By the time I got to the starting line of the Toronto Marathon, I had already gone through the toughest part of the marathon: the training. Logging the miles, as anyone who has run a marathon knows, is not easy. For months, I had to carefully plan when and how to run around my family and my job. During the last six weeks of my training, I wasn’t even sure if I was ready to run the distance due to my ankle woes, but I finally found the courage to register just two weeks before – on the same week of two long runs.
On Saturday, when I saw my chiropractor, I felt quite relaxed about what I was heading into, even with the bruising from that football that landed on my calf the day before. When Dr. Randy asked me when I ran my last marathon, I replied, “Twenty years.”
“How long?” he asked again.
“Twenty years. It was Detroit. Twenty years ago.”
“Wow, that’s really impressive. To take twenty years off and go back says a lot.”
“Honestly, Randy, a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I’d make it this far. But I’m ready. My last long run was 20 miles two weeks ago, and I ran 18 miles 5 days before that. If I can log that kind of distance over 5 days, I’m ready.”
“Remember what they say,” Randy reminded me. “The race starts at 32K.”
I thought about that conversation all day and, still, a week later, I haven’t quite figured out what he meant. But Randy is a four-time Ironman so I was somewhat proud of being able to impress him.
When Shawn called me at night, I told him that I was feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing. “The hardest part,” I told him, “is going to be getting the boys up and out of the house in the morning.”
But even the morning went fairly smoothly. At 7:00, Little Ironman and I walked to a neighbour’s where he would spend the morning, then go to a birthday party and, then, visit Superfriend Katherine until we got back. Skipper’s wake-up call was easy because he was excited about heading into Toronto. Daddy, who finished his week of nights at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, managed to find the bathroom and make himself breakfast without too many expletives when he say the wet, grey skies. By 7:15, we were heading into the city.
About an hour and a half later, Daddy, Skipper and I walked from the lobby of the warm Novotel Hotel (with clean bathrooms) to the start line. Skipper and I walked ahead, and, ten minutes before the start, I was still trying to figure out what to wear. Humidity was in the air and, without a doubt, we were sure to get dumped on at one point. But it was also cool – a brisk 9C. While that is a near-perfect running temperature, the rain and winds along the lakeshore were sure to make it feel much cooler.
I had my iPod ready but put it back in my pocket. I figured that the first half-marathon would be easy to run so I decided to wait until I got to halfway mark on Lakeshore Blvd., where it would be miserable and I’d want the distraction, before I’d use it.
Three minutes to start: Skipper and I were next to the corrals and Daddy was nowhere in sight. “Great,” I thought. “Just what I need – to worry about leaving my ten year old on his own in Toronto.” But Skipper is street-smart and I knew Daddy would find him once the runners had left. Still, I was worried.
Two minutes to start: I pulled off my shirts, handed my long-sleeved to Skipper and put my short-sleeved back on. “I’ll be fine,” I told myself. “I’ll be more comfortable with wet arms than wet sleeves.” I said good-bye to Skipper and climbed into the corrals. “I”ll find Daddy after everyone is gone,” he said.
The gun went off and, as we crossed the starting line, I anxiously combed the spectators for Daddy. He was nowhere in sight. “They’ll find each other,” I thought. “Then, they can cheer for me on Rosedale Valley and visit my parents for breakfast.” But as I turned the corner to run down Yonge Street, I continued to worry.