Done and Done – No. 2 Completed

The Toronto Marathon did not disappoint!!  What an incredible experience.  Compared to last year’s adventure (read about it here), this race was everything I had hoped for. My goals for 2014 did not include having 2 stress fractures (same time, same foot), wearing a boot for 8 weeks, no running for 12 weeks and therefore not sure if running a second marathon was going to be possible.

If I was to run another one, I hoped to run again in Toronto to see if, with training and the right gear, I could do better.  When I was invited to join the STWM Digital Champions I jumped in and fully committed to doing my best.  This incredible opportunity gave me the extra motivation I needed to train hard and believe for a good race.  My boot came off mid-May (official training started mid June). I did not have a solid base because of the injury and tried to ease back into running.  My injury caused me to miss  Around The Bay, Ottawa Race Weekend and Calgary Marathon.  The boot came off in time to run Calgary, but with no training for the full, I ran the 5K just to experience it.  I even dressed up in an 80’s running costume, something I never do as it’s way out of my comfort zone. But I thought, so what?! Participate, have fun and let loose. 🙂  What a beautiful way to see the city! I’m hoping to still experience the Calgary Marathon in 2015 – but we’ll see.

So after an adventure filled summer of training runs and races, the day finally arrived for the marathon but so did feelings of doubt and anxiety.  I fell on a trail run just 2 weeks before the marathon which caused a slight injury in my groin.  I couldn’t run for a solid week because of the pain it caused.  I got out for a shake out run a few days before and felt okay but not solid.

Toronto Start 2014My goals the morning of the race were to enjoy it, take more in, and be more aware of the people and my surroundings.  My time goal obviously was to beat last year’s time.  I didn’t know if I could get under 4hr. 45min., as I didn’t feel I was trained up enough.  My, “I’m going to cry, can’t believe I did it goal,” was under 4:30 but I honestly had no expectations of that going in.  The mental battle of self-doubt was strong and I wasn’t even sure I could complete the second half.  I even gave myself permission that if I was in pain at 19K, near the split, I’d make the decision to end the race early and come in for the half-marathon instead.

I had hoped to meet up with the other DCs before the race, but got lost and ended up missing them.  I coincidently bumped in to a few of them near the start corals, said a quick hello, grabbed a quick photo and then we were off to line up.

StartCorals

Christine, myself and Susan

Once in the corals with over 25,000+ other people Susan from my running club – who I had no plans to meet up with – happened to find me!  This, I believe, was no coincidence!  We ended up running the first half together, pacing really well!  I ran my first ever continuous 1/2 marathon and pb’d it.  I had loosely planned on walking at water stations but because I really wasn’t sure how much pain I’d be in due to the injury I was open to do 10/1s or whatever I had to do to get it done.  I hadn’t expected to feel so good. My biggest concerns during the first half was if I was overdoing it, was my pace too fast, should I pull back?  What if I tank for the 2nd half?  BUT Susan and I talked most of the time and I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard. Even when I suggested we pull back a bit, within moments we were back running the same pace, feeling good.

For the 2nd half I decided maybe I should switch to 10/1s to be safe–still concerned that maybe I’d tank after the 32K mark, knowing what was ahead still.  I had seen Laura (also from my running club) earlier and she was focused, had a plan and was doing her 10/1s.  I saw her ahead of me and kept her in my sight.  When she walked, I walked, when she ran, I ran. I did this for awhile (I hadn’t set up my app for 10/1’s so this was just logical to me).

At around the 30K mark I was feeling a lot of pain in my right foot.  My foot pronates inward and I had been transitioning into newer shoes trying to solve my issues. Add the groin injury on the same side and I think I was overcompensating a bit.  I had to push through quite a bit of pain the last 3-4K.  BUT I still felt overall pretty good.  I was smiling at the camera whenever I saw it, I was enjoying the cheering stations and the people along the route and I even took time to pull alongside fellow DC – JP, aka Batman, to introduce myself in person as we had only been connecting online up to this point. JP is doing amazing things to raise awareness and support for Sick Kids Toronto (you can see more here: Batman Runs For Sick Kids Toronto).

There was a moment when a 4:30 was in my reach, but at around 39K I realized I was going to miss that so I allowed myself to ease up a bit as my foot was killing me.  BUT, not too much as I could still come under 4:35.  As we rounded the corner entering the final 500m run to the finish line I was hurting a lot!  I was considering walking it in when I saw two guys ahead of me, and something in me decided I was not coming in behind them.  So I pushed a little bit harder picking up speed for the final 300m passing them both and coming in strong!

When I kicked it up and passed them, the announcer called my name and Christine (pictured above) who had ran the half marathon started yelling my name from up above me somehow….and then it was over.  It was amazing and I knew immediately I would do this race again!

TO Finish 2014

Official Time 4:33:52

Travelling for Training

Again, life has been busier and I’ve missed more runs with my running group than I had hoped for.  Still getting my runs in but more and more on my own.  I started hills and felt like a pro while doing them. 🙂

Being a part of the amazing  Digital Champion Team (DC’s) for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon means that there are a variety of events happening in Toronto.  There are a handful of us DC’s who do not live in Toronto therefore we must travel if we want to participate in these events.  The event I chose to travel for was the Beaches Jazz Run 20K Training Run.

I managed to get 3 others to join me and our travel plans were set!  We’d leave on the Saturday morning, drive to Toronto, relax Saturday night and be up early for a 7:45am meet and greet with other DC’s before the run began.

Travelling with others that you do not know well can be risky, but when you have health and fitness as a common denominator there is always lots to chat about!   Turned out to be a great group to travel with!  We happened upon an amazing restaurant for dinner, relaxed and managed to get to bed at a reasonable time.  We had three alarms set and were all awake for  5:20am, because we needed time for coffee and of course proper fuelling for our run.  Everything went smoothly and we were off to the Beaches.

I enjoyed meeting other DC’s who I’m getting to know through our connections online.  It’s so nice to meet in person the people that you are cheering for and believing with to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves.  Also, knowing that others were not there as they have had to put their plans on hold.  Knowing all to well, how very difficult it is to be “forced” to post-pone your dream because of life’s circumstances or injury.  When you are passionately driven to go after your dreams, it’s hard to have to sit back or change and adjust your goals so that you remain healthy.  It’s making sure you have balance and that the timetable will work with what is going on in your life.  I admire and respect these people for picking the hard choice and doing what is best for them!

It turned out to be a HOT day!  The humidity was ridiculous and there did not seem to be much of a breeze, even though we ran along the water for a time.  There were pacers for the training run but as far as I could tell only for continuous runners.  I choose to do 10/1’s for my long training runs.  So I lined up near the back, also noticing the slowest pacer was for a 4hr. 10min. marathon.  Realizing that I’d be slower than that, my position in the back seemed to be appropriate.

I had the awesome privilege of travelling with two new friends who were both running their first official 10K’s.  They were there to see me off (10K race started 45min. after the 20K).  They took pictures and cheered me on when I headed out.  I kept up with the 4:10 pacer for the first 2-3K and then gave myself permission to pull back and commence my run/walk plan.  This was clearly going to be my own run.

I was not alone at the back but we were not many!  This surprised me as I really believe I’m an “average” runner, so where were the other average runners?!  It was a fantastic route, having met a number of people earlier on, it was so nice to pass each other on the out and backs and give high fives or simply yell “you’ve got this!”  I think the hardest part of the run for me was when we turned off to do a 5K out and back towards Tommy Thompson Park!  The air felt dead with little or no breeze and the sun just beat down on us!

Because this was a training run and not a race we were sharing the path and road with other runners and bikers.  There were less people in front of me and I unknowingly followed a random runner across Lakeshore Blvd!  This seemed very odd to me and didn’t feel right.  There was a lot of construction and I realized seeing the Loblaws parking lot that I had made a wrong turn!  There was a volunteer  at Lakeshore and Leslie St. directing runners to turn down Lakeshore–not across it–BUT with my luck they must have momentarily stepped away and I just followed the runner ahead of me!

No big deal, right? That’s not what I thought when I added almost 0.5km to my run.  Once back across Lakeshore I was on my way again to get this thing done!  Heading back towards the beaches, I welcomed what little shade there was along the route.  It was a lot busier now with people enjoying a family day and watching all us crazy runners actually running on an exceptionally humid day!

The end was in sight, once hitting the boardwalk my main goal was to not fall!  Legs were tired, heck I was tired, so watching my footing was my priority. Oh, and hitting my Garmin when I crossed!

Met up with others, chatted about the experience, celebrated with everyone and then signed up for a quick massage!

IMG_3571My travelling friends and I quickly freshened up, found a great spot for an amazing brunch and we were back on the road again to make our 5hr. trip back home.

During the trip home our two friends who ran their first official 10K’s had decided that they would go for it and signed up for their first half marathons!!

All in all, it was a fun 34hr road trip!