This post has been a LONG time coming. Actually, in the internet world it’s been a VERY VERY LONG time coming. I debated not writing or posting it, but I feel it’s important for me to document (journal) how my first marathon went.
I’ll start by saying that training was difficult. As mentioned in a few previous posts, I experienced a lot of ups & downs throughout my training, but overall I really enjoyed the experience. I learned a lot about myself and all the things I need to change for my next training cycle (which just happens to be now!).
On the day of the Calgary Marathon (May 29, 2016) I got up bright and early and went through my usual pre-race routine. I always lay my stuff out the night before, so the morning of the race I quietly got ready while drinking a smoothie and a little bit of coffee. I wasn’t too nervous while I got ready, which I thought was a positive sign.
Because so many roads were closed for the race, I took transit to the event which was quite smooth & relaxing. It was exciting to see other runners piling on the train too, so that helped me to get pumped up.
Once at the event grounds, I walked around a little bit and then started to do my pre-race stretches & movements. This is when I started to get a little nervous. I checked my bag with ease and decided to go for one more bathroom trip… this wasn’t the best idea time-wise. I used the washroom and rushed to get in the starting chute, but there weren’t enough openings for me to enter near the pace bunny that I had hoped to run with. And this is when I started to panic a little. I had to go way back in the chute, entering where most of the Ultra runners were. (Here’s where I’ll enter my biggest pet peeve of this race. Having the 50 KM, 42.2 KM, and 21.1 KM runners all starting at the same time is a bit chaotic- no corrals too! I’m not sure why the Calgary Marathon does this, but it does not make the race start very easy for the runners.)
Once I found an entrance to the chute, I TRIED to move up further but it was so packed that I couldn’t. Honestly, I was freaking out a little bit and here’s when I made one of my biggest mistakes of this race. Once we started and crossed the start line, I attempted to speed up to catch the 4:15 (finish time) pace bunny. Not a great idea and I believe I paid for this later in the race.
I did manage to catch the 4:15 pace bunny and I can’t recall how long I was able to maintain that pace… I think around 20 KM, but then after that I was hot and had to slow my pace a bit.
The course was great and lots of people came out to watch/cheer, so that was a nice change from other Calgary races. The day turned out slightly warmer than expected, so that did affect me a little bit.
I felt good for most of the race and kept it together mentally till around 30 KM. My boyfriend & mother-in-law showed up at different points in the race to cheer me on, so that was particularly motivating. I’m so grateful for their continued support! But, around 30 KM it started to get to me how I lost the 4:15 pace bunny and I kept wondering what my time would change to. I told myself I would feel shitty if the 4:30 pace bunny passed me. Why did I do that to myself? Self-talk certainly can escalate quickly.
Around this point I started running beside a guy doing the Ultra completely barefoot. Lots of people were yelling comments at him and commending him (and some called him crazy!), and this somehow took me out of my own head for a little bit. I ran beside him for about 4 KM and I was grateful at the time for the distraction. After that, yes, the 4:30 pace bunny caught me. I was hard on myself for a short period of time, but the guy was super friendly so I just decided to focus on that instead.
I believe I ran with the 4:30 pace bunny group from around 36 – 40 KM, but I’m not absolutely sure because distance started to blur for me. At 39 KM I got an extra boost from the Mission District Run Crew, who I occasionally run with. Seriously, these guys were awesome with loud cheering and high fives. It was just what I needed at the time. After that I attempted to “speed” off on my own for the last 2 KM. There were some good crowds around, so this helped with motivation and focus.
The last push was difficult, but I did what I had to do to finish strong. Running into the finish chute at the Calgary Grandstand was a great highlight of the event. I raised my hands in the air and crossed that finish line as a proud runner. 🙂
I thought I would cry at the end of the marathon, but I didn’t. I’m not sure why. Maybe I knew that I hadn’t given it my all. Maybe I knew that I had more drive in me. This part is still a mystery to me. I do remember that one of the first things I said was that I’m not in a rush to do another marathon. I may have repeated this over and over, obviously not recalling that I had already signed up for my second one before this marathon even started!
Overall, I’m still pretty damn proud of myself. My chip time was exactly 4:25:00 and every KM was fought for. I know I have more in me. I know I can do better. Calgary Marathon was an amazing experience with many lessons learned, but the running journey definitely continues…
How did you feel after your first marathon?