Tag Archives: dedication

Vancouver Marathon Race Recap Part 1….Before the Big Event

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I registered for the BMO Vancouver Marathon back in about November.  I was feeling really frustrated and defeated after my summer marathons (Calgary & Edmonton) as I didn’t come close to qualifying for Boston.  I ran 3:46.22 and 3:44.59, respectively, at both of these events….well off the qualifying standard of 3:35.00.  So when I decided to give my Boston qualifying attempt one more shot, I wanted to pick a race I hadn’t done before.  And a race that was known for being a good course for qualifying.  It was suggested to me by many people that Vancouver was the course for me.  Sea level, rolling downhills, late Spring, spectator support, large city….I registered, booked a flight, and started thinking about my training.

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I have mentioned before I had Dean Johnson create a training calendar for me.  It was a 16 week training plan, which he took into account my previous fitness achievements and levels.  Each day had set paces I needed to achieve and unique workouts.  Dean went above and beyond and updated my training plan to reflect the success I was having in half marathon and 10 km distances in late winter/early spring.  This training plan held me accountable, as I kept a log of how each workout went in a Google Doc, and it really pushed me above and beyond what I thought I was capable of. 1

So here comes May 1st.  The day I travel to Vancouver.  I was nervous, anxious, excited, scared….basically a pile of emotions.  I had been training specifically for this event for 16 weeks, but as I drove to the Calgary airport, it occurred to me that I really have been training for this since my first half marathon in May 2004.  I wrote about that half marathon here, as it was a race I ran in a daze….it was less than a week after my dad passed away unexpectantly from a heart attack.  I have been running long distances ever since.

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So this race was important.  I have been committed to running long distances for now over 11 years.  Some years were low, some have been high.  The past two years have been a steady high, with breaking personal records, getting podium at local races, and feeling like I am in the best shape of my life.  It was also low when I didn’t get that coveted Boston qualifying time.  I was out on this run to prove to myself I was worthy of running in Boston.

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The expo was held in Downtown Vancouver at the convention centre next to the Olympic torch.  I had stayed with my good friends Alex & Tim in Burnaby the night before, and they were nice enough to drop me off down at my hotel for the night, which was near the expo.  This hotel wasn’t originally in the plans, but my cousin Erin is too nice and booked me a room.  She would be staying there too!  I wandered over to the expo, and this is when I first started getting the chills….the expo was right on the water, it was a gorgeous, crisp and clear day, and the energy was high.  Packet pickup was extremely fast, and before I knew it I was on the merchandise floor.  There were not tons of vendors, but enough things to look at.  I bought a Run Van tanktop, which I know I will wear lots in the summer, and some more Nuun tabs from their vendor table.  Included in our race package (which was a drawstring backpack) was a commemorative shirt (which I really liked….a short-sleeved charcoal grey tech shirt), our race bib, and a transit ticket for the race morning.

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I ended up going back to the hotel to nap in the afternoon, as I didn’t sleep well the night before and was a bit worn from all my travelling.  Actually, before the nap I ordered pasta for lunch via room service.  Eating that in bed while watching HGTV was fantastic.  I was wide awake then when Erin and her friend Rob were ready to go get food for supper.  We went to this sweet market nearby and bought sandwiches and salads, headed to Stanley Park, and had a picnic.  The weather was gorgeous and this was a very relaxing way to spend the evening.  We were back at the hotel somewhere around 7:30, which gave me tons of time to wind down and get prepared for the big event in the morning.  I even was able to head to bed by 10 pm and slept great!  Now I just needed the following Sunday to be the best run of my life……

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Husband Guest Post 2 – The Night Before Vancouver 

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Andrea watches a lot, A LOT, of shitty reality television (note – all reality television is shitty, but her shows are generally, the worst of the worst).  The thing that drives me most insane about these shows is when one of the characters (usually a dumb blonde or no-longer-relevant actor) talks to the camera, and says something preposterously overdramatic and entirely untrue like “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life” or “I’ve never wanted anything so bad in my life”.  

Now I understand it’s TV, and that drama sells.  But it’s bullshit.  Complete bullshit.  In generations past, before reality TV, I think these grandiose statements were actually meaningful.  Those phrases were reserved for the few times in life that actually mattered.  So for the people in the world that actually do something of great merit, I find it insulting towards them for people clinging to their 10 minutes of fame on TV to try to bolster their appeal with this fake drama.

For Andrea’s sake, and for the sake of everybody that truly puts their heart and soul into something they love, let’s appreciate the following statement for what it’s worth, and not just take it at face value:

Andrea has never worked this hard towards something in her entire life.

That’s not just words.  She has walked the walk.

She changed her diet (among many things, she gave up ramen noodles… RAMEN F-ING NOODLES!!!).  She changed her step and stride (she went to a foot doctor specializing in athletes).  She signed up for every race possible (and won most of the local ones).  She hired a trainer to write her a training schedule (with the goal of 3:35 in mind, and the training difficulty was increased concurrently with her time improvements).  And more than anything, Andrea stuck to her training schedule and ran.   It was, and still is, unbelievable.  I honestly can’t imagine putting in the persistence, time and effort that Andrea puts into her running.  I don’t even think it’s fair for me to attempt to describe it, because I don’t know that level of grueling commitment.  It’s every damn day.  She runs, at an insane pace (usually at 7 minutes/mile… for comparison, I ran a 10 mile race at an average of 11 minutes/mile and that was giving it everything I have).  While she never does a full marathon distance during her training, it’s not uncommon for her to run 15 miles.  And then, after 15 miles, she just goes about her day, like that 15 mile run was just a 15 minute walk with the dog.  That might be the craziest part to me about her training.  She’ll run these super-long distances, and then still want to walk downtown for dinner, or walk the beagle to the dog park. 

So I am proud of my wife, and of all her accomplishments.  She has pushed herself beyond what I thought was possible.  A hobby has become an obsession, and her pace and race times reflect her hard work.

So my dear… Go.  Get it done.  You can do it, you’ve proved it to yourself.  You put in the time, you put in the work.  You owe it to yourself.  I love you, I’m with you, and he’s watching.  This is how you remember.

Dan

 


My Beef With Boston

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The Boston Marathon…THE BOSTON MARATHON. It is a prestigious race. Non-runners even have heard of it. Most runners dream of qualifying for Boston. That’s my goal this year—running below a 3:35 at the Calgary Full Marathon on June 1st, 2014, will be my ticket in….or will it?

I know this coming Boston Marathon should have a double asterisk next to it in the record books, due to the events that occurred last April, so some application procedures may have been changed or altered. But my real beef I have here is in regards to when official registration submissions were accepted for the 2014 race. What I have an something I have had on the back burner of my mind since this last September 2013—-issue with will probably surprise some people, and undoubtedly some runners won’t agree with my position. What do I have a problem with at Boston?

Charity runners.

Ok. Now that I got that out of the bag and half of you think I’m a cold-hearted you-know-what….let me explain. (Be prepared….this may become long-winded). All major races have runners who are part of charity groups. I know this. My friend Matt even reiterated this when I spoke to him about my position. Charity runners do a lot for the local communities where these races are held. At my latest race, the Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World, Cigna was the main sponsor and Team in Training (Leukemia) was the head beneficiary. There were many people who ran with these groups, and other groups during the race weekend. Groups like these have a minimum fundraising requirement one must meet in order to run in the event. People in the “running world” are well aware of these charity runners. And they are also well aware that charity runners can get into otherwise “sold out” events. Dopey Challenge sold out in one week last April 2013. The marathon sold out some months after. But as late as December, people could still sign up for running via a charity group. Fundraise enough money and you’re in!

I am all for fundraising-anyone who has been following my website since it’s conception would know that. In this past year, I raised approximately $3500 for heart disease research. The monies raised went to the American Heart Association and the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. But this fundraising was done not for a race bib-I raised money for something specifically important to me and my family, and along that way I registered for a boatload of events with Dopey Challenge as the grand finale. I’m not saying this in order to make it seem like I think I am better than those who run with charity groups….I am not saying that. Not at all. But while I assume most people who fundraise for sponsored charity groups at races have a good heart and truly care about the charity they are running for, you know there are some who just happen to have rich running friends or be sitting on wads of cash themselves. One might even say they are “buying” themselves a late entry into a race.

But for Boston? This is where I take issue….

My husband’s cousin Erin is a fantastic trail runner. She does crazy races up in Edmonton and in the the one I ran the Spartan Beast with in September. Anyway, she ran the BMO Vancouver Full in May 2013 and just missed out breaking the 3:35 qualifying time. Once she realized how close she was, she did what any sane person would do and registered for the Red Deer Woody’s RV Full Marathon….which was two weeks after. I was running the half there, and after my race I went back to the final hill to watch for her. As I saw her coming, she was shaking her head saying she wasn’t going to get it. I pushed her up that ridiculous hill by Lindsay Thurber High School, and she brought herself into the finish line in 3:34:24. She had qualified for Boston! She made it!

In Erin’s words
“.…I was training for a 50mile, and my pace just naturally got faster. When I missed out on qualifying in Vancouver by those few short seconds, that’s when I became obsessed with the goal, and really started looking into exactly what this whole Boston Marathon was really about. The more I read, the more I wanted it. Boston is a Runners race. Meant to be something for those of us who have committed the time and pounded out mile after mile, giving up time with friends and family all for chasing the dream of qualifying for Boston. It was a race for people like me, who pushed their bodies for week and months, and it was like a final reward for all my hard work. To qualify and run Boston was the ultimate goal….Registration day came for Boston, and I submitted my time, and the waiting game began. I never actually received my email saying I didn’t make it in, but I checked and checked the registration list. No Erin McLaren….I was okay with it. It meant that I just wasn’t fast enough, and that’s okay. It meant that other women my age trained harder, and ran a better race….Then I found out about all the charity runners. I’m all for charity, I really am. I think races like this are an excellent way for runners to raise money for deserving cause, but the key word there, is Runners. Why is it that because someone is able to raise more money than me, they get to run in a race that others have worked so hard to get to…10% of runners are charity runners. Great. How about give those bibs to deserving runners, and give 100% of the racers a chance to raise money for charity. Are you telling me that 10% can raise more than 100%?
There are so many races out there that anyone can pay for and run. Boston should be something you earn…”

Going on the official Boston Athletic Association (BAA) website will tell you a couple things. 25,654 applications were received during the two weeks of registration. Of these, 22,679 were accepted. There is a chart on their website showing that in our age/gender group, times that were at or faster than 3:33:22 were accepted. Erin qualified for Boston, but in the end didn’t make the cut.

“…the B.A.A. Has set the field size for the 2014 Boston Marathon at 36,000 official entrants. At least seventy percent of the field will be comprised of athletes who have met the qualifying standards. The balance will consist of invitational entrants, many of whom run for local charitable organizations…” [baa.org website, September 2013]

Boston is on a pedestal for me. . I think it is for a lot of runners. Especially those of us who have been running a long time. I am coming up on my ten year anniversary of long-distance road racing actually. Boston, to me…. It is the race of all races! To qualify and run in Boston is a dream.. And after this last year of training, a conceivably realistic dream at that! So when I read that statement, taken directly from the B.A.A website, I got especially frustrated…because it to me is a harsh reality that even with all my training, I may never make it there. I am going to be working my ass off this winter and spring to run my race in June but ultimately, even if I break 3:35, I still may not get in. But someone who signs up with a charity group will get to go. Someone my age who yes, I am sure will train hard, but will maybe run a 4:45 instead. They will get to run in my place…In Erin’s place…In someone else’s spot who qualified but was not accepted. Am I jealous of them? In a word-no. Sure, they will get to buy and wear that jacket with the ever-recognizable horse on it. They will get a finishers medal. They will get to run the historic course on Marathon Monday. But I’m not jealous. If I ever get to run in Boston, it will be because I raced my way there. And if I never qualify, it wasn’t meant to be.