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Without a doubt, this was the hardest race I have ever run. I have never been in so much pain or struggled so hard to finish a race. It took a lot of mental strength in the final miles but somehow I managed to cross the finish line and earn myself a new PR.
Rewinding back to the beginning. I didn’t sleep well at all the night before the marathon. We went to bed around 9:30 hoping to get a good nights sleep but I laid awake for hours unable to shut off my brain. When my alarm went off just after 5, I used the adrenaline to get myself going. For the first time on a marathon morning, I didn’t feel that nervous. Usually, I can barely stomach my breakfast but I felt calm and ready to run.
We headed out early to avoid the road closures and ended up being at the race start about an hour before it began. So we did what runners do and circled through the porta potty lineups a hundred or so times. Tom and I started in the same corral but our friend Liz, who was running the half, was in a different corral so we said our goodbyes and got ready to run.
The first mile my watch was going crazy so I didn’t know my pace but I had a feeling I was going out way too fast. Turns out I ran my first mile at 8:35, yup way too fast! After that, I settled into a comfortable pace around 9:20/mile. I knew that pace was fast for me but I didn’t want to get wrapped up in numbers and decided to just run the race by feel.
Mile 1 – 8:35
Mile 2 – 9:18
Mile 3 – 9:15
Mile 4 9:16
Mile 5 – 9:19
The course started out on a long out and back portion. I like these sections especially when I know someone else running the race because I can distract myself by looking for them. I managed to see Tom but never did see Liz in the crowd.
Mile 6 – 9:21
Mile 7 – 9:18
Mile 8 – 9:21
Mile 9 – 9:15
Mile 10 – 9:17
I knew my friends would be waiting to cheer me on between mile 10 and 11. I saw them up ahead and was so amazed to see they even made us signs.
It was so thoughtful and really gave me a boost of energy. I stopped briefly by them because I had a rock in my shoe that had been bothering me since mile 3. I gave them all a quick high five and then took off again.
Mile 11 – 9:31
Mile 12 – 9:17
Mile 13 – 9:22
This course is different from a lot of the other Rock ‘n’ Roll races I’ve run because the full and half marathon courses stick together until the last half mile of the half marathon course. I was still feeling really strong at the halfway point and I knew I was on really good pace to beat my goal time.
Mile 14 – 9:21
Mile 15 – 9:21
Mile 16 – 9:32
Mile 17 – 9:19
Around mile 17, we started to encounter the first hills on the course. They weren’t huge, just overpasses but they felt like mountains by this point in the race. The sun was getting hotter and hotter and there was no shade. Considering I’ve done my training in the cold Canadian winter, I was not prepared for the heat. My pace began to slow more and more.
Mile 18 – 9:36
Mile 19 – 9:42
Mile 20 – 9:59
At mile 21 I changed from podcast to music to try and give myself a boost of energy but it didn’t work. My legs were toast and I felt like I couldn’t move any faster. I started taking walk breaks for the first time. I would try and get myself to run until the end of a song or until the next half mile but often times my legs would just quit.
Mile 21 – 10:10
Mile 22 – 9:49
Just past mile 22, I lost a little time because I had to take a porta-potty break. I took one last gel and some water before carrying on. For whatever reason, the gel didn’t agree with my stomach at this point and I had to stop twice to dry heave on the side of the road.
Mile 23 – 10:40
Mile 24 – 10:48
The last two miles were a blur. I closed my eyes for a lot of it and just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of another. I knew that if I could manage to keep somewhat running I still had a chance at a PR.
Mile 25 – 10:26
Mile 26 – 10:24
Finally, I saw the finish line. Tom and Liz were there cheering me on and I used their energy to give everything I had into my finish. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I almost collapsed onto the guy giving me the medal. Then someone put a cold cloth around my neck and I told him he was a god-send.
Finish time: 4:11:11
I am so unbelievably happy with my time. I didn’t have a great training cycle and yet somehow, I managed to pull off a 6-minute PR. I am however a little disappointed with how much I fell apart in the final miles. I’m trying to figure out what went wrong. I think ultimately it was a combination of factors – under training, the heat and going out too fast.
It’s funny because as I crossed the finish line all I could think was, I am never ever going to do this again. And yet, as a true runner, my pain memory is very short and I’m already wondering if I could do it again…just a little bit faster.
As for Tom and Liz…they also got new PR’s!
Overall, I thought it was a great race. The course was mostly flat, there was great scenery along the way and as with every Rock ‘n’ Roll race, it was very well organized.
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