Here it is! My official recap, and race report from the Calgary Marathon. Spoiler Alert – it was awesome!! 🙂 I enjoyed every part of this race, the training, being a ForeRunner, all the weekend events, and of course the race itself went really well. It’s also long, so get a snack and a drink before you sit down to read it 🙂
On Friday night I was invited to a VIP Cocktail party for the marathon at the Calgary Tower! Unfortunately both Lori (my Running Partner) and my hubby had other plans and couldn’t make the event. I was not going to miss it though, and am sure glad I didn’t! I met a few of my local running friends (and fellow ForeRunners) for a quick dinner beforehand. Then we headed over to the Calgary Tower.
It didn’t take us long once we got up the tower to spot Bart Yasso! I was really looking forward to his attendance at the marathon weekend. I’ve read his book, My Life on the Run, and it is one of my favorite running books that I’ve ever read. I also follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and he just has always seemed like such a genuine, nice, friendly person. We asked him to snap a pic with the group of us, which he gladly did. After which, I sort of expected him to go on his way, but he didn’t, he stayed and chatted with us for most of the evening. It was a lot of fun, and we even made plans to meet him at his hotel lobby the next morning to head over to the official race shake-out run the next day!
There were a few speeches and presentations at the cocktail reception, including an official Calgary White Hat presentation to Bart, Dean Karnazes, Ed Whitlock, and Lanni Marchant. Cheryl Barnard also spoke, and had my favorite line of the night “Pursue your dreams for the journey not the medal”. This really hit home with me, and I have truly enjoyed the journey of getting to the marathon this weekend.
Saturday morning I headed downtown with my youngest daughter and the chariot to meet up with Bart and some running friends. We met at the Westin, and walked to Eau Claire Market and the Friendship run. It was a fun morning, they introduced the pacers, we ran an easy 2.5 km loop along the river, and I ended it with a Jugo Smoothie (that Olivia drank most of).
I tried to take the rest of the day as easy as possible, spending some family time at the park where my oldest had soccer, and then just laid low at home. I organized all my gear for the following morning, and made sure I had everything I needed so I wouldn’t be scrambling in the morning.
Alarm was set for 4:45 am, I didn’t need my alarm as I woke 5 minutes beforehand with a start thinking I had overslept. I’m used to early mornings as I’m up around 5 for work most days, so this wasn’t a big deal. I got up, got dressed, and ate a simple breakfast of some cereal and a yogurt. My hubby was also running the half that morning, but we had decided to take separate cars just incase he didn’t feel well after his race and didn’t want to stick around an extra 2 hours. I volunteered to pick Lori up so we could head to the start together. I picked her up and we were down at the stampede grounds around 6 am. We found a nice empty bathroom in the Grand Stand and sat inside trying not to be nervous. About 20 minutes before race start we took a gel and made a final bathroom visit.
We made our way to the corals, only to find them completely overflowing with people. It was impossible to get into the coral, so we just stood outside the 4 hour entrance and waited for the race to start. I wasn’t super stressed thinking that as the race started people would get in and get moving.
Km’s 1-5 Garmin splits (5:51, 5:26, 5:50, 5:47, 5:39) 28:33
The gun went off, and we ended up standing around for a good 5 minutes before things got moving where we were. From our gun vs chip time, it took us about 7 minutes to get across the start line. I tried to just stay relaxed, walk slowly to the start, to not waste any energy here. Once we got started, it was crowded, and there were a lot of slower runners around us. We had started behind all the other race corals, and slowly made our way past the slower pace bunnies in the first few km’s. We ran as fast as we could through this section, but tried not to weave or waste energy. After the first km we could mostly get through people without a lot of effort, except when crossing the bridges over the river, then things got pretty crowded again. As in the Seattle Marathon, but not nearly as bad, my legs didn’t feel super bouncy at the start of the race. I just went with it, and decided that since it hadn’t effected my ability to feel fairly good to the end of Seattle, that I’d just roll with it again.
Km’s 6-10 Garmin splits (5:34, 5:37, 5:31, 5:35, 5:33) 27:50
During km 6 we started to head back towards downtown and out of Bridgeland. We worked at keeping the pace in our 5:30-5:40 range, keeping it easy, but knowing that the hills were coming. Our friend Michael had caught up to us for this portion of the marathon, and ran along behind us for a while. The course was flat and it was fairly easy going for this section of the race. We took our first gel during this section. The plan was to take a gel every 8 km’s.
Km’s 11-15 Garmin splits (5:25, 5:45, 5:32, 5:34, 5:29) 27:45
It was just before the 11 km marker that we headed up into Mount Royal. We had run this section as our last 20 miler, so knew exactly what we were in for. The hills never seemed super bad, but we were cautious that they might be tiring our legs out and that a pace too fast might come back to bite us in the end. We also started to watch for a portapotty with no line at this point. Every time we passed one there was a line 2-3 deep and we decided to keep running. Sometime during km 13, I noticed fellow forerunner, Lindsay, and she snapped a fun selfie of the two of us! Lindsay had a great race, and rocked the Ultra!!
Km’s 16-20 Garmin splits (5:34, 5:46, 5:35, 7:04, 5:27) 29:26
We were still heading uphill during this section, but the hills weren’t as steep. We took our 2nd gel during km 17, and walked up a short hill (hence the slower pace). After we went through Mount Royal College, we saw a portapotty with no lineup, hooray!! We veered off and took a quick pit stop. It still took us about 90 seconds, but was totally worth it as both of us were starting to get uncomfortable. It was after this km that the course started to head back downhill, double hooray!!
Km’s 21-25 Garmin splits (5:28, 5:20, 5:34, 5:15, 5:29) 27:06
We are heading downhill through Mount Royal here, and often having to slow ourselves up as our pace is creeping down below 5:20/km, ooops! I’m feeling much better after our pit stop, and everything is going well here. We decide that we’ll allow a few faster km’s through this section but once we get to Memorial, and the end of the downhills that we’ll reign ourselves in to a 5:35 km pace max. We also take our 3rd gel after km 24. We are treating the gels as a way to measure our progression, every gel we take is another chunk of the race finished. It helps us to look forward to something that I personally don’t really enjoy.
Km’s 26-30 Garmin splits (5:28, 5:30, 5:31, 5:30, 5:38) 27:37
For the first 4 km’s of this chunk we are still heading down towards the river. It’s not super downhill, but we’re still losing a bit of elevation. We run down 14th street, where the right hand side of the street is all ripped up and under construction, luckily they’ve closed the entire road to traffic, so we have the left two lanes. We cross the river during km 27, and head down towards Memorial. During km 29 we start to watch our pace and try to slow it up a bit, the splits report that we aren’t that successful until km 30. We are now heading west towards the out and back.
Km’s 31-35 Garmin splits (5:41, 5:35, 5:54, 5:50, 5:33) 28:33
This section of the race goes out west along memorial and then turns back to go towards home. We see a lot of ultra bibs in this section, and take special notice of them, as this is where they repeat a section to go from 42.2 up to 50km’s. It does make the 42.2 marathon distance feel like a bit “less” when there are people out there racing a longer distance! We focus on trying to keep our paces slower than 5:35 through this section, and also notice the sun and the temperatures going up. We walk to take our final gels, mine is hard to get down, and I’m glad to be past this milestone but don’t enjoy anything else about it. We also start to take water from some aid stations here. The water feels cool and I’m dumping it on my head, that feels amazing!
Km’s 36-40 Garmin splits (5:38, 5:35, 5:41, 5:33, 5:35) 28:02
It feels good to be PAST the wall, or so I tell myself. We’re past that damn wall, so we might as well give-er to the finish. We are taking 15 second walking breaks through the aid stations, just taking a cup of water, drinking a swig, and dumping the rest on my head. The pace certainly isn’t easy at this point in the race, but my legs don’t feel like the tree trunks they did in the last part of the Seattle Marathon. When I tell them to move, they actually listen!
Km’s 41-42.2 Garmin splits (5:23, 5:20, 1:28) 12:11
Here we go! We are back on the south side of the river, almost done, just have to make it through the East Village, up one more slight hill in an underpass under the railway tracks, and then through stampede park! We enter the chute (which is LONG – I should have warned Lori about this, I think it’s nearly a km long), and give it our all. I’m surprised how fast my legs can still move!! Our goal going into this race was to pace conservatively, thinking that our goal of sub 4:00 hrs was a conservative and totally doable goal. We ran through the finish line, Lori and I hugged each other, this was the end of a fun rewarding journey that we’d taken together. Bart Yasso was also at the finish congratulating runners, we each gave him a sweaty hug, and then got our medals.
I am SO happy with how this race went! It was such a fun race, and I really enjoyed the entire training cycle. I feel like my body is really adapting to these longer distances and bigger mileage weeks. I think that Lori and I paced the race really well, we had kick at the end, and never hit any sort of wall. I think we might have been able to run it a bit faster, but I’m totally fine with our time, and happy that we ran it conservatively so that we wouldn’t bonk or hate life at any point in the race. I feel like we could have run a sub 3:55 without the bathroom break, and by racing a bit more on the edge of our ability. I’m still dreaming of that sub 3:45, but that seems like a lot of time to take off. I’m cautiously hopeful that I will feel ready to go for that time either this fall or next spring sometime, but am also willing to be patient and wait for the fitness to come. I don’t think it’s something that can be forced.
I’m 99% sure that I’m going to run the Okanagan marathon in October. It’s a super flat marathon, but is a double loop. I’m not super thrilled with the double loop but am willing to overlook that with the promise of few hills and hopefully a fast course!
Chip Time: 3:57:03, Gun Time: 4:04:12 (it took us a long time to get across the start line!), 486/1611 (30th %) place overall, 128th/673 (19th %) Female, 26th/103 (25th %) AG
10k 54:29 (5:27 pace), 20k 1:53:45 (5:41 pace), 30k 2:48:54 (5:38 pace)
ALSO – tonight is the last chance to donate to win in my giveaway!