I've got so much to say, I almost don't know where to start! There's so much that I want to remember of this day, which I can honestly say is one of the proudest moments of my life. I guess what better place to start than at the beginning of marathon day, hey? Hubs and I got up bright and early at 5:00am - I needed to get up early so I could eat something, and we had to get down early as Hubs' race was at 7:30am (mine didn't start until over an hour later at 8:45am...definitely not a fan of the late start!). I'd had a pretty good night's sleep, but did wake up a few times...I'd been having some tummy troubles in the past few days, and woke up with a bit of cramping. I had my usual scone snack and felt OK, so proceeded to get showered. I know...I'm weird, right? I'm going to be sweating up a storm for four plus hours but I have to shower before I go do that. But it's all about having a routine and I wasn't a-strayin'!
The night before we laid out our gear...I've been meaning to review the iFitness race belt I got recently, but man I heart this thing! It absolutely rocks so I'll be reviewing it shortly:
Yummy Gu flavours...makes you non-runners almost want to start, no? Espresso Love was my fave but Mint Chocolate is quickly eclipsing it.
I made sure I slapped on some Body Glide, to avoid the dreaded marathon chafe (chub rub + 42.2 kilometres + sweating for four plus hours = agony):
Once we were all geared up, we headed down to my work which is a 10 minute walk from the start line...yes! We got there around 6:45-ish and met up with M and her fam...her kids were doing the 8K race and her Hubs was running the half with her as well. After everyone left and I was on my own, I had to get myself mentally into a marathon frame of mind. It was hard to get a handle on my emotions all Saturday and Sunday morning - I went through spells of being anxious, being scared, wondering if I could really pull this off...it was a constant emotional roller coaster. I headed out at around 8:15am after eating a banana and some Gu Chomps, but before I left I had to a little something to do first:
I stole this idea from my running idol Marlene over at Mission to a(nother) Marathon...I wanted to have a mantra to get myself through the next four plus hours of running, and what better than "Go Wong"? A's card played such a significant part in keeping me motivated, so this was a no brainer...these two words would come to save me later. As I walked to the start line, I was alone with my thoughts and had time to put my game face on.
At the Start Line:
The day was perfect for a race - I was watching the weather like hawk all week, and I needn't have worried at all. Cool, overcast and no wind...it was awesome! I positioned myself at the back of the 4:30 corral and waited for the race to start, all the while reminding myself to pace, pace, pace. I wasn't going to set any land speed records, so wanted to settle in with a pace of 6:20 - 6:30/km for the race and kept reminding myself that was the target. After singing a rousing Oh Canada, we were off!
0 - 10K
For the first few kilometres, I mentally kept pinching myself. Was I really doing this? Was I really running a marathon?! I completely resisted the urge to burst out of the gates, but paced myself pretty well and was feeling really good for the first quarter of the race. My splits were pretty much on target and I was having no trouble locking in on my target paces. I was loving the cheering crowds and was surprised at the huge number of people out to suppport all the runners. This is another aspect of running that I just enjoy so much...the sense of kinship and inclusion that embodies the running community - whether you're a runner, a spectator or a volunteer, you're part of the gang. Contrary to what people might think, it's not an elitist sport...people cheer the back of the packers as much as they cheer the race leader. I heard more cowbells than I think I've ever heard in my life, and I was feeling great and loving every second...there were some great signs out there, the most memorable being a saucy blonde with a sign that said "Naked Cheerleaders, Next Mile" I laughed out loud with I saw that!
1K: 6:28 Saltstick and 4 Gu Chomps
6K: 6:25 Gu
10K split - 1:06:38
11 - 21K
Around this part of the race, we ended up leaving the water views along Dallas Road and headed towards the long stretch through to Oak Bay and the Uplands. The weather started to get really sunny, and I was wondering if that was going to have any effect on my run. I must say...I was glad to have packed my own water because the race site stated that aid stations are every 3K - whatevs! They were sporadic and oddly placed, but I kept with my plan of running 3K with a 1 minute walk break and if that didn't coincide with an aid station, that was fine. My legs were feeling really good, and I didn't feel tired at all up to the half way marker. It was somewhere around this stretch that we saw the winner of the race coming back towards us, which is a part of the race that I love so much. As he raced towards us, all the runners were cheering him on and clapping. While I was paying attention to my splits and how I was doing compared to times on my paceband, I tried to not get too wrapped up in it and looked around a lot at the scenery, the spectators and my surroundings. I was going to stay in the present!
12K: 6:15 Gu
18K: 6:18 Gu
21K: 6:16 Saltstick
Half marathon split - 2:18:10
22K - 32K
This part of the course would prove to be my favourite section. The spectators were pretty amazing and the run itself was peaceful, albeit challenging...there were some rollling hills in this section that were a bit brutal. I was so happy when I reached the turnaround part of the course (this is an out and back) and it was at this point that I thought you know what...I might just do this...this might really happen! Somewhere around the 25K point was when I saw Ben from over at Ben Does Life (here's his race recap). I've been following his blog for awhile and admire so much of what he's done and accomplished. Knowing his journey and how far he's come in the past few years, I had to say something, right? I clapped and yelled out "Hey Ben!" (ooh, I have a way with words, eh? Ha!) and we high five'd as we passed each other. Cool!
I must say though...the best part of this race (besides the finish line, of course!) came at the 32K point. Hubs and my inlaws were going to be there to meet me, as well as KEW and A with those awesome "Go Wong" signs. As I headed up the slight hill towards where I knew they were going to be, I honestly couldn't get there fast enough. As I scanned the streets looking for them, I finally saw Hubs. I was feeling pretty fresh at this point still as you can see from my splits, so gave them a thumbs up and swooped in to give Hubs a quick kiss. As I continued down the street, I was looking for KEW and A but couldn't see them and was hoping that I didn't miss them. As I came close to the end of the block where I'd have to turn I spotted them and the flood of pent up emotions from the past few days came rushing out. Verklempt does not come close to describing how I felt, and we hugged each other through our tears. Feeling renewed, it was at this point that I realized I was going to finish this thing.
24K: 6:32 Gu
30K: 6:14 Gu
30K split - 3:16:17
33K - 42.2K
Having been buoyed by seeing friends and family, I continued on and thought this was too easy, I was feeling pretty good considering I'd been running for over three hours. Spoken way too soon, my friends...10 kilometres is a long way to go especially after running for 32 kilometres. This is where the true test of mental and physical toughness came. As I got to the 35K mark, my legs were so incredibly tired and my right calf was in danger of cramping and seizing up. I could feel it start to go but somehow kept it at bay, and my right knee was starting to ache terribly. I had to count down the kilometres one by one, and kept repeating my mantra "Go Wong" in my head along with each footstep, just to keep forging ahead. At 36K I was scheduled to take a Gu, and toyed with the idea of not taking it because at this point I was sooooo sick of taking these things. Even yummy flavours like mint chocolate were turning my stomach and I choked down half a gel before tossing it. Ugh.
The last stretch was along the water on Dallas Road, and while beautiful it was hot...the weather was gorgeous, but warm...and by this point it would be around 1pm so we were running at the warmest point of the day. As I came around to the 37K point, just moving was extremely difficult and I was inserting quick walk breaks in every few hundred metres or so. It was getting harder and harder to start running after taking a walk break and my legs were in agony, even though mentally I felt good still. The last few kilometres felt interminable and I had slowed down to a shuffle, as you can tell from my last splits.
When I finally saw that "1K" sign, it was everything I could do to keep going...but I could hear the cheering as I rounded the final corner to the finish line. This was it, and I was absolutely going to savour this moment. As I headed down the final stretch, people on both sides started to cheer, and I could feel tears spring to my eyes. I looked around to see if I could see Hubs and when I finally found him, I gave him a thumbs up and let out a big "wooohoooo!" As I came down the chute, I looked up and kept my eyes locked on what I've worked towards for the last year and a half, the finish line...and as I crossed the mats, I smiled and raised my arms in happiness and relief...I was a marathoner! The race director came over to shake my hand, and I even got a hug from Kathrine Switzer! If I'd been of a better frame of mind, I would have told her how amazing I thought she was. My friend A was handing out medals so I shuffled over to get my medal and my first post-race hug...it was so good to see a smiling face at the end!
36K: 6:47 1/2 Gu
38K: 7:04 Ooow
39K: 7:25 I hurt bad
40K: 7:29 I must be effing insane
41K: 6:48 Everything hurts
42K: 7:17 Yes!
Time result - 4:40:56! I think this might change as my gun and chip time were posted as the same, and because I was at the back of the pack my chip time should be a bit shorter. We'll see what the final results are, but whatever...I'm thrilled with my time and I achieved my main goal of enjoying the race and finishing with a smile on my face. A lot of people will ask what my future race plans are and at this point, I'm not comtemplating another marathon anytime soon. I've got a few goals rolling around my head right now though so we'll see!
Now the big question...how am I feeling apres run? My legs are incredibly sore...I definitely have the marathon shuffle going on! Stairs are definitely difficult to negotiate, which should prove interesting at work tomorrow. Ha! Great news though...while I'm definitely sore, my foot held up beautifully and there's no hint of foot pain at all today. No chafing either, and I was happy to have avoided hitting the wall but I do have a very painful toenail that appears to be turning black underneath my pretty pink polish. Right after the race I wasn't hungry at all - I didn't eat much yesterday, but I'm making up for it today and hoovering up everything in sight...there are some benefits to running a marathon, right? Ha!
So since today is Thanksgiving, I'm going to give thanks for everyone who've supported me through the past 18 months of marathon craziness. All my friends, coworkers, family, people in the bloggie community and what I've dubbed "Team Wong" (my RMT, chiro, physio) are a big part of what helped get me to the finish line...but one person more than anyone else was key and that person was Hubs. When I was up at 5:00am to run, so was he. When I was out there for hours, he'd be with me on the bike riding behind me with my water and Gu. So thank you, Hubs...you are the absolute best.
Item #1 on my bucket list - done. On to some R&R in Maui in a few short day....bring on the mai tais!