My first marathon was the Goodlife back in May 2014. At the time I had taken my first Running Room clinic with the goal of running Around the Bay 30 K for the first time. I had run several half marathons since 2010 but wanted to see if I was missing anything and also wanted to meet people to run with. I met all those goals, thanks to spending much of my time running with the famous Mitch Kosny (he was unknown at that time and also training for his first ATB).
Feeling the inevitable comedown after ATB, I had a run chat with Andrew McKay on a 32k run westbound on Martin Goodman, who encouraged me that if I was going to try to do a marathon now was the time. So I ran a few more times in April with Duff’s Marathon group and managed a 3.54.20 at Goodlife.
So I thought One and Done….. and that was okay for a couple years. I would listen to my BRC peeps talk about their various marathon experiences, what they had signed up for, what they were training for and started to get little bits of FOMO and wonder what I could do. Was I capable of running another marathon? Could I go faster? could I ….gulp….qualify for Boston?
Even when my hubby and I took a vacation to Boston in 2016, I made sure to take photos at the finish line and at the cheesy photo exhibit fake finish line in Quincy market because I was thinking that this was as close as I was going to get.
Fast forward to November 2017 when its been more and more listening to exciting stories of people’s marathons and BQs as I run more regularly with BRC and Adaptive peeps. I get curious. I need a change. I want to shake up my running which I feel has plateaued. I have also entered another age category for BQ which makes the prospect a little more within reach…
So I figure there is never a good time, I sign up with Adaptive Running for the Winter Session and train for 16 weeks. I go from despising hills to thinking they’re okay ( Hello Hills!). I survive speed work with the help of Larry Lewis chatting my ear off to help distract me from wanting to stop.
I run chilly Half Marathon with a week old piriformis strain injury, with coach Sean at my side the entire way encouraging me, having been fixed up by Dr. Jane.
I end up running several segments of longer runs with a couple speedy guys which gets me used to running at a pace faster than my marathon pace for long periods of time. Thanks Will and Nereo!
I feel the support and encouragement of the group and the coaches and I start to believe that I am not a fraud that I could actually do this!
Weather is good- check!
I have rested and had a decent night’s sleep-check!
Reviewed Larry’s breakdown of the course-check!
New week old running watch-check!
throwaway hoodies and gloves-check!
got there in plenty of time to use the facilities-check!
I say good luck to my team mates and head to the start line. I am a ways back from the start and I notice the ears of a 3:40 pace bunny which just happens to be the time I am hoping to chase in order to fall somewhere below 3:45. I introduce myself and we get going. Slow start as we make our way though the crowds and get ourselves warmed up.
I meet another woman who is from NFLD. She is going for a 3:40 to BQ. So we set in as a little trio for the next 35 K. Pace bunny Neal is chatting and telling us stories. I am chatting back and laughing and I am running 5:11-5:13 pace! Holy cow! I see a few BRC peeps like super fast Miguel on his way back at the turnaround. I see smiling and supportive Nir on his bike several times – “great pace Suzanne!”. All is going well. I am taking my gatorade and water at stations, I am eating my gels every 10 K. Weather is cooperating. I recognize the course due to our SIM run a month earlier. I am both focused and pleasantly distracted.
I check off the sections of the race as per Larry’s plan. I do my hills, I keep the pace until we are just taking the street to the path along the lakeshore. I take a cup of water and gatorade and allow myself to walk while I drink them so fall behind my pacing friends. They are still in my sights so I focus on pulling them in.
I fight the mental crap that is saying “now your pace will go slower and you will not get the 3:40, maybe not the 3:45, maybe you will have to walk again”. I tell the mental crap to “f- off” and climb the hill back up to the main road. Clocking he kilometres and still keeping them in my sight. Taking that last hill at 36 k, getting back on the path. Catching up with them a bit.
38 or 39k rolls around and I am chanting “way back” “ you are on your way back” “keep the pace”. Its lonely now. I can’t deal with starting my music. Too much thinking. I just listen to the sounds of my breathing and focus on my form.
Along the path I hear “Oh there you are!” and its Coach Sean. “We’ve got around 3.5K to go, you can do this Suzanne!”
“No Sean. I can’t. I’m trying. I can’t keep up. Don’t leave me! Stay with me” Yes I am whining like a little girl!. But guess what? We slowly make our way to the Pace Bunny and I ask him to start singing his Johnny Cash songs again. I tackle that wooden bridge where everyone has photos taken. Sean is telling me the finish line is so close. I am telling him he is a liar because I do not see any finish line anywhere!
Pace bunny runs back to get the girl from NFLD and run her in. I see the finish line. I speed up and its done. My two running friends right on my heels. We fall into one big sweaty group hug and I stumble somewhat disoriented to get my medal and some post race food.
13 minute PB and a nice cushy BQ!
I now think I can finally believe what my running friends and coaches have been telling me!