My first marathon
Running a marathon is like nothing else in life. The physical endurance and pain, the emotional roller-coasters and the adrenaline rushes, compare to nothing I had ever experience before.
It was 4:30 a.m. when my alarm went off. With a slight groan, I pulled myself out of bed. The preparation before your marathon is almost as important as the race itself. I had to make sure I ate something that could last me until 12 p.m. I chose oatmeal and a banana as my breakfast of champions. I got the idea from Runner’s World. They also suggest great meals for post-run.
Now that my belly was full, it was time to get my muscles all warmed up and ready to go. What better way than to take a nice warm bath. The bath relaxed my muscles and warmed them up. Once out of the bath, it was the perfect time to stretch. I love using my foam roller; it goes deeper into the stretch than I could ever do on my own.
At 5:30 a.m. it was time to leave. I was awake, I was fed, and I was so ready for this.
Once you arrive on site and see the thousands of people waiting to run, you all of a sudden don’t feel alone. Whether you were a half-marathoner, a marathoner, or a newbie, we all greeted each other with a smile and a pat on the back.
I slowly crept into the green coral holding my moms hand as if it was the first day of school. Or was it the orange coral, to tell you the truth I can’t remember. I was so excited, the colour of coral was the last thing I needed to pay attention to. Although we said we didn’t have to stay together, my mom and I both secretly promised ourselves we wouldn’t leave anyone behind. We started this race together and we would finish together.
I don’t even remember hearing a gun shot or a siren to signal the start, people just started to move. That is when the adrenaline kicked in. Up Elgin to Wellington and across the Portage bridge, then through hull and back across the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, I was feeling good. Then it hit me. There was a tiny little pain in my knee. There was no way a tiny pain would stop me now, I pushed it to the back of my mind.
As we ran down Sussex towards Rideau Hall, we could see on the opposite side the sign for the half-way mark. Along with the sign was the lead women. I had barely made it to 10 km and she was already half way home. Despite the embarrassment I felt, she inspired me to keep pushing on.
Not too long after, we entered the first cheering zone. I know it sounds cliché, but cheering actually gives you energy. I started running faster and the pain in my knee disappeared.
I don’t quite remember the twists and turns of the roads, or where I was going, but the residential areas we ran through were beautiful. At just about 15 km we ran into another cheer zone. This time put on by a community. Once again, the cheering gave me remarkable energy. However, even though I was uplifted, the pain in my knee was pulling me down.
I started to look forward to water stations to rest my knee. At about 21 km, the half way mark, I stopped running, took a deep breath and started to cry. The pain was so intense I could barely move my knee. My mom came over to me and said the only three words I needed to hear: “You WILL finish.” So I started jogging again, with a little bit of a limp.
The rest of the race was a battle between my body and my mind. My mind wanted to go faster but my body wanted to stop. I walked a good 10-15 km of the race. And when I say I walked, I walked! Even though I couldn’t run fast, I walked as fast as my legs would take me. The pain was still there, but when I walked it was bearable.
I remember seeing my grandma and dad waving at me on the side lines. When my grandmother saw I was hurt, she panicked. Her expression kept me laughing for a few kilometers.
I was walking so fast at some points that I would pass some runners. I am not going to lie, it gave me a huge ego-boost.
The last 5 km was finally upon me. I knew I was close, the side lines got busier and busier. The marathon route joined with the half-marathon route, so now we were twice as many. People were cheering… “You are almost there”, “Keep going, you are so close”, “You can DO IT.”
Yes, I could do it. At the last 750 meters, I grabbed on to my mom’s shoulder for support and started to run. The pain was blinding, but nothing was going to stop me now. I saw the finish line, on the right was my best friend Cherise and my brother-in-law Will, on the left was my mother-in-law Gilda, my brother Cory, and the love of my life Alain. I took a deep breath and let go of my mom. Time seemed to stop, my entire race flashed before my eyes, my knee pain was gone, all I could see was that finish line. So I did what every runner in the movies does: I put my hands above my head and crossed that finish line. I came in at 5:12:09.8.
Once I crossed the finish line I hit a brick wall, my leg was shaking in pain. I looked up and there was my dad. He gave me a big hug then sent me straight to a medic-tent. The volunteers were very kind. They put some ice and a tensor bandage on my knee. I would later find out from my physiotherapist that I had stressed my IT band, a very common runner’s injury.
Despite it all, I cannot wait to do another one. For now I need rest and recover my IT band. My next race will be the Army Run’s half-marathon in September. So look out for my next race report.
For now, stay strong and never stop smiling.