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.

9 Responses to “Completing the Marathon – Part II”

  1. Jill May 31, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I’m bawling here, so obviously I haven’t “smartened up.” 🙂

    I am so, so proud of you!!!

  2. Michelle May 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    so i just bawled my eyes out reading this…. then again everytime i talk or read about running a marathon i get weepy…. it is likely the most mentally, physcially and emotionally exhausted thing ill (we’ll) ever do, and that includes child birth hahaha! love this blog, so proud of you!!! tatoo time??? lol

  3. Madeline May 31, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Love your marathon blogs! Can’t wait for Part III. It makes me want to run a marathon! Oops…..did I say that out loud? 🙂

  4. Madeline June 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    this is Luc …… Great blog! Yeah, yeah, I have to admit; it brought a tear to my eye! But don’t tell anyone.

  5. Heidi June 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    I also cried. Thank-you for sharing. I am inspired.

  6. Anne June 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    I found your blog somehow today and it gave me shivers as Sunday’s Marathon was my first marathon, and I had an experience quite similar to yours! You rocked that race, and it’s AWESOME that you had fun doing it!!

    • Cat's Cove Writing Services June 6, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Anne! Did you run Ottawa? I’m glad to hear you had the same experience! Are you still on a high from your accomplishment?

      • Anne June 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

        I did run Ottawa! It was an amazing race experience! I still can’t believe how many people came out to support the runners, despite the gloomy weather!

        I’ve unfortunately come off that “marathon high”, but it left me wanting to do another FOR SURE!

      • Cat's Cove Writing Services June 7, 2011 at 8:00 am #

        I loved the race atmosphere, too! As soon as I was done the race, I said I wanted to do another. Though, my body is now telling me otherwise 🙂 Glad to hear you had such a great first experience, too!

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