Thursday, October 25, 2012

My First Marathon!

Well everyone, it's official. I can finally call myself a marathoner! After 18 weeks of training, some gruelling runs and battling some injury... I did it. Ahem, barely did it.

I now have a shiny new medal to add to my collection:

On Sunday, I ran the Niagara Falls International Marathon with a great group of friends. This marathon is unique in many ways, but the highlight is running from one country to another. Only 1,200 runners participated in the marathon, but over 6,000 runners ran that day in their various events.

Let me give you a recap of my weekend:

The festivities started on Friday at the expo where I picked up my race kit. As I mentioned above, the race runs from one country to another. So it was mandatory for each marathon runner to pick up their own bib and get their clearance through customs. The expo was quite small in comparison to other expos with about 40 vendors. It only took us 45 minutes to walk through the show, this included me getting a massage.

I had the pleasure to talk to John Stanton, the founder of the Running Room while I was there. He gave me numerous race tips and signed my first marathon bib. I was pretty emotional at this point as I remember the year prior having a similar conversation with John as I was about to embark on my first half marathon experience. At that time "The Marathon" seemed like a distant dream.

After the expo I went home to make my favourite WW pasta dish and unpack my race kit.

The pugs helped me sort through my goodies. :)

Included in the kit was:
  • A long sleeve technical shirt with the NFIM logo on it. I will proudly wear this again.
  • Gluten free penne pasta
  • Bottle of Cold FX
  • BIOs collapsible water bottle
  • Werthers soft caramels (I ate this whole bag over the weekend.. so delicious)
  • Blue diamond almond sample pack
  • Protein bar
  • Nestea sampler
  • Bio-freeze sample
  • Magazine, coupons etc.

On Saturday my plans were to relax and mentally prep myself for the event. While cooking breakfast I made a swift move to grab something upstairs and I noticed a pain shoot right down my shin that made me stop in my tracks. Oh crap, my injury hasn't recovered... and it was the day before the race. About ten days prior I was out for a run when this pain started and it never went away. I was hoping with the taper and having three running days off that I would recover. Boy, was I wrong.

I went into a panic state and texted almost all of my running friends. Joanna was quick to reply to my text with encouraging words. That's why its great to share this journey with someone who can understand what you are going through. I calmed down almost immediately as there was nothing I could do at this point other than run my race the next day.

Sunday I was up and at em' at 5:00 a.m. I had to meet my girls at the Running Room for 6:30 a.m. and I had a lot to prepare. After eating my breakfast of homemade cinnamon apple oatmeal, I gathered these essentials:

I had a package for myself and for my hubby since he would see me on route and after the race. When it comes to packing for anything I always have a strange feeling I'm forgetting something, thank goodness I didn't.
After meeting the girls at 6:30 a.m. we drove to Niagara Falls and quickly found parking. The school buses transporting us across the border to the start line were leaving between 7:00-7:45 a.m. We hopped on the second bus and were on our way! It was about a 45 minutes drive and we were stopped at the border for yet another customs check.
The bus took us to the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. Here were were able to stay in the warm museum and relax before our big race.

Before we knew it, it was 9:30 a.m. and we had to load our baggage onto the baggage bus and start to line up. I think I peed three times during this time period as I got so nervous about the race. 10 a.m. came even faster and we were off and running our first marathon!

The first six kilometres we were running through the streets of Buffalo. We ran past some nice old houses and some motivating spectators. I don't travel to the states that often, so I was distracted by what the cops wore for uniforms and what their street lights look like (I don't get out that often, lol).

Running across the border was the highlight of this race. At kilometer seven I saw customs approaching and we ran through it like it was no ones business. There were loads of motorists stopped as some lanes were closed for us marathoners, it was bittersweet seeing their angry faces as we ran right passed them.

The winds started to pick up the moment we stepped onto the Peace Bridge and crossed into Canada. From there we did a three kilometer loop before we started on the Parkway. The Niagara Falls Parkway is a 53 kilometre stretch of road which travels from Fort Erie to Niagara on the Lake. The rest of the race continued on this stretch. While on the parkway we battled 20-30 km headwinds the rest of the race.

At this point the rest of the race seems like a blur.

Things started to take a turn for the worse around kilometer thirteen. When I saw my husband I told him I was struggling. I knew something was wrong but didn't want to admit it to myself during the race. My injured leg was feeling fine up to this point but it seemed every other muscle in my legs were coming fatigued. Shortly after seeing my husband my quads seized up. I have never experienced pain like that before in my life. To describe the pain I would say it was like a charlie horse and it stopped me in my tracks. This pain continued throughout my race and only got worse. I could only run about five minutes before I would stop, cry, stretch and try to run again.

 I was very fortunate to have friends and family cheer me on along the race route. It was nice to see their happy faces and hilarious signs throughout the course. I believe it was them that kept me going. One sign my friend Dawn had for me was "Pain is Temporary, Pride lasts Forever". That became my mantra for the rest of the run. I didn't want them to see me fail on my first marathon attempt, so I just kept truckin' along. Dawn also got me back for the "Don't Poop Your Pants" sign I made for her at her last race.

Crossing that finish line was such a feat. I was overcome by emotion and pride. I knew I could do it if I put my mind to it. Regardless of how hard the run was I would not take back that experience.

I don't have an answer as to why my legs seized. I'm guessing low electrolytes or dehydration leading into the race. Either way, I'm hoping to never experience that pain again and will do whatever I can to avoid it in the future.

To celebrate, our group went to Boston Pizza and enjoyed some well deserved carbs. This was after my husband made me walk up a steep hill to get to my car. Note hill in photo below:

 I am so thankful for the support I received from my husband, friends, family and running instructor Bob during this journey. Without them I don't think I ever would have gotten to the finish line. Now, I can't wait to book my next race and work towards having a happy healthy experience! I guess it can't get any worse right?


Photo's courtesy of: Dan, Dawn & Jaime :)

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations Krysta! That was an amazing day to spectate.. and the cryer in me got emotional seeing everyone cross the finish line.

    Best of luck in your next one.. and just remember, "Poop.. if you need to, I'm not judging". :)

    Maybe one day I will join you on your marathon journey but for not I will stick with the half!


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