Alright, we are back for part TWO of the marathon weekend! Yep, this brings us to race day.
Yesterday I chatted about the zip up jacket the marathoners got, and this is it! I love it so much. It is warm and cozy, and I of course had to represent on marathon morning! Ryan and I took tons of pictures before the race started, and yes, that meant me posing in front of the Parliament buildings. The start line was to the right of the building, so we had a bit of fun during the walk to the start.
And then Ryan suggested one pose in particular…
How embarrassing, ha! Do it for the blog though, right?
Pre-race I ate oatmeal, half a banana and a small scoop of almond butter. I tried this out during training as my pre-long run breakfast and it digested well and did not give me any tummy troubles, so I decided to stick with what works! I also filled my water bottle with some citrus flavoured Nuun and sipped on that, then brought my water bottle with me on the drive to Victoria. I try not to have TOO much water pre-run so liquid isn’t sloshing around in my stomach, but I did a TON of hydrating in the three days leading up to the race to make sure I was adequately hydrated. This meant that I just needed to top up on Sunday morning! About half an hour before the race started I took a HoneyStinger gel, a few sips of water, then headed to the port-a-potty line up for one last bathroom stop before the race started!
Of course, we had to take a few selfies, too. All about documenting the day!
Then, it was time for me to find my place in the crowd and start getting in the zone! Ryan made me tear up before I started and yep, there’s a picture for that, too!
All red-nosed and smiling. Happy tears, people. Happy tears! The crowd sung the Canadian anthem and counted down from 10. “Holy crap,” I thought. “I’m running a marathon!” I had thought quite a few times during the run because it was just one of those awe-inspiring moments. I put my headphones in and had my music ready to go for when I felt like listening to it, then made sure my sunglasses were on and clean and before I knew it we were crossing the start line.
Ryan and I had made a plan for him to make a few stops along the route to cheer me along, so I knew that soon enough I would see him. The first time was just before the 1km mark on one of the main roads, and then it was time for him to move to the next spot.
The first “official” place I saw Ryan was at the 5km mark. We were running into Beacon Hill park where we would then loop around and head towards Dallas Rd to run along the water. He took a lot of these pictures throughout all his stops along the route!
I probably went out a bit too fast, but I was feeling good at this point and decided to stick with one of the pacing groups to see how far I could go with them. I made a decision earlier on that it wasn’t about TIME for my first marathon, but for the experience. I wanted to enjoy myself as much as possible, and the first marathon is always a PR time!
Despite running with others during races, I am not a chatty person as I run. Don’t let the headphones in my ears fool you, either. I didn’t turn my music on until about the 15km mark as I wanted to soak in as much as the crowd as I could. Even in the residential areas people would come out of their house to cheer us on, and there were tons of great signs along the way!
Speaking of signs, my fam jam made some awesome ones that surely were a hit! Especially that WINE one ; ) We will get to that in a moment. First though, I saw Ryan again around the 27km mark, not long after the turn around.
My mantra for the marathon, which I had written on my hand, was “I can and I will.” I would look down at my hand whenever I started to feel tired and I knew that I was DOING it. I was following through on the plan I committed to and the big, audacious goal that I had dreamed of accomplishing for years. If not now, when? Running a marathon is scary, exciting, FUN, painful, and so fulfilling I can’t even begin to put it into words. I don’t think there are words that accurately describe how the whole journey felt, but it certainly was an experience I will never forget.
Now to the fun signs!
I saw my parents, sister, and Ryan around the 31km mark and I loved their signs. My mom had pom poms and I could hear them screaming my name as I got closer and closer. There was a mild incline at this point as we ran through Oak Bay, but their cheers were music to my ears. My mom pretended to run alongside me as she cheered my name, and my dad, sister, and Ryan were all cheering along.
At the 37km mark I saw Ryan again, which is what I needed to help propel me forward. If you have run this route before, you’ll know that there is a long, gradual hill along this waterfront section, so knowing that he would be there helped motivate me up that hill. My body was definitely tired at this point, but I pushed on and knew that there were only 5km to go before the finish line. 5km seemed like nothing compared to the distance I had already covered!
To fuel me along the way I took three HoneyStinger gels (I finished my last one around the 38 ish km mark) and also had my water belt with me. I did have water and Ultima from a few of the hydration stations which was great, too.
Waving and putting on a happy face! I made a conscious effort to SMILE and relax my shoulders. This may seem easy, but when you are 40km deep into a marathon it can be tempting to tense up and power through. I’m all for powering through, but I did it with a SMILE because as hard as it was, I was truly enjoying the moment and soaking it all up. The crowds on the sidelines got thicker as we got closer and closer to the finish line, and with 500m to go, I ran my little hiney off. Ryan caught this finish line shot of me just STEPS before I became a marathoner.
I remembered to raise my arms and SMILE as I crossed the finish line, then immediately shut off my Garmin as all runners do. I high-fived the race directors that were waiting for all the finishers, then grabbed one of those space blankets (I think that’s what they were called) so my body temperature wouldn’t drop too drastically, and heard Ryan and my family calling my name from the side. They got the perfect spot in the finishers area! I headed over and gave them HUGE hugs (or as big as I could) over the fence, then told them “I need to keep moving!” and headed towards a more open spot in the finisher chute where they could meet me. As soon as I saw them I gave all of them BIG BIG hugs now, then carried on to the FOOD!
They always have a great selection of food at the finish line. Granola bars, TONS of cookies (I’m an oatmeal raisin girl at heart, so I grabbed one of those), oranges, bananas, hydration drinks, water, juice, etc. I grabbed pretty much one of everything, ate my orange right away and chugged water, but my appetite wasn’t quite there yet. My body needed to cool down a bit and my heart rate needed to slow before I could even think about eating more!
We found a quiet(er) spot to take pictures and chat about the race. Then, I ate some of my cookie and banana, and my mom snapped a bunch more pictures as moms do. I secretly wanted ALL the pictures because I needed to document this amazing moment!
I felt tired but so damn accomplished after the race! 16 weeks of training, early wake up calls, putting one foot in front of the other despite feeling tired, unmotivated, or downright exhausted. I always knew that I wanted to run a marathon, but I never knew WHEN that moment would come. When I signed up for this marathon December of 2016, race day felt so far away. However, it doesn’t matter how FAR away your race is or your target date is, because no matter what you do, the time will pass anyway. I thought about what I would be doing if I didn’t sign up for the marathon and how much I would kick myself and wish that I had signed up. If you would’ve told me two years ago that I would be a marathoner in 2017, I probably would’ve laughed, but I would be curious to know if I could do it. However, there is no wondering. There is no guessing. I accomplished what I set out to do, and I am damn proud of myself.
I also wanted to give a huge shout out to Ryan for being the best boyfriend of all time. He has been at every finish line in our almost four years together, and was such a trooper throughout my 16 weeks of training. He is never afraid to jump in when I need help, and he always encourages me to go for my big crazy dreams. I am so damn thankful to have him in my life as he is such a big part of my support system and never fails to make me feel loved and cared for. Okay, sappy part over!
Also, another shout out to my sister for coming along this crazy journey with me too! She came to the expo with me, made kick ass signs for the race, and was always there to encourage me. Plus, she has such a good sense of humour that kept me laughing throughout training when the runs were getting longer and harder, so I am thankful for her positivity!
Andddd of course a shout out to my mom & dad for being there throughout it all and especially being part of my race day! I am completely overwhelmed by all the love and support I have around me and couldn’t be more grateful for the family and friends that I have.
To anyone who has “liked” an Instagram post about my training, given me well wishes on my training journey, congratulated me, reached out, wished me good luck, texted me, called me, supported me throughout this journey. Hell, for all of those who said I was crazy for doing this… THANK YOU. I am forever grateful!
There are NO LIMITS to what you can do if you set your mind to it. You are amazing and incredible and strong and you can do anything you dream of. What happens from here? Well, I am still basking in the post-marathon moment and it is all settling in for me. Believe it or not, the day went by in such a flash that it is taking some time to process the fact that I actually ran 42.2km/26.2 miles this weekend and it’s all over. I am feeling a little bittersweet, but I know that there are more finish lines and milestone moments ahead for me, and I can’t wait to share more with you all!
On Sunday, October 8th, 2017 I became a marathoner. I will forever remember this milestone moment!