I promise, this will be the last time a talk about running for the next few months… Nobody wants to talk about running in the dead of winter! Amiright?
Yesterday was the PEI Marathon and I am relieved to say it’s done.
Up until the morning of the race, I was feeling pretty good about attempting a third marathon. The training and races this summer were great and adding hill training and classes at Cyclone to the mix really made a difference. Of course, twelve hours before the race I started doubting myself and wondering why the heck I sign up for stuff like this. Anyway, the gun went off and I had to trust myself that I could do it.
As mentioned in a previous post, my goals were:
- Finish in 4 hours and 30 minutes
- Get a personal best of 4 hours and 8 minutes
- Finish under 4 hours
The course has three totally different landscapes. You start at Brackley Beach in the National Park and run 12 kilometres next to the ocean on a flat road. You then turn on to a nice country road, slightly more hilly but not terrible. It is lovely. The weather was much warmer than I anticipated so my gloves and homemade arm warmers came off before kilometre 5. Actually, exactly a year ago, I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon in colder conditions!
At the half way point you leave the road and enter the Trans Canada Trail and it’s 12 kilometres with the slightest incline but an incline no doubt. I am always hesitant to eat or drink on a run so I held off as long as possible. This time, I took my first sip of Gatorade at 24 kilometres. From that point on, I stopped at every second station for a gulp and spit (nobody said running a marathon is classy). The trail was pretty with corn fields, autumn scenery, the smell of cows and an invisible wall. Yes, at 32 kilometres I hit a wall. I felt hungry but nauseous and the blister on my toe was hurting. On a positive note, everything else felt fine – my legs were strong and I hadn’t had one cramp or stitch. I had just over an hour to finish the last 10 kilometres. Photo above: this is what hitting a wall looks like
At kilometre 34 I saw my family for the fourth time. They did a spectator’s version of the marathon by racing from point to point to be on the sideline cheering. I think I looked pretty bad when I wobbled past them holding my stomach and groaning, which was a slight contrast from my thumbs up from previous encounters. And although I felt as bad as I looked, I knew they’d be at the finish waiting. Onward.
The good news is, I was well aware of the way I race: I always go out faster in the first half and slow down so I knew I still had a flighting chance. I really wanted to finish in four hours and despite my condition, I hadn’t let the four hour pace bunny pass me. Since I knew the third section of the race would be the worst because of the three hills and the highway-like road that leads to the city, my plan was to walk the hills and run the rest hoping to speed up at the end. So, I sucked it up and did just that. I am happy to say the plan worked! At the top of the third hill, I started running and the four hour pace bunny crept up right next to me. She said she was on-track to finishing in four hours and If I stayed in front, I’d be okay. That was enough to push me through the last 2.5 kilometres.
Sadly, my phone died at 41.3 km so I didn’t get my full race clocked but the race clock over the finish line said 3:54:57. The race results online say 3:58:27 (chip time 3:58:04) and my dad’s stop watch said 3:55… It doesn’t matter but I can tell you, it felt good to take my sneakers off at the finish.
Prince Edward Island is beautiful – it’s a treat to visit and we were lucky to spend time at our friend’s cottage near Summerside.
During the 42.2 kilometres, I got to see a lot and I must say the scenery in Atlantic Canada is breathtaking. I loved Philadelphia because it was my first marathon but the Prince Edward Island Marathon wins best in show for looks.
Thanks David, Mike, Mom, Dad, Jill, Alex, Sabrina, Josh, Liam and little Alex for cheering me on!
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