Race report: Toronto Marathon 2012 (aka my first FULL marathon!)

May 8, 2012

Still a bit dazed about the fact that I ran 42.2 kilometres on Sunday. Wowzers.

(oh, and it’s a personal best–okaaaaay, so it’s a PB automatically since it’s my first race of this distance; I still think I set the bar pretty high for myself off the bat :)

Sort of lucked out with the weather — a bit too sunny and warm at 18C for running for many hours (I was thankful the race started earlier this year at 7:30). Definitely better than last year’s rain for the same race when I ran the half-marathon.

Things that made it a fantastic race:

  1. So many friends came to cheer me and it gave me a little boost when throughout the route, I had their happy faces to cheer me on. I had originally thought it’d be fun and more exciting to do a destination race as my first marathon, but I’m so glad I did one here at home. Besides my friends and sisters, so many other people just watching the race, too, would call out my name (the names are on the bibs) and it’s kinda the nicest thing ever to get that kind of encouragement — something to remember if you ever go watch a race as a spectator!
  2. My two sisters — one’s ran many,  many marathons and she ran me in the last few kilometres, which helped me set my mind on getting to the finish line by following her rather than thinking only about how sore and tired my legs felt. She’s the biggest cheerleader — as we ran, she’d rouse up the spectators by saying “This is my sister! It’s her first marathon!!” and people would cheer and clap. She was like a real-life version of that Klondike noise metre at the Raptors games at the Air Canada Centre! My other sister also came out to support — she came on her bike so I saw her many times along the toughest portion of the race (aka the last 10k) and she made the bestest banner inspired by my chevron-dot manicure (it was seriously the nicest banner I saw in the race — I’m not being biased!) (that’s the banner pictured above in case you hadn’t figured that out…).
  3. I was able to finish running 42.2k. That in itself makes it fantastic to me!

As for how the race went? Well, my goal was just to finish, but in order to take on running a marathon you have to decide what pace you’re capable of maintaining for the whole 42.2k. Based on past races and my training runs, race predictor calculators estimated anything from 4 hours to 4 hours and 20 minutes to finish the whole race (in the anxiety-ridden week prior to the marathon, I think I plugged in every run I’d done in the last year trying to figure out a reasonable pace for myself!). I decided I’d try to aim for four hours, but didn’t set my heart on it too much. So many things can go wrong on race day and it was my very first marathon so I anticipated anything from 4 hours to 4 hours and 30 minutes or even more.

I was so crazy nervous at the start that I was shaking. I’m glad I only got into the start corral with two minutes to race start as that’s when I started to have a mini freak out. I tried my best to forget the three weeks straight of training I missed because of an eye infection and cold. And how I only made it out for hills training once due to work commitments. I just shut it out of my mind and thought “Here goes, there’s nothing else I can do at this point!”

I started out too fast (with some kilometres completed at a 5:10/km pace) so I kept telling myself to slow the eff down. If I kept going too fast, I’d burn out early on. I eventually slowed to 5:32/km, which was still faster than I needed to be, but definitely more reasonable. And I kept this pace comfortably until about 32 kilometres.

And at 32k, that’s when I started to feel tired. Then the 10s-and-1s 4-hour pace bunny passed me. And then the 4-hour continuous pace bunny and I kept passing each other until he drew away and eventually I couldn’t even see him, his pink pace-bunny ears and red Tshirt at all. I just couldn’t keep the pace up anymore, but I didn’t really harp on it. I figured I’d do what I could and that’s all I could ask for. At this point, since I’d already accidentally ripped my pace band, I stopped referring to it and just kept focused on how many kilometres I had left. I knew my sister was meeting me around the 38 or 39k mark so I broke down the remaining race into chunks based on that (“Only two more k til I see her, and then a k or two and I’ll see this friend, and then that friend,” etc.)…

And before I knew it, there was the finish line, yippee!

And it “only” took 4 hours, 6 minutes and 35 seconds.

Notice how I referred to it as my first marathon? That’s cuz, yes, I will do another, I’ve already decided.

Lessons I learned for my next race:

  • I need to invest in some BodyGlide; turns out I have a tendency to chafe on one of my arms — bet you were dying to know intimate chafing details! I can Twitpic my arm if you’d like!
  • Only drinking Gatorade while taking energy chews for the last three hours of the race is gross. I was so tired of the sweetness that I had to grab water at one of the stations just to get the taste out of my mouth. At the post-marathon brunch I went to with my cheer squad, I had to have something savoury as pancakes with syrup would’ve made me nauseous. Next time, I’ll plan for water in my bottle when I start with my energy gummies.
  • Reinforce paper pace bands with scotch tape underneath as well, so they don’t rip as easily. I literally gasped out loud when it fell apart in my hands at the 25k mark.

Marathon #2? Bring it on!

Filed under: Fitness Swellness,Healthy Swellness

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17 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. ShareItFitness  |  May 8, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Congrats on your first marathon!

  • 2. healthandswellness  |  May 8, 2012 at 7:20 PM


  • 3. msiddiqi  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Congrats! That’s a fantastic time, never mind for your first one.

  • 4. msiddiqi  |  May 8, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Congrats! That’s a fantastic time, never mind it being your first!

  • 5. Sheryl  |  May 8, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Great job on your first marathon! Congrats!

  • 6. Running for Reachout  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    “And it “only” took 4 hours, 6 minutes and 35 seconds.”
    It took me like six attempts to beat that time, that’s an incredible first result! Well done

  • 7. healthandswellness  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Thank you! I’m pretty thrilled with my time, yes! :)

  • 8. healthandswellness  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Thanks, Sheryl!!

  • 9. healthandswellness  |  May 9, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Thank you! Yes, I’m pretty thrilled with my overall time, first marathon or not :)

  • 10. Vicky Leung  |  May 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Congrats on your first marathon! That’s an amazing time, first time or not! Can’t wait to read how quickly you run your next. Which race are you thinking of?

  • 11. healthandswellness  |  May 9, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Thanks, Vicky! Probably this fall unless something comes up. Still have to figure out which one — would love to do New York or Chicago next year, though, if I can nab a spot.

  • 12. Sporting Life 10k. Let&hellip  |  May 12, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    […] I will try to run it slow and easy (rather than race it) since I really should recuperating from the marathon last weekend. Even slow and easy will likely be a personal best time, though, as I’m much faster than I […]

  • 13. Race report: Sporting Lif&hellip  |  May 14, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    […] normal scheme of things as I usually run that at least once a week, but this is just one week after my first marathon (a marathon is 42.2 kilometres for the non-runners reading […]

  • 14. Dana  |  May 15, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Jaw dropping and completely inspiring. SO proud of you! Almost makes me want to try running once more. Almost…

  • 15. healthandswellness  |  May 15, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    AW, thanks! You know I think you should try it again!

  • 16. The risks of marathon run&hellip  |  May 18, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    […] time is 4 hours and 35 minutes? That makes my finish time in my very first marathon two weeks ago waaaay above average — yep, totes tooting my own horn! Toot, […]

  • 17. Race report: Scotiabank T&hellip  |  October 15, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    […] I ran my second marathon yesterday. (I just ran the Goodlife Toronto Marathon in the spring, you may […]

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