Monday, May 28, 2007

Ottawa Marathon 2007 Race Report

I thought I wouldn't do it. I thought I couldn't do it. I felt helpless to change my mother's situation - I could not make her better. I felt lost. In my sadness, I deferred my race.

But then my friends said:

"You can do anything you put your mind to."

"Where the mind is willing, the body will follow."

I had an epiphany.

I realised that if I don't feel hopeful and believe entirely in the power of the mind, then how can I expect her to do the same? I cannot help my mother be strong if I am not strong myself. How would I be able to support her if I have already tumbled to the ground? I pulled myself together, dried my tears, and drove out to Toronto.

It was great to see her smile. The kids and I gave her hugs. I asked where she'd like for us to travel together ... she's never seen the world. I told her we'd need to start planning since she was going to get better.

Upon returning from my mother's, I felt sad all day. I needed something to shake me up and WAKE ME UP from this horribly glum state. I needed to run, and so I did ... 25 km.

Then I *knew* that I could do it, that I would do it ... I wanted to ROOOAARR!! I needed to prove to myself once again the power of the mind ...

The Ottawa Marathon was back on again.

My friend, GB, who had originally planned to run this marathon with me but couldn't, had a change in his weekend plans and decided to come out to support me. I convinced him to sign up for his first race too, a half marathon :-) Thank you for making sure I got back home safely, GB ... I am so proud of your fast 1:37:00 time ... You totally rock!


Wake-up: 5:15 am

Breakfast: Oatmeal, banana and tea

Clothing: Long-sleeve shirt covering the nifty official race tank top and tights

Marathon start time: 7:00 am

I elected to use my triathlon bib belt as I did not know where to pin the race bib. I dropped the idea of wearing my water bottle belt as I needed to be as light as possible and did not want to feel encumbered. It was difficult enough knowing the kind of challenge that faced me. I would be running 42.2 km with only 186 km of training during the past two months ... or rather 4.4 km training per km racing. (Or as TB says, "The most for the least!") There are marathon training programs that average that kind of mileage over two weeks of running. I had stretched it out over eight weeks ...

I figured I'd arrive at the race site just before the race started. I had no choice ... it's incredible how humming and hawing about what to wear can quickly waste time. On my walk over, I felt overdressed and contemplated turning back to change into shorts. No ... no time left. I didn't want to miss the start.

I made my way to the assigned corral based on my prediction when I registered, though I knew that this race would be much slower than originally planned. I would finish BOP, back-of-pack, instead of MOP, middle-of-pack. I had no time to find a position farther back ... The horn sounded and off we went!

Uphill start but I tried to take it easy, purposely not stressing out at the realisation that I was even less prepared for this race than for the NYC Marathon, where I still had some residual Ironman fitness left in me. I was quickly passed by the faster runners but I didn't care.

From the race website:

"The 1/2 and full marathon courses are scenic and flat with very few elevation changes. Considered to be an excellent course for first timers and those looking for a personal best."

HA!! I beg to differ. There were way too many of those little Gatineau hills and I knew that my quads would pay the price later with lactic acid build-up. I had neither speed nor strength. My legs would neither lift any higher nor would they turn over any faster. I stopped four times during the first half of the course for pee breaks ... what was with my over-active bladder? Good thing Ottawa is renown for its greenery since I only found one port-o-let.

I wanted to run faster but somehow felt like I had shifted into "reflective cruising mode" and was actually enjoying the reverie. Other runners wanted to talk to me and I answered politely but I didn't feel like talking or running with anyone. I wanted to be alone.

My body had found the catharsis that I needed and inside my little bubble, I collected my mental strength, not just enough to finish, but more than enough to support my mother on the next leg of her difficult journey with cancer. I needed to create and feel HOPE and ACCEPTANCE within every particle of my being. Hope to help her heal and acceptance to be able to enjoy every moment we will have together.

Warm sun, shirt off, cold wind, shirt on ... More clouds set in and I was glad that I had chosen tights over shorts. Light mist, shirt off ... ahhh, how refreshing ... but my hands are so cold! Blow on them ... Slippery roads ... rain rain go away ... shirt on ... Medic, do you have any gels? Only chocolate? Ewww!

When the marathon joined the half marathon course, it was a little disconcerting being passed again by so many, but at the same time, strangely uplifting, as these runners with more energy than I also gave me energy, and I soon found myself running their speed though I had started 12 km ahead of them. When the two race paths separated, my sudden solitude was made sharper knowing that I had the hardest part of the marathon still ahead of me. I was tired, my bunions hurt, my shins were tight, and my quads were crying out in pain.

I tried to relax as much as possible and focused harder on the mileage countdown. Unlike most of my past marathons, I didn't curse angrily in my head nor did I question my decision to run or wonder if I would ever race again. I accepted the pain.

38 km ... 40 km ... 750 m left, I sped up ... 500 m left, I sped up some more ... 200 m left and I gunned it to the finish, lifting my legs as high as I could, pumping my arms with equal determination, and cutting through a throng of racers.

How does one describe the utterly incredible feeling of completely challenging the body, mind and spirit?

Another day. Another marathon, #12! Another shiny race medal. And my heart and soul are once more full of hope and strength and courage :-)

I love you so much, mom.

Chip Time: 5:04:50
Placement: 2765/3115
Split @ 10km: 1:14:19
Split @ 21.1km: 2:35:32
Split @ 30km: 3:39:38

For those who are curious, yes, I did do a negative split ...
21.1-42.2km: 2:29:18, faster by 6:24

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Anonymous zoom said...

Congratulations! Very impressive.

6:44 a.m.  
Blogger FreddyBeachPete said...

Congrats on a great effort and an excellent race report !!

11:57 a.m.  
Anonymous kym said...

Pushing through the pain and knowing even though it hurts like hell, there can still be alive enough at the end to feel the thrill of just doing it inspite of everything. Real affirmation in all that you face right now eh?

Nice race!!!

10:04 p.m.  

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