TeamRunningFree pic
TeamRunningFree info

My First Marathon – STWM 2011

I didn’t want to write this race report. I wasn’t going to write this race report. My husband told me I should. Sometimes I listen to him.

I ran my first marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16. It was a colossal mess. The main reason I didn’t want to re-live it in a race report is because I didn’t want to make excuses. There were a few factors I had no control over and many that I did. So instead of rehashing how this went wrong and that went wrong, I am going to go over what I will change and work on for next time. (Because there will most definitely be a next time.) But before I do that, I just want to mention what I did right. I started and I finished. I didn’t quit, even though I could have easily done so. That in itself is indeed an accomplishment and I really shouldn’t diminish it. So, the next time I toe the line for 42.2 km, here’s what I’ll do to prepare:

  • Run more. Well, duh. Truth is, I was under-trained mainly because life got it the way and I missed a large number of my scheduled runs. Long runs are key in marathon preparation but I’ve learned you can’t underestimate the importance of the frequent middle distance training runs. I missed too many.
  • If possible, don’t start a new prescription medication one week before a marathon. Don’t do it. NOT GOOD.
  • Make sure my old lady bladder is completely empty at the start to avoid frantic searches for non-existent portopotties from the 30 km mark onward (or else take a lesson from Reid Coolsaet and learn how to go anywhere).
  • Don’t stop cross training. My true passion is triathlon. When I was training for the marathon, my time in the pool diminished and I did virtually no cycling. I’ve learned that my hips need the variety to stay strong. They complain when I just run. Complain loudly.
  • Quit shoving gels down my sports bra.
  • Try and do a tune up 10 k or half marathon a few weeks prior instead of running 31 km over the course of the day as part of a 6 person relay team raising money for charity. It was way more physically taxing than I thought it would be. Go figure.
  • Put down the butter tarts and try to lose the extra 10 lbs that aren’t doing me any favours. My hips might complain less too.

I will endeavor to remember and adhere to my own sage advice. I’m not sure how useful this information may be to others, take from it what you will. However, it was certainly cathartic to write.

Related Posts

No related posts found.


  • Running more than 1 hour burns weight. May I suggest setting a goal of 3 runs per week over 1 hour for your next marathon? Get in two middle runs just over an hour and of course the long run likely over 2 hours (or more).

    This will get your mileage up, and will also take care of more weight than you think. Marathon times improve by about 1 minute/lb. So you will improve your race time likely 15 minutes with the extra mileage and less weight. Can you handle a 15 minute improvement? Getting in those three runs is all you need to focus on.

    Good luck for your next Scotia. Maybe I will be your pacer!

    PS. I have not been getting in many runs over 1 hour, and I am now 10 lbs heavier than this time last year!

    Dan M.
    (3:25 Scotia Pacer)

  • Kathryn, thanks for writing your race report! I know it took a lot of discipline and restraint not to make excuses—but your courage in being honest will benefit all of us. I especially like your points about continuing cross-training, not skimping on middle-distance runs, and not making any changes (pharmacological or otherwise) the week before the marathon. (Your point about putting down the butter tarts, however, seems to me a little hard to swallow. Some sacrifices are not worth making 😉

    I’m working on my eighth marathon, although my 51-year old bod is protesting louder than it ever has before. I’m beginning a regimen of yoga, so we’ll see how that helps. I’m also trying to squeeze more out of myself by improving my diet and rest schedules. Every little bit helps.

    Thanks again for sharing your hard-earned lessons with us. You’re absolutely right, there is victory in simply starting, continuing, and seeing the race to its end, regardless of what the clock reads when we finish. Keep it up, and we’ll look forward to reading your next new-and-improved report.

    Darrell Johnson
    (PB 2:53:12—but that was a loooong time ago)

  • Kathryn, i don’t know you but have huge respect for you! The courage, discipline and strength (mental and physical) it takes to train and run a marathon is enormous…just considering to cross your toe over the starting line is a huge accomplishment! Congratulations on completing your marathon…I bet you make your husband proud for the person you truly are.

  • Kathryn, I agree with Nina. I, too, have a ton of respect for you and anyone who completes a full marathon. I just finished my third half-marathon on Sunday. I’m a walker and when we booked a trip to Florida months ago, I found out about the A1A half and full marathon and decided to do it. My last half marathon was about 2 years ago, but I do 10 and 15 km races (walking) all year long, as well as the 60 km. Weekend to End Women’s Cancers for 7 years in a row. The past few months I haven’t trained nearly as much as I usually do, mainly because of the weather being so cold, but also I became lazy. I was also not prepared to do the race in 95 degree heat and humidity. I made it across the finish line in 3:26 and as soon as I stopped walking, I almost collapsed. It took me a good 45 minutes to be able to stand without feeling dizzy and disoriented and for my vision to return to normal. I suspect I was dehydrated or had sunstroke (or both). I was proud of myself for finishing, but won’t do another half again without major training. I know my husband was proud of me for finishing but I’m really glad he was at the finish line so he could support me, both physically and emotionally. Congratulations on completing the marathon.

  • Hello and thanks for sharing Kathryn! Last year I completed the Toronto Goodlife Marathon in May. I’d never run in my life and in September 2010, I decided to run the marathon (for my 52nd birthday present to me!) because I could!!! I started running in October, training in December, My training discipline was superb, but I too found I’d “under trained”, in spite of the fact that I kept to my schedule. I did very well for the first 26km. Then it became gruelling. I was raining, I had my period, my legs had turned to lead and I became so disheartened when I saw the first guys heading to the finish point when I was just past the halfway mark. At 32km I decided to complete the race by walking the next 10 km!!!!! At the time it made sense to complete that way, but afterwards, when my husband and daughter stood proudly waiting for me at the finish line and congratulated me I felt so fake – I’d not run the entire race!!!! It took me some time to figure it all out. Completing was important. But for me, it was almost the act of will and discipline to train that had been the major point of it all. I still run, but am not sure how I actually did what I did last year. I thought I’d try the Scotia Bank Mississauga May half marathon this year, but did not. Maybe another year!!!

  • Kathryn, once the marathon bug has bitten its venom tends to stay for a while. I am glad that I am not the only one that enjoys a butter tart while training! Congrats on the marathon. I appreciated your honesty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.