Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reflecting on a rain-soaked 42.2km Vancouver Marathon 2014 with official photos...

For some reason it took an age to get a hold of my official race photos from this year's Vancouver Marathon on May 4, 2014, but the images certainly brought the memories flooding back of the rainy 42.2km race.

Running the final miles along the Stanley Park Seawall
Wet Vancouver Marathon 2014 runner
For once there were actually loads of photos to choose from, although for some reason I had a severe case of 'thumbs up' on most of them, or as if I was trying to strangle myself with my finisher's medal.

Oil tanker in the background in the English Bay channel
Wet Vancouver Marathon 2014 runner
Regardless, these photos remind me that even though running a marathon is hard, I really enjoy the experience and get an enormous sense of achievement and pride from taking part and completing each race.

Running past the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Inukshuk 
stone signpost sculpture in English Bay
Running English Bay Vancouver Marathon 2014
After surviving a scorching L.A. Marathon 2014 in March I was quite looking forward to a cooler, albeit damper, 26.2 miles, but whilst at the beginning the wet drizzle was refreshing, 20 miles later and I really did start to feel a bit waterlogged (as you can no doubt see from these soggy photos).

Running past Lion's Gate Bridge in Stanley Park
Running Lion's Gate Bridge Vancouver Marathon 2014
In fact I started the race pretty soaked after standing around and waiting to start the marathon in Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park, even though I'd bought an invaluable rain poncho and running hat in advance to help keep as dry as possible.
Running Stanley Park Seawall Vancouver Marathon 2014
The funny thing is as I'd run this race last May, I was worried it would be another warm marathon as the Vancouver Marathon 2013 was unseasonably hot and as the race starts later than most, last year 8am and this year 8:30am, I was concerned more about the heat than the wind and rain.

From the previous year I remembered where to expect some of the photographers
and had my smile ready
Soggy Vancouver Marathon 2014 runner
You can never really predict what race day is going to be like, you just have to be as prepared as possible. The one thing that was noticeable for me this year with this being my second Vancouver Marathon was that the poor visibility with the rain and the clouds over the mountains meant it wasn't as scenic a race as before, when there had been glorious crisp, clear blue sky and views of the beautiful surrounding area.

Running past the Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park
Running Stanley Park Vancouver Marathon 2014
Another thing I'd forgotten was just how hilly this course was for the first half and also that the race markers tend to be in kilometers rather than miles being in Canada, so that's a bit confusing at times when you're trying to figure out your pacing and race strategy.

Running over the bridge in Devonian Harbour Park
Running Devonian Harbour Park Vancouver Marathon 2014
Fortunately my Garmin watch helped keep me on track and at this year didn't break due to the rain like it did for my first L.A. Marathon in 2011, for which we truly did have torrential weather conditions.

Final dash up Pender Street in Downtown Vancouver
Last dash Vancouver Marathon 2014
The weather is always a factor on race day, but something which always gives me a boost is the support along the course. Even though the locals were getting soaked they were still out in force to support the runners and I had so many words of encouragement shouted for me, for which the people of Vancouver really have my gratitude.
Wet Vancouver Marathon 2014 runner final stretch
Another great thing about this marathon course is that the last six or so miles take you around Stanley Park's Seawall, which on a dry day is much more enjoyable, but it still provides some visual relief from the cruise ships going by or the seaplanes flying overhead.

Relief with the Finish Line in sight
Runner in sight of Finish Line Vancouver Marathon 2014
There's also lots of familiar landmarks like the Lion's Gate Bridge, plus statues, sculptures and totem poles which help you judge your distance and how far you are from the Finish Line. It really does help you getting too wrapped up in your head about how fatigued, cold, wet or in pain you are in those final miles and helps stop you hitting that runner's wall.

Racing for the Finish (and I'm not the only one)
Racing for Finish Line Vancouver Marathon 2014
Just when you think you're almost there though, they sneak in one last incline for you to struggle up and the race finishes along Pender Street which goes up a hill.

Crossing the Vancouver Marathon Finish Line
Crossing Finish Line Vancouver Marathon 2014
I passed so many people cramping up and just feeling it at that stage and where normally I have some energy for a last strong dash for the finish, this time I think the adverse weather had beaten me again and sapped my reserves.

After the Vancouver Marathon Finish Line
After Vancouver Marathon Finish Line 2014
I finished in 3:53:03, which was about three minutes slower than the previous year and initially I was disappointed with my result, but seeing these rain-soaked photos and being reminded of those tough four hours, I'm just glad it wasn't even slower.

Vancouver Marathon 2014 Finisher medal and t-shirt
Vancouver Marathon 2014 medal shirt
Although I would recommend it, I'm undecided whether I'll run the race next year (surely it's a toss up between snow and perfect weather after my first two experiences), but we do love visiting Vancouver so we'll see (although the San Diego Marathon in June is calling my name next year I think).

I finished in 3:53:03
Vancouver Marathon Finisher 2014
In fact I don't have another race in my calendar until the New York Marathon at the start of November (which will be my ninth marathon), but there'll be plenty of training miles to be completed before then.

After the wetting they received, I'm also excited by the prospect of getting some new running shoes, so I'd better lace up those shoes and get back to it...

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