Race Report: 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon

I’m going to start at the end: 3:48:30.

That’s a new personal best for the marathon by 5:29 and a full 20 minutes better than I last ran this course in 2012. I’m pretty happy.

Rain. It was bound to happen.

It was raining this morning when I got up. That was expected as the forecast called for a 100% chance of light rain all day and light winds. I left for the start pretty early which normally would be a dumb idea for a wet race.

racedayweather-300x300However, I bought the Platinum Package for $99 which included a VIP tent at the start to chill out in. They had a heater and despite getting there soaked including wet shoes and socks, within a half hour or so, I was dry and comfortable. The other bonus was private, luxury ports-potties. No lineups, and flush toilets! Win!

About five minutes before the race we did the bag check (also VIP) and walked out into the rain. By now it was more of a misty drizzle instead of the steady rain the half marathoners left in.

The start

Then anthem was sung, and the countdown started. I crossed the line about a minute after the gun and we were off.

The first couple of kilometres are uphill, and I resolved to run them fairly easy. 5:11, 4:59 and 4:54. So much for that idea.

I was feeling good and the weather was much better than expected, so I just ran what felt comfortable. Lately that’s been around 5:00/km and today was no different. Kilometres 4 and 5 were run in 5:03 and 4:55 respectively.

Then the course starts heading downhill for a bit. I stuck with the same effort which meant a faster pace with 4:46 and 4:45 for kilometres 6 and 7. Kilometres 8 and 9 were 5:00 and 5:13 as they had a bit of incline and I convinced myself to ease it back a bit. I took a gel at 8km as scheduled.

Camosun you don’t scare me

Then comes the hill known as Camosun. This thing is a monster. 7% grade for 900m with some more hill on either end to keep you honest. I ran kilometre 10 in 5:39 and 11 in 5:38. That felt good and my heart rate and effort were controlled. I was glad to have it behind me, but it’s far from the end of the hills on this course.

It’s another 4km to the campus of UBC. There’s a new little out and back section here too and that was uphill for the run north, downhill for the run south. 5:11, 5:15, 5:05 and 5:07. Time for UBC.

UBC

The campus is nice. It really is. But all I could think about was getting to the big downhill section and banking some time. 4:59, 5:08, 5:06, 5:04. Pretty consistent through here as it’s fairly flat and easy running. It was also cold and a bit breezy. For the first time I thought maybe long sleeves would have been smart.

The hill! 4:40 and 4:53 for kilometres 20 and 21. My half split was 1:47:15 which was a touch fast, but I didn’t feel like it was too fast.

Spanish Banks, Jericho

I saw Jon Suk here and that was a nice boost to the psyche. It was also starting to rain lightly again as we ran along Spanish Banks towards Jericho. 5:05, 5:05 and 5:30. There was a decent hill there for kilometre 24 and I eased back to keep things under control.

Jericho is next and the residents really get out to support the runners through here. That provided a decent boost, as did the gel I took at kilometre 24. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe that I’d already run 25km. I felt tired, but time was passing quickly. 5:13, 5:23 and 5:24 for kilometres 25-27. I was slowing a bit.

The Burrard Bridge

Then the gel kicked in and the crowds picked up and I got things back together with a 5:11 for kilometre 28. It was short lived and the Burrard Bridge was coming up soon. 5:32 for kilometre 29 and then 5:48 up and over the bridge. I was glad to be done with that as it’s the last real hill before the finish stretch.

Kilometre 31 is down hill and then you hop on the Seawall. I ran it in 5:15 and then was surprise to see Kirsty (who I ran the 2012 race with). She ran along side for a half a kilometre so I kept the pace up and ran a 5:16.

Seawall…the long, tough Seawall

The Seawall is my nemesis. It killed me in 2012 and I ended up walking a lot of it. I was much more prepared mentally this time around and I had a good ten minutes in my pocket to play with over the last 10km. I resolved to not walk this time.

5:30, 5:38, 5:42 and I was through 35km and had just 7km to go. Don’t kid yourself. The Seawall is long. I still hadn’t run under the Lions Gate Bridge and I was really starting to tire. My pace over the next few kilometres reflected that. 6:01, 6:22, 6:31. I was hurting. But I was running.

Brockton to the finish

The Lighthouse was in sight and I knew that meant three kilometres to go. A big PB was within reach if I could just keep running decently. 6:27 to the Lighthouse. I started getting a rush of energy thinking about the finish now. 6:04 to the yacht club which was the turnaround for the Friendship Run on Saturday. 2km from here.

Finally…done with the last of the Seawall and could see the crowds starting to pick up. Lots of encouragement here from spectators urging us to the finish. 6:16 and the turn up Denman was in sight. 1.2km to go. Still running. Time to dip into the reserves for the run up to the finish.

I ran a 6:23 here to get within sight of the line. I passed Jon again and he said I was looking strong. A huge PB was waiting at the finish along with a medal and a hot shower. It was pouring ran and I was cold and wet and ready to stop.

Finisher

Through the finish and none other than John Stanton of the Running Room was there to put a medal over my head. I thanked him again for everything he does and told him I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have in the last six years without his stores and the Running Room community.

And then my right leg totally seized up. I could barely walk, but luckily I had the VIP bag check pickup inside my hotel. I got my bag in a lovely conference room on the third floor and called Ginny and Mac on FaceTime. My phone was constantly beeping with notifications of Facebook likes, texts and Tweets.

Twenty minutes after I finished I was in my hotel room for a nice hot shower and I was finally warm again.

Best race ever, and my best race ever

I know I faded in the last 7km but I also knew that I would. I banked up some time early and held on for a five-and-a-half-minute PB. I wouldn’t change a thing about the race. I think I ran it about as well as I could, and I know I didn’t leave anything out there. Other than a bathroom stop around 10km and a few steps at a water station at 39km, I ran this thing from start to finish.

I love the Vancouver Marathon. I’ve never run it well, and until today, I’d never run it under four hours. Considering that this is a much tougher course than the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I’m really proud of my result today.

Best marathon ever.

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