BMO Vancouver Marathon Recap

For those of you who are already madly clicking escape to avoid one of blow-by-blow accounts of the race I’ll give you the quick and dirty stats now and then you can move on.

Overall Course: Lovely. Vancouver is very clean. Very pretty. The first 5 or so miles are in manicured neighborhoods then parks and along the waterfront for the rest of the race finishing in downtown Vancouver.

Elevation: The elevation profile of the race is between sea level and 225 feet or so which doesn’t seem like much. HOWEVER, those Canadians are a tricky bunch! The course includes continuous ups and downs. The entire race you are going slightly uphill or slightly downhill. Sure, when you actually inspect the profile you can see it but you can’t really “see” it until you’re feeling it. Sneaky Canucks!

Finish Time: 4 hours and 38 minutes**
**My official clock time is 4:39. However, there was a slight race snafu around mile 4. The race organizers had runners STOP at one light along the way so traffic could cross. My time at the light was about a minute so I feel no remorse in shaving that minute off my time and declaring a finish of 4:38.

This apparently created a big brouhaha in the running community so here’s a link where you can see runners being stopped at this particular light.  I actually found myself getting turned back to the corner and having to wait for the light to change- I’m at about 5 min 21 seconds in. Purple shirt, shorts and orange visor.

Ok, that’s it for the short story. For those of you bored already, feel free to click to a funny cat video or watch a Lip-Sync battle with Jimmy Fallon.

The Race

First, Let’s Talk About the Platinum Experience

Lisa, my running partner in crime and I signed up for this event about 6 months ago. One of the smartest things we did was purchase the Platinum Package. For only $99 extra this is what we got.

Pre-race: Speedy packet pickup at the Expo, a VIP tent with heaters, mats for stretching, water, coffee, electrolyte drink AND private port-a-potties for our use only plus a special van for our bags. The bathrooms were probably the best part. They had a line of 10 or so pink port-a-potties and a line of 10 or so blue ones. Plus a security guard making sure that only people with the Platinum Bib could enter.

Finish Line: We were sent through a side chute to a VIP tented area on the side of the finish line so we could see the finishers, have wine, snacks and a seat for a while. Our bags were in a separate area and they had mats to stretch and foam rollers to well, roll on. I slugged back 3 little glasses of white wine and a sandwich after the race. Best. Ever.

Back to the Event

Our race started at Queen Elizabeth park. Many people have asked me where this is. It’s about 26.2 miles away from downtown Vancouver to be precise. Ha Ha – marathon joke!

The race started off through some well-manicured neighborhoods and through the infamous stop light and then up a very long hill at mile 5 or so. Funny but on the elevation profile it didn’t look like that much of a big deal but it was a very tough, long slow grind to the top. Bummer. I didn’t expect that. There were a lot of spectators along this part which was very helpful.

One we crested the hill we entered the outskirts of a very pretty wooded park. A bit of ups, a bit of downs greeted us on this part and then there was a gorgeous sweeping and very loooooong downhill to the water.

Short downhills will give you an opportunity to gain speed and shave some minutes of your pace. This downhill was so long that they actually cautioned us at the start of the race to brake on the way down or else our quads would be screaming later in the race. Point taken.

Finally the race was at sea level as we ran along the parks and waterfront of Vancouver. Again, there were lots of ups and downs. They were only small elevation gains and losses but you still had to adjust. The final hill was over the bridge before dropping us into Stanley Park. Think Chrissy Field in San Francisco.

There were boats on the water, snow-capped mountains in the background and a ton of people playing and enjoying the sunny weather.

We looped around the point and up one small incline around a lighthouse and then flattened out for the final outer loop around the park and up to downtown.

The race finished on an incline. Let me repeat that. The last half mile or so was uphill. I’m sorry, but this is a very, very, very cruel thing to do on a marathon. Finally the finish line was in sight and I just pushed as hard as I could to the end.

I was very well prepared for this race.  I had increased my total volume (the amount of miles I was running each week) and my long runs were strong.  This showed in the first half of the race.

My average pace through the first 13 miles was strong – 9:51. I was very happy because this included the very large hill early on and the stop light snafu that I mentioned before. But it was a very hard 13 miles. My legs were heavy from the start, I wasn’t running smoothly and my mental game was off.  I was feeling frustrated because I had trained hard for this race. The second half of the race required me to focus, dig deep and push to the end.

Post-Marathon Geek Alert

When I got home from the race I immediately downloaded my stats. According to my Garmin (which is akin to God in my world) I ran 26.38 miles in 4:39. I was impressed to see that some of my mile splits were under 9 minutes and most of the first half of the race my mile splits were under 10 minutes.

I also saw the undulations of the course. At each mile you can see the small gains and losses that totaled 1700 gain and 1900 loss on the course. That explained my achy legs.

Final Thoughts

It was a good race. It was a hard race. I ran fast when I could, ran slow when I had to and took more walking breaks. I’d count to 10 or 30 (out loud) and then start to run again. At one point, early on, I seriously considered stopping and waiting for Lisa to come along so we could run together and chat the rest of the way like we did at the Big Sur Marathon. But I knew that if I gave up I would have regretted not pushing all the way to the end so I kept running.

Most importantly I tried to keep my sense of humor and a good attitude. I thanked volunteers and tried to encourage other runners (we’re almost there!) and enjoyed the view and the spirit of what we were doing.

If you would have asked me during the run if I would continue my quest for a 10th marathon I would have said no. I thought “enough, I’m done”.

However, there is nothing like finishing a marathon. You are sore.  You are tired.  You are also exuberant and proud. Some people cry. Some people drop to the ground. Some need help from medical.

But no matter how you end up across the finish line there is no denying that you did it. You ran 26.2 miles. You are a marathoner. It erases all of the frustration you felt on the run.

So yes, there will be one more marathon so my goal of 10 by the time I’m 50.  Realistically it will be in my 50th year but I think that counts.  And since it may be my last marathon it will have to be “EPIC”.  Stay tuned..

But first I have another Ragnar Relay race to do in October…

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

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