I have been wanting to do this one for some years now. Nice get away weekend with Jody. Up early on Saturday to catch the Victoria Clipper from Seattle. Arrive in Victoria by 11AM. Relaxing way to travel and customs was a snap. Only staying one night so we did not have much to carry. Short walk anyway to the host hotel, the Fairmont Empress. Expo was very crowded, but I won a raffle, a cool natural fiber bag from the Rain Coast Conservation Foundation. Tried to hook up with Club Oly folks for dinner but most places were full, so we split up and Jody and I went to the Noodle Box which was more than sufficient.
Really good weather on race morning. Cool and a little cloudy but the sun will come out later. Very little wind. 8K started at 7:15 and goes in a different direction from the other races. Half Marathon start at 7:30. I watch the race go by at about the half mile mark. Then I have plenty of time to get ready and be at the start line for the 8:45 Marathon start. Strange that the full starts so late compared to the other races. They have a 5 hour 30 minute cut off time and this is my only gripe about this race. Those who will be slower than 5:30 must take the early start at 6:30 AM and if they finish faster than 5:30 their time will not count officially. Jody should be in the 4:45 range but she has a head cold and will have a bad run today. She will make it in at 5:12 and will be one of the very last runners of over 11,000 who compete today and will run alone for most of the race. Checking results later I see that there were quite a number of early starters who did finish in the 5:10 to 5:20 range and I wish that Jody had had more company. At least they had plenty of post race food and support along the course for all runners, and I suppose that the staggered starts keeps the finish area from getting too congested at any time.
Start - At 8:40 I am lined up with Maniac Guy and we are ready to roll. Canadian National Anthem and then we are off right on time. Course is marked in Kilometers but I have my GPS watch set to miles as usual. I have decided to run the first half in 1:59, one minute slower that in Bellingham two weeks ago. I fell apart there in the second half. I do not know how much of that was due to the strong winds, but that poor second half hurt my confidence. I also have this wonky ankle issue, not sure what will happen after some miles. If all goes well I will run the second half faster than the first and get in under 4 hours. I am not confident of the negative split, and I will be thrilled if it happens. Absolutely not going for anything close to a PR until I have my confidence back and can run a few races without hitting the wall.
Kilometer 0.8 - Pass Jody, somehow she started ahead of me. It is very crowded but moving along and will open up soon I hope. Feel like I have to pee though, even though I went just before the start and I did not hyperhydrate.
Kilometer 3 - Having to pee is such a distraction. I have been looking for alleys or bushes to use. Finally I see the aid station and a row of SaniCans. No line, I am in and out very quickly and can now think about other things.
Kilometer 4 - Female runner up ahead falls to the ground, I-Pod skitters on the road ahead. She is up and running quickly and says that she is fine.
Kilometer 8 - Catch up to Deb and Heike from Olympia. We run together through a park. Loop and loop, I am confused about the course but just follow the crowd. Sometimes have fast runners passing the other way, then the slower ones. I feel like we did a circle within a circle and I have no idea how we got out of the loop but eventually we are back on the road. My friends are planning to run a little slower so I go ahead but not too fast.
Kilometer 16 - Along the water and then through residential neighborhoods. Constant up or down but nothing at all steep or long. Bagpipe player in kilt adds a nice touch. Back to the water. Feeling good. Good support at the aid stations and lots of friendly spectators, fellow runners and volunteers. None of the runners seems too serious, it is a nice morning. This is a long out and back section. Some half marathoners (Michelle Barnes sighting), and early start marathoners coming toward me on the other side of the road. Roads mostly closed to traffic, or with traffic patrol, I feel safe and free to concentrate on running. Up and down but all of it gradual. Lots of turns earlier, now a long but windy road along the water. I am careful to run the tangents and that gives me something to concentrate on. I can't believe how some runners take the long side of the curves and I wonder how much distance they are adding to their race. Now the full marathon lead runner comes by. He will go on the finish in 2:14.
Kilometer 21 - The halfway mark is up ahead. I can see the timing chip mat. I have been good at my pacing and my watch reads 1:58. I get closer and it still reads 1:58. I start walking and just before hitting the mat I see my watch roll to 1:59. Perfect. Now I tell myself to not get carried away and go faster yet. At Bellingham and at other races I have picked up the speed right after the halfway point. Common folklore divides the race into two halves, mile 1-20 and 20-26.2. I will keep going at this pace, maybe just a second or two per mile faster and keep holding back until at least mile 20. Committed to running with discipline and restraint today. Ulrike sighting.
Kilometer 24 - Reach the turnaround, nice to be heading straight back to the finish with the race more than halfway done. Pass Bob Dolphin (early starter). Get to see Jody and others still heading out.
Kilometer 30 - Ankle bugs a little but not so bad. Otherwise very comfortable. I am in the mileage zone now where I could hit the wall. Every step forward where I do not feel more tired is a blessing and gets me excited for a possible strong finish. Starting to pass others who are slowing or who were early starters.
Kilometer 32 - Close to mile 20. They do have mile markers every five miles. I look ahead to that sign. Soon I see it and I hit the lap button on the watch. Now it is hold a nine minute mile and I will beat 4 hours. Immediately turn a corner and there is an uphill. I have to work to keep the pace under 9, but I am able to do so. Now level and then downhill. Ease into an average just under 8:50. I decide to keep the speed slower than 8:45 as there is still a long way to go, but really try to stay under 9 if I can.
Kilometer 36 - Back along the water. Now a very long gradual uphill. This is not part of the course that we ran out on, new territory for me. Passing lots of people and in great spirits. But I do wish that this hill will end soon. It levels, twists out of sight, then goes up some more. I remember from the elevation chart that a nice downhill begins around mile 24 and I just wish it would get here. Start pouring water on my head at the aid stations, and drinking "GU Brew". Between that drink and the Powerbar gels, of which I have had two, my stomach has done great with these new to me fuels. Finally, the downhill.
Kilometer 40 - 2KM to go. Try to rally some runners who are taking walk breaks. I can sense the finish and although I can not go much faster, I am not slowing and I know that I will finish without any walk breaks. Tell those around me that we will beat 4 hours easy, if we do not walk.
Kilometer 41 - Level now and just a few turns to the finish.
Kilometer 41.2 - Marker says 1KM to go. Not looking at the watch anymore, figure I will be done in 5 minutes or so. Really enjoying the moment, but also would like to be done.
Kilometer 41.4 - Sign says 800M to go. 800 meters is twice around the track, that's easy. One woman goes flying past me and I compliment her, but she says that she just hopped in and is pacing a friend. The friend comes past, a bit slower. Other than that, I have not been passed hardly at all in the last hour.
Kilometer 41.7 - Sign reads 500M to go. Come on!! That was way too long. Well it is really almost over now. More and more spectators, a turn or two and then the finish line up ahead. Billy, Tammy and Rich cheering for me and cruise on in to the finish. Very satisfied, thrilled and a little emotional. Accomplished everything that I set out to do and had fun while doing it.