May 9, 2013

BMO Vancouver 30.29km - My Smiling Thirty in the Sun

In 2008 I ran my first sub-3 hour marathon ever at my home town race of Vancouver and placed 3rd female - awesome race!  In 2009 I went into the race with a nagging SI injury and dropped (or rather Gary Robbins persuaded me to stop running as I was a hobbling and sniffly mess at just over the half way mark).  In 2012 I ran my current PB of 2h42 at Vancouver some 8 days after moving back to the city and was first female - awesome race!  In the 2013 version of the BMO Vancouver Marathon, held this past Sunday, I went in with niggling ankle pain and dropped 2hrs/ 30.29kms in.  Morale of the story - if I have an awesome race at Vancouver under NO circumstances should I sign up the following year!

Gordon & Bryan, fellow volunteers at BC Athletics booth at the expo, day before the race
Dropping out this year was much easier than in 2009.  Although I hoped that miracles might happen and that no ankle pain would materialise I was realistic that it would and I just hoped to get as far as I could, without doing any damage, and put in a decent paced run.  Yes, I did hope for that miracle but I had back up plans should it not happen.

Start of the Half Marathon in Queen Elizabeth Park
At the race start line I was relaxed and just looking forward to a great day out, it was going to be hot and sunny and I couldn't wait for it - I'd not run outside for 2 weeks as right now my ankle prefers the smooth surface of the treadmill, so I'd got plenty of heat training in in a stuffy gym :)   I also knew that even if I made it to the finish line the focus was not on speed but on running solid; no need to run with my eye balls bursting out from the start.

I had friends who I knew would be at various points of the course and they'd been given strict instructions to physically remove me from the course if I was looking rough.  I also had 'Comrades' written on my arm along with a piece of my Comrades medal ribbon around my wrist to remind me that, however much I'd be tempted to push myself into the pain bucket, today was not the day to do so.  Comrades is my 'A' race and today was a stepping stone rather than the final destination.

Reminder of the year ahead...
Early on I ran along side my buddy Hassan (Sammy) Lofti-Pour, who has represented Canada at the World 100km several times.  It was great to run with Sammy and be in a pack with a few guys to keep things light hearted and social.  Early on I was surprised by how bad my quads felt despite having run way less mileage recently than usual, the little ups seemed especially tough - darn my physio Ramsey who has had me doing lots of squats - lead-like quads from the get go (and I thought I had trail runners quads, obviously not!)  Ramsey, Allison and Brooke were out on the course along with lots of VFAC team mates such as Steve, Barry and Janette, as well as Gili.  I looked forward to seeing them and would give them the thumbs up as I passed as my ankle was feeling good, especially given the net downhill profile of the first half of the course.

As we approached the top of the descent down Spanish Banks hill I looked up and said out loud 'wow, look at that view!'  The Pacific was glistening below us and the snow capped North Shore mountains looked just stunning, Vancouver was showing off for sure!  By this point, about 19km in, I was running with a woman from Seattle and tried to help her with course tips as she'd not run the route before.  I think she may have thought it was a little crazy that her 'competitor' was sharing course strategies but I let her know that I was unlikely to make it to the finish and we enjoyed quite a few kms together.

Cruising in Kits.  Photo: Ryan Allderman

Coming into Kits I knew I should drop at about the 2hr mark, although my ankle was ok it was not great and the full 42.2 wouldn't be smart.  So I decided to ensure that I enjoyed my 2 hour outdoor run and smiled my way though and even high-fived a person in an oversize blue bear costume at the side lines (normally I hate those sort of official mascots with a passion!)  On the Kits side of Burrard Bridge I pulled over to see Ramsey and Allison (physio couple extraordinaire) and told Ramsey I would drop the other side of the bridge.  I did ask what he thought of me walking the final 12km (it was such a lovely day after all!), he rolled his eyes and suggested I could go on a walk later that afternoon.  Despite being an ultra runner, I'm pretty good at following instructions so I agreed that I didn't really need to walk 12km, and off I went for my final 500m or so.  Thankfully on the other side of the bridge I could see my VFAC team mate Jo so I beelined over to him to drop out.  Note to any runner that ever thinks they might need to drop out of a race - find someone to run to, otherwise you feel kinda stupid just stopping by the roadside on your own :)

By mistake I got given a Half Marathon t-shirt at package pick up, I guess that was some sort of omen!

Overall I am really happy I took part in the BMO Vancouver marathon despite not finishing.  I had a super 'custom' run and was glad to feel part of the event and see so many friends.  A HUGE thank you to elite coordinator Lynn Kanuka and all volunteers out on the course.  Vancouver truly is a stunning city and the marathon showcases it at it's best.

Onwards and upwards to the next run....

BMO advertising and memories of an awesome race in 2012.

Men's winner, Thomas Omwenga in 2:24:09, rocking his Montrail Rogue Flys!