It’s been many weeks since my last post. That’s not to suggest that things have been uneventful. No, not at all. There’s been much I could blog about. I could talk about breaking up with my trainer. Yes, I’m being dramatic here. It’s amicable but it does feel like a break-up given how important he is to me, how intimate the relationship felt, and how the end meant suddenly we went from regularly seeing each other to not at all. And I could talk about how in the weeks following the break-up, I kind of fell apart, lost my discipline, had some reckless eating days. Then dusted myself off, and started to pick up the pieces. See, it sounds just like a break-up doesn’t it? I’ll save that post for another day.
I could talk about Boston. I don’t even need to say what I mean by that because everybody knows. I could talk about the fear for my colleague & friend whose wife was running Boston. I could talk about the memorial 4.09 mile run I did the following day. I could talk about the feeling of being united and strong in spirit with a community of runners around the world, whether sprinters or marathoners. I could talk about the rescue dog we adopted that week, my new sweet part-Greyhound running buddy, who we christened Boston. I’ll save that post for another day.
I could talk about a recent trip… so recent I’m composing this in flight and how I managed my food (I’d give myself a B, maybe a B-) and continued to exercise, discovering the hotel’s kick-ass gym, my shock & awe at what the Y considers reasonable for a drop-in swim, or doing one of my favourite things: travel runs! But… yes, I’ll save that post for another day.
Yes, I’ve had plenty to write about and the posts are “stacking up” so to speak and so I might as well go with the most timely one that won’t make any sense when it gets stale: my most recent race report.
Last Sunday was marathon number 3 for me: the BMO VancouverMarathon. I had intended to run it last year when a TFL injury forced me to withdraw. After I finished wallowing in my pity party, I could look back with the perspective afforded by hindsight and discover lots of good that came of it… including meeting my trainer & finally shedding the weight. But anyway, this was the year for BMO.
At the beginning of the year, I identified running a 5:30 marathon as one of my goals. My first marathon time was 6:56. My second 6:11. So 5:30 represented another big drop in time. As we approached the race date though, I recognized that I was heading into this marathon better trained than I’d been for any other race. My times had come down. My long runs were great. And I thought sub 5 was a real possibility. And that became the new goal. A few years ago, a friend told me about a conversation she’d had with an Olympic athlete. The athlete, a runner, had said that before every race she identifies Gold, Silver, Bronze finishes for herself as a means of assessing her performance – really, against her own abilities more so than everyone around her. Anything under 6:11 was a PR for me. That would be my Bronze. Under 5:30 would be my Silver. 4:59 or better, my Gold.
Now, the TFL injury had started to twinge a bit in the last couple of months. Each time, it made itself known, I made a mental note that I really needed to resume doing the exercises that the Sports Doc had me doing the previous year. But I didn’t. So it’s probably no surprise that after my last long run before BMO, I had a very angry TFL. I clam-shelled. I leg-lifted. I foam-rolled. Two nights before the marathon, my hip & glute started cramping up & sending tingling down my right leg. I saw this as a sign I shouldn't run. The power went out that night and we ended up going out for dinner. I saw this as a sign I shouldn't run. The day before the race I learned that hubby, who was volunteering, had to leave at 5 a.m. in order to be at the start by 6. My race didn't start until 8. What? I can’t stand around for 2 hours before a freaking marathon. I saw this as a sign I shouldn't run. The night before the race, I wanted a Perrier and there were no cold ones. I saw this as a sign I shouldn't run. This should all be giving you a sense of what a barrel of fun I am in the days leading up to the race. I am already dreading the nerves, doubt, and anxiety that will hit me in the days before Oliver.
Anyway, the day before BMO, I had a leisurely morning. Worked on my playlist. Packed for my trip. Sought advice from Facebook friends on what to wear. Took a 20-minute easy run in the glorious heat wave we were experiencing. Hydrated, hydrated, hydrated. For dinner, I made a pasta dish I’d learned/tried at a cooking class earlier in the week. Delicious! And you can get the recipe here.
Race morning, I got up early, had hubby apply sunscreen to my back before he departed, then began the business of getting ready. Like my last race, I was doing this one without any buddies and it’s a different routine I’m learning on race morning. Quietly getting organized, collecting my thoughts vs the excitement of messaging back and forth before leaving for the race together. I had my usual pre-long run breakfast: oatmeal with almond hazelnut butter and a banana. And then my sweet son drove me to the start line. I’d grabbed a Solo bar to eat just before the start since so much time would have passed since breakfast. I know they say nothing new on race day but I figured this wouldn't hurt… and it didn't. As a side note, I tried Solo bars for the first time at the BMO Expo. Freaking delicious. No funky aftertaste. Total yum. Go get some.
Had a few good chats with other runners milling about and getting ready for the start. I was in the last corral of the marathon starters… and although I consider myself a slow runner, I couldn't help but think the corrals ahead of me held a lot of people who were totally delusional about what sort of time they could run. I always find it amazing that one can be so incredibly nervous pre-race. And yet, as soon as you step across that start line, the nerves are gone and you’re just doing your thing.
I had been back and forth on whether to try 10/1s for the race or to just run it, with walks for water & GU, or try a hybrid. I knew the 4:40, 4:45, and 5:00 pace bunnies were in my corral but I hadn't seen them. I assumed they were ahead of me in the corral so I figured if I could catch the 4:40, I would hang on as long as I could and then try to hold the 4:45 pace bunny - and if I felt strong, I could always pull away in the second half and abandon the walk breaks. At one point, I caught up to the 4:30 pace bunnies at which point it was obvious, the ones I wanted to run with were behind me. I couldn't hold on to these pace bunnies and I suspect they were running their group at a 4:10, which is pretty damn unfair to people hooking up with 4:30 pacers. I might scan some race photos to see if my hunch is correct. But I digress…
I didn't run with a pace bunny. I just did my thing. I walked the water stations (stopping at most but not all of them), taking 20 seconds or so to drink. I walked my GU breaks (4 in total, the first not until 1:30 into the race – that Solo bar held me a long time!). But otherwise I ran. And I ran every freaking step of Camosun! :-)
It was gloriously warm & sunny. I felt fabulous. Felt strong. And although the TFL was very aggravated (I scooped Tylenol from a medical station near Spanish Banks), it wasn't holding me back. Fantastic spectator support, great signs. A few favorites:
- at the start line & throughout the race: a grim reaper with a sign “the end is not near”, also at the finish with a different sign “the end is near”
- at the top of Camosun, a man in a goofy curly wig, wearing a woman’s sweater that was too small for him, dancing and banging a drum with a sign “doubters can suck it”. I saw him at the finish with his runner and thanked him for coming out & doing his thing.
- a woman I saw several places on the course with a sign “run bitch run”
- a couple sitting near the entrance to Stanley Park. Her sign read “run faster”, his read “or I’ll touch your breast”
|Within 700m or so of the finish!|
After the race, I had to shower at a friend’s and then head straight to the airport for a 5 hour flight across the country to attend a conference. Word to the wise: that’s dumb. Not only was all that sitting a poor way to recover, it totally killed the post-race buzz!!
And lastly, marathonfoto sent out the link to view my race photos yesterday. I had a look through them – as one does – and then noticed that there are tabs across the top for the other BMO race events they've photographed. I clicked on the 2010 tab. Now, I’m going to share that link ...keep in mind, I’d already lost 55 lbs by the time I ran that race in 2010 so I was almost halfway through my journey.
After scanning the 2013 photos, then clicking over to 2010, all I could think was Holy Crap. And for a moment… a brief moment… I thought maybe I shouldn't be so critical of the pooch or the loose arm skin and just be grateful for what I've been able to accomplish. Because although I don’t have a perfect body, if in 2010 if you’d shown me a picture of my body today, I’d have said “Yes, please. I want that.”