Sunday, May 14, 2006
As I sit here and write this, I am calm. If not for my penguin-like walk, you would think that I hadn't done anything special today. And yet, today is the day I became a marathoner.
I slept a little better than I thought I would. Although I woke up a few times because I was subconciously watching the clock, I fell into quite a restful sleep. I woke up at 4:45, took a quick shower and ate a bagel. Tony and I hit the road at 6:22 (I had joked that we were going leave between 6:15 and 6:30), and got to the race site in Mississauga quite early, at 6:55 (the race started at 8:00). The early bird marathoners were about to take off. I was tempted to take off with them. How long was this gonna take me? I told Tony that my predicted finish was between 4.5 and 5 hours.
We forgot to bring the camera! No pictures at the start line. Tony's best friend Brent and his wife Tara showed up a bit later. Tara was running her first marathon. Tony and Brent were talking about going for a nice, greasy breakfast while we were pounding the roads. Cliff told me that he was going to show up at the start to see me off, but I didn't see him. That is, until after the gun had gone off and I was still stuck motionless in the middle of the crowd. I heard someone calling "anner, anner" and I turned to see him standing at the side with a sign that said "Go Anner Go!" I had to laugh. I went over and gave him a high five, then started following the crowd to the start. Finally crossed the start line at about 8:06 or 8:07. Cliff was at 1 km with the camera. "See you at 21k," he shouted. He was going to run the second half of the race with me.
I started off slowly as planned. A lot of people were passing me. It seemed like all of the people around me were wearing the blue half-marathon bibs...where were the full marathon runners?? I guess that had already run ahead of me! The first 6 km or so of the race went down Burmanthorpe, which was pretty flat. We then turned down Mississauga Road. I saw Tony and Brent at around the 9 km mark, which wasn't too far from their homes. Tony had Brent's camera this time :)
Mississauga road had some good rolling hills. I was glad that the hills were in the first half of the route, while I was still feeling fresh. At around 15 km, the marathon route split off. By the time I got there, there weren't many people turning onto the marathon route. It was actually pretty lonely. The runners were quite spread out, and there weren't a lot of fans since there were a lot of road closures in the area. Only a few people living in the fancy houses came out to cheer. It was nice, but still...groups of 2, 3 or 4 people cheering doesn't have the same effect as the crowds on Yonge st during the Toronto marathon.
As promised, Cliff found me at 21 km. I told him that I was on pace for a 4:45 finish, but that I was worried because my hamstrings were tightening up. As we approached the water, it became quite smelly. I think there's a dump or refinery or something there?? Pee-yew! It should have been motivation to run faster to get out of that area quickly, but I was starting to run out of steam. I maintained by pace until about 28 km, then started to drop off a bit. Cliff got a shot of the lovely "scenery" in the area (yes, that is my behind!).
I started getting worried about hitting the wall. Actually, I don't think I was hitting the wall...it wasn't that I didn't have the energy to run, it was that my legs and feet were in severe pain. My hamstrings had tightened more, and even the slightest hill looked and felt like a mountain. There was an incline at 30 km, and I had to walk. My walk breaks started to become more frequent...until that point, I was only walking at the water stations (which were every 2 km, as promised). By 33 km, I was having stomach problems. My stomach was full of liquid and I could taste bile. I was afraid that I was going to have to vomit at the side of the road. I told Cliff that I wasn't feeling well. I stopped taking water at the stations for awhile. I kept looking at my watch. I wasn't going to make it in 4:45...I would be lucky to come in under 5 hours.
The route went off Lakeshore through waterfront parks. On a nice day, it would have been pleasant to run by the water. Today, there was a biting wind that froze me to the core and caused a great deal of resistance. As if I needed anything to hold me back! I was having trouble moving forward as it was!!
37 to 39.5 km felt more like 10 km. I was in great pain. I knew that I was close to being done, but I couldn't imagine getting there. I started screaming and grunting and making all kinds of sounds that I had never heard before. I'm not sure if Cliff was amused or frightened.
39.5 km...I started running. And I never stopped from there. I don't know where it came from; all I knew was that I wanted to finish in under 5 hours, and that I was going to approach the finish line RUNNING, not walking. Cliff was surprised by my sudden burst of energy, and got a pic of my pumping my fist in the air (I look like I am dancing).
I ran ran ran to the finish line. I was hoping to get there before the real clock got to 5:00, even though I knew that I had started 6-7 min after the gun. I didn't quite make it...my gun time was 5:01, but chip time was 4:54! Tony, Brent and Tara were waiting for me, and Tony caught up to me by the time I had gotten my medal an the emergency blanket. I had never felt such excruitiating pain in my life. My hamstrings were throbbing with pain and my feet were incredibly sore. I thought I couldn't walk. In fact, I could barely walk. I was in so much pain, I didn't even feel emotional about finishing. Beforehand, I thought for sure that I was going to cry out of joy, but the only tears that I had were from pain.
I have a lot of people to thank. Cliff, for being there from the beginning. My sister Karen, for running my first half marathon with me. Randall, who has given me much encouragement and advice over the past year or so. Wenbi, for all the lunchtime talks about running (and Renee and Ghee for putting up with it!) Eric the Ironman, for laughing at me for my less than speedy time goals :). And of course Tony, who has been my pillar of support. Have I forgotten anybody? Probably. I hope they are not offended :P
I did it. I am a marathoner.