Good news! I survived the marathon despite the conditions.
It was a slower time than what I was hoping for, but honestly I was so afraid of overexerting myself. I have had minor heat stroke before and it is so uncomfortable. So I took the advice of the race directors and adjusted my goals. As they suggested, “take it all in and try to have fun”. So with that in mind, I ran-walked a lot of it but I was ok with that. To me, it wasn’t worth going all out but a part of me is still wishing I had tried to go faster.
Long story short my time was 5:14. This is still a 26 minute PR but I know I am capable of running faster than this for sure. More about that later, I’ll take you through my race day.
Early morning wake up
I don’t know about you guys, but on the morning of a race I am usually awake before my alarm. I am always so afraid of sleeping in. This time was no different. I set two alarms just in case and I still managed to wake up an hour earlier than both of them. So I was awake for the race at 4am. Not ideal but I stayed in bed until 5 am and then started to get ready. I followed my usual routine of having oatmeal and a small cup of coffee. Then I got dressed, peed about 1000 times and made sure I had everything I needed.
Here’s the selfie I took before leaving!
I left my apartment at 6:20 am. Usually, I would leave later but I knew that there would be more people than normal at the start. They pushed the time of the half marathon forward so I figured a lot of those people would be there early. I wanted to leave lots of time to get into the corral because it’s really annoying to have to jump the fences. I was ready to race around 6:40 am so I just tried to calm down and get ready to run.
Not many people shared the same sentiment of getting in there early.
Plan to beat the heat
The day before, my boyfriend and I made a plan that he would drop water bottles off to me around the course. The weather was calling for high humidity and high heat so we bought a pack of water bottles to freeze. He was going to follow me around on his bike and deliver them when he could. I also took a bottle to the start and decided to dump some on my head before the race started. I figured that the cooler I could be at the start, the happier I would be throughout the race.
Before I knew it, we were off! I decided I would try and go a little faster at the start because the weather was cooler. I know that this isn’t the ideal marathon strategy, but I knew no matter what I would be slowing down at the end because of the heat. So I didn’t mind going a little faster, I just hoped I wouldn’t pay for it later.
I decided to carry the frozen water bottle for as long as I could. I used it frequently to dump water on my head and to drink from. I figured I would save the water in my fuel belt for later in case I found myself thirsty between water stops. This turned out to be a pretty good plan.
The first 5 k weren’t too hot and they follow a nice scenic route along the canal. You could tell it was a hot race day because there were reminants of the elites’ water bottles on the ground. Normally they just sip them and drop them right after the water station and the volunteers pick them up. This time, there were a ways away from the stops. I kind of wish I picked one up as a souvenir!
I did see a few people who really shouldn’t have started the race. Several people were stopping to walk only after a few kilometres. They also were limping. Please, don’t run a race injured. You will only make it worse, and keep yourself from running at your best even longer.
The race route goes through Hintonburg and down Wellington Street. There was a large crowd and a great atmosphere out there. It’s really nice to see so many people cheering us on! After turning off of Wellington, there is a residential stretch where more people were outside watching. So many people followed the race director’s suggestion of having a hose outside for the runners! It was very appreciated and I took advantage of every hose I could find. That being said, I was soaking wet for most of the race because it was so humid out that the water was not evaporating. This also made my headphones wet which made my music hard to hear. No big deal, they dried out eventually.
Onto the parkway
The race makes its way onto the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. This part was nice because there was a breeze blowing off the river. Before this point, there had been almost no wind. Also, it was pretty cloudy which protected us from roasting in the sun. At this point, I was just behind the 4:45 bunny and I knew I needed to start slowing down. I was feeling hot and the temperature was starting to warm up. The neat thing about this year was we ran with the half marathon people at this point. The marathon stayed on the west bound side, while the half marathon was on the east bound side. Unfortunately, the half marathoners I saw were running a 1:30 half, and made me feel like a snail!
Eventually, the two sides merged and we were running with the half marathoners. This is really overwhelming because it’s a larger race and the people were way faster. It was hard to stay out of the way of everyone.
First bottle drop
Alex was waiting for me outside the war museum with a frozen bottle. He even managed to snap a picture of me. Look, it looks like I’m fast because of everyone around me.
I heard one girl on her phone saying she was freaked out and that she felt in the way. Luckily, we only stayed with the half people for a kilometre or two. Once we entered Quebec, the marathoners split off and go up a few more hills and down a few more streets.He snapped a good video of me right after coming up a hill but I can’t post it. He caught me saying “get me out of Quebec!” (because of the hills :))
Here I am heading towards the next point where the races merge.
At this point, I had cross the half way marker. I came in at around 2:27. Not bad, but I knew I would not be holding that pace because of the heat.
You can see I wasn’t going very fast anymore.I expected this because of the temperatures and to be honest, I was barely focusing on my pace. I was just scurrying along taking in the sights.
Flashback to last year
This is the point in the race last year where I really started to have trouble, and eventually met a lady who helped me run the rest of the race. Speaking of which, I think I may have seen her running again. But this year, I still felt fine. My legs were starting to get sore, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. So I kept trucking.
Back to Ontario
We crossed the bridge back into Ontario and I had made plans to have my next drop outside of the Art Gallery. Alex wasn’t there and I thought maybe I had missed him. I didn’t panic and just made sure to drink at the water stations, and dump more water on my head. There were also misting stations along the course which were quite refreshing!
We headed into Rockliffe park and this is when the sun decided to come out. I was feeling pretty hot as this part of the route wasn’t shaded very well. Luckily, as I was starting to doubt myself, Alex found me again. This was just around 30k. He had a nice frozen water bottle and I immediately started to feel better. I had some more chews and decided I could finish this thing. So I began to try and run walk with 10 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. This also meant slowing down for the water stations to dump more on my head.
This was the point in the course where I was desperate for water last year and the aid station had none. I couldn’t help but feel resentment towards that one as I passed!
32k in, 10 to go
This is where I knew I would make it back. I had a few more chews, grabbed a sponge from the sponge station and was ready to go. There’s a funny comic that the oatmeal did about running marathons. It has one joke about making up weird ways to make distances sound shorter and I did this too. I figured, if I follow my run/walk plan 6 more times, I’d be at the finish. So I took off and did my best. This part of the race was a blur last year but this time I remember. Still don’t know why one of the water stations had men in red dressed, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
There were also people handing out ice chips along the course. I rubbed them all over my face and neck and then shoved them all in my shirt. It was cold but quite refreshing!
Alex caught up with me again when I made my way back into the downtown core. He followed me along Sussex and I knew I was in the home stretch. He gave me one more bottle and I was on my way. My dad ran the half and had stuck around to watch me finish. I was looking up at the bridge and actually managed to spot him and wave!
The last couple of kilometres follow Colonel By to Pretoria and then come down Queen Elizabeth to the finish. This is the best/worst part. The route is so familiar that it’s nice to be running there, but also terrible because I know exactly how far the finish is. Alex followed me on his bike and he was cheering me on. I felt like I had to keep going so he wouldn’t be disappointed!
At this point, I don’t even look like I’m moving.
Here I am on the bridge!
I like how there are three old ladies right behind me.
I passed a lot of people in this last section which felt kind of good. Again, I know if it was a cooler day, for sure I would have been faster. Also I got a sweet high five at the finish line so I’m hoping there’s a cool picture of it!
All in all, I am happy with my race. I enjoyed myself and didn’t overdo it. That being said, I feel like I have some unfinished business with the marathon… She’s a cruel beast but I think I might like her.
I should also mention that it didn’t get as hot as they originally predicted. The weather said it would be 30 by the time I finished, but it was only 24. We were very lucky. Also, I can’t believe what a fantastic job the organizers did to keep everyone safe. Very well done! And a big thanks to the communities who came to cheer us on and keep us cool as well. It was overwhelming how supportive they were. I even had an old english lady hose me down and she said “Jolly good show”.
Here I am with my dad after the race
I’m not even grimacing this time!
Basically I’m happy because:
- I finished
- I still PR’ed
- I didn’t want to poop myself/ throw up
All three are successes in my books. Here are my splits from the second half of the race.
People at school today asked if I would do it again. I said that I would, only if I have a coupon again!