Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Mississauga Marathon 2015

I've been wanting to pace a marathon, but thought if I was going to put myself through a marathon training cycle that I would want to race.  Enter Sulphur Springs 50K, and pacing a marathon as my last long run made perfect sense.

My assignment was 4:30 run/walk, and I prepared with an 8 day mini-taper.  If I didn't have the time goal, I wouldn't have tapered and run by feel.  

The whole thing seemed incredibly surreal, picking up my pacer gear, pinning on the MARATHON bib, getting on the shuttle to the start, I still couldn't wrap my head around, "hey I have to run a marathon today."

Amy, Emma, Robin, Jana, me, pre-race.
A totally normal occurence pre-race is that various people see my ears and sign and say, "oh I'll be running with you today!"  A girl, Malgorzata, found me before the race, followed me to the porta-potty, chatted to Robin and Jana and trailed me to the corral. It was her first marathon and she was obviously nervous.  

photo by Malgorzata.

Sam and Nicole passed by, and I grabbed them for a quick picture.  As I was fishing my phone out of my belt, I asked Nicole to hold my sign, but she held it high up in the air and yelled to the crowd, "have fun running with this girl! she's a pro!"

My race plan was a small positive split, since the first half is the one with the extended downhills.  It was mostly overcast, which kept things comfortably cool.  Ran the Mississauga Rd. hill easy-peasy, thankfully we hit a walk break about a minute after the crest of the hill.  An older gentleman, Don, complimented me on perfectly pacing the effort of that hill.  Shortly afterwards, I felt a gurgle in my stomach.  My brain started going on overdrive.  Is there a bush or tree up ahead? would it be better go to during a run or walk interval? Unfortunately, we were running through a residential neighbourhood, and the closest bunch of useable trees was in someone's front yard, behind a high stone step.  I would not have time to go behind the trees, so I handed my sign to Malgorzata, squatted as low as I could and pulled a Paula Radcliffe, ignoring the participants saying, "OMG! look at the pacer!" I don't think I took more than 30 seconds, but having to sprint back to the sign felt like the longest run ever and I prayed the extra effort wouldn't come back to haunt me later.

Made the turn onto Indian Rd. and it was clear there was a group closely following me.  "THIS IS WHERE THE SHIT GETS REAL!" I yelled.  I got rid of the sign at this point. "You can find me by now, right? Pink hair, crazy socks, bunny ears, pink skirt?!"  In the group was Malgorzata, Don, Anna, Linda, Lesley, and a guy in green plaid shorts that I'll call The Belcher.

What a difference from last year.  There was pretty much no wind at all.  We all talked a bit.  It was Anna's 2nd marathon and she had run close to 5 hours at Scotia last fall.  Linda was doing the marathon for her 60th birthday, which was upcoming.  Don was also doing the marathon (his 40th!!!) to celebrate HIS 60th birthday.  The Belcher punctuated the conversation with urps.

Went through the half in 2:13:30, exactly as planned.  Even the wind tunnel heading west on Lakeshore towards Oakville was only a slight breeze.  Suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kim's car with the vanity license plate slowly driving by.  "KIM! KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM!!!" I screamed, she rolled down the window and snapped a picture of me.  Very shortly after that, I saw Steve (whom I had met at the Avon Thru Run).

I look happy (I felt happy?!) but really, I was just screaming for Kim.
Took one little "unauthorized walk break" (as I called it) at the crest of the hill on Meadow Wood.  The sun was out and it was getting really hot.  A lot of people find the big rolling hills on Lakeshore to be killer, but I find the downhill really helps to break it up. I took another unauthorized walk break and the whole group walked with me.  "GOOOOOOOOOO!!! gogogogo you guys! DON'T MAKE ME SCREAM AT YOU AGAIN, I'M TOO TIRED!" I felt a teeny, tiny bit of a "wobble" - blood sugar dropping.  I remembered to bring 5 gels this year! downed the final gel and perked up.  I didn't have any more brain power to check with my pace band to see if we were on pace, the later kms were on the far side of my wrist and what? I needed to turn the band to the top of my wrist?  too much work. Even if I was off pace, I was still pretty damn close.  At the lighthouse, a spectator asked if I was on pace.  "yes!" I replied testily.  "really?" he asked.  Did I look horribly off pace? 

Despite the slow pace, the marathon went by surprisingly fast.  Before I knew it, we were at 40K.   Those goddamn bugs and pedestrians were everywhere.  The main group was still with me, Anna was right beside me, I wonder if the poor girl got a decent race picture?  I knew I was slightly off pace, and walked about 30 secs of the final walk break, jogged for the other 30 and then turned it up for the final km.

I felt like running along the chute and across the finish line upright and smiling was the joyful celebration that I missed out on last year.

Anna and I, seeing the finish.

Marathon #10.  A success!
Official chip time: 4:31:15
Field placement: 439/738
AG: 30-39
AG placement: 42/82
Gender placement: 144/281

At the finish, Don came up and again remarked on how great my even splits were.  Linda said, "I knew you were dying, but you kept it together enough to get us in on time."

2 days post-race, and my legs are actually feeling decent.  The countdown to Sulphur is on!


  1. Great day on the Mississauga course Patty! Nice pacing. Glad to hear your runners did well. I looked up Malgorzata and she finished in 4:30:46. I thought I saw her cross the line and based on the time, I did. I screamed for her but didn't know her name at the time. Congrats on #10 as well and see you in a couple of weeks at Sulphur!!

  2. Congratulations Patty! You did a great job and seems you motivated your little group really well, even the belcher!

    Good luck at Sulphur!!

  3. Amazing day Patty! I think you did amazingly well for your first paced marathon. What a way to get #10 done! Congrats.