Holy GONG SHOW on the train and getting to the start. I am fretting I id not leave myself enough time! It is so full, so packed, I am in line for over 30 mins at the portapotties. BAH!
But from my line area I see amazing costumes - a Wheel of Fortune, 50's girls in poodle skirts, tie-dye hippies, 70s runners, a gingerbread man, sumo guy and a large dog. And WTH I don't take any photos of them!
There's a lot of chatter and laughter. And nervous fidgeting. And I see Lindsey A - who is running her first half! We finally figure out that there are 25 empty toilets at another point of the start area so we RACE over there. Whew!
And we finally get in to start.
I notice that the pace bunnies are all over the place. Essentially the 5 and 5:30 mara bunnies are starting together. I start sandwiched up behind the 5:30. And, then we are off in the fabulous sunshiney weather. I notice the bunny ahead of me is running pretty fast, I actually look at my watch and see a pace that is more than minute and a half per kilometre faster than it should be. So I pull back and say to myself that I just need to run comfortably. I figure I want to be happy, not dead at 40km ...
We run into Inglewood, then as we get to the bridge that takes us to the Zoo ... Elvis is singing. I manage wo race over to greet him without cutting off any other runners. Again...no photo. Damn - the King is awesome. I do not stop at the first water stop as I have water in my vest! Then we climb a small hill and get onto Memorial Drive and get into Bridgeland - these people have a great cheer station! Then I think it is at the East Village cheer station (which we pass at the start an end of the race) where we see some great signs! Love em. I did have to snap a shot there...as I water at the second station!Trevor and get a nice hug and he runs with me for a few hundred metres. Then I see an old friend, Stacey, who calls out to me! So uplifting! By this time we are in the midst of the hill climbing. But we have nice trees and cheer crews to "help" us forget the hills. Riiiiight. I have dropped pace a bit. I take some more ENERGYbits and push on up the hill. We finally get up to Mount Royal University (my alma mater) campus. Some amazing course marshals here too. One guy has clappers, cowbells and us jumping around like a madman (it is now HOT out good job man!) - As I pass him, I see a couple fellows tending to blisters. At 21km I am at 2:40. So let's just stick with that, shall we? But I have a niggling pain in my leg - my hamstring. WTH? I usually have go to the loo, never had this! Then, I see a couple medics tending to runners. I hate that! Makes me so nervous and worried for those people! Once again pushing through and I have to say the views between 22-25km are awesome. More distraction happens when a wonderful spectator puts out their sprinkler for us to run thru!!!
As we run to 17th Ave, I let my legs go and rip down the steep hill. So very enjoyable at this part. It is at the base of the hill where a van ignores a police officer and turns into my lane heading towards me. I hit the van with my fist and yell out something fairly obnoxious (well probably a LOT) and the 3 officers there on that corner applaud me and Hi-5 me (for the run AND cursing episode I am certain). As we turn onto 14th street, I feel like I am slowing down again. And then a group of us run by a man collapsed on the side of the road. Oh, heartbreak! It's so awful. At about 28km take a walk break and down more ENERGYbits. I am getting excited as we cross the Bow River and enter Kensington - pretty much where I live! And it is a great neighbourhood. Why does the cupcake shop not have a table out for us?
Then we turn onto Memorial Drive for a very long straight out and back. And, that is sort of where it goes to hell. I walk more than I run for the next 5km. I have a bad leg cramp. Seriously why is my hammy spazm-ing out? I try stretching, walking, taking ENERGYbits, crying, cursing, running a bit, feeling like someone is sitting on my chest and that I have a cracked rib. This is the longest trip EVER on this stretch! I feel way overheated. I hear someone calling my name and waving! It is Simon Donato, running the 50km. How did he recognize me?? I don't care! He called MY name. (yes I have a wee crush on the man of Stoked Oats and Boundless fame!) I perk up and get back to running. Then hear my name being called. I am looking around. Sort of out if it. Then I see Ange waving dramatically. And there is the amazing Martin Parnell there too. Smiling and encouraging! Both were running the Ultra. They are all luckily on the last homestretch. I am sooo jealous. And my effing leg wont stop spazm-ing.
Seriously this last 10 km stretch is devastating for me. I lose a LOT of time. And fall back waaay off my pace. The saving grace here are the numerous water stations and FABULOUS sponges being handed out. I pop the last bit of ENERGYbits. I decided to take these instead of gels. I didn't have any tummy issues, so am glad I chose them.
I text my sister telling her I am running late. An hour late. wahhhhhhhhhh!!!! Then I see Michelle. She looks like she is having a hard time. I put on a huge smile!! An give her a huge hug. LETS DO THIS!!! I also see Richelle and Rose from Tri-IT! These two are kicking it in gear to finish 50km. Their cheers and enthusiasm give me another boost. And I see Jordon manning their awesome aid station TWICE. the second time I see him he gives me a swig of his big gulp. I have not drank Coke in years. I do not drink soda. It was welcome at that point! So was his hug. And the sponge. Finally Michelle catches me, and we run for a kilometre with about 5k to go!
Let's get this BITCH done!
I cannot hold Michelle's pace, and she pulls ahead. But I forge on. I am struggling knowing that the Marathon mind game has kicked my ass. It is winning. I feel defeated and cannot get my head back in the game. But I am moving. And not stopping, plodding ahead. I see people out enjoying a nice leisurely run - clearly they are not marathon-ing today. I wish I was one of them. Then I hit the Centre Street Bridge. YES! So close. I get through that and I see Neil Zeller, where he snaps this.
I veer towards him yelling I need a hug. Of course I start shaking and bawling! He gives me a pep talk and says you are almost done. GET out there! Kill it! Those last few kilometres were tough! Even those last few into the Stampede grounds into the stadium. I tried gamely to put on a brave face and run steady and did actually pass about 50 or so runners (mostly 5km runners, to be sure, but a few other struggling marathoners). Normally I am not concerned with passing runners, but I was angry and overwhelmed and wanted to prove a point to ME. I had stopped looking at my watch knowing I was really off, I just didn't need to feel any worse. The mind is a wonderful thing, when it whispers mean stupid defeating voice words. SHUT UP, and I kept running.
This is evidenced by the WORST photos ever...here is a lovely collage of some of mine.
View at your own risk. Don't say I didn't warn you! I am sooo not photogenic!
I finally reached the finish! I took a moment to compose myself. I didn't hear my name announced, but had hoped that my sister would hear since she knew I was struggling. Then I heard her yelling and jumping up and down calling me. She was so proud and told me how awesome I was...and made me forget the "embarrassment" of not doing the run I had planned on!
Don't be silly! It's an accomplishment, no matter the time! You ROCK! I love you!!
True. She is right. But a bad race can be a hard pill to swallow.
Oh! And a shout out to my little sis who ran the heck out of her first race ever - an awesome 10k!
Sadly I was a mess at the finish and took off my hydration pack with the phone innit! My sister was not in the finish area, we got separated for a bit, so I had no one to take pics of me with the GIGANTIC medal. Pity...this one is nice, but damn why are race pics sooo expensive.
I am not the kind of person who feels that we should just accept that the back of the pack should be OK with getting the short end of the stick. There should be food for all, not just those at the beginning. No one should have to do without or bring their own. Especially at a distance event. I have nut allergies too, so I do often bring something for myself - just in case. Wouldn't you know THIS was the day to leave it behind.
Despite feeling tired and a bit wobbly, I decided to take the train home. My sister had to hurry back to the hotel to get going with her friends - as they had a 2+ hour drive home. So off I went a few more stops towards home. There were lots of stares an admiring "can I touch your medal?" or "How FAR??" As the train ride progressed I felt less "sorry of myself" and my pride started rising!
Yes. It's only 2km to my home from the train! I can do this!
But as soon as I got off the train had to sit for a bit on a nearby bench. I rustled through my bag and hydration pack. Found the scraps of a protein bar. And the last of my water. I walked a few steps and stopped at the corner. I knew I couldn't really walk home. Well not without some issues. So I popped into the bar and sat down and asked for a cup of water. I called a taxi. And the sweet bartender brought me a juice. I let him touch my medal!
I got home. And promptly collapsed onto my unmade bed. I may have lied there for an hour. Handy I still had a bottle full of Nuun on the nightstand.
I got up. Drank a smoothie. Then got a beer outta the fridge.
Let's see if this bottle opener works! It did. But I poured out the horrid tasting beer. showered. More smoothie. Another nap. A bath then Carbonara for dinner. And I think I was asleep by 9pm.
No rest for the wicked I had to work the next day!
Everyone admired my medal AND my sunburn (yes I wore sunscreen - but it was damn hot out!)
And enjoyed a couple pieces of my Mo's Dark Bacon Bar (dear god thank you Vosges and Sue for bringing it to me from her Pittsburgh trip!) with a my smoothie for lunch!
It really was an awesome lead-up to race weekend, race! Who's in for next year?
Tho...I think I may be doing the HALF! :-)I want to give a big shout out to all 15,000 runners who were a part of the 50th Anniversary 2014 Calgary Marathon - whether you ran the 50K, 42K, 21K, 10K, 5K - good job!
A special thank you to the marathon organizing committee for putting on a great show! We had amazing keynote speakers, volunteers! And the police who redirected traffic and were there for a lotta Hi-5s and fist-bumps along my route. And, of course, the spectators. The folks who came out in so many neighbourhoods. Who clapped, cheered, offered special treats and boosted spirits.
It was a real pleasure to be involved with the Calgary Marathon as a ForeRunner Ambassador - and I am so happy to have meet so many great runners over the last several months! I also learned a lot more about how much WORK is involved to put together an event as big as the Mara! We had FAB weather, pretty much it was a great day.