Tag Archives: racing

How to enjoy a marathon

I haven’t blogged much about it, but I have been training for the past 4 months for my third marathon: May 1 in Vancouver.

My first marathon was a triumphant 4:42:24 finish. My second attempt ended at the 15k mark with an injury to one of my upper calf muscles.

I’ve been ambivalent about running this marathon. Training is hard, it takes over your life. I haven’t been out in the evening in weeks. My friends are starting to wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Not only that, but I signed up to be a run leader for a spring marathon, not realizing my group would consist of exactly four people: me, two fellow run leaders, one of whom is not signed up for a race and who hasn’t completed a run more than 2 hours, another who injured her ankle hiking and had to drop out of marathon training, and our sole clinic participant who was in Hawaii for all of February and missed several crucial build-up runs.

But still, I slogged through my training, being sidelined by nagging injuries (that were caught early and treatable) only a couple of times. The whole time I’ve been plagued by doubt: do I really WANT to do this? Previously, the training was the most fun part of marathon training. Not so this time.

Of course, yes I do want to finish this marathon. I’ve worked so hard for this. I know the feeling of accomplishment after crossing that finish line and getting a medal is incomparable.

I think my problem is: I’m no longer a newbie. I know how hard it is. I’m under no illusions as to how much work it takes to cross the finish line after 42.2k. I’m under no illusions that race day might not be my day to have a good run. After last fall’s sudden, unexpected injury (it happened in the last week before the race) I know that any-freaking-thing can happen to derail my race plan.

I finished Saturday’s 3:30 run confident that I am ready to run Vancouver. Now taper starts. I’ve been doing everything I can to get into the right headspace to finish strong. I visualize the race each morning, including my triumphant finish. I listen to my marathon music mix, including Phoenix’s “Love Like a Sunset.” I imagine Chris (who’s flying in from New Brunswick the week before) waiting for me in the family area with his camera, a big hug and kiss to my sweaty, salty face.

I know that no matter what happens in the next 20 days, I will take whatever comes, knowing that life happens, the running gods sometimes have a sick sense of humour and I’ve done all I can to get me that medal.

If it’s true that the race is simply the victory lap after all the training, then I’m prepared to just enjoy the day.

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Race Report: GoodLife Victoria Marathon 8k, Oct 10, 2010

Goal: finish the race healthy and pain-free in an hour or so.

I was plagued by phantom popliteum pain all week leading up to the race. (Plus the need to carb-load, even though this is not a long-distance race!–Old habits I guess)

I even considered not racing, but one of my work colleagues, a veteran trail runner, counseled that I probably needed a “FINISH” under my belt for my own peace of mind.

He was SO right.

I met up with some other running gals the day before at an impromptu Marathoners Tweetup and soaked up the great energy. One was running her first marathon: I saw in her the sense of trepidation and excitement I felt exactly a year ago. The other two were running the Half. It was just the fellowship I needed.

I woke up early and walked to the start line, timing it just so I got there, checked my extra gear and made it to the start with 2 minutes to spare. I’m getting this racing logistics thing down to a science!

With over 3,000 runners in the 8k though – I got behind some walkers and slower runners. I kept telling myself “This is OK – you don’t WANT to actually race – you just need to take it easy and finish pain-free.”

So I tried to calm down, keep my pace at 7:00/km or slower, and take in the positive runner energy around me. I feel kinda bad that “positive runner energy” for me meant comparing myself in smugliness to other runners. I have a bad habit of judging other people, especially when I’m nervous about my own performance. For example:

  • Why would you wear a water belt with 16 oz of fluid for a race that will take you at most an hour? I couldn’t believe how many people I saw doing this.
  • Why do they let wheeled walkers on this course, but not baby strollers? (Not that I want either on the course)
  • Why not corral the walkers behind the runners?

I guess I’m just not used to running shorter races with lots of people participating – it was definitely an eye-opener and something to consider if I ever decide to run another 10K.

At any rate, the race was a relief, I felt very little pain in my upper calf, and the most fun part of the day was coming back to the Marythoner’s station to dance and cheer on my run clinic buddies as they came in for the homestretch in the  marathon.

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How to get over a DNF heartbreak: part I

I came off the Queen City Marathon course at the 15k mark with injury to my left upper calf: the “popper” muscle I call it (popliteus).

I had been for a run last Monday when I developed a tight calf muscle. I wrote about it earlier. I was hoping for the best but knew I might not be able to cross the finish line yesterday.

I was fine until 14.5 k. The pain was a dull roar, a tightness, and I was about 10 sec/km off my pace, which was OK by me. After 50 minutes on the course I was just getting warmed up and starting to enjoy the run. I had re-adjusted my goal and I just wanted to finish in 5 hours or less.

Then, on Assiniboine Avenue right next to the cemetery and across from an Apostolic church, I felt a sharp pain that drew me up into a limp and slowed my pace by about 30 sec/km. Another 500 m and I knew, with 25k to go, I wouldn’t even finish within 5 hours and this could only turn into a miserable death march.

It was really heartbreaking – I have never, ever DNF’d before and it feels like crap. But I made the right decision- I had to stop running or risk a really crippling injury. There’s “fatigue” pain you can run through and then there’s sharp, localized pain that is bad news. Smart runners know the difference. I want to be a healthy runner and I want to run the 8k in Victoria in a month’s time.

So how do you get over a DNF heartbreak? I dunno – you tell me.

I’m still in Saskatchewan for a few days – the bright light of my day is when I visit with my friends, my son, my daughter and her baby. Otherwise I’m still glum, missing my finisher’s medal, feeling incredibly fit and raring to go; except for that damn “popper” muscle in my left leg.

Part II of this series is the post where I get over my DNF heartbreak, then report back on my findings. I’m open to ideas – can any runner out there who has bounced back from a DNF please tell me how you did it?

PS: race course volunteers are saints. Especially Patty and her daughter Becky, who gave me water, a place to sit and cry for a while, and a ride to the 25k mark where my son and his dad were waiting for me with extra water, motivational signs written in Greek (um – my son is a Classics major…) and a flask of Irish whiskey.

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