BMO Vancouver Marathon – DNF – Partial Race Recap

Sigh, it would be really easy to ignore my 7th race of the year.  But, that’s not why I started this blog, and I have never ignored the negatives to focus on the positives.  Our running journeys are made up of good times and bad times, and we need to accept and embrace them all.

Besides, running a local marathon means that you’re connected to so many others out there, and that was definitely the case for me.  I can feel sad for myself, but I can’t ignore all of my friends and family that were out in there in the sun, doing what they love (or hate?)  Congrats to everyone who ran on Sunday, and to everyone who finished a tough race!


Spoiler alert :  I did not finish.  I mentally pulled out around 15 kms, and actually left the course around 26.5 kms.  Since I didn’t finish, does it still count as a race? 

Running the 2013 BMO Vancouver Marathon was a bit of a whim decision.  I came so close to BQ’ing just a few short weeks before, with the bombings at Boston the very next day, I had added motivation and drive to BQ this year.

I hummed and hawed for a few weeks, took the legs out on a few test hard efforts, and I decided that I was going to do an all or nothing race.  All or nothing meaning that if I couldn’t hold the pace I needed to, I would drop out.  I didn’t want to risk injuring myself, which is what I felt I had a good possibility of doing if I forced myself to finish a race I wasn’t performing 100% at, so shortly after my recent hard out marathon.

Friday and Saturday of race weekend were awesome, I loved being involved and being motivated and inspired.  I felt ready to race on Sunday.
Sunday am, was an early start since we were going with Mom to the half marathon start.  I didn’t mind this at all, because we parked a few blocks away, maybe .5 from the start line, and it was already really busy by the time we walked over.  Nikki and I were playing the “who can spot more people that they know” game, and she won, by a long shot.

We were able to meet up with Jillian & her RunCouver girls, Leanna & Krista running the half, Darren & Jess who Jay and I had met at MYM50 last September, and another twitter friend Jacki.  So far, so good.

Darren & Jess :


Leanna, Krista, Nikki, & me


Momma gets nervous, so she wanted to line up early, so I went with her to find her a good spot, and I saw Darren was lined up in the corral in front of her, but it wasn’t full so there was lots of extra wiggle room.  I know mom likes to have a pace bunny to chase after, so I grabbed her to line up with Darren.




Jay headed up the street to catch Mom’s start, and who did I catch a great shot of?  Oh you know, my BFF, Bart Yasso :


And there goes momma :


We found ourselves a nice little meeting/hang out spot, and settled in.  Organized gels, water, bathroom breaks, and of course photo ops.  I ran into Alex, doesn’t she look EXCITED?!


Nikki and I with Jillian :


and of course, a shoe shot :


Right before we needed to head into corrals, I ran into my running mentor Rainy, who had big hugs for me, and then out of nowhere Candice was there too!

Our pre-race shot : Nikki, Monique, me, Jess, & Candice (apparently Jess didn’t get the pink memo…we won’t hold it again her since she killed a 3:22 marathon on her 35th Birthday!  Yep, Sunday was her birthday – hope you enjoyed the race & that PR Jess!)


Monique, Jess, and I hopped into the first corral, the orange corral, and I was nervous, but excited!  Darren had figured Jess would run a 3:30, so I figured if I could hang out her for a while, I’d be golden.

As always, the last few minutes flew by, and we were off and running.  I saw Jay and Jeff from Pacer Films both on the sidelines, and I have to say my Beast Mode tank looked pretty solid!


Well, talking about the pre-race was fun, but the actual race is a bit crappy to sit here and reflect on.  It was hot.  I started too fast.  Instead of pacing myself for a 5:03/km, I was trying to hit a 5:00/km, and yes it’s only 3 seconds, but I think it was enough to throw me off.  The whole being so close, and thinking I had it, to being over has scarred me!

Anyways, the first few kms were fine.  I didn’t feel great, but I also didn’t feel bad at all.  Karl passed by, doing the smart thing and easing into the race, but I’m never that smart!  I have a give a big shout out to Karl though, as came in under his BQ goal time of 3:05, and was actually sub 3:03!  Way to go buddy!

I saw Jay along the side of the road a couple times, my friend Mel was on her bike on the side of the road somewhere around 5 or 6 kms in, and there was tons of supporters out in the beautiful sunshine!


I was running around the 3:30 pace group, and again, this should have been a warning to slow the eff down, but it’s so hard to take the first bit easy, especially when you know there’s Camosun hill coming up.

Took my first gel before the hill, felt fine, saw Peter at the bottom of the hill, again, felt fine.  The hill basically sucked.  Saw Jeff halfway up the hill, and he filmed a bit of me.  No idea why anyone would want to see someone struggling up a massive hill, but he’s the filmer!

Coming around the corner into the wooded area is where things started to fall apart.  Last year, in this same stretch, I got a nasty side stitch.  Ugh.  And then guess what happened?!

Jabbing pain in my side.  Eff.

I tried to run through it, tried to keep the pace, tried to breathe it out, but it wasn’t going anywhere.

Coming out onto 16th, I saw Jonesee on the sidelines cheering, and I did my best to get up that stupid hill that’s right there, that of course I forgot about for the second year in a row.

This is where the route changed, with the addition of an out and back along Blanca to 10th from 16th.  This is where things really started to go downhill for me.  I was suffering, I was losing pace, I was basically sucking.

I came out of the out & back, back onto 16th, and tried again to get my body to cooperate.  At this point, I also had to pee really badly.  I kept going a bit more, and when I hit km 15 with another terrible km split, and I had dropped to an average of 5:08, I jumped off the course, ran into the woods to go pee.

This is where I mentally quit.  Now, I had to find Peter and Jay and tell them.  I found Peter where we turned off 16th, and he’s a biker not a runner, so he was trying to convince me to stretch for a couple minutes, and then get back out there.  At this point, Shea ran by, and yelled at me to get back out there, and I really wish I could’ve, but I knew at this point that my BQ dreams were shattered.

Peter called Jay and he was a km or 2 up the road, so back on the course I went.  This time sans music.  As I crawled towards Jay, Greg passed me by, so I got to say hi and wish him good luck.  He looked strong, and I knew he was hoping for a 3:45.

Finally I saw Jay and pulled off to see him.  He handed me my phone since he’d been live tweeting how I was doing, and I sent out some quick messages to my other cheerers on the route, and to my close friends who I knew were following along.  As I was doing this, I saw Candice running up, so I decided to hop back into the race and join her for a bit.

This is where I should’ve just stayed put.  We were near the top of the UBC hill to Spanish Banks, and I should’ve just waited here for my parents to come by with the car.  But, I jumped in with Candice, and ran with her for a few mins, checked in on her race, she felt good, but felt hot, and felt like the heat was definitely going to get to her.

After a few mins, I had to drop off, I didn’t feel like I could hold that pace, without terrible cramping, and I didn’t want to hold her back at all.

By now, I’m in the thick of the downhill, and I can’t run at any fast speed, and just feel so deflated.  I catch a glimpse of Vera, and dodge through the people to come up beside her.  She was so far back that I thought she was actually having a really slow for her race, and she explained that she almost didn’t even make it to the start.  I told her I was dropping, but I don’t think she understood.  I couldn’t keep up, so again, I let my friend take off.

This sucked.  I felt awful, and I basically had to keep going to get rescued.  Mom and Dad were at km 26, which didn’t seem terribly far since I was around 20kms in at this point, but my side/stomach basically went from not too bad, too terrible, and back again, a number of times during this section.  Instead of running up the hill to 4th, I decided to take a shortcut through Jericho beach, and I felt like such an idiot with my bib still on doing it.  I’m not cheating, I promise!!!

Coming out on Point Grey, I fell into the pain cave again.  My kms slowed down even more, and I started to choke back tears.  It felt like forever until I could reach my parents.

When momma hugged me, I started to cry, but I didn’t want to have a major breakdown on the side of the road, and besides, this WAS plan b, and I wasn’t injured per say, it was just not my day.

Jay showed up on his bike, and we decided that he would go with my parents back to the other car at Queen E, and I would stay here and wait for Nikki.

Thankfully, Jay left me the Africam and I was able to get some great shots of Nikki, like this one :


I wanted to run with her for a bit, but I had the giant camera, and Jay hadn’t returned with the car, so I just joined her for a minute, synched our watch times, and wished her well.  I was so glad to hear that all of her pre race injuries were non-existent, and that she felt pretty good.

I started to walk away from the course to make it easier for Jay to pick me up, and I did the math to go meet Nikki at English Bay.

We got there a few minutes ahead of her, saw Monique, who was trudging along to finish her first marathon.

And then there she was.  I jumped in and tried to run with her again.  I so badly wanted to do what Cathy had done for me, and run the last 10 kms with her, but I just couldn’t.  The pain in my side immediately came back when I tried to run.  I wished her well, and off she went to tackle the seawall.



I bought Jay a coffee and we headed towards the finish line.  We were able to fins relatively close and cheap parking, but finding our way to Jillian was another story.  Finallllly we found her, and watched for Monique and Nikki together.

I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard to watch, but it was also really great to watch people accomplishing their dreams.  While waiting for the girls, we cheered for random strangers, and I even recognized a friend of Nikki’s who I’d met before the race, and screamed for him!

Finally we saw them, and Jillian, Alex from Runcouver and I literally screamed our faces off for them.  Monique thankfully saw us and smiled


Nikki however, was a different story, no matter how much we screamed our faces off, she didn’t even look at us!!!


I was screaming at her to get moving to go sub 5 hours, and even though she didn’t hear me, she did, finishing in 4:59:36!  You can read her full race report here.

Afterwards, it was all about finding the girls, making sure they had everything they needed, and re-hashing everyone’s experiences.

Jay drove Nikki and I home, where my parents had nicely left some fresh sushi that they had picked up when they went for lunch.  We sat around relaxing, checking results online for friends, eating, and going over the day.

I have to say, even though it wasn’t my day, it sure made things a lot easier having Nikki have such a successful day that I could live vicariously through and be there to support her.
And momma, how’d she do?  Well, she’s writing a guest post herself, so I won’t spoil all the surprises but she did finish with a brand spanking new PR!

As for how I feel now…not much has changed since I posted a few days ago about my results.  It wasn’t my day, but I’ve had an incredible few months of road racing, and now it’s time to do what I love more, get back to the trails.  So, no BQ for this beast for this year, but you know I’ll get it in the future.

And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :

Overall, how would I rate this race?

Terrain/Course/Difficulty : A.  It’s a great course, and I feel like since I ran it last year, I can still comment on this.

Affordability and Value : C.  I made a mistake in my previous post that said registration was $177, it was but after the HST was removed, it was $166 after all was said and done for me.  I still think this is atrocious.  I still think the jump up from last year’s prize was way too much.  I still think that they added bonuses they talked about were non-existent.  The transit pass that talked about was only good for 1 trip, and the skytrains were not running early service as they have done in previous years.  I saw but did not receive a lunch bag (it looked ok but no fruit? and no chocolate milk), and I also saw but did not receive a medal.  Medals were nice.  I heard about water stations running out of water, I heard the water park was not on, and that there was no sponge stations.  I don’t think they really took the weather forecast for a heat wave into consideration.  I love this route, but I hate the inflated price.  Neither the marathon or the half sold out, and I have to think that had a lot to do with it, especially for locals who chose more affordable options.

Organization :  B.  The half started late, but I don’t think the full started late.  The expo had almost no stock of the Run Van clothes after the first day.  The Translink commotion was basically ignored.  Nowhere near the amount of portapotties that were needed at the start.  Everything else that I experienced was fine.

Final words?  Sigh.  Tough day, but glad to be out there with my friends and family.  It was a hard day for most, but for the few who crushed their goals, congratulations!!

Have you ever DNF’d?  This was my first time.

Have you ever gone into a run with an all or nothing attitude?  Has it worked for you? 



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9 Responses to BMO Vancouver Marathon – DNF – Partial Race Recap

  1. Leana says:

    Solana, I’m so sorry it wasn’t your day out there. A DNF is no fun, but you made the right call to pull out and not risk an injury. You *will* get your BQ, I know it (and so does Bart)! And no doubt all of your friends appreciated you cheering on afterwards.

    With regards to the sky train ticket, we all got an exchange ticket at the station next morning that gave us a pass good until 6 pm, so that was nice! I gave mine to Neil so he could run around and spectate a bit more.

    As for our lunch bags, they were handing bananas out after the bags were given out, but maybe they ran out? Definitely no chocolate milk but I actually like the coconut water with mango they were passing out.

    Anyhow, have a blast with the trail running this summer. Hopefully our paths will cross at a race again someday!

    • Solana Klassen says:

      Hey Leanna, it was so nice to meet you, and thank you for the support! I know I’ll get it some time in the future!

      Thanks for the input on your experience, love to hear from others on what they saw or didn’t.


  2. Karl says:

    Can’t win em all. The good news is its time to hit the trails, woohoo! Thanks for the shout out. See you at Golden Ears tomorrow.

  3. Katie says:

    I had goosebumps reading this post. I felt like I was there with you, and could feel the welling of the tears myself. While I’ve never DNF’d, I have pre-DNF’d due to injury, which was hard as heck. It’s a huge disappointment for sure, but my goodness, the fact you were out there is just incredible. And seriously, I think you need a medal for how amazing a friend you are – out there cheering for your peeps. I can’t wait to do a race you’re at, so that maybe, just maybe, (seeing as how you are faster than me ;) ) I’ll get those same cheers! Don’t beat yourself up. There’s another race for another day.

    I do have a question for you though, how do you manage water/gels? I didn’t see a fuel belt or anything…

    • Solana Klassen says:

      Awww thanks so much Katie, that’s so sweet of you. I race lots, so I’m sure we’ll be able to meet up at some races in the future, although majority of the summer is TRAIL RACES!!! Which, I know you aren’t a huge fan of, but I have something pretty cool coming up for local women in June, so if you’re available, I hope you can join us too!

      As for water and gels, I carry 2 gels on me, and I take gels at 8, 16, 24, & 30 for sure, another if needed in the 30′s. My wonderful crew, my husband comes to all of my major races, and acts as a crew with water, gels, photos, whatever I need. Thankfully, I also have some amazing friends who step in to crew if need be as well. I just drink water from the stations, and Jay has a bottle if I need more. I absolutely detest the fuel belt, as I hold most of my extra weight in my stomach, so it’s never been terribly comfortable. That being said, I’ve worn it more often recently, and it doesn’t bug me as much, but I won’t wear it unless I absolutely have to.

      Camosun isn’t as terrible as people make it out to be, but it’s definitely been an ache in my side, literally, the past 2 BMO Marathons. I actually really hope to run the Eugene Marathon, or even Whidbey Island again next spring. We will see. I hated the hills, but the more I think about it, it worked for me, and I guess I’m a stronger hill runner than I thought!

  4. Katie says:

    Ps. I’ve never run Camosun, but I’ve ridden it! Before it was repaved, we called it the Camosunberg, comparing it to the Belgian’s “hard man” races on the cobbles of the Koppenberg :D

  5. Pingback: Solana Leigh | Beast Mode | Trail Running | Grouse Grind | KneeKnacker |

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  7. bjcjapan says:

    Now that I’ve discovered your blog, I had to go back and review some older posts. This one. Wow. Your writing is very vivid and engaging – what an experience. I also know Nikki via Twitter, so it neat to see here featured in your story! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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