After Erie in September, I recovered quickly and felt that I had another marathon in me this year. I set my sights on Road2Hope and wanted to take another stab at a 3:45. I had a few big training weeks and some really solid workouts that left me feeling strong and confident going in to the race – I definitely felt that I was in better shape than I had been at Erie and the conditions were looking just about perfect. Temperatures in the 5-15C range, light wind and clear skies made it a beautiful day to run.
We were spoiled with an awesome support crew once again and the usual pre-race shenanigans did a great job at keeping my nerves in check. We met up with the rest of our group for good lucks, hugs and photos and before we knew it, it was time to line up for the 7:30 start.
I am generally most comfortable racing solo (until the end when I’ll take all the help I can get!) so I was ready to just turn up the music and do my thing. I enjoyed the quiet country roads and views from the escarpment during the first half, although I did find it a lot hillier than I was expecting. I didn’t talk to anyone at all, but zoned out and tried to stay in the moment. I decided to try gelling earlier this time and had a Gu every 6K. I opted not to carry any bottles but took a cup of water and a cup of gatorade form each aid station (every 3k), slowing only slightly to grab them.
5:18, 5:19, 5:22, 5:17, 5:17, 5:17, 5:16, 5:24, 5:15, 5:21
I was surprised to seeing our support crew cheering at 12.5K and it was the best thing ever. I could still hear them screaming even as I carried on a couple hundred metres down the road and I didn’t stop smiling for ages. What a boost – hence the 5:11 split below. Oops!
5:16, 5;21, 5:11, 5:20, 5:15, 5:15, 5:16, 5:20, 5:14, 5:18
My first half split was just under 1:52, which was exactly where I wanted to be. At 22k we hit the downhill for 6k and I was careful to keep my pace controlled. I only sped up by about 5s/km and instead took advantage of the benefit of less effort. Before I knew it we were climbing the off-ramp at 28k. I hated the next section on the trail, as I have in the past, with its tricky footing (those bricks?!) and short, steep hills. My legs were also feeling a little wobbly from the downhill and all I could think was WTF!
5:18, 5:24, 5:10, 5:17, 5:11, 5:15, 5:15, 5:25, 5:25, 5:42
What a nice surprise when I spotted my friend Luis running toward me with the biggest grin on his face! He made this tough section fly by, filling me in on how everyone else was doing, taking my sweaty wrist pouch and gloves for me and giving me water. The next thing I knew we were hitting the waterfront at 31k and I got to see the whole gang again for a much-needed boost.
Andy jumped in with me here to take me through the rest of the race. I told him I was feeling a bit tired, to which he said “that’s ok!” I remember thinking, easy for you to say… lol. I told him where I was in terms of pace and then settled in to follow him to the finish.
It was awesome to see Laura out cheering on the trail – thanks for the pic!
I felt myself starting to fade at about 34k – the same place it happened at Erie. My pace only slipped slightly (5-10s/km) but I knew it was about to get very tough. I told myself to just hang in there until the turn-around and then it would feel easier to be running toward the finish. HAHAHAHA! Not so much. Andy kept telling me how well I was doing (I remember thinking, liar!) and told me to quit looking at my Garmin. Finally I just took it off and handed it to him because it was only frustrating me. He pulled out all the stops to keep me going – pointing out how many people we were passing and telling me we were sucking up all of their energy as we did so (this felt like some kind of messed up video game in my delirious head at this point), waving his arms around to pump up the crowds and telling all kinds of random people my name.
I wanted to walk so badly and kept promising myself I could walk at 37k, then 38k, then 39k. But I never did. I hadn’t walked a step of that race so far and this was no time to start. Plus, I’m pretty sure Andy would have yelled at me! I think I only said 3 words during this section and they were “I can’t” and “ughhhh”. I didn’t feel like drinking anything anymore but Andy kept handing me cups of water and gatorade from his bottle so I forced them down. He was telling me that this was just like the final few KMs of the Tottenham trail where we finished many of my key workouts together, always with a negative split. I wanted to pick up the pace so badly but I just could not will my legs to go any faster.
5:10, 5:16, 5:15, 5:22, 5:23, 5:32, 5:34, 5:36, 5:36, 5:42
Finally we were passing 40k and our fantastic group of supporters were screaming my name. I made Andy tell me what time my Garmin was showing when we passed 41k (3:40) which added a 4th word to my vocabulary: “f*ck!” Finally, mercifully, I could see the finish and Andy pointed out one last person that I needed to pass. I have no idea if I did or not but somehow I got over that line.
Admittedly, I was (am) a little disappointed not to get that 3:45 but I am damn proud of a 3:46. Last year at Road2Hope I struggled through a 2:04 half marathon wondering if I would ever run a marathon again. This year I was able to run three, improving with each one, and I’m starting to believe I might even be able to chase my 6-year-old PB again next year.
A super duper huge congratulations to hubby who ran a 3:08:48 for a new PB and BQ!