It has been such an eventful long weekend it’s difficult to wrap my head around getting back to real life. With that, I’ll just tell you about marathon weekend and my first trip to Kelowna!
The drive and hotel
After coming to this region just a few weeks ago, I have to say I preferred the drive this time around. The Coquihalla Highway has beautiful stretches made more beautiful by the turning autumn leaves. The colour red was relatively absent compared to the shocking and long patches of yellow that was striking against the evergreens. It was also shorter – I’m so antsy during long car rides.
I “splurged” and booked us at The Grand Okanagan. (It was also because some other hotel required 3-night stays which was too long and would cost more.) It is a splendid hotel – grand lobby, beautiful grounds, a most inviting pool, and really decent rooms without obvious failings. (I gag at some gross stuff and they were not present.) At check-in, we were told we had been upgraded from a standard room to a two-bedroom. Although I thought I would rather a pimpin’ presidential suite instead, it worked out rather well. I was able to prepare for my marathon and blog right now without being as disruptive!
The city and exploring
Once again, it’s just so refreshing to be out of Vancouver and in a normal city. There is a floating bridge (nearing retirement) that connects Kelowna to Westbank that reminds me of cities across the water like Halifax and Dartmouth. I love my twin cities, but saw the charm in viewing Kelowna from across the water.
“Exploring” really meant visiting two wineries on Saturday: Quail’s Gate and Mission Hill. We were aiming for MH but QG was on the way and we’re so pleased to have stopped in! The grounds were so lush and the views very impressive. It was a pleasant contrast to have been in the region a few weeks ago when it was quiet/dead and then to enter a winery and it’s hoppin’ with visitors of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, a top 100 North American event! We queued and got to try the yummiest rose and gewurztraminer I’ve had in the recent wine-tasting extraganza. MH topped QG for flat-out gorgeous grounds that balanced the so-so wines we selected to try.
The run and reflections thereof
I know, some people are waiting for this part. Over 26.2 miles, a lot of stuff happens so I’m just going to write it out in point-form in roughly chronological order. Here goes….
* Sleep the night before was pretty fitful. I turned in at 11 and woke up only at 3 and 5 a.m. (I seem to sleep less fitfully for half-marathon runs at home.)
* Having a two-bedroom “condo” helped in that there was flatware to use, a full-size fridge to stash water bottles, and a kettle to brew my green tea. My morning routine did not get cramped by hotel-living.
* The girls, CM and TL, met up at my hotel. Of our three accomodations, mine was a short walk from the start – it meant I had just a bit more time to sleep in. =D
* Just before the start, I had a small feeling of dread. Unlike the novel marathon experience of the year before, I was allowing memories of last year return to me.
* We started out in a large group (same first 8K as the half-marathoners) and completed 5K in 28:30 (that’s pretty much a 5:40-5:45 minutes/kilometer pace).
* We stuck together as a trio until about 10K when CM surged ahead. The 4:00 pace bunny also passed us at 10K.
* I don’t really remember my 10K time.
* But I do remember the sensation of a blister forming under my right bunion.
* I saw a t-shirt that read “PCR” (Peach City Runners). Amused myself for a few minutes thinking about the theory and execution of my PCR: polymerase chain reaction. =P I should have indulged in distracting science-thought more often during the race.
* Marathoners do a larger loop from 8-12K and it was refreshingly downhill by some magic of geography. Except when we did the same loop for our 28-32K, it hurt my knees like heck. =( First time down that hill, we bombed down it (while recharging) at 5:30.
* I saw a farm of llamas and one of them urinating and several farms with horses trotting around.
* TL and I had a 19K time of around 1:52.
* To add miles, there was a long loop in a most industrial section (on Richter Road). While it gave us an opportunity to see runners who were ahead of us, it was generally so bleak and demoralizing.
* By the magic of a out-and-back route that was repeated, we passed a fruit market warehouse that was so fragrant… four times.
* I was keeping tabs on the weather and the forecast during the week had been for rain across southern B.C. It was a cool and partly cloudy morning. Some forecast had called for rain starting at 8 a.m. (our race start) but it held off until the evening. At times the sun would come out from hiding and blaze down on us. I was very thankful to be wearing short sleeves and shorts despite feeling so underdressed at the start line!
* I thought some of my ills were due to lack of water in general and to wash down all the electrolytes and fuel supplements. I stopped at all the water stations after half-way.
* TL and I talked about insightful breakthroughs we make during our runs – I wonder if those are my “runner’s high” because I don’t often enjoy endorphin rushes.
* I stayed with TL until 25K. Then I had to take an unscheduled break to remedy – somehow – a most frustrating compression feeling in the small of my back. Was I pushing too hard and arching? Was it the added pouch on my water belt with an extra 1/2 lb. of gels?
* A couple of gross things happened that I won’t share here: one included unanticipated precipitation and the other involved a Port-a-potty. Hey, it all makes for an experience.
* I can’t count the number of unscheduled breaks I took on my own. It was a mental battle and mind won out over body. That is, I did not really want to continue running despite having sufficient juice in my legs and body.
* Good thing I brought enough of my own gels. We passed the Gu (gel) station two times less than I anticipated from the map. I had three Espresso Love and “saved” the never-before tried Vanilla Bean flavour for “something to look forward to”. Small motivations.
* A big mistake is to try new things on race day. I tried Gu gels before. But I had never before had four gels in one sessions (spaced out by approximately 55 minutes). At two points, I thought I would pull over and puke my guts out. That would have been my grounds for DNF.
* I was optimistic that two loops of a 21.1K course meant a refreshing transition back and forth between city (read: tourist area) and country. I was overly optimistic as the country area the second time around was hopelessly dreary.
* I could make a contrast with Marathon by the Sea which was really industrial (?) and small town and ultra-small P.E.I. Marathon. I’ve come such a long way from 2004 in terms of running.
* NPY coordinated with the other boyfriends who weren’t as keen (read: pressured) to meet their girlfriends on the course. First they had breakfast together at Tim Hortons, then met up with us at 15K. It was a nice surprise because I didn’t know which point he would pick or be able to drive to.
* He met up with me again at 37K when I was nearing a walking break so we talked for 60 seconds. At the last 500-meter stretch, he ran alongside me!
* There was a noticeable lack of wind action. It was so refreshing when there was some wind at the 25K mark.
* When I was really bored, I mulled about the people who live along the top of a cliff in the country stretch. It’s a different way of life to accept being far-flung, to be far from amenities and have added travel time for any appointment. Living in the city, living where I live in the city, really impressed on me that way.
* None of the roads were entirely closed for our race and on the important streets, we shared the road. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t overly inconvenient. Calling out a warning about a car approaching from behind was much like our group training runs.
* Around 32K, I was about 3 minutes slower than a 4:15 finish… but there was disheartening a lot of room for error!
* Physical hindrances (pain) included that blasted blister, a really tight right hip (despite stretching), the sore small of back, a sore left bum. The usual knee pain set in the right at 30K.
* I had to treat the last 10K like a Sunday training run – or try to – by completing the kilometers in 6:15-6:20 at worst.
* It’s so true that if you break out too fast in the beginning, you will slow down by more than you were too fast
* I wish there had been a mat at halfway to have an official split time. I think we were just a bit faster than 2:07 by 21.1K, so my second half was 10 minutes slower than my first half!
* There always comes a bargaining stage: If I finish a few minutes slower than last year, it’s okay, it still might as well be 4:20… so long as it was not 4:30! I know where my training failed this year such that finishing near the same time as last year indicates an equivalent physical effort on race day (sort of).
* I wouldn’t say I have immediate plans to do another marathon. (If so, Portland.)
* I can never, never, never go as unprepared again. If there was some lax/attitude this year, I’ve been scared into my senses!
The official results….
402 of 596 finishers
Gun time 4:25:43
Average pace 6:18/kilometer
Chip time 4:25:08
183 of 307 females
42 of 63 of females age 20-29