It's been a week now since the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and I think everything is starting to sink in. Phew! What an amazing weekend for Canadian running eh? This week has been a bit of a blur, and I was not really sure how to put it all down in writing. So, sticking to the format I used post Moscow, I'll give you all a lil' play by play of things.
Of course it had been in the back of my mind since Worlds that I wanted to do a Fall marathon, but it's one thing to have a quick thoughts about something... it's a whole different ball game when that "something" is running another marathon. I had been in contact with Alan Brookes off and on about the idea of running Toronto, but did not want to make any decisions until I was certain my body (and mind) were ready to conquer the distance. Thankfully, Alan was more than accommodating and let me wait until the last minute to make up my mind. I think he, and probably a lot of those that are close to me knew what my decision was going to be, I just needed to be sure of it.
Once I was officially announced as part of the elite field, then things started to move quickly. My travel was booked, I answered a few questions for interviews, and I attended the race expo and media event.
Here are some links to the interviews:
I arrived in Toronto the Thursday before the race, went for a short shake out run and then met up with my friend Lyndsay for dinner. It was just what I needed, a relaxed, hilarious conversation and a good beer. The perfect reminder that I was there to have fun. I got back to my hotel room and got to catch up with my roommate for the weekend, Natasha. I was able to again see Ron O'Hare for some treatment on my quad and calves and got to hang out with another top notch physio Chris Napier as we drove around to check out the course.
The rest of the weekend leading up to the race was pretty standard, lots of carbs, lots of water, lots of laying around. Maybe a little bit of scaring Natasha with all of our marathon horror stories at dinner. Natasha and I did our best to keep ourselves entertained, which included decorating our bottles forthe aid stations. I must give credit where credit is due and thank Rejean Chiasson for his tips on how to make grabbing our bottles easier. He uses pipe-cleaners, but since we weren't near any craft stores Natasha and I went with flexible drinking straws.
Krista and I had chatted during the weekend about what pace we were looking for, and we were lucky to have Rejean back to pace the event (Last year he helped pace Krista to her awesome finish in tough conditions). We also were fortunate to have a second pacer, Josephat Ongeri, added to the mix the night before. I was pretty low key with my expectations for the race and pace, telling both Krista and Rejean that I'd be evaluating how I felt each 10k and that my feelings wouldn't be hurt if Krista decided to make a move that was quicker than I felt I was ready for.
And now the fun part... RACE DAY!
I felt a little full when I woke up, but really relaxed. Natasha and I did our usual putzing around as we got ready and kept our spirits up. It was a bit brisk outside, but we all knew it was going to be some pretty amazepants race weather. We got to the race venue, dropped off our junk and a group of us headed out for a short warm up. We went down to the start line with the last of our warm ups on and started our stride outs and other pre-race routines that are likely more to control our nerves than anything. I saw my sisters and Mom on the side of the start line, danced a little bit to the music while standing beside Krista and Rejean... Man, I hope I can always feel that relaxed at the start line.
The first 10k:
Off the start, I still felt like my stomach was off but I did my best not to let it worry me. I made a point to grab both my bottles and drink the fluids that were in them. We were a bit quick through our first 10k split (hoping for 35 min even and coming through just under that), but I felt strong and relaxed. I had a few panicked moments where my left quad was feeling a little sore and tight, but reminded myself that it had felt like that in workouts and at the 10k champs and I was able to manage it then.
Much like Rotterdam, we had a good sized group of guys... running behind us... and it got a little congested coming in for our aid tables, but it was so early in the race it wasn't worth getting worked up about and our pacers did an excellent job of keeping the other runners aware of our moves.
10k - 20k:
My quad had settled down by this point, but my hamstring had started to pull right under my butt bone on my left side. Whew... marathons are interesting. Again, it's not something that hadn't flared up in previous training runs, so I just focused my attention on staying relaxed and behind Rejean and Krista. The half marathoners split off during this portion which helped reduce some of the traffic. I saw my Mom and sisters right around 18 or 19k and they were cheering like crazy which put a huge smile on my face. That's right Lanni, this is supposed to be fun.
My guts still were feeling quite gross, and I was starting to have to spit up a bit during the run... and then of course, I suck at spitting and running so I'd start to choke a little... pretty I know. I was still grabbing my bottles, but was not as concerned with getting it all in. Something is better than nothing... at least that's what I was telling myself.
We were still a bit quick through this 10k portion, but as everyone knows the first half of the course runs a bit quick, and I aside from a few niggles I was feeling very relaxed effort wise.
20k - 30k:
This part of the race was mostly uneventful. Rejean and Josephat Ongeri brought us through the half way point in 1:13, quick, but as mentioned not anything I was worried about. My legs were feeling great, and my guts had started to settle. I was still grabbing my bottles, but started passing them up to Josephat to drink since Rejean was not available to share his bottles. I'm pretty sure it was just the three of us through most of this portion. We had caught a few of the other ladies who had gone out ahead of us, and were still maintaining sub 35 min 10k pace pretty easily.
30k - 40k:
This is where the race began. Josephat brought us through 30k right around 1:44, and then at 31k said "Ok, I stop now". And just like that, it was just Krista and I, and Dan Way on the lead bike. This is where I started to look at my watch a bit more and noticed that our 1km splits were starting to slow a little bit. I had evaluated my body at each 10k portion and never felt like I was working beyond my capacity, so I figured I could afford to put in a bit of effort and get those 1km splits back down to 3:29/3:30. I also knew that for each kilometer that clicked by with Krista and I running side by side, it was one less kilometer I had available to try and put in a gap and protect myself if my left calf decided it was done.
Talk about running scared. I had pulled away from Krista over the next few kilometers, but it wasn't like I dropped her like a bad habit. I knew she was there and moving along quite quick still. I just kept my focus on enjoying the experience. When I'd see some of the other elites on an out and back portion I'd cheer and I'd let myself get excited when I'd pass through a large crowd of spectators. My guts were feeling pretty good by now and I was still grabbing my bottles, but would just swish my mouth and then toss them.
The strangest thing about this portion of the race and through until the finish was that my left forearm started to cramp on me. Oh, hello marathon... you are one crazy ride. It was about 35km when my arm started to contort into the claw, and about 37km when my left calf finally decided it had had enough.
My mantra the entire weekend was to stay relaxed and enjoy the race... yah, ok, that's all fine and dandy until your left side starts to cramp and contort Lanni. I did my best not to panic. I knew that I had a really great race going and that I just had to keep moving forward. I relaxed and instead of focusing on my calf, focused on keeping my forearm in check.
I hit the 40k split and knew that I was going to make it... it was just a matter of keeping my legs moving forward.
The Final 2.2 km:
Talk about a distinct difference from the last 2.2km in Moscow. I hit the 41km marker and that's when I finally knew that I had it. The crowds were amazing and all I could do was start to smile. I saw the 800m countdown and really started to get excited. I came around the final bend and could see the race clock and felt like I was going to lose my mind. I realized I could potentially break 2:28 and I tried... having one awkward step right before the finish because of my stupid calf. Some have me at 2:27:59... others at 2:28. Maybe someday I'll try to sort out the difference... but right now I am still riding the high of the entire weekend.
I hope to never forget how excited and amazing crossing that finish line was. My family was there, Krista came in soon after me... it was amazing. It has taken a full week for my brain to catch up. A huge PB, a new Canadian Record, and yes, a nice hefty chunk of change that helps with that pesky law school debt.
I have definitely taken this week to reflect and celebrate... so very happy that Moscow wasn't the end of my season!
Here are some articles and links:
My Take Aways:
Natasha is an animal! 2:35 marathon debut?! Holy heck! All of our Canadian ladies are doing big things.
Rob Watson and Eric Gillis know how to get work done!
My left calf is a jerk
Having the "quote of the day" on let's run is totally rad
We have some of the most talented physios in Canada... no matter what province I'm in or how mangled I've made my body, they are always able to put me back together
Alan Brookes and the CRS crew are machines.
I have a very fond relationship with IPAs