Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Marathon Des Deux Rives - Race Report

I had a good friend in San Antonio who had run a marathon in Hawaii a few years back. Her motto was "friends don't let friends run marathons" and I think I now understand what she was getting at! But let me back up to give you all the details on my race on Sunday August 24th.

I crawled in to bed early on Saturday night to relax and watch the men's Olympic marathon. The commentator kept saying how tough marathons are, how it is such and mental race, and how much these guys are hurting as they race toward the finish line. Ah, maybe not the best thing to listen to! I fell asleep while the race was on and missed the end though. I woke up way before my alarm at 3:30 am Sunday morning. I had probably gotten about seven hours of sleep. I lounged in bed for an hour, then got up to shower, have some breakfast and get dressed. All of the participants for the full and half marathon would catch the ferry in Quebec (about a 10 minute walk from my hotel) and we would cross the river to Levis. From there we would catch buses to our respective starting lines. The ferry ran between 6 and 7 am, then the race was set to go off at 8:30 am. My mom was racing the half and we managed to get on one of the first ferries. It was a really neat way to start the race morning off.After we got off the boat in Levis we said our goodbyes and good lucks and went to catch our respective buses. The moment I got on my bus I started to get nervous. At least half of the people on the bus were wearing Boston marathon garb. I had a pretty good inkling that I would be in the back of the pack for most of the race...

The morning was beautiful but you could tell it was going to be a hot one. It was pretty humid and there weren't too many clouds in the sky. Probably the best thing about the start for the full marathon was that we were starting in the parking lot of a school. They had the school building open for us to sit, relax and use the bathrooms. Ah, running water and flushing toilets at the start line - it was heavenly! They also had water, Gatorade and coffee available at the start which was really nice. I hit the bathroom then found a bench to sit and have a nap on. I had about an hour to kill. I wound up in one of those moments were you are half in and half out of sleep. I dreamt that someone was trying to give me some food off of a fork to taste and I was aware enough that I knew I was leaning forward and attempting to taste the food, but then my sleepy body would snap my head back to avoid the weight pitching forward. I bet I was a sight to watch!

Um...so anyhow...after my nap I started the bathroom dance as my bladder was feeling really nervous. Finally things were under control and it was time to line up at the start line. As the course was point to point all of the announcers were at the finish line and they were being broadcast out to the start of the full and half marathons and 5K and 10K races. They counted us down and then a canon went off to signal the start. Wow...that was cool!!

As an engineer I have to say I love the metric system. Conversions are so easy! When it comes to running I really hate metric though. I grew up running the mile in school so I still equate all of my distances in miles a lot better than kilometers. Marathons in metric are 42.2 km long. Marathons in Imperial are 26.2 miles long. I'd rather be reminded that I have 25 of something left to go rather than 40, no matter what units you are talking about. The interesting thing about this race is that your kilometer markers count down, always telling you how much left you have to run. I would have just preferred to have 26 of them instead of 42!

The first few miles were around the school and Levis as we made our way toward the St. Lawrence River along Blvd de la Rive-Sud. It was kind of boring and absolutely no shade. Within no time sweat was pouring down my face. There were a pretty surprising amount of spectators along the way cheering us on though. About 3.5 miles in we were directed out on to one of the bike paths following the river. It was so beautiful along the pathway. I was really enjoying the scenery and the race was feeling terrific. Around this point you could start to tell some of the people who had started off too quickly. There was one interesting fellow...he looked to be in really good shape (because he was only running in some little, itty bitty shorts). He was running with a wash cloth in his mouth. Not sure why he needed to hold it in his mouth as opposed to holding it in his hand. That couldn't have been very comfortable...

At every aid station I was grabbing a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade, but it seemed like the amount of Gatorade was so small so I was taking in less than I wanted. I had a plan to take a gel every 5 miles as well.

Running through Levis was amazing! You were essentially running between bike paths and neighbourhoods and everyone was sitting out on their porch cheering you on. Most of the people in Quebec speak French so they were all shouting "Bravo madame! Bravo!" which was such a cool thing to hear. I smiled and waved at everyone and tried to say "merci" as often as possible. So many people had sprinklers and hoses set up to cool us off while we were running. I was just amazed at how supportive the people of Levis were. I absolutely loved it. Right up until the halfway point of the marathon was probably the most scenic part of the entire route as well as the houses you are running past are all so quaint and historic. Unfortunately I didn't grab any pics along the way to show you. I did grab one shot of a group from France that had some fantastic spirit. I can't believe this fellow ran the entire way, wearing the Eiffel Tower!Another cruel thing about the race was knowing that you had to run all the way down the Saint Lawrence to cross the Pont de Quebec, and then you would have to run all the way back up the Quebec side of the river. It felt like the bridge was so far away...all the time... This shot was taken with 29 km (18 mi) left to go. The bridge looks so small!
When we finally did make it to the bridge it felt like such a great accomplishment. There were some pretty good hills to get to this point so it felt good to be past that. It was also very cool to have the entire bridge closed down to traffic while you were running over it. After the bridge was when things started to fall apart. We went down an off ramp then had to run up some ramps and by this time we were out in some pretty strong sun around 11:30 or so. I started to get really emotional by this point in time. Saying positive things to myself wasn't really working out and I really started to question my ability to run a marathon the way I wanted. I was walking more than I wanted and my pace was really starting to drop off. I knew the weather at Disney World in January played a part in my race and I was really upset that hot weather seemed to be affecting my second marathon as well. I questioned whether I was using the weather as a crutch because I just wasn't mentally strong enough to make it through. How could I hope to reach some of the goals I have set for myself in the future if I can't run a marathon? At one point I was about to start crying...possibly out and out sobbing... Except I realized that I wasn't crying, I was starting to hyperventilate. I knew I needed to walk for a bit to calm down. Once I got past this I'm not sure how much I was walking and how much I was running. When I hit the 10K marker I knew it was going to be touch and go to make my goal. I was feeling okay with running - my legs definitely had the strength, but I was questioning how the rest of my body was feeling in relation to the heat and I wasn't sure that I was doing all that well. I knew I needed more Gatorade but by this point in time, since the aid stations were catering to the shorter races, some of them only had water at them and I was starting to get a bit concerned about whether I was keeping up with my electrolytes.

Somewhere around the 5K mark I heard the wail of two ambulances heading towards me. When you aren't really feeling that great it is enough to scare you into trying to take it a bit easier. The ambulances were pulled off the road, into the park, and there was a cluster of medics around them. They were far enough off the road that I couldn't see what was going on. I went past and sometime soon thereafter the ambulances were blaring down the street on their way to the hospital. I read this morning that a man did collapse and die at this point of the marathon. He was running the race with his son - what a tragic outcome for them.

Also around this point I noticed my hands were feeling weird. I looked down and my fingers were like sausages. My hands were swelling to the point where my engineering ring had really worked its way up my little finger. Thank goodness I was just about done...

When I hit the 1K marker I felt like I had it in me to finish this race running. I wanted to finish the race running! Crossing the finish line was weird...I was happy to be done, but disappointed that this day didn't turn out to be quite the day I had hoped. I know I'm being hard on myself about that though, and that I ran the best race I could under the conditions. If the race would have started at 6:30 instead of 8:30, or if the temperatures would have been lower, or if there would have been more cloud cover I know my outcome would have been different. The temperature held pretty steady throughout the last part of my race at 26 deg C (79 deg C), but it felt like 32 deg C (90 deg F) with the humidity factored in.
Once I crossed the finish line I headed off to the med tent just in case I needed to be worried about the swelling in my hands. The swelling went down and I was sent on my way with an order to make sure I hydrated. I grabbed my post race food - the bullion was the first thing I downed and I'm sure that made a big difference. I sat down for a bit with my mom who had a fantastic half marathon that day. She knocked a good half hour off her previous time which was pretty amazing. Congratulations Mom!

Anyhow, I did actually do pretty well on meeting a few of my goals, so here are the details:
  1. Run faster than my 6:21:05 finish from the Disney World Marathon in January. I figured that since I wouldn't be running a half marathon the day before this should be pretty doable. Mission accomplished!
  2. Beat Katie Holmes' NYC marathon finish time of 5:29:58. Kind of silly to want to beat a celebrity, but hey, I wanted to run faster than her!
  3. Beat 5:00:00... I guess this is the reason why I'm disappointed. I was on track to meet this goal for a lot of the race, and the fact that it slipped away from me is why I was sad. BUT, I did PR big time, and I did run the best race I could for the day, and I know I also ran the smartest race I could for the day.
Time: 5:11:03
Overall: 972 out of 1141
Female 30 - 39: 53 out of 67

21 comments:

Holly said...

YAY! Congratulations! And may I say, it looks like you have lost weight. Great job.

Nikki said...

Way to go Leana! All goals beat or not, remember that you've accomplished things that many people just dream of. Keep it up and with your determination you'll have no problems meeting your 'future goals'. Congrats!

merrymishaps said...

Congrats, you did great!

Every race is going to have its challenges; I hope you can get over your disappointment and feel good about your accomplishment!

Scott said...

Nice job Leana! There isn't really anything you can do in my opinion to overcome heat like that and I think you should be proud of a new, solid PR and the fact that you took care of yourself out there. You ran smart. The emotional stuff is to be expected with any long endurance event, and the more you complete the more confident you'll be out there. Great job with everything!!

Road Warrior said...

This was a gigantic improvement from your first one and that's how I tend to measure these things.

More importantly, you listened to your body and adjusted. It would have meant nothing to push yourself and get injured or worse. Your body was telling you to adjust and you did. That's the heroic part, in my mind.

Mr. Satan A. Chilles said...

"BUT, I did PR big time, and I did run the best race I could for the day, and I know I also ran the smartest race I could for the day."

PeeWee Herman once said everyone has a 'Big But', an excuse that stops you from doing something, however, this one is the best kind. Congratulations, and thanks for sharing the right attitude.

ShirleyPerly said...

Great job! And the pictures are great too, esp. that person wearing the Eiffel Tower!!

Yes, hot & humid conditions can really make a big difference on one's marathon performance. Still, you PRd big time -- CONGRATS!!

Sonia said...

Congrats Leana!!! I loved reading your race and felt right there with you. I had a very similar second marathon to you. This stuck with me : " I questioned whether I was using the weather as a crutch because I just wasn't mentally strong enough to make it through." Which is what I was telling myself in London... and I did the full blown crying +hyperventilating too... oh well there are other marathons and you will get your goal then. The trick with the weather is that you never know what you're going to get (ask Chicago marathoners 2007!)

I sent some comments to the RD about the time and he replied to me that logistics was just too complicated for a 7 AM start. And that this was the hottest year they've ever had. I would send the letters to you but they are in French...

YOU DID WELL, BE PROUD!!! =)

Andrew - Six Minutes Public Speaking Blog said...

Congratulations, Leana. This was a great performance.

I loved all of your race report -- the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens. But the one thing which stands out most is your before and after photos. It is truly remarkable that in the AFTER photo, you look more beautiful, more energetic, and more confident.

Bravo madame! Bravo!

Your success is inspiring. I'm an engineer too, and I'm aiming for my first marathon next May in Vancouver.

Bob Almighty said...

When you were saying that you were taking water and gatorade at each aid staion, I knew that that could be trouble...( hypotenemia..I think I spelled that wrong.)I did the same think at the Country music marathon in 07. Temps were predicted in the 60's and well the sun broke and it was in the mid 80's.

Good Job on the PR and making Katie Holmes your bitch. Don't beat yourself up for listening to your body. Because at the end of the day it's better to walk back to your hotel with a slower PR than to be lying in the hospital with a DNF.

Viv said...

Congratulations on the marathon PR what an accomplishment! Hey you got the major goal crossed of your list in my opinion beating that braless wearing Katie Holmes.

warriorwoman said...

Sounds like a good run and a massive improvement but what is an engineering ring?

Andrew - Six Minutes Public Speaking Blog said...

warriorwoman asked: "what is an engineering ring?"

It's a ring worn on the little finger of the working hand by many engineers in Canada. (Mine is loose from the running-induced weight loss...)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Ring

Dave said...

One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

RoadBunner said...

Congratulations! A PR is a PR!! There will be other marathons in better conditions. What's the usual temp for that marathon this time of year?

Angry Runner said...

You are totally going to kick my ass at Disney...

Jules said...

How wonderful! CONNGRATS!!! way to go....you showed that Katie Holmes!! ;)

LOVE the shot of that dude wearing the eiffel tower. That is NUTS!! LOL

Downhillnut said...

Great race, Leana! You dug down and found what you needed to finish strong after the post-bridge meltdown. That's the thing about marathons - they're long enough to give anybody a meltdown (even Olympians) and the opportunity to overcome it.

Sorry to hear about the loss of a runner's life on the course.

Next summer or hot training run you might want to experiment with some portable electrolytes like e-load, nuun, or even straight salt tablets (salt tablets are not available in Canada - check them out in the U.S.). Hyponatremia is scarier and easier to prevent than dehydration.

Sub 5:00 is so close - way to go!

Maddy said...

I am so excited for you! I'm sorry you are disappointed, but I totally understand.

I think you did a fantastic job!

Speed Racer said...

I can't believe I missed this one!

"I dreamt that someone was trying to give me some food off of a fork to taste and I was aware enough that I knew I was leaning forward and attempting to taste the food, but then my sleepy body would snap my head back to avoid the weight pitching forward." SUCH a Leana moment! It wouldn't be a race report without something scrumptious, even if it was imaginary.

Sounds like you were getting hyponaetremic (spelling?) at the end there, and you STILL managed to finish! You get some serious bragging rights with that one, but next time you might want to carry some enduralytes or nuun or something.

My thoughts on weather, feel free to ignore all or part of it: The weather is always going to be there. Whether it's hot and humid, or freezing and icy, or you're being pelted with hail the size of hockey pucks, it's all part of the race. Everyone's dealing with the same thing on the day (although maybe Katie Holms had better luck), and it's how you deal with it that is the difference between feeling like you had a successful day or that the weather kept you from having the race you wanted. Every finish line is a victory, though. Remember that, and that you achieved all but your reach goal when you're being hard on yourself!

And don't run with a washcloth in your mouth. Are you sure he hadn't just escaped from the French Canadian Mafia or something? Maybe it was a gag? Was he strapped to a chair or anything?

Run For Life said...

That's an incredible improvement!!! Congrats on the massive PR and running a smart race. I know I tend to be disappointed in myself if I don't make all my goals either so I completely sympathize with you on that. You WILL reach the below 5 mark soon though, I'm sure of it. Great report!!