Tag Archives: Marathoners’ Torture series

Marathoner's Torture Series: Race Day

I finished the Royal Victoria Marathon yesterday with a chip time of 4:42:35.

It was unlike anything I’d ever done before. Uncharacteristically my legs stiffened up at the 25 k point, something they never did during long training runs. Until then I was on track for a 4:30 finish. After that, it was just pain.

And so it goes with racing. It wasn’t the worst I’ve felt during a race, but I certainly could have felt better. It was a humbling lesson in allowing myself to sink into the moment, as painful as it was. I was able to just let it be. The pain, the gorgeous day, my lovely daughter giving me fresh water bottles at 13 and 34 k. It was what is was, and it was good.

My baby daughter Sarah, the one who died in my arms, the one for whom I was running yesterday, was with me the last 2 or 3 k, pushing me along. I was quite emotional – grateful, sad, happy it was over, immensely proud of myself for coming such a long way. I found a kick I didn’t think was there in the last 800 metres. I can’t describe the feeling of seeing the finish line, it was just as I’d visualized. I was in tears.

The technical lesson learned was that I may have gone out too quickly. My team mates were doing 6:00/k at first, and my plan was to start out at 6:25/k. so I dropped back after 8 k. Too late maybe, perhaps contributing to the leg pain later.

My soul lesson was one I learned the evening before the race when I met Michael Lebowitz and we shared some of our writing with each other. I was privileged to read an as-yet-unpublished piece of his that really inspired me. Before I headed out the door I wrote a Twitter post paraphrasing part of it and scheduled it to go out as I was finishing the race:

“It’s not about the pain, or the training, or my pace. I’m letting it be. It’s about who I am in this moment.”

I dug deep into that wisdom when my legs were screaming at me.

I am very grateful for some other moments during the race:

  • A warm hug for a dear one, on Dallas Road at about the 10K mark. I felt those arms around me for miles and miles.
  • Bill Broughton, who was there every few kilometres taking pictures.
  • Suzy – running partner from the Vancouver Half Marathon this past May, urging me on just as I entered the Inner Harbour to the finish.
  • Tim, Cathy and my dear daughter Mary who were at the finish line cheering me on.
  • A secret swig from Tim’s flask to wash down my finish line bagel!
  • Superman. I beat Superman!
  • I also passed a clown and a guy in a lime green costume.
  • The excitement of the start line with my running group.
  • The exhilaration of seeing a sea of runners all around me filling up the downtown streets.
  • The gang from Frontrunners cheering everyone on.
  • The amazing volunteers without whom we could not race.
  • Martin from Los Angeles (who I ran with for about 1 k) who loves Victoria so much he wants to move here.

And of course, I am grateful to Caroline and Randy who fed us the most sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner later that day. I piled my plate high and ate the entire thing, then had two desserts. What a perfect way to celebrate 42.2!

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Slug

I’m not going to lie to you. Marathon training is hard.

I wasn’t stiff after Saturday’s 2 hour 40 minute run, I felt great. Then I went for a run on Monday. I had some stress to peel off, so it turned out to be a tempo (faster pace) run rather than an easy recovery run. I’ve been tired ever since.

Tired. Cranky. Feeling yucky, always hungry it seems. Stiff during spin class Tuesday morning. Heavy legs during track workout last night. But still I went to run those mile repeats, knowing that at this stage of the game (45 days or so to go) I cannot miss a quality workout. Even if I feel like a slug.

Slug

Me, during hill repeats last night.

(Aside: Did you know in running there are “quality” miles and “junk” miles? I almost never run extra “junk” miles, my joints can’t take it any more. That’s why I only run 3-4 times a week, and bike, spin and swim other days).

This week is an “off” week, so I only have a 1:20 run on Saturday. Today – no spin class for me; Lisa (who I switch Thursdays with) kindly offered to take my place. I may get in the pool Friday morning to splash around the warm pool, but not do laps. Then it’s out to the lake for some camping and R&R with two other single-parent families for the weekend.

Then we build to a 3:30 run a month out from the race, but I’m not thinking about that right now.

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Marathoner's torture: finding balance

Whose idea was it to move house in the middle of training for a marathon? Or try and begin a new relationship?

I’m moved, but still have no sofa, bed for my daughter, end tables, living room lamp or desk chair for this computer. Not only that but the new place (why didn’t I notice this before?) has no linen closet. I need trunks or some other storage solutions. It’s going to take a bit of fussing to get settled. No problem, right? Right.

Grin and bear it

Grin and bear it

Except for an increasingly punishing training schedule, looming deadlines and staffing shortages at work and a frustratingly ambiguous yet potentially very exciting love life at the moment. Oh yeah, and then there was the fall down the back stairs in the rain on Monday, from which I got a bruised tailbone and elbow. I still can’t quite sleep properly (I never realized how much I like to sleep on my back…)

A wise massage therapist once told me that once you’re running over 15 miles a week you’re not doing it for your health, you’re punishing your body. At that point you’re doing it for some other reason. Marathons are for fit people, for determined people, for people who perhaps have something to prove. But they’re not going to keep you healthy.

Well, I am kinda crazy and determined to reach my goal, so I push on, trying to fuel up, get enough sleep and resist the urge to freak out when some new surprise in my new place, my new neighbourhood and my new sorta-relationship comes up. (Um, ok, so I have freaked out. Once. After tempo run/hill repeats this week. So sue me, I’m not a saint.)

I saw a counsellor/coach yesterday who taught me a relaxation-meditation exercise that seemed to work instantly – in her office anyway. The trick will be to use it when the stress response starts to kick in. I’ll try it after the next set of hill repeats.

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