October 2013: BMO Okanagan Marathon

So I maybe kinda, sorta procrastinated a bit in writing and posting this recap.

I could waffle and say something silly, like I was waiting for the race photos to be available (they were posted Tuesday) but that would only kind of be true. The main reason is there were a lot of feels (a lot!) in this race, and sharing what I went through during 32km to 38km was a bit scary because I was going to need to make myself very vulnerable. But, if I’m going to write about running, I’m going to write about running: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Before

The marathon start was scheduled for 7:15, so I set my alarm for 6am knowing we planned on leaving around 6:30. I even went to the trouble to set my alarm to go off to ROAR. Best! Decision! Ever!

photo (4)

I had a small drink of water, brushed my teeth (because I didn’t need morning breath adding to my marathon stench) and decided to throw my hair back in two french braids for the race.

I gathered up all my running goods and went downstairs to eat. As mentioned before, I don’t eat much before a race, I had my Stroopwaffel and mixed my Vega Pre-Exercise Energizer with Beta-Alanine to take with me in the car. We arrived at the race site shortly after 7am, which was perfect for me. As the race was relatively small, I had more than enough time to check my bag and head over to the corral.

I set myself up just behind the 4:15 pace group, figuring I’d run with them for the first half or so, and then evaluate the last bit depending on pace.

Right before the national anthem I ate a Gu Espresso flavoured gel and tossed my jacket to my dad and started my pre-race jitters routine. This mainly involves not smiling, shifting my weight back and forth and running through everything I wanted to remember to do (number one was start SLOW!).

The During (start)

After the anthem we had a short countdown and then we were off. I watched the gun time when I went over the timing pad and noted I started 0:50 after the gun, so I knew my time would be just under a minute off when I came through at the finish. I had a bit of trouble zipping up my phone in my fuel belt (I wanted to run with RunKeeper for the race) but it really didn’t affect me too much.

Right as I was exiting on to the main street I hear cheering for me: two friends I met while training for my first half marathon were making their way to the start of the half and seeing them really lifted my spirits (thanks Jenn and Cory!!).

I knew adrenaline would make my first bit of the race a little quick, so I really focussed on slowing my pace and making sure my breathing was steady, as I wanted to make sure I had some gas in the tank for the end of the race.

The During (0-10km)

1-10

I felt really good during the first quarter of the race. I worked hard at reminding myself to keep my pace in check and not push too hard as I still had a long way to go until the finish.

I ate my first gel at the 7km mark and also took off my gloves as my hands were sufficiently warm by that point. I’d arranged to have my sister meet me at the half way point in case I needed more gels and I planned on tossing my gear to her then, if I decided I was too warm. I just tucked my gloves into the waistband of my pants and carried on.

Around 8km in I realized I had to pee. Dangit.

After running my first half while needing to pee the whole time I rationalized that taking 30 seconds out of a 4 hour long race to pee wouldn’t be that bad, so just after the 9km mark I found a portapotty and did my thang. (as noted by the slow split at the 10km mark).

I have a tendancy to overthink things (ha! Surprising, right?!) so I was also working hard at this point to just take things as they came and not worry too much about anything.

9km10km210km10km3

10km split time: 59:12 (pace5:55/km)

The During (11-21km)

11-21

Right at the 10km mark for both the full and half marathons we run by the finish line, except we don’t get to stop, we have to keep going. I really thought that was going to mess with my focus, but I was so focused on my race that it (surprisingly) didn’t phase me much. Hooray!

Around the 12km mark I noticed my left glute was not a happy camper. This was something my bff massage therapist and I had worked on for my previous two sessions and I was really hoping it wouldn’t be an issue during the race. I managed to find a stop sign to use as leverage in an attempt to stretch out my glute. It worked for a while……Unfortunately this section of the course had a lot of left turns and every time I turned left it would put more weight on my glute and cause it to cramp again.

I ended up stopping at 12km, 15km and 18km to stretch out my glute as it was not a happy camper.

At the 20km mark I shed my ear warmers and arm warmers, knowing I’d be seeing my sister soon for my gels and I wanted to ditch my gear.

Except…..I didn’t see her.

I think she ended up mixing up what side of the park to meet me at, but no big deal, I fired off a text to her asking her to meet me at the 30km marker and carried on my way.

15km

21.1km split; 2:05:34. (pace 5:55/km)

This was actually a full two minutes faster than I ran the half marathon last year.

The During (22-31km)

22-31

Aftering successfully texting my sis, I mentally planned when I wanted to increase my pace and when I wanted to start injesting my remaining gels. I decided to take them roughly every 45 minutes, knowing that would give me a gel almost exactly when I saw my sister.

Since moving to the other section of the course my glute wasn’t bothering me near as much, so I focused on my stride and breathing and tried not to think about how much further I had to go!

My average pace for this section was still under 6:00/km, which would put me at coming in under 4:15 for the race (yes, I’d attempt to do the math as I was running) but I really didn’t want to focus too much on pace. I knew 6:03/km was a 4:15 race and 5:47/km was a 4:00 race, and just went from there.

Right before the 30km mark I saw my sister’s dog Mazada, asked for 2 gels, quickly grabbed them and carried on my way. I knew if I stopped to give her a hug I might not convince my legs to start moving again 🙂

30km30km330km2I even remembered to look at the camera and attempt to smile for these pictures!

The During (32-42.2km)

32-42

As you can see, just from looking at the splits, this is where life got really, really difficult for me.

I knew crossing into the last loop I was tired, but I also knew I could 100% finish this race.

Enter: my butt.

Yup, after being perfectly nice for 10km, it reared its ugly head, and oh man, was it ever painful! Seriously. It was the worst!

Instead of stretching 3 times like the previous time, I think I stopped every 5 minutes or so to stretch and then it took a lot for me to get running again.

At one point (I think right after the 35km mat) there were tears. I was frustrated with my butt, I was emotional because of everything that brought me to this point. I don’t like to say (or really even think) this, but if it weren’t for my separation I wouldn’t have even considered running a marathon. Truly. And so I was parts thankful (because MARATHON) and sad becase, well, I think you know why.

I walked through the remaining three water stations, taking water and willing myself to run again. My glute wasn’t bothering me much when walking, but I really wanted to run as much of the race as possible.

Around the 36km point, I seriously thought about walking in. I hurt, I was tired, I was scared of disappointing people because my race wasn’t as awesome as I’d hoped it would be. I even considered texting a friend for support, but I decided to stop pitying myself and push through as much as possible.

35km split: 3:32:48 (pace 6:05/km)

hurtinghurting2gyro3gyro2I don’t look especially happy in most of the pictures above.

Once I hit the 37km mark, I knew I only had just over 5km to go. I kept telling myself I could run 5km. I was 100% capable of running 5km.

By this point I had pretty much perfected the marathon shuffle and was shuffle running my way to the finish. I’d managed to calm the tears and was stopped as needed to stretch (even though it frustrated the crap out of me to do that!).

At the 40.5km mark there’s a hard left turn onto a pathway for the final stretch of the race. My bum was very not pleased with that. I’m pretty sure I said, “ow” and then found a post to stretch on. Hrmph.

Knowing I was so close to the finish kept me going even though I hurt, but you know what – I was finishing my first marathon I was actually going to do it! There really was a point where I honestly thought I wasn’t going to finish, so to have made it, upright (and I didn’t puke!) was pretty freaking awesome.

gyrofinishfinish2I tried to push as hard as possible to the finish and my dad and sister were standing at the fence cheering me on to the end.

Overall time; 4:25:27 (pace 6:19/km)

(I’ll let you do the math on how long the last 7.2km took me to run).

race

The After

As soon as I had my medal around my neck and my water bottle in hand, I went straight to the bag check to grab my stuff and tossed a banana, apple and other goodies into my bag.

Thankfully my sister was easy to spot as all I needed to look for was her dog. Once we were all together, I walked with my sister to her car, except…..she wasn’t 100% sure where she had parked. At this point if someone had offered me a ride on one of those scooter wheelchair things I would have gladly accepted. Seriously. I’m pretty sure I was walking at about the same pace as an 80-year old grandma.

I was freaking thrilled to find my sister’s car and plant my butt in a seat for the drive to my dad’s.

Proof that I actually did it!
Proof that I actually did it!

I was really happy to be sitting in this picture!

Closing Thoughts

The wall sucks. Hitting it was harder than I had expected. I’d hit it a few times at the 15km mark in half marathons, but this was far harder. I’m really, really happy I pushed through and ran it, even if it was really slow. I still did it.

There were some course changes this year and I was really pleased with them. This year a narrow footbridge was eliminated and I was so, so happy not to have to dodge people, as the bridge was really, really narrow.

Although I really struggled through some parts of my marathon, I would absolutely, 100% do another one. Right now my focus will be on 1) resting for the next few weeks and 2) training for my half marathon in February, but once I’m done with that, I’ll start planning my next full.

4 thoughts on “October 2013: BMO Okanagan Marathon

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