Monday, September 29, 2008

Are You Sure This Course Is Measured Right?

OR: You mean I actually have to run 42.2km

OR: The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole entire life.

Warning: This is a LONG post. Seriously. Grab a cup of coffee and join me on the experience of my first ever marathon. I enjoyed writing it, so you should enjoy reading it!:) It’s in sections if you don’t want to read it all though.

Yesterday I ran a marathon. Today, everything I try and do is like running a marathon. Standing up from the couch (which now has an indent of my beaten up body). The four stairs in my house I’m sure have increased in distance apart and the small hill through the park. When asked to breathe, my lungs scream “NO!” and my back tenses up. My shoulders remain tense and for some reason my elbows hurt. My good ol’ runners have been retired for flimsy flip flops allowing the two large blisters on my toes to breathe. My quads scream at every bit of pressure. My Achilles feels as though it is about to snap in half. I’m hurting in places I never knew could hurt. The school I attend is not built for a marathon runner. Or another theory that I have devised is that marathon runners are not meant to function the day after a marathon. But this is the best feeling pain that I’ve ever felt.

Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

About a year and a half ago my step dad said I would never run a marathon. And yesterday I proved him wrong by running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I won’t go into any more detail about that, because I’m sure I’ve said it several times on this blog. It’s around here somewhere. I’ll make a link sometime. But you’re lucky you’re getting this report so soon. It’s taking all of my energy to stay awake. (and it’s only 4:30pm)

Two Weeks Before
This marked the beginning of Taper madness when I only ran 12km and biked 20km. What was I to do with all this extra energy? Why, dance around work in circles and sing of course! This freaked people out, I think. But who was I to help it. This also began my “I’m not getting sick” streak, where I fed everyone around me Vitamin C tablets, drank Orange juice with 400% of my daily recommended intake of vitamin C and used hand sanitizer on an OCD basis. Started planning outfits and lists in my head.

The Week Before

This marked the making of lists. Eight beautifully coloured lists on different coloured paper with boxes beside them for checkmarks. I also set out and labelled all of my outfits at the end of my bed so I didn’t have to do much thinking. This also marks the week that I got sick because of the lack of exercise (not because of a lack of vitamin C). So I spent Wednesday curled up in bed and Thursday taking it easy. The lists that I had created were obviously too intense for myself at the time, and needed to be significantly cut down. So that I did.

The night before:

After having a fantastic day at work (in which I could barely remember my own name or where I was, let alone how to speak), I set out to meet Laurel, Marci and Marlene! It was really fun to finally meet the people who help to keep you motivated and going on a daily basis. They’re all a hoot. I will eventually post pictures from the meet-up as soon as I get my dinky little disposable camera developed! (Patience my dear friends, patience). I went home that night and went through the checklists one more time. I had everything set. I felt like I was going to puke. I watched Run Fatboy Run and was in bed by 10:30pm. I slept rather fitfully and almost hit the snooze button when my alarm rang at 5am. I digressed, and promptly got out of bed and put my race outfit on. I made oatmeal but ended up burning it in the microwave (Who knew that was possible) so I opted for a bagel at Tim Horton’s on the way. My best friend was also running her first 5k race that day, so she arrived at my house about 5:30 am. By the time I checked over my “Don’t leave the house until...” list it was 5:45am and we were off!

The Race Start

We were at the race start line by about 6:15am, and made our way to the Porta-potties. The lines weren’t too long, as everyone was making their way to the real bathrooms that were inside the city hall. I figured I didn’t have that much patience to wait in that line up. I had set the meeting place for my clinic and a few others I was meeting at 7am, near the bag check. I met with Carla, someone from work who was also running the half that day (and who rocked it with a side stitch the whole way), and one person from my clinic. At 7:15 am, I made my way to the purple corral. I was alone in a sea of people. It was kind of an overwhelming feeling. Before I knew it the gun went off. I had set my Garmin for a 4hr marathon. We started to slowly walk towards the starting line. What fun. What I didn’t know was that I was about to embark on the most difficult journey I had ever attempted...

Kilometers 1-5

I had decided I was going to dedicate a portion of my race to a bunch of special people in my life. Kilometers 1-5 were dedicated to my very best friend, Gilda, who was running her first 5k. I was upset that my race started 45 minutes earlier than hers and that I wasn’t able to see her start or finish, but I knew that she was tough and would finish. I had my 13 y/o sister there with us and she was able to see her finish and make sure everything was good. I think she got a picture too...I think.

I did the first 3km at the pace that my Garmin said I would have to do them in. I knew then that a sub 4hr marathon wasn’t in the cards. Ok. Fine. It’s my first marathon and I’m going to do it so that there is absolutely nothing left in me at the end. To that effect, I’m not posting splits on here.


I decided that I would run this part of the race for my Store manager, Ashima. She’s awesome and wanted to do her first 5k but ended up having to work. She’s totally inspiring, has incredible courage and makes you think. She’s helped me with my goals so much, and helped me realize that worrying is just a waste of energy, because it’s not helping anybody. She’ll do a 5k soonJ.
I was still having fun here. I started implementing 10 and 1’s when I realized I still had seven more 5k runs to do. I took a gel at 6k and was feeling good. The course is an out and back course.

So you run out and then back, and then out in a different direction and then back again. When you’re crossing the 7km marker, on the other side of the street is the 17km marker. Low and behold, there were the Kenyans. A group of about 6 of them, followed by a group of three. They looked absolutely amazing, and like they were barely breaking a sweat. It seriously looked comfortable. Right. I heard somebody remark that “Anybody can do a 2hr marathon, but not many people have the endurance to do a 5hr marathon.” I would learn to hold onto that statement later in the course.

Km 10-14

I did these for my family. They woke up at an ungodly hour, and put up with a very grumpy Tiger for quite a few days before the race. They have listened to me talk about my aches and pains, and how good or bad of a run I have had.

These were pretty uneventful. I took another gel at 12km and there was the turnaround. I saw a few people from the Port Credit Running Room there cheering us on. I don’t know if I smiled but I tried too. I had people calling “GO Tiger!” which was written on my arm, and I had someone poke me, point to my arm and give me the ‘thumbs up’ sign. How coolJ I was still feeling pretty good.

Km 15-19

For my bestest running buddy, Super Danielle!:) She seriously rocks. Everything from her positive attitude and mantras, to having real authentic conversations on our long runs. She is one wicked awesome person who helps to put the things that are bugging you, or silly little things into perspective!

At 19km, you separate from the half marathoners and go on to conquer the marathon. I took a picture (on my pathetic little disposable camera that I haven’t used up yet) of the place where the marathoners and half marathoners split. We were off to the queens quay and they were on their way home. I’m starting to feel a little bit tired, even though I had my system going of 2 glasses of water and one Gatorade at each aid station. The weather was just about perfection too. I was still holding on though.

Km 20-24

For all the fabulous people I work with. These people have listened to me blather on about this race for a few months now. They’ve listened to me. They all have contagious positive attitudes which I definitely pulled on during this part of the race. This positive attitude thing was becoming a bit of a challenge at this point. It was boring and got pretty lonely along this course.
I think I fell into my zone at this point and went along at a pretty good clip that I don’t remember. I later found out that it must’ve been too fast, because I was fading fast, even though I had my gels and nutrition into me.

Km 25-28

I ran this part of the race for YOU GUYS! For my RBF. You guys are the ones who listen to me when everyone else wants me to shut up. You guys are the ones that are reading this long ass report, that I’m sure not many others are going to want to read. You guys are the ones who reminded me that everyone has bad runs and helped me figure out what was wrong when I wasn’t feeling it. And you listen to my non-running rambles that I sometimes won’t tell anyone else. You guys ROCK!

These were in the Leslie spit. This was tough. It was sunny and hot and there was no shade. I ran for 5 minutes, and walked. I felt like I walked for an eternity. Then I started to run again. Then I walked. There was no set interval, it was what I could do. Geeze, it’s not supposed to get this hard this early, is it?

Km 28-32:

I ran these km for my Running Aunties. Auntie Helen and Tante Kathleen joined the marathon club last January, and welcomed me yesterday. They are really awesome people. I guess it’s our version of ‘the Woo Hoo’s’ lol. They’re like second mothers and remind me that life isn’t as difficult as we make it seem, listen to me talk about boys and help me with my marathon training.
My power song came on here. Or one of them at least. It was “Heart of a Champion” by Nelly. It seriously gave me a boost. I repeated this song like 4 times. This was getting hard. And it was hurting. But I was still moving forward. There were times I thought that I wasn’t going to finish. I still had the run walk thing going on, but it was a little less than it was during the last 4km. There was a man taking pictures. In the middle of the road so we knew he was there, giving us a chance to smile and pretend we felt good. It was pretty funny watching everyone run through the camera and then walk as soon as he was done!

Km 33-37

For my friend Linzee who is super fun, and upbeat. She just moved to Australia and hates Sharks. So I ran for her so she wouldn’t get eaten by sharks. Km 33 is uphill. And it hurts. So I walked up the hill. And started crying. Sobbing almost. I didn’t know if I was going to finish. I still had 9km to go, and could barely take another step. A random spectator pushed me through it and insisted that I was going to finish. By 35km I knew I was going to finish, but I was still walking a lot. Why is this so hard?!?!? These km were faster than the ones before.


For Rick. Because he said I wouldn’t! Simple as that. I saw Teresa and Wendy here, who reminded me of the fact that I had just over 4km to go and I would be a marathoner. Again, exhausted tears here. It helped me to pick up my pace though. I rounded the corner and saw Stuart on his bike. I smiled at him, and continued to run forward. I look to my left 30 seconds later and there he is, riding beside me. I guess I must have given this overwhelmed exhausted look because he told me I didn’t have to talk. I made a very sad attempt at small talk and we continued together. He had the brilliant Idea that I run in the shade as opposed to the sun. I seriously never would’ve thought about it.

We reached the last water station, and I took water and Gatorade, and dumped a water over my head, because it was getting really hot. Stuart also dumped water on my head and went back to get 3 more glasses of water for me, and rode with me for another 100 meters. He then headed on his way. I don’t know if I properly said thank you to him, but I really appreciated what he did. .


Knowing I was on my way to the finish line only helped a little bit. I wanted to stop. And die. I passed the medical and decided that I wouldn’t go in there. I would finish. You run up a lonely street in the last kilometre before the race ends. At 41km theres everybody. Many people had already finished and were cheering the runners coming through on. There was so much noise, and it took so much to pull myself together, but I did it. I knew it was going to be over soon. They had signs from 500m to go, so I just kept running. My siblings joined me for awhile and I saw Danielle and Gilda and my mom and other siblings. I gave them a pathetic half assed smile and continued my journey to the finish line. I “Sprinted” across the finish line.

The finish

Insisting I don’t need medical attention, I held onto a volunteer (for dear life)who walked me to the medal area and continued on my way. Before she left she said “Congratulations, Marathoner”. Cue tears. I didn’t know how to react when I crossed the finish line. I was so overwhelmed and glad that it was over. When the woman said “Congratulations, Marathoner” I was so happy. I did something that only 3% of the population would ever do.

Mind you I did it in a lot longer than I wanted to, but I had met the goal that I set the day before the race. “Have nothing left. Know you couldn’t have done better on that given day”.
I wandered, and sobbed until I found the place where they give you Gatorade, and they take your chip off. Mind you I didn’t know they were supposed to take my chip and they hunted me down. I got my bag and went to the family find area, and sat down, still crying. A random runner came up to me and asked me if I was alright. I said yes and that i was just looking for my family. She offered me her cell phone and I had my family meet me.

It was so cute to see them all running towards me. Super Dano and Gilda were there and we talked, and Danielle made me stretch and stuff. It was great just sitting there with them though. I ended up finding Wendy and Teresa, and saying thanks for their help, and then Alyson and Stuart as well.

After we got everyone organized, Rick went to get the car. I stopped into work to say hello. I guess I was walking like a 96 y/o woman cause everyone was asking if I was alright. It was great to see their positive happy faces afterwards. I went home and crashed on the couch. For quite awhile. I then made my brother walk to get me Salt and Vinegar chips and root beer. My mom ordered Swiss Chalet for dinner and it took me several hours to finally eat.

Chip Time: 5:12
Analysis: Not today. Let me remember how to walk first. You guys are probably sick of reading. The count on word is 2,900 words.


At 4:03 PM , Blogger Melanie said...

great race report and inspiration. you are a marathoner. :)

At 5:00 PM , Blogger teacherwoman said...

Great race report! (I read the whole thing!!!) You did awesome, and I think it is only natural to become emotional after such a feat. You trained and raced hard!

Hell, I wanted to sob after my first (and only, thus far) HALF Marathon.


At 5:27 PM , Blogger Marci said...

I also read the whole thing. What a great story of dedication and determination. You are a marathoner. Congratulations, you did it!! Heal well, and I can't wait to read what you have planned next!

At 6:29 PM , Blogger Marlene said...

Congratulations Marathoner! You're such a champ. I can relate to a lot of what you were going for during those last 10-12KM's. Hard to put into words. I knew it would be hard/painful, but COME ON!

Way to get through it. I'm so proud of you!

At 7:03 PM , Blogger Arcane said...

congratulations on the finish!

At 7:10 PM , Blogger yumke said...

Nah, I could read on and on. Great job. Congrats on becoming a marathoner. Yesterday was a tough course. The longer you were out there, the more exposed you were to that hot sun. And yes, it was freaking hot.

At 2:16 AM , Blogger robison52 said...

Congrats on becoming a MARATHONER!! WOW, what a detailed and comprehensive race report!! Your race report is a must read for anyone who is thinking about running a marathon.

At 5:33 AM , Blogger Wes said...

Tiiigeeeerrrrrr!!! You are a marathoner!!! WOOOOT!!! Nicely done!! I love the emotion and excitement in your race report. I love the way you met every challenge, adapted, and kept a positive attitude. Yes! Even at the end, because we know how it is at the end of a long day!!

Now, go tell your step-father to tell you you'll die old, unhappy, penny-less, and unloved ;-) and get busy proving him wrong!! LOL!!!

Well done, Tiger!

At 7:14 AM , Blogger Tanya said...

Congratulations Tiger-you are a marathoner, and you have truly earned the title. Well done, young lady!

At 7:35 AM , Blogger Cliff said...

Congrats...way to hold it at the end.

It is a good read...bring back a lot of memories. Marathon is definitely a race where the emotions go up an down.

Glad that you dedicated each portion of the race for the important people in your life.

At 8:03 AM , Blogger Vickie said...

You did it and that's what counts! Sorry I didn't get to meet up with you at the expo. I was thinking of you and wishing you a strong finish!

At 10:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always knew you could do it!! I'm proud of you, and I envy you. Once someone tells you that you can't, it surely means that you CAN, and you did!! Well done Tiger! Do your tears come from your outer pain, or are you excited or scared? I've always wondered that. Anyway are my hero!!

At 4:07 PM , Blogger Reluctant Runner said...

What a great race report -- I had tears in my eyes reading it. Congratulations on digging waaay deep and getting the race done!!

At 4:18 PM , Blogger Dando said...

This post was absolutely amazing. I felt like I was with you. I ran 15 miles on Sunday which was my longest to date and it hurt so bad. I can't imagine the feeling I will experience when I get to cross that line. I am so inspired by your accomplishments! Great work and congratulations!

At 7:20 AM , Blogger Viper said...

Great job on your first marathon! Way to stay positive! Welcome to the club.

At 8:33 AM , Blogger Jess said...

Congrats! That's a great time.

At 12:44 PM , Blogger Melanie said...

It was so great to read this! I'm excited for you. And I SO ran 5:12 when I did my first one, too! It's fantastic! The key with the first is that you did it. You trained, you put your heart into it and you crossed the line. I'm glad to hear that you had an all in all good experience. It's tough, and you made it! I found once I got the first one under my belt, it was a lot easier to start getting faster. There's always a new goal you can set!

At 11:48 AM , Blogger Lily on the Road said...

Have I mentioned how freeking proud I am of you? You are an awesome inspriation & a Marathoner!! Way to go girlfriend!! You did an incredible job and you kept focused and found your reasons WHY!

Okay, now I'm crying...gotta go....

At 2:28 PM , Blogger Michelle J said...

Congrats on your great great great marathon!! I am very proud of you, coming here to your blog to see your success!!!

At 7:19 AM , Blogger Erik said...

That was probably one of the most inspiring race reports I've ever read.

Big congrats!!

I've not gotten there yet, but I think you've just inspired me to sign up for my first one next year. I'm so going to steal your running XX miles/yards for a certain group or person.

Congrats again marathoner!!



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