“Run a marathon and discover who you are!”
An Amazing Day
Wow! What an amazing experience! Yesterday I completed the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Today I hobble with joy and am blown away that the race has already come and gone! I will be working on a race video in the next couple of days. For now, I want to do a report of my race experience.
First, the BMO Vancouver Marathon was amazing. Every part of the day fell into place. I recommend this race to everyone! I will be running it again without a doubt.
I am delighted that I completed my fist 42.2k distance. I stuck to my race plan and it paid off. Overall, I was able to stick to a solid pace for the first 24k. After that, I added a minute to my per kilometre pace each hour. This was to be expected. I believe the goal in training is to “push farther out” the place where you start to drop in pace significantly. In training, I had completed several 20k and 30k runs. I did one 32k and I remember that due to cumulative fatigue, that was a particularly difficult day. As I prepare for my next marathon adventure, I will work in more 32k training runs in order to push out my lactate threshold.
The race was well-organized. The corals were clearly marked, and the start was a mass start as the cap was around 5k participants, unlike the half marathon that started earlier. The course did not feel congested. Runners are a polite bunch in general, but a poorly set up course causes problems regardless.
The one complaint I have is a problem reported last year as well. At one place in the race, maybe 14k or so in (I’m only guessing as I was totally brain numb after 10k), a traffic cop was stopping runners and letting cars through. This is total crap as the course is closed to traffic, not to mention, we all paid big bucks to run this Boston qualifying course. This is the one and only thing about the course that has to change.
Cheer and Water:
The cheer sections were amazing. What amazing folks, especially during the final 2k, when you feel totally spent. I was particularly happy about the frequency of water stations. About every 3k, there was electrolyte and water tables, with periodic gels with one station that had small chunks of banana. It was a particularly hot day in Vancouver, and all the stations were more than willing to fill water bottles and even dump water on your head if you wanted.
The first 10k is mostly rolling hills, with plenty of down hill action to even out the 1k splits. I read several articles about the dreaded Camosun Hill that runs between the 9th and 10th click. However, the hill did not feel that bad at all. And, in fact, I kept a solid pace during that section breaking 5:56min/k. At the top of the hill my race time was at 1:05, much better than I expected. In my training, I did a lot of up hill work, something I grew to like quite a bit. I think this helped immensely.
Distance 10k to the Half:
My 21.1k split was solid considering the hills and heat. Now, I know you are laughing if you are from like Arizona or Hawaii, but 26c is quite warm for us in BC, especially in May! 🙂
This part of the course was relatively unremarkable. A serious downhill section starts around 19k and goes for what seems forever. I recall feeling like I needed to take this section slow as my quads were feeling some burn from the pounding. I think training needs to include significant downhill training to learn to manage pace, etc. I did not do enough of that over the past year.
Distance Half to 35k:
At around 24k, I started to seriously slow down. This part of the course flattens out and runs along English bay. It was one of the most beautiful sections in the course, and also the most warm. Usually Spanish Banks and Jericho Beach are quite breezy, but not on race day.
The final big uphill climb starts around the 30k mark. This is the Burrard Bridge. I walked about a third of the uphill climb concerned I was going to burn myself to a pulp before starting the final 10k.
And yes, the FINAL 10K! For everyone this is the most difficult portion of a race and an equalizer for every runner. Even with a good training plan, if you go out too fast at the beginning of the race, the wall is waiting for you here. This is where I slowed down even more. In the final 10k, it is definitely “One Foot In Front Of The Other!” The final 10k is where your mental training comes into play more than any other part of the course. If you have to walk, you remind yourself that walking does not equal failure. I used counting forwards and backwards from 100 to keep my mind distracted. I had run the Sea Wall dozens of times in training, and knew where the course felt the most “lonely”. Luckily, the aid stations broke the long winding sections up, giving me hope.
Distance 35k to the Finish:
The final 7k of the race went by like a blur. I remember feeling a second wind, and also remember that feeling of worry that started at around the 29k mark disappear. The race ends on a slight uphill, but that did not seem to bother me. Then, suddenly, you pass the finish line. The make the end of my journey even that much more exciting, John Stanton was handing out medals. I wanted to give the guy a big hug, but I think I would have scared him a bit! Instead I grabbed his hand and said, “Thanks for everything”.
The BMO Vancouver Marathon is the “must do” race for every marathoner. With the exception of the traffic cop stopping runners, I have no complaints. Hopefully they will figure this out in the future as it appears to be a problem during previous events.
This was my first marathon experience, and definitely not my last. Time to sign up for another one!