After 22 weeks of training, I ran the Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope on Sunday. As I sit here reflecting on how it went down, I can’t help but smile. It was a great race. I’m not even bummed that I didn’t hit my A goal (3:4x). I ran a PR by a few minutes and any marathon ending in a PR is a good news story for me.
As for the race, I had a hunch it was going to be windy. There have been storms blowing through Ontario for the past week. Did I expect the strong head winds for 3/4 of the race? No, but what can you do. Wind is different than other elements. Snow (well, light snow) and rain are more of an inconvenience, whereas wind majorly impacts the speed to which you can cover ground.
(Photo credit: Hamilton Marathon)
The race started on the country roads up on Hamilton Escarpment. The route included a few hills, but overall it was fairly flat. I was able to stick to my race plan for the first 10km, then the wind hit. Normally, I would have enjoyed the peaceful cornfields and farmland. Unfortunately, the flat farm land provided little to no protection from the wind.
As we were running along, I kept trying to wedge myself behind people to block the wind. A few others had the same idea and I found myself with people behind me at times. We turned away from the wind a few times, but just as I would find my groove, we’d be turning a corner into a strong head wind again. I kept telling myself I could make it up on the downhill and to not be discouraged. The mental game is more than half the battle.
I saw my parents for the first time between 12 and 13 km. I was feeling pretty good, but loved seeing them. My mom handed me water and I carried on.
19km was a bit of a death march. I remember the wind being so strong that I felt I was getting no where. That’s the thing with wind, your effort is never reflected in your pace. The paces my “hard effort” normally yield were unfortunately not seen on race day.
I came to the half and knew that the Redhill Expressway (downhill) was just around the corner. I felt pretty good, as I had been taking gels roughly every 40 minutes and drinking water at each aid station. I knew that the downhill would allow me to catch a tail wind for a bit.
We got off the Redhill Expressway and headed down to the waterfront. I knew I would see my parents at 30km, so I told myself to just power through until then (I knew seeing them would give me a boost).
After I saw my parents, I turned onto the Waterfront Path and then onto Beach Boulevard. This was the final stretch before the turnaround that would take me to the finish at Confederation Park.
I was breaking the marathon up into pieces. 10 miles + 10 miles + 10km. And, just like that I was in the final stretch. The hardest part. I kept telling myself that 10km is nothing and that this is the portion of the race that will determine if I would PR or not.
I thought about all those early mornings.
I thought about all those nights in bed before 9:00 pm.
I thought about my fiancé and family and their endless support.
I thought about previous races and how disappointing it is to not have the race you thought you trained for. I exchanged a few harsh words with myself, and told myself that giving anything less than I was capable was NOT AN OPTION.
I hit the turnaround between 35 and 36 km. I knew I was heading towards the finish.
My mom popped out of nowhere! It was awesome. I wasn’t expecting to see her again. I had just left the last water station and she ran up beside me. She told me I was going to PR.
I started ticking people off. One by one. I was fighting a strong wind from the water (the path is directly on the shore of Lake Ontario), but managed to keep my head down.
Half of my bib ripped off and I could tell it was going to blow away if I didn’t hold onto it. So I ripped the rest of it off and held onto it for dear life. AS IF I was going to DNF because I had lost my bib!
Bib in hand, I crossed the finish line in 3:57:32. It was a tough race, but I loved (mostly) every minute of it. Now for some much needed R&R.
Hamilton Marathon 2015. That’s a wrap!