Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Musings of a Mississauga Marathoner

This is me at the beginning of the race, fresh and feeling confident, waving at the camera man. (Although it looks like how I run on trails, with my hands out, anticipating an imminent face-plant after tripping over tree roots.) 

Hello, my name is Sandy. I am a Blog Procrastinator.
There, admitted. Short and sweet. Let's move on.

I am also a marathoner, for the second time in my life. Ran my first one in 2010 and vowed NEVER AGAIN. However: 

Ran the Mississauga Marathon on May 4. The whole thing. Well, ran most of it. Walked a bit in-between the running. Stopped for two Porta-Potty breaks. (So annoying, but when ya gotta go, the thought consumes you. You can't think of anything else. And I can't pee while I run. I tried it once, with a Depends, on a training run on my little country road. "No go." Haha. Body seems to be incapable of that particular type of multi-tasking. Alas, I digress.)

Unlike the 30K Around the Bay, I paid better attention to my food intake for the whole week prior to the Mississauga race. I "carb-loaded" almost all week, and I even quit drinking alcohol after Tuesday (the run was on Sunday). Whew, that was almost harder than the marathon. (The night before the 30K Around the Bay, I ate a heavy meal of creamy risotto and mushrooms and washed it down with two glasses of wine. Not a good idea. Legs felt sluggish very early on in that race.)

Since we had to be in Mississauga - at the start line - by 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, I went to bed super early on Saturday. We had to leave at 5:30 a.m. to get there on time, which means my alarm went off at 4:30. Ugh. 

Despite the early rise, all was looking good at the start line (including my running outfit. I mean, it was pretty cute. It was grey and black, to match the dark circles under my eyes.) After Mississauga's beloved and remarkably perky 93-year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion saluted all 2800+ runners and wished them well, we were off. The course was lovely and flat, with a great little loop through University of Toronto's gorgeous Erindale campus and some neighbourhoods that looked vaguely familiar to this former Mississauga girl.

Aside from enjoying the scenery, you may wonder if I had any other goals, like, for example, when I planned on finishing. Let's just say the thought of qualifying for Boston (4 hours for a 50 year old female) got thrown out the window several months ago. While I kept up with the distance training, I was not practising speed or hill work, and my cross training was minimal at best. I would have been content with a finish of 4.5 hours. 

Yeah, whatever. 

With a couple of kilometres left to go, the competition was tight at my heels. I gave a brave thumbs-up to the cameraman, who, I am sure, was inwardly laughing his ass off. I know I do whenever I look at this picture.

Let's fast-forward: With 15km to go my right brain cheerily, if somewhat desperately, held on to the thread of a notion that I MAY still be able to make the 4.5 hour time goal. My left brain, however, retorted with, "Are you KIDDING? Have you HEARD the shallow breathing going on here? The girl has MAJOR HEARTBURN! Like the kind she had when she was a newlywed living in her mother-in-law's house! And it isn't going away! It's just sitting there, slowing her pace down rather nicely…." May have been the caffeine-loaded sports gel, I don't know. Or the expired sports gels that I found in the bottom of my running gear drawer….

So anyway, there are advantages to taking frequent walk breaks during a marathon: You get to enjoy the scenery more. Like when me and another runner were taking a walk break through this lovely forested neighbourhood of huge mansion-like homes when a lone deer emerged from the trees. We watched silently as this rather surreal, wildlife moment took place - a young deer ambling slowly across the road during a marathon, not concerned with us crazies at all, as it stopped to forage in someone's garden before continuing on its way.

The runner in front of me turned around.
"Did you just see that?" he asked.
"Yes, it was lovely!" I enthused. "Definitely worth the walk break!"
"Good," he replied. "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't hallucinating." Ha. 
Eventually I passed him, this fit looking guy who was probably 20 years my junior. Had to write that. He probably passed me at some point later, I'm sure.

So on I "ran," with my heartburn, to the finish line. And wow, you should have seen me finish. Under five hours, I'll have you know. By 16 seconds. I mean, as Ann Jackson, my good friend and awesome personal trainer says, when she wins races (yes, all kinds), "I BOOKED it to the finish line." 

When Ann books it, she books it. When I book it, I imagine I am Ann, until I see the video footage. (Yes! The photo company offers you video footage along with photographs!) And then I cry and laugh hysterically and tell all my friends at the celebration dinner (where we get together to celebrate all this crazy running shit that we do) how ridiculously mistaken I was that I could ever possibly look like Ann or any truly competitive athlete. (And that's OK! When you're 50, you begin to know who you are, thank God, and you can laugh about it.)

The conversation goes something like this:
"I really thought I was booking it!" I exclaim through tears of semi-drunken laughter. 
"Yeah, I KNOW!" my running friend Mhairi pipes up, relating to the feeling, as do many of us mere mortal runners. "You feel like you're a gazelle, right? Striding along…."
"Yes! Exactly!" I respond. "Despite the fact that my inseam is a squat 28", I DO feel like one of those long-legged Olympic gold medallists, with the crowd cheering in amazement at my gazelle-like speed, grace and power!" 

Actual Gazelle. 

It's a nice fantasy while it lasts.

Am I happy? You bet. Do I regret buying the video? Not a chance. And if I can figure out how to load it onto this blog, I will. It's my own form of "Gold." Something my grandkids can watch one day, hopefully in amazement. Maybe it will inspire them, who knows? Marathon #2 at age 50. CHECK.

Gazelle, in spirit.

A big thank-you goes out to Ann Jackson of Thrive Fitness Studio Alliston, our great friend, a great athlete and personal trainer, for volunteering to drive us there and back home again. Also I thank my running mates, Janette, Mhairi and Heather for waiting for me, for three hours, after completing the half marathon (a much saner choice). You all made me feel proud, and I am proud of you for your amazing finish times. See you at the next start line!

No comments:

Post a Comment