Really, I wasn’t super excited going into this marathon. Particularly on the heels of NYC last year. And with a brand new course, even having run chunks of it, I didn’t know what to expect.
Of course, this did not stop me from freaking out in the days leading to the marathon. Strangely, however, race morning was calm. I slept fairly well the night before, set the alarm for 5:30am, forced some breakfast down, and hopped the bus and train to the start. I got there in time to see the elite half marathoners start, which was super neat.
Spent 15 minutes waiting for a porta potty (I swear I picked the slowest line). Flashed my bib number (only time in my life I will get to be in the first corral, ha) and the volunteers let me through. I found Andrea from our clinic, in our corral, who was visibly nervous. Pargol came running up to Andrea and I in the corral to wish us luck.
The 3:30 bunny was beside me: I briefly contemplated going with the pace group, and skipping the walk breaks; but when the pacer informed the group he would be doing 4:43km to make up for the 10:1’s I changed my mind.
There was a rousing rendition of Oh Canada, and then the start gun went off. It took me 30ish seconds to cross the start line. It felt like any other Sunday run. My garmin read 5:13 for the first km. It takes me a bit to warm up so I wasn’t bent on hitting splits. I hit 4:51 for the second km…and kept on hitting 4:51km or there abouts. I thought I would go with it and see how it felt.
Early on, it wasn’t as hot as I feared, so that was a nice surprise. Alan was on course, just after the start. Hooray crowd support. I tried to hold myself back, because I knew Camosun was coming. At the base of Camosun, I heard my name being screamed and saw that it was some former co workers. Halfway up Camosun, I heard my name being yelled again (later I found out it was Jason). And then I saw Alan again just after the Camosun hill. Some guys I had been drafting off of turned to me, and asked, do you know all these people yelling your name?
Uh, some of them?
The going was still good and sweet at this point, I clocked some sub 4:50kms, but I wasn’t too worried. Running down Spanish Banks, I saw Julie’s bf- Troy and I called out to him. Those were some fast kms pounding downhill. Pretty sure, that took a toll later on. The parking lot with all the cones, was a weird loop. As I made my way around the loop I heard my name” it was Kathryn from the clinic – she ran a great race and clearly had made up some time as she had started in a later wave.
Turning onto Point Grey Road/Cornwall, I saw yet another friend, with her camera. She happens to be a wedding photographer, so her photos are always amazing.. Still feeling pretty decent.
And then, there was Burrard Bridge. Burrard Bridge was NOT pretty (though I heard Jason yelling and then Andrew). It was like having our own personal fan club out there. Things got a bit better after the Burrard Bridge (for a bit anyhow). Turning onto Pacific, I saw Andrea with her cowbells. Awesome. Things were still not too bad heading into Stanley Park, and circling around the pool.
I was definitely starting to get fatigued. I told myself I couldn’t fall apart before 35km. At some point along the seawall, I saw Winnie on the bike and heard Andrea (right at the moment had been wedging myself between to guys trying to pass them on the seawall) Whoops. I kept telling myself, just make it to the next bend in the seawall or I would have cried.
At 37 -38 km, I caved and took a bit of a walk break. I checked the two pace bands I had on, and knew I had some leeway. So I made a deal with myself- walk for x seconds, then start the shuffle. A volunteer saw me and told me there was an aid station ahead. Oops, must’ve looked pretty rough, as I assured her I was okay. I thought briefly about bailing, but thought, gee, the finish is closer than the bus stop.
When I saw Mile 25 ahead, I ran towards the sign. That little hill coming off of Denman was murderous. I was walking but alas Jason was there, yelling. So I had to run again. And as I rounded the corner, out of his sight, I started to walk again. But a fellow runner came running by and was like: You’re almost there! I mouthed thank you and forced myself to run again. I could hear the screams of the spectators, packing either side of the blue fences screaming, you’re almost there and you have “sub 3:30” to which I thought I don’t care! One sharp turn, and another, and I could smell the finish line. I guess I did have a bit more left in my legs, as I sprinted towards the finish (or at least it felt like I was sprinting). I literally came to a dead halt as soon as I crossed the line. The last 5km was sheer will – and without the crowd support, and some awesome friends I would have walked way more.
Strangely enough I don’t actually remember seeing the finish clock. I do however remember looking at the Garmin: 3:26:33 or chip time 3:26:25. I was ecstatic – with the Camosun, hill, the rolling course and the bridge, I didn’t think I would run the time I did.