the last until next year!

Our first winery with a wine/water stop (no wine at/drunks before the start) was Inniskillin.  This was fun for a bunch of reasons:

  1. We love their wine.
  2. We got to sample white and red wine – don’t ask about types for any of the wineries as I didn’t even think to look – at 8:50am.  It’s apparently never too early…
  3. They had snacks.  Carrots, fig newtons, alphabet pretzels, and Timbits!  Really, a sommelier’s nightmare, but breakfast for us.
  4. Wine tasting wasn’t a requirement, but it was obviously encouraged.  98% of the runners went in.  The 2% who took the road past instead got booed.

Next up was Road 13.  The good part was that we got to try their Rosé wine.  The bad part was that we had to run up a hill to get it.  I walked.  Colin ran.  After that quick jaunt it was back down the hill and over to the next winery (sense a pattern here?).

Rustico Farm & Cellars was pretty fun.  After being greeted by 2 cowboys (who apparently wrangle grapes, not livestock) it was another hill.  I forced myself to run up this one just to get a hill repeat out of it (I’m training for Ragnar…).  The guy in the “Running Sucks” t-shirt gave me a good laugh.  At the top I got a sheriff badge button that would give me a discount later in the day – good marketing, that!  Had the requisite white, red, and water.  Also had the added bonus of cocktail weenies.  It’s amazing what you’ll eat on the run when finishing is the ultimate goal.

After Rustico we crossed the highway (thank goodness for traffic controllers – stop & go people – so we didn’t get smucked) and had a bit of a run til the next break.  It was along a shaded path and across the Okanagan River.  You can’t really see it in the left sign, but it says “The Drowning Machine” in reference to the weir.

Church & State was our 4th winery of the day.  It was a little bit of a climb up to it, but well worth it.  Another of our favourites.  Colin commented that he was looking for the fullest cup so the girl brought over the bottle and gave him a good half cup (think red plastic cup size…).  Goofed off a little, was thankful for the port-a-potties at each stop, and headed on.

I started to feel pretty tired at this point.  I am still breaking in my Saucony Mirage’s (they’re a 4mm drop if you’re a #runnerd) and this was my longest run to date in them.  When I stopped to walk on a very tiny incline Colin asked if I was doing okay.  I replied that I was “lazy”.  And then got an earful.  So I revised it to “my legs are fatigued…”  Back down the hill we went and along the river for a good while.  The shade was very welcome!

Silver Sage was probably my favourite stop on the route.  They had quite a few wines to choose from and it was really shady.  It was quite a busy stop!  They also had a lot of food – mini quiche, fruit, freezies, crackers, etc – which was greatly appreciated.  We were hungry by then!

After Silver Sage it was up to Stoneboat (another walking hill…) and their citrus granita.

We may or may not have had multiple servings of that!  Their part of the course was really nice since we got to run through the vineyard.  I made Colin take pictures of me for my blog – here’s my favourite:

Oliver Twist was awesome too.  Mainly because they had grapes in their wine and apple fritters to eat.  I definitely shouldn’t have had 3 pieces since I cramped up not long after, but it seemed worth it at the time!

The stretch after Oliver Twist was a little rough.  Not only did I have a food rock in my stomach, but I realized that I’d neglected to drink water at the last 2 wineries.  Oops!  Good thing refreshments were close at hand (unfortunately, though, coming right before a monster hill).  We were treated to Sangria and cucumber gazpacho by Tinhorn.  Again, not runner fare usually, but so welcome.  I made sure to drink plenty of water as well.  We ran a little bit more together until Colin told me he had itchy legs.  I guess that’s what happens when you run slower than usual.  Not that I’d know.  So he took off and horrified all the people who elected to walk up the hill.

We met up again at Desert Hills.  I had something white (Viognier? Gewurztraminer? Chardonnay? Don’t know.) and a lot more water.  Colin stayed with me this time, but we got passed by a couple dressed as a hot air balloon and anchor.  Only slightly embarrassing, but more so for Colin than me.

It was a pleasant surprise to find Nk’Mip (in-ka-meep; no, I had no idea the first time either) at the top of the hill with ice cold Reisling!

After that we only had one more stop at Quinta Ferreira before the finish.  They were at the bottom of a hill because I felt speedy running down to them!

It was nice to get back down into Oliver and know the finish line was near!  I didn’t make Colin cross the line holding hands (I should have) and we finished in just over 3 hours.  Honestly it was the slowest, most relaxed, fun race we’ve done.  After finishing we got commemorative wine glasses instead of medals (we also got a bottle of wine with each of our race packages) – with drink tickets for more tastings from wineries not on the route – and a decent bag lunch of a sandwich, salad, fruit, and dessert.  We met up with our friend Laurie to eat and to catch up.  Since it was getting pretty hot we headed our separate ways.

We got changed and hit up a few more wineries on the way home.

And went to bed at 9pm.

The Latest, Longest Race Report EVER!

Here is the reason that this race report is so late:  All I wanted to write about it for the last 2 weeks is “I ran; I finished; everything went according to plan, but my body decided to rebel; I’m still not over it.”  

I guess that I should preface this with:

  • Yes, I’m glad I ran my 2nd marathon.
  • Yes, I’m proud that I finished my 2nd marathon.
  • No, I’m still not happy with the result (and probably won’t be until the next let-down.  Then I’ll look back fondly on this race).  Look how long it’s taken me to write about it!
I know that everyone is extremely supportive and I totally appreciate it!  However, if you are a runner you’ve probably had races that you aren’t happy with.  Yes, I’ve learned a lot of stuff from this race (which I’ll regale you with in another long post).  But, for right now, you know where I’m coming from.  

Race report: BMO Vancouver Marathon – 1 May 2011

Saturday 30 April 2011:
  • My parents kindly offered to switch houses with us so that Spud could sleep in his own bed.  This was great.  We got to there place in the early evening and could just relax.
  • But we didn’t.  Colin was trying to figure out how to get his iPod to work on my dad’s computer so he could adjust his playlist.  I was watching the Canucks game.  
  • Apparently you can’t do any iPod stuff like that if it’s not on your own computer (or without massively messing around with someone else’s) so Colin was frustrated for a good couple of hours.  The Canucks went to 2nd overtime and lost.  Both activities were a total waste of time.
  • Set out stuff for morning.  I was very impressed that I pinned on my bib and didn’t have a mini-meltdown over it.  I refused to fiddle with it once it was on.
  • Couldn’t get to sleep in a different house.  Probably fell asleep closer to 1am and we had a 5am wake up.
Sunday 1 May 2011 – Pre-Race:
  • Colin discovered his backpack’s bladder leaked out all night from a cracked lid.  Cue rush around to find duct tape.
  • Made it to Skytrain before 6am to get downtown.  Not dressed warm enough so stood with our butts in the car idling on the other side of the platform.  I’m sure that the people in control wondered what we were doing…
  • No one on transit that early who wasn’t going to the race.  We all looked tired.
  • Shuffled down to the race site to check our bags.  Easy peasy – stick your stuff in this clear garbage bag, label with your bib number, hand over to volunteers.
  • Colin got (according to him, gross) McDonald’s coffee – love that they sponsor a race – and wandered off to find friends.  Unfortunately meet up place is under construction so we never did see any one.
  • Pre-race bathroom break.  Thankfully not too bad in the port-a-potties.  The lines were as long as I expected them to be, but the addition of sectioned off urinals for the guys cut them way down.  Please note that the mesh they used to block them off was one way see through.  Colin could see all sorts of people on the other side who had no idea that they were behind the bathroom…
  • Self-seeding “corrals”.  Not loving so much.  I stayed way in the back so I wouldn’t get caught up like I did in Victoria.  Is there a reason so many people start running quite a bit before the start line?  It’s chip-timed!  There’s no rush!
Sunday 1 May 2011 – The Race:

Km 1-10:

  • Out and back away from the water with a little loop through Chinatown at the start.  It’s just along one of the main streets.  It isn’t particularly exciting, but I liked it because I got to see a lot of my friends.  Of course, they were on their way back as I was going out…  For some reason didn’t see Colin at all.  There was a little square block we had to do at the turn around so I must have missed him there.  
  • Saw friends who came out to spectate (thanks Tamara, Fabiola and Christian!) and take pictures.  I didn’t figure out who was yelling at me until I’d passed them.
  • Saw the race leaders.  Holy fast!  I was at 3km when they were on their way back at 9km.
  • Saw a guy in a monkey suit.  Looked really uncomfortable.
  • Saw a slightly crazy lady kind of dancing along expending all sorts of energy.
  • A guy in the 8km race that ran along the same route who was wearing an over-sized crown.  Again, looked uncomfortable.
  • I felt okay during this part.  I was keeping to my slow pace and doing pretty well.
Km 11-17:
  • A little reverse loop through Chinatown and then up to the Dunsmuir viaduct.  Kind of cool since you aren’t ever allowed to walk up there.
  • Nice older neighbourhood.  Didn’t realize it was quite so much of a hill, but I plodded along just fine.
  • Got to a water stop and the volunteers were yelling “no electrolytes.”  In my head I was thinking GU2O, but they meant gels.  I was carrying my own so it didn’t matter.  Sucky for those who weren’t though.
  • Should have stopped for the bathroom here, but there were only 2 port-a-potties and a pretty substantial line up.  Note to self: you’re not breaking any records so stop if you think you need to!
  • Ran through the Downtown Eastside.  If you know Vancouver you’ll know that this is pretty much the poorest neighbourhood in Canada.  However it was sunny out, there were lots of spectators and I thought it was really pretty.  It doesn’t always look like that though…
  • Ran out through Coal Harbour and could start to see views of the inlet and mountains.  
  • Body was starting to hate me for missing the last stop.
Km 18-27:
  • Funniest moment of the marathon: traffic was really backed up coming out of Coal Harbour.  Not sure if people were misdirected or if they just didn’t pay attention to signs.  The police were out doing the best they could (I started thanking all of them after this).  There was a priest 3 cars back (who I’m assuming was late for Mass) who was yelling really loudly at the officer.  Something along the lines of “this better not happen again next year!!!” to which the cop replied, very calmly, “please take it up with the city sir.” 
  • Another water stop, but they were giving out doughnuts.  If it had been closer to the end of the race I totally would have taken them up on the offer.
  • Didn’t stop at bathroom for same reason as before.  Note to self: STUPID!
  • Started running around Stanley Park.  Really pretty especially since the weather decided to cooperate.  Made me realize how much I love Vancouver and how much I should appreciate living here.
  • Finally hit up a bathroom.  Thankfully a real one this time, but there were still lines.  Tried to appease my body with drugs.
  • Half way point!  Woohoo!  No gels again.  What?  This is what happens when the half and full share stations.  There was a really pretty mosaic of GU tops on the ground though that would have made for a cool picture.
  • Hit the little hill in the park (no were near as bad as the halfers had it).  I’d done the route before so I knew what to expect.
  • Starting to get kind of warm so start to utilize all water stations even though I was packing my own.
  • Water station in park.  No cups!  What?!?  Had volunteer pour directly into my mouth.  Had next volunteer pour water on my hands so I could wash my face…  Wasn’t smart enough to keep a cup like my friend did.
  • Begin use of all remaining bathrooms.  This was turning into a “character builder.”
  • Ran out of park and then along Beach/Pacific Avenues.  Nice view of the water.  Unfortunately also the mental killer of seeing where I had to run to (Jericho) across the water before I could turn around.
Km 28-33:
  • The Burrard Bridge.  Dun, dun, duh…  Really not as bad as it sounds.  Way worse at 40km on the way back.  My mental game started here because I was seeing friends who were on their way back.  Rough!
  • Running through Kitsilano was good.  Nice beach views.  Stations that had an abundance of GU (started stock-piling).  Rolling hills, but nothing unexpected.
  • Our friends Sean and Brenda came out at km 30 to take pictures.  We knew they were going to try to make it, but weren’t sure where they’d be so it was great to see them.
  • Started seeing more friends on their way back.  I knew that I was pretty much bringing up the rear.
  • Took GU Chomps when they were offered just to give my stomach a break.  They went down fine, but I remembered why I don’t take them.  Ugh.  Definitely a personal preference.
  • Finally to the turn around!  I had to force myself to run to the water station.  It wasn’t much of an uphill, but enough of one that I was dying at the top.  At this point (9km left) my hamstrings, quads and hip flexors were screaming at me.  I chugged as much water and GU2O as I could.  A bit sloshy as I left, but better than being dehydrated.
Km 34-40:
  • Return trip!  I don’t know when I’ve ever been this happy in a race before.  I was feeling really good about how I was running the race, but I knew that I was going pretty slow.
  • Saw a poor guy laying on the ground in the middle of the road with 2 medics attending him.  He must have had massive leg cramps because they each had one leg and were stretching him out.
  • Hit up final 2 GU stations for extra gels.  Didn’t need them at all, but if they were 6 people deep offering them I wasn’t going to say no.  Those suckers are expensive!  If I could have run with a whole box for 6km I totally would have taken one.
  • The route went through residential at this point to get down under the bridge.  I’ve shown it before, but fake it till you make it.
  • Right as I was running out of this area my knee did a little pop/slide thing that had me hop-running for a couple of steps and freaked me out.  I can handle aches and pains, but I’ll never mess with my knees.  Thankfully I had an Advil so I popped it then.
  • Coming under the bridge my knee gave me heck a couple more times so I walked for a little bit just to help it out.
  • Here’s my favourite shot of Colin.  He’s coming under the bridge and I totally think he looks like a celebrity about to kick a paparazzo’s ass for taking his picture.
  • Coming up to the Burrard Bridge I knew that there would be the Lululemon cheer station (their offices are across the street).  They were such a help.  When you are a slower runner it means so much to have people still out there supporting you.
  • Power walked up the bridge.  I so wanted to run, but my knee was worse on up-hills.  At least I was still passing people.
  • Here’s the difference between a faster runner (Colin) and a slower runner (me) coming off the bridge:


  • When you are fast there are other people around, you look focused and your feet leave the ground.  When you are slow you get the photographer to yourself, you look happy because you have to distract yourself from the pain and you shuffle like an 80 year old man with a walker.

Km 41-42.2:

  • It’s all downhill from here.  It’s also a lot longer than you’d think it would be.
  • I distracted myself by thanking volunteers (so many highschoolers looking for volunteer hours as a part of graduation requirements!) and police officers.
  • I knew that I wasn’t going to hit sub-5 hours.  I was trying desperately not to lose it before the finish line.
  • I totally chicked a guy.  Granted that it was a dad running with his daughter and that we’d been out for over 5 hours, but I needed the little self confidence boost.
  • I still cheered for myself at the finish line.  
Sunday 1 May 2011 – Post-Race:
  • Saw the rest of my friends after getting my medal.  Nice to at least say hi.
  • Found Colin and promptly fell apart.  He wouldn’t even tell me his time at the start because he got a 20 minute PR, but I forced it out of him.
  • Stole Picked up lots of food at the buffet.  Got to say the bonus of being near the end is that there is still lots of food and no lines.  They gave us a handy drawstring bag when we came into the food area so I took advantage and loaded up.
  • Got changed and walked over to Yaletown for pizza and drinks with friends.  A few of us were celebrating and a few of us were drowning our sorrows (me in pop, but it felt the same).  
  • Walking to lunch and then to the Skytrain really helped with recovery.  As much as I wanted to just sit around and do nothing it was good to have to move.  The stairs down to the car kind of sucked, but in a good way.
  • Picked up Spud and went home to lick my wounds.

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)