Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hamilton Marathon Recap

I look terrified
I have been sitting here for the last few days trying to figure out how to write this race recap. How can I adequately describe this past year? How can possibly explain what Sunday meant to me? So bare with me...

I was nervous going into Sunday's Race. My experience last year left me with MUCHO respect for the Marathon distance. 42.2 kilometers is no picnic. And I definitely questioned if I was going to have what it took to conquer it.

I tossed and turned all night, and before I knew it my alarm sounded for my 4:45am wake-up call. The race started at 8am, and we about and hour away from Hamilton and the start line. So the hubby and I piled in the car bight and early. I picked up my race kit, nervously spilt my coffee, and then met up with Christina and Danielle (who were both running the half) in the gym for a pre-race pow-pow and necessary Instagram pics.

Coach Michelle had emailed me my race plan the night before. The goal was to run the first kilometer a little slow, settle in to a 6:24km pace, and then drop the pace at 36km for a negative split if possible. I was trepidatious, but I vowed to follow the plan as best I could. So I tried to remain calm and start easy.

The First 10km
I felt like lots of people were zig-zagging by me for the first few kilometers. But I kept a close eye on my watch, and stuck to my pace. My moto for that first 10km was "run YOUR race". I didn't want to kept swept up in other people's excitement. I had a goal and I was sticking to my plan. I hit the 10km mark 1:04:56 - maybe a little fast, but pretty much exactly on pace.

10km to 21km
After the 10km mark the race started to shift. I stayed on pace, but all those people who had blazed by me early on were starting to slow down. I was slowly picking up steam - and gradually picking off people has I went along. This was a new feeling for me. I generally go out too fast - but in the last few months I have learned a lot about race day strategy and pacing. So I knew I was staying on plan and that I was running well. I felt strong, and my pace was comfortable. I reached the half way point before I knew it, and at 2:15:03.

21km to 30km
This first part of this stretch felt long. 21km-27km ran down the highway, so it was a little uneventful. The road was very slanted, so I felt slightly lopsided. And I was ready for a change of scenery. I found coach Michelle on her bike shortly after 28km. She, as always, was a ball of energy. She rode beside me checking my pace, taking pictures like the paparazzi, and chatting with me about the course and the plan. We found Jamie and my sister Kelly at the 30km mark. They ran with us for a bit - just 12 more kilometres to go.

I headed down the stretch by the Lakeshore. The wind had picked up, but I was still feeling good. We passed the 32km mark - and I remember how terrible I felt at this point last year - this year was completely different. First of all I was actually running - not just shuffling and grimacing in pain. And more importantly I was still smiling. My hips were getting tight and my legs were tired, but I felt okay. I kept plugging along at my 6:24km pace.

At 35km Michelle asked me to pick up the pace. I dropped it down to 6:15km but struggled to maintain it. The legs were getting tighter with each step, but I fought to stay on pace. Michelle kept encouraging me. She even called Christina and the Clif Bar team to give me a pep talk via speaker phone as I headed into the final 5km. I stopped feeling very chatty around 39km. She told me to dig deep. So I clenched my fists and my teeth and kept pushing.
I spotted Jamie and my family 600m from the finish line. Jamie hopped on the course to run me in, while Michelle hopped off to ditch her bike. I rounded the corner and heading down the shute with my support team in tow. I crossed the finish line at 4:33:36 - exhausted, with a 47 minute PB (<--- which goes to show you how rough my last marathon attempt was)
The girl who ran the Scotiabank Marathon last year,  is not the same girl who the Hamilton Marathon this past weekend. So much has happened between then and now. More than a year has past. I took yet another trip to the OR for surgery #6. I spent months rehabbing. I spent many more months sweating, running, training, and trying to rebuild my fitness. I lost my Dad unexpectedly, and my heart broke. I found myself questioning my strength and wondering if this marathon was even possible.

So crossing that line on Sunday, and crossing it at my goal time, was overwhelming. This year was hard. It was hard in ways I never expected. But on Sunday - I did it. Despite it all - I did it. I ran my marathon. Running really has taught me that Anything Is Possible. Maybe things are finally starting to look up.

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,