“After getting hurt,” I told her, “I wanted to make sure I was strong enough to run. I almost walked away but decided that I had to run this marathon. I just wanted to get the distance in; I always have the fall to try to improve my time.”
At the 6K mark, where I was already wet and cold, I revamped my goal: have fun. I decided to thank the volunteers, show appreciation for the spectators (and there weren’t a lot, due to the weather, so they really needed to be appreciated) and smile for the camera guys.
During the second half-marathon, along the Lakeshore, where it was much colder and windier, I kept reminding myself that it was all about having fun. At about the 23K mark, I pulled over to the edge and pulled out my iPod, sensing that I was probably going to need a distraction soon. “Start listening early,” I told myself. “If you get into the music, you may not notice the rain.”
Well, I did notice the rain, and the wind, and every kilometre mark from there to the finish but the tunes did help keep me going. I hit 30K at 2:31 – still on pace – when The Boomtown Rats started I Don’t Like Mondays, my favorite song from high school. My pace picked up significantly and I heard Garmin Graham pulling me back to my 5 minute kilometre, and he held me there for the next 12K. At 32K, Dr. Randy told me the race was just starting and, at 33K, my arms were starting to feel numb; the cold was starting to get to me.
When I next stopped for Gatorade, my forearms and fingers were tingling. “Keep running,” I said, “so that you’ll generate more heat.” By the time I got to University Avenue, 4K from the finish, I couldn’t feel my forearms; I could barely hold onto a water cup.
To make things worse, the last 4K were uphill – not greatly so, but uphill enough to be intimidating. Then, at 40K, it happened: I stopped and walked – not while drinking to make sure that Gatorade went into me instead of on me – but walked for the sake of walking. But my tunes continued to play, I was urged on by a stranger and I caught a glimpse of Queen’s Park – the sign that the end was near. To Garmin Graham’s dismay, I picked up my pace and propelled myself towards the finish line.
With less than a kilometre to go, I started to look for my husband, Skipper and Delilah. Dave (Yes, you finally know his name. There have to be some perks for reading this long report.) jumped onto the road and started to run with me.
“I’m good! I’m good!” I yelled at him until I realized that that people all around us had no idea why I was yelling and thought I was crazed.
“Are you sure?”
“Good. I’m okay. Leave me alone. I can do this on my own!” And he did.
About two minutes later, I crossed the finish line, finishing in 3:35:40, almost 25 minutes better than my BQ time and I was handed the world’s biggest medal (well, not really, but it does have a five inch diameter), which was just too darn heavy for my tired arms to hold. Skipper, who came out of nowhere, was quite happy to relieve me of it.
We found Dave and Delilah, and the three of them turned off my iPod (my fingers were too numb to do even that) and helped me change out of my wet clothes. And, without wasting any time, we headed back to Oakville to pick up Little Ironman, who still isn’t really sure what all of the fuss was about. One day, he will know.