Thursday, October 31, 2013

my marathon recap!


It's been 11 days since the marathon and I've had lot's of time to reflect- so this is gonna be a long blog- hope you're ready!  I'll pick up from where I left off on my last blog....right about to fly to Toronto. 

I arrived in Toronto on Thursday evening and was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful arrangement of flowers in my hotel room. The card said "To my best friend- I'm so proud of you!  Good luck in your first marathon. love Jessica".  Yeah, I totally cried.  How incredibly thoughtful- I have the best friend EVER!  So I was feeling pretty awesome from the minute I arrived in TO.  Then my roommate for the weekend arrived- Ms Lanni Marchant!  I was super happy to be roomies with this lady- we are good friends and have roomed together lots before.  Plus she is a veteran marathon runner- so I was excited to learn as much as I could from her about preparing for the big day.

 Spent the next few days just taking it easy.  Watched movies, ran a few easy runs, went for a course tour with Chris N, Robbie W, and Lanni, ate lots of food (turns out carbo-loading wasn't as fun as I though it was gonna be- it hurts to eat that much!), and spent time with my parents and aunts and uncles that were in town for my race. (Was pretty awesome having them there!) Lanni and I had a great time decorating our bottles.  They were pretty elaborate, and some may have called mine "obnoxious".  But let me tell you- I had no problem finding my bottles on the table during the race!
yeah, those are animal stickers:)

 The day before the race I was having lunch with some of the other elite runners- and they decided to share their marathon horror stories with me.  Thanks guys.  As if I wasn't already scared enough, I got to hear some of the following things- Lanni's recap of of her marathon at World's this past summer- jabbing a pin into her leg, severe cramping of her entire left leg, and the complete inability to run the last 5km. Krista's experience at World's when she collapsed at 12km, and was taken to the medical tent.  Marilyn's story of her marathon last fall in Toronto when she ran the last few kilometers completed doubled over and was getting "pity" claps from the crowd.  Rejean telling me how his legs just give out about 10 mins after he finishes a marathon.  Then there are the stories that scared me the most- the poop stories.  Having to go so bad mid race that you either have to stop on the side of the road or you just shit your pants.  And by pants i mean little bikini like shorts that we wear.  I definititly did not want any of these things to happen to me!  However, Rich assured me that if I hydrated well, got in my gels, stayed conservative for the first 30km, I would be all good.  My training had gone well and I was ready to go!  But, still, in the back of my mind I was thinking "dear god don't like me shit myself tomorrow".  I don't want that to be my marathon story!  And I can tell you right now- it was all good on race day!  Yay!
RACE DAY!  Woke up feeling super excited, but still relaxed.  Was able to eat a decent pre-race breakfast- banana, cliff bar and a coffee.  Same thing I always eat.  The weather was fantastic- we really lucked out.  Sunny and about 7C- a bit of wind.  Got in a good warm up with Krista, Lanni, and Marilyn A.  In the elite room about 20 minutes before the start- I started to get REALLY nervous.  This was it....after all the weeks of training it was finally time to race my first marathon!!!!  

Gun goes off and I settle in right away with my running buddy Chris Napier (my physio here in Vancouver) and our pacer Thomas Omwenga.  The plan was to run 3:40-3:42 kms for the first 35km and then go as hard as I could after that. I was not wearing my Garmin, but Chris was wearing his, so he was gonna do his best to keep us on pace.  Just as Coach Rich had predicted I immediately wanted to pick up the pace cause it felt too slow and way too easy.  But he told me this would happen and that I needed to be patient.  Going too hard in the first half would most likely cause a big blow up in the last 10km.  Chris kept yelling at me "Slow down" "be patient" "stay focused" "just relax".  He was a life saver.  Without him by my side I'm sure I would have gone way too hard in that first 25km.  So along we went- rolling pretty good, hitting mostly 3:40s. I felt fantastic and was chatting with the group we were running with for a bit.  Ran past my parents at 18k- gave them a big smile, wave, and my arm warmers and gloves:)
 Thomas on the left, Chris on the right in the blue.

21.1km- 1:17.26 at the half.  I'm stoked that we are right on pace, and I'm still feeling awesome.  Around 25km my lower back started to hurt a bit, but its always the first thing to tighten up when I get tired.  I started to speed up cause I was worried I was slowing down- Chris called me out and told me to relax, shorten my stride- stay focused.  Seriously thank god for Chris!  Thomas was still by my side or right in front of me, helping me along.  I was having no problems taking in my gels and water.  Oh wait, I did take a tangerine gel and thought i was gonna vomit it right back up.  But kept it down and things were good.

At the turn around point at 29km we see all the front runners coming.  Some of the top ladies really looked like they were suffering...this was encouraging for me cause I was still feeling pretty good.  So I made a mistake, got excited and ran a 3:31 km.  oops.  In an attempt to slow down, I slowed down way to much and hit the next km in 3:51!  oops again!  Finally settled back in (thanks to chris and thomas again) and was hitting 3:42s again. When I hit 35km I did my best to pick it up, and ended up dropping Chris about 20 meters or so.  Thomas was pulling away from me in an effort to get me going faster.  I was going as fast as I could at this point- which was still 3:42s, so even though I thought I was running faster, I was just getting tired and having to work harder.  The last 4km was quite tough, as it was very twisty and turny due to a lot of construction.  This made it even harder to pick up the pace.  Just after 37km I saw Lanni running past the 39km- and I screamed goooooo lanni!  She was killing it and this really got me excited!  I could see the 3rd place Canadian woman up ahead of me about 45- 60 seconds.  Oh I tried my very best to catch her.  When I hit 1km to go, I was feeling generally fatigued, but nothing in particular hurt too bad, so I was going all out!  I knew I was close to breaking I was really givin er.  

I crossed the finish line- 2:35.11!  So close! (the Commenwealth Games standard was 2:35.00).  I was overcome with many feelings- happiness, relief, pain!  The first person I hugged was Ron O'hare, a good friend who has been our physio on many team Canada trips.  I started crying and he was like "are you ok??" Me- "I'm just so happy!  I did it!"  Immediately I saw Lanni wrapped in a Canadian flag and I knew she must have broken the Canadian record.  I ran up to her and completely interrupted whatever interview it was that she was doing- "Did you break the record?"  Lanni- "Yes!"  Me- "OMG you're amazing! Congrats!!" and lots of hugging after that. So proud of that girl.  She's freakin amazing.  Smashed the 28 year old record! There was so much going on at the finish line, but I just wanted to find my parents.  Finally spotted them and again was over come with emotion.  Having them there meant more to me then I could ever put into words.  Mom, Dad and my Aunt Geri were beyond excited and we did lots of hugging.  It was a great moment.  

Back in the elite room, my body started to hurt.  Badly.  Everything started to throb.  This was pain unlike anything I had ever felt.  I was doing a fair bit of complaining and I think the English boys in the room were actually concerned about me.  Im just a big baby i told them- ill be fine!
ohhhh so much pain.  "Someone help me?!"

In the days following the marathon, I was pretty damn sore.  My body hurt.  Everywhere.  But it was so worth it!  I spent 5 days in Florida lying on the beach with my parents.  It was amazing and exacly what I needed.  Ate, slept, drank wine, suntanned.  Just awesome.  Got home on Saturday night and went for my first run on sunday morning.  Easy 30, and didn't feel too bad.  I'm on day 5 of running and up to about 50 mins.  Everything is feeling pretty much back to normal and I'm excited to get back into some harder training next week.  XC nationals is a month away!
mom and i on the beach:)

Ok time for the sentimental stuff..... where to start!

So if you read my last blog, you know that training for this marathon was very difficult me....  I really stuggled with some emotional stuff....I could never have gotten to the start line, never mind crossed the finish line, without the support of some very amazing people. I have such an incredible group of friends and family in my life- I am truly a lucky girl.

MOM AND DAD-  I love you both so incredibly much.  I don't know how to put into words how much I appreciate you both and everything you have done for me this past year.  When times got really tough this past September, your support, each and every day, is what got me through.  You encouraged me to not give up on the marathon and kept me going.  But also reassured me that if I couldn't do it, that was ok too- we would figure it out together.  I am so lucky to have parents like you guys!  It meant the world to me to have you in Toronto with me for my first marathon.

ALL OF MY AUNTS, UNCLES AND COUSINS WHO CAME TO MY RACE- having you there to support me and cheer me on was amazing!  Something I will never forget!

RICHARD LEE- What an awesome coach you are!  Thank-you for not only being my coach but for being my friend.  You were very patient with me and I know how difficult I can be.  My first experience in the marathon was pretty damn great and I have you to thank for that. You believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself.  I thought that going to the Olympics was just a dream, but now I think it could be a reality with you as my coach:)

KIM HOLLOWAY, JESSICA WRIGHT AND MARILYN YEO- seriously the three best friends a girl could ask for.  None of you ever left me side this year.  I'm sorry you had to listen to me cry so many times, but thank-you for never telling me not to.  Thank-you for believing in me and encouraging me to pursue my passion of running.  Love you girls like sisters!

ALEX AND INNOVATIVE FITNESS- my trainer, Alex, at innovative fitness spent the last 8 months getting me ready for the marathon.  We got my core ripped and my glutes super strong!  I felt so strong when I was running- thank-you for getting me to that point.  You do amazing things at Innovative Fitness- you really do change people's lives!  But more then just being my trainer, Alex, you were a good friend and showed me so much support.  Thank-you.

CHRIS NAPIER- Couldn't have ran 2:35 without you.  Thank-you for keeping me patient.  And thank-you for being an awesome physio and getting me to the start line healthy.  Congrats on your huge PB too!

BOBBY CALLAHAN- my roomie who had to deal with me every single day....thank-you for putting up with me! And thank you so so much for cooking me some amazing dinners. It's so nice to come home after a run to a fantastic meal:)  -

ASICS CANADA- thank-you for supporting me this year.  What a great company.  I appreciate all you have done for me.

TRAVIS FRASER- you didn't have to but you did- thank-you for always supporting me- I know it wasn't easy.  When I was ready to give up on the marathon, you were the one who convinced me not to- running was who I was and I would forever regret it if I didn't run the marathon.  Thank-you for not letting me quit. 

There are so many people that have made a difference in my life over the past few months.  They have shown me support in one way or another that helped to get me to that startline.  Whether it be a phone call to see how I'm holding up, to a coffee, maybe a drink, an easy run, or as simple as a text or email.  You have all been there for me in one of the toughest times of my life and I appreciate each and every one of you.  It's a long list.....DEANNA LARSON, KATE FISHER, MEGAN BRAEDER, SARAH CRONIN, VERONICA AND NICK WODAK, JAMES MERRIMAN, KELLY WEIBE, JANE CULLIS, CATHERINE WATKINS, CHRIS WINTER, RACHEL CLIFF, BRIT TOWNSEND, LEON BERARD, MARC NARDUZZI, BRITT HAYES, SEAN STEPHENSON, CHRIS LEPIK, MICHAEL DOYLE, LANNI MARCHANT, ERIN BURRETT, ASHELY NOBLE, REBECCA JOHNSTONE, LIZ METCALF, KIM COPP I'm sorry if I missed any one.  Again thank-you all for....well just being your awesome selves!

And the last "person" I want to thank is not a person at all....

THE MARATHON- Although I really hated training for you at times-, you were the best thing that happened to me this year.  When I first decided to run a marathon, it was because I wanted to try something new....thought it would be a good challenge and that perhaps I would be good at.  But after the first month of training it turned into much more....The physical exhaustion of training caused me to break down emotionally.  It was pretty much the first time since my separation that I really let me myself be sad.  The marathon forced me to deal with my "problems" instead of just ignoring them.  It was a hard time, but a necessary time.  Many days I did not want to get out of bed- but I knew how important every run was.  Thank-you marathon for getting me through my toughest days.  I always felt  better after each run or workout.  My heart is healing because of you. 

So there you have it!  My first marathon experience was definitely a positive one.  The entire weekend in Toronto was fantastic.  Running marathons is fun!  Already thinking about which marathon I want to run next!  Gotta get that commenwealth standard!

here's some more pics-

my friend's kids made me these adorable signs! 

celebrating with some bubbly with Lanni after the race

San Jose half marathon 2 weeks before the full marathon.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's marathon time!


 I know its been like 3 months since my last post...I've been slacking- sorry ya'll!  But here I am and I actually have something cool to blog about.  My first marathon is in 4 days.  4 freakin days people!  16 weeks of training has gone by in a flash. After years of saying I would NEVER run a marathon, here I am about to race 42.2 kilometers. I am flying to Toronto tomorrow morning, and then the next 3 days will just be a blur of excitement and nerves.  So let's tell you guys a bit about how this marathon build up has gone down...

In July I made the decision to switch coaches.  I had been with Brit Townsend for 12 years and she was (still is) an amazing coach.  She molded me into a successful runner and I owe her so much gratitude for my achievements over the years. I am incredibly grateful to have had her as my coach for as long as I did. However, I knew I was ready for a change. After meeting with Richard Lee several times, I knew he would be a great fit as my new coach. 

 I told him I wanted to run a marathon.  We decided together that the best place for me to run my debut marathon would be the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 20.  This gave me over 3 months to prepare.  So Rich got to work and put a detailed 16 week training plan together for me.  I gradually increased my mileage week by week, careful not to do too much too soon.  He included pool runs 2-3 times a week, which I enjoyed doing in the outdoor pool at Kits beach.  It was a great summer to do pool running! (got a tan while doing it:) Oh BTW I moved to Kits (a part of Vancouver) in July too.  Lot's of changes this summer!  So anyway, back to the running stuff.  Spent most of July and August just running.  Lot's of running.  My highest week of mileage peeked at 152km.  Not super high for a marathoner, but definitely a lot more then I had ever done before.  And I was consistently running 130-150km per week, whereas before I almost never got over 100km, and usually averaged 80-90km a week.  So this was a big adjustment for me.  I was only working 2-3 nights a week, as it was just too much trying to run twice a day and then serving at night.

My decision to run a marathon was a pretty easy one.  I had been thinking about it for the past year, but just never thought I would have the time to fully commit to the amount of training needed to run one.  I mean last year at this time I had decided that I was going to quit running competitively in the Spring.  So much can change in just one year... After a pretty successful winter/spring on the roads/track and cross country I knew I wasn't ready to quit- there was so much more I wanted to achieve!  It seemed like the time was right for a marathon and I knew I was ready for something new- for  a new challenge.  And oh what a challenge it has been!!!

First of all let me say that there were times in the last 16 weeks that I did not think I would make it to the start line.  So just sitting here tonight, knowing that I am healthy and good to go on Sunday is a huge accomplishment.  Training for this marathon is one of the hardest things that I have ever done- and I haven't even raced it yet!  Looking back I am not 100% sure that training for a marathon this summer was even the right decision for me.  I think I "bit off more then I could chew".  One of the main reasons I moved to Kits (an hour from Port Moody where I was living before), was for a fresh start.  Everything in Port Moody reminded me of my (ex) husband, and I wasn't able to move forward.  So move away I did- new roommate, new place, new training group, new job, new race- whole new life basically.  And I also thought that training for a marathon would be a great way to keep my mind off of my recent break-up, and focused on something else.  After 6 years of having your heart and soul invested in another person, I was completely lost when this person was gone.  I needed to focus my heart and soul on something else- my running.  So I put everything into training for this marathon.  The marathon was essentially my new boyfriend. lol.  Training for this marathon would be the key to fixing my broken heart- or so I thought. At first it was great, I was loving running all the time, enjoying the new workouts, having fun.  But then the exhaustion hit.  Somewhere near the end of August, I just kinda started falling apart.  It was more of an emotional falling apart, which came from being absolutely physically spent. And then I had a few bad races, and it was not good.  Not good at all.  I won't go into too many details (kinda personal stuff here people- sorry), but the last 6 weeks have been the hardest 6 weeks of my life.  But I am very happy to tell you that I sit here today feeling great.  Somehow, I made it through.  In September I was in a very bad (emotional) place and considered pulling out of the marathon all together.  I was completely overwhelmed.  BUT!  I did not give up.  I may have missed a few runs, but I really toughed it out.  And let me tell you it was not easy.  Running, and especially marathon running, requires a huge amount of mental focus.  And when your mind is a mess, its not a fun process.  

In the last 2 weeks everything just started getting better.  I'm not quite sure why, but I'm feeling like myself again.  I can actually say that I am feeling....happy?!  I am so proud of myself for getting to this point. I am extremely excited (and a little nervous of course) to race this weekend.  I was able to do all of the training and I am as prepared as I'm gonna be.  It's a good feeling knowing that I've done all the work and I'm as fit as I've ever been. Not just physically fit, but my head is clear and I'm focused! I feel confident that I will run a good race FOR ME.  I have no false illusions that I will be running under 2:30.  That has never been my goal for this marathon.  This marathon was more about the process.  And I've gotten through it.  I know that I am ready to run 2:35-36.  So fingers crossed that nothing goes terribly wrong and I am able to accomplish this goal.  But even if I don't run my ideal time- I will still be happy to just finish!  Now I may have said that training for this marathon is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my, but it is also one of the best things I've ever done.  I am a stronger person because of it.  "In your darkest hour, you find your greatest strength." 

Sorry, I know this blog ended up being a little "deep".  But hey, its the truth about what my marathon experience has been like thus far.  I'm not gonna sugar coat it!  Now it's time to get lots of rest, go for a few easy runs, get some massages, watch some movies and eat lots of carbs!  Sounds like the best part of marathon training is the next few days:)  Ok peeps, wish me luck!