Monday, October 21, 2013

4th Marathon: Broke the downward spiral and finished happy

The sign in our hotel, BIG DREAMS BABY BIG DREAMS! 

I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon for the second time yesterday.  The day started with a great night's sleep.  I actually went to bed early and fell asleep easily.  I wasn't nervous, I was more nervous for my half in May because I was putting so much pressure on myself to achieve a certain time.  Not this time, I was going in with a "run the best race you can attitude".  I'd run 3 marathons in the last year and half and knew for the most part what to expect.  I also didn't have any wine that night, did you hear that NO WINE, so I slept like a baby.  I was up early the morning of the race at 6 and had dressed in my gear and laid out all my stuff.  Then I only had 2.5 hrs to kill!  Lucky for me we were staying at the Hilton which literally was right next to my start corral.  I was able to enjoy breakfast and a double expresso in the Executive Lounge.  (I had cut back on caffeine the week prior to the race so I wouldn't experience withdrawal headaches in the race, can we say ADDICTED?)  Then the family and I hung out in the hotel room watching the corrals fill up, listening to the music from the street.  I was able to stay warm and pee 6 times in my own bathroom.  I left the room 15 min before the race started and got in my corral no problem.  You couldn't ask for a better set up.  

My plan for the race was to run at a 9:50-10:00 min/mile pace for the first 5km, and then 9:50 till the halfway mark, and if I could maybe hit a 9:40 min/mile the 2nd half.  I would take a gel every 40-45 min, and walk through each water station for water, and drink my nuun as I pleased from my fuel belt. 

The race started off great, I felt good.  I was very comfortable at my pace.  I think I did a good job of staying in my target.  I was enjoying the race, my music, the scenery.  I took my gels as planned.  I enjoyed the wee break of walking through the water station but found it difficult to get my pace back up when I started to run again.  I was only walking for 30 sec if that.  But it felt like it took me a min to get my pace back.  Maybe my garmin just took time.   The halfway mark in this race is interesting, the half marathoner's go to the right and the marathoner's to the right.  You go from running in a giant pack to feeling much much more isolated.  We ran under a blow up arch that had lost it's air, volunteers were holding it up.  It was quite comical.  I said allowed that it was a bad sign and we should all follow the half marathoners.  A couple people laughed.  This is where the Marathon part get's real.  This section of the course is in a more industrial like area, there are less people, you feel isolated.  There was even a sign that said "sketchy neighbourhood run faster!"  After the halfway point my pace slowed a bit, or would stay at the 9:50ish.  I wasn't able to get to that 9:40min/mile.  I was just slower, but I felt good.  I wasn't in pain.  But I was stiffer, hips tighter.  I didn't stress it, I knew I was having a good race, better then my slow injured one last year in pain.  I was in my happy place.  I eased off my Gels feeling full, and that seemed like a good decision.  My favourite part of this race is when you run through a neighboured of stores, that reminds me of Westboro here in Ottawa.  Great cheer crowds, lots to look at, store owners handing out oranges and bananas.  The orange slices were a welcome sight.  Coming out of this area I was almost almost at the 20 mile (32km) mark.  I had broken the race down into 5 mile parts...4x5miles and then 10km.  I did well with the first 20 miles/32km, the 3 32km training runs really did prepare me well for that.  I was doing well mentally and all though tired was feeling pretty good.  

Then the last 10km was a totally different story.  Let's just say that running a marathon is like giving birth and the last 10km is like the baby crowning! Even though I had slowed in the second half, I had fully intended to pick it up and kick it the last 10km.  Did not happen!  Instead I had intense pain from glute down to my foot build up.  The pain got so bad I had to stop and walk.  I panicked a bit thinking of Disney and the last 7 miles and thinking I was done in.  But luckily a quick little walk break  and the pain would ease.  Ease enough to run again but at a much slower pace.  The last 10km was my slowest!  I would run and then take a small walk break.  I kept waiting for the giant hill at the end of the course.  I haven't confirmed it but I think they changed the end of the course this year.  I remember running up one hill that seemed hard but it certainly wasn't the giant one I remembered and we still had like 8km or something to go so it couldn't be it.  I NEVER EVER walk a hill! I wanted to walk so bad. I ran hard on my right leg and pulled my left behind me.  When I got to the top I took a quick walk break.  The end of the course had this pain in the ass loop.  I think that's what changed.  Mentally it did me in.  It was just like the greenbelt loop that I hate at the end of my runs on woodroffe.  I was running down it with runners coming back beside me. Oh man I wanted to just stop turn and join them.  In fact at that point I wanted to quit.  But then I remembered I forgot to pack my visa in my belt and I wouldn't be able to get a cab and I had to finish the damn race! I really thought of taking a cab back! No joke. Once I did the turn around I felt better, I knew I was getting close to the end.  I told myself no more walking just get this over with. 

As much as the last 10km suck, its a time of inspiration.  You go from running next to all these strong looking people, to watching people break down around you.  People limping but not stopping, people in pain and not quitting.  It's incredible the sheer determination.  

2km to go and I started a chant in my head, Kayleigh, Kasey, Kayleigh, Kasey....I kept saying my girls names over and over and praying I would see them at the finish line.  In all my races, I have never actually seen my girls at the finish line.  As I came into the 500 meters to go area, I started frantically scanning the crowd for my family.  I was praying so hard that they were there and I would see them.  200 meters from the finish line I SAW THEM!!! Kasey on Ryan's shoulder's and Kay's little face, waving at me! I waved back, my hand to heart, blowing kisses and crying so hard.  I ran as hard as I could to finish line.  I crossed and when I stopped I broke down in body shaking tears.  A dude tried to high five me and I couldn't lift my hand.  I just cried.  I was so happy!! I'm crying now writing this.  My first race, my best race, I ran with their sweet little voices on my ipod telling me GO MOMMY! Yesterday they were there in real life yelling go Mommy.  On my last 32km training run, I was having trouble with knee pain and called Ryan to tell him I was almost home and to have the girls outside.  Knowing they were waiting for me, I made it home.  Yesterday, I knew they were there and I kept going to get to them.  I saw the CN Tower and knew that they were close, just had to keep going.  

Happiest hug ever!

My girls :) 

I finished my 4th Marathon in a year and half, in my second fastest time of 4:29:24.  I didn't get the PR I had hoped for, but I am proud of my time and that I broke my marathon downward spiral.  

As we made the 5+ hour trip home after the race, I was blessed with amazing words of congratulations from my friends online.  I'm feeling sore and blessed today. Very very blessed (and sore lol). 

Friday, October 18, 2013

On our way...Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon here we come!

STWM last year, likely thinking about the food that Ryan has waiting for me at the finish line!  which was the  BEST CHICKEN CREPE SAMMI EVER!
My bags are packed and I am double checking my run gear one more time!  Last year I forgot my water bottles and had to scramble to find a running room to get more.

What was going to be a sweet romantic late anniversary weekend, in Toronto, ending with a 26.2 mile race is now a family adventure.  The kids are coming with us!  Oh well, the four of us are tight and will make it a fun weekend.  We plan on checking out that new Ripley's Aquarium.  I've also told the kids that this was supposed to be a romantic weekend for mom and dad and they better be on their best behaviour.  Not that they have a clue what a romantic weekend is lol.  I still plan on going to a fancy restaurant Friday night to celebrate our anniversary and eat delicious gourmet food.  I don't care if the menu doesn't have kid fun food.  They like bread and butter they will be fine.

It feels good to be getting out of the house and going somewhere today, as I've felt stir crazy.  I'm nervous about the race and have been debating strategy in my head changing my mind over and over. I have a plan now and I'm going to stick to it! (famous last words!)  Friend's have asked what my goal is for the race and I have been scared to say one out loud for fear of not making it.  But then someone said to have more then one goal.  I like that. I like that a lot.

So here you go......cue the butterfly dance party!

My first goal is to break my marathon downward trend!  wink.  I ran 3 marathons in 9 months and they got slower and slower.  Which is to be expected.  4:17, 4:39:49, 4:48.  I ran Toronto injured and in pain last year and I limped the last 7 miles at Disney so given that I am in good shape, and injury free I hope that I can turn this ship around.  I think my biggest challenge will be a pesky knee pain that seems to come's plagued me a bit this training period but I've been very careful.  So my challenge will be when I feel some ache to not think about it, to not get stuck in a negative panic loop, to go somewhere else and let go.  I think I make it worse getting stuck in that negative place.

My second goal is to try and mimic my first marathon.  It was an incredible race.  I felt good, I was powered by emotion and messages from my kids.  I was making a life long dream come true.  The was no pressure as it was my first and I just wanted to finish.  My last 10km were my strongest.  It wasn't an easy race but I felt strong.  I want to feel that way again.  I've trained so hard this year.  I used the Run Less Run Faster program to run my fastest half marathon in the spring 1:50:36 (1:49:30 on my garmin thanks to zig zagging hit the half before the finish).  I ran my fastest 5km this year training for that May race at 23:58.  Then I moved into Marathon training and used the K2J plan.  I was doing hill and track work that is much more intense then before and more long runs.  I modified the program a bit, listening to my body and learning when to ease back and when to push.   I found balance this year, I learned I didn't have to push my body into the ground.  I also found away to train and have fun with my family.  So this race is a celebration!

That's right, my main goal is a celebration!  I'm celebrating the girl that spent 10 years or so on the couch so to speak feeling envious of those that ran.  Thinking that was lost to me.  I'm celebrating having a family that is active and healthy and LIVING an amazing life together.  I'm running because I can, because I love it.  I'm running 26.2 miles because I love to friggen run!

I also have a Secret Weapon:  I have a bag of Bulk Barn Treats, and Cupcakes from my friend Janice at Cakes by Design  waiting for me to eat in the car on the way home!  I WILL RUN to get to my Salted Caramel Cupcake!

oh and side goal.....not to SHART my pants again :) LOL!!  You only do that in Disney!

Monday, October 14, 2013

6 days out

Me on the left 4 years ago proud to run 8km while at the cottage,  my lifestyle changing.  Me on the right 6 days out from my 4th Full Marathon, lifestyle ingrained.

6 days out from the Toronto Marathon and as usual I am feeling emotional and reflective.  I'm thinking back on the roughly 5653 km's I've run to get here today.

There have been many high's and some low's, and many many lessons learned along the way.

But the biggest thing I want to do now is celebrate.  I want to run happy on Oct 20th and no matter what happens cross that finish line proud of all that I have accomplished.  Not only did I make a life long dream of running a marathon come true, I did or will have done it FOUR TIMES!

I've finally found a happy place and a balance in my life.  I don't feel weighed down, I feel free and able to dream big.  I've worked so hard not to travel km's but truly to let go of my past.  To let go of my disordered eating and anxiety.  To find  myself again, a confident and happy person.  It's been a very long road, but one I am ever so proud of.

I hope I will role model a person of health and happiness to my girls and they will now that anything is possible for them.

Run Happy, Run Free