I know you all expect tantalizing images of lycra clad bottoms, 'jet powered' runners and other humorous stories but either I was not paying attention in Victoria this weekend or nothing much happened because there was precious little in the way of entertaining blog fodder.
But back to the beginning for those who wish to read more in the epistles of ZMan the runner..... J had scored a great hotel by booking 8 months ago however we did not realise that the marathon was over the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday which meant that the obligatory ferry crossing was going to be very crowded. So over 2 hours was spent sitting in the ferry terminal before we could even get there and crash on Friday night.
Saturday was spent relaxing and visiting the marathon Expo (not a good one 3/10 on the Zman expo rating which is largely measured by free samples! - some great free beer glasses from Irish Times and Bard and Banker pubs) and then off for a nice dinner. Well we tried... we like to head off to The Olde Spaghetti Factory before a race - nice carbs, good for the vegetarians and can handle a 10+ size group. Well the one in Victoria obviously prefers to get bad reviews. Firstly they won't take reservations "because we can't promise a time when its busy" - how odd, every other restaurant in the world can handle it - and secondly they make stuff up on the phone "I've worked marathon weekend for the last 2 years and I can promise you that it won't be more than a 20 minute wait" - when we got there it was 2 hours. Thankfully we found somewhere else so we didn't starve.
And then the 'trouble' started.... we got back to the hotel to find they had some sort of 'alarm' (we never found out what but heard rumours of sprinklers). No evacuation but you couldn't get up to your room so we had to sit around which wasn't great for me because I was about to make one of several urgent dashes to the bathroom that evening. Yes ZMan's normally cast iron stomach wasn't too happy about something. Thankfully once I had dealt with things (a few times) I wasn't actually feeling sick or ill and we tried to get an early night. Alas it was not meant to be - around 10ish the alarm repeated and we were treated to warnings to stay where we were every 10 minutes for an hour, and every fire engine in Victoria seemed to come for a visit. Apparently I managed to drop off before the warnings ended so I got some decent sleep.
At 8:30am Victoria is a late starting marathon and our hotel was right at the start line so if it wasn't for J and the others running the half which started at 7:30am I could have stayed in bed. But I've been supported well over the years so its time for payback and I got up with everyone else to see them off at the start.... and THEN I went back for a quick lie down. 45 minutes later back down to the finish to see the 8k runners come in and then walk around the corner to head off on the 26.2.
Temperature is perfect for me. Race plan is to aim for 2:05-2:10 for the 1st half and then see how I feel. I should be able to PR from that start if I'm feeling good but the rule for this one is no heroics because I'm running Seattle marathon in 7 weeks. We stand pretty close to the back of the pack. The over 5 hour runners are already on the course - they set off at 6:30am so most of this pack is way faster than me. Of course they go out like a bat out of hell and I'm well under 10minutes for the 1st mile. So I slow down and let people go past me. Going through the park I pass a girl who is either i) singing very badly with her ipod ii) doing some Buddhist type chant or iii) having an orgasm - some very odd noises and she still has more than 20 miles to go. My calf muscle doesn't warm up as quickly as usual so I'm a little concerned about that and though I'm not feeling sick or anything I can tell my stomach and intestines are not quite right. Of course you can never remember how you felt at the previous race so maybe this is all normal.
By mile 5 I'm settled in nicely at 9:45 average and feeling very comfortable. The course is mostly residential and occasionally picturesque as we hit the coast. We see the half marathon people coming back toward the end of their race. M&M seem to be taking it easy and chatting! J totally doesn't see me even though I'm waving madly and I have to cross into the oncoming 'traffic' to get her attention. I also see the Joggler and the guy running his 300th marathon (I cheered him and he seemed surprised - I guess few folk knew who he was but I had read that he would be wearing #300). Its not as flat as I was expecting so there is some fluctuation in my miles but in general I'm running around 9:30pace plus water stops and I get to the half way feeling great at 2:08 (spot on the goal) with a 9:40ish (its obvious my GPS watch is off track here as I get to 13.1 about 400m before the actual measure). The turn around point is actually a couple of miles further out because the 'out' route winds around the city and some parks at the start and the 'back' route is direct. At the turn around point I treat myself to my special race food - specially imported Kendall Mint Cake - well I would if I could get the damn thing open. I think I wasted a couple of minutes on that but MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmm. It has the added bonus that I feel like I just brushed my teeth too.
The turn around point is a mere 10 miles to go so I'm starting to feel a little fatigued. In fact a little more than I remember from previous races. I see C going the other way looking good (though stomach problems are going to hit him later too) and also one of the local maniacs Bob Dolphin who has run around 440 marathons and is 79 years old - most of us hope to be walking straight at that age! Sure enough my pace starts to slow and there's a couple of hills to go up that I *really* don't remember running down. All the sugary goodness that I normally love is doing a number on my guts too. Thankfully nothing major enough to need to stop or visit porta potties but I feel a little bloated so its adding to the normal end of race discomfort and I'm getting a bit sick of burping up Gatorade. Slowly but surely my watch which has been sitting at 9:39 average pace for the last 15 miles begins to turn the other way. Each mile loses a few seconds and by mile 20 its pretty obvious that a PR is going to take some heroics. But since this is race #1 of 3 that's not part of the plan and I'm VERY grateful because my legs are starting to hurt. I see N&J with 5k left to go and take a much needed extended walk break to catch up on how the rest of the team did. Lots of PRs and fast times in the half. N thinks its funny that Mr Ironguts can't face any more Gatorade or Chocolate Gu ;-) I'm not sure that laughing at me at mile 23 would be seen as encouraging coach behaviour but of course I wouldn't be at mile 23 if it wasn't for her and I would of course have done exactly the same if the roles were reversed.
The last 5k seems to take a long time and its another winding part of the course so even though I can see my hotel through the buildings I seem to be getting no closer. Eventually I turn the last corner and the cowbells are already ringing even though I cannot see where they are. I'm so far off the PR that there's no point in sprinting and possibly hurting something so I spy the team and run over for the long set of high fives before cruising across the finish line for a 4:27:40 which turns out to be my slowest marathon by 20 seconds. My gut is still a little grumpy and my legs are more tired than I remember.. (I wonder if my legs are more tired or I just don't remember well!).
Great after race food - Jam/jelly donuts, cookies Mmmmmm I think this is the 2nd best race food after Portland. Chocolate Milk - Yeeeeeeeaaaaahhh.
Just as I am walking back I hear them announce that BJ McHugh has just broken the womens 80+ marathon world record 4:36 - yes you read that right she was less than 10 minutes behind me. Amazing.
Back to the hotel for the obligatory cold bath and then off to lunch. Since they gave us such nice freebies we went to the Bard and Banker - food was excellent but the waitress messed up part of the order and wouldn't fix the bill at the end. We total up that the 6 people at the table have raced 96.7 miles today between us. Back to the hotel where the power was out... when it came back on we went out for ice cream but due to the power failure all the ice cream shops were closed. We eventually found a place with some ice cream bars and then back to the hotel and crashed big time.
7 weeks till my next marathon. Expect a much slower time for that one as I will be taking it slow on purpose ready for another marathon 4 weeks later. Then I can have my own page on marathon maniacs. I doubt I will ever get to 300 or 400 like some of those guys but since I already have #9 planned I'm trying to think up what would be a good #10 celebration next summer.