Sunday, 15 May 2011

Mississauga Marathon race report

The morning of marathon #4 dawned gray and rainy, with the prospect of winds of 35 km/h coming from the northeast. And kilometres 25-42.2 of the course we would be running in, you guessed it, a NE direction. 

I couldn't decide between arm warmers or a jacket the night before, but I went outside this morning wearing the arm warmers, I immediately went back in for the jacket. 

Pre-race planning was a bit tight. Race started at 7:30 and got to the start around 7:10, with a long walk from the parking lot, finding the bag check and then combined with the last bathroom break, Beth and I got into the corral around 7:27. 

One thing that I've been doing lately that's worked REALLY well for me is to take a gel right before the start, but with the rushed start, I completely forgot to take my gel, which was in my checked bag. My breakfast was already more than 2 hours in the past at that point, and I felt "empty." Not a good feeling with 42.2 kms to go, and I needed to save my gummy bears for the actual race. 

The first 10K went by fairly well, there were some long downhills . I used the same strategy as at Around the Bay and Sporting Life 2 weeks ago; I let myself fly downhill as fast as my legs wanted to go. But I couldn't shake that empty feeling and I was really worried that there would be a meeting with The Wall later on. Even though I was eating gummy bears right on schedule, every 7 kms. It was hot and I would have taken off my jacket if I hadn't pinned my bib over the zipper. 

Around 14K, I saw a lovely familiar symbol on a sign. A Spark logo! it was GOEGIRL and she recognized me and we high fived so hard that my hand hurt for quite awhile (sorry! it was still appreciated though) 

Favourite things I saw/heard on the course: 

- a guy (running the race) wearing a shirt that said, RUNNING SUCKS. 

- a guy wearing a shirt that said, 80 year old running Grandpa. 

- there were some people with big speakers on the street playing music. Just as I ran by, the music switched to the 4th movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony (Ode To Joy to those of you who are not music nerds). I thought this was hilarious, as I wrote a paper analyzing this symphony in my university days, and remembered that the poem that the choral parts are based on has its roots as a glorified drinking song. 

Made the turn at 25K and into that wind. The rain throughout the race was not bad at all, never more than a light shower, but a headwind in the later stages of a marathon was just murder. I tried to make it to 32K without a walk break, but couldn't do it. I took short walk breaks almost every kilometre but I know from previous experience that walking doesn't make anything feel better, it just makes you finish slower. Also, the wind made it really, really cold and I was finally glad to have chosen the jacket over armwarmers. 

The course is a net downhill but I didn't realize there was at least 10K of rolling hills in that final section. EEEK. Recently I read some advice about hills: "attack a hill like you would a sleeping dragon, not by hacking at its tail, but by attacking its head." This advice turned out to be very helpful. 

For the first time EVER, I considered dropping out..but that would have been cowardly, since there was nothing specifically wrong, I wasn't injured, just feeling "off". The thought that kept me going was the fact that I was still on pace to be sub 4:30, a time I have been chasing since my first marathon back in 2009.

So, running at 40 secs/km off my goal pace, I made my way to the finish. Greg and Bryden were there, I wasn't sure they would come, given the poor weather. My hands were so cold that volunteers had to open and close the zipper of the changing tents at the finish line. I stayed to cheer Beth in, it was her first marathon and I am so proud of her! More than my own performance! While waiting for her, I saw a guy and girl finish. The guy looked really familiar, I saw him in the chute and sure was someone in my program at university. I knew the girl as well, both of them lived on my floor in 1st year. It was their first marathon too. 

I don't think there were any flaws in my training. I know in my heart that given better conditions, I could have run sub 4:15 and that will come in time. 

Official chip time: 4:24:02.5 
Field Placement: 749 / 1093 (68.5%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 43 / 71 (60.6%) 
Gender Placement: 256 / 463 (55.3%) 

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