In my continuing effort to fast track myself back into shape, I decided to register for the inaugural running of the Vancouver USA marathon. It seemed like the easiest way to get in a long road run and the timing was perfect...two weeks before the 4th of July triple.
|It was fun meeting Bart Yasso at the expo. He started the race and also announced all the finishers.|
The race started at 7am and not really knowing how crowded it might be, I decided to get there early. I got up at 4:30 am and after stopping for coffee, I breezed over to Vancouver and was parked within a few blocks of the start by 5:45. I headed over to the host hotel to use a real restroom and met up with some friends. With only 800 runners in the marathon (the half didn't start until 8:30), the start area was really low-key. There weren't even any lines for the porta-potties.
Soon it was time to start and away we went. I wanted to run this as an easy training run, but didn't really have a plan. Despite my low miles this year, I felt like I could still run a sub-5 hour marathon without too much trouble. For a training run, I knew it was probably better to run over 5 hours, but my ego didn't really like that idea. So I decided to just run and see how I felt.
|Still smiling in the early miles.|
After running 4 miles I decided I should probably take some walk breaks so started walking for a minute every mile as well as walking through the aid stations. The course was okay. Most of the first half went out on country roads to Vancouver Lake and back. I suppose it was scenic but I got a little bored and started my music earlier than I intended. I actually enjoyed the course a little bit more when we got back into town and ran through some of the neighborhoods. The second half had some hills, which I walked, so I tried to adjust my walk breaks so I wasn't walking more than I was on the flats.
Around mile 18, my upper glutes/SI joint/sacrum area seized up. It felt like sharp stabbing knives in my lower back. I tried to stay calm. Unless I was willing to stop (no!), there was no point in getting too wound up about it. I decided to ignore it and it eventually loosened up. That's the great thing about ultra running experience. You learn to just power through and eventually, almost always, things get better.
Once the back thing subsided, I really felt strong the last 6 miles or so. I imagined myself as the little engine that could and it seemed like my steady stride was on auto-pilot. I started picking off the half marathoners I had caught up with and left behind some of the marathoners I had been leap-frogging with.
Around mile 25 they added a little hill that I had to walk. But once the course leveled and I knew the finish was soon, I turned it on. Loved kicking it in the last block and hearing Mr. Yasso call my name and say something else about me being a maniac. I think that's the best thing about road marathons, the finishing kick. So. Much. Fun.
|You can barely see, but that's me crossing the line with both feet in the air.|
Finish time: 4:43:10 Negative splits 2:24/2:19. All in all it was a good race for me, although I should have run it slower. I'm definitely shooting for 5+ hour times for the triple. Not sure if I'd run this one again. In fact, after the triple, I think I want to concentrate more on trail races and leave the road behind.