My First Marathon (Jerrick)

February 20, 2016 in Events, Exercise, Outdoor Activity, Race

Running a marathon was a bucket list item I have had in mind for a long time and one I had great doubts about ever accomplishing. The thought of running 42.2 kilometers was daunting and it took getting over many excuses to finally get myself to commit to it and sign up for the run. I ran my first marathon on May 3, 2015 at the Vancouver Marathon and I am documenting my marathon experience here as a way to remember the little details about it that I may otherwise forget. Dawn ran the race with me too and this was also her first marathon.

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Vancouver Marathon 2015

Start Line – The race started at Queen Elizabeth Park. We parked downtown about a kilometer away from the finish line and since transit passes were included with our race registration we decided to take the Skytrain down to Queen Elizabeth Park. After a quick stop at the portable toilets, we found our corral and positioned ourselves right where we belonged – in the middle of the pack. The corrals are grouped based on estimated finish times and Dawn and I were both aiming to finish under four hours. I warmed up a bit with a light jog up and down the corral but I didn’t need to do much as the first part of the race was pretty much going to be my warm-up.  The national anthem blared through the speakers and the elite runners were off shortly after. Then the really fast people went,  then the fast people, and then us.

Alright, it was go time.

0-1KM: Start slow. Start slow. Start slow. Don’t get caught up in the hype and energy of the start where everyone is pumped to get going. Know your pace, stick to the plan. A huge chunk of my training leading up to the race consisted of very, very, very slow runs. Sometimes painfully slow. I had to exhibit the same kind of patience here as I had done in my training.

1-4KM: I kept a slow steady pace and just kept reminding myself to be patient. Dawn and I were in close proximity to each other and it was nice running together for once. I don’t think we ever ran together during the course of our training as one of us was always with the kids while the other person ran.

4-7KM: This section was a bit flatter than the start so I started to pick up the pace a bit. Just a bit.

7-10KM: I slowed it back down knowing what was ahead at kilometer 10; the hill at Camosun.

10-11KM: The hill on Camosun Street. I knew it was coming and I had been warned by other runners that had ran this course before that this section was going to be a challenge. I had my concerns about how I would be feeling at this point in the race. Thankfully I was still feeling really good. The hill didn’t slow me down too much. I made it to the top and was relieved to get that segment over and done with.

11-13KM: I loved running through Pacific Spirit Park. It was lush, peaceful, and felt like a getaway within the race.

13-17KM: Running along 16th Avenue was also very nice. The roads were quiet and mostly flat.

17-20KM: Running around the UBC campus with lots of cheering crowds was a definite mood booster. This segment was mostly flat and I was  looking forward to the upcoming downhill and postcard views ahead.

20-23KM: Wooooheee! Tough on the knees but it was free speed! This part was pretty much all downhill and getting to the halfway point was encouraging. At this point I made a conscious effort to just focus on getting to the 30km mark. I tried not to think too far ahead or about the fact that I still had half a marathon to go. I just wanted to get to the 30km mark without hitting the wall or hurting myself. If I could manage that, I’d be good, I thought to myself.

23-25KM: This was a bit of an uphill but the part I recall most of this section was that it was one of the marathon relay exchange points. The marathon relay was a separate event that could be done by teams of four people splitting the distance of the marathon. I must admit I felt a bit of resentment towards the relay runners who all seemed so fast, full of energy, and individually were only enduring a quarter of the agony. Nothing against the relay teams; it’s just that when you’re on an uphill 25km into a race, seeing fresh legs pass you feels like an injustice.

25-26KM: Lots of cheering crowds along this Kitsilano stretch. Our friends Michelle & Brian were there to cheer  us on! They rode their bikes down all the way from Burnaby and even made signs to encourage us. I don’t know what it is about it but cheering crowds and familiar faces can give you a real boost when you’re feeling depleted. I am thankful for the people that come out to cheer and to our friends for the extra support.

26-30KM: Still lots of cheering crowds. Kitsilano is awesome for that. Lots of funny and interesting signs. One in particular had a big red circle in the middle and the words ‘touch here for power’ above. I powered up. Thank you, sign people.

30-31KM:  The Burrard Street bridge. The view from here was spectacular. I’ve ran over this bridge many times before and I just wanted to get to the apex of the bridge deck and from there I knew it would be fine.

31-33KM: I remember it being very busy, crowded with lots of people and water stations.

33-35KM: Checked for time and checked my pace. I knew it was going to be tight. I just tried to keep pace and held on for dear life.

35-39KM: I was simply just running at this point. Not much going on in my mind and I was even inspired by an older runner who ran just past me and paced me through the next few kilometers. I was surprised that I was able to keep pace at this point in the race when I thought I would have been totally flattened.

39-41KM: I started to slow down. I was starting to have doubts about finishing under four hours. I was confident I would finish but seriously questioned whether I could keep up the pace to meet my goal.

41-42KM: The home stretch. It felt like I slowed almost to a halt. My mind was telling me to sprint and finish strong but my legs just weren’t turning over as fast as my mind wanted them to. It felt like everybody near me was flying by and leaving me behind. I looked down at my watch and saw that I still had time to come in under my sub four hour goal but it wouldn’t be graceful. I mustered whatever I could in me to cross the finish line and although in my mind I thought I was sprinting, I was probably moving really slow. I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and looked down to check my time…03:59! I was elated. So much so that the pain and gruelling 42.2 km I had just endured was masked by the endorphins and joy overtaking my body.

But very soon after, as I started to walk towards the post-race food, my legs certainly felt the 42.2 km I just ran. The post marathon zombie walk. Stiff legged and sore, I anxiously waited for Dawn to follow soon after me. She couldn’t be far along, I thought. I knew that she wouldn’t meet her sub four hour goal but at this point I would just be happy to see her at the finish line. Ten minutes passed and I was starting to get worried. I started to think about the people I saw along the last 10km cramping up or flattened along the side of the road. What happened? Where is she? She wasn’t that far behind me. Five minutes later, I finally found her doing the same zombie walk as I was towards the potato chips and bananas. Teary eyed, I was both proud and relieved that she finished. You can read about Dawn’s experience here.

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It was a fantastic experience to share together as our first marathon.

I’m glad I could share the experience with you here and hopefully inspire others to erase any self-doubt about what you are capable of doing. What I once thought was impossible for me is now a proud accomplishment on my bucket list and has further impassioned my love for running…life.

We’ll be back running the Vancouver Marathon again this year.

My First Marathon (Jerrick)

One Comment

    1. avatar Reg says:

      Great post. I love how authentic your feelings were that day. The marathon is quite the accomplishment! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

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My First Marathon (Jerrick)

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