2011 Calgary Marathon Race Recap

First of all – thank you to all the friends who came by the course to cheer me on Sunday morning. Your energy got me through some tough spots! And a huge thanks to my awesome husband who got up at 5:30 am on his birthday to chauffeur and spectate.

Secondly – I did it! I ran the marathon in my goal time (a sub-4 hr) beating out my previous marathon PR of 4:18 by 20 minutes for a 3:57 chip time! The four-hour pace-bunnies were amazing and kept me on track through more exhausting miles than I care to remember.

And thirdly, neither Jonny or I remembered the camera until we were in the car on the way home from the race. So, no photos!

With that out of the way, on to the race recap!

It was cold when I got ready to run on Sunday morning, but not as cold as I had been expecting so I dressed in shorts and a long-sleeved zip top hoping that it would actually warm up as I ran. I ate some toast with PB and then hustled out to scrape the frost off the car before finally getting out the door.

With the late start and a bit of a walk from the car to the race start we arrived later than I’d planned. Since I only had about 15 minutes until the thing started, Jonny lined up in the bag check and I lined up for the porta potties.  We finished at about the same time and I hustled up to the start while Patches and Jonny found a spot to spectate from.

It would have been less stressful if I’d arrived earlier, but because I’d arrived so late I barely had to wait around before the gun went off (way easier on the nerves!). The start was really congested – all the half and full runners started together at 7 am – and it took almost 3 miles for things to stretch out a bit. On top of that I couldn’t feel my hands and feet because of the cold. But runners started to spread out, I warmed up and the first 6 miles pasted fairly quickly. Running felt good and I was on pace for my goal time.  

The first 9 miles of the course were pretty flat, but mile 10 was a huge uphill! I’d been dreading this hill and I could see my pace drop as I climbed. The four-hour pace group passed me on the up-hill and I focused on just staying with them.

After the hill the route took a 3 mile loop through a neighborhood and this was where I felt myself start to tire out. I had a few sour jube-jubes just before the half-way point and alternated being passed and passing the four-hour pace group.  I ran past more friends who were out cheering, but around mile 16 I started to slow down as we went uphill again. At this point I was also starting to get cramping in my calf muscles and aches in my feet!

As the four-hour group passed by again, one of the pace bunnies ran beside me and told me that if I just got through the next 8 km on pace it would be’ “a flat 10 km home in under four hours”.  His encouragement was exactly what I needed and I was able to pick up the pace to the 20 mile mark. I stopped feeling completely terrible and I’m pretty sure I was smiling as I ran by my cheering section at mile 19!

Because the course was an out and back, mile 20 was the start of the big downhill that I’d climbed around mile 10. You would think that going down would be easier but it was agony for my calves and feet. My pace dropped again as I came off the hill and I started to feel very frustrated. I felt that I was pushing so hard, but my Garmin was telling me I was slowing down and the four hour pace group was moving further away.  I don’t remember the last miles in Vancouver being so hard, but on Sunday they were a struggle. I kept thinking how disappointed I’d be in myself if I didn’t keep my pace and I missed my goal in the last 5 miles. I decided right then that I needed a new training plan for my next marathon because I felt awful!

Those couple of miles were really hard, but once I got to around mile 24 I found my energy again and, with about half a kilometre to go, I caught up to the 4 hour bunnies. Their enthusiasm and energy carried me those last couple of hundred metres to the finish line and I was done! I have never been more happy to have finished a run – it felt so good just to stop moving that I stood by the water table and drank 6 cups of Gatorade before moving on to find my husband and friends and celebrate.

In the end I am incredibly happy with how my marathon went and my final time! I’d  been a bit nervous in the week leading up to the race but I was able to achieve my goal time and I finished strong. While I was really sore right after, it went away quickly and I’ll be back to running/yoga by the weekend. For now I’m just enjoying not having to train!

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