Sunday, May 27, 2012

Abbotsford Run for Water Marathon 2012

Getting my stuff together the night before.
Erik and I drove 3 1/2 hours to Abbotsford on Saturday morning to race my first marathon!  We checked into the hotel then picked up my race packet, bought a cowbell and a hat, finally got to meet Daily Miler and fellow grade 3 teacher, Duane M. , and then drove the course to check it out. I'm REALLY glad we drove it.  It made a huge difference always having a fairly good idea of where I was and what I still had to do while I was running today.  We grabbed a very late lunch then went back to the hotel to relax for the evening. Early to bed at 9:30.

I decided on the early start (6 am) because I really didn't know what my back was gonna do and if I had a tough race, I'd be dead last (since all the other slow pokes like me started an hour earlier). So - it was a good decision.

We got up at 4:30am, left the hotel about 5:20, parked, porta-pottied, and chatted with fellow racers.  There were about 25-30 people at the early start, including my facebook and daily mile friend Gary J., and world record holder, Ginny Turner. She has raced a marathon on all 7 continents, in the fewest number of days. Wow. She doesn't run them any more, now she power walks them, so she was out for the early start as well.

The early start crew.
My race plan was simple, and based on my previous long runs. I planned to run the first downhill 5k straight through at a relatively fast pace (6:20/km),  then settle into a comfortable running pace (6:25-6:55/km) and take walk breaks every 14 minutes for the next 32km.  For the final uphill 5km, it was anybody's guess but I was hoping to be no slower than an 8:00/km average pace due to slower running and extra extra walk breaks. If I ended up at the slowest run pace for the 32km, I'd hit a 5:00:00 marathon.

And We're Off!
It seemed like no time at all before the horn went and we were off in the morning sun.  Air temp was about 12C (54F) with predicted high of about 18C, so I wore my tri shorts and Sugoi tank top, with my Versa vest overtop for the first bit, until I warmed up. I had my Nathan Fuel vest and my hand held water bottle, 2 gel flasks with 6 gels and water, 4 Nuun tablets, and one extra gel packet. Erik had his cyclo-cross bike and planned to ride the course and stop every now and again to cheer me on and take some pictures.

As luck would have it, as soon as my legs started moving, everything in my body started moving and so 1.5 km into the race, I had to stop at the porta-potty again. Argh.  I was not alone however, two others were doing the same thing. Back on the road two minutes later, took off my vest and gave it to Erik, and hit the road.
I kept my pace steady but by the time I hit the 5k mark, I was two minutes behind my goal time due to the bathroom break. No worries, I didn't really care if I didn't make my goal time, but I thought it might be possible to make up the time later if I was feeling good. Time would tell.

(Although you may think I look lonely out there, I prefer that actually.  I always knew Erik was close by and I enjoyed the peace and chance for introspection.)

Over the next 10km, I was playing leap frog with a couple of Marathon Maniacs who were doing 5/1 run walk so we kept passing each other and chatting. Eventually I left them at a water stop and never saw them again. from then on, I ran alone. Not many of the early starters were ahead of me. The country side in this section was absolutely gorgeous, pastoral, green, with pretty farms and farm animals. In the early morning, it looked very pretty. 

From then on, I was passed quite frequently by the fast 7am marathoners. Ah well. :)
The fastest male marathoner caught and passed me around the 19km mark - I love the look on my face as he flew by me!

A little while later, the lead bike came by and said "Hey, you're ahead of the lead woman!"

"Not for long", I replied.

Whooo hooo Ryder!!!!!
Around the 20km mark, we got the news that Ryder Hesjedal had won the Giro D'Italia and I was so stoked, I ran one of my fastest kms. Nobody on the course seemed to know who he was - well I think they will soon know his name over the next few days.  Thanks to a couple of twitter friends for DMing me the results. :)

I stopped and tweeted my progress at the 10k, 20k, and 30k mark, but that was easy enough to do during my walk breaks. :)  The walk breaks became a little sporadic, not always following the 14/1 exactly. In fact, between 10-30k, I felt really strong, picked up the pace a little, and skipped a few of my walk breaks.

The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up at the 20k mark and although I wasn't cold, I wasn't warm either. I considered putting my vest back on but decided against.  The head wind in some directions was hateful.

As I hit the 30k mark, I was starting to tire. I stopped for a quick pee break, adding another minute to putting me over the 5 hour mark.  My legs were beginning to rebel so I started to use some of the mental tricks to ignore the pain and continue on. Most of it was fatigue and sore muscles, so I wasn't worried.  I stopped to stretch my calves a couple of times when they started the first tinglings of a cramp, and I stopped to stretch my back out a few times as well, but other than that, I keep on trudging along. Erik was a great support, encouraging me, and letting me know that I still looked strong and had good form.  It made an incredible difference knowing he was always going to be around the next corner.

Digging Deep - a determined look on my face.
Everything past 34km was uncharted territory and it FELT like it too. I was tired, my legs didn't want to keep on moving, and everything was starting to hurt. The closer to the last 5k hill I got, the harder it became to put one foot in front of another.  I had kept to my fuel and water strategy and so I don't think I ever bonked per se, but I sure was wishing it was all over. At this point, I just dug deep and told myself I could do it, don't worry about the time, and just finish the race. 

The toughest part was knowing I was pretty darn close to being under 5 hours if I had a good finish and pushed a little harder from 30k on, but I just didn't have the mental or physical stamina to run faster at that point.

About km 40.  Up another hill?
I had a few darker moments at the 37-38 km mark, and then rallied a bit and got up the worst of the hills.  I think I ran them all actually, surprise surprise, although I was taking more frequent, but short walk breaks from time to time.

When I hit the 41 km mark, I knew I was almost there and somehow I managed to speed up and run a very fast-for-me 5:30-5:45/km for about 500m, then I slowed to 6min/km and finished the race strong.  My daughter was there videotaping me cross the line and Erik had the camera.  And suddenly, it was over!

About to throw my arms up, as I cross the finish line. I did it!!

5:04:54.  Good enough!  I was happy and tired and glad to be done.

Bling was a medal AND a little plaque!  Coolest part was being called a "marathoner" by the race guys. :)  Yahoooo!!!

Additional Stats:  I was 152/175 overall, 51/62 women, 9/13 in my age group.  I think I did fairly well as far as the early starter group.  I was near the front of the pack, although I don't know if many passed me when I was in the bathroom.

As for what's next?  I'd totally do another marathon. Just don't know when. Maybe next year. I have the Apple Triathlon in August, and Victoria Half Marathon in October. Not sure what else I'll do this summer. Lots to think about. The hardest part of marathon training is giving up my tri training. Ah well....

I found this race easier than my first half iron, and about the same as my 2nd half iron. I think it's because I'm not a really strong runner. Your miles may vary.  However, the day after - I have never hurt so much as I do this morning. Every fiber of my body hurts (except my low back!).  I think I'll use the elevator at school today. :)


Petraruns said...

What a fantastic race Barb - well done! So great that Eric could follow you the whole way round and encourage you - it looked quite lonely out there! Looks like - apart from the headwind - you had good conditions as well. The last few miles ARE hard in a marathon and don't ever seem to get any easier, trust me. But you're doing great. I know what you mean about doing marathon training v tri training - I dropped the marathon for my first year of tri training because I cannot get my head around both. But it can be done - apparently - and now you have this monkey off your back who knows what you can do next!

Nikki said...

Was this your first marathon? Regardless, sounds like it was a fantastic run, what a great time. I did the half at Run for Water and that last 5km just about killed me - you did awesome for trudging up it after so many more km! Congratulations on what sounds like a great race.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on finishing your first marathon, Barb! Great race report. Do you have an idea of which marathon you might do next?

The Jackal said...

Nice race report Barb I think it was a good idea for you to start early, less temptation to bolt at the start!

Dan Stefanson said...

Hello Kelownagurl,

I also ran the marathon and we exchanged a brief good morning somewhere out there in the farm land of the fraser valley! I just wanted to say thank you for visiting Abbotsford and for participating in the Run for Water. We would be happy to welcome you and ALL your friends next year!!!

Lyle said...

I read your blog on the run for water marathon last night and then listened to the podcast with your race report on the same event and found them both very interesting. I just started listening a few weeks back and am enjoying the information along with the added humor of situations that always come up. What a great way to make the runs and rides more fun and go faster. Thanks Barb and Thanks Eric for your input, ideas and suggestions!

Mark said...

Great job!

pay per head service said...

It is pretty impressive that you have everything under control and you have calculate every time/km