Pre race goals:
base: upright and smiling
stretch: PB (4:10:28)
reach: sub 4
In the weeks leading up to the race, all I could think about was my TFL issue, considering there was quite a bit of pain even in my little 3.5K shakeout on Thursday. I got the KT tape people to tape it up at the expo, and initially it caused more referral pain, but by the time we left the expo, my leg was feeling significantly better.
Race morning, I slapped a large amount of Voltaren on my hip and IT band, taped up both and met Sam J. and Amy D. at a plaza near Sam's house.
Walking to the meetup and standing outside, it was COLD COLD COLD. Almost regretted the short sleeves, but I knew it would be much warmer in the sun. The first half was uneventful. Very uneventful. We talked a bit, probably more than Robin would have liked to. On Indian Road and Truscott, she told me to draft behind her to cut the headwind and it definitely made a difference. Aside from a little bit of strategic passing, the goal was to conserve energy for the end. Robin B.'s strategy was to run up the hills easy, which I thought I have done in the past, but not as easy as she ran them.
1st half - 1:57:12. Right on pace.
Then things got ugly. I was mentally prepared for brutal winds in the Lakeshore/Southdown stretch and was still drafting behind Robin, but I was a few metres behind. I didn't like running behind her because it felt like I was constantly trying to catch up. Made it to 20 miles still on pace. Robin giving me the pep talk "just an hour left!" "single digit countdown!" I took my 4th and last gel at 33K. STUPIDEST NEWBIE MISTAKE EVER. In past marathons, my fueling strategy has been 5 gels, one every 7K. Somehow I totally forgot this and only brought 4 with me. You'd think I'd compensate by taking Gatorade at aid stations..nope, water only.
I'm sure you can figure out what happened next. I was falling off pace, Robin pretty much screamed at me non-stop, "HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT THAT SUB 4? DO YOU WANT TO BLOW IT WITH LESS THAN 5K TO GO?! DO YOU WANT TO GET THIS DONE NOW OR GO HOME AND THINK ABOUT IT UNTIL THE FALL?" I was trying desperately to keep up but my legs were rebelling. I'd stop for a 5 second walk break and Robin would stop, turn around and physically shove me onward.
In my dazed state, I saw Greg at the 40K mark. At this point, I was barely functional but he knew that his job was to get me to the finish. I knew I was wasting energy by saying "I can't!!!" and at that point I was thinking I already had a huge PB in the bag and forget about sub 4. But Robin kept yelling...
Then at 41K, I went down. Greg and Robin each grabbed one of my hands and pulled me back up. Apparently Elaine F. and Phil L. were there but I did not see them. Made the turn into Lakefront Promenade and I could see the number on the clock was a 4. The original plan, Greg was supposed to jump off since he wasn't a registered runner but I needed both of them to pull me along. I saw Sam J. and Irina S. cheering and crossed the finish line and went down immediately. But I stopped my Garmin! lol There have been several races where I thought, "I'm gonna give it all I've got and the medics are going to have to cart me off the course in a wheelchair." I didn't think it would actually happen but it did.
In the medical tent, I poured water and Gatorade down my throat and recovered to stagger out to the finish, where Emma I. and Amy D. were getting their medals. I will always be sad I didn't get to see them finish!
I had a little ache in the outer part of my foot so I thought a massage would be a good idea. I sat down to wait and then my hip flexor cramped up. Then both my calves, multiple times. And my foot joined in as well. I'm lying on the massage table with ice packs everywhere, freezing to death and it was hard to tell if my body was shaking from the cold or the cramps. Greg showed me the FB post with my chip time and if I wasn't so cold and in pain, I would have cried tears of joy. Every time I tried to move, another part of my leg cramped up again. So the massage people got another wheelchair and back to the medical tent I went, where I laid flat on my back and the nice medic people iced and massaged me a bit more gently and was finally able to stand up and stagger to the shuttle. My hip and IT band never gave as much as a twinge all day.
So after 9 marathons, I have finally dipped under 4 hours, but not in the triumphant, fist-pumping way that I had imagined. I am SO SO SO SO eternally grateful to Robin, for putting up with me, especially since at the start Emma told her that I am not prone to whining and that's pretty much all I did for the last 10K. I am also completely grateful to Greg, because Robin could not have dragged me over the finish by herself.
This picture speaks louder than words.
Official chip time: 3:59:26
Field Placement: 304 / 722 (42.1%)
Age group: 30 – 39
Group Placement: 36 / 86 (41.9%)
Gender Placement: 98 / 305 (32.1%)