What's in my head

This is the home of your average girl in her early 30s making her way in the big city...Not really. I have thoughts. Now I have somewhere to put them.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


The race preparations today began at 5:30 a.m. and finished with my right foot hitting the finish line at 2:15:26. My realistic goal. (I had a secret goal of 2:10, which would have been an amazing feat given what I'd done in training). I was a tad disappointed because the last few kilometres I felt a little light headed so I wasn't able to push as hard as I knew I could.

The whole experience was amazing, exhausting, crazy and a definite learning experience that included arriving to a packed Nathan Phillips Square later than I should have and being greeted with a really long baggage check line, and a last minute trip to the washroom. The men's washroom. This is where I was when the race started. It didn't matter though, I was supposed to be so far back that the little pit stop still had me in line with the 2:30 pace time - just a little back of my projected 2:15. The race started good. I felt good. I didn't freak out despite my MP3 player deciding not to work properly for the first 30 minutes. I was on a good pace and enjoying the experience. There were so many runners. 20,000 in all - 10,000 in the half. At one point along Lakeshore the pack ahead of me were running up a slight incline (or maybe I was on the incline looking down at them - the details are a little fuzzy) and the wave of heads and backs in front of me was just astounding. I'm bit embarrassed to admit there were a few moments that got me teary eyed. One of the most emotional was when at 42 minutes in the men's leaders passed us heading east. It was amazing to watch these athletes in action. We all clapped as they flew by us and I got a little misty.

At the 10k mark I was really happy with my time and then the humidity started to take a toll and things got harder. I made it through to the 14k mark - 2/3 of the way through - and then I had to give myself little pep talks and slow down my pace so as to not burn out. At about the 17k mark the half marathoners headed one way towards the finish and the marathoners headed another towards the half way mark of their race. I couldn't imagine having more than 4k to go. I checked my time at 18k and I was four minutes ahead of when I'd run it before. Everything from here was a new distance to tackle. We headed under the Gardiner before heading north on Bay for the final stretch. I could see Old City Hall and the spectators along the route and I desperately wanted to dig deep and push towards the finish - there was just over a km to go, but my body was having none of it. My legs were heavy and I was tired, but more than anything I was feeling a little weak. Like faintish weak and I did not want to have an episode mere metres from the finish. With about 700m to go I passed a group of teenage girls and they screamed encouragement and held out their hands to high five some runners. I took them up on their offer and tried to use their energy to keep going. Then I saw my mom and my cousin and it helped push me even more. But, with 350m to go I still felt faint so I walked for 30 seconds and then took a deep breath and pushed through those last two minutes. I couldn't walk the final stretch and so I crossed the finish line running and smiling. Or at least I think I was.

While it felt great to cross the finish line and accomplishment my goal, it also felt different than how I imagined it would. I thought I would be overcome with emotion. I was happy, but not teary. I felt happy to be part of something so big and to have the medal around the neck. And then I felt like cattle as we were corralled to the water, to the timing chip drop off, and to the food area. By the time I saw my mom - after I'd dried off and changed - it had been nearly an hour since I'd crossed the finish line and by then I was just tired. Maybe I'll be elated tomorrow. The rest of the day I spent curled up in the fetal position because of some GI issues so common in runners. I guess these means I can now officially call myself a long distance runner.

And I have the medal to prove it...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

T-16 hours

I have my bib in hand and now all I can do is drink water, eat some carbs and wait. The big day is almost here and I'm excited, nervous and anxious. I just want to lace up my shoes, put my hat on and get out there. I went to the run expo yesterday and listened to a few speakers who were very inspiring. They talked about what a big accomplishment this is and how we've inspired others through our journey (even if we don't know it...and even if we're just doing the half). And I have to say I agree.

Five months ago I had never run more than 5k. I had never had a sports injury or run a 5:32 km or run for two hours or run up and down hills repeatedly. But, five months ago I set a goal for myself and I worked hard every single week to prepare for that goal and I am so proud of myself for sticking with that journey and no matter what happens tomorrow no one can take that accomplishment away from me. And when someone slips the finishing medal around my neck it will be the icing on the cake.

Of course, everyone knows how much I love icing...And cake with icing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The last leg

After months of training, the big run is now just 10 days away. Holy crap! And I am so grateful and happy to have had an awesome run last night. I was euphoric after crossing 6k off my training schedule in 32:32 because two weeks I got INJURED. Like I'm some kind of athlete or something.

It was the first night of speed training or farklets. As a newbie I knew this was one area of training I needed help with and so I went to the Running Room's practice run. And they broke me. After an hour and 45 minutes I believe I'd covered nearly 11k (did they not see the 6k John Stanton instructed for that night's training in THE BOOK??) and I was hurt. The evening of running increasing distances at top speed pulled my hamstring. It was serious. More than I knew until I tried to run Saturday and had to walk/run really, really, really slowly. On Sunday I gave up after just four minutes and wanted to cry. I needed to run 20k. What about my training? What about the race? What about all my hard work? I didn't know what to do or how long it would take to heal or what taking a week off from training would mean for my race performance. It was devastating to think one day of training could ruin everything I'd been working towards.

But, I iced. I rested. I cross trained. I came back slowly and easily and last night for the first time I ran without pain or stopping to walk. Plus I did it in a great time AND my hamstring doesn't hurt at all anymore. I am ready.

And so very excited.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Running's bitch

So on Friday I wrote the words my "training has become a mental thing" and it's no longer about the "physical activity of running." Back on track Sunday (skipped Saturday to attend an out of town wedding) for the first time since my disastrous run Thursday, my body responded to those comments with a resounding call of "BULL SHIT." BULL. SHIT.

It's my own fault really. I had regrouped and was approaching the daunting task of running 18k with a new mental attitude. I was excited about the prospect of running a long distance in cool 16 degree weather with a breeze. I got too confident and started my pre-run routine by downing a massive amount of Indian food at a late afternoon buffet. In case you didn't know, this is a bad (BAAAAAD) thing to do less than three hours before a two hour run. So I was punished with a cramp in my side for the first four kilometres, but I didn't let that get me down. Despite my intense desire to vomit partially digested butter chicken through the bulk of my run, I made a mental commitment that if that did happen I wouldn't let it slow me down. Nope. Buyoed by the fantastic weather conditions I made a decision half way in to try for the two hour mark, which would be a personal best run pace for my long run. The cramp returned to accompany me on the last four kilometres, but again I didn't let it slow me down. I raced the last 500 metres, reached my imaginary finish line, stopped my watch and then looked down. Hopeful. 1 hour, 59 minutes and 16 seconds. I'd done it. I almost cried with joy.

And then I woke up Monday, got up and walked out of my bedroom and wanted to cry again. I was wrong. Very wrong. It's still a physical test. And I over did it. Now my knees hurt when I go up and down stairs. Heck, they hurt to shuffle to the kitchen to fetch a cookie. The pain in my right hip is now concerning me and my thighs are burning like they did the day after my first boot camp class. I learned a very valuable lesson with less than four weeks to go: save the 110% effort for race day or else I might not get there.

Message received, Body. Loud and clear. And painfully.