May 7, 2012

A Picture Paints One Thousand Words

Yesterday I raced the BMO Vancouver marathon.  Ok, so I'm an ultra runner who mostly runs on trails but I do love to road run too and it was simply too much to resist to not run Vancouver having moved back here just 8 days ago.  What better way to celebrate moving back and catch up with a tonne of friends?  Possibly not the best move to throw in, yet another, mini taper when I really need to be getting long trail runs in in prep for Western States 100 miler in just 7 weeks time.  But on the other hand, sometimes forcing myself to take a few days off by way of a taper is not such a bad thing after all, and a hard 42.2km effort is at least some sort of training, even if not Western States specific.

I could write a long race report but to be honest I spend all day in front of a PC for work, so here's a Cole's note version typed on a beautifully sunny Vancouver evening before I head off to a hot yoga class (good Western heat acclimatization and my only hope of being able to some day touch my toes).  If you don't have either the tim for the inclination to read this, then skip to the two photos at the bottom because as the saying goes, a picture paints one thousand words.

- The new point to point route is scenically stunning, but despite being net downhill it has some good little uphills too.  It also had about 400m too much in distance, but lets forgive this otherwise excellently revamped course for a few minor errors.  Overall, I highly recommend this as a great destination marathon.

- Lots of fun running through the various neighbourhoods, each with memories of run groups I've run with over the years.  UBC & Kits for Forerunners, Burrard Bridge for PRR, and the Stanley Park seawall for Vancouver Falcons.

- Great company in the initial 1/2 or so with Jordan Back (congrats on your PB), Barry Young, Mikey P and Stan Yang.

- Rolling hills for much of the first 25km or so meant it was hard to gauge even km splits.  Maybe this was a good thing, I just ran more on feel and thus maybe ran faster than I would have dared if it was a pancake flat course and I'd stuck to preplanned km splits.

- I had no expectation to win and was surprised even when I first heard I was in 3rd place, having expected to be in about 5th.  When a spectator called out I was in 2nd I corrected them and said I was in 3rd, but they were right as 2nd place female had dropped out.  I still didn't expect to win as thought 1st place would be miles ahead (until I saw her at about 12km to go and my friend Katherine Moore shouted at me to go catch her, thanks for the encouragement Kat!)  This was an awesome way to run - no pressure, no expectations, until 12km to go when I hauled as hard as I could.

- It took me until about 7km to go to take the lead.  I would try pass into 1st place but Mary (Akor) would take the inside bend tight forcing me out to run wide and lose distance.  She would also surge so much I knew I couldn't keep up at that surging pace.  But I heard her breathing much harder than me and at 7km to go and on about the 10th surge I cracked it and passed her.  I made a decisive split to try grow a lead, I knew my ultra legs would not be up for a sprint on the final stretch so I needed to make a move and make a gap now.  I felt pretty gutsy going past Mary who is an Olympic Trials qualifier with a PB around 2:37, but I kept my cool and was thinking elite strategy I've listened to on Marathon Talk podcast (thanks for the tips Martin & Tom!)

- Once in the lead I just wanted to get to my PRR buddies who were manning a water station at Lumberman's Arch.  It was a mini goal before the finish line and I needed some cheering as much as some gatorade (thanks guys).  It was counting each and every km marker at this point.

- On going under the narrow arch at the lighthouse on the seawall I had to overtake the lead motorbike, it was backed up with male racers in front and I didn't dare lose pace for a second in case Mary was still right behind me.  Soon after the one bad natured Vancouverite I saw all day blocked the way of the lead motorbike causing it to swerve and causing the volunteer cyclist to go down.   Big thank you to that vollie cyclist and I feel terrible that some angry pedestrian made you fall when you were giving up your day to help Vancouver put on an awesome event.

- For the final 12km or so I only looked at my pace on my garmin about once.  Sometimes it's not about your time but more about your position and once I knew it was possible I could win this race, I so wanted to.  I thought that it'd be a pretty cool homecoming....and it was.

- Thank you so much to all the great volunteers who gave up their weekend to make this event happen - 15, 000 runners can be pretty demanding!  Big thanks also to Lynn Kanuka (Elite coordinator) and Jordan Myers (RD) for all your hard work into making BMO Vancouver such a great event.  But biggest thank you of all to all my friends - so great to see you all again.

Satisfaction in a surprise win that means a lot to me

Only once I was over the line did I look at my garmin.  I was pretty happy with the number I saw.  2:42:15.  PB by 49secs

Photos: The Province (Vancouver)
Now back to ultras (I promise!)