I came to Vancouver in the summer of 2012 with a short-term contract at a VFX Studio I had previously worked for in London. I couldn’t pass at the opportunity. British Columbia had always been a destination I was interested in visiting, and it was a bit of a dream to be able to have an extended period to travel while I was working. Within a few weeks of arriving in Vancouver, I fell in love with the city, the landscape and lifestyle. The lifestyle is very laid back where everyone enjoys the simple pleasures of life and the great outdoors. The landscape is a playground for any adventure and adrenaline junkie with mountains hosting climbing, mountain biking and hiking trails, snow/ski sports resorts and the ocean with endless possibilities.
I was quick to notice the number of runners who were enjoying the city and the famous seawall that runs around the city edge. I quickly learnt while I was browsing the gels at my local Running Room store of a yearly City Marathon that takes place every May.
I hadn’t done much running in the months since moving to the city, but I decided to pick things back up again in the Fall once I was more settled. Soon enough though I signed up and had my sights on the 2013 BMO Marathon.
The Denman Running Room holds weekly Sunday drop-in sessions that gradually build up your mileage as a group leading up to the Marathon. The group setting was just what I needed to keep me motivated and gain the experience of other runners. I learnt so many useful tips during the group runs regarding hydration, fuel, and recovery from other runners in the group. I would highly recommend anyone struggling to train alone (especially first-timers) to go with a group as it can make such a difference and you also have a fantastic social aspect.
The runners are split into groups according to your goal finish time and run at a pace to target that goal. Some running clubs run continuously without taking any specific stops, but the Running Room use a technique in which they run 10 minutes and walk for 1 and repeat this. It is meant to give your legs a chance to catch up and help with the gradual increase in distance. It’s ideal for first-timers and more experienced runners who want to train at a faster pace. Pace bunnies using the same method were available during the Marathon. For me though, I wanted to challenge myself and run the full distance without breaks.
As my training progressed and the distance increased, I started finding issues with my body. During a long distance run in February my lower back seized up from a weak hamstring, and I had to hobble home. It took three weeks to get over it with some physiotherapy. I spent a lot of time researching the reasons behind the issue and realised how un-conditioned my muscles were for such a long distance race and understood that I needed to spend time in the gym and work on strengthening my legs, back and core along with a lot of stabilisation muscles that support the rest. Thankfully I had enough time and continued to train for the race a lot stronger.
I would encourage anyone to research and learn more surrounding abductor and flexor muscles in and around the hip and leg. These key leg muscles along with a strong core a crucial for long-distance running.
Vancouver had been relatively cold and wet leading up to the race, and I use to wrap up head to toe. Within a short space of time, the weather dramatically changed and race day reached close to 25 degrees. I was not ready for this change in climate especially when it came to hydration and replacing electrolytes. The last 10km of the race was very painful from a mixture of cramping and tightness in my legs.
During the training and race itself, I learnt a tremendous amount about my body’s limits, my training and what I needed to develop more. There was no question I was going to race it again and beat my time!