Beginners and Beyond


BMO Vancouver Marathon half marathon race report *Added lots of pics* (Read 87 times)

    On Sunday May 5, 2013, I ran in the BMO Vancouver Marathon half marathon. Or should I just call it the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon?


    Here are the quick stats if you want to skip the rest:


    Goal:  <1:25:59

    Old PR:  1:28:55 (June 2009)

    Chip time:  1:25:20

    OA:  72/8631

    AG:  14/558

    Gender:  64/3992


    In case this gets long, please just bear with me as this will also serve as my end of “season” report. Is it too early to shut it down for spring?




    In May 2012, I started running again after 1.5 years mostly off, save and except for a short-lived comeback attempt in the summer of 2011. My goal was to come back stronger than ever, with a view not just to reset, but also annihilate all my old PRs. I knew that in order to do this, I would need to establish a solid base before doing any race specific training, so all I did for 9 months was to build the base. I felt ready at the end of December to start an “official” training program, but I gave it a bit longer and began official 5k/10k training at the end of January. Throughout this process, I logged all-time high mileage in December and January, but the problem with this was that I was fucking bored by February and running felt like a chore. So I ended up taking off a week straight and 11 out of 14 days right at the beginning of my training program. It freaked me out a bit, and I was like, “Oh shit, am I going to quit running again?” I found myself saying things like, “It’s raining again today, I’ll just start fresh next week.” I said this to myself for about a year straight during my off time. Maybe my all-time graph explains all of this a bit better:




    The lead-up races


    Once I got back into training, my first race since June 2010 was quickly approaching. I considered taking a DNS since I wasn’t sure if things would come together in time after a short layoff, but it finally clicked and I ran 18:41 5k on March 16, a 23-second PR. I kept plugging away, and I ran another big PR on April 7, a 38:57 10k.


    The goal race that never was


    My goal race was a 10k on April 28, but I had to DNS because I was really sick that day. I was pretty disappointed, but as I said in another thread, “All is not lost, all this training will serve me well for my fall marathon.” I just wanted to focus on getting better and making it to the start line for the half. I actually added the half on a whim, hopefully taking a stab at qualifying for Corral A at the Chicago Marathon. (all my marathon PRs are too old, and it’s way tougher to qualify with half time). When I registered for this half, I wasn’t sure how things would work out with this being just a week after my goal race, but in the end, it wasn’t a concern. However, what did concern me was my shitty training in April. Check out my crappy chart for April:



    The lower training load was due to house guest, stupid aches and pains (both running and non-running related), illness, and every other excuse imaginable. But I guess all of the time off ultimately helped me to get to the start line healthy.


    The redemption race


    I was a bit concerned going into this race, not only because of the interrupted training, but also because I still had some residual yuckiness from last weekend’s sickness the last couple of days before the race. More excuses! But I made it to the start line without any issues. The plan was to go out at sub-1:26 pace and hope that I could hold it. If I couldn’t then at least I could reassess midrace and try to salvage a decent race. I last ran this race in 2010, but it was a completely different course back then which included a climb up Prospect Point at about 12km. For those who are familiar with Vancouver and Stanley Park, you will know this is a decent climb. But luckily we didn’t have to deal with that on this day, and the course is actually pretty fast. Here is the map and profile:



    So as you can see, it’s relatively flat after that long downhill start. Since the race goes through my hood and training ground, I couldn’t really imagine what those few bumps along the way were, so I didn’t think much of them. This is already getting a bit too long, so I’ll skip all the pre-race and start line nonsense and get this race started.


    Based on last year’s results, I should have lined up about 100 deep, but ended up about 300 deep. No big deal, most of these fools will start out too quickly anyway. Will I be one of them?


    After coming out from the bottom of Queen Elizabeth Park (I think the highest point in Vancouver), we turn down Cambie Street for about 2 miles of downhill. Everybody is going pretty quick as expected, but I try not to get carried away. I click through the first mile in 6:20, so not too bad. From this point forward, my splits are all screwed up because the race website said there would be markers at every mile and kilometer, so I decided to do the un-Canadian thing and go with miles. But then the mile 2 marker should actually have been kilometer unless I read it wrong. Anyway, I digress. I’ll pick it up after what seems to be the 4 km marker and skip my weird splits before that because it will be difficult to explain. Check my log if you’re interested. I tried to tag up with someone right from the start, but it was way too early. I though I could chase “gorilla arms” as he seemed to know what he was doing and around my pace, but I passed him when we came off the downhill and didn’t see much more of him.


    km 5 – 3:59 (6:26 mi pace), km 6 – 4:16 (6:35), km 7 – 4:04 (6:22), km 8 – 3:41 (6:27)


    We come off the downhill and turn past my condo into the flats and heading into east Van and Chinatown. If I was having a shitty race, I could bail here and go home, except I used the gear check. There is a turnaround just past the 5 km mark, so we can see the faster runners and our competition from about km 4.5 to 5.5. During this flat stretch, I’ve broken away from the field, but still working for position and I know I’ll still pass a few more people before this show is over. This big dude shoulder checked and spat, but he timed it wrong and I got spit mist. WTF dude! That pissed me off so I dropped him going into Chinatown. It was cool to see Indian dancers in saris or some type of traditional dress in this area. There is a slight incline exiting Chinatown, so I stay relaxed and put in a minisurge at the top of the incline just for fun. After exiting Chinatown, we go through Yaletown, and old warehouse neighbourhood turned into condos for us yuppies.


    km 9 – 4:09 (6:23), km 10.55 – 6:14 (6:30)


    Just before reaching km 9, I actually checked for traffic while crossing the street. It was funny because the marshal was very encouraging and told me not to worry about it, they got me covered. I somehow mistook the half mat and marker for the 10k point, but I also missed the 10k marker. At 10k, we start to enter English Bay and Stanley Park. Okay, time to get serious, this is my playground.


    Halfway split – 41:50


    I realize this is slightly ahead of pace, but I think it’s mostly explained by the long downhill start. Will I pay for it now?


    km 11 – 1:13 (6:27), km 12 – 4:00 (6:33), km 13 – 4:20 (6:40), km 14 – 4:17 (6:18 … long on Garmin)


    I took a sip of water just after the halfway point. By this time, I’ve established myself into a group with 2 other men, as all the other back and forth people have faded or gone ahead. This stretch has a few bumps, but nothing too exciting. At around km 14 we passed the one and only wheelchair races, and I grunted out, “Good job.” She most have been having a tough day for us to pass her. It was also at this point when my breathing started to get more labored, and I question the pace. But I figured I just needed to hold on for 2 more km for the final 5.1 km push.


    km 15, 16 – 8:30 (6:39), km 17 – 4:11 (6:39), km 18 4:04 (6:54)


    Don’t mind the weird kilometer times to mile pace conversions. There are some minor variances due to what my watch was measuring. Just past mile 15 there is a bit of an incline, but I am assisted up it by the power of taiko drummers. Once we got up the hill, I passed the other 2 in my group and hit the 16 km marker. I did some quick math and realized that I needed to close in just over 21 minutes, definitely doable. We turned onto the seawall, and I pass a female who was in my sights for a while. I really try to push after the 16 km mark, but I was running alone and I had nothing left. The best I could hope for was to keep the effort level elevated in order to maintain my current pace.


    km 19 – 4:23 (6:45), km 20 – 4:11 (6:32)


    I do some more math with 3.1 km to go and realized that it will be tough, but I really need to push now to make it. I was a bit discouraged by the km 19 split, but then I get passed by this muscle-y guy, so I let him pull me in. I’m back on track for km 20. There was a bit of an incline heading up to km 20 along with a water station, and there was a guy ahead of us who stopped to take fluids at that point. I yelled at him, “Come on, no stopping!” Poor guy, he must have been hurting to have to stop at that point.


    km 21.1 – 4:24 (6:34)


    This last 1.1 km seemed to take forever and a huge amount of determination. I was trying to figure out when to kick, but it just never happened. I seemed to have been running as fast as I possibly could with nothing left to give. We make the final turn and then the finish line was in sight. Muscleman took off, but I was just happy he took me that far. I looked at my watch one last time, and it seemed I had about 3 minutes left to get from where I was until the end. It was maybe 600m – 800m … I’m not too sure but I ran as hard as I could and still thought I might just squeak in, even though the finish was in sight. I was so surprised to see so many people lining the finish area. It was quite noisy and while I appreciated it, I was a bit out of sorts by that point and kind of just tuned it out while I tried to make that last push.


    I crossed the line and saw 1:25:2x on the clock and semi-raised my arms in jubilation. I got my stupid medal and tried my best to walk in a straight line so as not to be whisked into the medical tent. After a few minutes I felt as normal as I could, grabbed my bag, finish food, and plunked myself against the wall and BS’ed with the other finishers who were there for a bit. Once I got up, I was quite surprised that my legs felt like they wanted to cramp up.



    Performance-wise, I don’t know what to think. The fast start was expected and I did fade a bit in the late going, but I think I could have also picked it up at some points between halfway and 15-16km when I was losing concentration. I’m not going to worry about it. I put in a monster effort and I’ll take my nice PR. Even though training didn’t go as well as I had planned near the end, I guess all those winter miles carried me through.


    Here are some crappy pics of me I stole from Marathon Photos. I’ll steal more if they add more:






















      Holy cannoli, B!!  You are so freaking fast!!   What a fantastic race!!   I bet if you hadn't been sick and had issues in April, the training that you would have done would have kept you from that slight fade at the end.   And, all that to say, as phenomenal as this PR is, I still think you've got more in you!!   Keep up the great work!!!   Love the pics!

      But The Smile That I Sent Out Returned With You.

        What an awesome race and I'm so glad to hear you knocked out another PR and beat your goal as well. You did a great job in spite of being sick and the sporadic training over the past month. I looked back through those splits and there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of with how you ran that race. Those last couple of km are TOUGH and the slight fade says you didn't leave much out on the course. HUGE congrats!

        Train smart ... race smarter.


          Wow! Congratulations on your PR! And what great ranking! Just wow.. And if I may say so (in my most motherly tone, of course Big grin), you are quite the sexy guy! Great pictures!

          PRs: Boston Marathon, 3:27, April 15th 2013

                  Cornwall Half-Marathon, 1:35, April 27th 2013

          18 marathons, 18 BQs since 2010

          YAYpril - B-Plus

            Congrats, B! You should be super proud. I love that you ran a 1:25 on sub-optimal training. I can't wait to hear about your marathon. You're going to kill it.

              Great RR and PR! Congratulations!




              Just B.S.

                You definitely get a A-Plus for that race!!




                Go figure

                  Congrats on the race!  I like how you could have bailed and just gone home mid-race, if not for the darn bag check ha.  A downhill start like that would be difficult when it comes to strategy, but you seem to have handled it really well.  I kinda remember feeling like I was just hanging on the whole time in my half (about the same time as yours), so maybe that's just what they feel like.  Great job getting the PR and sticking with it.


                  So did that half time qualify you for Chicago's A corral?

                  Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn

                  Bad Ass

                    Congrats! Great RR!



                    "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

                    It's always fucking hot in Miami!


                    Healed Hammy

                      You are a hoot B, this cracked me up.  Next time get behind the chick with the nice ass who is running 1:23.xx.  Thanks for taking the time to let us slower runners get a sense of how a 'race' feels rather than just a fast run.


                      This big dude shoulder checked and spat, but he timed it wrong and I got spit mist. WTF dude! That pissed me off so I dropped him going into Chinatown. 


                        Congrats on the PR!  Great job.

                        Life is good.



                          Great job B! I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Holy crap you're fast! Smile

                          - Andrew


                          Chasing Rainbows

                            Congrats on a great race and PR!

                            The obstacle is the path. - Zen proverb


                            Barking Mad To Run

                              Way to go on your race and congrats on the new PR!


                              Those photos do not look crappy at all.

                              "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt


                                Congratulations on the new PR and wow you are fast!