Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Marathon

For those of you that know me as a runner, you know crying is pretty much a part of the deal for me.  I cry before I start a long run (because I would rather be sleeping), I cry during long runs (because everything hurts), I cry at races when the Elite runners take off (seriously how can someone run that fast?), I cry at signs along the route (I always pretend they were made personally for me) and I super ugly cry as I cross the finish line (hence the reason I never buy the professional photos).
But this time; for a full Marathon.....I started crying when I picked up my bib :)
Stuart snapped this pick of me in line to get my bib at the Expo for the Ottawa Marathon.  I had never stood in "this line" before and truly never believed I would be able to get to this point in my running.

So as they handed me my marathon bib I just started crying, full of fear, pride, excitement and more fear.
Fear because it was hot outside.  And I mean really hot, hot enough that on our 6hr drive to Ottawa I received an email from the race organizers saying they may need to cancel the weekend because the heat was going to be dangerously high to run in.  Of course I started crying in the car than as well :)
The temp was to reach 41c (105.8f for my American friends) and the medical director of the race did not feel it was safe for the Marathon to run in those temperatures.  So we waited for more info and kept driving.  We knew we weren't turning around, not after that many months of training, with non-refundable hotel reservations and definitely not after I had a shirt made just for race day!

So we just kept heading to Ottawa and waiting to find out what was going to happen....and I kept rubbing my calves and putting essential oils on my sore knee which was fresh from an emergency morning visit to the chiropractor to be popped back into place!

By the time we got to the expo the organizers had decided that they would move some of the races start times up earlier in the morning to try to beat the heat, but that it was too much work to move the Full Marathon time so we still started at 7am.  We had to abide by a flag system which meant at each water station there would be a colored flag advising of the race status.  Starting with a green flag for "you're all good" and ending with a black flag for "you're crazy, its over 100 degrees - please stop crawling along the course"


So at 4am I woke up to eat breakfast - laid back down in bed and stared at the ceiling until I had to get up and head to the start line.  I had planned to walk to the start line alone to clear my head but instead called my best friend in BC (3am her time - she really loves me) and cried on the phone with her while she convinced me to continue to the start line and complete this race!

Heading to the Start Line

And I did complete it.  I crossed the start line, and the finish line - just not in the way I planned.  The weather didn't feel too hot when we started out and I kept a good pace for the first 10km - I listened to my playlist, enjoyed the crowd, cried on occasion (when at 8k a women in a park yelled at me: "You already did the hardest part by crossing the start line - you got this girl") and just as the heat started to rise and the doubts started to overpower my music, I met her. 

I met France.

Friends let me tell you, running for me is where I spend my time with God.  Where I lay out my frustrations and doubts, spend my miles in worship and wonder and really get to be alone with my God and my time.  If you run as fast as I do ;) it can be lonely and challenging and I really have to work at staying positive and focused.  So days before the Marathon I began praying for a "running friend" - someone that was my pace, that would encourage me (verbally or not) and I could bless as well as we completed this distance only 1% of people will accomplish in their lifetime.

Course Map

And the Lord answered my prayer at the 10km mark.  Her name was France.  I saw her when we started and though, she seems as fast I am, she has a great pink shirt on that read "Soul Sister" and I was pretty sure I saw some tattoos peaking out from under her running tights. 

She was my saving grace, we struck up a conversation around 10k and decided despite the outrageous heat and the odds stacked against us that we would finish this marathon; and finish it together. 

We ran the rest of the way together, laughed, listened to music, talked about our families, our jobs, our tricks to keep hydrated, our desire for ice cubes and freezies - we high-fived at the Half Marathon mark and took a quick port-a-potty break at 22km.  When we crossed into Quebec she thanks the spectators in French and we dumped water on our heads together when the temperature kept rising.

And then we cried together.  When we got black-flagged at 27km due to the heat and head to finish on a different route - crossing the finish line at 31.62km - just 10.58km shy of our Full Marathon goal.

It was heartbreaking, and frustrating and disappointing.  Even though it was not our decision (medical director decided anyone running longer than a 5hr Marathon pace needed to stop due to heat related medical emergencies) and our bodies were not calling it quits yet; we had no choice but to make the turn and finish earlier than planned. 

I planned on leaving Ottawa as a Marathon runner, I planned on wearing my Full Marathon medal for at least a week and I planned on having my bib framed.  None of those things happened, but other good things did happen:

I met a new friend, who truly is the reason I made it as far as I did!
I challenged myself mentally and physically more than I ever have before!
I got my 6th Half Marathon medal (took a little convincing but I got one)!
I visited a new province ( Merci Quebec)!
I ran 31.62km on the hottest May 29th Ottawa city has experienced in 100 years!

And I crossed the finish line of the Ottawa Marathon.

A lot of good things happened, yes they sure did.

"By Your spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat; the resurrected King is resurrecting me"



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