Date: Sept 26th, 2010
Location: Toronto, ON
Race: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – 26.2 miles
I went in to this marathon more confident than I have ever been about a race. My training had gone well and I was feeling good. I had planned on running the race with my “virtual” training partner, Kim Thompson, who was also aiming to qualify for Boston. She needed a 3:45 and I needed a 3:50, although we both felt pretty confident in our abilities to be a bit faster than our respective qualifying times.
We got into our corral and I suggested we move up to where the pace bunnies were so that we’d be around people who were trying to run the same pace as us. We moved up a bit and then it got really congested so Kim said let’s just stay here. I wasn’t too keen on that but decided that we could probably skirt along the outside of the crowd to move up once everything got going. I should really know better by now.
Once we got going we spent the first 20 minutes or so dodging people and trying to catch up to our respective pace bunnies. Total waste of energy. Kim pushed the pace and I followed. She reported that we were 40 seconds off pace. I asked what pace is that and she said 3:40. Oh. Crap. I figured I had a 3:45, maybe a 3:43 in me if I was having a REALLY good day but not a 3:40. 10km in and I look at my watch: 53:03. Hmmm….maybe I should slow down a bit. I’m really ahead of where I need to be. I stuck with Kim until we crested the slight hill on Lakeshore at the Legion and then I decide I can’t hold that pace (I was consistently turning over anywhere between 4:50-5:00 min k’s, fine for me for a 10km but NOT for a marathon!). I was concentrating so much on my pace and heart rate that I wasn’t really thinking about hydration. I was at least taking in gels but I certainly wasn’t drinking as much as I should have been given my effort. I didn’t think about this until I hit the 22km mark and my left quad started to cramp. I had to stop and stretch. I figured I was probably still ok as I made it through the halfway point at 1:51 something, which gave me about a 6 minute buffer. I had slowed down a little but my heart rate was still really high. I shuffled through 23 km trying to calm my breathing and my heart rate down. By 26km I was walking. I was so ready to check out right there. I was going to sit down on the side of the road and call it a day. But Gary came along on his bike to check on me and stayed with me for a couple of km, talking me through some tough spots. I managed to shuffle along to 30km ducking in behind people whenever I could to shelter me from the wind coming out of the east. I shuffled along Queen St until it started to climb. At that point I started to walk. I walked until the road started to go down towards the Neville Park loop. I started to run again and managed to run through the loop and run down some of the hill. I was hoping that momentum would just carry me. Every nerve in my body hurt. I realized at about 34 km that I had stopped sweating as I was starting to feel chilled and wondered why. In a black t-shirt in the blazing sun, I felt cold. NOT good. Gary stuck with me as I alternated between walking and running. He kept giving me fluids as I needed them and reminded me to take in nutrition. If it wasn’t for him, I would have been sitting on the side of the road at 26 km waiting for the medics to come and get me. He encouraged me to put one foot in front of the other – “running slow will get you there faster than walking”. So I gave it my best. I could manage to run for 5 minutes and then walk, run for another 5 minutes and then walk. I took in more fluids and some more Roctane. I made it to 39km and somehow found the energy to pick up the pace. I don’t know if it was because I was so close to the finish or if it was because I was so fed up with being out there or maybe it was combination of both but I managed to hold 5:25km’s for the last 3km. I tried to smile as I ran up Bay Street but I think it came out more like a grimace. I crossed the finish line and didn’t even care to look at my watch. I was just so happy to be finished. My final time was 4:13:19. Definitely NOT one of my best races. I could have done better, I should have followed my gut / stuck to my own pace and then I’m sure I would have made my qualifying time. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve…..isn’t that what makes us come back time and time again? The opportunity to fine tune, to rectify past mistakes, reach your goals and put the ghosts to rest? To me that is what helps define me as an athlete – the desire to better myself both mentally and physically.
I may not have been happy with my overall time but I am glad that I finished. Chalk it up to yet another learning experience as an athlete. Now it’s time to let my legs recover and the blisters heal. If I’m feeling good, my next race will be the Pumpkin Summit 8km.