BMO Vancouver Marathon Race Recap

Days Leading Up to the Race

In the days (and weeks) leading up to the race it seemed like everyone kept asking me, “Are you nervous?” and “Are you ready?” to which I’d reply, “I only get nervous when you keep asking me about it!” because it was true.

The fact was that of the 3 marathons I had trained for, this cycle went the best. I felt like that I had worked hard, and despite the small injuries that popped up in the last few weeks, I more or less felt pretty good going into the race and the last thing I wanted to do was to “over think” it.

A friend of mine was running the half so we flew to Vancouver on Friday and picked up our race packets, bibs, chips, etc.

On Saturday we walked around the City, exploring the different restaurants, shops, and touristy areas. I walked a lot more than I should have (about 3-4), and by the afternoon, my feet were aching. I spent the rest of the day trying to rest, hoping I didn’t sabotage myself.

By that time, my cousin Lauren, who was running the half, drove up from Seattle and joined us. We went out for an early dinner, then came back to the hotel to get all our race stuff together, then had lights out by 10 pm.

Ironically, I slept like a baby.


Since our hotel was literally a 10-minute walk to the Start Line, we didn’t get up until 6 am.

As we made our way to the Starting area, I wolfed down a bagel. We hung out for about 10 minutes, then I said goodbye to the gang as the half-marathon started.

As soon as they left (30 min before the full), I ate an Espresso Gu….

{Side note: I had not bothered to find out what drink was being served on the course until the week before the race. Turns out they were serving Gu Brew, which I’d never drank before. In discussing this with Danielle (my nutritionist), she told me to follow to not drink anything I hadn’t had before during the race. So we decided that I would only drink water (at every water stop) and eat a GU every 4 miles, instead of the 5-6 miles when I’d normally eat one. I also carried a fuel belt with 2 water bottles in case I needed a drink in-between aid stations.}

…and did some light stretching, focusing on my left foot and right calf, where I had recently developed some issues with. As they played ‘O Canada (I love that song!), I said a short prayer, asking for focus, self-confidence, and for my body to hold up as best as it could for the next 6ish hours (hey, who knew how long I was going to take!)

I had expected to feel some pre-race jitters, but strangely, I didn’t really have any. There were a lot of runners from Japan who were dressed up in the craziest outfits. I was quite entertained watching them take photos, etc. It was a nice distraction and kept me from getting nervous. And before I knew it, we were off.

Miles 1-6

Lately it had been taking me several miles before I felt comfortable so I was prepared to start off really slowly and ease into it. For once I didn’t feel like I got caught up in the hype of the start of the race. And while there were a lot of runners (4,000 for the full), I didn’t feel like I had to do a lot of dodging either.

The first 10K was an out and back in an area of the City that I had yet to see. It was a commercial part of town and it reminded me of parts of the Oakland course.

I was most excited because I actually felt REALLY good during this part of the race. My foot wasn’t bothering me AT ALL, which was a miracle considering I was limping on it the day before!

I didn’t bother to look at my Garmin at all during these first 6 miles. Perhaps I should have because I was faster than I should have started out at. But I honestly felt like I wasn’t pushing myself or working hard at all.

Miles 7-12

Miles 7-12 brought us back into the City, running through downtown, joining the half-marathon course. We had actually driven the half-marathon course the night before so I was familiar with what was to come from this point on till Mile 17.

Whoever said Vancouver was flat lied. It’s a bunch of gentle rolling hills. But as much as I hate hills, I actually really liked these ones. They made you work, but not so much that you felt like you were dying. It definitely broke up the monotony that a flat course can sometimes bring.

At one of the aid stations early in this section I caught up with the 4:30 pace group. Not looking at my watch, I was surprised to find myself at their pace. I decided to try and see how long I could hang with them. But they were doing a run/walk method and I was feeling SO GOOD (too good) that I didn’t want to walk so I continued on without them.

Miles 13-19

This part of the course ran through Stanley Park, the most scenic part of the race. I wish I had taken photos, but I was in such a groove that I didn’t want to interrupt it by pulling out my phone.

At the halfway point I looked at my Garmin and realized that I was running one of my best half-marathons ever. Red flags went up and I knew I was in trouble for the second half of the race so I forced myself to slow down. It kinda sucked and threw me off.

Mile 15 brought a little surprise as we made a turn to run around a lake. The terrain turned to trail. It was just dirt and gravel but it also threw me off. Thankfully we didn’t run on it for very long.

We hit the Burrard Bridge at Mile 17, which I considered to be the last third of the race. It was an out and back with the turnaround point at Mile 21. On the course elevation map it depicted the bridge to be the toughest “hill” on the course, but I didn’t feel like it was. Going over the bridge almost didn’t even feel like a hill.

But I was starting to get tired. And mad. Some rocks got in my shoe so I had to stop, take my shoe off to dump them out. Then I retied my shoelaces too tightly and had to stop again to retie them – twice. The stopping made my legs start to tighten up and I was never the same from this point on. The hurt came on like a vengeance.

Miles 20-26.71

By the time I was at Mile 20 I was in so much pain. Previous to this whenever I felt a little twinge I would say, “I don’t need to feel you now, go away.” and it did. But now it just wasn’t working. My right hip hurt so badly. I pulled my phone out and sent a text message to my coach and a few other people. He told me to run 6 min and walk 1, but I couldn’t even do that. The most I could do was a 3 min run/1 min walk but eventually I could only manage 1 min of each. The run/walk thing also made me Garmin-obsessed, which I hated.

It took forever, but I somehow made it to the Mile 21 turnaround. I started to cry and some volunteer grabbed me, walked with me and said, “You can do this, you are amazing” and made me repeat it. After the turnaround a couple of guys ran with me for a few yards, high-fiving me, which really picked me up. I felt like I was now on the home stretch.

I did some math (which by the way, I’m not a numbers person and that was really hard for me to do in my head) and realized that I still had a lot of time to beat my previous time. It’s a good thing because it was a death march.

I was getting delusional. All I could think about was getting to the bridge. I kept asking every volunteer how much longer to the turnaround to the bridge. No one could tell me, until one girl finally said, “Honey, you’re already past the turn around. You are heading to the bridge.” I got so excited, but it was short-lived.

This part of the course had a lot of turns, too many if you ask me. Every time I thought the bridge was around the corner, it seemed like we were heading away from it. I started crying again. Then I got mad at myself for crying.

I know this one person who doesn’t have any heart. I know that is a mean thing to say, but this person always quits at everything; never has any follow through. Been that way their whole life. I hate to say it, but I started repeating to myself, “I can do this, I have heart. I am not {insert person’s name}!” I said it over and over and over again. I feel bad, but you know what? It got me through.

Once we got off the bridge there was about 3K left. The crowds lined the street and lots of people were cheering. Our names were on our bibs so people were yelling out our names. It may seem silly, but it’s a huge pick-me-up, it really is.

I looked at my Garmin and thought, “I could walk to the Finish Line and still beat my time.” but I didn’t come this far to do that. So I made myself start running but unfortunately for me, my calves finally showed up and started to cramp. So did my quads. I felt like I was one step away from a charley horse.

So I kept run/walking. And at 26.2 miles my Garmin read 4 hrs 49 min and 20 sec. Too bad the Finish Line was no where to be seen. Another course that ran long. Cruel, just cruel.

When it finally came into view I picked up my pace and the charley horse arrived. I doubled over in pain and heard someone yell, “Naomi, you’re almost done, don’t walk now.” I’m sorry, but I said bad words back. I couldn’t help it, I was in so much pain.

Then I saw my gang running along the side so I sucked it up and ran to the Finish.

{I’m the 3rd one in.}

My Garmin read 26.71 miles in 4:55:17. Official Time was 26.2 miles in 4:55:29.

I grabbed my medal and was led to take a Finisher’s Photo. I dropped my fuel belt and iPod on the ground and told the photographer, “I won’t be able to pick it back up.” He laughed, took the photo and picked up my stuff for me.

I made my way to an open area and just kinda doubled over again. Some volunteers came over and wanted to take me to the medical tent, but I told them I could make it there myself. I walked through the food area, picking up a few things but then I just burst into tears. I was in so much pain.

I saw Lauren and she came over to hug me and then we walked to the medical tent where they let me sit and rest, and then iced my quads and knees. After about 15-20 minutes I felt better so we made our way back to the hotel, but not before we had to climb these stairs.


We spent the rest of the day lying around the hotel room, too tired and sore to even get up to get the remote to turn on the TV.

Lauren drove back to Seattle that night and we flew out yesterday. I have actually recovered quite well, and except for my quads, the rest of me already feels back to normal.

Personally, I don’t deal with disappointment well, so I shy away from setting lofty goals for myself. My only goal was to finish, and if it was better than the last marathon I ran, well, then all the better. I actually finished 17 minutes better than my last one, much better than I expected. I’m really happy with this race but I still feel like I can do the entire process better.

So to those of you who have already asked, yes there will be another one, but give me a few before I figure out which one it will be.


There’s so much more I want to recap about the weekend that I think I am going to break it up into a series of posts (brainstorming as I write this). I think the next ones will be:

• A review of the race itself
• How I liked Vancouver
• Lauren’s First Half-Marathon

{Hat was obtained from a volunteer; I did not buy it.}

16 Responses to BMO Vancouver Marathon Race Recap

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  4. Rene says:

    A challenging race but you toughed it out. Good job!

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  7. Roadbunner says:

     Great job sticking it out through the pain.  And wait.  You didn’t tell me you PR’ed!!!  You’re the modest mouse over here!   I know you’ve got a strong race in you and you’ll get that one day soon. 

    p.s Your top is cute :)

  8. Kristen Rice says:

    Naomi…you are amazing! you reallllly know how to dig deep. I can only imagine the challenge you faced being in so much pain. By the way, you are a excellent blogger. I love ready your recaps!

  9. Jessica W says:

    Wow! Amazing recap! I was choking up reading about that volunteer who ran with you. Great job. I think you need to give yourself a little more credit – that is a HUGE PR! I also can’t wait to read about how you felt about the city and the race!

  10. My goodness, sounds like a great victory to be won despite all those challenges you faced. How awesome was that volunteer who told you “you got this.” Great job Naomi! I’m so proud of you!!

  11. Alyssa says:

    Hey! This sounds like a really tough course for you. Ugh, I feel SO BAD hearing that you were crying! :( Regardless how you were feeling, you had some BLAZING fast miles, and a pretty awesome PR to boot, so this to me sounds like a celebration. Way to pull it together and have heart — you did an amazing job this weekend.


  12. jobo says:

    Wow. I am so impressed.I wanted to cry FOR YOU reading this. To get through that is incredible. You beat by 17 freaking minutes too after all that. INSANE woman, INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! congrats!!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I looked for you too! I’m so bummed we didn’t see each other.

  14. Lisa says:

    Way to go girl!! That’s the way to finish! I wish I was there for you…..I looked for you but no such luck. The course is tough and you rocked it. You inspire me.

  15. Anonymous says:

    thanks jess! it was such a great experience. i’m going to celebrate it by going to core fusion! i think on thursday!

  16. Jess says:

    Wow. I sat here reading this post, getting more and more worked up as I read it! I am constantly impressed with your endurance, stamina and commitment to achieving your goals, even if you’re doubled over in pain. I am in awe, as usual. AWESOME race…and um, give yourself MORE credit…you killed your PR by 17 mins?? CELEBRATE that girlfriend, big time!

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