The day dawned cloudy, but not raining and not too cold. I woke up at 6:30am, and after a breakfast of bagel, peanut butter and banana, a half a cup of coffee and a glass of milk. I then decided what to wear, settling on the technical t-shirt I bought at the Expo yesterday and capris. We finally got going about 7:40, heading into downtown Toronto. We did get stuck in some traffic, and while Cathy worried that I would miss the start, we got out of the car with time to spare. Granted, I missed the bag pick-up but Cathy held my bag for me, and once I got into the corral, my jacket as well.
There were 22,000 runners competing today in the marathon, half and a 5K later in the morning, but still most were doing the half or marathon. As we both had the same start time of 9am, we also shared the same corrals. I have never been officially corralled like that before, and it was admittedly different. We were in a horseshoe shaped area, with the start line off to our right and behind us, so we would have to walk through the queue to get to it. As we lined up behind the 4:55 bunny (he was the "slowest" bunny there today...nothing over t5 hours), we also saw Fauja Singh come into the corral with his entourage of media. This guy is 100 years old and after setting a bunch of world records yesterday for some short races, he was poised to do it again today, just by completing the marathon. There were quite a few of us there that said (quietly as possible) that we really didn't want to be beaten by the 100-year-old!! And the 6 hour cut-off was intimidating as well, as there was constant mention in the rules about "if you are not past this point at this time, you will need to get on the special bus that will return you to the finish line area"...none of us wanted to ride on the "special bus"!
Finally the starting gun went off, and then we shuffled, oh, so slowly to the start line. Took me 14 minutes to cross the start mat! Guess that's better than some of the bigger marathons out there, but still strange for me. I tried to keep up with the 4:55 pacer, who said he was sticking to a "consistent" 7 minute pace...I lost him at about km 4, which is odd, because I was toggling between 6:45 and 7:15 for quite some time...interesting. Oh well, I decided to stick to 10:1's, wearing both Garmins today. Garmin I was for the 10:1's, and Garmin II was for distance.
It was a cool run through downtown to the Lakeshore area, and then it was a run out west, turning around and heading back at about the 12k mark. I am pleased to say, I settled into a rhythm early on, and stuck to my 10:1's consistently the whole way. I passed the 10K mat at 1:11 (a good 7 minute pace!). The wind was blustery at points, and downright in your face mean at others, but the rain held off, as did the sun, which we know is not my friend.
I just kept running, and felt really good and strong for almost the whole marathon - my Half split came in at 2:31 (Yeah, baby!!!), 30km at 3:40...Garmin I crapped out at the 32km mark, so I was on my own to try and stick to 10:1's. When I realized the Garmin was running out of steam, I figured out that I was running roughly 1.5km in the 10 minutes (I was slowing down...my feet were rather sore but I also really concentrated on planting mid-foot, and no heel strikes), and then counting to 100 was roughly a minute. So, as we ran through the Ports of Toronto, and then into the Beach area, I was doing my best to stick to these guidelines. I admit I was getting tired (and yes, Hiking Ladies, I fueled with Honey Zingers at several points throughout the run), and the rain was starting a bit, and I was doing my best not to get bummed out by realizing we still had so many kilometers left to get "home". At one point I even reverted to running/walking for counts of a 100 each, just to keep myself motivated.
Finally, I was on the final stretch, so I tried my best to keep my head up, shoulders back and run it in (there was a brief walk with about 500m left) crossing the finish line at...well, this is debatable, of course. Mr. Garmin II had me done my 42.2km in 5:20:06 (a PB!) but that was also before the official finish line, that one being about 200m further! So, official gun time is 5:35:42, and chip time of 5:21:55. I like Mr. Garmin better, although the chip time is extremely close to the Goodlife time of this time last year. Still like Mr. Garmmin better!!!!
Met up with Cathy and her hubs, who brought me chocolate milk (nectar of the Gods, after a race!) and we hobbled - okay, I hobbled, they walked normally - off to the car. Then sat in traffic for quite some time before finally getting onto the highway for home.
Once here, I crawled upstairs to change and visit the loo (this may be a TMI moment, but I do not, under any circumstances, use the porta-potties on race routes), I came down (very slowly) and decided that Chinese for supper would be AWESOME. We enjoyed some S&P shrimp, noodles, several beef dishes, palace style chicken, pork dumplings, rice, vegetables, and wine. Many glasses of wine!
I am now fading very quickly, and will most likely sleep like the dead shortly. Going to wander over to the mall down the road in the morning, while everyone is at work/school, and get a Starbucks and then mail myself the curry sauces I bought this week. Then back here to pack, as I will leave so very early on Tuesday.
All in all, I recommend the STWM to anyone interested, as the course is nice, flat, not too challenging but not too boring either, the volunteers are great, the police were outstanding and the crowds were GREAT! Yes, people actually hung out to cheer us runners on! What a concept!!! One area, the Beaches, was packed like for a parade, and I was almost blushing from all the people yelling my name and shouting encouragement. Vancouver...you have a lot to live up to in May.
Oh, as for Mr. Singh, he finally crossed the finish line in 8:25, landing in the records books for the oldest person to complete a full marathon. It's nice that they didn't make him get on the special bus, and they left all the timing mats and finish line up for him to cross. Granted, he would have had to go up on the sidewalks for a lot of the race, but so happy he finished it. There was a sad incident of a 27-year-old that passed within meters of the finish line after running the Half. You just don't know these things, do you?
Hope everyone had a great weekend, and enjoyed doing whatever it is that brings you bliss.
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