I’ll take it.
Yesterday, in miserable weather, I ran the Toronto marathon a mere one minute and 34 seconds over my sub-4hour goal time. Here’s something else that takes one minute and 34 seconds.
Yes folks, to train so hard and miss by so little could be considered failure, just as I missed my goal last year in Ottawa. But yesterday I laid everything out there: I followed my plan, only walked when I needed to fuel, ran the last 5km with no breaks and was mentally tough throughout. Admittedly, I was running so slowly at one point I think a tectonic plate past me, but I really couldn’t have done more and I’m happy about that.
My first 24K was amazing. I was strong, focused and totally on track for sub-4.
The inner dialogue went something like this:
“I am fast. I am amazing. I can do this. That girl still has a Gatorade bottle in her running bra and an empty fuel belt around her waist. And her t-shirt is still tucked into the belt exposing her entire lower back. Has frostbite numbed the chafe? What happened to the old bearded man who was yelling ‘ha ha ha’ in my left ear for the first 23km? Will Kirk Cameron ever return to TV? I am strong. I am fast.”
Then the wind and rain took their toll. To be honest, I was so focused I didn’t register the issue until I hit 27K and my hands were too numb to get a gel out of my fuel belt.
Here is a handy list of other things I couldn’t do:
– put my water bottles back in my fuel belt
– replace my earphones when they fell out
– lift my arm to wave at my mum when I saw her on the sidelines
– Turn my head to check on my running partner
– Adjust my visor, which was constantly falling in my eyes because it was so heavy with rain — talk about running blind!
My mother-in-law suggests I was hypothermic. She’s Australian, allergic to cold and a mere medical degree away from being an expert, so at first I discounted her theory. But on reflection, she may be on to something. Turns out the symptoms of hypothermia include fatigue, slowing of pace, numbness, unwillingness to go on, exhaustion, stumbling, poor judgment and bad co-ordination. Talk about a light bulb moment! It turns out I have been hypothermic at the end of all my races – even the summer ones! From here on in, Snuggie is the last word in racing kits.
Calf spasms and hamstring cramps joined the party at around 34km, drinking heavily of my remaining energy, to the point where it was all I could do to finish. According to my Garmin I actually ran 42.7km. I am not Reid Coolsaet so it takes me more than one minute and thirty three seconds to run half a kilometer. So technically I did run 42.2 in under four hours. (I know, I know, I should have taken my own advice)
One minute and 34 seconds faster and I’d have been gloating. As my husband pointed out, my frequent in-race bathroom stops took more time than that. In his delightful way, he says I fell victim to my ‘Achilles hole’.
So, enough of the challenges; here’s the good stuff:
– I’ve said it before, but every race day I am reminded of how running is far from a solitary sport. So many people came out to show the love. My family – my cousin, her kids and husband, my brother, sister-in-law and their kids, my husband, my kids, my parents, my little brother who ran the last 7K with me. Friends from run group – who raced with me, who loaded my fuel belt at the 30K turn around because I couldn’t and shouted encouragement when I was nearly doubled over in the last three km. And, of course, you dear readers who found me on the course, rode your bikes beside me and screamed encouragement. Can’t forget those who got me there too – especially Dr.Stevil, Bad-Ass nutritionist Claudia, and again my husband/most devoted babysitter. Just awesome.
– I placed 33rd out of 91 in my age group and 152 out of 467 Women, compared to Ottawa last year, where I placed 162 out of 250 in my age group and 784 out of 1452 women.
– I had a Personal Best time by more than 26 minutes!
So folks, I’m moving up: from bottom of the middle to bottom of the top third. Is it time for a trip to the Kenyan consulate?
Well, maybe I’ve not gone from ‘Couch to Kenyan’ just yet…but I feel like I’ve found my feet.
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