VIM: The water-logged marathon

Weird pre-half’er behaviour includes being in bed at 10:30 (and asleep by 11), placing a cell phone/alarm next to my ear, waking several times in a panic (3:51 and 4:19), and having a dream of oversleeping (“7:52!!!”). Thus successfully waking at 5 a.m. is often the hardest part of the day!

Then I looked outside, squinted to see through the dark and that there is activity on the puddles on the street – rain. Not a light drizzle but continuous showering of drops. This is worse than anything I’ve ever been through….

The day was off to a bad start when I broke my earphones =S and had to ring for the cab twice. (Many of you think that running 20K before 9:30 is a bad start, but I beg to differ.)

Right now I’m a little aghast. My chip time was 2:14:24. That’s 3 minutes worst than my personal worst and 9 minutes off my average from last year. That being said I’ll lay out all of my reasons/excuses up front –
* I don’t train in the rain. It poured. (Uh, ruins your shoes.)
* I didn’t train hard enough. (That no rain-running thing.)
* I weigh about 10 pounds more than last year. This is an all-new body, in a negative sense.
* Add to the extra weight about 5 pounds of wet clothing and shoes. (That’s where rainy day training might have come in handy, to be prepared for this.)
* Sheer and utter boredom running in the city in which I train.

Over at Metblogs I wrote up a non-partisan blog entry with a (nearly) mile-by-mile recap. Here, I’ll add the other thoughts.

Pre-race: Is it alright to not tip the cabbie because my 3-minute ride across the bridge (it is all of a 10-minute walk/2K but it was raining) cost $6.10. It was the easiest fare in the world so I gave him all the change I had leaving him about $0.28 tip….

In the chute: It’s a rainy day and even stylin’ runners go undercover. There were plenty of people wearing garbage bags that were much more waterproof than my Running Room jacket. In fact, before the run began, I knew my sleeves had soaked through.

Miles 1-4: Damn hills. There was one hill every mile in this stretch. They were short so I tackled them all. We ran through Chinatown and those gates (made sure to go through the middle one – not a superstition or anything). We ran across the edge of Chinatown, somewhere you don’t go at night. It looked so dreary, but it’s like 7:15 in the morning. Running by the assorted offices reminded me of the quieter commercial lots in industrial parks but at least it was new scenery.

Gastown. Hastings (downtown). Nice. I like those neighbourhoods.

We hit a bottleneck squeezing into the two-lane road in Stanley Park. In other marathons, you’ve spread out much better by the 5 mile-mark but not so for the VIM. As I would overhead someone say after the race, “This is not the kind of race you enter to achieve a personal best.”

The 2:15 pace bunny passed me. I knew he was about 7 minutes too fast yet it disheartened me to see him and his pace rabbits overtake me and then I lost sight of them.

(When I told John Stanton, Running Room founder that my finish time is 2:05, he advised me to stay ahead of the 2:15 pace bunny until the 10K point and then to break out ahead of him. Yeah. Even if I take a slower pace, I’ll still be so mentally tired and slow ever more the second half. I should just break my neck in the first half, get a good split time, and be able to afford screwing up the second half.)

Stanley Park was alright until we came around Mile 8 to the hill. It reminded me of the hill in Point Pleasant Park. From the base, you can see those who have rounded the corner and ascended/struggled up the hill. You can see how the incline continues through several openings. It was worse than it appeared.

By then, I had puddles in my shoes. In fact, I had a bigger puddle in my left shoe and it was very disconcerting. This was slightly remedied by stopping to tie that side a little more tightly (maybe that is why there was a larger puddle). I really felt like my light jog wasn’t going anywhere.

So I walked. We ascended goodness knows how many feet continuously for about a mile and I walked it, rationalizing to myself that I would jog so slowly anyhow and now with water-logged shoes. However, I didn’t walk so quickly either. Until we hit flat ground again, I didn’t run again. Mile 8 was definitely the arena for the typical meltdown.

For Mile 9 onward, with some false starts, I was back to 10-and-1. You could say that I finally kicked myself out of the funk that was despising the weather conditions and forging through despite all the discomfort. (I had the energy, but was simply bored out of my skull.) Because of that, the Mile 10 marker came up pleasantly quickly. =D

It’s all relative, isn’t it – the last kilometer is only six minutes of my life since my legs are on a roll with propelling me forward for the past two hours yet it feels like the most brutal and unbearable stretch of road.

When I could actually get into B.C. Place, I sat on the astroturf and placed phone calls in succession in order to have someone to talk to. We were given BMO blue “blankets” (read: plastic wraps) inside of which I huddled pathetically in a ball in the stadium. Every stitch of my long-sleeved runner shirt was soaked through. And my underwear was damp, too. =S

Next up –
* Walk/2:30 pace bunny at the Bluenose (Half-)Marathon (May 21)
* Lose that ten pounds (five pounds easy, then the other five)
* If half’ers this year, train for sub-2:00; if attempting a full, join a clinic
* 2:30 pace bunny at the Scotiabank Vancouver Half (June 25)
* Race my heart out in Victoria (Oct.9)
* Race my heart out in Seattle (Nov.26)

Oh yeah, there’s that part in every race where despite all the tedium and pain, I think to the next race and I think about the prospect of registering for a full-marathon next year. I thought about making a deal: instead of a full next year, do six half’ers instead, doubling my serious races. But who am I dealing with? Myself. For me to train up for a full, I need to join a clinic. (So W. didn’t and he’s super and he did the full in 4:50 as his second long race ever. I’m not that good. That he is considering the full in Victoria in no way persuades me to attempt a full this year… who am I kidding….? He has been and is a “bad” influence on me, if you consider it bad to motivate me to do more with myself….!)

Results from the Archive——————
3,656th overall (6,302 finished)
1,923 out of 4,005 women (2,286 men registered, btw)
371 of 682 women age 25-29
Gun time: 2:17:30
Chip time: 2:14:24
10:30-mile =(
10K time: 1:01:57
Split time (about 50m past the actual half-way point): 1:06-ish (very unofficial)


  1. Ryan says:

    Crazy runner. Bicycles are the future.

    BTW, you mentioned the pace bunnies, but as a non-runner myself, I have no idea how this is implemented: a volunteer who can do the time easily? Bicycle with a FOLLOW ME sign? Motor vehicle?

    Just curious.

  2. Ryan says:

    In the grand tradition of answering my own question, I found a picture of a VIM pace bunny. They’re not bunnies at all, just humans!

    2005, but close enough for me.

  3. teahouse says:

    Wow, I’m in awe. I once ran a 5 mile race in the rain, twisted my ankle, and still finished the race. But I couldn’t even do a marathon in dry weather!

  4. Miss 604 says:

    i saw people walking back with medals on yellow ribbons, i see yours is blue – what’s the significance/difference?

  5. wyn says:

    I saw the yellow fabric as well. Often at these races, the ribbon helps you distinguish marathon-finishers from half-marathon-finishers from 10K’ers and whatever else races were run that day. Sometimes the medal colour/material will also improve with the distance you completed.

  6. Michelle says:

    I just found out my new sis-in-law did the full marathon in 6 hours (or just under). It was her first one and now she wants to do some marathon in Arizona. Crazy runners, indeed!

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