I didn't have great expectations for this marathon. While I'd been running with a 3:45 pace group, my training cycle had been uneven. My plan was to start with the 3:45 Pace Rabbit and hang on as long as I could. Race day turned out to be exceptionally beautiful and my race benefited as well. While my finishing time of 3:46 was not an overall PB for me, it was more than 10 minutes faster than I'd ever run that course before which pleased me to no end. Almost as pleasing as finding some chocolate milk at the finish line!
When I first started running, it was purely about finishing the distance. Crossing that finish line upright and smiling, regardless of how long it took – I was just happy to be able to run at all. Over the years I started to realize that if I set goals and took on ambitious (to me) training plans, I could actually start inching towards those finish times I never thought possible. After a huge improvement last year, I dared myself to train to try to run a 4:00 marathon in Vancouver this year. I ended up finishing in 4:11:33, which is still a 6 minute PB. Now more than ever I'm realizing that race day isn't the end point of your training – when you cross that finish line you're really just getting to the start line of training for your next race. Even during recovery, I'm already thinking about where I need to improve and what I need to focus on to get myself closer to my goals.
There really is no finish line in running. Every training cycle and race is a chance to learn more about yourself as a runner and an athlete. This year, I learned a ton.
I was in the fortunate position of being able to enjoy my marathon experience a lot more than many people. As the 3:30 pace bunny I had the luxury of being able to run at a much more relaxed pace than my usual race pace (I ran a 2:46 marathon three weeks ago, in Boston). Still, there was a certain amount of pressure involved in being able to maintain a steady pace throughout and I was checking my splits as religiously as any other runner out there! We were fortunate to be blessed with much more pleasant weather conditions than last year, which definitely helped keep a positive mood in the group. It’s a rewarding experience helping people meet their race goals and I encourage anyone who wants to be involved with the marathon, but not necessarily to race, to give the Pace Rabbit gig a go!