It has taken me a while to write a new post. I could say life got in the way, I could say it was because I was enjoying a little break from running. Both of these are true. But the more likely reason is the slightly overwhelmed feeling I have had as I head into marathon training. The fact is I have never undertaken something like this in my life. I feel nervous, excited, overwhelmed, curious, scared – make that terrified – and the list goes on. Somehow having to write about it all seemed a little too much. But, the original reason for this blog was to record this journey, so it is time to write again.
I have about a week of training under my belt now after taking a rest for a few weeks following my series of half marathons. It always amazes me how even a few weeks off can set you back so much. I am experienced enough now to know that it will come back fairly quickly so no need to panic. That said, it isn’t a great feeling when you find yourself once again struggling to finish 10k.
A friend and I joined a Running Room marathon clinic as a way to get motivated and help us stay on track. We were more than a little worried when neither of us seemed capable of managing our clothing for the first clinic. One of us had brought a black tank instead running shorts and one of us had running pants on inside out. I won’t say which one I was, I’m not sure which one is worse. One has to wonder about how we can manage training for a marathon when we can’t manage something as simple as pants 🙂
As always, running has brought clarity. I am not as overwhelmed or terrified as I was a couple of weeks ago. As much as I enjoyed my few weeks off, the fact is I feel better when I run. The physical exertion, the time to think, the comfort of having a schedule and a goal are all good things for me. And in one of my recent runs I became quite comfortable to aim not for a certain time, but just for the accomplishment itself. I want to walk away from the race feeling tired but still able to smile. If I am crying, I want to be crying in awe, not in pain. I want to finish stronger, not weak with injuries. I want to take some time on the course to take in the experience, not just run and wish for it to be over. This may or may not be the only marathon I ever do. I can’t say for sure because as my boys often remind me, I said I had no interest in half marathons, then said I just wanted to try one, then did several and now of course comes the full marathon. But if this is the only one, I don’t think my time will be the most important thing. The fact is I think it is pretty hard to even predict your first marathon time, there are just too many variables. In the end, it will be the journey of training and the experience of the race that will provide the memories for years to come.
It has been a week since Ottawa Race Weekend and I have yet to write a complete recap. The fact is there are so many different approaches as to how I could review the weekend. After all, it was the end of a fundraising series of races for me; it marked the first time ever I ran a half marathon only two weeks after another half; it was the first time I ran two races in one weekend; it was my first large, international half marathon since the NYC Half in March. But in the end the race stands out for me because of the fun I had picking up race kits, visiting the Expo, hanging out downtown and running the 5k race, all with my 10 year old son, Evan. As a mom, what a treat to share something like a big race weekend with my quickly growing child. While he may have the look (and attitude) sometimes of a pre-teen, he is still quite content to hold my hand and spend time together, just the two of us. We had two days with no arguing, nagging, or rushing. There is a certain irony to the fact that on a “race” weekend we had the opportunity to slow things down, take our time and enjoy each other’s company. And, to see Evan finish just under his goal of 30 minutes, well, that was just the icing on the cake. I am thankful for such an opportunity and for the memories the weekend has given me.
As for the races themselves, I think Race Weekend does Ottawa proud. Sometimes we forget what we have in our own backyard. The fact is we have stunning scenery that I think is hard to beat. I would have to think that any visitor participating in the race would have to be impressed. Just the view of Parliament Hill as you cross the river back into Ontario is worth the run alone. And the spectators…I really can’t say enough about the people who cheered and waved signs on the sidelines for complete strangers. Prior to running the races I had promised myself to high five as many kids (and adults) as I could and I held true to that promise. I can’t even begin to count the number of high fives I received in the two races.
So, I could write about the food shortage at the end of the half marathon, or the difficulty getting into the correct corral because of the barricades, or what looked like a ridiculously long line for race kits on Saturday afternoon (not an issue when we were there on the Friday night). I could write about how unbelievably tired I was by the 18k mark or how I seriously thought that I might lose my breakfast by 19k and was terrified to do so in front of so many spectators. But those aren’t the things I will remember in the weeks and months to come. What I will remember is a great Race Weekend, with great organizers, volunteers, courses and spectators. And of course I will remember a wonderful weekend with a son still willing to hang out and participate in a sporting activity with his mom.