My marathon plans took a slight detour on Wednesday when I received a phone call from my Running Room coach, to the effect that a CBC Toronto reporter wanted to run the marathon with a first-timer, and would I be interested?
I thought about it for about 5 minutes, and weighed the pros and cons. On the downside, the experience would be less personal, and I’d spend much energy talking. But then I was already planning to spend energy waving at the 15 people who came out to cheer me at 12 spots on the route, so what’s a bit more energy?
After dealing with some serious taper madness (see earlier posts), Sunday finally arrived! Other than a small frog in my throat, I felt pretty great.
But with the reporter and the family and the fact I actually wanted to enjoy my birthday (not to mention the frog) came a slight goal modification. I was going to go all out for a 4 hour time, but I wouldn’t be crushed if I didn’t make it. I didn’t want to risk having a terrible time or not finishing. (And did I mention it was windy, rainy, and miserable?!)
So I went out slowly, and made pretty much the only strategic move that I’d have done differently if I had to do it over: I held myself back at the beginning, and again in the middle miles where I felt really great and could have pushed it again. I didn’t want to run out of energy!
At Mile 17, the distance started to play with my head, particularly since we weren’t even halfway done the 17 km stretch along the lake (where it was even windier and rainier). I started wondering if I was capable of finishing in a good time. But after a few minutes, I bore down and continued, due in part to some serious providence (finding a goo distributor just after I lost all of my goo packets).
By Mile 21, I was feeling like I’d conquered the wall and all was good. Then, in Miles 22 and 23, the frog started to make an appearance again. I was still on pace for 4 hours as late as the 23rd mile; but it started to slip away in Mile 24, only to lead to a 2 minute (!) time loss in Mile 25. I recovered a bit in Mile 26 and the finish (losing about 1 minute and 40 seconds over the last 1.5 miles), but the damage was done, and I came in at 4:05:16.
But when I looked at people’s split times, I noticed something interesting. Most people had a dramatic decline in the second half due to fatigue and the weather conditions. I, on the other hand, ran a relatively even split (2:01:10 and 2:04:06), despite a terrible last few miles. What that means is that a) my finish is a lot stronger than I think; and b) my start could probably be a bit faster. Since those two concepts are in some tension, if I do one of these things again, it will be interesting to see how it goes!
But the time wasn’t exactly the point. The $4301 raised for the Red Cross; the incredible support from friends in Ontario, Vancouver, Tennessee, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco (along with friends and family throughout the continent and the world); the 15 family members and friends who came out and cheered in brutal windy and rainy conditions; the parties afterwards; the guys and office workers who congratulated me afterwards; and the fact that I went all out to finish something even though it wasn’t my best day or the best weather, and I did it!
I’ll have more thoughts in the coming weeks, but for those who have made it this far, here’s the piece that ran on local CBC Radio this morning (just 6 minutes, and it’s about ME)!
Thanks for reading and your support!