Monday, May 12, 2008

In My Mind, I Am Kenyan

No race is a race enjoyable without the wonderful support of the organizers who spend hundreds of hours thinking about the little things that a runner wants during the expo, deciding the best places to put water stations, and designing a beautiful, flat and fast course to challenge the runners but allow them for Personal Bests and fantastic races.

Then of course there are the hundreds of spectators who line the courses offering support and encourgement to those that are out there.

Finally, there are the volunteers. They man the water stations, they hand out shirts at the expo, the clean up the cups and gel packets the runners carelessly toss on the ground, in order to save time and run a good race. Without them, the runners would be forced to carry much more weight, and it would effect times, cause injury and make the race course be much less fun.

The amazing amount of encouragement from the race organizers, the spectators and volunteers is unfathomable. They deserve a huge round of applause.

The Night Before:

Talk about a bag of stress me. I worked until 6pm. I ran over to the spagetti place across from my work so I could finish my carbo-loading. I then grabbed a taxi to the finish line of the 10km race (the same place I would be finishing a mere 14 hours later). I sit in the park and eat my spagetti on the grass, waiting for the first 10k runner to come by. He was, of course, Kenyan, and he made the sub 4 minute kilometer he was running seem effortless.

My little brother was running the 10k race. I had predicted a time of about 1:40 for him, given that he ran 8k in 1:27. However, he blew me away, and killed that race in a time of 1:09, in with the majority of the pack. Rick was going to run the last kilometer with him, and apparently when he met Stephen and asked him how he was feeling and stuff, all he asked was "Is there food at the end?" in typical Stephen style. I think I might have been more proud of him than he was. It was pretty cool to see my kid brother doing that.

We finally get home by 9pm. We had to take the shuttle bus to the community centre where the car was parked and drive home from there. It was 9pm. I said that already, I know, but this was way later than I had wanted it to be. I had thrown laundry in the washing machine (read: race clothes) and they were supposed to be dry when I got home (which was several hours later) but they were still soaking wet! Start panic mode.

"I'm never gonna get to bed! It's 10pm and I don't have a shirt to put a race bib on!!! *Scream, grunt, cry*. What do you mean you want me to walk the dog? Can't someone else walk the dog? Come on, it's like 3 times a year I do a race, give me a break. Why didn't you dry it and make sure it was dry?!?"

"Tiger," says my mom, "I'll get your laundry out, and put it out for you. What is it you want? You're singlet and crops, right?"

"NO! I can't trust you! Remember your stupid depression medication makes you forget stuff? Im gonna have to get up an hour earlier! And argh, my waterbottles in the car!"

"Just go to bed."

"I can't, I'm dehydrated! My pees still orange and Ive upped my water intake signifcantly (like 3 litres a day) and no I haven't taken a multi-vitamin"

"Here, take this to bed (hands me a sippy cup)"

"Ok, I'll just set my alarm for an hour earlier and get up then."

I then proceed to get in bed, and drink my sippy cup full of water. I go back out and mom fills up my bottle (haha im a child) and I go to bed for the night. I don't remember hitting the pillow. I think I went to bed about 11. Stressed completely out. Note the night before I had thought that I had already missed the race, and woke up when it was still light out. My heart skipped a few beats.

Race Day:

5am: First alarm goes off. Look at it and decide that I can sleep for another 20 minutes. I get up and put my toast in the toaster, and went to the dryer to look for my clothes. They weren't there. They weren't on the table. They weren't near the couch or on the counter or in my room. I went to the bathroom and had breakfast, and then made my way to my moms room to ask her wear my clothes were. They were hanging over my bed. Found them, put mybib on, and drank some more water. Completely dressed, and my bag totally packed (I had a checklist)
-Change of clothes: jeans, sweat pants, sweater, long sleeve shirt
-Blanket (I'm always cold)
-Cookies (for post race)
-Flip flops

On me, I was carrying:
-Camera and 2 batteries
-fuel belt with 3 waterbottles
-4 gels
-one package of sport beans

6:25am: Leave the house. Drive to the Running Room where I would be meeting with the fantastic people that I had been training with the last 4 months and wish them luck.

6:45am: Gave some hugs, talked to some people, took a few pictures, and wished some luck. I found super Dano, and we were on our way to the porta-potties. We talked about our nervous energy and pacing and basically didn't have much time until we had to start heading to the start line.

7:15am: Met a few people I knew that were doing the half marathon. Exchanged some more hugs and words of good luck.

7:25am: I lined up in line with the super Dano who was planning on running a 4hr marathon, and and Jeanette, who I was planning on pacing for a sub2 finish.

7:30am: Gun goes off. My heart skips and beat. OH crap, I think, here we go. No turning back now, I guess. Ok. Pace Tiger, Pace. Don't go out too fast. Just have fun! That's all. Enjoy the course, you love the course, you know the course. It's a Sunday run with 8000 of your closest friends!

The plan: Run 5:45's until the 15k mark, kick the last 6k's butt.

Kilometers 1-5: Done in about 28 minutes. I didn't go out too slow. I stopped to take 2 pictures, which was all I had batteries to do. Argh. Again, I was cheering every kilometer. Apparently, we have to feed the crowd in order to get their energy. At this point I realized that I was carrying WAY too much stuff. The ipod was just getting in my way. My belt fits with winter clothes on but bounces a lot when I had very little clothes on. Was going to give my belt to my dad at the water station he was working at. The camera had already died, and it was just dead weight.
At about 3 kilometers when you look down the hill, and see the thousand people ahead of you, it's just magical. It makes me a little teary eyed and excited about the same time. Looking down at all those people who have the same desire to live a healthy and active lifestyle as you do. Some people there 'outpacing ovarian cancer,' a blind runner, someone running their first half marathon and someone running their 50th. Some were trying to qualify for Boston, and other's were doing it because someone said they never would. It's really quite an amazing feeling to be part of it.

Kilometers 5-10: Kept the pace super consistent. About 5:45's. Found a couple people that I had been running with and wished them a good race. I almost wished that I was doing the full marathon. Almost. We then continued on our way, through the University, and up to the hill at 10k. My goal for the hill was to keep the pace consistent. Shorten your stride, keep your posture good, just get up the hill, crest it, and walk for a whole minute. Up to this point we had been walking for 20 seconds or so just at the water stations.

Kilometers 10-15: Gonna have to pick it up a little. Running about 5:42's. This part of the race is pretty boring. Mentally keep track of wear I am. On Mississauga road by the highway its a pretty boring stretch. It got a little windy, and I just kept my pace consistent. I mentioned to my friend that we were gonna have to pick it up really soon. We also made an agreement that if either one of us couldn't keep up, we'd go on without the other. She ended up having room for my camera in her pocket which was super awesome.

Kilometer's 15-20: Picked it up significantly. My friend kept up til about 17k, and she fell a little behind. At 17k, my dad, Alyson and Stuart, and a bunch of my other Running Room friends were waiting there! That was the perfect spot for them to be, becuase I knew that the next 4k were gonna hurt! They're encouragement was fantastic. It brought another little tear to my eye! It was a happy tear. I gave my dad my belt, and continued on my way. I had to keep running, and I had to keep my pace pretty fast. It was hurting. I changed the song on my ipod and got ready. I walked through the 19k waterstation, and then kicked it into high gear. I was almost there!!! Only 10 more minutes of extreme discomfort. It was going to be really close to meet the sub 2 hour time goal.

Kilometers 20-21.1: HURT! With 500 meters to go there was a lot of crowds. I just concentrated on pushing the pace, and keeping my feet turning over, and keeping myself breathing. My garmin read like 1:57. With the crowds cheering, and my breathing flawless, I ran that last 500 meters. It didn't feel effortless, but I felt like it looked effortless. I felt like a Kenyan, my heart beating in time with the turnover of my feet. My breathing in time with them both. It was amazing. A high. I cross the finish line in 2:02 clock time. Then I look at my Garmin. 1:59:53!

Finish: Got to the finish line, and I almost pass out. I insist to the medics that I am fine, and go ahead to get my medal! I was flying. Soo happy. Less than 2 hours, upright and smiling. I changed, got food and looked for Jeanette. She had finished a little later, but had given my camera to Katie. I had batteries with me so I could catch pictures of Super Dano before she finished. I spent some time with my family and looked for some of the guys who were trying to qualify for Boston. I then headed to where I told Danielle I would meet her. I had my camera and took a couple of pics of other runners I knew as they passed by.

When I finally saw Danielle, about 2 or 3 minutes after the four hour pace bunny, she looked like she was struggling a lot. So I ran the last 400 meters with her. I was cheering for her, and as I ran, I used what little energy I had left to get the crowd moving for her.

"Give it up for Danielle," I yelled, and the audience responded. The last 100 meters she picked it up and I told her that I would find her at the finish! I gave her a big hug when I found her and I found a few more people that ran that night! Gave them all congrats, lent Danielle my blanket and started walking towards the bus.

My parents had already left. I got on the bus to go to Square One and was going to wait for them there. They ended up forgetting my fuel belt and went back to the Port Credit water station. I ended up waiting at the new Running Room for them to come and pick me up. I chatted with the staff for awhile and apparently looked like I was going to die. My family finally came.

The rest of the day:
Came home, and talked a little. Not overthinking, just talking. Hadn't eaten more than cookies all day, so had lunch. Laid on the couch, and changed. Ended up sleeping from 2pm to 7pm. Got up to have dinner, stayed awake until about 9pm. Went back to bed!:)

So, that's that. I'll save the overanalyzing stuff for later!
Took the day off, and I am planning on getting in a run tomorrow. Don't know how long, just enough. See how it feels!

So thats that! Hope you enjoyed!



At 7:48 PM , Blogger Wes said...

Well done, Tiger! That was an excellent race report and you did fantastic! I was cheering you all the way! Sub-2 is tremendous, and I'm such a proud blog stalker today!!

At 1:54 AM , Blogger robison52 said...

You're a fantastic writer, I felt like I was right there with you! You did a GREAT job in the race and ran sub-two-hours too!! I can forsee a sub 4-hour marathon in your future!! You deserve a good rest this week.

At 7:07 AM , Blogger Marlene said...

Congratulations on your sub-2 finish. I knew you could do it! Your report makes me want to run another race so bad! And I am totally running Mississauga next year.

Will I see you at the Scotia full? :)

At 10:05 AM , Blogger anners said...

Great report! I smiled, laughed, and winced at your pain. Hey, I think I might have seen you, too...I was cheering along that stretch to the finish, and I recall cheering for a Danielle :)

Congratulations on the sub2!

At 3:35 PM , Blogger teacherwoman said...

Great job, Tiger! You rocked that race! Your race report was wonderful... and just what I need before my half marathon! :)

And sub2? WAHOO! :)

At 7:10 PM , Blogger yumke said...

Nice sub-2 half. Mississauga is a nice course for that distance.

At 8:32 PM , Blogger Arcane said...

Congratulations! Well done.

At 9:08 AM , Blogger P.O.M. said...

Yeah! You did awesome. I really want to run a sub 2 half. I'm almost there. YOu kicked butt.

Thanks for sharing with me about your mom. It's hard. I actually feel blessed that I don't live near her becuase I need to focus on my own life at this point. Her drama is her drama, and I just don't have the energy to devote to her. (It goes way above and beyond the food/eating thing, too.)

At 7:17 PM , Blogger Marci said...

Great race!! Congrats on a great time. Was that your first half?

At 5:04 PM , Blogger Reluctant Runner said...

Great race report, Tiger. I love that you ran the last part of your friend's marathon with her and got the crowd cheering. I wish you could come to Ottawa and do the same for me. :-)

Congratulations on an awesome finish!!


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