Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Race Report: BMO Vancouver Marathon (8km event) - May 7th, 2017

The BMO Vancouver Marathon’s 8K event yesterday was a big success. This was my 4th race as a mom-to-be, but my first being 'out' and public about it all. At 16 weeks, I have a wee little bump and as it's hard to hide now, I sported it proudly with a witty personalized bib.

I have been part of the BMO Vancouver Marathon in some way since 2012: I ran my first marathon at this event in 2012, volunteered as a water station captain in 2013, and ran the half marathon 2014, 2015, and 2016. Oh, and I ran the kids run in 2015 with my niece and nephew. So I had done it all, literally, except the 8km. This year, I finally got to check that off my list. I registered knowing of my pregnancy and wanting to tone down the mileage and intensity and the 8km seemed like the perfect option to still participate. Literally a day or two after registering, I was surprised by my sister-in-law, Michele, who asked if she could register and join me. I was so pleased with this suggestion as I enjoy running with her and having company and conversation at a race where you’re not going all competitive (i.e., and you don't need to be in your own head the whole time) can be a wonderful thing.

As you know, my training has been going rather well. I have been able to do 8-10K as my weekend “long run” distance with relative ease throughout my pregnancy. I say relative because it’s only OK if I don’t do it too often. Otherwise, I exhaust myself or worse, get discouraged and have a bad run and quit early. So I’ve been keeping my runs to about 4-6km and only going longer about once every two weeks in order to guarantee more success. I ran 8K about 10 days prior to the race and it was one of my best training runs. I believe this energy surge one gets in the 2nd trimester is really a thing. I had heard about it but only believed it when I experienced it. Suddenly running isn’t as hard as it was the first 3 months. It’s all because the placenta is doing a lot of the work now and takes the toll off of me a little. Hormones are still present, but they are no longer taking over my life! Anyway, all of this had me looking ahead at the BMO 8K with excitement and confidence it would be fun and not difficult.

And it was indeed exactly that! It started out with a fun visit to the expo with my dear friend, Sigrid, who was running the marathon as her 6th lifetime marathon. We visited almost every booth and caught up. This is one of the draws of this event – the expo is always a great time! I always bump into people I know and have many enjoyable conversations. The running community is amazing!

The weekend of the race couldn't have been more perfect. Spring is here in Vancouver in all its beautiful glory and the sun was shining, not too hot. Sunday morning, Michele and I drove downtown and parked near the finish line. We would have taken transit but the seabuses don't operate early enough on Sundays. A little annoying! Being a point to point course, we parked at the finish line but needed to get to the start line in Stanley Park. Driving to Stanley Park wasn't an option because all roads were closed for the race. But the race provided shuttle bus service to the start line for us 8Kers. We walked to the area and boarded a yellow school bus within minutes. It dropped us off a few blocks away from the start but there were volunteers there to guide us to where we needed to be. Easy and seamless!

We spent some time watching the half marathon runners go by, and of course, hydrating, washroom breaks, and all that pre-race prep stuff needed. This includes taking selfies, naturally :)

Goal was to get the water and some half marathon runners in the background!
At a few min before  the gun would go off 9:30am, we shed our layers and lined up in our starting corral and got ourselves ready to run. It was absolutely perfect outside. Warm, but not hot, breezy and refreshing in the shade, and sunshine to light up the route and make Stanley Park absolutely spectacular.

I was very pleased with how well I ran and how energetic I felt. I didn't need to walk up any of the hills for the most part, except a small section as we left Stanley Park, less than 1km from the finish line, before turning onto Georgia Street. I never felt like my breathing was laboured, and it was nice to have Michele's encouraging self there and conversation too to keep me motivated and moving forward. Even so, I never felt like I was pushing myself. Every time Michele asked if I wanted a walk break or to slow down, the answer was always "no, I feel great!". So far during my pregnancy, I've never been shy to take the break, but on Sunday, I didn't need it.

I didn't realize until we crossed the finish line, but it was a much faster run than I thought it would be. It ended up being my fastest run in about 2 months, I think. When I think about it, it makes sense. Normally I take walk breaks, especially on hills, or just when I start to fatigue so when you combine or average out my running time with my walking time, my improved second trimester pace has been around 7:15-7:30/km. My first trimester pace was often in the 8:00/km range. But here I only walked about a 100m stretch and otherwise ran the whole way. I don't think my pace was any faster while I was actually running, but without walking mixed in, I averaged approx 6:30/km for this race. I was expecting somewhere in the 58min range for a finish time, but we crossed the line at 54:24. What a pleasant surprise!

And here we are, at the finish line, celebrating our finish.

We tried to get the finish line in the background but I think my head is blocking it!
I also received my medal from John Stanton. It's always great to meet him at races as he's so very positive!

Gosh I really look pregnant here!
The finish line festivities were also fun to check out. In previous years running the marathon and half marathon, I was just too tired and anxious for a shower and real food to stick around. But the nice thing about an 8km, if taken leisurely like we did, is you've got plenty left in the tank after. So we wandered, enjoyed some of the freebies, and when we'd seen it all, we headed back to North Van to freshen up and go out for celebratory brunch.

While I felt great during the race and immediately after, I was absolutely exhausted for the rest of the day and had a dull achy feeling in my abdomen that lasted right until I went to sleep that night. It was nothing to be alarmed about, but round ligament pain, which is when the muscles/ligaments that support the growing uterus are taxed. Drinking water to rehydrate my tired body and lying down helped, so I parked myself on my couch pretty much the rest of the day and went to sleep early. Essentially, I overdid it.

It has left me feeling a little bit of a dilemma. I don't want to feel this way after running again. But I had no idea I was overdoing it because I literally felt like Superwoman during the race! I never once thought I was pushing myself. But perhaps because I didn't take walk breaks, I actually was pushing myself (relative to most recent workouts). Maybe 8km is too far now, even though a distance I can easily complete? Maybe distance isn't the issue but I need to run/walk? Maybe it's about shortening my stride? Maybe I need to be more conscious of gravity and take it easier on downhill sections since I'm now carrying more weight in the abdominal region? I am not sure. I'll speak to my doctor and in the short term, I won't exceed 5km on any given run and will run/walk.

If you have insight for me, feel free to share.

<3 Z


  1. That's such a good point about the post race festivity stuff - when I've done the BMO half i was WAYY too taxed to enjoy the finish area celebratory stuff. Also some years the race is SOOO rainy - nice to see it was a sunny spring day for the event! Good call on the taking it easier right now, and probably forgetting about pacing completely if you can? Just run and walk by feel, knowing to ease off more often as thats not any runner's tendency? I have no idea though! Good luck with whatever the physician says!

  2. Thanks Monnie for chiming in, as always :) The problem is the forgetting about pace is exactly what I was doing. I haven't looked at pace during a run in pregnancy at all. I only learn of it after. I've been running based on effort. Everything felt good and easy, but then why so much soreness after? So if I start to look at pace and force myself to slow down even when I don't want to? Is this what I should do?

    1. Any updates from the doctor about the soreness and what you should do yet? My inclination is to say maybe schedule regular walk breaks even when you dont really need them as a way to check in with your body and not have to try to slow the comfortable pace too much?

    2. I just saw her today. She says just to slow down a bit. No need to cut distance down, but to be aware of my pace. She says to consider doing less events so I don't get caught up in the energy of everyone around me and am less aware of myself. The only events I'll do are 5K events now anyway, and I'll just FORCE myself to run my own run and be cautious with pace.

  3. So many different things are happening to your body and it's constantly changing! I think talking to your doctor about the soreness is a good idea. You just have to keep listening to your body and adjust your training based on what it tells you. Running on a softer surface might help. You could be sore because of running slightly faster than you have been lately, with more weight in the abdominal region being supported by the ligaments there.
    I think every woman has a different experience with running and pregnancy, all the way from not being able to run at all right up to running marathons while pregnant. I had to cut back my running dramatically at 4.5 months because of lower back pain. Then pelvic ligament soreness was added to the back pain, and I had to stop running completely at 7 months. Time for cross training!

    1. Thank you, Nancy for reading and for your comment. It's true that every woman has a different experience. I just have to figure out what mine is one day at a time. It's nice to learn of your experience too.