Saying it’s been an emotional day would be a bit of an understatement, and that doesn’t even include my BIG NEWS! (It’s at the bottom).
Today I tackled my longest training distance in preparation for the Hamilton Road2Hope Marathon: 33km with just me, the rain and my very awesome playlist. Last week’s 30km run with Héctor was tough enough, particularly after 27km, and this week I had not only an extra 3km but I was on my own with no one to talk me through those last few kilometers that were so painful. Plenty of challenge!
My route started on the east side of Burlington at Appleby Line, and followed the lake to Hamilton where I covered the last 10km of the marathon course before turning around and retracing my path. Immediately I stumbled across a power line trail, which was absolutely gorgeous in the morning fog and filled with fellow runners and walkers to keep me company for the first several kilometers. I decided to run by effort today rather than by pace like I usually do, and quickly settled into a very comfortable 5:45 pace (the fact that I can even honestly write the words “very comfortable 5:45 pace” makes me feel so amazed at the incredible improvement I’ve experienced over the past month of training). I also ran through the preparations for Burlington’s CIBC Run for the Cure and garnered some cheers and jokes about my “headstart” from volunteer course marshals, before moving down towards the lake and feeling the power of Lake Ontario waves crashing into the pier.
After crossing the bridge into Hamilton, I was officially running on the course for the Hamilton marathon and I was struck by how beautiful and energetic the trail becomes, with waves and surfers dancing in the lake, photographers capturing the action and beauty of nature, and a multitude of runners, cyclists, walkers, dogs, children and squirrels filling the trail with the joy of being outside and active. How could I not enjoy the run? I was smiling the whole way and didn’t want to turn around when I reached 16.5km. (I did though, because I know how long runs work – you’re supposed to feel great in the middle of them, but it’s a terrible time to make decisions regarding distance).
I felt great all the way up to about 20km when I started to feel little twinges of pain in my left knee. A tight IT band is not a new issue and it just means I need to spend more quality time with my roller, but it was tough to realize I was in pain and still had 13km to finish. (Just in case you’re worried, yes I can run through it, yes it’s painful, but often it gets better after a while and I’m not making it worse). I kicked it up a notch with a special Espresso GU gel I brought along for when things got tough. Cause I’m tough too.
With 8km to go and my knee pain fading, I started picking up the pace again…and realized that the difficult part of the run had started while I was distracted with my knee, and that this was going to be a very long 8km. I had the mixed blessing of running back through the now-dispersing Run for the Cure, which was nice because I got some cheers and encouragement, but sucked because there were now lots of people to dodge – and my legs weren’t really in any condition to be dodging anything. Shoutout to the guy I passed, then informed that “I’m a ninja!” when he commented that I snuck up on him: I was delirious and my blood sugar was probably very low. Apparently I get a little crazy around 28km.
Around 29km, I had to cross a street then run back up onto the pathway. I cried a little because of that slope that I am going to call a hill.
At 30.5km, I started talking to myself.
At 32km, with 1km to go, I picked up the pace to a blistering 6:20/km, a little terrified that my legs would just collapse, throwing me into the pavement without enough energy to even raise my arms. I avoided this doomsday scenario (which I’m sure would have ended with me curled up on the sidewalk bawling), finished that last painful kilometer by talking myself through 100m increments, and stumbled to a halt as my Garmin beeped my 33rd kilometer split. Then I started crying as the low blood sugar and incredible sense of accomplishment hit me all at once.
So with my monster 33km and a few tears out of the way…
I have some BIG NEWS!
I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and decided to finally take the plunge and register for my first full Ironman! On July 27, 2014 I will be finishing a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run in Whistler, BC at IRONMAN Canada.
There’s a story behind this, and I’ll share it once everything sinks in a little. Until then, enjoy looking at my registration page, and appreciate that it took me about 10 minutes to actually press “complete payment” after filling out all my information. It’s kind of a big deal.