Archive | May, 2011

Completing the Marathon – Part II

31 May

*This is part two of my three-part marathon recap. Read Part I*

It took me three minutes to actually cross the start line.

0-10 kilometres

The weather forecast for the beginning of the race was muggy and cloudy.

A friend gave me advice prior to the race the get into the groove with a few dependable songs. I listened to his advice and cranked up about five Adele songs.

I also received some good advice from my boot camp instructor to refrain from running fast in the first 10 km of the race. It’s tempting to do so as people are passing you right and left. We headed through the downtown streets and into Chinatown. Right away I knew the crowds would lend a helping hand for all runners. We then made our way through Little Italy and down Wellington Street. Much of this route was downhill. It was a welcomed component to the new race course.

We got into the Ottawa River Parkway and hit the 10-km mark. I decided not to bring a watch with me, and instead just listen to my body. I was happy to see I was on pace to complete a 4:30 marathon.

11-21 kilometres

This is the part of the race I liked the least. We made our way along the Parkway and into Gatineau. It was quiet with hills incorporated into it. For some reason, I lost focus and ended up running this part of the race pretty slow. The hardest part of this race was that my body was starting to hurt at the 13-km mark and the finish line just seemed so far away. So I faced both a physical and mental struggle.

By kilometre 15, I was absolutely starving. Obviously my breakfast wasn’t enough and I only brought one gel with me. My focus at this point was on my hunger. So when I spotted a sign that read, “Think about Brunch”, I laughed out loud. And then got hungrier.

At kilometre 17 I got a BIG boost of adrenaline as I spotted my sister, Sue, and friend, Madeline, who came down from Perth to cheer me on. They had been waiting for me, and were upset as they thought they missed me. Nope, I’m just slow! For some reason, I turned my head down one street and spotted them. I stopped and screamed their names (overtop the entertainment band bellowing out “Poker Face”). They ran over, with purple and pink balloons and signs in hand, jumping up and down. Their excitement for my race was such a rush, and put a smile on my face.

We (the runners) started to make our way through Rockcliffe Park. I don’t know this area, and spotting the gorgeous homes was a nice distraction. It was also pretty flat. When I hit the 21-km marker, the sign read “Halfway Home”. I liked that. What I didn’t like was my time: 2:24. Pardon?! Apparently I was doddling for the past 11 km!

I picked up the pace.

22-34 kilometres

Though I increased my pace, I also reminded myself I wasn’t here to set any records and the purpose to this day was to enjoy my race experience. This helped not allow me to get worked up over time.

I pushed myself, but didn’t kill myself.

Most times when kids had their hands out to give high fives, I gave them. When people were cheering, I smiled back. When volunteers handed out drinks, I thanked them. All part of the experience. I found these kilometres to fly by. The best part was running through Edinburgh, who had the most amazing cheering section. They had people lined up along both sides of the road, and with a huge speaker system, announced this section was our “Race Runway”.

At one point I ran by a young family with a toddler and baby. The family was standing outside their home with a sign that read, “You inspire us”. Part of the marathon experience is definitely an emotional one. I almost started to cry reading that sign. Again, I smartened up and kept motoring.

At kilometre 25, it started to rain, and it was welcomed. I was sweating a lot and my friend, Charity, gave me good advice not to accept the cold, wet sponges handed out during the race, as they trick your body into thinking it’s cooled down, and stops trying to cool itself down. Turning down the sponges, I embraced the rain (and was thus happy with my eye contacts selection!).

All of the sudden, at about 27 kilometres, a pace bunny started passing me. I looked up and it was 4:45 pace bunny. Oh no you don’t, I thought to myself, and picked up the pace. My entire motivation for the remainder of the race was NOT to let that bunny cross my path!

I spotted Madeline at kilometre 30, who told me my sister was waiting for me at 32 km. My sister’s friend suggested I have my sister on hand at the 32 km mark to join me for about five km, just in case I was hurting. It was nice to know I would see her.

There, standing at the 32-km sign, was my sister and Jamally – both drenched. Sue took Jamally’s and my photo and then asked if I needed her to join me. I replied, “sure!” I told Jamally I loved him (which I do!) and we continued on.

I have this look on my face, because I'm in the middle of saying, "Hurry! There's the 4:45 pace Bunny!"

After 1.5 km, Sue could have either kept on with me, or stopped where the half marathoners turn to the finish line happened. I was grateful for her presence, but also felt I could let my guard down with her and complain about my pain. At this point, my right hip was hurting so much and my quads were shot from the downhill course. I told her to let me go on my own, and that was a good decision as it forced me to tune back into my head and focus on my mental game.

That’s when I cranked up Eminem.

35-42 kilometres

At this point, I knew I was going to do it. It was a hard emotion to grasp, especially since 7 km seemed so far away! The good/bad thing at this point was that my right hip and inner quads were so sore, I was too scared to walk, as I may seize up, so I just kept cruising. I passed a lot of people at this point. At the 37-km mark, we hit a big hill, and most people were walking it. I said to myself, “you did hills in boot camp for two years – this is your strength” and up I went.

At kilometre 38, I utilized Jill’s mantra: The hay is in the barn. This signifies I’ve done all the prep for this race. I actually started saying it out loud and didn’t care who heard!

At kilometre 40

 

I kept going at a pace which I thought was blowing that 4:45 pace bunny out of the water. But at 40km, she came up behind me again. I felt like I was in a race, desperately keeping up with them. She then announced, “ok, walk for one minute!” to her 10/1 crew. ‘This is my chance!’, I thought to myself, and kept up my pace. The last two kilometres flew by, and in the last kilometre, the crowds got bigger and bigger. With only 200 metres left, I almost started to cry – again! So I pretended to make a face that I was hurting (which I was!), and kept on going to the finish line.

I crossed the finish line, and a volunteer was standing there to give runners high fives.

I high five’d him and remarked, “Amazing race.” He thanked me, and I smiled, and then hobbled on, picking up a bottle of water, the silver thermal blanket and my medal.

Completing the Marathon – Part I

30 May

Well, I did it! I completed a marathon.

There are few ways to describe my experience any better than this: I had a blast! There are so many things buzzing in my head, and I don’t want to forget them. That being said, I’m going to make this a three-part blog as I don’t want to drone on and on. And on.

The first blog will recap my pre-race experience, while the second blog will chronicle my actual physical experience during the race. The third blog posting will reflect more on how I feel from completing the race and the race event itself. I know this will be long, but it also allows me to remember this event for myself.

PRE-RACE

First off, the Friday night leading up to the race, I spotted two little characters making their way up to my front door. It was my seven-year-old niece and five-year-old nephew. With a bouquet of flowers in his hand, and a box of cookies in hers, they greeted me with “Good luck” flowers. “Good luck on your marathon!” my niece exclaimed, then pushing the cookies my way. “You want a cookie?” My sister and her youngest son were in the van, smiling, as I was presented with the flowers. It was so sweet and nice to have such cute supporters!

 

Good Luck Flowers Always Go Well with Cookies

 

The day before the race I was feeling pretty anxious, so it was a good thing I had a lot of work to wrap up prior to heading to Ottawa to get my race kit. Working kept my mind busy and made my morning fly by. Once I packed up everything, Jamally and I were set to head to the Convention Centre in Ottawa. That is, until he announced we had to make a pit stop in Smiths Falls to pick up his work keys. It was 2:20 p.m. and the race kit pick up closed at 4 p.m.

I was very impressed.

“I’ve noticed a lot of guys with long beards lately,” Jamally mused on our drive. I responded with silence.

In essence, it only added on 10 minutes to our drive, but for a person who already has a ‘time stress’ gene ignited in her brain, it didn’t make for a relaxed drive! Once he got his keys and we aired our grievances, we were back on track.

We hit bad traffic when we reached Colonel By Drive, and after a lot of sighing (on my part!), we parked and got to the race kit pick-up site: with 10 minutes to spare. Coming to these events at the end meant they had no shirts left in my size, and I went with a Men’s Small t-shirt. It’s strapping! (Don’t worry, Molly, I didn’t wear it race day).

 

It's a nice shirt! Just a little big.

 

The race buzz was already streaming its way amid the Rideau Canal as the 5- and 10-km events took place that night. After my Race Kit Pick-up stress, I relaxed my tense jaw and was good to go.

We drove to Kanata, checked into our hotel, went out to dinner, then returned to the hotel. With magazine in hand and ice on my knee, I felt pretty relaxed. I didn’t sleep too well, and though our alarm was set for 5 a.m., I woke up at 4 a.m., and couldn’t get back to sleep. That hour was when I experienced my most pre-race angst.

To follow my pre-‘long run’ breakfast routine, I had packed both our toaster AND coffeemaker for the hotel. While Jamally gave me odd looks as I packed these small appliances into the car, he decided it best not to ask questions. But hey, I was then set for my breakfast!

Where's the Kitchen Sink?

 

The forecast was calling for rain, and since I have to wear some form of prescription lenses, I decided against sporting my prescription glasses and instead went with contacts. I’m so glad I did.

We got to the race site with about 35 minutes to spare. The marathon started at 7 a.m., and with the half marathoners not toeing the start line for another two hours, it was much more spacious in terms of getting to the washrooms and lining up in my corral.

Participants started to gather in the corrals. Before I headed that way, Jamally and I kissed and hugged and he told me he was proud of me. The floodgates almost started, but I smartened up!

Lining up in my corral is the time where I usually get nervous. You get set up in your corral and feel like vomiting. At least that’s how I usually feel when I’m about to start a race. But, somewhere inside my head, the logical sense of being woke up and I told myself I’m here to enjoy my marathon and I earned the ability to embrace this experience.

And the gun went off.

 

*

Marathon Sunday: Out of My Control

27 May

 

Ker-plow!

Thunderstorms! High Winds! Rain! “Feels like 31”! Yipee!!

That’s what Sunday’s weather forecast is calling for (minus the ‘yipee’ and exclamation marks) – perfect running weather, ain’t it?

Top it off with suddenly facing an inflamed left knee this past week, an injury I haven’t dealt with in my training’s entirety.

BREATHE…………..(while holding a brown paper bag)

I figure there are two ways at approaching this.

Freak out, stress and worry about said weather and knee for the next few days leading up the race.

OR

Freak out, stress and worry about said weather and knee when -and if – it happens. Or just don’t freak out at all.

Psychologically, what do you think is better for me? To keep myself sane for these next two days leading up the marathon, I know it’s all in my head. The more I mess around with my head, the more I’m likely to crumble come race day. So, let’s leave the worrying when it happens, shall we?

I can’t believe the big day is this weekend! I’m anxious, nervous and exited. Each emotion takes turns, but overall, I’m just ready for it to come.

Thank you, readers, for your constant words of advice and support. It’s been fun chronicling my training and has kept me accountable through this journey.

Now the only thing left to do is line up at the start line. Yipee!

Small Town Living

25 May

Here are some words of wisdom, in case you needed some for today:

Name slurred out to protect the safety of the Ripper Offer

 
This was a sign posted across the street from our house on Monday morning. Jamally and I spotted it when walking home from breakfast. Thank goodness I had my camera on hand to document such matters!
 
Sometimes I just love living in a small town.
 

Jamally’s Birthday Recap

24 May

Jamally turned the Big 3-0 yesterday, and I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think our family has finally forced convinced him into enjoying his birthday celebrations.

Since we first started dating six years ago, we’ve struggled with one another’s expectations when it comes to celebrating birthdays. Our family is big on birthday celebrations (my dad starts his birthday countdown sometime in April. His birthday is January 7). Meanwhile, Toby has never been big on birthday celebrations, and doesn’t enjoy having any attention on him for any period of time.

But this year, it’s fair to say his birthday was a three-day-long celebration!

Rather than surprise him with a party, I instead contacted his friends and set up a golf date. They hit the links on Saturday morning and spent the day together, which is all Jamally wants.

Then on Sunday our family got together to celebrate his birthday with a bbq dinner. My niece and nephew even rehearsed a song and performed it in his honour. I don’t think any birthday gift could top that one.

But wait!

On his actual birthday, he and I went out for a birthday breakfast.  I slide his birthday card across the table to him. I came across this card a year ago, and told Jamally about it. Since then, we’ve been telling Tux he is a ‘great dog’:

The inside top cover read as follows:

I know, I have terrible penmanship

 

Needless to say, he was thrilled. For years he has talked about getting a membership, but will never spend the money on himself. While the saying always goes, “Happy wife, happy life”, I believe there should also be a saying, “Happy husband, happy house”. Or…something along those lines. When Jamally gets out of the house and plays a round of golf, he’s beaming for days. Easy decision on my part.

Later, we then sauntered over to my sister’s house, as her family bought Thai food for dinner and invited us over for a Jamally dinner celebration. When we got home, he said he had a great birthday weekend, and thanked me for it. Sometimes it’s the small gestures that leads to big gratifications in life.

Happy Birthday, Jamally

23 May

A very special person turns 30 today!

He loves getting his photo taken. Can you tell?

 

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband!

Marathons and Pregnancy = the same thing?

20 May

For the past two days, Jamally’s been asking me what’s on my mind, as I’ve been a little off (more so than usual). I was trying to pin down the reason for my ‘offness’, and came to a pretty simple conclusion.

Everything hurts. My hips, my quads, my IT bands, my knees, my feet, my head.

I’m also tired. I haven’t been sleeping well for the past week, as my hips are so sore, it’s uncomfortable to sleep on my back or on either side.

So. Very. Tired.

 

I’m so glad to be entering the tapering phase of my marathon training schedule, as I am feeling pretty burnt out with my running. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the process, but I’m just ready for it to come.

Based on how I’m feeling, I’ve developed a theory. This process MUST be preparing me for pregnancy. Just hear me out:

  • For months, I’ve been preparing for the big day.
  • I’m constantly tired and craving bad food.
  • A few weeks prior to the due date, I haven’t slept because every sleeping position is uncomfortable.
  • I’m at the point where I don’t care how hard the race is, I just want it to come.

Going even further, the race day could also mirror child-birth. It’s going to be hell getting through the process, but once it’s done, you walk away with the most amazing accomplishment.

How many moms are going to kill me with this post? “You think child-birth is like running a race?! Are you kidding me?!” I know, it’s probably not a comparable pain, but I can’t believe, after going through this process, how similar the symptoms are to pregnancy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat a peanut butter pickle sandwich.

Today’s Question: Am I totally off with my theory?