Tuesday, October 18, 2005


From a Small Jogging Pup to a Marathon Dog: 2005 Toronto Marathon Post Race Report

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime you better....

It is the morning before the race. Around 7:15 am. I am blasting this lyric over and over in my head as I am taking a hot shower. It is the song "Lose Yourself" by Eminem. I found his songs are disturbing. But after listening to this from the What It Takes Preview, I can't stop. This song depicts the feeling I have prior to the race.

I figure what better time than pump myself up than in the shower. I didn't really think about the race. Even when I pick up the race kit the day before. Or when I prepared my hydration belt. Even the night before, as Jing and I went to hear a friend's recitdal. I told him "Jing, I am going to run a marathon tomorrow." Reality still haven't click in yet.

For breakfast I had a Clif Bar and two oat barn cookies. That's exactly what I have before my LSDs. I was going to eat a banana. Forgot about that. Len and I was already rushing along to the starting point. Len was the photographer taking my pics for my triathlon. His skills is amazing. Somehow, he can turn my pics into what my friend describe as Nike Ads. I swear he photoshop my pics :). Airbrush it and 'enhance' it. I am just thankful for him being there.

Len took two shots of me before the starting line.

My friend, Ann, was doing the 1/2 marathon. They started at 8:30 am. By the time I ran over it was too late. They started as I reach the starting line. I couldn't find her. I went around looking for a place for my bag check. I notice a lot runners are putting on garbage bags and any plastic bag they can find (and can fit into). I guess they are worry about raining.

The only pace bunny I could find is the 5 hr one. I want to follow the 4:30 or 4:15. I even joke with some runners that it is a bad sign when you see the 5 hr bunny past you (as you will see later, I shouldn't have said that).

I was planning to meet up with Will. We both agree to run with the 4:30 pace bunny. Since that bunny is not there and I don't know how he looks like. I will do this solo. My goal is simple. I am going to cut this race into two runs. A 30 km LSD and 12 km sprint. I have been training tempo runs where I progressively run faster. I am going to make sure I have enough tank in my gas to for that.

By 9 am, off we go. The weather was very windy. I could see the clouds fly by. I have been training with the exact route. So I am not too concern. I know what to expect. I slow down alot in the first 20 min. My HRM was going all over the place. I want to push it down below 160.

In the first few kms, I started doing the 10-1s. I really forcing myself down. My HR still not dropping. I am concern about that. I am in the last 25% of runners. I figure I have time to catch up afterwards.

See you in a minute

By 5 km or so, the runners are stretch out. There are a few of us running this together. I ended up beside a female runner that is about the same pace as me. She trained by running non stop. So everytime I have to take my break, I will tell her "see you in a minute"

We exchange small talks here and there. It turned out this was her first marathon too. She is a hard core mountain biker. It was funny. I asked her what does she do on her spare time. She said she just train. Woah, I thought I was the only one (other than the tri bloggers, of course).

We keep helping each other keeping pace. I would slow down to do my one minute walk and I would quickly catch up to her. Since I know how the route is like, I told her not to be afraid of Hogs Hollow. This is a 800 m valley. Most runners are not happy with it. I love it. I didn't find out her name until a few hours later (Mimi).

Jim Collin once said that it is not what we do but who we do it with that is important. I figure why not I help someone this race. I can't say I help since to help someone you have to know what you are doing :). And since I am a beginner marathon myself, why not just support each other. That's right support each other.

Hydration strategy out the door

There is a lot to expect and a lot unexpected during a race. For one is my hydration strategy. In my runnings, I will drink 750 ml of Gatorade in the first 50 min. Then afterwards will take a gel every 30 min and drink water. I will drink about 1 L an hour.

I have a hydration belt with that holds three 200 ml bottles and a gel flask. Since the aid station is 5 km away, I figure that I can refil the bottles at each water station and take water as needed. To my surprise, the aid station only have cups with water. I expect to see the jug where u pour water yourself. The bottles are small and it will take me forever to refill them by pouring with paper cups. So I say, scrap the plan.

There are times when I take my gel without water. Everytime I stop at a water station I will grab three four cups of water and/or ultima.

33 km, a full bladder and the real run begins

Reading from other bloggers with marathon experience, I realize that the race really begin in the last 7-8 km or so. This is true for both of us.

By 33 km, I really had to go to the washroom. That's a good sign that I am well hydrated. I remember in the porta potty, the speaker was blasting a song from J-Lo that I listen to when I train. That really got me pump up.

Mimi and I drag on. 33 km, 34 km, 35 km. The one who put those signs were evil. Not only do those signs taunt us, it makes the distance feel even further. I think it is a trick. Next time we should run backwards. Then these dread 30 something kms are easier to deal with :).

The wind is particular nasty in the last few kms. We are closer to the lake. I have never run with wind this strong before.

By 37 km or so, we have to start walking. Mimi is having ankle pain. I am getting tired myself. My feet is getting sore. We walked up University street. That's the last 2 km. I figure since we are jogging so slow, we might as well walk it. Finishing 10 min earlierwon't make a difference when your time is five hours :D.

The way the finish line lay out is that we have to run a circle at Queen's park. I told Mimi we should run it so we don't look like we are walking the whole time. :) We chug along. All I remember was the speaker saying "Here comes Cliff Tam from Mississauga". Wow, that moment was priceless. I pick up some more speed and I see my cousin waiting at the finsh line.

Mimi and I high fives each other...we did it. 42 km. I am surprise that I can run 5 hr non stop. That's insane. The longest time on my feet is only three and a half hours.

Looking back, an amazing experience indeed

Here are some moments that are truly memorable:

- there was one runner that carry a portable camera with him. He would stop here and there and take pictures. What a great idea.

- when we were running Yonge street, there were a bunch of kids that ran beside us. It was so cute. I figure we are the last pack of the marathoners, they must have been waiting and cheering for so long.

- the cops, that stop traffic for us to cross the streets

- the continue positivity (spelling?) and encouragement from spectators and other runners. There was a runner who finished the race and kept running up and down the course cheering us. I swear I must have seen him like 5 times.

As much as I love going for speed and performance. As much as I strive to push myself to better than before. I can't stop and wonder the joy I have from this race. Not only do I meet some great people, the support from everyone, family and friends are amazing.

I am very thankful that even with my bike accident that put me out of training for two weeks. I still be able to run this race. Lose a few teeth? That's ok. As long as God gave me my legs..I will pound on :).

7 comments:

William said...

Awesome report! I think maybe the km signs at the beginning are closer together and then they stretch out the signs near the end.

Holly said...

Great Race report! Congratulations on the first of many marathons!

Deb said...

thanks for sharing your experience, it's awesome! Way to go!!! be very proud of yourself, you deserve it.

tarheeltri said...

Great report! You know, I think the same thing about Eminem... but that song is pretty motivating!

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