Monday, November 17, 2014

MEC Vancouver Marathon Review

Sunday, November 16, 2014:

This is a low-budget marathon where everything is easy.  Register online for $25 CAD, show up, and run.  Marathon number 85 since my myeloma diagnosis, in 5:46:44, about eight minutes faster than the most recent marathon in Ottawa.

This was my second race in Canada, again supporting Nelson Wiebe, an Edmonton college student who is running five marathons this year in honor of his aunt, diagnosed with myeloma in 2010, to increase awareness of myeloma in Canada and to raise money for Myeloma Canada (  He passed me three times in the race, greeted me at the finish, and we did a little press interview together after the finish.  He's my hero.

The Marathon:


  • It's entirely on a trail atop a dike (dyke in Canadian) along the shore of the Strait of Georgia and whatever river goes east past the airport from that strait.  It's a lovely venue; 
  • Runners never EVER competed with vehicle traffic and no police were required or in evidence; 
  • The race included at least 3 aid stations (maybe four?), which marathoners encountered four times during the race.  These were kept open for the very last runner (which happened to be me); 
  • Everyone was happy, cheerful, helpful, and supportive, just as you would expect Canadians to be;
  • The half marathon was an out-and-back on the dike, while the full marathon was two of those.  That's fine with me when it means we don't compete with vehicle traffic.
  • The dike trail is about as flat as a race can get.
Possible improvement for next year (this was the first year for the marathon distance):  Charge a little more for the race and give finishers a medal.  After 26 miles we deserve one.  Actually, I have no complaint here - I got a medal for some reason, perhaps because I'm old, or the last finisher.  I'm happy.

I would do this marathon again in a heartbeat.

My Race:
  • The chilly weather was a concern, as the temperature at the start was about 28 degrees.  I wore running pants, though, and four layers above, so I was quite comfortable once underway.
  • As the temperature rose into the low 40's and the rising sun provided additional warmth, I shed one layer after another, ending up with just a long-sleeved technical shirt.
  • During the race I took five gels, six or seven salt tablets, and plenty of water.  I also needed quite a few nature breaks, which seems to be an issue in recent marathons.  I bet I spent 12 - 15 minutes in the porta-potties. The water may exacerbate that problem, but without it I would probably cramp up more.
  • Cramping in my calves is often a problem, but less so today - it appeared only in the last mile or so.  I did have a little pain in the middle of both knees, which I attribute to the chilly weather.  Further, my feet got a little sore on the bottom, probably caused by the crushed-gravel trail surface.  The worst problem, though, was a pain on the outside of the left knee, probably the ITB, caused by the constant slight slope of the trail.  It wasn't a stopper, and I can work on that - there are stretches that I should do. 
  • In the previous race I felt a pain in the right tibia, a little down from the knee and to the medial side.  I did see my sports doctor about this a few weeks ago, and he is convinced that the pain is not actually in the tibia but in a spot on the tibia where three ligaments meet.  It's not an uncommon problem, and he basically said that I can keep running without any specific treatment for as long as I can handle the pain.  This pain did not appear today.  Yay.
Splits in km: 7:49, 7:33, 8:14, 7:26, 7:49, 10:20 (natural break), 7:25, 7:48, 7:20, 10:45 (natural break), 17:03 (2 km), 7:14, 7:25, 7:27, 10:22 (natural break), 7:54, 7:23, 8:32, 7:38, 16:33 (2 km), 7:46, 8:24, 15:52 (2 km), 8:14, 7:56, 8:18, 7:52, 8:10, 18:03 (2 km & natural break), 7:51, 7:53, 8:03, 8:35, 8:44, 8:41, 8:38, 8:46, 8:55, total 5:46:44, overall pace 8:13 min/km.

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