Tay and I ran the Toronto half-marathon in 2 hours, 23 minutes and 54 seconds.
It was 21.09km, starting north of the city, above the 401 and looping east as we ran parallel to the DVP before rounding down along Front to University.
My bum knee, which has been mostly fine for the past three months or so was feeling a little off yesterday, I sat with a hot water bottle on it last night for more than an hour. This morning, still feeling it flare, I took two advil about twenty minutes before starting the race.
It was a chilly, dark 10 degrees when we woke up. I dressed as best as I could for the weather in running capris, a tank top and a warm up jacket. Stuck my sunglasses on top of my head in hopes that the sun would eventually break through the clouds, strategically stuck some duct tape on the side of my runners where the seams was starting to split.
Has spaghetti and cheese toast for dinner last night, a bagel with cheese and tomato and a glass of juice for breakfast this morning.
We got downtown while it was still dark and waited for more than 45 minutes for a marathon bus to take us to the start line. When we finally boarded at 10 to 8, we knew we weren’t going to be there at the start of the race. As the bus reached the top of Yonge street, the first of the runners passed us on their way downhill.
There were no crowds waiting for the bathrooms which was nice, and no crowds at the starting line, which was also nice and helped ease my fears about starting in a crowd – I get stressed and panicked and claustrophobic when I’m in the middle of masses of people and to say I was a little intimidated to be running in pack of THOUSANDS is an understatement. Our penalty for starting late ended up being in our ‘official time’ – we crossed the finish line at almost the 3 hour mark, even though the clock had started 35 minutes before we started running. Because of that, I ended up ranking 300th out of the 312 women in my age group. We also missed getting to start with Anna Lee, who called as we were boarding the bus, who went on to run a very impressive race in 1 hour and 53 minutes.
I felt very, very good for the first 12 km – I ran steady, my breath was even, I took the time to smile and say thanks to the people we passed who encouraged us. I listened closely to my body, sped up when I felt good, slowed down when my knee complained. I ignored the slight throbbing in my toes, especially my two big toes which have gradually become discolored during all the training – I don’t think the pressure from running steadily downhill did much for them.
Around Km 14 I was hit by really bad cramping in my lower back from my period, and ran through those cramps for the next 3km. I was slower during those 3km, enough that Tay noticed but I ran through it. By the 19km mark I was pretending the pain in my back was non-existant and as we rounded the corner to head up University to Queen’s Park and I did my best to speed up, despite the fact that the last 2km was mostly up hill. I think I probably ran my fastest during the last 2km – at least it felt that way as my feet hit the pavement with each satisfying step.
When I crossed the finish line, it was with Tay at my side, even though I had told him he should continue on without me at 15km mark when I was slowing down and he seemed to be getting his second win. When we crossed, the announcer called our names, letting the thousands of people waiting that we had finished together.
It was a very pleasant experience, a very pleasant run. The spectators, on the side of the streets, the volunteers who shouted encouraging words, the small child on his father’s shoulders who shouted, “You can DOOOOOO it!”, the woman with the pink wings on her hair band who greeted us in the final stretch by shouting to us that we were half-marathoners – those people reignited in me my love and hope and faith for human kind.
I don’t think I would have done anything differently other than having better sneakers and trying to get an earlier bus, which would have allowed us to start earlier. I probably could have ran faster if I had pushed myself, but on average I ran a stong, steady 11 minute mile, I didn’t stop running a single time, not once. Above all else, I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, and my husband by my side.
WE are victorious.