Reflections on Well-Being, Running and Health.
I'm following my bliss and seeing what doors open!
Sunday, 23 October 2011
My STWM Marathon Report!
Last Sunday, I ran a marathon. And I liked it.
I should back up first...
I woke up feeling great and rested. I had a hot shower, ate my three small slices of whole grain toast with almond butter and as much of a banana as I could eat. And drank my coffee, of course. Then I checked twitter because I have mad twitter love, checked the weather (cold and windy), loosened my ITBs out on the foam roller and then before I knew it, my parents and I were off.
We were very excited that CBC was going to be broadcasting the event, and my parents surprised me with a sign they had gotten made. They got a deal on it, apparently. Aside from being super excited parents, I think my mom wanted the sign for two reasons: i) so that I wouldn't miss them in the crowd (which I did!), and ii) out of hope they'd get on T.V. (which they didn't, I think!).
They're not messin' around.
When I got to the race, I lined up for a portapotty, then when I was done, lined up again and was done just in time for the race gun. This lining up twice is a plan I learned from someone at Team in Training in San Diego. Oh, and I also learned the hard way that your bladder really needs to be empty for the long run. I had a little accident during the San Diego half marathon. (Spoiler: No accidents this time!)
After I crossed the start line, it was very tempting to pick up the pace. I knew I had to be conservative with my speed at the beginning for AT LEAST the first 15-22km. I felt great, though my hands were numb from the cold. Getting my gel packs out of my pocket was really difficult - so was changing the songs on my iPod.
Around 8K I saw my friends Allison, Erin and Wendy (who happened to be in town from Ann Arbor that weekend!). I was so happy. They're amazing! Then a couple km later I saw Jess cheering on the route. She stuck around to cheer for me after her super fast brother had already passed that point. Thanks, Jess! Then, I saw all these friends on the way back. Also, Rosie was at the end around 41.5K and I was so surprised (I forgot she'd be at the end) and glad to see her, but had a lot less of cheer in me at that point. As I pushed through the last 400m I knew my parents had to be in that crowd since they said they'd be at the end. Then I heard my mom scream my name as I was picking up the pace, pushing through the last 150m.
I wish I had a picture of my friends and family on the course. Even my friends, family and twiends (twitter friends) who couldn't make it out were amazingly encouraging! It brought me so much joy to get all those messages of support and excitement before and after the run. Thanks, everyone!
There I am running my first full marathon!
Around 16K, a woman asked me if I was running the full, what my time goal was and when would we split from the half marathoners. I explained it all to her, but she still seemed worried we'd miss our exit. It turns out we were both aiming for a 4:30 marathon (though I was really hoping for closer to 4:15, but had no idea what to expect), so she stuck with me until around the halfway point and wished me luck. I think I ended up passing her because I couldn't see her ahead and didn't see her when I glanced back a few times. Who knows?
Throughout the run, I kept catching myself thinking, "Wow, I'm so lucky; I feel good. I'm so lucky. Don't jinx it. You know things can change at any point. Just go with it." Then I got intense tightness and pain in my right hip/glutes around 18km, which got worse around 22/3K. Here I thought, "Okay, this hurts a lot. I feel good otherwise though. But I guess that's the marathon for you. You don't always get the same type discomfort." This time, mood-wise I felt good. I had to stop at water stations to stretch it out, and eventually it subsided -- probably because I forgot about it!
Some parts of the run were really windy, like on Cherry St./Clark Beach Roundabout. I didn't like that part. The Beach Neighbourhood/Key Gardens was amazing! I think I cut off about 4-5 minutes of my time there. The crowd was great and the road was nice and flat. I was flying past people and noticed I was suddenly with runners who had passed me a good 15-20km earlier. Around 35km I was wondering why I wasn't hitting the wall. I thought back to my most recent long run of 31.27K where I was hunched over in tears and couldn't believe I felt so good this far into the race -- so good I could run at a 10K pace at points, like I had planned to.
It did get tougher around 37K though, so I slowed down until I heard Katy Perry's "Firework" blasting from speakers in the crowd up ahead. That's my interval/hill sprints song. "THIS IS MY JAM!" I said to myself and I picked up the pace into the bend. (Allison used this phrase once and it's stuck ever since.)
Then I slowed down again because I couldn't sustain the pace. I tried.
It got a bit nasty around 38/39km where there was more headwind as we ran up a slight hill. I had major tightness in my right leg and wondered if that could've been the "wall". I saw someone walking in front of me and told myself that it would be okay if I walked right now for a bit, especially since I hadn't walked at all yet (the stops to stretch were brief and not the same as walking). This part of the road also felt a little bit like being in the trenches, though nowhere near as terrifying as real trenches must be, obviously. What I mean is, there were less people around and some were walking, and one woman with a knee brace just in front of me was hobble-jogging along as we each seemed to be very alone in the windy, cold, dark silence. After a minute or two of walking, I decided to run again and this time felt okay. While I was smiling and thanking everyone on the sidelines (for their compliments and support) throughout most of the race, I wasn't so chipper from 39-42km. I figured they'd understand.
Then we were practically at the end! I saw the 500m sign, but told myself that 500m is not that short a distance. At this point Eminem's "Lose Yourself" came on my iPod. (I had all sorts of music on there.) I didn't change the song because it seemed like decent finishing music and I had other things to focus on. You know, like finishing a marathon.
At about 200m (or was it 300) I picked up the pace and focused on finishing strong. It happens. The end was amazing, Apparently, I had a lot left in the tank. :) My time: 4:25:17.9. I'm happy with that. Not bad for a first marathon! I know Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is flat, but it still counts -- plus it was windy!
I felt very well after the run, except for some stiffness in my legs. It was windy, but we trained in worse. I probably could have pushed more, sooner than I did, but I had no idea if that'd kick me in the butt later on; didn't want to risk hitting a major wall at 31km.
Also, key to me feeling well throughout the marathon is that I fuelled incredibly well before and during the run. I ate one pack of Lance Armstrong Stingers about 25 minutes before the run and took Clif gels with water at approximately every 5-6km -- way more than the 3 I would take on my 30K runs! Not drinking Gatorade was a great decision. I had no stomach issues, no thirst, no "crash" and no desire to burst into tears. Well done, me!
I don't really like gels, but they're easily digestible.
The atmosphere and support was incredible. Also, on the course, I ran into a few people I know from Team in Training, which was so uplifting. I really thought I would feel miserable during the marathon, but I didn't. I felt like I could absolutely accomplish running the distance, and I will definitely run another marathon! Just one a year though.
The photographers got some goodpicsof me on the course.
Here I am with my finisher's medal:
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2011 It's a heavy medal!