I honestly don’t know where to start with this race recap. The race kit pick up? The day before the race? Or just start from the beginning of the race? Everything about this race and being a digital champion (DC) for The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was completely amazing – discovering what my body could do during training every week was fantastic, and I met so many great people through this experience. Even though a week has gone by, I’m still on a runner’s high and not quite ready to sum up the race, but here goes….
Friday night I took the GO train in to Toronto to pick up the race kits for Juliette and I at the race expo, followed by a dinner hosted by Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for the Digital Champions. I enjoyed perusing the expo WITHOUT KIDS and chatted it up quite a bit with the vendors. I met a very nice gentleman named Nym from SikhsInTheCity – a running group for Sikhs that I think is based in England. Nym gave me some great marathon advice:
Run it like a half marathon with a 10k warm up, followed by a 10k cool down.
Sound advice my friend. I then found the Bondiband booth and bought myself a new headband – I’ve wanted a Bondiband for a while but have been hesitant to order one online because I didn’t actually trust that they stay in place. Guess what? They actually do stay put! (I wore it for the ENTIRE race).
After the expo I travelled by Go Train and Toronto Transit from the Exhibition to Yonge and Dundas for the DC dinner at Jack Astor’s. I was shocked when I stepped off of the subway and saw what Yonge and Dundas Square looks like at night:
Is this Toronto or Times Square in New York?!?
The dinner with the Digital Champions was really fun. I got to sit with Jodi (@jodilewchuk) who I hadn’t seen in like 18 years. She was my assistant residence don my first year of University, and my don during my second year of school so it was nice to know someone. I also finally got to meet Stephanie (@stephanieruns) whom I’ve followed on twitter for quite a while – she’s even more cool in person. I wish I had known she was coming down because we could have taken the train together. I also sat with Ravi (it was his first marathon), Batman (aka JP) who ran the marathon in a Batman costume to raise money for Sick Kids, and Michael (@mLob_Creative). I was able to talk out all of my nervous pre-race jitters with the gang of runners who are all going through the same thing (and thus saving my husband from a LONG Saturday of putting up with my race chatter).
This was pretty much a normal day for me. I cleaned the house, took the kids to hockey, did all the laundry etc, only I did it in my race t-shirt and bondiband (it says my mascara runs faster than you):
That night we invited my best running friend Juliette and her family over for dinner and hubby made us a nice spaghetti dinner with spicy meat sauce.
6:15 am my alarm went off and as you remember from my training, I don’t do mornings. I struggled with getting up for every single long run during the training, and race day was no different. Juliette ended up sitting in her car in my driveway for a good 10 min while I frantically tried to get my crap together (packing the night before is something I also don’t do very well), and I was still eating my breakfast (Frosted Flakes) and drinking my “Boston” coffee when she arrived:
Our first order of business was to drive to Tim Horton’s, grabbed two coffees and my pre-race Boston Cream donut to enjoy on our long drive into Toronto. Good thing we left early cause the Gardiner Expressway was already backed up at 7:30 am:
Good ol’ Toronto!
We eventually made it through the traffic and found parking. My goal was for us to find parking as close to the finish line as possible as I’ve learned from the past that walking is not a pleasant experience after running a marathon. The less walking I have to do after the race, the better. Go figure. We scored on the parking situation and parked under the building directly behind the Nathan Philips Square. After traffic, and parking our next challenge was finding a bathroom. The pre-race port-a-potty line up at this race is ridiculous! We managed to find a warm one with no line ups in the Denny’s on Dundas St. Thank you Denny’s!!!
We then made our way to the start corrals. There are 26,000 runners starting this race at the same time, though only 4,000 are in the full marathon. We knew that once the race started that it would be awhile until we could cross the start line (as it turns out it took 15 min), so we used our time to do some dynamic stretching and to take pictures:
Obligatory pre-race selfie with my best running friend.
Finally made it to the start line!
Finally, it was time to run! The first 1.5 miles were uphill, then it levelled out for a mile, then after the first two miles the next 2.5 miles of the route was downhill. At 5k I took two shot bloks and a bit of water – my fuel plan was 2 shot bloks every 5k with some water. My legs and my mind felt great. I think I was pushing Juliette a bit too much, but she wasn’t complaining. Our goal was to help her set a half marathon PR, preferably as close to the two hour mark as possible.
Mile splits: (1) 9:47 (2) 9:27 (3) 9:02 (4) 8:45 (5) 8:48
KM splits: (1) 5:59 (2) 6:11 (3) 5:50 (4) 5:43 (5) 5:33 (6) 5:24 (7) 5:17 (8) 5:38
The route then headed west on lakeshore right into a head wind for . I saw the 4 hour pace bunny and decided to try and keep him somewhat near me for the whole race. At the 10k Juliette and I looked at our watches and were happy to see that we had run it in 57:54 which means that Juliette was right on target to go sub 2:05 in the half marathon. At this point I was still feeling good and was starting to secretly hope to set a new marathon personal best. At the 12k we reached the west turnaround and the wind would be at our backs, though my splits indicate this is where I started slowing down, and I think Juliette was starting to have problems too. At 16k we got separated in the crowd.
Just before Juilette and I got split up.
Mile splits: (6) 9:08 (7) 9:03 (8) 9:14 (9) 9:18 (10) 9:24
KM splits: (9) 5:39 (10) 5:39 (11) 5:39 (12) 5:42 (13) 5:48 (14) 5:45 (15) 5:48 (16) 5:51
I ran the next 5k to the half and was still feeling amazing. I don’t know what happened to me, but my legs took off when I knew I had 1km to the halfway point.
I crossed the half in 2:02:25.
Mile splits: (11) 9:13 (12) 8:33 (13) 8:08 (14) 9:27 (15) 9:18
KM splits: (17) 5:47 (18) 5:35 (19) 5:14 (20) 5:23 (21) 4:56 (22) 6:06 (23) 5:36 (24) 5:47
Then the race turned into a weird pretzel from 22k to 27k- in and out, around and back, up and down. I got dizzy. And seeing so many people go the opposite way was really hard on my psyche. I saw Mike Thornton ZOOM by when I was at the 27k he was going the other way and he only had about 4k to go. I yelled out to cheer him on and he gave me a nod. When I was at the 30k my brother sent me a text to tell me that he was waiting for me at the finish line but he only had a short break and had to go back to work. I laughed really hard at this – no matter how fast I ran, there was no freaking way I was finishing anytime soon. I then saw the 35k marker on the other side of the road and my mental game just lost it. I was done. I was so tired and sore, and hungry and I couldn’t wait to go home. The next two km along the beaches were rough.
Mile splits: (16) 9:15 (17) 9:20 (18) 9:25 (19) 9:35 (20) 10:12
KM splits: (25) 5:43 (26) 5:42 (27) 5:52 (28) 5:44 (29) 5:58 (30) 5:58 (31) 6:23 (32) 6:05
My calves were cramping, it was slightly uphill and everyone around me was starting to fall apart too. There were lots of us walking. I walk, ran limped as best as I could but I was starting to doubt my ability to finish the race. I realised I was underfuelled so gulped down tons of gatorade at every water station. I saw a little girl and her mom with a tray of cut up bananas so I grabbed one.. Man that was the best tasting banana I ever had in my life! I was mad at myself for going out too fast and I was starting to realise my PB goal was not going to happen. I sent a text to Juliette every km, and her texts back were keeping me going. I should have just called her and had her talk me back to the finish line.
On the bridge going over the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) at 39 k I was bawling my eyes out – I can’t do this! And then Juliette sent me a text… So I resolved to power walk the the rest of my way in.
Mile splits: (21) 11:15 (22) 10:36 (23) 11:47 (24) 11:59 (25) 12:49 (26) 9:21
KM splits: (33) 6:27 (34) 7:19 (35) 6:34 (36) 7:47 (37) 6:35 (38) 7:31 (39) 7:10 (40) 7:45
Suddenly more crowd support appeared somewhere between 39k and 40k. I was too embarrassed to walk, so I started jogging, and then the cops conducting traffic were cheering us on!! They said “Go Janice Go” which really pumped me up so I started running.
I had to concentrate hard on my feet and the streetcar tracks so that I wouldn’t trip and fall. As we went through St. Lawrence Market the bars were open and people were cheering us on from their tables. I picked up the pace because I suddenly realised that I can do this! I’m almost done!! I turned up Bay St with 1/2 a mile to go (800m). Every 100m there was a sign telling you how much further you had to go and as you got closer to the finish line the crowds got bigger and the cheering got louder. I was so happy to be near the finish! Juliette was going crazy cheering me on – like ridiculously crazy that I was able to pick her out of the thousands of people at the finish line. Here’s a picture of me doing my best Forrest Gump wave to Lieutenant Dan:
OMG – I Diiiiiid it!!!!!!!!!!!
Mile splits: (26) 9:21 (26.2) ????
KM splits: (41) 6:53 (42) 5:25 (42.2) ???
And then I was done!!!!! I did it! I finally finished with a personal worst (4:26) but it’s the first marathon I’ve finished since 2003 and I was soooooooooo happy (I still am)!!
I’m a marathoner (again!).
And guess what? I’m already planning on how I can do this distance better next time 🙂 I trained to run 30k well, and that’s what I did – the last 12k sucked but remembering the pain of my whole body hurting will certainly help fuel my motivation to never give up during my training.
Next year I WILL set a PB!
Thank you guys for following my training over the past year and supporting me with all of your awesome comments on my training wrap up posts. I know that it got boring reading my recaps every week, but writing them out really motivated me to keep going and I’m so happy that you stuck by me – I really could not have done this without the support from you, my family, my friends, my co-workers and pretty much anyone else who listened to me blabber on incessantly about the marathon. So to each and every one of you: