2016 BMO Vancouver Marathon; a brief report

This is a reasonably brief report, as I decided to go a little in-depth about my training experience before I ran, so that it wouldn’t be tainted with whatever happened at the race.


From early Saturday afternoon onward, I focused on relaxing, walking as little as possible, continuing my carb load and getting my head around my first marathon in several years. I knew it would be clear and warm, so my favourite Castelli skull cap and a singlet was a no-brainer, along with my six gel Hind shorts, my CEP compression sleeves, and my favourite fast shoes, the NB1400v3 (almost) flats.

I’m not a heavy sleeper at the best of times. I think I had about 6.5 hours on Friday, and might’ve got four hours Saturday night, if I was lucky. However, that all melted away when I popped out of bed around 5:45 on race day. I had my typical race breakfast of a cup of orange juice and a single serving of oatmeal. With good potential for GI distress, I need to eat at least two hours pre-event, with a good portion of the remainder of my time spent ensuring I’m cleaned out, if you know what I mean.

My lovely spouse is very supportive, so I had a chauffeured drop-off at Ontario and 33rd for a little after 7:30. Connie decided to hang out downtown and meet me at the finish with my post-race bag too, so I was totally covered with no need to carry keys or take transit anywhere. I could just think about running. I met a few running peeps around the start, chatted a little and before I knew it, 8:30 had arrived and it was time to run.

The race

As I mentioned in my pre-race journal entry, it had been a long time since I averaged a couple marathons a year, all between 3:06 and 3:17. As such, I kept my expectations low and thought if I had a good day I should be able to get my Boston standard of 3:30. I wasn’t even sure I’d do Boston again, but it’s a measuring stick.

I decided I’d start near 3:30 pace bunny Dave Papineau and was thinking I’d kick things up a bit well into the race, but only if I felt strong. Given that I purposely ran most of my long runs at 5:00/km, I was feeling out the first couple kms up Cambie and west on 49th and settled on something close to 4:45/km. In fact, aside from a slightly slower split heading up Camosun around the 10k mark, and a faster split heading down UBC hill nearing halfway, I remained very close to 4:45/km overall right up until the 35k mark. I wasn’t focusing on negative splits or picking up the pace at the end. Aside from the soft goal of re-acquiring my BQ, all I really wanted was to feel good after the race and not run into my nasty calf and achilles issues.

Once through UBC hill, the little NW Marine climb to West 4th and left on Alma to Point Grey Road, I found the gentle slope up and down Cornwall to Burrard was pretty smooth sailing. I even saw Curb as he called out my name somewhere close to Kits Beach. I don’t know how I looked, but I felt fine. Even climbing Burrard Bridge was good as we closed in on 30k, with a cooling breeze off the water and a lengthy trip down the other side and down further still along Pacific until connecting with the seawall heading into Stanley Park. Given that the park is effectively the final 10k of the race, I suspected it would be where bad things happened, if they did.

The picture wasn't the only thing 'fuzzy' at the finish ...
Getting a bit creaky at the Pender finish …

Thankfully, no such thing occurred. There was still solid shade on the west side of the park and I found that kept me pretty refreshed, even though this is where my 4:45 pace began to slip. Emerging from the shade running under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, the rest of the race, save for the final meters to the finish, was all in the sun. It was kind of fitting to be slowing a bit the first time I really noticed the heat much at all, even though the two were unrelated. While I would have liked to kick things up a notch for the slight uphill finish on Pender, the quads were starting to creak a fair bit and, knowing I would be well under my Boston standard and I was nowhere near a negative split for the race, I decided focus on form and just get it done. I met all my goals for the race and had a great day.

By the numbers, and final thoughts

While my time ranks toward the slower end of my range of finishes, I’m a lot older since the last time I ran 42.2. As such, I was pretty pleased to be 14th in my AG and top 10% overall and in my gender.

Chip time: 3:24:57
Overall: 267/3872
Gender: 227/2329
M50-54 Age Group: 14/271

Finally, a note on fuel. In addition to taking a very solid approach to carb loading leading up to the race, I decided I’d be regimented with race calories and hydration. I took a gel before the start, then one at 8k, 16k, 24k, 31k and 38k. As is typically the case, I only drank as I began noticing slight thirst. I took the gels with water, opting for the Ultima sports drink between gels, and mostly alternated them. As there were 20 aid stations on course, it was pretty easy to drink when you wanted. I seemed to get race fueling right for a change, as I never felt anything close to a bonk.

As I suspected having a decent day might, my thoughts have now turned to whether I should think about trying to get faster and continue down the distance running path once again.