The day started out very early at 4:30am. I purposely woke up earlier than I needed to so I wouldn’t be rushed. I had time to hydrate, eat, get dressed, meditate and stretch out my body with some pre race yoga, all before waking up my family.
The hubby and kiddos drove me to the closest subway station and dropped me off at 7:15am. As I said goodbye, it dawned on me that the next time I would see them was that afternoon. Half the day away. Off they went to have breakfast, drop in to work, run errands, go out for lunch and finally after all that, meet me at the finish line. Was I really going to run for that long?
The subway was filled with runners. I ran into a few that I knew and we chatted about all the important things…pre-race hydration, gear and of course where the bathrooms were. The excitement was building as we approached the last stop on the line. After exiting the subway, it was time to find my corral, stretch and get ready. The starting line was on the bridge between the south shore and the island of Montreal. It was freezing cold but had a beautiful view of the city. First issue I ran into was that it took so long to begin, I actually started getting hungry again! I had planned out my breakfast according to the scheduled start time of 8:30am. My rookie mistake however, was not realizing that when you’re in the 18th corral, you don’t start at 8:30am. Not even close. About 35,000 people ran this race. Needless to say, it made me super nervous to eat my snacks before starting but I figured that it was a better option than starting the race hungry. So after eating an energy bar and waiting for what seemed like forever, it was finally time for corrals 16-18 to begin…we were off!
As soon as we were off the bridge and into a more wooded area, tons of guys started peeling off into the bush to use nature’s washroom. I could feel every woman’s thoughts as we passed them…We have to go too, probably even more than you dudes! It was unbelievable how many men stopped in the bushes and then caught up with us girls a few minutes later. Meanwhile the first Port-a-Potty station had a lineup of women racers. Some things are just not fair.
The beginning of the race was smooth and easy, I was following the 4:30 pace bunny and quite enjoyed the slow start of running for 10minutes and walking for 1minute. Until we hit 16km. At the 16km mark we approached The. Slowest. Water. Station. EVER. Being that I did not carry my own water/Gatorade, my rule (which I also followed successfully at the half marathon back in August) was to stop and drink at every station no matter what. Even if I didn’t think I needed it. So I, along with about 400 other people, stopped at the same table, at the same time. There were three people casually pouring water into miniature cups and 400 people screaming –This is a RACE, pour FASTER! So needless to say I had my drink but I lost the pace bunny and the potential finishing time of 4hrs30min.
From that point on, I ran pretty much on my own. Many others were running next to me but my little group of 4:30 buddies were long gone. Despite this, it was actually a really fun part of the race. Running through the streets of downtown Montreal, past major landmarks, stores, restaurants and places I have frequented thousands of times in my life. The crowds were huge, everyone was cheering and calling out words of encouragement. As we approached the 21km mark, the cheering got louder and the half marathon racers began to peel off to the right, while the marathon racers were directed left. At that moment I felt strong, calm and in control. Breathing was easy, no pain or tiredness in my legs. I could feel the improvement and progress that I had made since running the half marathon just a month prior. I was psyched for part two.
I veered left and prepared for part two of the race. All was good until I hit the 25km mark, that’s when the pain began. Granted this was where my training stopped and pure adrenaline (or possibly just the GU?) along with the will to make it through kicked in. The 25km-35km was the longest, hardest and slowest 10km I have ever run/walked. It was also the most painful. At around the 30km mark the lactic acid build up had reached an all time high and the pain in my legs was off the charts. Then…I ate a banana….ahhhhh, pure bliss. By far the most underrated fruit EVER. That banana saved my life and my race. Within 10minutes of ingesting it, the pain was gone and I was on my way once again.
The last 5-7km of the race were brutal but manageable. I knew I was almost there and was excited to see my family. I was actually surprised and thrilled that throughout all this, never once did I second guess my decision to run this race. I truly loved every minute of it. I crossed the finish line at the 5 hour mark and the feeling was just amazing. Truly one of my best accomplishments ever and one that I will aim to replicate (and shave a few minutes off of!) next year.
So thankful for the opportunity, the strength, the health and the support that all contributed to my first marathon success!
Are you running your first marathon soon? What are you looking forward to? Anything you are nervous about?
Maybe you’ve already run a marathon. What are some of your best memories from your first marathon?
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