Fitness Swellness: #KeepSweating to the finish line – My Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Race Report
October 26, 2015
So after several perspiration-filled months, my Gatorade Summer of Sweat #KeepSweating challenge all came down to Sunday, October 18th at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Is it possible to be both happy and disappointed at the same time with my marathon? Because that’s how I feel after having had a week to take it all in.
First things first: I did not meet my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I would’ve had to run a 3:45 marathon in order to meet the qualifying standard.
For weeks leading up to the race, I was quite sure I would not qualify. I know that’s not the right attitude going into a race, but this, my ninth marathon, is the least I’ve ever trained for one. I ended up having a heavy summer of travel for work, you may recall. To train on these trips would’ve called for getting up at 5 a.m. and running alone in the dark in a city I’m unfamiliar with, which I didn’t think was wise.
I also came down with a bad cough about a week prior to the race. Also, as you know, I joined the Pace & Mind team to train for this race, but my work schedule didn’t allow for me to make it out to run with the team, so I trained mostly alone (which can be tough) but I did run with a couple of team members outside of the official training runs. Add to all of this the fact that for many weeks, I was going through a bout of insomnia, sometimes only falling asleep at 8 a.m. Every day I was groggy and worn out. In the end, I completed only a handful of speed workouts and missed at least two long runs (which I try to never miss out on).
So on that Sunday, with Gatorade in my fuel belt, I had three goals in mind. My ultimate goal was, of course, to qualify for Boston. My secondary goal was to run a sub 4-hour (the goal Coach Rejean set for me; he was aware of the sleep issues and hectic schedule and my cough knocking me out of commission for more than a week). My last goal was to at least not have it be my slowest marathon (which, it turns out, was this very same Toronto Waterfront Marathon, and I ran a 4:20 on that hot day three years ago; it was the second marathon I’d ever run).
I’m a realist by nature, and I truly expected to finish in about 4:15, which would make it my second slowest race.
I started the race feeling much stronger than I expected to. And there were a lot of good things about race day. The weather was ideal for me. Many people found it too cold, but I loved that it was chilly, and wore shorts and my team singlet along with arm warmers that I eventually took off. Plus, the race is mostly flat. I made it to 22k feeling great, my pace was pretty much on track for me to meet my first goal.
Then at 22k, I fell apart mentally quite quickly. I stopped several times to hydrate, and I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was sit on the sidewalk and enjoy the sensation of this cold Gatorade going down my throat, helping me refuel and replenish what I had sweat out. At the same time, I was annoyed with myself because I knew I wasn’t even tired. The weather was ideal, my legs didn’t feel spent, and I had a flat course. “Pull yourself together,” I told myself. My running friend, Shawna, was meeting me at the 32k marker to run the last 12.2k with me, so I just kept saying in my head, “Just make it to Shawna, just do that, just make it to 32k.” Even though I knew the toughest 10k would follow.
The 32k mark finally came. Shawna refilled my bottle with Gatorade and we were off. I was able to pick up the pace thanks to having her alongside me, and I even felt strong. She did all of the chatting, encouraging me along, and got the people watching the race to cheer for me, announcing to them it was my ninth marathon, or telling them my name, and it was fantastic to get those cheers. Shawna was just so proud of me and kept telling me how strong I was running and pointing out how many other runners I was passing. At 36k, my friend Serena was on the corner in the cold cheering and that lifted my spirits big time. At about 39k was the most awesome cheer station filled with runners from Parkdale Road Runners (pretty much the best cheer squad ever, they do it up with confetti and loud cheering and it’s pretty much the best thing ever during a race, well, other than crossing the finish line!). Shout out to PDRR!
At this point, I was tired but not as exhausted as I have been after other races. I knew that my sub-4 goal was slipping away from me, but I was doing what I could. At 40k, my friend and Pace & Mind teammate Brandon, who I thought I’d see only after the race, caught up alongside me. He had paced another teammate in the half-marathon, gone home to change, then tracked my times and found me on the route, and ran the last two kilometres with me. I felt pretty special with my own little entourage pacing me, Shawna on one side and Brandon on the other.
Finally (finally!) we were approaching the finish with 500 metres to go. Here every 100 metres is counted down and I swear each 100 metres until the next sign has never felt so long (I remember thinking “This course has been measured wrong!”). Both Shawna and Brandon broke off of the chute at this point, running alongside where the crowds were, and I dug deep to push it to the finish.
Looking at the clock, I knew I hadn’t reached my sub-4 goal, and I was super disappointed with myself for falling apart mentally from 22k to 32k, but I was happy knowing I’d run 4:01 (when I’d anticipated a much, much slower race). Most of all I was thrilled to have completed my ninth marathon (I can tell you I’d never would’ve guessed I’d run even one ever) and even more filled with joy about having such awesome friends.
In the end, this Gatorade Summer of Sweat to #KeepSweating journey has taught me a few lessons. To try to not be so hard on myself (I can’t say I will succeed at that, that’s just me by nature…but I can try). That there are other things that can be so rewarding when it comes to running other than reaching that time goal. That being said, based on how strong I felt for most of this race, I believe now that I’m physically capable of reaching that BQ time, I just need to get my mental game in check and do the interval work. I truly feel had I not been traveling and suffering from insomnia, I could’ve BQ’d.
And, of course, this journey reminded me of the importance of hydration before, during and after. Thank you, Gatorade, for this incredible Summer of Sweat and the opportunity to push myself to win from within.
Filed under: Fitness Swellness