20. Running is my Therapy – Scott Douglas
week eighteen – 69.7
2019 to date: 904 KM
I am a day late with this post and it isn’t even a long weekend. But after bit of a jog yesterday morning, I took the rest of Sunday off. More on that in a bit. This is another book that came recommended by Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column, had I heard of this book otherwise I probably would have read it anyway. I really enjoyed this book, not least because it gave validation to a lot of what I felt about running and why I started running in the first place. I didn’t connect with the section combining running with medication but I don’t judge those that need that to stay level either. While I have my struggles, and I grant that medication would certainly help, I’ve managed to manage without. I found the studies this book chronicle about the benefits drawn from running in nature very interesting, as over just the past year or so I’ve started to venture off the Stanley Park Seawall and into the park’s trails, as well as climbing the Grouse Grind a few times last summer. I’ve been vehemently anti- camping and hiking, but recently begin feeling drawn to getting away into nature. I especially like the short bit about flow, something I’ve experienced quite a few times running and actively seek, but never knew it was a thing. I liked this book a lot.
Sunday was the culmination of three months of hard work all for a little over (the littler the better) three hours of running in the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I came into taper week feeling pretty good about where things were at, in that I felt confident that a new personal best was within reach and beyond that content to just see what would happen. I had an A and B goal but I wasn’t overly confident about either one. My plan was to go out and run 4:30s until half way and then see what I had left. It seemed like a good plan. When I started thinking about running a marathon a couple years ago I thought that running under 200 minutes would be a good goal. Before heading to the race expo on Friday I checked my bib number online. It was 199.
I had a perfect race morning and arrived at the start in great headspace. Everything started out great. I found my rhythm right away and just rolled along dead on goal pace until we hit Camosun Hill at 9 KM, took my time making the climb and then got back in rhythm through UBC and let a bit loose coming down Marine Drive, hitting half way at 1:35:53 –just a hair under 4:33 pace. I knew when I hit the hill up to West 4th at 23KM that I wasn’t going to hold onto 4:30s any longer, but feeling confident that I’d set myself up. I managed two more splits under 4:30 –carried by the crowd along Cornwall by Kits Beach, and at 31KM coming down around the corner off Burrard Bridge and seeing Stephanie with her cheer sign that gave me a huge lift and carried me into the deafening Mile2Marathon crew lined up at the merge of Pacific and Beach Ave. Alan Yu, the 3:15 pacer had passed me a ways back, but I’d somehow managed to keep the gaggle in sight and I timed how far behind them I was by when we each reached the Second Beach pool. I was expecting to have fallen back quite a bit but got a mental lift when my watch said their lead was only just over a minute.
The next three kilometres were a blur. I remember Elvis at Third Beach but not much else before the 36KM marker and coming under the Lions Gate Bridge where I was passed by M2M teammate Matt Diederichs. We’d trade duties pushing each other over the final six kilometres (and ultimately finished three seconds apart). I was still managing a decent rhythm but my pace had slowed to over 5:00 and I was trying to save something for a strong finish. Then at the Stanley Park Totem Poles, David Papineau, the 3:20 pacer passed me, and that was a punch to the gut. I tried to match his pace but only managed maybe half a kilometre. I’d stopped looking at my watch a few kilometres back but peeked as I passed the 40KM marker. It read 3:08 and something, and I thought that if I had anything left I had ten minutes to give it everything. I could see the clock with a few hundred metres to go counting up and I emptied the tank crossing the line at 3:19:48.
Fueling for this race, I ate pasta and baked fish Thursday and Friday, then snacked throughout Saturday and had a sandwich for early dinner. Sunday morning was coffee, a banana and greek yogurt with salted almonds. I sipped a bottle of Maurten 160 on the Skytrain ride to the start. I took water or Nuun at most of the aid stations –more often than I ever have before. And after this my 28th race, I finally figured out –dare I say mastered– the cup squeeze-and-sip. Maurten gels at 7KM, 13KM, 19KM, 26KM, 31.5KM and 37KM with zero gut issues. I feel like my fueling was dialed in.
I didn’t reach my A or B goals, but I am very happy with the result. I set a new personal best by over six minutes, and ended up top 8% in my category and top 6% overall. Between 35KM and the finish I passed (net) 19 people, (including Henrik Sedin). The other unspoken goal was to complete a marathon build and race healthy. Goal achieved. I think my plan to go out at A goal pace and see how long I could hold it was the right move. I’m not convinced that being conservative at the start would have given me more at the finish (I tried that in Victoria and, even with other factors considered, it didn’t turn out so well). For the record, A goal was a BQ. It would have been nice, but I’m not upset about it because Boston 2020 was never in my sights. The race I want is Boston 125. That’s in 2021. I will be 45. 3:19:46 is a 45-49 BQ. I’m still getting faster.