“Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat.”
Malcolm S. Forbes
After twice having to drop down to the half-marathon, yesterday I finally did it and became a full-fledged marathoner. Here's how my day went...
I started with the breakfast of champions.
I actually managed to sleep relatively well the night before. I believe I remained pretty much in denial until I was actually on the bridge. This probably helped me get breakfast down too.
I then got down to the business of preparing. A little body glide here, some diaper rash cream there, an anti-inflammatory cream on the foot...thank goodness I had put second skin on the blister-sensitive areas of my toes the night before. Once I'm sure I have done everything I can to be comfortable and that I have everything I need, we are off.
Waiting for the metro, which took us to Île Ste-Hélène, which is where we get to the bridge.
The ride in was extremely smooth. We had bought our metro tickets the night before, so no waiting in line.
Ran into a DailyMile friend, Claire, on the island.
These port-a-potties were actually on the bridge - so one last time before heading for the start.
And we're off - Claire and I started the race together and stayed not too far from each other throughout.
Note that we are wearing sleeveless tops - the forecast was for high humidity and 25°C/77°F (BUT, the expected "feels like" temp was 31°C/88°F) so we knew it might get very warm.
No pictures yet of the first 38Km - but, here's how it went. From the start, the foot felt a little tight, as it always does, but the longer I went, the better it felt. I could tell that my walk breaks were good for stretching the foot too. Overall, the foot actually behaved quite well. A bit of tightness once in a while, but nothing unbearable. Of course, that could be because of the unexpected extreme pain I was feeling in my left knee. You know the joke about if you want to get rid of pain in your foot, hit your finger with a hammer :) Yeah. The knee hurt quite a bit and probably made the foot seem pretty mild in comparison. My guess is that I was unconsciously compensating for the right foot pain, which led to pain in the opposite knee. Classic. The first 19K were quite smooth, but I was getting little pokes of pain in the left knee once in a while. By 20K, I realized the pain was becoming more constant and worsening. Of course, this worried me as I still had more than half the distance to go. This is where mental toughness comes in, mixed in with a little wisdom :). At this point I was easily on target for a 4h55m-5h marathon, but I decided to let that go and not even think about time. I was still pretty much able to maintain a 5/1 ratio, but I walked through more water points as I had to refill my bottles quite often.
By 30K, I made the decision to take the anti-inflammatory that I had brought along just in case. I knew that I had to be careful and keep drinking water regularly, but I went ahead. Although I definitely continued to feel pain, I did manage to keep going. Basically, after a walk break, it was really hard to get the legs running again, but once I was running, I would be "relatively" okay for anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes, usually closer to 4 minutes, before the pain became less bearable and I would take another walk break, along with another sip of water. Then I'd start the whole thing over again.
At 38K, there was a group of DailyMile friends who had converged to encourage us, and my little sister and my god-daughter were there with them. This was so encouraging and to be honest, I was really glad that when I went by there, I was on a running stretch :) Here are a few pics taken by Sylvie when I came by.
I know, so classy :)
Big smile...so happy to see them.
And I'm off - note the pompoms they had!
Here I am at 39K - Happy to see Uber H waiting to run with me :)
We walked up the crazy hill and then we ran for a while, then walked a bit and then near 41K, I tried to run and got a major stab in the knee, so I walked a little more.
But then the finish line was approaching and there was no way I was going to walk it in. So I just got the adrenaline going and pushed off...
Woohoo - arms up, big smile...I was so excited!
Running it in with a smile and tears in my eyes :)
I'll take it with a smile :)
I am a marathoner in this picture :)
With my little sister and my god-daughter, note the pretty flowers they gave me!
It was wonderful to have them there with me.
We could actually take a shower on the premises - so this is post shower, eating a snack and texting family...yes, I was happy :)
One final picture in front of the Olympic Stadium!
My thoughts: Yes, I would have preferred to not have to deal with knee pain, but I realize that this is also part of the experience. There are risks involved in running a marathon. There were tons of runners hobbling by 30K, some stopping to stretch, some limping along or walking most of the rest of the way. Dealing with the unexpected is part of what makes running a marathon exceptional. The good thing, is that the high humidity did not affect me, I felt fine and I gather that because I ended up walking more, I was actually not worn out by the end and I never saw the wall.
I'm excited by the fact that I know I can do better if I'm not in pain and I aim to try. Yes, right after crossing the finish line, I knew I wanted to try at least one more time with more experience and training.
My Super SIL will be celebrating her 50th birthday in 2013 and she would love to run the Marathon de Paris with her family. So, that may be my next attempt. Two years from now in Paris...how cool would that be :)
Thanks to each and every one of you for your support and encouragement throughout this journey. I thought of you all as I took it all in and G I thought of you particularly as I smiled at photographers and thanked the spectators. Thank you for sharing your experience with me and for making this an even more wonderful experience, despite the fact that it was not perfect.