So the day started early and we got to the Confederation Park Lot where there were school buses waiting to take us to the start line. There was such a feeling of reality having gone missing- here we were with all these ATHLETES. People who LOOK like runners. People who clearly belonged there. It was super cold and I was struggling with how many layers to take. Luckily I had brought something I bought for a couple of bucks at the Christmas tree shop, since I had read somewhere that a marathon that starts cold is a good place to get rid of old sweatshirts. Runners dump stuff along the route which is then picked up and usually donated somewhere it can be used. All along the route I saw gloves, sweats and even a pair of pants.
I ended up leaving my own windbreaker in the bathroom at the community centre where we started. I actually forgot it, but I doubt it would have helped much to have another layer on. The wicking stuff can't work without eventually being exposed to air, so having something that does not breathe would probably have made me sweaty.
I think I made it out to the start line after the actual start of the race, which of course does not really matter since I knew a couple of things- the race starts for each runner when your chip goes over the starter thingy and thus, its a personal time. I suppose if you wanted to make sure you got out in front of the pack so as not to get stuck in the congestion that exists until the pack thins out, then it might be annoying, but as far as I can tell, being in the back of the large body of starters is just as useful, especially if you have no expectation of being anything but last! In addition, I wasn't seriously doing this marathon, I was just trying to get some experience!
Marc started out walking with me, but when he realized how hard it was going to be to slow his stride for so long, he went on ahead with my blessing. For the first 5k or so, there was a cop car on my butt (literally) and I had the thought that this poor cop was gonna be there for a looong time, if he followed me all the way. After we got on the Red Hill Parkway, there was no one following because it was shut down though so the poor guy caught a break after all.
I have to say- the crowds and volunteers that were at the sides of the road were awesome. Some were there looking for specific runners, but others just seemed to be there. At one point a whole group on a bridge erupted in cheers when I came down the expressway and I shouted ' you guys must be freezing' and they shouted 'no we are warm cause we are watching you!'
Just before the Red Hill, the first runner ran by me. He had gone 19 km at that point and me, 5km. As he passed, he said really loudly and clearly 'YOU are doing GREAT! Keep up the good work!' and that was when I discovered that respect is earned in a marathong JUST by showing up. People respect that you are there and others are not. No matter how fast or slow, running or walking. They just respect your presence. It was more than respect. It was like KAVOD which in the simplest of terms means 'respect' in hebrew' but its like honour, really. It's more than 'just' respect, sort of like respect and admiration mixed together. That is what I got from the guy in first place, and I was clearly in last!
And thus began all the 42 k people passing by me and it was remarkable how many greeted me as such. I was so glad not to be wearing earphones, because if I had been, I would have missed all those awesome greetings and the opportunity to return those good wishes to them!
Coming down the Red Hill was gorgeous and it was FREEZING because there was a head wind off of lake ontario. I was pretty warm by then and the cold didn't really bother me. I can't imagine walking a half marathon in hot weather- the day was gorgeous and clear so it was beautiful and crisp and the view was spectacular.
At that point, I kept laughing about aiming for last place to all those people at the side of the road, but in truth, I wasn't sure I was even going to finish! That was too hard to explain really, so I just kept saying 'aiming for last- right on target!' and thought that I would figure out exactly what I was aiming for once I got to fifteen km, which was my goal. I knew from some other walkers that at about 17 k, I could skip the loop if I wanted to come in without going the whole way, so when I got to about 14 or 15, and the diversion was there, I was still feeling pretty good and decided that I would just go with it since I was doing ok anyways. The thing is that its a really good thing I did that. I would have learned stuff anyways had I not gone farther than 15k but I learned the most after I started getting blisters and then wearing out at about 16 and 18 km. 18 was about when I felt the 'pfft' happened and all in one second I learned how important carb loading and sports beans and or gels are. After that point, I was seriously green for the rest of the race. exacerbated by drinking which I had to do and which might have been alleviated by eating some sports beans but I was too nauseated to do. This means next time, I need to schedule the eating of the beans by the kilometer so that it isn't all at once and is a steady stream. I know it was also exacerbated by the fact that I did not carb load properly since my natural preferences run to eating proteins.
I ran into Marc who was doing great guns as I turned down to km 16 and that portion was all along the waterfront. Lake ontario was gorgeous and blue and the path is stunning and in excellent shape. seeing him lifted my spirits too!
at around 17 i discovered that what i thought was gravel in my shoe was actually a blister. Even then i never intended to stop, thinking that the worst thing about blisters is that they are annoying. They hurt but they dont kill you!
So, finally, here I was, approaching the finish line. People are cheering and talking to me and I am literally steps from the finish when BOOM I am on the ground and my left calf is charlie horsing like I never felt before in my life! I had tripped on someones' water bottle that was in the final runway and I guess since I was so tired, could not avoid tripping and falling. The jolt caused the spasm and I heard the words 'RUNNER DOWN' and thought 'OH SHIT they think I am dying!' and suddenly I am surrounded by first aid people. I keep saying 'I am ok, I am just having a charlie horse in my left leg, I am fine- I will stretch out and finish' when one of the first aiders says ' youre bleeding.' So, yes, I was, my thumb was bleeding and I was going to get a fun blood blister, but it was no worse than something I could give myself with a ceramic knife in a catering situation. Or even just cooking dinner for my family!
Someone went and got a wheelchair and I was like 'HELL NO' I am just going to stretch this cramp out and walk across the finish line! Someone figured out that it would be easier for me to get up if I got on my hands and knees from the uninjured side (I landed on my left arm and leg- to this day, my left leg is sore in places when I get on it in the wrong position), so I did as they suggested and got up to someone saying 'you need first aid' and I was like 'sure, just let me WALK across the finish and I will come to the tent for first aid.'
I walked across the finish line, made sure a number of pics got taken with my bloody thumb and a crazy look on my face and then went over to the first aid tent. They were hemming and hawing over me needing stitches and I was like 'um. I can do this to myself in the kitchen. The bleeding will stop, the skin will fall off and it's gonna be fine.' They bandaged me up and we were like 'hey listen we have a massage appointment at 2 in Niagara Falls, so BYE!'
It was sort of comical and then my friend Ira, who is an emerg doc told me that someone actually died that day and I felt bad for not taking the first aid people seriously. After all, what else would they think when they see a 300 pound woman on her butt after 21.1 k. Of course they thought I was dying!
Thats two for two though folks, because I fell at my first timed race too, although I was ok. That time I missed the curb to get out of the way of a city bus! But then I finished the last 4k.
So I am pretty much done with the race itself although next entry will be about a call I got after the race, and which was so inspiring.
I am off to the after hours clinic because I am having some symptoms that are concerning and want to get them checked out. Believe it or not, I think I am anemic (who could possibly eat more meat than me?!?!?) and the symptoms are annoying so I need to get it fixed up. Or maybe it's something else, but I definitely need to find out what is going on. I am feeling like light training only until I figure it out.
These are symptoms I have had before but not quite so much of it. I don't know if the half had anything to do with it but I know that this new walking and race thing has spotlighted to me how much I want to keep my health, so, instead of ignoring it, I am going off to the doc and seeing what is up!