Race Report: Goodlife Victoria Marathon

Official time: 5:02:58 (second-best marathon time)

My goal for this race, when I first started training was a sub 4:30:00. I had just done a sub 2:10:00 ½ marathon, and it seemed like a reasonable goal. Even if everything went sideways (which it kind of did) I should be able to get a sub 5:00:00 to PR. Turns out life had other plans…

There were a few factors I can pinpoint that may have contributed to my less-than-ideal race:

  • Normally, early October in Victoria is cool, often cloud and sometimes rainy. Not this year! It was sunny and unseasonably warm with a high of 19. If I had only been doing the half, I would have been finished before it got too hot out. As it was, I ran the last two hours of my race at the peak of the warmth, and I learned there is very little shade on Beach Drive.
  • A couple of days before the race, both my kids got sick. I tried my best to avoid getting sick, and even stayed in a hotel the night before to ensure a good night’s sleep. But during that night, I could feel my scratchy throat get worse, and a cough began to develop. Fortunately, it still hasn’t gotten any worse than that, but who know how much it contributed to my slower time.
  • A few weeks before the race, I started to have issues with my left calf. It felt like a deep muscle knot (which it was) but I could only feel it when running, at first. Then it started to hurt just with walking, so I got it checked out and treated. By race day, it was still there, but not as bad. I had done a long run a couple of weeks before and it went away by the 7k mark, so I fully expected the same this time.
  • The tightness in my calf did go away by the 9k mark, but at the 28k mark, a sharp pain on the outside of my knee showed up to replace it. That, to put it delicately, completely fucked me up emotionally and physically. Looking at my splits on my Garmin, the 28k mark is where my times went from 6:45ish to 8:00ish. I know this is the point where I started walking a lot more, and even questioned whether I was going to finish.

So, quickly, here is how the race broke down for me:

  • First hour: Felt good, reached the 9k mark, and right on track for a 4:45:00 finish. Kept it a bit slower than my goal pace so I wouldn’t bonk. Even felt good during the dreaded loop of Beacon Hill Park.
  • Second hour: Still feeling good, was pain-free for this portion. The loop through Oak Bay was nice with a couple of small hills, but I knew about them from running this part with Kat a few weeks ago. Just shy of 18k, but a 4:45:00 was still possible.
  • Third hour: Started to slow down a bit; the weather started to get warmer, and I reached the part of the route I had never done before. It felt like it too forever to reach the turnaround point, but that always happens to me on an out-and-back. Got to 26k, 1k short of my goal.
  • Fourth and fifth hours: The wheels just came right off this cart. My left knee started hurting at around 28k, I was a bit nauseated, and I had to take a lot of walk breaks. At the 30k mark, I started to wonder if I was going to be able to finish. I was already sore everywhere and the pain in my knee wasn’t going away. Cried for the first time at the 32k mark, then rallied when I did the math and realized I could still do a sub 5:00:00 if I manned up. Then had to walk a lot of the section of Oak Bay on the way back, and considered going into every medical tent I saw. Cried again at the 34k mark when I thought of all the people I was letting down, including my coach. Beyond frustrated with my knee. Then pushed through again to the 36k mark and cried again, because I knew I was going to finish the race no matter what, but I would likely not PR. The rest of the race was a combination of shuffling and walking (mostly on the uphill parts). I was a bit disappointed when my husband wasn’t at the place he said he would be with the boys, but it was probably better because I likely would have had a huge breakdown. I thought that he had to leave because I took too long to get there; it turned out that the boys were too sick to take them out. Damian met me right at the beginning of that last stretch with all the turns (which I was DREADING) and ran me through to the last 500 meters. Managed to pick up the pace and “sprint” to the finish line.

Right after I crossed the line and got my medal, I saw that my awesome run buddies Kirsty and Kat were waiting for me, so I cried (again!) but managed to suck it up to get a group photo. So this will be the first race where I buy the race photo, even if I look like hell. And I’m happy to report that many of my race buddies, including Kat, got PRs today, even if I didn’t (my brother, Damian, managed to get a BQ, the bastard!).

So, not my best race, but not my worst, either (Seattle still keeps that dubious honour). I learned some things to change for next time, and I learned, once again, that I am tougher than I sometimes give myself credit for.

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