Monday, May 11, 2015

BMO Vancouver Marathon Race Review

I've been home for a week now since running the BMO Marathon, and have already laced back up my shoes twice to run!
I was in the 4th corral.  They did a countdown for each corral to start.  I had batman in mine!
Vancouver was more than expected.  Both in scenery, and also on the course.  It was a TOUGH run.  I've been trying to think about what made the course so difficult - the rolling hills? The major climb at the 8K mark, or perhaps the heat?  A friend texted me an article where an elite runner was being interviewed and he described the course as "rough".  Two other BMO finishers I saw in Calgary on Saturday said that they run it every year but saw more "carnage" this year.  

My favorite section of the course
Putting the difficulty aside, I cut a whopping 21 minutes off my Calgary finish time from not quite a year ago.  I finished in 4:27 laying out EVERYTHING I had on the course.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It is the first time I hit a mental wall at only 19K and cried after crossing the finish line.  When I hit the mental wall, my calf was starting to seize up, and I could feel my hip flexor tensing.  Thankfully it came and went over the course and wasn't persistent.  Initially I was going to run without my phone but I was glad I did.  It came in very handy at 21K to start texting my girlfriend and my hubby to get some much needed mental support.  At 39K I was pretty sure the seawall would never end.  I was running without headphones (probably not a repeat at another 42K event), so I turned on the tunes on my phone.  I figured it would either also help the rest of the runners around me, or encourage them to run faster ha ha.  We rocked it out to Pat Benatars "Hit it with your best shot" to help get us to the end.

Hello ocean! 
So what brought down my time by 21 minutes?

Calgary:  Sometimes I only got in 2 runs a week
Vancouver: I ran a minimum of 3 times a week, usually 4 times a week

Calgary: All my runs were at the same pace
Vancouver: I incorporated both speed and hill training

Calgary: Some runs only saw 3.5K as a distance
Vancouver: My runs were a minimum of 5K

Calgary: No mid week long run
Vancouver: I had a mid week long run of at least 10K that I did steady, no walk breaks

Big difference heh?  This past January when I laced up my shoes to train for Van, it was the first time I actually trained for a race since 2006.  Training shows results!!!

I really went into Van wanting to see a 4:20, given my long run pace would have brought me in to that.  But race day played some different elements.  I was reading back through old posts, and saw in 2014 I wanted to run a 4:30 marathon again.  It gave me perspective (as well as LOTS of perspective graciously and lovingly given from friends and family).  A week post I'm owning my 4:27 and am looking at my training and thinking on what I can do to tick furthur minutes and seconds off.

My parents are awesome cheerleaders.  I saw them 4 times on the course!  This was marathon #6 they've cheered for me at!
Realistically I know I can't add any more runs or distance to my week, as I need to strike a balance with my family.  But what I can add in is on days I had previously taken off, add in a day of core or yoga.  Both would be good for me and might be fun for my kids to do with me.  My next Marathon is this coming fall and will also involve some rolling hills.  I'll be adding more hill repeats into rotation!

So true.
Thanks Vancouver.  It was a fun, hard, heart opening challenge.  I came away from it wanting to try it again, just to see if I can conquer some of the mental walls I faced.  One year I'll be back (and hopefully sooner than another 11 year jag!)


A great marathon finishes at a Starbucks ;)


  1. Congratulations on your race my friend! I've never run the full marathon at Vancouver but from what I know of the area that is definitely a challenging course. I'm also not sure why they start the full marathon later than the half since if the weather heats up that makes things tough on the full distance runners.

    Your hard work paid off! Taking off 21 minutes is huge!! Which race are you running in the fall?

  2. Great report! Sounds like you've given a lot of thought and heart to your race experience. And I think it's telling that you are wanting to conquer it again. Wonder Woman indeed! :)