What a day!!! I kept thinking to myself, this is what life is all about. I tried to tame my excitement the entire day before and not get too anxious because I didn't want my nerves to get the best of me and I knew I needed to get a good nights sleep for Sunday's race day. What a laugh! Saturday afternoon we went with my mom and dad to the Expo to pick up my race packet and show my passport for the border crossing's...they had food, samples, clothing, shoes every type of running gear imaginable and even elite athletes signing autographs. I skipped all that and went to get my number which I was #16252, I was placed in coral R based on my expected finishing time of 2:30. One of the things they had at the expo was a race pace tatoo. This is SUPER COOL for those people that don't run with a Garmin ($300 piece of running gear) it tells you what pace you need to be at each mile to finish within your expected goal time. While I was there I picked up a few, since they were free. Then I got brave and thought I'll take a few 2:20 pacers to keep for future races too. So that evening we went and dropped Evan off at Larry and Sharons and while we were there we went for a Fall boat ride on the pontoon and ate at Antonio's for dinner. I had done plenty of research and I drank electrolyte mix all day long, no meat, no nuts, no bran, no roughage of any kind and no carbonation then ate lots of carbs. I ate every 2-3 hours in very small helpings and managed to feel pretty great all day pre-race. We managed to get home around 10:30 so I laid out everything, got all my things together and put my 2:20 race tatoo on instead of putting the 2:30 tatoo on. I thought...I am going to rock this race.
My alarm went off at 5:00 so I quietly slid out of bed as to not wake Sean up and knelt next to my bed and prayed, I was giving this day to God first and foremost. Ya know over the coarse of 13.1 miles it gives a girl a lot to think about and I thought a lot of my relationship with the Lord. We have come so far and God has been so good. The roads that I have traveled have taught me SO much and I want to keep learning. So with that said, I was up and ready to fly! It was cold, about 42 degrees so I wore ear muffs, scarf, pearl izumi running shirt and my nike dri fit pants and gloves. My mom and dad followed up downtown and we were parked by 6:30 and walked to Washington/Grand River where the starting lines were divided between half marathoners and marathon relays and marathoners and walkers. It was very dark and we came to the "runners only section" where I had to say goodbye to Sean and my parents. I felt a lump in my throat because this was it. It was like saying goodbye in an airport when you don't want to say goodbye at all. I wished I could take them with me but my dad was nice enough to capture it on film.
I got to my corral and did some light stretching because I was cold I didn't want to push it. My muscles felt great. I felt great and I couldn't wait to get to the bridge and see the sun rise. I was very happy I had taken a few days off to really let my muscles heal. It wasn't long before they sang the anthym's (Canadian and American) and the horn for the marathon went off. At 7:10 our horn went off and everybody pressed forward. Then we came to a dead stop. I could see my pacer with his 2:30 sign about 3 feet in front of me. I had already met some incredibly nice experienced half-marathoners. I was feeling like I was the only first time halfer in this stinkin' race. There were SO many people, (17,900 to be exact) elbow to elbow. I knew there was no possible way that my family would see me....I was right. It was ok though, It wasn't like I was going to stop and talk to them. I was so crammed in I couldn't really get going or find a steady stride and I started thinking that I was going to have a horrible TIME (oh that evil clock) and then remembered I shouldn't be worried about my time...just enjoy the race. WHATEVER! I was here to race. To have a personal best. So I started passing people. A lot of people. I couldn't believe how people were shedding clothes. There were sweaters, jackets, gloves, scarves, hats all over the ground. I was thinking, I really hope these homeless people take this stuff. By the time I got to mile 2 I had shed layers too. There were hundreds of people lining the streets calling out my name. "How do they know me?" I thought. Then I remembered that my name was on my race number. How cool! By the time I came to mile 3 I was already 4 minutes ahead of my pace to finish in at 2:16. I tried to slow myself down but I was so darn excited and I felt so great. My heart monitor read 165 and I just went with it. I was passing a ton of people. As we started climbing up the bridge the road narrowed and I lost my stride because it was SO congested. It was so beautiful though I didn't care, the water below was so calm and I could hear everyone breathing hard around me and the noise of feet, lots of feet hitting the pavement below. Some guy fell right next to me and brought a crowd of runners down behind him. Oops! Note to self: DON'T FALL! The bridge authority kept trying to keep the runners on one side but that didn't exactly work. Runners were everywhere like ants on a hill. When I got on the bridge I popped my first couple sharkies for energy and my legs felt fresh. I took advantage of the bridge decline and flew downhill passing lots more people. As we ran along the riverfront I decided I'd listen to my ipod. The first song that came on was In Christ Alone. I heard the words...in every Victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope is Christ Alone. I immediately started tearing up and the tears starting flying off my face. I was trying so hard to hold it together and then....I felt a tinge of lovely asthma kicking in. I seriously could not afford to exert myself further even in the way of tears so I immediatly shut off my ipod and pulled it together. I couldn't help it, this was not only a physical race but an emotional race and spiritual race and I was on the verge of crying so helplessly hard I can't even tell you. I ran for 13.1 miles and listened to that ipod for about 2 minutes.
The tunnel was great until it came to getting out of it which was the most God awful hill and I thought I was going to die of a heart attack. A lot of people started walking but each time I felt myself wanting to quit I imagined my family watching me and how bad I wanted to make them proud and kicked my butt and ran...even if it was slow. I remember glancing down at my heart monitor and it read like 187 and that's NOT good. I was huffing and puffing and that was when I felt for the first time tired, tired, tired. But then as I rounded the top of that God awful hill and realized it was good to be back in the good ol' USA with all the screaming American's, "good job, keep it up, you can do it". Then I heart Sean and Dad and Patty screaming. The elation....I was beaming with joy to see them. THERE THEY ARE! The greatest family in the whole wide world. Mom was a few feet down from them. She was cheering and smiling.
I was coming into mile 10 and that meant only 3 more to go. I was able to see my family back to back between mile 9 and 10 and then right before the finish in the middle of mile 12. I won't lie, I was hurting. I couldn't feel my legs. But who cares, I'll recover. I was super excited to be still on track to finish in sub 2:20. Could I really do it? We ran through cork town and I could smell fresh tortilla in the air, then I saw a gatorade station so I went over and slowed down and could barely fight the urge to walk. I walked 2 steps and thought if I stop I'll never start again. So I ignored the pain in my quads, knees, ankles, shins and back and started moving again. I saw Patty, mom and dad at the corner and screamed out, "how much further?". I was so happy to not be running another 13.1 miles. Dad yelled, "just around the corner Ang". He was right, I could see the finish, crapola I'm going to do it!!! I started running faster and faster, I tried to finish strong. I helplessly threw my hands in the air as a final praise for finishing. I cried. My mouth felt sticky and dry. Then glanced down at my stopwatch. I finished in 2:17:03. A 10:28 pace over 13.1 miles. I'll take it. I've been running about 7 months. All the runners were herded into a food tent and the finish area to collect a warming blanket (that looked like tin foil), goody bags with food, a stinkin beautiful medal and people taking pictures. I immediately started tightening because there was no way to cool down. Not a good plan. I was very forgiving though since they gave me a free massage with two people working on me simultaneously. Can I just say, "WONDERFUL"! Then I went to my family. We hugged and laughed and told stories and it was such a terrific day. I can't wait to see how I'll do next time.
On my way home we picked up Evan who wore my medal and we picked up Boston Market and we all took nice long naps. I iced and babied my sore parts. I did it and that's that :) Can't wait to do it again.
9 months ago