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.
My 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.
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!