I am back from a whirlwind weekend away in Ottawa, Ontario and I have sore quads and obliques but a HUGE smile on my face…still. I am officially a marathon runner!
Thursday morning Warren and I arrived in Ottawa and went to have breakfast at Stoneface Dollys in Little Italy. It was delicious. Once fuelled we went to drive the marathon race route so I had an idea of what I would be running on Sunday. I like the unknown of a race course but this time I thought it would be a good idea to know what I was up against since it was my first marathon. The course was beautiful and we even ran in Quebec. I liked that the course weaved through different neighborhoods and that there were only a few long, straight stretches to run through. I don’t like seeing how far I have to run in front of me so I was happy the course weaved.
Warren was running the half marathon and his race took place on most of the roads I was running so he got to see where he would be going too. The marathon started at 7:00am and my goal was to complete it in 3:30. The half marathon started at 9:00am and his goal was to complete it in 1:30. We figured if all went according to plan Warren and I would be crossing the line within minutes of each other. That was exciting to me because I really wanted him to be around to see me after I was done. After checking out the course we were tired from our overnight flight so we drove an hour to Perth where my aunt lives as we were staying with her.
Saturday afternoon we headed back into Ottawa to attended the race expo. I have never taken part in such a large race so I was really looking forward to being their and seeing the sights and sounds of it all. Once we arrived at the Shaw Centre I went to the bottom floor with my aunt to pick up my race bib. We then went to the third floor to activate it and look around the expo. As the lady scanned my bib she asked me to confirm that the information on the screen was correct. It was and I was going to be running 42.2k. I was so excited!
I enjoyed the expo, tried a few samples of different products and even won a t-shirt and bag from the iRun booth. They had announced that the first two ladies who arrived at the booth would win a prize and since I had just been at the iRun booth about 15 minutes beforehand I knew where it was. After showing what I had won my aunt decided that she should have tried to win. I told her to go and she ended up winning as well. After being at the expo for awhile I needed to get some food and rest my legs.
Originally our plan was to stay at my aunt’s house the night before the race but on Friday I had decided that it would be better for us to stay in Ottawa so we didn’t have to get up so early. It also was better for Warren because he had two hours to wait before he ran. We booked a hotel that was 1km from the start line. It was perfect because race morning both Warren and I used the run to the start as our warm up. It was great for my aunt as well because she was cycling the course to meet us in different places as we were running.
The night before the race I had trouble sleeping. I had gone to bed around 9:30pm and woke around 11:30pm. I tossed and turned until 4:59am and my alarm was set for 5:00am. I kept replaying the course in my head and how I would possibly feel at different points in the race. It wasn’t that I doubted I was going to be able to run the distance because my training plan from Frontrunners had me running to 38km for my last long run. I had also only missed two of the workouts in the 19 weeks and one of them was the Thursday morning we arrived in Ottawa. I was dedicated to my training!
I then started to stress about the fact that I didn’t sleep and would it effect my run? I then decided to look at my sleepless night differently. They say that you don’t change things race day and you do the same as you did for your training. That is when I realized that all through my training on Friday nights I would struggle to sleep because I would be excited to run my long run on Saturday morning. So, I said to myself “You are doing what you did in your training and what will be will be.”
I got out of bed and had my some coffee, some toast with peanut butter and banana and then grabbed a shower. I had laid out my Asics race kit the night before and had everything ready to put on. I was feeling a bit of nerves and I cried a few tears as I hugged Warren and my aunt. I was off to the start line and I had no idea what to expect. I knew there were lots of people taking part in the race and I was worried about finding a good spot in the orange section of the corral. I was in the orange section because of my predicted finish time. As I hopped over the fence I saw the 3:10 pace bunny. I wasn’t going to be running a 3:10 marathon but decided that I would stay where I was. As the start time drew closer they moved us all up closer to the start. They counted down and away we went.
The course started on a little incline and that was about the only hilly spot of the race as the course was mostly flat. I like a bit of hill though when running because it changes up your pace and foot work which is good for me after running so long. My body likes the change. As I ran along I looked down at my watch and I was running way below a 5 minute kilometer. That wasn’t the pace I should be going and I was getting caught up with the other racers. I needed to slow down because if I didn’t my legs wouldn’t make it to the end. I settled in around 4:30-4:45/km and that felt good. I was still telling myself though that even that pace wasn’t what I had said I would do for the race. I kept up with it though as I was feeling good.
As I crossed the 5k Sportstats mat I got goosebumps. I knew that I had some friends following me through the live tracker. I didn’t know how many there were though until after I finished the race and I had multiple posts on my Facebook page congratulating me. I have some amazing people in my life and I am happy for their support and friendship. They have been with me for all of my marathon training journey.
Around the 15km I could start to feel a blister starting on my achilles and I knew that wasn’t good. I still had a long way to go and if it got worse it would effect my run. I tried to ignore it and focus on other things. I saw my aunt for the first time at the 16k marker and that was exciting. She then met me again around the 19k marker and rode her bike beside me for a bit. She asked how I was doing and I said “I am feeling good. Just your typical Sunday.” We both laughed. It was so nice to have her be part of the race and have her support throughout it all.
As I made my way into Quebec she wasn’t able to ride beside me anymore the way the course went so the next time I saw her was at the 24k mark. I was still feeling good but by this time I had some burning in the balls of my feet. I again tried to ignore that as the rest of my body was feeling good. I was relaxing my shoulders, doing my yoga breathing and all was good. My pace was still sitting around 4:44-4:50/km. Things were ticking along.
Then the 30k mark hit and I could slowly start to feel my quads getting tighter. I knew this wasn’t a good thing. I had heard of runners getting cramps in their quads and it would stop them from finishing. I couldn’t have that because that wasn’t how my first marathon was going to go down. My pace also started to drop and I felt like I was barely moving, even though I was. I started to think about how my legs felt at the 5k and 10k part of my race and the fresh and light feeling. I tried to fool myself into thinking that they were feeling that way again. I changed my stride a bit and kept going. I had been sipping water and Gatorade every 3k so I was hydrating. I had been fueling with many gels along the way but by this time they were getting really hard to eat. One can only eat so many gels when running. Ugh! I was thinking about my quads and my burning feet but I just told myself that I could deal with it all for another 12.2km because after that I didn’t have to do anything…but eat!
As I approached the 38km mark I had been running for 3:02. I remembered that my training run of 38km took me 3:09. I allowed myself to breathe a bit knowing that because I only had 4.2km left. Even though my pace had dropped I could still run the last bit of distance and make my goal. I knew though that anything could happen so I had to continue to grab water and keep a positive state of mind. I had lots of encouragement from the wall to wall people as I ran the last part of the course. It was amazing how many people filled the streets. There were actually people along the course the entire way so there was no shortage of encouragement as I ran, as well all ran. It was awesome!
From the 40km mark to the finish I waited for a tap on my bum from Warren. He had said that he was going to do that as he went by me to the finish. I waited but it didn’t happen. I ended up crossing the finish line at 3:28:01 which was 2 minutes ahead of my goal time. Warren finished his half in 1:33. His bronchitis he had been fighting for the last few weeks got to him and effected his run. Overall though he still did an amazing job and I am super proud.
As soon as I crossed the finish line my legs knew that they were done and I didn’t have to do anything more. They stopped me with an abrupt force. Thankfully there were people in red shirts/first aid waiting for people to cross and were there if they needed help. A lady grabbed my arm and helped to steady me. I had one hand on my thigh and all you could hear from me was a wheeze and tears were falling as I tried to breathe. She was telling me to take deep breaths and I was doing my best but it just wasn’t happening. After a minute or two my breathing started to be normal and she started to get me walking. I moved along slowly but I was good. I thanked her and then went to wait for Warren. It was so great to see him cross and I got a big hug. We made our way down the shoot grabbing some fluids and then our medals. Then we grabbed some food and found my aunt. I needed more to drink but there wasn’t anything around after we left the food area so I didn’t eat right away. We made the slowest and longest 1km walk back to the hotel.
In my training after I completed a run under 25km my body was ok with stretching. I found though that as much as it would have beed good for my body to stretch after the race it wasn’t isn’t something it really wanted to do. We had to get checked out right away so we quickly showered and got our things packed up. I put on my compression socks and some comfortable clothes. We were catching a flight back to Victoria at 5:00pm. We went for lunch at The Works. We were given a 2 for 1 coupon in our virtual race kit so I planned I to treat myself to a burger as my post race meal.
Before I ran the marathon I had been asked by friends if I was going to go to Boston? I had told them that my qualifying time for my age group was 3:40 so if I made it then I would apply to go. So, this year I will submit my time and see if I can get it. If I do that race will take place in April 2016.
I love marathon training and found that I learned so much about myself. I am still learning this week about coming down from the high of training and the race. Who would have known there were so many aspects to marathon training. Will I do another? YES! If I don’t make it to Boston I will run another marathon. I would have to say that I prefer marathon training to short distance running. Who would have ever thought I would say that?! Not many people who know me or even myself.
One last thing that I would like to do is say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported me and listened to me talk about training for my first marathon over the last 19 weeks. If it wasn’t for all of you I may not have had the results I had on the weekend. A big shout out to Asics Canada for my race kit on race day. And thank you to my aunt and Warren for supporting me over the weekend in Ottawa. My nerves were getting the best of me at times so I am sure I wasn’t easy to put up with.
What is your favorite distance to train for? What did you learn about yourself when training? Have you been to Boston for the marathon?