So, even though I shouldn’t have run the 5k at the Waterfront marathon…I ran the 5k at the Waterfront marathon! And it was awesome! And now I can barely walk!
In desperation, I got a last minute physio appointment late Friday. I was prepared for the worst, but also not-that-secretly hoping for some kind of miracle cure. And I pretty well got it! He said my pelvis was tilted, making one leg longer than the other and causing a glute muscle to spasm. He worked the pelvis back in to place, gave me some stretches, and said there was absolutely no reason I couldn’t run on Sunday.
But every time I tried to start running, just to test myself out, it hurt and I stopped. That was probably a clue that I should stay on the sideline, but I was at that point over-the-top excited, unable to rationally consider my options. My first big race! On the lake! And then right through the heart of downtown! I couldn’t stay off Twitter and Instagram, where hundreds of excited runners were posting about their last pre-race run, their meals, their outfits…so many little details that are probably mindlessly dull, in general, but that I couldn’t stop checking out. I even posted my own!
I set my alarm for 5:20, but woke up ready to go at a few minutes after 5. Bagel in the toaster, coffee on the stove, then into my clothes and onto the foam roller. Desperate times, desperate measures! I was really, really nervous, but kept trying to remind myself that the worst thing that could happen was that I’d have to stop. That was it.
Lucky me, my mother drove me to the race! Better than that, she had a winter coat in the car I could wear until close to start time. It was 3 degrees downtown, and probably colder near the water, so I was very, very grateful for that. It was still fully dark out when we arrived, and we’d parked pretty far from the start line, so we walked along the edge of the road, stopping to exam the elite beverage set up (the 5k went through kilometers 16 to 19 of the full marathon, and 16 to 21 of the half).
The only other race I’ve run is the Longboat Island run, which was wonderful, but very small and chill. This was my first large race: almost 8,000 running the 5k, and close to 30,000 runners overall. My first corrals. My first wave-starts!
I guess I was too early? I swear, it was after 7!
I was in the first of five corrals, for those estimating they’d finish in half an hour or less. This must have been a walker-heavy event, because I am not what you’d call first corral material.
At 3 minutes to 8, we sang the national anthem in our places. Then we were on! Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, then across the start line and off!
I wasn’t exactly in pain, but I could certainly feel my hip, and I tried to slow myself, to enjoy it while also paying attention to what hurt. Running along Lakehshore Boulevard, normally a veritable highway, was a wonderful novelty! And then we were running right past the Skydome and the CN Tower, and I felt so in love with my city (a feeling that’s been hard to come by lately), and so happy to be part of this huge group party.
I was going faster than I thought I’d be able to, and by the third kilometre I decided I didn’t need to try to pace myself anymore—I was going to make it!
Turning up onto Bay was wonderful: less than a kilometer and a half to go, with Old City Hall in the distance promising a finish line. Up through the tunnel past Union Station, then between the skyscrapers, with the road just for us! It was magic.
It’s no race picture, but here’s how Google Maps sees the last kilometre on a regular day
In the last 400 meters I started to pick up speed. I also started looking out for Jonathan, who’d said he’d cheer me on, and there he was just south of Queen. I felt freakin great! Great!
Lesson learned from my first big race: you can’t really pick up speed near the end. All those wide streets narrow into a much narrower finish line, and there’s no pushing through.
I crossed the line in 28:07. Not my best time, but I’m satisfied, since I know I held back on a number of fronts. I will get in under 27 next time! I was running fairly even splits of about 5:40/km until the last kilometre, which my Garmin swears I did in under 4:00/km. I can’t really remember it being any faster, but I guess that makes sense given my final time. Basically, my legs were soooo ready for this.
Unfortunately, my hip was not. I got a medal and a juice…and then I realized I almost couldn’t walk. My hip felt so twisted, I had to lie down in the grass next to the exit chute and try out some of my stretches. Not good.
I got my snack bag and my chip time, then met Jonathan and hustled in to City Hall to warm up. To have had my mom at the start and him at the end really hammered home what a supportive family I’ve got. I felt so happy and loved!
After some more stretching and a stop for coffee, we headed back towards the finish line to cheer on Leslie, who was running the half marathon. She’d been having a lot of IT band issues, so we weren’t sure when we’d actually see her, but it was fun to see the early half marathoners come in, looking so powerful and not at all spent. The crowd wasn’t massive, but it was super enthusiastic, and runners looking for some love 200 meters from the finish certainly got it. In 2008 I was in New York for the marathon and discovered by accident that I freakin’ love marathon cheering. Seriously, it is one of my favourite activities (the “Obama will probably be elected” zeitgeist definitely made that one extra special, but I will cheer on any running event, truly).
This was my first time cheering as a runner, and while I loved seeing peoples’ outfits, expressions, and names on their bibs, what I loved most this time was seeing their gaits! There may be one best running form, but people seem to do well enough with a wide, wide variety of torso positions, foot angles, and stride lengths.
Leslie ran in really good time (1:47!), and then we stayed to watch the first few marathoners coming in. All of Bay was blocked off, but half marathoners were kept to the left west side, and I hadn’t been sure why, beyond it being an emergency route. Then starting at a little after two hours, when a few police motorcycles whisked through, I realized it was the path for the elite full marathoners, so they could push themselves at the end without dealing with a crowd. The first runners came past us 2 hours and 7 minutes after they’d started running. I felt genuinely privileged to be able to watch them in action.
If you’re able and even remotely interested, I highly recommend being part of the fun next year, even if you do a walk/run 5k. I am so excited to go back a bit more seasoned! Thank you to everyone who makes this marvellous day possible!
Walking has not been so good since. Am I stupid to say I have no regrets? I wanted to run so badly and I had so much fun! But I returned to the physiotherapist today, who said I had a sprained pelvis. Ah! Technically, I guess it’s the ligament running through the hip that’s sprained but…yeah, it feels really bad, and I can’t run at all now for awhile. But I’ll be back! And I’ll be careful! And I’ll be fast!