65F / 18C
Total Time = 4h 47m 52s
Overall Rank = 3195/4012
Age Group = F40-44
Age Group Rank = 1251/1749
Ate my requisite 2 pkgs oatmeal breakfast and a granola bar, since I didn't have peanut butter with me. Hit the restroom four times...four. What the heck? I hate having a nervous bladder. Stretched, jumped, and hopped. Cheered on the walkers as they started "Walk like the wind! Walk like the wind!" Cheered on the half marathoners as they started. Teared up watching a video from last year's marathon. Located a spot to meet Roy afterwards and reviewed the course maps for potential spots for him to meet me.
About 5 minutes before the start time I started towards the entry queue. I was going to seed myself towards the back, but silly me! Since I started walking from the FRONT and there were about 6000 people...well, I started up front. Found another lady who looked as nervous as I did and chatted her up a bit. It was both of ours first marathons.
As time started to be called down...3 minutes to go...2 minutes to go...1 minute to go, I got more and more nervous. My left brain tried to talk some sense into me. "Are you insane? You've never run 26 miles before! Are you nuts! What is the matter with you?" Me right brain wrestled my left brain to the ground and put a ball gag in her mouth to shut her up for awhile. She was to resurface a few times on the course, but at least for now she was quiet.
And we're off! Well, kind of. Those mass starts always start so slowly.
Two aerobics instructors took some of us who were there for fun through some warmup routines. Lots of stretching and lots of walking.
The first mile came and went pretty quickly. Okay, I can do this. One mile down…25 to go! Piece of cake! During mile two we ran into Chinatown. It was so cool running under the tori gate in the still morning. Chinatown was asleep save the 6000 nutballs running through it. A few merchants on their way to work gazed at us curiously, but otherwise weren’t very interested in what we were doing. Some fans lined parts of Chinatown cheering on loved ones and holding signs.
The next area we ran through that was interesting was Gastown. The streets are made of cobblestone and the shops that line the street range from quaint to funky. There’s a statue of “Gassy Jack” in the middle of a cobblestone square and I swear I could hear him cheering us on. As we ran back out of Gastown actors from the Storyeum, a museum where history is reenacted daily, turned out in their historical finery to cheer on the runners.
After Gastown we made our way back through the city. Shortly after mile 10 I saw the site I’d been straining to see for the last 9 miles. There he was! There was my honey! He was cheering and taking pictures and then he ran up beside me and we ran and talked. I was having MP3 player issues (it was stuck on repeat and while I like the U2 song, “Beautiful Day” I really didn’t want to listen to it for the next 16 miles). He tried to solve it, but it was a no go. He ran with me for over half a mile and then told me he loved me and bid me farewell. Somehow during that point I “lost” the mile 11 marker. Imagine how nice it was to come upon a mile 12 marker and realize that I had “lost” an entire mile! Wahoo! Almost halfway done!
We made our way along the waterfront and into Stanley Park. Stanley Park is gorgeous! Sadly we were unable to run along the seawall this year, as work is being completed on it, but we still got to run above the seawall and the entire path was beautiful. As we came towards mile 13 a DJ was blasting “Walking on Sunshine”. I took every opportunity to forget about my sore knees, aching back, and the number of miles I had left to go and did a little dance. Right at mile 13 an older couple had set up their boom box and was playing some yodeling music and just around the corner a crazy looking guy in a clown suit cheered us on.
Throughout the race course people made us all feel special. One group had signs that they moved about the course. They read “You are all Kenyans!” and “Toll booth ahead. Exact change required” and “Remember: the mind will give out before the body does. Keep on going!” Kids held up signs that said “Go Dad Go!” Team in Training cheer groups cheered on their teams, TIT teams from other states, and everyone else. Two older women made it a point at four or five different mile markers to cheer on the women in the crowd. In Kitsilano race day is party day! People leaned out their windows, set up sprinklers, and stood on the sidewalk sipping mimosas and cheering on the runners. There was more than one garage sale, and apparently one enterprising company felt that while running along after 22 miles, one might want to consider updating ones business wardrobe because a child waved a sign to us as we passed advertising their website and “business apparel.”
“Well now that I think of it, I could use a new business suit. Let me just jot that number down on the inside of my sports bra.”
There was music all along the course. Hot Hit Productions had deejays sprinkled seven different mile markers. Most of it was wonderfully cheesy 80s music. At one point the Britney Spears song, “Toxic” came on which just caused us all to run a lot faster. Make the bad sound go away! We ran (and some of us danced) to: Kung Fu Fighting, Macho Man, Walking on Sunshine, a number of U2 songs (their concert had been Thursday night), the Rocky Theme…more than once, and lots of other uplifting and upbeat music. (Okay, “Running on Empty” wasn’t exactly uplifting. Who chose THAT song?)
There were also lots of oddities along the course. In Stanley Park there was a wooded stretch where, for some inexplicable reason, there were dozens of small evergreen trees that had been cut and then nailed to boards. Most of them had the boards hidden in brush, but many had fallen over and as I looked I could see that there were a LOT of “fake trees.” What’s up with that?
We had the clown, the Team in Training Guy in the fright wig singing and clapping as we ran by. There was a wonderful female barbershop quartet singing “Did You Ever Know that You’re My Hero”. As we entered Stanley Park an orchestra played the theme song to “Chariots of Fire.” One guy ran in a full American football uniform; helmet, pads, and all. Lots of dogs barked encouragement from the sidelines and kids called out to mommies and daddies as they ran by. Girls hung out upper story windows wearing red feather boas and cars honked at us as we ran over the Burrard Street Bridge.
As for me, I was emotional almost the entire run. Many times I had to make myself stop tearing up because it’s hard to breathe and cry at the same time and breathing is one of those important aspects of running. Some of the more special moments include:
· The little boy and little girl running out to their Dad (who was wearing a “Team Diabetes” shirt) and each grabbing a hand and running with him.
· Seeing a 76 year old woman who was running her 26th straight Vancouver International Marathon…just keep going.
· Passing a man who had his legs amputated above both knees running with a partner to help steady him.
· Seeing the same two women cheering me on at least five times along the route. They made eye contact each time and after the second meeting, smiled in remembrance and would say “You’re still looking strong! Keep on going!”
· The orchestra playing “Chariots of Fire”.
· Reading the backs of the Team in Training shirts. Many were running in memory of loved ones and all were running in honor of someone. Team in Training raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is just an awesome group.
· Crossing the 13.1 marker and knowing I was halfway there.
· Seeing a sign that said “Only one mile to go”.
· The throngs of people all along the route cheering us on.
· Seeing the finish line.
As for my run, it went pretty well. I learned right away not to think “Only xx miles to go” because in a marathon, there is no “only” until you’re down to three or four miles. I never tired throughout the run. Mile 23 my ankle really started hurting. It was like shin splints except localized to the very front of the ankle and it was very very painful. This was the only time when my tears were not tears of joy. Tears of pain sprung to my eyes as I tried to run through it. I stopped and stretched, tried to run some more and it just wasn’t working. I decided to just walk as much as I could until it relaxed some and then run if I could. I figured at that point there was no shame in walking in the last three miles, if needed. Just when I was feeling pretty low I heard a voice next to me, “How are you doing?”
It was a lady from Bellevue I’d met back at mile 21. We had talked for about a mile and a half but she fell behind me at a water station and we lost each other. I figured she was well ahead of me by then. Apparently about the time my ankle started in, her knee started in so we hobbled together for about half a mile and talked. I was able to resume some modified running at that point and left her behind nursing her knee. I wish I’d gotten her name.
The last mile I spent choking back tears. They weren’t tears of pain, but tears of emotion. I was doing this. It’s just…well, for some people maybe it isn’t an amazing thing, but for me it was amazing. I cried when I saw Roy, I cried when I heard the orchestra, and at every “Rocky Theme song” and at the kids along the sidewalk, when I passed people running in memory of someone, when I passed people running in honor of someone else. I choked up over the elite athletes running past us like human blurs, and over the older athletes still out there embracing life. But that last mile, wow it was hard to keep my composure. The crowds had really thickened and all over people were telling us “You look great! Keep it up! You look STRONG! Way to go! Be proud!” There were noisemakers and boom boxes and signs and applause. It was just so “wow”. I cried when I saw the 25 mile marker, then again when I saw the sign that said “One mile to go!” I cried when I heard my name called over the loudspeaker and I sobbed when I saw Roy. I cried as they placed a medal around my neck. I did it. I totally did it. I ran a freaking MARATHON! As I slowed to a walk in the finisher’s chute I looked up and what did I see; a gorgeous bald eagle soaring over me. On every single “long” run I’ve had, including my last half marathon, I’ve been blessed by a bald eagle sighting. Once again I was blessed.
And now…I am tired. My body didn’t suffer too much for it. My ankle is swollen and bruised. My hammy on the other side is creaky and whiney. I was able to go to aerobics this morning, but had to modify many of the moves. I had a goal to end strong and not end looking like I wanted to die…and I made that goal. I felt good at the end, although later in the day found me lying on a bench in the park dozing with my head in Roy’s lap. I don’t think I sustained any injuries, although I do want to get to the bottom on the ankle issue. Could I have gone faster? Yeah. I could have, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to challenge myself, finish feeling strong, and have a memorable experience.
What would you do differently?:
Hmmm, maybe more water although there was plenty on the course. I don't know. I had a good time. If I find out a way to avoid the ankle problems, I'll do that next time.
Walked through the LONG runners chute to the west airlock. Stretched out carefully remembering what Tony said about over-stretching after a long run. I was glad the chute was long. It helped work out the kinks and I think that was really good for us. It's too tempting to just sit.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Ankle problems, wanting to enjoy the run.
My only complaint would be that after the race it required a number of flights
of stairs to get back to the Skytrain. They had all of the normal exits blocked
off and no signs indicating the best way to go to get there. VERY frustrating!
Other than that it was a wonderful race and I might even do it again next year,
if I don't do a different Spring marathon.