Yesterday, I successfully completed my first (and likely, only) marathon. It was a great ride – 42.2k in 3:51:21 – about two minutes ahead of my plan.
Moving forward, I think I will to stick to my sweet spot, which are 10k and half-marathon runs. My wife and son (and my knees!) will thank me.
Now that it’s over, there is a bit of a “wake” period in which I’m wondering what to do with all the spare time that has opened up! But in the short term, while the memories are fresh, here are some things – in no particular order – from yesterday’s experience that I won’t soon forget:
- The amazing team of volunteers (I believe over 2,000 in number!) that made the day run so smoothly.
- My friends who were in the crowd and gave me a shout-out along the way. In more-or-less chronological order: Tania and Tara from Team in Training; my brother Lee and niece Alison (four times!); Brent Smyth; Jane Spiteri; Alisha Prater; Chandra von Teichman (I think I saw them twice, but it may have been three times); Carol Patterson; Kevin Goheen; Dennis Jackson (three times); Rick Hellard (three times); Mary Jo McMenamin; Megan Hamilton, Jenny Koumoutsidis; Ryan Newton (three times); Rachel Schmidt; Stephen McDougall; my wife Bonnie Peebles and son Reid Shouldice (three times); and Helen Smith. Forgive me if I forgot anyone, but you all made the 42.2k journey MUCH shorter!
- The wonderful, wonderful people who made little freezies that were given out on Birch Street (around 33k in). You have no idea how badly you were needed.
- The two kind souls who sprayed me with a garden hose to cool me off in the last hour. Especially that guy on Queen Elizabeth Drive at about the 41.5k mark.
- The equally kind volunteer who handed me a popsicle stick with a glob of Vaseline on it, at Tunney’s Pasture (if you’re not a male runner, don’t ask).
- The children – so many of whom wanted high-fives. And the runners who were willing to oblige and weave out of their route to give them.
- The weather … gorgeous for the spectators, but warm for the runners. Fortunately, a fog hung in for about 1.5 hours from the marathon start, giving us a reprieve.
- My friends Janet Newton, Natalie Fraser, and Thalia Cerilli Pena – all of whom ran their own marathons yesterday (Thalia got a marriage proposal, in addition to a medal, at the end!).
- My co-workers and friends Justin Foster and Kristin Divisnki, both of whom helped raise over $5,000 for blood-cancer research and finished their first half-marathons. GO TEAM!!!
- All of the people out there fighting various cancers – some of whom are my friends or loved ones of my friends – who provided my heart with the motivation to keep going after 37k when my body was making a convincing argument with my brain, to stop.
- The live music – there was a band every 3k or so, which provided a much-needed break from the pounding. And the calibre of the music was top-notch!
- The one guy – and I’ll never know his name – who followed the route and whom I must have seen 8 or 9 times along the course, encouraging us to keep going.
- The squeals of delight as people running near me recognized their friends & loved ones in the crowd – so heartwarming and an instant lift.
- The strangers in the crowd who took the time to find my name on my jersey and call out encouragement.
- The company and calm guidance of Coach Jenna Ladd, who calmed me in the corral and ran the first 8k or so with me and kept me on plan. And to Coach Rick Hellard, who didn’t get to run with me yesterday but whose discipline was infused into every one of the muscles that got me there without injury. Thank you both.
- The peer encouragement of other runners – like the guy who gently touched my shoulder in the recovery line and asked if I was OK, when he sensed something was amiss physically (there was – I had a sudden, intense foot cramp). Thank you, stranger.
- The beauty of Ottawa – a city designed for runners, if there ever were one. Those of you who have not run here, MUST make the time to do so.
- The waves of emotion I experienced when I saw my family in the crowd, and when I encountered my friend Rachel, a blood cancer survivor and fellow runner, screaming support at the Alexandra Bridge.
You’ll notice these are all positive things. That’s because anything even remotely “negative” paled by comparison and faded from my mind and aching body long before I crossed the finish line.
Thank you all, for the support you’ve given me on this journey.