run pretty run fast

a blog about running fast with style


Well since it’s almost August guess I better recap my marathon from May (BMO Vancouver Marathon).  There has to be some sort of 12 step program for bad bloggers.

Here we go.

To be honest kids I’m still in a bit of disbelief that I finished.  It feels a bit like a dream.  On Sunday May 4th I finished my 9th marathon and accomplished my one and only goal.  I hadn’t crossed a marathon finish line since December 2010 though I’d made it through 12 weeks of training for one, 19 miles of another, and through about 6 weeks of training for another.

This go around my goal was rather simple:  Find a finish line.

I started training in January and was surprisingly out of shape.  My easy runs were the slowest I’d ever seen and my workout paces were a good 20-25 seconds slower per mile than my previous marathon training cycle.  Still my goal was the same… cross a finish line.

For weeks leading up to the race I debated back and forth and back like any good obsessive compulsive runner about how to run the dang thing.  My coach thought I was in 3:07 shape and maybe faster if I found a pace group to run with… I however was a bit more realistic and thought at best I was in 3:10 shape.  So for weeks and weeks I debated back and forth and forth and back do I run with the 3:10 pace group or 3:05?  Conservative or risky?   Who am I?  I don’t take risks… I do dumb things but risk?


Thinking is hard.

Then finally one day I bothered to look at the actual marathon race website and realized neither pace group existed.  My options were 3:15 or 3:00.


After a minor mini breakdown I decided not to deal with the whole pace issue (oh hello denial my old friend) and just make it through the last few weeks of training.

On the eve of the big race I finally decided my safest (non risky and not stupid) bet was to run based on my heart rate.  I just couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around 26.2 miles- it just seemed too long but I remember reading that one could run a marathon at 85% of their max heart rate (if you’ve put the training in) and we all know I’m a fan of science so it seemed like the best racing strategy for this very doubtful runner.

So I turned the mile chimes on my watch off (after all I was racing in Canada and it would be in kilometers) and turned my Garmin heart rate screen on and hoped I was making a good life choice.

I was lucky these fun peeps braved the land of the maple tree with me:

IMG_7735They kept me calm until my head hit the pillow on race eve and only then did I completely freak out until I finally fell asleep.

Sunday morning I was up and mostly ready to race on a less than dry day (48 and rain but not bad marathon racing conditions).


The morning was rather a blur but somehow I got to the start line and through the porta potty lines, found the start corral and before I knew it we were o-f-f off!


I was still sort of clueless when it came to pace so I figured I’d run a few miles with the 3:15 pace group to get warmed up.

I managed to google my pace conversions the night before the race (nothing like planning ahead) and I knew that 4:30 was 7:15 pace (3:10 and change) and 4:27 was 7:10 pace (3:07 and change).  3:15 (7:28ish) was 4:38 so at least I had some ballpark ideas.  So 7:28s seemed like a good way to start.

3:15 pace group guy maybe had other plans for the race.

We kicked things off with a 4:28 (not bad) followed but a 4:18 (what!!!!) and then 4:31 (better), 4:14, 4:20, 4:18, 3:52(!!!!) and then finally at 8k (mile 5ish) a 4:38.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.27.07 PM

In pace group guys defense the course was downhill to start:

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.22.38 PM

I was a bit concerned about the lap pace and even more concerned about my quads for the later part of the race (shout-out to the downhill) but I felt okay, my hips were a bit tight but what else is new.  The heart rate looked good so I went with it.
About the 5 mile mark we hit the hill and pace guy slowed down.  He’d explained to the group that he was trying to get a head of the clock since he knew we would lose time on the hill.  I’d run a lot of hills during my training and felt okay so I just kept a steady pace and steady heart rate.
Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.28.02 PM
At some point I missed a K but tried to recover (err… I think- numbers are confusing during a marathon- or always).  The ks were a nice distraction because it allowed me to check in on my pace and it helped me stay focused instead of space out… so guess that’s good?
My plan at this point was to just make it to the half way point.  For most of the run I was thinking I needed to hit the 22k and then around 18k was delighted to remember that a marathon is actually 42k which means halfway is 21k!  Woot! woot!
3k to go!
Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.35.22 PM
I was still feeling okay but I did feel like I was slowing down a bit and was still a bit nervous that I had 13.1 miles ahead of me.
Ks 22-32 I was just trying to keep things together: stay relax and not push the heart rate.  Anytime I was feeling nervous about my pace I just checked to see if my heart rate was in range and told myself I’d make it to the end.
I missed a few ks but I think this is 22-32:
Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.44.00 PM
Somewhere in there is the horrible climb onto the bridge.  It really only looks like this:
Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.46.51 PM
But it just about did me in.  Special shout out to BMO Vancouver Marathon for putting a photographer there to document everyone’s pain.
I told myself to just keep going and make it to 32k- 20 miles.  I’m not sure what was so magical about the 20 mile marker but I figured if I made it that far feeling somewhat in control I could power through the final 6.
So I just kept counting ks until I spotted the 32k sign and I knew it was game on.  No more sitting back, it was time to push the heart rate.
To be honest my legs/hips were tight but somehow they were still moving and I somehow managed to talk them into moving (slightly) faster.  The finish was on the seawall and I tried to look-up to pass people and pass k markers.
Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 8.49.15 PM
 (*k makers are off since I forgot to lap my watch a few times.)
The finish was a little funning since you run on a side-walk to get to the street with the finish line- sort of reminded me of a relay race.
The only other issue with the finish is it looked like this:
Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 7.21.15 AM
Yep.  That is up kids.
But I somehow managed to keep my crap together and I finished:
I was actually pretty surprised by my time.  I really didn’t know what pace I was running for most of the race.  I knew my k splits were in the ball park but didn’t really know what 42 of them all together would look like.  I knew I was a bit fast through the half (mostly based on the profile of the course) and knew I’d slowed down a little the second half.  I was thinking I was closer to 3:15 pace but didn’t really care what pace I was running as long as I finished.  And finish I did!  And believe it or not ready to sign-up for another!
Overall this course was a lot more challenging than I had anticipated.  The elevation gain and loss was much more than I thought:
Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 7.20.18 AM
But the course was hands down one of my favorites.  There was a variety of scenery along the way and was well supported.  Here’s the course:
Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 7.19.30 AM
I would consider running it again.  I think one thing that helped me out was that most of my long runs during the training cycle were hilly so if you are thinking of running it I’d make sure to incorporate some hill training on your long runs or easy runs.
Okay… That’s all I gots…
But one last special shout out to Megha and JJ for being the best roomies and race buddies around… when shall we race again?
Okay… until my next ridiculously late (and long) post…

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This entry was posted on August 2, 2014 by in marathons, races and tagged , , , , , .
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