- 6:45AM start from our local Running Room store. Destination: 35KM west.
- Constant 20 kph winds from the west… better get used to this.
- Sun is rising, air is cool; beautiful morning!
- We head immediately for country roads – so peaceful!
- Very little traffic out, some fishermen already lining the canal.
- Our pace groups have quickly spread out and I’m running with three of my ‘regulars.’
- Is it too early to start talking about brunch? Yummy…
- Keeping the pace nice and easy for the first 10K, chatting away and not thinking too far ahead.
- Messages in sidewalk chalk on the road; our friends must be ahead!
- There they are, all decked out in tutus and cowboy hats, music blasting and cheering like fools. They offer water and fruit but we don’t need anything just yet.
- Continuing along quiet country roads, taking in the sights and smells of local farms.
- Farmers drive by occasionally in their trucks and tractors, most offer a wave or a toot on the horn.
- As we approach the half way point, friends from a faster pace group catch up (they started 5 minutes or so after us); my pace has been quickening and I decide to stick with them.
- We spot more inspirational messages in sidewalk chalk on the road and hear music up ahead.
- Time for a quick pit stop (~19K) to refill water bottles and snack on fresh fruit (my fave).
- A few high fives and hugs, and we are on the road again.
- I knew we’d have another aid/entertainment station at 29K, so all I had to focus on was the next 10K.
- Constant wind was getting to me off and on, though it was wonderful for keeping cool.
- This entire ‘leg’ was one long, straight stretch of road with field stretching as far as the eye could see. Surprisingly, not boring… very easy to get in the zone and breathe in the fresh country air.
- Road was somewhat broken and bumpy in parts; hips not too happy.
- I picked up a personal pace bunny in the form of one of our veteran (and speedy!) marathoners. We weren’t talking much (darn wind), but it was nice having company and he helped me pick up the pace without even realizing it.
- Rolling hills start. Pace bunny Alex says, ‘This is where the work begins.’ Oh boy!
- More sidewalk chalk. Has it been 10K already?
- HUGE climb and we can see tutus and cowboy hats at the top of the hill. Pump, pump, pump.
- Sigh of relief … time for another quick pit stop.
- Oranges never tasted so good. I almost dump a bottle of Gatorade on my head.
- Time to ditch the long sleeve shirt, tank underneath. The wind is still cool, but the sun is hot.
- 6K to go with the largest climbs and it’s time to turn it on. I pull out my iPod, crank the tunes and take off on my own. I’m ready to tackle this solo.
- 3K of hard uphill lies ahead, but I know the final 3K are primarily downhill
- I work on hard on climbs and maintain close to goal marathon pace.
- Someone is just a hundred metres or so ahead of me and I focus on chasing him down. I finally catch up at the top of the last hill (mountain).
- The view up here makes the burning in my legs worthwhile.
- Downhill to the finish! I let myself go and fly down, clocking my two fastest splits at 5:05 and 5:07 (8:11 and 8:14 per mile pace).
- I finally turn on to coach’s street, knowing the imaginary finish line is just a few hundred metres ahead. We had been encouraged to walk this unkind uphill as a cool-down, but my Garmin hadn’t chimed 35K yet.
- Just… keep… running.
- And DONE!
Last summer I completed this run at an average pace of 6:19/KM = 10:10/mi and dragged my feet through the last 10K.
35.10 KM / 21.81 mi
5:44/KM = 9:13/mi
1st Half: 1:43:30
2nd Half: 1:37:52
After stretching, freshening up and high fives all around, we enjoyed the most incredible spread of food I have ever seen. Fresh fruit, roasted vegetables, yogurt, quiche, potato casserole, french toast, scrambled eggs with feta, grilled peameal bacon, bean salad, bagels with cream cheese & lox, and baked goodies galore. We filled the room with laughter, chatter, war stories from the road and sounds of satisfaction as we stuffed our faces with delight.
Soon it was time to hit the road and on the way home I realized just how far we had run.