The Hook Into Endurance Sports

The year of 2010 was quite a busy one. During 2008 I had run my first marathon in Ottawa. Like most training for a marathon, I felt like I had no idea of what was going to happen. I had started running in January and followed Hal Higdon’s plan to a tee. I was concerned about never having done the distance prior to the event but I didn’t feel that there was much I could do about that. I was just hoping to finish in one piece.

It was a most amazing experience. The vibe in the town was excellent, people were truly excited to welcome the marathon. The day we arrived the hotel check-in was chaotic and the expo was packed. Luckily, I did what most runners recommend you don’t do, I bought a completely new outfit to run in. I had done my last week of training in a running skirt which was nice but I was really concerned about chafe over the long distance.

We went back to the hotel and out to find dinner, at 4pm. It was odd, usually we eat at 7pm but Kevin insisted we had to eat at 4pm. I was slightly hungry so I didn’t question it. We ate at a lovely Italian place around the corner from our hotel. Kevin guided me on what to order. Things like no salad and don’t eat too much your better off eating more later. After dinner we got our stuff together and had a great nights sleep.

The day of the race we walked out of the back of the hotel to 60′ weather and an overcast sky. We checked out bags and stood in the start corrals. As the main announcer began talking I began to realize that I had no idea what pace I could run. I was thankful he gave us runners one key tip of advice, its not about the first 20 miles its about the last 6. I remember taking some peace in this because my longest long run of 22 had gone quite well and I felt as though I had a bit left in the tank. And so we began.

The details of the run are a bit skiddish now. I just started to go at a pace that was slowly comfortable. I stuck to fueling when I had planned. I even tested my blood a few times without stopping as I had practiced. At that time we were able to run with I-pods so I listened to the race announcers on the radio. It helped me know what we were passing next. By the 10K I realized I could no longer listen because I was getting confused, the lead pack was really far ahead and so I retreated to my playlist. At the 21K mark, I had the emotional plunge most marathoners get–I was alone for the only time all day and a hysteric mess. My blood sugar was perfect and so I trotted along and began to catch people. The K’s went really, really fast. It made the entire event seem quick.

At the 30K mark I began to do some calculations to figure out how far I had left. Just as a note–its really bad practice to sign up for a race that you don’t know the final distance of how the event is listed. After some quick calculations I realized that around 40K I could be near the end. And so I let it rip. I had done a few half marathons, a couple 10K’s, and over 50 10K ski races. I knew I could rock this distance and there was no reason to finish with some left in the tank. I was shocked to be passing hordes of people. Some were cheering for me and others were a bit hostel (I was glad that was over at the half point). Finally I caught up to a girl who was at my pace, she had a biker with her. He had all of her food, and was pacing her along. At the 35K mark she took off. I didn’t catch much of their conversation but she was trying to qualify for Boston. The irony is that I would spend the next many years chasing that dream around. I tried to stay with her but she was a hair too fast for me.

I was starting to get confused about the course as you could see people running on both sides of the river. I saw my friend Lee, who was walking. He encouraged me to go on and said I only had 2K or so left. That was at the 37K mark so I figured I must be close. Looking at my watch, I realized that I was at 3:2?. That meant I could potentially qualify for Boston. Head down and moving forward I ran hard. Right to the 40K banner. I looked at my watch when I saw it, 3:36. Score–I was going to qualify for Boston in my first marathon ever. Wow–I rock. I went as hard as I could. After crossing I met stark reality, the race was 42K long. A guy who had seen me said “Your from the US. You have 2 more K to do”. I have never felt like such a fool. And so, I ran along. As hard as I could but it paled in comparison to before. I went over the line happy I finished and bummed I really screwed up and didn’t qualify.

Walking out of the shoot Kevin met me. He was really excited about my time and finishing. I just smiled and went along with it. Had some water and a bagel. He had qualified for Boston. We met up with people from our area, many who had done the half. It was a fun after race. The weather was great. I had no cramps, no sore spots. It was funny–that event left me wanting more (not just in terms of food). I don’t remember the soreness setting in until early afternoon. We sat in the hotel for a bit and then decided to get food. I can remember standing up and thinking “Oh good god, will my legs ever be normal again.”

We walked to a nearby restaurant that looked busy. When we talked to the hostess she told us there were only tables upstairs in the sun. This didn’t bother us and up we went. What I realized was that after a marathon its really hard to walk down stairs. Going to the bathroom, I fell down the stairs. Again, making a fool of myself. The staff felt so bad that they handed me a beer after I came out of the restroom. We enjoyed our lunch. Kevin had a burger and I had the most fabulous Mexican salad.

Returning home it took me a few days to get back and limber. That was enough time for me to sign up for the Phili marathon. And so it began–

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