It has taken me a while to process this race, let alone finish this post and RR....
I am humbled.
For all my training, discipline, early morning training sessions, training races, ambitions, and sacrifices, I am humbled.
The 2014 iteration of the BMO Vancouver Marathon is the same course that has been since 2012. Three years of running the same course. And although my fitness is better than 3 years ago (stronger), my mental stubbornness more acutely refined (tougher), my speed improved (quicker), my experience more...er...deeper(!?) (wiser), this marathon punched my ticket.
In fact, no matter my hopes for a strong finish, consistent pace, and conserving my energy, I was again struck on this very taxing, very difficult course with giving up my time goals when the writing was on the wall. Just after I hit "the wall".
The day started with a ride down from the New Balance store with Franco, Gord, Sarb, and Pam. We piled into Franco's loaner vehicle at 6:30 and made our way to the River Rock, and on to the King Ed. Station on the Canada Line, where we would be soaked by the rain showers while getting to the start area. Inside the community center, a warm place to settle, I got ready for the run, and packed all of my stuff away into my rain soaked bag.
A couple of trips to the port-a-potties, and some warm-up on the hill about the start area at Q.E. Park, and I was (somewhat) ready to go. I did see Joel Payeur and Shannon Penway at the start line rocking Hoka's and a full trail setup, along with Hans Zimmerling, and Chris Barth. Hans was shooting for a 2:52, Chris was running his second marathon in 3 weeks, and Joel and Shannon were hoping for a 3:30.
The gun went off and I settled in for a long morning. 4:15 min/km was my goal, and I figured I had the strength to suffer for the 42.2k at that pace. I was fine through 8k, where I met Jordan from Victoria. We had the same time goals, and the same finish time from Victoria in 2013 at 3:06. Running with him, I had to duck out and hit a port-a-potty again, losing 35s while I did my business. Back on course, I met up with Franco on 49th.
The two of us were then inseparable. Within the race, my main goal became to stay with Rika Hatachi--a very consistent and capable runner from Coquitlam in her late 40s. I had the edge on her after rounding UBC, and thought that I had dusted her off for good. But the hardest part of the race was yet to come. I crossed the halfway point in 1:30:55. A good sign, but I still had another half marathon to run.
The stretch between UBC and the Burrard Bridge is a very deceptive part of the run. It seems to always be climbing, or a false flat incline upwards. Heading just into the heart of Kits--Arbutus Street to be precise, the cheering section was near deafening. It was amazing to see so many spectators boosting up the runners in this section of the course. It was here where my pace began to take a serious hit heading up the bridge. Yet on the downside of the Burrard Bridge, I felt surprisingly good, and only had 11k to go. Entering English Bay, I saw Alex Lea and Solana Klassen, cheering raucously! It is amazing the boost that having friends on course can do for a runner.
But soon after seeing my favorite cheerleaders on course today, my body came to a grinding stop. I physically did not stop, but my engine sputtered, slowed, and began to simply run on fumes. I was toast. Not hitting the wall hard like last year, but more of a shift from 5th to 3rd. And I could not get out of 3rd.
Perhaps it was a lack of on course nutrition, perhaps I should not have run the Sun Run the week before. Maybe I should have rested more in the week leading up to it. Whatever it was, I was tasting the bitterness of a race that had just beat me, and felt the cold bite of this May rain. I was not shattered emotionally, I knew that my goals would not be met today, yet I still had 20 minutes to run just over 5k. At the pace I was setting, I knew I would finish outside of another Boston qualifier.
I smiled slightly, and resigned myself to finishing the course. Being out there any longer than I needed to was insult to injury in the state that I was in. With 1200 metres to go, I saw my good friend, Jake Francis' father snapping photos. He got one of me while I smiled for him. Although it does not look like it, I am (trying) to smile in the pic. At least, I thought I was smiling. It felt like I was smiling.....
|In a dark place....|
|...determined to squeeze speed from my body, when that would not happen....|
|I thought I gave Doug a smile....Does that look like I was having a good time?|
|2014 Results. Running on fumes to the top 200.|
|Some fancy graphs that tell you about my splits, and where things went wrong...|
|Portioning out my HR zones. Perhaps a little high, but it is a race.|
I will not be back next year to run the full marathon in this city. Nothing against the race organization, the expo, or the setup. I just can't seem to solve this course. I need to run in some different places, different events. I will come back to it, just not next year....
That said, the half marathon looks like a good way to still stay involved in the event.
Oh, and Boston calls. I will go there to make magic happen. I can leave well enough alone on this course. It has my ticket, and I am resigning from challenging it for at least 2 years. Maybe 2016. But really, I would like to do Boston, figure out the Chuckanut 50 in 2016, along with some other races, 5 Peaks and whatnot. This one--the BMO Vancouver Marathon--not being a focal point for my spring---will help me get organized for some other, different events.
The marathon is a race that must be respected. It cannot be taken for granted, it cannot be referred to as easy, or minimized simply as just a double half marathon. If run correctly, there should be nothing left in your tank by the end of it, and the recovery should take at least a week or two. I may not have run it correctly on that day. I had little left by the end, but did not run it correctly. Almost two weeks on, I am feeling almost back to normal.
Up next: well I just registered for the Sandcastle 10k, and am gearing up for either the Kamloops full or half marathon. That one is a coin toss, really. It is a BQ race, and it is flat, so there is a chance at redemption there. However, I could put all my eggs in the Victoria Marathon basket, and save myself from the recovery of another marathon effort.
We shall see.