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 I was privileged to read an as-yet-unpublished piece of his that really inspired me.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!