The Marathon lives up to all the hype and so much more.
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon was not the result of a simple 14-week training program but more of a 5-year build. Ever since I began running, even at the cross-country level in Junior High, I knew distance was going to be my strong suit. As I grew older, the Marathon was a distance that I had envisioned having success in, it was just a matter of when.
Before leaving Calgary, I had a few conversations with the Deere’s about when the first one would take place so I could set myself up for success in 2019 and 2020. They mentioned that trying the distance in 2017 would be smart whereas I thought 2018 would be the best time to debut. As the days went by in Guelph, I started to consider the 2017 Toronto Waterfront Marathon more.
The Spring was decent, having set a new 10K PB and ran the World XC Championship in Kampala, Uganda. The Spring was unfortunately cut short due to a stress reaction/stress fracture in my fibula resulting from an ankle sprain sustained in the middle of March. The injury impacted my race in Kampala and I really tried to fight through the pain to toe the line at the Sun Run, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Once the injury was diagnosed in April, I was all in for the Marathon. The timing was perfect – 6 weeks off of running/walking overlapped with 5 weeks of cross training (biking, pool running), 3-week walk-run program, 3 weeks of easy mileage, 14 weeks of regular training. Ultimately, the injury gave me enough time to refresh mentally, heal physically, and ignite that fire deep within.
The training went well as every day got a little bit better. We marked the Longboat 10K (Sept. 10) and Rock n’ Roll Philadelphia Half (Sept. 17) as races to… well… run fast. The Half Marathon didn’t go very well as I stepped off to the side of the road at 19km to relieve myself emotionally. It was easily the worst experience I’ve ever had in a race and I ended up lightly running the last 2.1km out of respect for the other competitors, the race organizers, and the spectators. The experience made me hungrier than ever to be the best version of me.
The final week leading into the Marathon was filled with mixed emotions and unanswered questions.
“Is this what I truly want?”
“Am I prepared for this race?”
“Will I finish the race?”
“Will I enjoy the Marathon?”
“What will happen if this doesn’t go well?”
Then came the day before the race and silence. Silence in my head, for the first time in months. The time is now, the training is done. Let’s do this.
Being the first marathon, I knew how my body would react up to 25KM, but everything after that was up in the air. The first 20KM was the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had on a course as the sidewalks were packed with spectators. We went through the halfway point a little faster than we planned, but the body felt comfortable. Fatigue started to set in just after 25km and our pace started to slow down. At the 34KM mark, I realized how much room I had between Sami and John as we crossed paths along Queen Street. Immediately, I turned my focus from running a fast time to maintaining form, comfort, and (most importantly) finishing. Being a Canadian Championship, I wanted to walk away with a top Canadian finish and a positive learning experience more than anything else.
With a KM remaining, I passed my Father one last time. He was on the sidelines at 6KM, 18KM, and 41.xxKM. As I made the final turn to the finish line, I looked over my shoulder to make sure nobody was going to pass me, then proceeded to high five the crowd, give a big fist pump and crossed the line. For the first time ever, I was truly HAPPY to finish a race.
For most of my life, I have grieved a loss. Running is my outlet to deal with that. The sport provides me with peace, happiness, inspiration, motivation, and it gives me a sense of purpose. Running connects me with that loss in a way that nothing else ever has. The final steps of that race FINALLY alleviated me from years of pain and the pain of moving away from home, Calgary. I expressed my emotions on October 22 because I CARE about this sport way too much, because I am PASSIONATE about individual SUCCESS and GREATNESS, because I want Canadian Running to THRIVE, because I put in the EFFORT to be here, now.
HOPEfully there was a kid in the crowd that needed a high five to be INSPIRED.
HOPEfully a high five will MOTIVATE a kid to participate in the sport of running.
HOPEfully a high five will fuel a future CANADIAN RECORD.
HOPEfully a fist pump will INSPIRE somebody watching the live stream to reach further for their DREAMS.
HOPEfully an action will MOTIVATE somebody to BELIEVE in their abilities.
“If you were to go back and do that differently, would you?” Not for anything this world has to offer.
Thank you, Guelph.
Thank you, STWM.
Thank you, Calgary.