If you’re curious how I felt before the marathon, you can read about it here. These are some of my thoughts the day after.
This was goal #1. Don’t die. And I didn’t! Check mark.
Goal number two was to make it to the end. Walking, Running or Crawling. However didn’t matter – just cross the line. I did that. I didn’t quit. I crossed the finish line. Check mark.
My third goal, really my “dream goal”, what I didn’t know I could accomplish, was to run the entire race. And I do mean running; no walks, no bathroom breaks, running. I’ve never run 26 miles (42.2 Km) before. I didn’t even attempt it in training. But I really, really wanted to be able to run the whole marathon, from beginning to end.
I still remember, 10 years ago, when I was 60 or so pounds overweight and putting on my shoes to run for the first time ever in my life. I didn’t make it to the end of my street. But I kept running. The first time I was able to run 5k without stopping was a memorable day. I remember the route, the clothes I was wearing, what I was thinking about, everything. It was a milestone, an emotional one. Since then I’ve gradually pushed myself to run longer and longer distances.
Yesterday I ran a marathon, from beginning to end, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Check mark.
0 – 10 Kms: I kept a nice easy pace in the beginning. I know that there is a tendency to run fast early and burn out later, so I kept reminding myself to keep to a relaxed pace. There was a long hill at 9 – 10, but I’ve always trained with hills, especially on a treadmill, so I felt great when I pushed up it just fine.
10 – 20 Kms. Still feeling good. The weather was a lot hotter than I expected and I don’t carry water with me, so I was feeling very grateful for all the water stops and all of the volunteers manning them. Pacific Spirit Park and the UBC campus mostly. Quite pretty, and running mostly in a big pack. This makes it difficult when people suddenly stop, which they tend to do at random times or at water stations. It’s always a bit unexpected and I did crash into at least one woman.
20 -30 Kms. This was the nicest part of the run by far. Along Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach and Kitsilano. These are a few of Vancouver’s nicest beaches and the view of the oceans and mountains on a clear day is always impressive. Really pretty, more shade, and the pack had begun to thin out a bit. When I crossed the halfway point I was feeling great. I had killed my previous 1/2 marathon time and my legs felt just fine. I might have actually been smiling. However, at the half my iPod shuffle died and the music that kept me pumped and distracted was no more. Only my own steps and breathing to listen to from now on. Even so, I enjoyed myself at this time. About halfway through this leg I felt certain I was going to finish how I wanted to.
30 – 42 Kms. This was awful. Just pain and worry. My former certainty was completely gone. Things started getting hard at about 30k. My legs started to stiffen up and I felt like I was losing feeling in my right toes. This leg also starts with a hill at Burrard bridge. By the time I crested it, my legs were on fire and my right foot hurt with a stinging pain. I knew I still had to get around Stanley Park and was just dreading it. The seawall around Stanley Park is my usual run. I know every corner of it. It’s 10km of flat running, so it should be easy. But it wasn’t. Every step felt like dragging cinder blocks painfully behind me, every time I pulled one forward my thigh muscles screamed at me. I had to constantly push thoughts of quitting out of my mind. I tried to ignore the pain by imagining myself like a floating head, as if my body didn’t exist. Nothing really worked. I wanted so bad to stop. I imagined a thousand excuses why I should stop, or at least start walking for a bit. But I gave into none of them. I don’t really know how I kept going, I just refused to stop. The last 10Kms of this race was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally.
Last Kilometre – After you get out of the park you run downtown for a bit. I hadn’t really been watching the kilometre markers too closely but at some point I saw a young guy with a sign that read “Only 700 Meters Left” and I was almost in disbelief. It felt like that moment when you wake up from a nightmare but aren’t quite sure if you’re safe yet. When I rounded the corner on Pender St. I could actually see the finish. 500 meters left and I was still running. It was actually going to happen.
And it did. I crossed the finish line astounded with myself. Once I passed the chalk line indicating 42.2 Kilometres I immediately started walking toward the ribbon holders. The guy who put it around my neck asked how I felt. I responded, “I actually just ran a marathon.” like maybe saying it out loud would make it real.
Once I found a bottle of water I pretty much collapsed. I couldn’t stand. My legs hurt then worse then ever. How had I been running a minute ago when I can’t even stand now? My legs were both shaking and twitching. I watched them for a while. Weird. I drank two bottles of water on the ground before picking myself up to head home.
Where I ate an entire large pizza and fell asleep on the couch at 3:30pm.
What a day. A memorable one, for sure.
I actually just ran a marathon.
Post: This is what it looks like when you run a marathon and don’t want to pay for the pictures.