Some things seem impossible until you have done it. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have dared think I could run a marathon. Now, I’ve run three marathons in the past 10 months. Each race was a completely different experience so I wanted to share what made each of them memorable.
The San Francisco Marathon
My first marathon was the 2018 San Francisco Marathon. Besides being my first marathon, it was my first runcation so it was extra special because my husband and kids were there with me. Even my mom and my sister and her family were there from Hong Kong.I felt very prepared for this race and on race day, almost everything went according to plan. The weather was on the cool side for a July race but it was actually perfect for me. I didn’t experience any weather-related side effects. The only thing that I should have done differently is to bring my own fuel rather than relying on the aid stations. Rookie mistake but, thankfully, this didn’t end up affecting me during the race.
My goal was to finish sub-4:30 so I was happy with my time of 4:24. The best part was that I still felt strong toward the end. At 24 miles, I remember thinking, “Wow that went by so quick. I’m almost done so I better enjoy these last couple of miles and let this moment sink in.” That was an amazing feeling.
Just before crossing the finish line, I saw my family cheering for me. After I collected my medal, I immediately took a selfie as a marathoner! I was elated. I wanted to relive that moment forever. 😍
Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
My next marathon was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Oct 2018 — only three months after San Francisco. I hadn’t planned to do another one so soon but somehow, in a moment of weakness, I told Lisa (my #solesister) that I would do the Scotia with her as her first marathon and that’s what we did.
I felt way more comraderie during this race because a bunch of us from the North York RunNinjas ran it. Those who didn’t run, came out to cheer. It was so great to see so many people that we knew along the course, both runners and cheerers.
Unfortunately, my ankles started to hurt by about the halfway point so during the whole second half of the race, I was worried it would get worse. I don’t even know how I pushed through but I was glad that Lisa stayed with me the entire time even though I know she could have run faster.
One of the cons of running in your own city is that you have a rough idea of the route and how far everything is. When we were heading toward our last turnaround, I remember thinking, “where the f$#& is the turnaround? They must have changed the route last minute. It CANNOT be this far.” It was that far.
Good thing we had a huge RunNinja cheersquad positioned near the end. That gave me some much-needed energy to make it to the finish. The last kilometre seemed so long. They had markers every 100m starting at 500m.
As I hallucinated toward the finish line, I started to think how fast Usain Bolt would be able to do these 100m stretches and question why I was so much slower than him. I know…I was completely delirious at this point. At the finish, I was happy that I survived. Even though I PB’d by 14 minutes, I wasn’t happy that I didn’t finish strong. I was just relieved it was over.
The Toronto Marathon
The Toronto Marathon is the freshest (and most raw) in my memory and the worst of the three. While I am happy I PB’d (albeit only by 44 seconds), I’m definitely disappointed with how it happened.
Going into the race, Lisa and I were hoping to sub-4. We flew through the first half at 1:53, the fastest we have ever run a half thanks to the net downhill route. By about 25km, my shin started hurting a bit from a previous injury and I was starting to get dehydrated from the heat. Lisa ran ahead because I was going about a minute/km slower than my expected race pace and I wasn’t able to move my legs any faster.
My body gets so affected by the heat and dehydration — everything shuts down. I walked a good portion of the last 10 km and I wouldn’t have been able to PB if my friend Ravi didn’t show up out of nowhere to push me to the end. This race really underscored for me that training is important but so is pre-race preparation and knowing how my body will react to different situations.
I finished with a PB but I was quite disappointed with the way I ran the race. For my next marathon training cycle, I really need to figure out how to run in the heat and not be so affected by dehydration.
It’s true what they say, “A marathon will change your life forever.” My life has changed three times so far and I’m looking forward to many more races to come!
Hope this was somewhat helpful for your own life-changing journey!