Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mississauga Marathon - BQ Race Report

dreary stroll to the start line
When we left off, I had just lined up to wait for the start of the Mississauga Marathon. There were a few others planning to run around the same pace that I was, but I really wanted to run my own race this time. I knew I needed to zone out and focus on myself. I wished everyone well, lined up solo and enjoyed a few minutes of peace. I checked my laces, checked my Garmin, looked down at the writing on my hand.

 The next thing I knew, the starting cannon exploded to my right and we were off.

I displayed only the average pace of my current lap on my Garmin and took it one kilometre at a time from the get-go. We had a good tail wind and quite a bit of downhill in the first half, so I allowed myself to take advantage and cruise slightly faster than goal pace. [5:13]

I was feeling good and settling into the pace comfortably. I thought back on all of those MRP runs I'd completed over the last 18 weeks; now was the time to lock it in and make it count. I often have a hard time being patient and disciplined in the first half of a marathon; there is so much anticipation about what's to come, but I worked on staying in the moment. Between my gu/salt schedule and the markers where I knew I would be seeing friends, I found that time was flying by.

My pace got away from me a little on one of the steeper downhills (KM 9), but I also knew that our biggest climb was coming up so it felt good to have a few seconds in the "bank".

KM1 - 5:09 *salt at start
KM2 - 5:10
KM3 - 5:10
KM4 - 5:07
KM5 - 5:10
KM6 - 5:08 *gu
KM7 - 5:06
KM8 - 5:06
KM9 - 4:58
KM10 - 5:12

It was a pleasant surprise to see Ueli and Patricia cheering at KM 8. Not long after, right at the top of the hill, Erin and Ali were waiting for me with cowbell and big smiles. They had a water bottle for me too, which I used to refill my handheld. This was a big help and I didn't have to deal with the water tables at all.

There was a stretch around 12K when we finally got a good taste of the headwind, which I knew would be waiting for us for the entire last third of the race. It was definitely noticeable, but not unmanageable. The temperature felt pretty good and we had a light drizzle off and on throughout the entire race. I was perfectly comfortable in shorts and a tank and I wasn't going to let that wind shake me. At least not yet.

I kept on plugging away and knew that the half/full split was coming up. This is always a significant moment for me and it reminds me of my first marathon when I veered right and felt like I was finally becoming a member of a very special club. I love this moment of every race; not only does it suddenly become much less crowded, but it's a nice feeling to be running amongst marathoners. Nothing against the halfers (I was [am] one myself afterall), but I like to look around and know that we are all in it for the long haul. Shortly after the split, I was really happy to see the 16K (10 mile) mark - a good chunk of the race was under my belt. My mood only improved as I worked my way toward the half way mark.

KM11 - 5:10
KM12 - 5:08 *gu
KM13 - 5:08
KM14 - 5:10 *salt
KM15 - 5:10
KM16 - 5:11
KM17 - 5:12
KM18 - 5:10 *gu
KM19 - 5:10
KM20 - 5:09
KM21 - 5:05

A friend from our clinic was waiting at 21 and I was super excited to see her. She gave me a big cheer and I felt like I was floating across the half way timing mats.

Half Split: 1:48:46

I had a rush of adrenaline and emotion as I started thinking to myself for the first time "I might actually do this." I got a little choked up, but told myself to cut it out - there was plenty of race left!

Right after this there was a Tim Horton's handing out bottles of water, so I took advantage and got another refill on my handheld. I didn't want to slow down and dumped half of it all over my hand in the process, but I did manage to top up my bottle.

Erin and Ali as well as Ueli and Patricia were all cheering at 22K. I felt like a star! It was so good to see everyone, and the girls assured me that Mark was doing great - exactly what I needed to hear. Off I went with even more spring in my step, knowing I would be seeing them all again soon in the same spot after an out-and-back stretch.

I knew there was a good chance I would get to see hubs here so I kept a close eye and sure enough, I caught a glimpse of him just before he was turning off the out-and-back portion. The timing couldn't have been better. We exchanged a wave and a thumbs up. Along I went for a couple kilometres on a gradual downhill. I saw some of my running buddies who were ahead of me and traded high-fives.

We hit a sharp turn-around at 25K. I was now heading back up that slight incline and hello wind! It was no joke and I knew it was going to be pretty much constant from here on out. I remembered many great pep talks, told myself that I am stronger than the wind, and buckled down.

I saw some of my buddies who were just behind and traded more high-fives and cheers. Everyone seemed to be doing so well, which made me really happy.

KM22 - 5:05
KM23 - 5:06
KM24 - 5:03 *gu
KM25 - 5:05
KM26 - 5:08

Coach Don rode up beside me on his bike somewhere along this stretch and we chatted for a few. I told him I was doing great and I meant it. I knew I had a long way to go, but I was on pace and feeling strong.

Before I knew it I was back at the 22/28K mark to see the gang again. I swapped my large handheld for my smaller one that Ueli had for me. It felt great to lose some of the extra weight/bulk in my hand. At this point, Patricia was gone because she jumped in with Mark when he ran by the second time. It was bittersweet to know that the next time I would see everyone would be at the finish!

KM27 - 5:07
KM28 - 5:16 *salt
KM29 - 5:07
KM30 - 5:13 *gu
KM31 - 5:12
KM32 - 5:14

The course was different this year and there were a lot more rollers on the back half than I expected. They just kept coming! I didn't worry about powering up, but instead held a steady effort and knew I could earn back my pace on the downhills. They proved to be more of a mental obstacle than physical. I caught up to a couple of guys from my group who had been ahead and chatted briefly to see how they were doing before carrying on my way. One of them said, "I knew you'd catch us!"

Coming up on 32K (20 miles) there was a blow up "wall" that we got to run through, and Coach Don was waiting on the other side and took this pic. I called out "No wall for me today!" I had 10K to go. It was time to start counting down.

The headwind was really strong at points and it was somewhat demoralizing to realize that it would remain like this all the way to the finish. I let it get to me a bit and hit a rough patch around 33-34K. I questioned - just for an instant - if I could continue doing this. To my pleasant surprise, Patricia was waiting for me right when I needed her to lift my spirits.

She jumped in with me and I let her know that I was on pace with a couple minutes to spare. I wasn't talking much at all but I loved having some company. The wind was exhausting and I felt like I had slowed to a crawl, but in reality I had barely slowed down at all. Kilometres 36, 37 and 38 were my slowest, chiming in at about 7 seconds slower than goal pace. From 37 on, we were running along the lake, primarily on the bike paths. It was winding with some minor undulations, and it was tough to keep momentum. I just kept telling myself that I was on my way to the finish line.

Some friends from our group were waiting right around 38 and I nearly cried when I saw them. They cheered like crazy and I cheered right back at them. I felt like I had an epiphany at that moment - I suddenly knew I was going to do it. I was doing it!

KM33 - 5:02
KM34 - 5:14
KM35 - 5:17
KM36 - 5:22
KM37 - 5:20 *half gu
KM38 - 5:20

We just had 4K to go; Patricia said "4K, this is just a little run around the block." I was able to pick my pace back up and keep it there. I had enough cushion that I could slow down quite a bit and still reach my goal, but I was determined to finish strong.

I kept feeling myself getting choked up and had to shake it off and stay focused. A lot can happen in a few kilometres, but we just kept counting them down. Patricia was telling me that I only had to keep running for a few more minutes. After 3 and a half hours already, and more than 143 hours in training, what was 10 more minutes?

I started to recognize those last winding turns through the park toward the finish line (it was the same as the 2009 course), and I also knew that the finish would be a lot farther away than I thought it should be. We passed the 40K marker, and the next kilometre went by in a blur. 41K. I picked it up a bit. Just one kilometre to go! I saw lots more friends waiting along the path, cheering like crazy. This was my moment. I soaked it in.

KM39 - 5:11
KM40 - 5:17
KM41 - 5:16
KM42 - 4:46

Patricia sent me on my way as the finish line came into sight. I caught a glimpse of the clock reading 3:37:XX. I was scanning the crowds and heard Erin and Ali before I saw them. I threw my arms up and just screamed.

I whooped it up all the way over that line. You would have thought I had won the race or something. ;) I didn't hear it, but hubs told me later that the announcer even made a comment about how excited I was. I just could not believe it was all over and I had done it.

Official Chip Time: 3:37:18
First Half Split: 1:48:46
Second Half Split: 1:48:32
Avg. Pace: 5:09/KM (8:17/mi)
Overall: 240/1094
Women: 39/463
F25-29: 12/56


"The crew" - I can't thank you all enough!


And finally, the hubs!

Official Chip Time: 3:09:18
Average pace: 4:29/KM (7:13/mi)
Overall: 42/1094
Men: 36/631
M25-29: 6/41

By far the best moment of the day was when I finally made my way through the finisher's area and saw hubs coming toward me. Of course he was beaming ear to ear for me, but all I wanted to know was "DID YOU DO IT?" Yes he had! Sharing this achievement on the same day at the same race on the first attempt for both of us is a joy beyond my wildest hopes and expectations. Just a few months ago I would have laughed in the face of anyone who suggested that this was even a possibility. And look at us now. :) 


Angie said...

Wow!!! BIG congrats!! I just love the finishing pictures.. you look SOOO happy! Seriously, those are great!! :) Nice job with the negative splits on the second half! I would love to be able to do that some day! :)

yumke said...

That is the best picture. Congrats to both of you. Enjoy Cloud Nine! Enjoy.

Joanna said...

AWESOME awesome awesome! I am SO happy for you. There were no doubts you'd rock your face off and you did, with time to spare! Bask in the wonderful moment, days, weeks of this!

Christine said...

Congratulations!!! That is amazing!!! You deserve it so much after all the hard work you put in !!

Kayla said...

Your hard work and great training cycle paid off!!! You did it! CONGRATS!!! Love the pictures of you finishing!! SO much joy! how awesome that your hubby BQ'd as well!! Congrats to you both!

macnic said...

Love that pic of you as well! Major congrats to you both!

Teamarcia said...

I got all choked reading this! So So incredibly happy for both of you. I had no idea this was your hubs' first BQ too! What a sweet memory to share. Congrats again. All your hard work has paid off. BQ baby!!!

Anonymous said...

What an exciting report to read, and I love your expression in the pics at the end. That's so awesome!

Karen said...

I nearly cried when I saw your screaming photo! Congrats Marlene! You are AMAZING!

lish said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You so deserve this...your hard work has paid off...enjoy every minute!!!

Samantha said...

Congratulations!! I love that you wrote on your hand. So awesome!

Anonymous said...

Such a great recap!

You really inspire me -- makes me think *maybe* someday I could BQ too.

Congrats again!

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

Amazing! Great race, great recap. Congratulations to you AND to your husband! What an amazing thing to get to celebrate this as the same time!

swyers said...

Crying tears of joy for you, Marlene! Congrats to you and your hubby!!!

Michelle said...

Geesh Marlene...I've been waiting for this post and I'm just crying for you! Crying because I know it is the BEST feeling to hear yourself say, "I'm doing it. I've got this. I'm going to do it." I'm pretty sure people thought I was nuts in Eugene the way I was screaming, but it is a feeling of total elation! I am SO HAPPY for you. I hope you are still on cloud 9 and that you are just thoroughly enjoying this week.

I found myself ready to run little easy runs by Wednesday. :) The bug was still in me! Congrats, my blogging friend. Truly, congrats. You worked so hard. You motivated us all. You are incredible!

Marci said...

Great race report, I admit to stalking your blog, couldn't wait to read it! Major congratulations Marlene, you worked so hard, and are such an inspiration to us all, so glad your hard work paid off!! Love the emotion on your face in your finish line photos, I think thats what its all about!! Also how perfect that your Hubs also BQ'd, makes it all the more sweet, sometimes we savour loved ones victories more than our own!! Again, so happy for you!!

Heather said...

Amazing! I lived all the finish line pictures - so awesome.'great job on the race, all that hard work definitely paid off!

MCM Mama said...

Awesome. Amazing. You Rock. So very very impressed!!!

Way to go and congratulations!!!

Nicole said...

Im totally SOBBING! I am SO very proud of you and SO glad i was able to meet you on your way to your BQ. you are going to ROCK boston & anything you come across in your running path. you are an amazing runner. the best has yet to come! live it up! xoxo

Chelsea said...

YAYYY! I am tearing up reading this - you put so much time and commitment and STRENGTH into your training. Thank you for sharing the whole process with us AND for sharing those *AWESOME* finish line pictures!

Unknown said...

The pictures say it all. Congrats to you and your husband on great finishes!

Kerrie said...

What a great race! I was holding my breath even though I knew you did it. LOL. Congratulations, Marlene. And congrats to the hubs, too. You two rock!

Julie D. said...

AH-mazing, Marlene!! So stinking proud of you! Loved your report. I love how your intense training paid off in so many ways through this race...the fact that you said the hills and wind were more of a mental battle then physical, that you felt strong the entire way, the fact that you had a cushion of almost 3 minutes!!! ---Just makes me want to emulate your hard work and inspires me to think that if I put in the blood, sweat, and tears, like you have---it might just happen. I've got to get into the "GO hard or go home" mindset though. I think I've become too lax since not having a marathon on the calendar...time to change that, I think. YOU ROCK!! Enjoy every second of glory. Congrats, again!

Julie D. said...

Oh, and your time on the second half split matching (and even beating) your first half split...could not have gone better!! I think everyone would love to duplicate this race for themselves in terms of plan for their next marathon...I know I would. Way to follow through and gut it out. awesome.

Ok, I'll stop now. ;)

Cynthia said...

Congrats to you both! What an amazing thing to do and to be able to share that with your husband is so awesome!!
Great recap!! I love all your pictures!

amy said...

Such a great post! Very hard not to tear up imagining the pride you must have felt for yourself and your husband. Pure magic, Marlene. Congratulations!!

GREAT looking medals, too!

Char said...

What a fantastic time! You ran that so well - so consistently and strong and with such self-belief. It just shows how well your training went. Congratulations.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

What a great story! Congrats!

Laura said...

So So So Happy for you guys. Your pics are just amazing!!

Mark said...

Wow!! What a race!! Congratulations to both of you! Very impressive splits!! Now to Boston!!

No Longer Using said...

i absolutely love it. great recap and the pictures tell the story SO WELL. you had this race inside you and it carried you through and the emotion must've been so intense!!!!!!!!!! congrats marlene!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ajh said...

Love ALL the smiles in so many of the pics. It was your day big time!

J said...

Oh Marlene!!!! I am so proud of you! I got all choked up just reading this! I wanted you to get this race so bad! You have come so far and are running so strong! What an amazing experience! Congrats to Mark too! What a day!

Anne said...

Totally made me tear up this morning...what a fantastic recap! I love those medals :)
You did so's a dream race for sure!

fancy nancy said...

Seriously tears in my eyes when I saw your finish line pictures!!! I know how hard you worked for this!!! I am so excited for you that you made it with time to spare!!!! Congrats Marlene you more than earned it!!!

Richelle said...

Reading this recap and viewing all the photos, especially the finish photos, made me tear up with joy. I'm so happy for you and Mark. Congrats again!

Running Ricig said...

I love the reminder on your hand! You look SO HAPPY in your pictures :) Congratulations!!!!

Meg said...

BQ TIMES 2 MO'FO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beth said...

Congrats to both of you! Your splits were so consistent, you ran such a great race!!!!

Q said...

I can feel your excitement in those finish line pictures!!!

Congrats again, and I can't say enough how much of an inspiration you are. I may not be anywhere near a BQ at the moment, but even to just get out there and run.


Robin said...

Congratulatons again, awesome. To both meet your goals like that truly amazing and a great thing to share. The support you had on the course must have really helped and I think it's great. Way to go!

Q said...

Oh, and I love the inflatable wall.

Still Running said...

Wow. I'm all teary. Way to go.

kristen said...

I almost don't want to comment because there are 42 comments and it just seems right ;-) (can mine count as .2 of a comment?)

I love how so very clearly excited you are in those finish line pictures.

Congratulations Marlene! You worked so hard for this and I was so excited to see that you did it! Enjoy basking in the glory for as long as you want!

(and congrats to your husband as well- I hope the Boston registration fairies are kind to you in the fall and that you can run it together!)

Anonymous said...

finally! i didnt think this post would ever come!

first of all, a big congrats to u and ur husband. u guys both worked soooo hard on this, that you totally deserve it.

u did sooo well. i am so happy for u. this was 'the' perfect race. u ran so well and so strong.
i remember reading posts when u first started running and you were just a regular runner and now u r going to BOSTON, BABY!!

i love reading ur blog and learn so much from u. I hope that if i am half as strong as you are, i will be a much stronger and better runner!

enjoy this time and i bet u r still glowing from ur big accomplishment!


Sarah said...

Congrats, as always I am so proud of you both!

misszippy said...

AWESOME!!! You were amazingly, amazingly consistent with your splits, which is the best way to nail a marathon. So fantastic! Congrats!!

Courtney @ I CAN DO THIS said...

So awesome! And the pics are priceless! I love all the smiles :)

Tatiana said...

Oh Marlene. Now I'm at my desk at work trying to look like I wasn't crying. You are such an inspiration!

Val said...

So inspirational. Definitely crying a little:) I LOVE the finish line pictures. Way to live in the moment. Congrats, I hope you are still on cloud 9:)

Denise said...!! i totally teared up looking at the ones of you approaching the finish line. all your dedication and hard work paid off and the best part, there's still so much more you're going to accomplish!! so happy you reached your goal and had such a great day. you not only deserved it, you earned it...big time. congrats on a successful training cycle and race. you nailed it!!!

congrats to hubs, too!! you two will have a blast running boston together. and i love that you got to see him out on the course. so sweet.

The Jesse said...

wow, what a great race recap! congrats again! i'm loving your finish line photos and the fact that your medals have your BQ times on them!

Zaneta @ Runner's Luck said...

congratulations!!! OH how exciting!! :) I teared up reading your race report!!! And it's so special that both you and hubs did it together on the same day!! :) CONGRATS!!!

Anonymous said...

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! Never assume you can't do something, because clearly you can push past any barrier you've set up for yourself and train hard for Anything :) I'm SO so happy for you & Mark!

These race photos made the recap even more engaging - it felt like we were watching you run, as we read about it happening! Amazing spectators and friends, no doubt.

I hope you're still basking in the glory of this accomplishment, grinning from ear to ear and getting that goosebump-feeling every time you think about what you and those legs did :)

Jamie said...

Awesome! Great report! Congrats on running such an amazing and well pace marathon. You've earned it baby!

Runners Fuel said...

I'm so happy for the both of you!! I just want to give you hug!!

Hunnybee said...

Your finish line pictures gave me such happy tears. You're such an inspiration and you clearly show that putting in the effort has amazing rewards.

JC said...

Ahhh! this is SO awesome! congrats :) :)

Amy said...

Oh, I'm all choked up! I'm just so, so, so happy for you. I don't know what else to say!

Siobhan said...

I'm sooo excited for you!!!

I got teary eyed just reading your recap! WAY TO BQ LADY!!! That is AMAAAAZING!!!

Caroline said...

I love love love the pictures when you arrived at the finish line
all of them! pure JOY!

Jill said...

I was choking up reading this - I am sooo proud of all your hard work with the training and the weight loss and just everything. Congratulations girl!!!! And to your husband, too...I can't imagine a more emotional moment than to realize he had BQ'd also! Boston, here you guys come!!!



I totally cried reading this! you executed perfectly! congrats!

Tricia said...

Youre amazing. You totally rocked it!

Cindy said...

you made me cry! you totally inspire me Marlene...I kept checking in to see the race report! i think back to when i read your first marathon report and how much you're accomplished through hard are amazing.

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

OMG awesome race and race report, I was also teary while reading.
You and hubby should be so proud, I can't wait to hear what's next for the two of you!

Chic Runner said...

Congrats Marlene! You look so happy and proud in all the pictures and you totally deserve this BQ! You worked so hard! :)

Anonymous said...

What an AWESOME race report! I'm so glad I came over to read it!!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

This race recap was a really fun read! Congrats on a fast finish!

Unknown said...

Great job! Congrats on the BQ and WOW for those negative splits. I am terrible at that. See you in Boston 2012!

Aron said...


I am sitting here with goosebumps and tears <3 so so so proud of you. I KNEW you would do it but still it's just so awesome when everything comes together just like that. You ran such a great race and did everything right. IT WAS YOUR DAY!!!

Congrats again, I know you are still soaking it all up and stay up on cloud 9 for as long as possible!! its the best place to be.

Gotta Run..... said...

I thought about you as I was puring my last bit of Epson salt in my bath last night.

You executed you plan perfectly and still managed to soak in the beautiful magic that was happening. Loved your detail report. Felt as if we were all there cheering you on along the way. Fantastic!!!

Jen Feeny said...

Totally crying tears of joy reading this! You did it girl! I knew you would and I am SOOOOOOOOO proud of you! And I love that you wore the green wrist rocker from Martian!!! Big giant congrats to both you and hubs! You both earned this and to be able to do it on the same day "together" will be a memory that will live down in infamy! xoxoxoxo

Heidi said...

That is SO awesome! Huge congratulations to both of you. Beautiful story.

Lindsay said...

This is awfully long Maurlene... Are you serving refreshments? I'll take some m&m's and a strong margarita.

Lindsay said...

Tim Whorton stop... Did you get a donut?!? You should have. Then you could tell everyone that a whore donut is the key to a BQ! ;)

Lindsay said...

And now I read about you getting a bike ride!

I'm just being wise... In case you thought I was being a b*tch. Or maybe you think that anyway.

Anonymous said...

Woweee! This race report actually had me choked up at the end. I just know how hard you worked for this and couldn't be happier for you. I also think the pics speak for themselves. They definitely show all your emotions. I absolutely loved reading this report and now I get to wait for the next big one! :) Congrats Marlene!!!

Lindsay said...

Way to go maurlene!!! I felt my emotions stirring as you described the last kms of the race. Such an amazing feeling!!

Mmm not sure bout that screaming bit though. Kind of dorky... :-p

Just kidding you know I love you.


mfranks said...

Just a fabulous post. Congrats on the qualifier. I am assuming you are Canadian? I am also- but I train out of Mississippi. Look forward to another read. M.

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations!! Your report got me so choked up. I am so so happy for you and your husband. I am so glad you had an amazing strong race.

I can especially relate to that "epiphany" moment when you know you're on your way to a goal.

Anonymous said...

This recap made me ridiculously emotional. With my next marathon in 2 wks and hoping to challenge my capabilities a bit, I needed to read this... a marathon gone RIGHT. Well done, Marlene, well done!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Way to go, you are such an inspiration!

Bethany + Ryan said...

Please excuse me while I go blow my nose! Those pictures are great! They get me every time!! sniff sniff!!! xoxoxo

Unknown said...

Congrats to you and hubby. That ia awesome. Both BQ at the same time. Allergies have my eyes watering a little.

Neophyte TriGuy said...

Congrats Marlene and Hubby on your BQs. What an awesome achievement!

Ryan said...

so proud of you!! crying at your recap! I am dreaming this same are a super star! LOVE YOU!!!

5 Miles Past Empty said...

Why is this making me cry? I am a basket case!!

I totally get needing to run your own race. I am for the most part a lone racer. I prefer it. And the writing on your hand...amazing!! so cool!!! I'm going to steal that from you!!!

Unknown said...

OMG, I am so happy for you and your pictures are terrific!!!! Congratulations!!!

Runner Leana said...

Congratulations Marlene, you really rocked this race! All of your amazing training paid off. You definitely deserved this.

Congratulations to you and Mark!!!!!

Badgergirl said...

Congrats to both you and the Hubs on the BQ effort!

Raquelita said...

Congratulations on your awesome accomplishment! It's so awesome that you and your husband both met your BQ goals! I love the pictures of you crossing the finish line with such excitement and triumph!

Unknown said...

I'm SO LATE, but SO HAPPY for you!

Big Big Hugs & Smiles,

Vava said...

I realize I'm late, but CONGRATULATIONS TO BOTH OF YOU GUYS!!! It must be amazing to not only BQ, but to do it at the same time. Crazy awesome.