It’s official….I’m a marathoner! What an experience the PEI Marathon was, and here I am four days later still looking for the right words to express how the day went.
I can say the week of the marathon was difficult. I did two 7K runs and was trying to carb load, but my nerves were on edge so bad that I could barely eat or sleep! I started taking antacids and reminding myself that I trained for this and it’s time to follow through. Finally by Thursday my belly felt better and I was able to eat more and hydrate myself. After terrible sleeps all week, I was surprised that I slept soundly Saturday night, and that made me feel more confident for the exhaustion I was about to endure.
The run was on Sunday, October 16, and here’s how it went…
Race Day Morning
I was up by 5 am and immediately started drinking a bottle of water. After 3 cups and some stretching, I got my coffee and breakfast ready, changed and triple checked I had all that I needed for the run. As the minutes ticked by I was feeling more and more nervous, but at the same time knew I had a schedule to follow so that occupied me!
We had plenty of time to get to the start line and arrived about thirty minutes before it got under way. The start line wasn’t very exciting, pretty quiet actually, but it got busy with a few bus loads of people arriving, and groups arriving for the corporate relay portion.
Weather wise we could not have asked for a better day! 2 degrees and chilly at the start…but NO RAIN! This time of year can bring just about anything, but luckily the winds were tame, and the cold didn’t stick around.
My awesome husband saw me to the start and when he left it really hit me this dream was a reality! There was no turning back! I can say that although I was nervous, I felt ready to run. I wasn’t looking to set a record, I simply wanted to finish without walking, and cross the finish line without falling down or throwing up (spoiler alert: I succeeded with those basic goals haha!) Being my first marathon, I wanted to enjoy the experience without the pressure of having a certain time to beat.
Marathon – The First Half
My plan was to stick around people who paced at 5:50-6:00 min/km so I wouldn’t burn myself out early on. I was able to stick with a group for the first 12 km at that pace and it really helped calm me down and get my breathing in check. This marathon is generally flat with a few rolling hills, and the big hills don’t come until the last 6-8 km, so I NEEDED to reserve energy for them!
Around the 14K mark I came upon my brother’s house and he and his family had made a HUGE sign for me and were cheering! I was blown away and it was such great motivation early on. I was like an MVP going past there, totally flattered!
From there I kept pace and enjoyed the view. Beautiful water, colored trees, and farms were all around, it really is a beautiful route to run!
My body felt good for the first half, and mentally I was confident with how everything was going. I knew this wouldn’t be a four hour marathon (that group was long gone!) but I envisioned a 4:15 finish and thought it was within my reach.
The halfway point marks the start of a trail portion of the marathon, and this is where things started to get tough.
After being on the trail for a few kilometers, I started to overthink my pace and got lost in my head. I couldn’t remember how long the trail section lasted, how much further I had to go, and I was noticing my left hamstring feeling tight. My bladder was yelling at me from the 13K mark but each bathroom I reached had people waiting, so I just kept running!
I hit 26K and it was the first time I thought “This sucks, why did I think this was a good idea?!?” However, negative thoughts breed more negative thoughts, so I pushed that aside and put my focus into the fact that I was doing this no matter what.
Finally at the 28K mark there was a free washroom, so I gave myself 60 seconds to get the job done! I bolted from the port-a-potty to make up whatever time I lost and continued on the trail. It was around the 29-32K mark that I started to feel like I’d never finish. The trail seemed never ending and I wanted to be done already!
Once we (finally) left the trail and were back on the highway I felt like I could get my bearings and started to calculate my finishing time. The soles of my feet were sore and my legs were feeling heavy, but I knew there were people waiting for me so I pushed on!
Just before tackling what I consider the first “real” hill, I had a cousin at a water station who helped put a smile on my face. I felt so tired but knew the end was within reach. With that I moved up the hill and got ready for the final stretch.
After climbing that first hill I saw a few more people I knew and that made all the difference! I turned to my favorite songs, talked to myself, and refused to walk up the last two hills. They were a struggle, and although it felt like I was speeding up them, my pace was sslloooww. The idea of finishing with 4:15 didn’t seem likely, but I knew the end was near and wanted to see just what I could do.
The final 2 km were flat and I gave everything I had. I was thirsty but didn’t stop for water for fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep going! I knew there was water at the finish and it was just another reason to get there as quick as I could.
I could see the finish line and the huge crowd gathered and when I heard my name called over the speaker I choked up and just wanted to cry! I didn’t hear my family and friends who were screaming my name, I only saw the finish line mats and the time clock that said 4:12:35! My time was better than I thought/expected and relief flooded me.
After my medal was on I went straight to the water table to fill up. My husband found me and that’s when I let the tears flow! He has always been there waiting for me year after year, and when I’m training he’s the one who wishes me luck and picks me up when I’m done. He has an unwavering support and I don’t have the words to fully explain how much it means to me (love you Jared!)
More family showed up which made it even more fun to celebrate. We got some photos and then made our way to the car so I could finally sit. With food and water in hand we headed home where I spent the ENTIRE afternoon curled up in bed with food. My body was sore and tired but I couldn’t rest! I just lounged with my dog and cat and started posting on social media.
The response was overwhelming and it really hadn’t sunk in yet that it was over. The months of training, the injury rehab, the early mornings, all finished! Part of me was upset that is was over, but the bigger part of me was enjoying the celebration of such an achievement.
We ended the day with a big feed of Chinese food and some chocolate 🙂 Perfect cap to a great day and a great run! My wheels were already spinning about how I was going to tackle next years marathon, I’m not done yet 🙂
I’m extremely thankful for the support I have received through my blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Any bit of encouragement helps and there really aren’t enough words for me to say how grateful I am for support from those I love and those I’ve never met in person!
This post is long enough, so my next post will cover race day fuel, post race recovery, and my future plans for running.
Are you a runner? If so, what are your current goals for running? I love supporting other runners so let me know!