This race was something else, I spent the week mentally preparing myself to go in with a positive mind set to give it my all and leave everything on the route before I focus on triathlons and pacing other eager half marathoners this summer. As I eluded to in my Pre-Race post last night, training for this race didn’t go as planned, I’m actually not sure that I had a training plan after my ankle persistently bugged me up until about two weeks ago. What I do know is that there wasn’t enough mileage and I tried to counter that by up’ing my amount of swimming and conditioning at Fuel in order to make up the difference.
The race place was solidified before I hit the start line, what I did know is that I was going to keep pace with Melly and the ladies for the first 10km before making a decision about how I would proceed for the remaining 11.1km of the race. I knew that there was a fair number of downhill sections on the route and had been informed by many of one decent uphill climb around the 10km mark in the race.
I felt good this morning when I got up. I got a decent amount of sleep – for having to get up at 5:30am – and according to my sleep app I actually spelt soundly for the better part of the night except for the time at 2am where I had to get up to use the washroom. I had laid out my kit the night before, packed my change of clothes, made my sandwich to eat in the car and really just had to get up and get out the door. I opted to park at Cawthra Community Centre, after speaking to a volunteer at Kit Pick-up Friday it seemed like it would be the least busy and the fastest way for me to get out of Mississauga post-race. After a quick 30 minute drive in the pouring rain, finishing my pre-race PB&J sandwich, having my final bit of water and packing my back of items to put on before the race I was ready to go! Having the Community Centre open and available for washrooms was perfect, it gave me the opportunity to hit the bathroom before I hit the start line – we all know what a disaster lineups for a porta potty can be at a race start. Before I knew it I was on a warm shuttle bus in my dollar store rain poncho headed for the starting line.
I started the race around a pace of 5:45/km running with Melly, Andrea and Kristen. As the pack thinned out we kept together and managed to hold a steady pace between 5:30-5:45/km for the first section of the race. We were infront of the 2:00 pace bunny and all feeling pretty good. Around the 8km marker Andrea and Kristen pulled ahead and I stayed with Melly and we continued out pursuit behind the 2:00 bunny. We noticed his shirt said Run/Walk once he was in front of us and proceeded to ask him when he would be walking, he said, “Ignore the shirt and read the sign, I’m continuous!” and then proceeded to complain about us asking while we ran next to him. After slowing for some water for Melly we came acrosst the “official” 2:00 run/walk pace bunny and managed to keep pace with her for a bit before realizing after 15 minutes or so that she was not taking the walk breaks, it was around the 13/14km – I can’t remember exactly as my brain is a bit foggy on specific – marker that I pulled away from Melly and ventured out on my own.
I spent kilometers 14 – 16 taking a short walk break after I hit the marker sign – my method was I would check my pace and allow myself to walk until my Lap Pace creeped up to 6:05/km and then I went back to running. Maybe it wasn’t the ideal system but my brain was so fried at this point that keep track of time wasn’t an option and this seemed to make the most sense as it was keeping my average pace hovering around 6:00/km.
Just when I needed it most I saw Inge, Allan and Charlotte at the 17km marker, I got a bit emotional as I ran in to give Inge a brief hug before skipping my walk break at this marker and heading onward to 18km. I took the short walk break again at 18km and then before I knew it I was coming to the 19km marker. It was around this point before crossing the bridge over the marina where I got some much needed love from Jess and the folks of Pace & Mind, I made sure to yell a thanks back to Jess as I heard her hollar my name as I raced past. At this point my ankle was holding up fine on the right side but I could feel my right calf on the verge of a cramp, it was that point where I looked at my watch and said to myself is the break worth it? You’re so close to sub 2 or a 10 minute PB, can you push through the last 2.1km to the finish? I said yes and tried to settle into a manageable for the remaining minutes.
I’ll be honest the last 2-3km of this race were not my favourite, I was up and down curbs transitioning from side walk to road, there were a few bridges, a couple of boardwalk wood sections, a section on a narrow trail through a mini forest before emerging to the sound of the finish line announcer only to realize I still has 1.1km to go. I’ll be honest I was gassing out but I wasn’t going to walk, I wouldn’t allow myself to I had come this far and it was in that moment that I started to channel all of the incredible people in my life who have supported me on this journey and tell me that I inspire them, it was in that moment that this race wasn’t about me but was about doing this for all of them!
The last section of this race leading into the finish is a mind f***, you can see everyone running around the rim of the lake for a good distance ahead but still you can’t see the finish, good lord was all I was thinking. The trail also narrows and of course everyone is jockeying for position to shave the seconds they can off before the finish. I knew I wasn’t going to have a sprint finish, I was pushing hard to maintain a 5:45/km, with the sub 2 two minutes past I was focused on giving it my all to nab my 10 minute PB over my time from the Chilly Half Marathon in March.
I crossed the finish line standing tall and proud, legs a bit shaky and on the hunt for Sarah to give her a hug and grab my medal. I finished with an official time of 2:03:38, it’s like :15 seconds shy of a 10 minute PB but I’m all about rounding a little bit so it makes sense so a 10 minute PB it is! I was a combination of both surprised and proud when I saw my time as I crossed the finish, this whole process leading up to Mississauga had been mentally trying in the sense that I didn’t feel ready because I wasn’t training with mileage as a focus. I was focused on getting my ankle the rest it needed to get better and get my cardio from a few shorter runs a week, swimming and the training that I do at Fuel. It’s fair to say it’s not ALL about running when you’r preparing for a 1/2 marathon. While some may find that they do better with a large majority of their training comprised of running, I am not confident that I could manage training for a half with less mileage than I once thought. That is as long as I am continuing to maintain my cardio endurance is other ways.
In all honesty I know that I went out of the gate too fast on this race, I should have tried to maintain a more manageable pace and learned the hard way to not relay on a pace bunny to do that for me. While the sub 2 was within reach it was a combination of too much speed in the first 10km, an additional 0.12km of mileage due to all of the lane changes and corners and the simple fact that I didn’t train for a sub 2. The fact that I even came that close with the little mileage training that I was able to do is quite amazing to me. I also don’t know if I will ever try to relay on a pace bunny again, instead I’ll focus my training on being better at pacing myself as I won’t always have someone to run with on race day.
With regards to my thoughts on the Mississauga Marathon as a race event I thought overall it was very well run and managed! My pros would be the convenient/timely/well managed shuttle service before and after the race, the incredible number of porta potties available at the start and finish of the race and the post race food was very well managed. My cons would be certain sections of the route, I particularly didn’t enjoy the last 2 – 3km as I felt like we were zig-zagging to get in the mileage, the path narrowed significantly and there weren’t enough well equipped water stations along the route. While I personally rarely use the water stations, Melly was and when she would go through the section for them it tended to require her to slow down significantly, almost to a walk at some. Overall for what I paid for the race (with an early registration discount) I was very pleased with everything and it was good value for my money!
The drive home was all a little bit surreal, it’s something that never changes for me – that feeling after a race that it doesn’t sink it for a while after you cross the finish. I am still left speechless at moments that I have crossed the finish lines that I have and continue to prove myself wrong in this sport that I once thought was unattainable for me. All of the messages you sent me were read, replied and admired, I am always in awe of how supportive this community is, it really is truly something to get messages from all across our city, country and the world once I cross a finish line. It’s really special to know that all of these people are rooting for you and continue to cheer you on in everything that you set out to do. So to all of you who continue you to inspire me to inspire myself to set another #goalrace or tackle the next challenge, thank you!
A few things are coming up after I spent some time thinking about my performance at this race and things I could be doing to better myself in the months leading up to the next milestone:
- For someone who said while a sub 2 is on my wish list for the coming year I’m thinking that maybe that day will come sooner than I once expected. If all goes according to plan this summer and I am able to fit in the training/prep required I may just attempt to sub 2 at Road to Hope in November, conveniently located at home 🙂
- I’d like to try and do some work to figure out why my digestive system is SO sensitive after a race but never causes me any issues or problems during training.
- I’ll be starting to work with a Nutritionist in the next week, there will be a separate blog post about my intentions and reasoning for involving someone of this speciality in my training plan but I think that it may be the missing piece in my path to success. I’ll partnered up with someone who comes highly recommended by the folks at Fuel Training Club and with his guidance I will be embarking on an ambitious 3 month transformation leading up to my ultimate #goalrace at SeaWheeze in August!