So...I ran the Calgary marathon this past Sunday. Many of you might think that was pretty stupid...didn't this girl just have a race the past two weekends and now she's doing number 3? You might remember a blog posting from me a couple of weeks ago where I listed the races I had planned for the season but with no mention of the marathon! I wasn't entirely sure I was going to do it and wanted to wait and see how I felt after the Sun Mountain 50km before deciding to run the marathon or not. I felt pretty good after Sun Mtn and the few runs I had the week after were good so I figured what the hell! Calgary had a new route this year and I just really wanted to run it! I kept telling myself it's a training run to make sure I didn't do anything stupid like try to kill myself during the bloody thing!
Race morning arrived painfully early with my 5am wake up call and I woke up thinking (as I do on most race mornings), why the hell did I sign up for this? I'm just not a morning person and it takes me a while to wake up and get stoked for a race! It was a cold morning and when Andrew dropped me off at the Stampede grounds where the race was starting this year, I was not happy to get out of the warm truck into the 3ish degrees it was outside. I had a ton of clothes on and I was going to wait until the last possible minute to remove them and go to the bag drop.
Lately i've noticed this thing where i'll use the bathroom about a half hour before the race, think i'm good to go, but then about 10 mins later i'm busting to pee again. It's not a big deal at the start of a trail race as I can duck into the trees anywhere to pee! At a road race it's a little more difficult. The portapotty line was ridiculous...the line ups inside the building where the bag drop off was held was also ridiculous. Finally I just took off across the parking lot to find a few sparse trees/bushes to duck into. I'm sure I flashed some people but it was about 7 mins till race start at this point and the last thing I was worried about was showing someone my ass!
After peeing I booted it over to the crazy busy start and quickly meandered my way up towards the front. Finally I settled in a spot I liked and look at the guy next to me and it's my friend Garrath! I was pumped to see him as I hadn't run into anyone I knew so far. He was going for a 3:10 and considering that's around my PB, I knew I wouldn't be running with him for long. When the gun went off we settled into a decent pace that was just right for a change - not too fast - a nice change from what I often end up doing at the beginning of the marathon.
Pretty much right off the bat I could tell my legs were still feeling heavy and slow from the 50km just a week ago...I looked at my watch and my pace reflected this...it was all over the place jumping from 4:30 min/km to 4:40. I immediately concluded there was no way in hell i would be keeping this pace up for the whole thing. Considering I had signed up for this just as a training run and to have fun, I had to keep telling myself to chill and not care about the pace I was running...how could I expect to be running fast on tired legs from the past 2 weekends of racing and zero taper. Sheesh. I told Garrath to go on if he wanted to get his 3:10 as I was starting to slow down already...we ran together for maybe 4 or 5km i think before he trotted off ahead.
I settled into an ok pace and it was really just a mental game I was playing with myself...honestly, it would have made a lot more sense to just run without the watch and then I wouldn't have worried about what pace I was doing. I would look at my watch, be shocked at how slow I was running and then get pissed off. Argh! So frustrating to keep doing this!
I think around 11km or so was when the "big climb" of the race started...it was a fairly significant hill actually that went on for quite a while. Surprisingly my climbing legs felt fabulous and I totally just cruised up the hill and passed a load of people...this was one of my favorite moments of the race. I kept thanking myself for being a mountain runner :). I went through a pretty significant low between say 17km and 27km where all I kept thinking why the hell am I doing this....what a stupid idea. Why don't you drop right now? Then I would think, you've never DNF'd before...you'ore not going to start now. I kept fighting with myself like this for these 10 km, it was ridiculous! "You've got nothing to prove, you're tired, just drop"..."but i'm way over in Marda Loop so far from where the race ends, it's cold, if i drop i'm going to have to see if I can borrow a phone from a volunteer to call Andrew to come pick me up". Like I said...ridiculous.
At 27km my friend Matt from work was standing on the side of the road cheering on people...I was pumped to see him and he said I looked good and ran with me for a little bit for a chat. I said I felt like crap and had no idea how this was going to go! From this point on I was just getting myself from km marker to km marker and was starting to get happier as the amount of kms I had left to run decreased.
With about 11km I think to go we came to a significant downhill...running all the way down 14th street to memorial. My legs loved this and had some fun running down for a while. I started feeling better and started passing some people including a couple of girls. A few times throughout the race so far a couple of spectators and yelled out good job, you're in the top 10 females so i was stoked each time a girl would appear and I would try to reel her in. I wasn't sure where in the top 10 I was but knew I wanted to remain there!
With 10km to go I got a boost of energy...realized that at my slowest I could finish these 10 km in 50 mins...piece of cake. This made me so happy and i noticed i started feeling better and could tell my legs were feeling pretty peppy and I was increasing my speed. I was shocked that I was managing 4:30 min/km when I couldn't do this easily in the beginning of the race. I knew I would be finishing my last 10km a lot faster than 50 mins. I kept calculating my predicted marathon time and thought maybe i'd be able to get under 3:17 at this point. Running down Memorial Dr for the last part of the race was such easy running. I've run that route a thousand times....nice and flat...a great way to end a marathon. My legs were feeling great and I was running quick.
With about 5km to go I had caught up to a girl that had passed me earlier and she started chatting to me and asked if I minded her running with me. I didnt care at this point...just wanted to end this race as quick as possible! She was friendly and chatting away with my grunting out my responses and thinking...I can not chat right now, are you kidding me? Then she asked me something that made me laugh out loud..."Are you Ellie Greenwood?". I was like god no, are you kidding? She was like oh, you look like her and if you were her then that means i'm running pretty fast to keep up with her. I was like yeah, I don't look anything like Ellie but thanks for the compliment! I also thought to myself, you're nuts...our marathon time is going to be like a half hour slower than Ellie's!!
Eventually I pushed on from her as I couldn't handle the chattiness anymore and needed some quiet. I had made the mistake of not bringing music for this race as they had stated headphones were banned from the race. Of course I get to the start and everyone and their dog has music on. Doh! Anyhow, I digress. I moved on and managed to catch 2 more women on my way to the finish. I was continuing to pick up the pace and my watch was showing 4:24 min/km. I was excited at how I was running now and the last couple of kms ticked off really quick. There was lots of cheering and people calling out "Go Deb" (since my race bib had my name on it). It was great.
Finally I was heading down the home stretch with the finish line ahead of me...it finished at Stampede Park where the rodeo is held so it was really cool to run down the track with everyone watching up in the stands. Andrew's parents were visiting as well as his friend and they were all there cheering me as I ran by. I could see the clock ticking and was pumped to see it still said 3:15 and knew I didn't want it to get to 3:16 before I crossed! I took off and managed I think 3:15:45 and was super happy. To have played a mental game with myself all day, stick it out, finish strong, negative split, and finished 7th female overall...was awesome. It wasn't a PB but I hadn't expected one...it was only 6 mins off my PB and I was thrilled. I'm confident that when I decide to stick to marathon training and focus on a certain goal race, I will be able to smash my PB and get closer to that 3 hour marathon!
And now after that brief interlude, we are back to the trails for the rest of the summer! Next up - Fast Trax 50 mile in 2.5 weeks!