Sunday – Race day
Alarm goes off and I’d rather just sleep in, but there’s a task at hand. I eat, get dressed and head out; it’s raining, chilly (42*) and windy. I park, bump into GOEGIRL who’s come to cheer me on; a nice surprise. The rain dies down to a mist and will continue as a mist to drizzle for the entire day. After a couple trips to the porta-potty it’s time to hit the ‘corrals.’ This event usually is the ‘lone’ spring event, but this year Toronto decided to have a spring race as well. This drops the overall entries into this race to 1904 people; much lower than usual. While there I have someone ask what I have pinned to my back; my Spark “star” from JASR. I explain Spark and they’re all ‘cool, awesome; YOU’RE doing a full?’ I say ‘yes’ and wish them well; guess they’ve never met a 300-pound marathoner before.
At 7:30 the ‘gun’ goes off and it’s time to start down this epic journey. At first I’m loving seeing the signs in Kilometers because they come up so fast; 42.2KM = 26.2 miles. I start feeling great; like it’s my day. Right after the start I hear “hey Spark” and here it’s a couple other “Sparks” running the race. They know about dinner later, but are doubtful to meet us since they live a bit north of Toronto. We bid each other well and run our respective races. The course was described as ‘This point to point course is a fast net downhill with small inclines that are found at 10km and 24km.’ I guess they failed to mention all of the rolling miles in between. The first ‘incline’ was a pretty tall order, so to conserve energy for later I walk it. I get moving again and feel pretty peppy. I hit every fluid station and take in water and Gatorade except for stations near where I’m fueling, luv my Stinger Honey and Stinger Waffles, then water only. Somewhere around 10K I grab a cup of Gatorade from a volunteer (mostly teens) only to find it EMPTY! As I take it he turns to his friend and laughs and says ‘that guy took the empty cup!’ I quickly wad the cup, throw it back at him and shout and chain of profanities at the youth. Hindsight, not good on my part, but that’s not the time to be messing with people. At this same time we’re running down a street lined with houses that cost $15-$20 MILLION dollars! Some of these people have even come out and are hosting parties and have their own aid stations for the runners; very cool. By the time we reach the split for the half marathon I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t my day and I should just call it a half, but that’s not in my DNA so I make the right turn and follow my fellow full runners. The route turns more rolling and I’m doing more walking thinking I’m saving energy for the finish, but at this point I’m just trying to hang on. The winds have kicked up making the wind chill near freezing; I’m in shorts and short-sleeve shirt, burrrrrrr. I make the ‘loop’ of the area around this industrial park (thanks for the great views!) and make it back into the residential areas which block the wind slightly. Some lady and her daughter yell out “it’s all downhill from here;” two minutes later I think “LIAR!” By now I’m cursing kilometers as there are so damn many of them; I start slapping each one leaving my mark on them as a dog would mark its territory. We move down along the shoreline once again and the wind howls; my bib tears in one corner and is not fixable. We move back inland and around the restaurant where I had dinner on Friday night; I wonder if they have any of the Lobster Mac & Cheese ready for a hungry runner. As I pass the 33K mark I know that I’ll be near my goal time, but by this point my right peroneus longus (front outside of the calf) muscle is starting to cramp if I try to run too much. I have a couple miles where my average pace is 14 minutes; a far cry from the 11’s I was turning early in the race. Some of the people I have dinner with found it strange that I didn’t hit a porta-potty up the entire time out there. I felt I was balancing my fluids properly, but is it possible that I was becoming dehydrated? There is a small band of runners who have been together for awhile due to different ailments. We make our way through a neighborhood and we run into a mob of people. It’s the 2K family fun race that was suppose to be the day prior, but is pushed back due to the crummy weather on Saturday. I get turned around and finally another runner points to take the road right. At the SAME TIME they release all of these kids, parents and strollers for this 2K; I’m instantly a bit perturbed. I’ve come 40K at this point and I’m looking forward to finishing and having some good pictures at the finish line, but alas, no. I have all of these kids smiling and parents cheering like they just finished a marathon and have the energy to skip across the finish line. About 42K, 0.2K, to finish there is a mud puddle that has washed across the path and all of these people come to a screeching halt as not to get their pretty new shoes dirty; I just clomp by them on the edge of the water as you’ve seen the Budweiser Clydesdales splash along the shore. I crest the slight rise and muster all I’ve got to finish strong. I guess that the announcer called me by name, but it all seems like a distant dream. I cross the line and stop my Garmin after the cameras are behind me; 5:17 and change. Later to find my chip time of 5:17:15; just over my 5:15 personal goal. I feel a bit down because of coming close and trying to analyze where I could have pushed to break the 5:15 goal; never satisfied. I step into a changing tent, but things just want to cramp, so I strip off just what’s needed and put on the dry clothes I’ve got. GOEGIRL brings me a bagel and a water and congratulates me again. I get back to my car and I’m wanting something more to eat, so I hit a Starbucks near my hotel for some coffee and a treat. Once in my room everything is starting to scream; cramps aren’t far behind. I sit in a cold-water tub, but it feels normal because I’m so cold. I get up and grab a warm shower and try to stretch again; still things want to cramp. I drink a huge bottle of water and a large Gatorade. Time to get dressed for the evening.
Sunday – Post race
I’m anxious to get moving because I’m going to meet up with some Sparks for dinner in Toronto. It’s been told to me to leave my car and ride the subway; much cheaper option than parking downtown. I’m from a town that doesn’t have a subway, so I don’t know all of the details of riding. I have to say it was pretty nice to just sit back and let someone ‘take’ me where I wanted to go. I arrive downtown and am greeted by some of the Sparks as we take our table. Soon PINKCOCONUT and her BF arrive and they sit near me so we can chat. We all have a fabulous meal and celebrate out accomplishments; 2 others ran the Toronto half. The only issue with dinner was that the bathrooms were DOWNSTAIRS. Not usually an issue, but after you’ve ran 26.2 miles it’s a bit tough to do stairs. After many hugs and goodbyes I head back to my subway station and catch the next train. Once back at my car I pass a Dairy Queen and decide to grab a Blizzard. I return to my room and settle in, as do the cramps. I try to sleep and my feet seize into balls of tension; I walk them out. Soon after my adductor muscle seizes; one of the hardest muscles to stretch. I try to sleep again; repeat above sequence. Now it’s 1 AM and I’m so exhausted that I can’t see straight. I finally decide to try sleeping in the chair so my feet can stay planted on the floor and can’t relax in the same fashion. I grab my pillow and a blanket and sleep for several hours; finally returning to bed in the wee hours of dawn.
Monday – Head home
I wake, shower, and head downstairs for a breakfast at the hotel. This is the time that I’m really tired of Canada and it’s taxes. All of your meals have about a 1/3 tax on it, crazy. I load up my car with all my things and head off for home. Along the way I notice things that I didn’t see on the drive up, but still a pretty boring drive. I decide not to mess with the border agent this time and just get back on American soil. I stop for some gas and it costs me almost $20 LESS here in the U.S. than it did in Canada just the day before. I arrive home tired, sore and minus a memory-foam pillow, but feeling confident that I’ve done something that few people ever will.