Hey everyone. So I did it- I finished my marathon. It didn’t go as planned (they never seem to these days). but I can say I am a marathoner now. I finished in 5:40… which was a little bit off of my 4:30 goal. I’ll recap the weekend and the race.
The bib pickup opened on Thursday night before the race. I did not go until Friday because I asked my boyfriend if he’d like to come with me. He doesn’t like to run but he loves to eat the samples they give out.
My workplace had also asked if any of us were interested in doing the 2k or the 5k as we had been raising money for CHEO. I would have loved to do the 5k but I figured I shouldn’t given that I would be running a marathon the day after. They went to pick up their race bibs Friday during the day and I was very jealous that everyone had their shirts and I didn’t. It sounded like it was very busy during the day for the pickup. I’m sure a lot of people when on their lunch breaks to grab their bibs.
I bussed there after work expecting the worst based on what my co-worker told me. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. It was busy with lots of people but everything was running smoothly and the wait times were not long at all. The pick up was in the new convention centre attached to the Rideau Centre. First we entered on the first floor, then we got our bibs and went up to where they had the expo set up. I picked up bibs for myself, my dad and my friend and did not have any trouble doing so.
My favorite part about picking the shirts and bibs up was the man who gave me my shirt. He must have said this to everyone but he said “now normally I don’t wear the shirt until after the race. You have to earn it, I think”. This is exactly how I feel about race shirts and wearing them. You should never (in my opinion) wear the shirt to the race, you look like a newbie. Not only that though, you also risk racing with shirt you haven’t used before. I have had some race shirts that I love but when I actually ran with them, they chaffed me to hell. Not a fun thing to find out while you are racing.
There were lots of stands and free samples to check out/ This is one of my favorite things about going to expos. Running room always has a booth set up and they always have a prize wheel. I spun it for fun and actually won a pair of socks! I also stocked up on chews since I was running low anyways. I had also gone to running room on Thursday and I purchased a racing belt to attach my bib to and put my gels in. This was a great buy!
Stretch Out Saturday
I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible on Saturday. I went for a short stretch out run down to city hall. I live down the street from the start line so I went to check out what had been set up already. The 2k and the 5k were going to be run in the early afternoon so there were quite a few people around and music was playing. I got home and stretched out and made sure to drink lots of water.
I didn’t go watch the 2k or the 5k. I knew that it would be fun to go watch but I wanted to stay off my feet. I ate a pasta meal for lunch and then tried to keep dinner light with some chicken and broccoli.
My friend was running in the 10k event so I told her I would go watch her. She has come to many of my races so I figured it was only fair for me to watch hers. She seemed nervous as it was one of her first races since she injured her knee. My boyfriend and I walked her to the start line and dropped her off in her corral. We walked up to the very front so we could watch the eliites start. We saw some of the women walking through the crowd to get to the start and it was crazy how short they were! I’m fairly short myself, 5’4″, but I was easily a head taller than them.
I also got a video of the women starting; they go by so quickly it’s crazy! The race was set up in a pretty cool way. The women and the men actually raced each other to the finish for extra prize money. The women got a little bit of a head start but the idea was that they would end at about the same time based on that lead. I think the men ended up winning but I was really excited to see Eric Gillis and Lanni Marchant. run. I met Eric at the Around the Bay expo, and Lanni is probably my favorite Canadian runner. She ended up being the top Canadian in the 10k! if I’m not mistaken I believe he was also the top man for Canada.
My friend ended up finishing about 10 minutes faster than she thought she would which was awesome! there was a crazy amount of people who ran the 10k, around 12000, so it made it interesting to find each other. Luckily I was able to track where she was from sportstats so I waitied by the exit chute to try and find her. She was wearing a bright yellow shirt so luckily she was pretty easy to spot when she came out. We headed back to my apartment and talked for a bit before she headed home herself. The 10k started at 6:30 but by the time her wave started, it was almost 7pm (just due to the large volume of people participating) so we didn’t end up getting back until after 8pm.
After she left, I started to get ready for bed. It was very early for me but I figured that at least resting and not moving around enough was better than doing any sort of activity. I was so caught up in trying to get to bed, I almost forgot to charge my watch! For sure it would have died if I didn’t remember. I also had my clothes laid out, my bib attached to my racing belt and my chews loaded into the belt. I forgot to mention that I also took my racing belt for a short run earlier in the day loaded with my gels to see if I liked the arrangement or if I needed to move things around. I’m glad I did because I did need to shift things around and tighten the band so it wouldn’t bounce too much.
I slept pretty well considering it was a race day. The marathon was scheduled to start at 7am so I got up around 5:30am to eat breakfast early enough and get myself ready to go. I had my usual oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar and an espresso. I was feeling pretty nervous but I was excited to start.
My game plan for the race was to try and finish in around 4:30. I was going to try to keep a steady pace and cover each 5km segment in 32-34 minutes. I almost bought one of those pace tattoos from running room and put it on my arm before I started. I had been having trouble with my Garmin losing satellite connection. When this happens, it stops keeping track of how far you’ve gone. I figured that if this happened at the race, I would have an idea of roughly where I should be at what time with the tattoo.
After seeing the 10k start the day before, I had it in my head that there would be a very large crowd of people running and that it would take forever to start. The crowd was smaller than the previous night and I was shocked at how little people were doing the race! I guess I have never watched the marathon before because of the early start but there were maybe 5000-6000 people participating. I guess it takes a small few who are crazy enough to try and finish a marathon!
Here is a tip for people who have a hard time getting their watch to connect to satellites. I do this at every race I participate in to avoid having any problems. When the race is getting close to starting, I always start synching my watch early. When it synchs, I start the timer as if I’m going to start tracking my run. Then I just stand there and let the timer run until I start moving up to where the timing mat is on the start line. Before crossing, I end the first activity and start a new one as I’m crossing the line. This ensures your watch won’t drop the connection due to inactivity. I’m not sure how other brands work but I can just delete the first activity of me standing around once I upload it onto the computer.
Anyways, back to race morning. I lined up pretty easily because as I said, there were not that many people. I tucked myself in behind the corral I signed up for because I think I was a little ambitious when I signed up. Before I knew it, we were ready to start. I think I crossed the start line only a minute or two after the gun went off; not bad considering what I had seen at the 10k the night before.
The race course did a little loop around my usual running path along the canal, so the start was heading towards parliament and then we did a 180 to head back up the canal. I saw my boyfriend standing on the Laurier bridge waving. I was surprised we were able to see each other. That’s kind of when it hit me that I would be running back to the same spot about 4 hours later and I started to wonder exactly what I got myself into. I tried to keep these thoughts at bay.
The course had water stations every 3kms or so. Disaster struck at the very first one I passed. The website said they would have lemon lime Gatorade (aka all I ever trained with). THEY DIDN’T HAVE IT. The only flavor they had was orange, so I had no choice but to drink it. Overall, I don’t think it caused me any problems but it definitely scared me a bit after hearing horror stories of bathroom emergencies.
I passed the 5k marker in about the time I was planning to. So far so good. At this point, we were on the west side of the canal running towards dow’s lake. We made a turn around Preston street and started heading west. I realized afterwards that I really have no idea where we raced for a good portion of the race. I think my memory is blocking it out so I can forget any of this every happened haha.
I planned to eat my first pack of chews around the hour mark. The problem was, I needed to eat them right before a water station so I could wash them down. It didn’t line up exactly and I believe I didn’t take enough water in. We got onto the parkway heading west and my stomach started to cramp up. This seems to be a common theme in my races and I’m really starting to get annoyed by it. I think this happened around the 15km mark. When this happens, the only thing I can do is walk and grab my side to ease the pain. I did this for a few minutes and eventually was able to start running again. I also stopped for a washroom break because I saw that the lineup was short and figured I’d probably have to go at some point. There was also a water station that had bananas, oranges and gels. I am so jealous of the people who can just eat that stuff and keep running. It is probably great fuel. I took a gel but saved it so I could try it another time.
After finally starting to run again, we made the turn onto booth and headed into Quebec. This is where I get a little fuzzy on where we went. At this point, it started to heat up quite a bit and I was feeling tired so I was run walking. I don’t remember where exactly this happened, but a women ran up beside me and said “are we there yet?” so I turned my music off and we started talking. We were going around the same pace so we stuck together for a while. Her watched beeped and she said “you go ahead” because she was run walking the marathon. I went on but eventually found myself walking again.
She caught up to me. I figured I was better off sticking with her and her watch pacing us than trying to do it on my own based on the day I was having. I have to laugh though; she asked me (she said she was from Toronto) if it was true that the race took us into Quebec. I had to say :yes we are in Quebec right now; that’s why the traffic lights look so weird. We continued our run walking through Quebec. At one point, we made it onto a part of the course that overlaps with the half marathon route. Unfortunately for us, the group of runners that was going through was the 1:30 half marathon group. We almost got trampled and I actually had a cup slapped out of my hand by someone cutting in between myself and the volunteer handing me the cup. SO RUDE.
The Quebec portion was a little more hilly than I had hoped for and we started crossing back on the Alexandria Bridge. At this point, I felt like a tour guide for Jenny, the lady I was with. I showed her parliament over the water and warned her that this particular bridge is like a nasty hill. I’m going to make it a point to start running over it in the summer to train. We made our way towards the last leg of the marathon. This is where things started to get a little bit ugly.
The heat was really starting to get to me and I was struggling. Luckily there had been some sponge stations with nice, cool water. I was really suffering from not having any water at my immediate disposal. The water stations were too far apart for how slow I was running and how much water I needed. I had noticed that the medical stations had water bottles so I figured I could get a bottle and just carry it the rest of the way. Disaster struck. At the first station I asked, they only had 2 bottles left and wouldn’t give them out. This was concerning to me as we had already passed several people who required medical attention because of the heat. How were they going to last with just 2 bottles left? Anyways, I wasn’t very impressed with that; it seemed like poor planning.
Luckily, I was able to grab a bottle at the next medical tent. Jenny took advantage of the giant tub of Vaseline they had on hand in case of chaffing. Feeling refreshed and more confident, we started our trek to the end of the race. Things get pretty foggy from here on out but I seem to recall run/ walking a lot on Jenny’s schedule and also a large group of men in dresses? Not too sure what that was all about. I tried to eat a few more gels to carry me to the end of the race. I had a yucky, sweet taste in my mouth and it was getting hard to take them in.
We finally found ourselves running back up Sussex and towards the finish line. We stopped to get a picture together from a very nice cameraman who took the time to switch his lens to get a better picture. After this, we were on the home stretch. We made it under the Laurier bridge and I could see my boyfriend waiting on the sidewalk up ahead. I slowed to talk to him and realized that I was feeling VERY nauseous. He tapped me on the back to say he was proud of me and I had to tell him to stop because I felt so bad. I knew that if I kept running, for sure I was going to be sick. I told Jenny to go on without me because I was just holding her back. I figured there was no point in making myself sick; I was past the 5 hour mark of a marathon. I wanted to finish with some dignity at least. Maybe if I was coming in around 4 hours, I would have made the push but I just felt like I would be making an ass of myself if I got sick now.
My nausea just got worse and I actually tried to go get sick into the canal but at the last minute, I realized the ledge was a lot farther away than I thought, so I stopped myself. I walked all the way to the finish line and I finished without getting sick.
At this point, I just wanted to make it home. I felt terrible. I bypassed most of the free stuff in the recovery tent and just walked out to go find my boyfriend and my dad so we could walk home. My dad and I took a picture and I look like I might be a zombie/dead/trying not to get sick on his shoes.
I managed to walk home and we decided that it would be a better idea to go out for dinner to celebrate instead of lunch based on how bad I felt. I got inside, sat down on the ground and took my shoes off. My nausea disappeared after downing a bag of chips they had given out at the expo. I must have been lacking salt.
Here is a summary of my splits from the race. You can see where things started to go wrong.
Things did not go as planned at all. But I can still say I ran a marathon. And I didn’t hurt myself either. Here’s a picture of me (in my newly earned race shirt) heading out for a stretch out run.
I want to try doing another marathon. I haven’t decided if it will be this year or not, but I’m excited to try again!