If I had to sum up my race experience in one sentence, it would be:
“First half sucked, second half was amazing!”
This is contrary to 99% of people’s marathon racing experiences.
The first half – got passed by waves of half marathoners and my confidence wavered. Got really down on myself for being so slow and had terrible stomach cramps.
The second half – The spectators on the second half were amazing. The course weaved through residential neighbourhoods so there were many enthusiastic spectators cheering for the runners. I gave out (and received) more high fives on marathon day than I have in the last decade.
The day before the race I carbo loaded in Montreal. What a great city.
The pre-race excitement started the moment we got to the Metro. Thousands of people were packed into the metro heading to their various races. The Rock n Roll series organized a bunch of races: 1km, 5km, 10km, half marathon and full marathon. I headed to the start line on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge with all the other full and half marathoners.
On the Start Line
I believe there were 26 starting corrals, and I was in corral 19. Oh, did I mention the 20,000 people that came out to run the half marathon and full marathon…and only 40 porta-potties. Come on guys!
I found the 4:45 pace bunny in my corral and tried to stay as close to him as possible as we moved closer and closer to the start line to start our race.
I crossed the start line at 9:18am… here we go!
KM 1 -5 – 20,000 runners, 40 porta-potties
I have never seen so many people peeing en masse in bushes in my life. All I remember from the first 5km was runners ducking into the bushes to pee. See the point above, 20,000 runners, 40 porta-potties. I ran 6:45 per km during these first 5km so I kept up to the pace bunny, but then…
KM 6 – Nature Calls
Oh no, now nature calls. Oh, but there’s a washroom, quick – get in line….Took care of that.
The upside … I’m more comfortable now
The downside… I’ve lost the 4:45 pace bunny
KM 6 -15 – OW
Had really strong stomach cramps, so I stopped taking in water & gels. This is not a good sign…if I can’t take in gels I won’t have enough energy to finish. Urgh. Okay, I have really strong cramps but it doesn’t matter, I’m going to keep running.
KM 15 – Breakdown
Ok, these cramps and pissing me off. And I’ve been passed constantly by thousands of half marathoners huffing and puffing away. I suck. I’m slow, I feel like crap, this is stupid, this is going to take forever, I’m going to be running for days to finish this thing, I don’t know where I’m going. I stopped for a quick sob and then refocused. I’ve got cramps, so I’m going to walk and breathe deeply until the next lamp post, then try running again and focus on breathing deeply.
KM 15-19 – Things are looking up
The cramps have subsided to a dull ache, I can start taking in fluids & gels now. Yay energy!
KM 19-20 – The hill
Yay! A hill! I pass a bunch of half marathoners who slowed down to a walk going up the hill. Eat my dust suckers! My boyfriend was waiting at the top of the hill. I stopped to let him know I wouldn’t be making my 4:45 goal.
KM 21 – Goodbye half marathoners
The half marathoners turn off the course to their finish line. There were 17,000 half marathoners and about 3,000 full marathoners, so the course really cleared out at KM 21.
Okay, the first half sucked, I hated getting passed by waves of people, my stomach hurt, I realized I’m not going to make my time goal (more on that later). However, I’m going to enjoy the experience and I’m feeling good and really glad that the course has cleared out.
KM 21 – 25 – Just enjoy the run
I set into a rhythm and focused on enjoying the day.
KM 25 – Tired Legs
Hey, guess what? My legs are tired and I love it. I’ve run countless training runs on dead tired legs, I’ve done this a million times before and I’ll just keep on running. The one thing my training did was prepare me to keep running! And by the way, KM 32 will be my best kilometer. I can feel it.
KM 25-32 – Energy to Spare
At this point in the race, I have so much energy, it is ridiculous. Could be the energy from the spectators, could be the fact that I can eat now keep my energy up. As I passed by other runners I gave them a smile and thumbs up and told them to keep going. It’s not fair that I’ve got so much energy, there’s gotta be a way to spread it around…
KM 32 – The best
Yay, KM 32, only 10.2 more kilometers to go. No problem!
KM 32- 41 – Final out and back
This last section was the final out and back, so on my way out I saw the 4:15 pace bunny headed to the finish line. It was energizing seeing all the other runners heading toward the finish line.
KM 36 – Low energy
Ugh, I’m feeling very low energy. Good thing I made a playlist of fun songs to play to get me moving! Within 30 seconds of listening to the playlist my energy levels were right back up.
KM 38 – Get your butt to the finish line
Sent a text to my boyfriend “At km 38 of 42.2. Get your butt to the finish line!”
KM 41-42 – GO!
Tears in my eyes, I’m 1.2km away from the finish line and I feel amazing. I always imagined I’d finish the race feeling strong and I feel so strong right now. It’s time to just GO!
KM 42-42.2 – END IT
Sprinted the last 200m to the finish line, crossing the line at 5:10.
A Shout-Out to the spectators
The spectators and cheering sections on the Montreal Marathon Course were fantastic. Thank you for cheering for all the runners. The energy on the course was amazing. And following are some of my favourtie things I heard on the run:
“Remember, you PAID for this!”