Ever since having finished my first marathon in May 2012, I have been longing to replicate the experience. It was one of the most exhilarating times of my life. So, in early February I casually mentioned to Heather, one of my housemates, that I should run the Calgary marathon on June 1st. She said if I would run the marathon, she would run the half. I said sure. Then she registered.
Training again was the true struggle. I was forever faced with time challenges as my work and home responsibilities made it difficult to carve out hours to run. In the end I ran 450 kms in training over the 16 weeks prior to the marathon, with a couple 32 km runs in there and a host of intervals and hills (oh, Home Road!!).
I was so busy leading up to the marathon that I hadn't really had much time to fret. The day before, I went for a 15 minute run early in the morning with Heather to get the muscles ready, then collected all my gear together for the early departure to the race the next day:
running shirt, running shorts, light socks, hydration belt with 4 bottles, bandana, headband, bib, running shoes, cash for after, lip balm, face sunscreen, sunglasses, train tickets for transport to and from the race, fruit gummy snacks, ibuprofen, nipple bandages, GPS tracker, energy gel, bag for bag check with morning sweater / deodorant / after flip flops / Nalgene with frozen protein shake for afterI ended up making a last minute call and leaving the hydration belt and bottles behind in favour of a lighter fun and relying completely on the water/gatorade tables every couple kms.
The gate I was supposed to begin the race with was inaccessible when I arrived and so the run began at a much slower pace than I had hoped. I weaved between people trying to get ahead of the masses for the first 4 or 5 kms through Inglewood, Bridgeland, and East Village. The runners eventually thinned out and I haphazardly ran into my old friend Tom from university. He was running his 7th marathon - his first was the same as my first. We hadn't seen each other since college, back in 1996 maybe. We loped along together for a couple kms and then I left him behind as we approached Mount Royal University.
We wound back into downtown and over the 14th street bridge into Kensington where I ran into my beer tasting buddy Gordon. He was there taking pictures for another friend, so he snapped a pics of me too. I ran west and then turned around 3 kms later and ran along Memorial Dr all the way to Centre St when I crossed back into the south for the final 4 kms (which were brutal!). Jesse, a coworker, came down to the river to cheer me on and for the final 7 kms he rode his bike parallel to the track to encourage me. He snapped a few great shots too.
As I mentioned, the last kms were gruelling. I accidentally dropped my last cup of water 3 kms from the end and I was so thirsty! Also, at about km 32, I put a powergel in my pocket and it burst there. Tangerine flavour goop ran all the way down my leg and stuck between my sock and the top of my foot. It was very uncomfortable - and I needed that energy. The only injury I suffered was my sock tearing at my skin where the gel was.
The end was glorious. I was disappointed that my time wasn't better, but I did beat my 2012 time by 4 minutes. Amber, the kids and my friend Stephanie (who ran the 21.1 km) were at the finish line to cheer me in. I got my massive belt buckle and water and bit of snacks before grabbing my checked bag with the protein shake. It was still cold. The kids had their medals from their 1.2 km run which capped off a total of 42.2 kms that they ran in the months previous, so they ran marathons too.
My family went home before I did as there were things they needed to tend to and I still had my massage. My massage was great, mostly due to the fact that I wasn't moving and I was laying flat. I then took transit home and walked the 1 km home.