Let me preface this by saying that I am the last person who ever thought I would (or could!) become a runner… let alone run a half marathon! As a matter of fact, my husband started running in 2005 and I thought he was insane! But something possessed me to give it a try last December. I quickly became hooked on the challenge and the satisfaction of gradually increasing my distance. Before I knew it, I was running 5, 7, 10, 12 KM at a time. I convinced my husband (although, it did not take much convincing!) to sign up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 30th. And now, after months of anticipation, excitement and (occasionally) anxiety, the big day has come and gone.
On September 30th we were up at 4:00 AM to be downtown by 6. Our wedding photographer was kind enough to meet us there to snap some ‘before’ pics, which I should have soon. Before long it was time to position ourselves in the start corral and find our pace bunny. At this point, the nerves had settled and we were both eager to get this thing started!
The gun went off at 7:00 AM sharp, but we didn’t cross the start line until a few minutes had passed. This is what happens when 12,000 people are starting a race at the same time and this is why our official time is three minutes and thirty-eight seconds slower than our chip time.
The crowd started dispersing after about the first kilometre and we were finally able to fall into a groove with our pace bunny (or “my rabbit” as I liked to refer to him). We were off to a great start and I felt like a million bucks. The crowds cheering us on at every street corner really kept our spirits up and kept my mind off the fact that my feet would be pounding the pavement for the next two hours.
It was a beautiful morning at about 15 degrees. It was still dark when we started, but the sun quickly began to rise. We were grateful for a cloudy horizon that kept the sun out of our eyes until the end of the race. I could not have asked for a better day.
The first kilometres were flying by. The big red flags signifying each kilometre seemed to be coming really fast and each one gave me a boost of confidence and pride. I was really doing it!
One of my favourite parts of the entire race was around the 7th or 8th KM when the elite marathon runners were approaching from the opposite direction (the course was basically a big loop). Those are some serious runners and it gave me a huge burst of adrenaline as they whizzed by. John Kelai from Kenya actually beat the record for the fastest marathon ever run in Canada at 2:09:30. We all gave them a big cheer as they passed and it felt good to be a part of something. KWIM?
The next few kilometres continued to be a breeze and a few times I even thought to myself this is too easy! I think it was around the 12th kilometre when I realized I was really going to be able to do it. Up until then I had told myself over and over that I could, but I don’t know if I really believed myself. It was a huge accomplishment to pass the 14th kilometre marker because the longest continuous distance I had previously run was 13.5.
It was around 17 KM that it got tough. My legs were getting tired and I was running out of steam. Knowing that there were only a few KM’s to go (and my husband’s constant encouragement) kept me going. Every kilometre marker was a small victory. By about the 19th, I had to will my legs to take each step and I can remember chanting in my head 1, 2, 1, 2… We started to hear the crowds at the finish line and I wanted to sprint to the end sooo badly, but I just had nothing left.
About 500 metres to go… we could see the balloon arch over the finish line. I dug deep (SO deep!) to pick it up for the finish. I heard my Mom call out my name and found her and my sister in the crowd cheering us on. We held hands and pushed as hard as we could til we crossed that finish line!
Gun time was 2:16:24 and chip time was 2:12:46. It would have been nice to reach our goal of sub 2:15:00 in “official time” but chip time is the real deal (start line to finish line).
WE DID IT!!!