Before I get into the actual race experience, I’m going to briefly go through my running history…
Running, particularly long distance running was something I disliked quite early on in my childhood. I forget how old I was exactly but I’m going to guess and say grade 4 or around 9 years old. I remember this one PE class we had to run and I almost ended up blacking out. Just like many other kids at school, I joined all the sports teams, including track and field… I know… what was I thinking. I remember always being one of the last runners in the long distances, it was the worse. From then on, long distance running was definitely not my thing.
Fast forward a decade, I would do some light cardio at the gym either before or after weight or hiit training. Running 20 minutes on the treadmill became quite the achievement. Slowly but surely I increased the duration of my runs, to about 30-40 minutes. However, my pace was fairly slow.
Fast forward again, to when I became vegan. I had so much energy that I just HAD to run. This time I started running outdoors instead of a treadmill. From really disliking running, to running 5km in 28 minutes was a huge accomplishment. Changing my lifestyle and my diet not only gave me more energy but it really changed my perspective and my mindset. I was starting to see what my body was capable of.
So this brings us to the 8km race. I was presented with an opportunity to register for the BMO marathon for free, and I just could not pass it up. I decided to do the 8km because my schedule and the many jobs I have prevented me from following a consistent training schedule in order to train for the half. Additionally, with no prior running or race experience I wanted to start off with a simple and shorter race.
BEFORE THE RACE
Prior to the day of the race, there was a 3-day Health Sports & Lifestyle Expo where racers came to pick up their race packages. One company that I work for was an exhibitor at the show so I was able to work at the expo. I honestly love working shows and events, especially working for a company that I truly support and agree with and am 100% passionate about. In addition, this one event in particular was even more special because I was also a participant. Seeing and meeting people from all around the world who came to Vancouver JUST for this marathon was incredible. Even though I only worked for a few hours, I was able to make connections with people and share my story and passion about living a healthy plant based lifestyle. The positive energy and support I felt gave me even more motivation to do my best come race day. This one woman even pointed to me saying to her boyfriend: “see this is what a vegan looks like”. Yup, all the motivation I needed.
In terms of training, I only ran a full 8km twice prior to race day. The day before the race I did one final 5km run. Otherwise other exercises I engaged in included lots of walking (around 45 mins to 1 hour per day), a few barre classes, and some hiit and light weight training as well.
DURING THE RACE
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at all nervous. It was more a mixture of excitement/nervousness. I was also incredible anxious while waiting in the massive crowd of fellow runners, mostly because I was freezing and just wanted to start running to get warm. Thankfully it was a beautiful day, but it was definitely chilly. I was in the first coral but started pretty far back. Therefore, the first two kilometres or so required lots of weaving in and out of people. In hindsight, I should have given myself more credit and positioned myself a little further forward. As I mentioned before, running with so many others was a new experience for me and so the entire run itself was quite distracting. I really wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery and my surroundings because the course is actually so gorgeous. But there was just so many other things going on that I found it hard to fully enjoy the moment throughout the race.
I was fully raw for a week prior to the race because I wanted see how my body would perform. The run itself was great; the hills, no matter how big or small, how long or short, a hill is a hill and they always kill me… a weakness I should probably work on… All in all, I think I paced myself well. I found myself struggling at around 7km, which was frustrating because I was super close to the end. My official time was 45.10. My goal was 45 minutes so I am quite happy with my result considering my lack of running history.
AFTER THE RACE
After the race, I was a hot sweaty mess… All jokes aside, I felt accomplished, determined, inspired, motivated, and high on life. Even though I only ran 8km, just being in that environment, seeing other amazing athletes, and for the first time being a runner and not a volunteer was just a wonderful experience.
Speaking of volunteers, I would just like to mention how great the volunteers and everyone else involved were. The entire process from registration, to the expo, to race day and to the overall communication, was super organized and hassle free. I cannot be more thankful. It made the entire experience truly amazing and worthwhile.
Moving forward, I would definitely LOVE to participate in more races in the future. The goal is to try for the half at next year’s BMO marathon. In the meantime, I want to continue to run, to enjoy being outside and in nature and to challenge myself to see what my body is capable of. If you would like to follow me on my running journey, feel free to follow me on Strava!