My first Marathon, Scotia Bank Toronto Marathon was very enjoyable. I had the best experience in my life time. I am still celebrating it. Sunday, Sept. 26 was a beautiful sunny date with high of 20'C and low of 16'C.
I started faster that my intended race pace. I was not sure where I was in the first couple of kms. Finally, at about 2 to 3 kms I walked and tried to delay the time. The first 10 kms were close to effortless. I was happy because I felt that I really was running a 32km race. I enjoyed the scenery and the people in the 1st 10km, waving at people and playing high fives with the kids at the side of the road. My friends running half-a-marathon were cheering me at the opposite direction. People were calling out my numbers and giving me positive comments. I smiled at them and felt energized. One of the running books I read divides the marathon distance into 3 parts, social, transitional and focus. The theory is that one cannot concentrate for the whole duration. One needs to relax in the beginning to save energy. I also intended to experience and enjoy my race. I was sold on that. Since I had quite a bit of time, I was fooling around a little. I also went to the washroom at about 10km. I knew I was going to need my time later. I thought I better do it now.
I saw a "4 Hrs Pace Bunny" at the start of the race. She was going too fast. I decided to run my own pace. Pace Bunny reappeared at about 10km so I joined her. The 10-20km run was nice. Compared to my 36km run three weeks before the marathon, I felt more relaxed. I was right beside the Bunny from about 10km on. The pace bunny usually runs about 2 mins faster than the targeted time. I knew I would be OK if I ran close to the Bunny.
At about 22-30km, the route was in an area called "Lesley Spit". It was a landfilled park land protruding out to Lake Ontario. I was concerned about the wind. I did a practice run there 2 week before because I was so worried about it. I had tried to run very hard to find out if I could handle it. The result was unbelievable. I finished 6.1km at 4mins 27 secs per km. My confidence was up. When I was running close to the Spit, I heard people talking about it. Some people were concerned. Also, they handed out bottles of water instead of cups. It might have meant that we would not have water for a while. It was not as bad as I predicted. There was not much wind but the road was a little rough at certain areas. I was trying to be careful so I would not fall. I was glad when I finished running the "Lesley Spit" area. It was about the 30km mark.
We started heading East to "The Beaches". On the way back from "The Beaches" around 35 kms, I started to feel tired. I did not want to "hit the wall" so I pulled out my MP3 player to listen to music and tried not to feel negative. The first song that came out was "I will Survive." I smiled to myself and felt that it was appropriate. The music did help me out a lot. I had the music on when I was running and off when I was walking. I was still with the 4hr Bunny up to 39km. The Bunny did 10mins run and 1 min walk. I was following her with the run and walk pace from 10km to 39km even though I had not trained for walk and run style. I felt fine so I was keeping with her pace. At 39km, I was very tired and thirsty. I took time to drink a whole cup of water watching my Bunny running from me further and further away. I was hoping to catch her when she walked. No such Luck! She was not walking any more. She was continuously running to make up the time. At that moment, more people were walking than running. Some of them looked so tired that they walked slower than normal walking. I looked at my watch at 40km. I had close to 13 minutes to run 2 km. I thought to myself that I could make my time goal if I tried my best to get to the finish time. I decided not to walk. I kept thinking feeling tired was OK. I was excited to get to the finish line. I tried to take deep breath and focus to relax my legs. I started passing people. I went past a guy that was trying to target a 3 hrs 40 mins race. I passed him and thought to myself that he would not meet his time. I passed 2 guys that were running along with the Bunny earlier. I started to slow down when I was running up Bay street at a slight incline. I was pressing to run ahead and at the same time I was holding back. I knew I could press for 200m but not 1000m. I did not want to run out of gas at the finish line. I wanted to finish with energy to feel good about the race. I remembered my friend, John from Florida, said "Don't be greedy. If 4 hours is truly your goal, then stick to the pace chart." That proved to be a very valuable statement.
At 41km, my friend, Linda, came out beside me to cheer me. I was happy to see her. That gave me another boost of energy. She then continued running beside me. I was pressing as hard as I could. She said that it was just around the corner, as we ran up from Bay street to Wellington. Then I saw the finish line from a distance. It was a very long straight road. It seemed to be taking forever to get close to it. Linda was still running with me with her big gym bag. She just finished her half-a-marathon 2 hours ago and waited for me at the 41km mark. I was very touched by her support. I finished at 3:59:06 and qualified to run the Boston Marathon 2005. I still can hardly believe it. I am still feeling "high" from last Sunday. It has been exactly a week. It seems like a wonderful long one week for me. I have learned so much from the process of training for the Scotia Bank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Now I know anything is possible.
Sandra Lam 2004
Oakville Ontario Canada