Marathon #3 is in the books!
A Little Background: I was actually supposed to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon back in 2017, but when I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in June 2017, I was sadly forced to defer my race for a year. I’d chosen Toronto Waterfront because it has an amazing (and well-earned) reputation as being well-organized, and because my older brother lives in Toronto and I’ve grown to really know and love that city.
I trained throughout summer/fall 2018 (more on that later) and honestly, my training for Toronto was the most empowering, positive race preparation experience I’ve ever had. No injuries, no self-doubt, and no fear.
Anyhow, I woke up really early on race day and made some oatmeal w/ applesauce, tea (WITH CAFFEINE which I had weaned off of un given up for the 6 weeks leading up to the race) and Nuun. I also packed some start line snacks- pretzels- which I ate like 2 of in the car and then totally forgot to bring with me to the start.
It was forecasted to be COLD. It’s only October, but this is a waterfront race in Canada, so forecasts predicted high 20s at the start and low 40s at the finish. I’m an experienced cold-weather runner, so I chose to wear 7/8 length lululemon leggings, a tank, 1/4 zip long sleeve, gloves, a headband, and a toss-away sweater for the start. It was perfect.
The traffic getting to the start line was INTENSE. Just FYI, if you ever run this race… leave early. My brother was driving me and he was stressed out. I was trying to stay zen, but I gotta say, there were moments there where I was talking myself down.
Anywho… Once I got to the start (20 minutes early, I might add; we’d taken an alternative route after sitting in traffic for I don’t know how long and that shortcut saved me) I was so, so impressed. There were SO MANY clean porta potties lining the start corrals so runners could run to use them then get back in their corral really easily. The corrals were labelled by color and there were tons of signs and volunteers telling you where to go. The music was great and when each wave set off, they shot off confetti that coordinated to that start corral’s color. I thought this was a nice touch.
I got to see my brother, his wife and my niece at the 5k mark which was really cool. Sidenote: While driving along the route the day before, it became clear to me that there would be no mile markers along this race, only kilometer markers. Now, I sort of know my kilometer conversions, but once I started seeing things like “31.5km” I was just like “huh?” My brother created a fun, punny sign about this- see above photo- which I loved.
Miles 1-18 were pretty uneventful. The course was pretty familiar to me until that point, since I’ve been visiting my brother 3-ish times a year to explore Toronto for the last 6 years. I enjoyed seeing all the sights and listened to my music and felt super strong. During this time my paces were between 8:55-9:30 pace. I fueled with Clif brand gels every 4 miles and switched off between gatorade and water at the aid stations, which were well placed and well staffed.
At mile 18, I kind of had to use a bathroom, but found that all the portas I stopped at (2 stops, 5 portas) were being monopolized by runners with serious GI Issues. Like, I totally understand GI stuff, but it was frustrating to lose 3+ minutes waiting to use a toilet that far into a race. Runners: this is why we practice fueling during long runs!
Also, this is why I carry an Imodium tablet in my fuel belt and pop it at the first sign of distress during a race. (I checked in with my doctor about this and he said it was perfectly okay.)
Once I finally found a free porta at Mile 21, I was struggling with a sharp pain in the side of my left leg. I was hoping it would fade, but by mile 22 I’d slowed down significantly and in a lot of pain. I knew that the pain was in my IT band, so I knew it wasn’t a major injury. (I’ve been in PT for IT Band Syndrome since May 2017)
And so, for the first time in any race I’ve ever run, I took a few walk breaks between miles 22-26.2. This was really hard for me because I hadn’t actually “hit the wall.” I still felt strong, I still had energy, my head was clear. My IT band was just really throbbing, and would totally seize up every half mile or so which made it hard for me to maintain a decent running form. So instead of trying to hobble and end up pulling muscles, I chose to walk for a block or so, pump up my music, and make it happen.
And I did make it happen!
As I came around the corner to the finish line, I heard my brother shout my name and saw that he’d climbed up into a windowsill of a building right at the finish line. I thought this was hilarious, hence these pictures.
The finish line was actually really well organized. The chute was pretty short; they had us all turn off the course after only about 200 feet of walking post finish line and funneled us all into the wide, open square outside of city hall. I found my brother right away and grabbed a bunch of snacks. We took some FREAKING AMAZING pictures, too:)
I finished with a time of 4:18. A PR, but not quite at my goal of getting in the 4:10-4:15 range. In these moments I try to remind myself that I’m stile miles and miles and miles ahead of everyone still in bed on this weekend morning. Plus, I’d shaved a full 15 minutes off my previous race time, and that’s pretty darn cool.
(This is a re-write of a post that was destroyed in the great disc-space crash of ReadWriteRun in December 2018. It was re-written using the photo folders and notes from the original post. Enjoy! )