Saskatchewan Marathon 2013 – Yvonne’s Race Report.


For a few years now, I’ve been running.  Why?  I'm a sucker for punishment - but no really, it's for fitness, for adventure, for sanity.  I find it keeps me
grounded, and entering races keeps me motivated.  In the past, I’ve entered the odd half marathon, or 10k race and have really enjoyed those distances.  They required a dedication and persistence in training to perform well on race day, and I’ve learned the hard way that there is no substitution for putting in the training.   My times are average, but I’m competitive enough with myself to want to strive for a better time - who am I kidding, I'm aiming to make the olympic team - who knows, it could happen <GRIN> 


This year, I was ready for a new challenge – or at least I thought so in December.  I signed up to run the FULL- 42.2 km Saskatchewan International Marathon.  I have to admit that the training plan I was following was taxing.  It was a “just to complete” plan, with only a small amount of speed tra

26 km

ining, but the distances, as they built up were stretching me to the limit.  The furthest I’d ever run before this training plan was 24km, and that was about 3 years ago  most recently my long run was in the range of 10-12km.  I went up to 34 km this year, and each time I pushed the distance a little further, I was pretty sure that I’d NEVER be able to run a step further the next time.  My stomach rebelled on many runs, my muscles cramped, by body ached all over… it was not a pretty picture.  After much moaning and groaning, I did some research, I learned that I  was not alone.  There are lots of people out there who are as crazy as me. I started experimenting with different food choices, and recovery routines, and by the time my last long run arrived, I was able to complete it without too much discomfort.


Two weeks before the marathon, the taper began, and although the last long run felt good, the doubts about my ability to complete the full distance continued to haunt me.  

Saturday I met my Heather at the package pickup, and we started the beginning of the end of our mutual adventure.  I leaned on Heather for wisdom, insight, and encouragement.  She was such a help in calming my nerves, and helping me solidify my strategy for the race - basically start running, run some more, and then keep running, rinse and repeat.  At the pasta dinner, we sat with some ladies who had some hilarious stories about their runnign experiences, then   we heard a couple olympic athletes talk about their training and experiences, then headed home for an early night.  

Sunday morning I was awake a few minutes before my 5 am alarm, so once the alarm went, there was no slowing me down.  I was so excited I couldn't keep track of my equipment, or thing clearly.  I asked Brian if it was raining out, and if he could check the weather station to see if it was raining - he kindly suggested that I look out the window.  Next I put my hair in a pony-tail, then proceeded to search all over the place for the hair elastic that I'd just put in my hair.  I prepared my recovery drink, had a quick breakfast and was ready when Heather was there to pick me up.  At the last minute, I decided not to take my purse - bad decision since I had a few things in my purse that I actually wanted with me, and I was too jittery to remember to take them... nothing serious though, just headphone jack for my phone, and we didn't end up listening to music for very long.

Arriving at the start line an hour early was a good idea.  Two visits to the porta-potties, and a little time to talk and feel the excitement.  During the pre-race hour, I did feel some butterflies in my tummy, but I was not nearly as nervous and tense as I have been at previous races.  I'm sure if it was the calming effect of knowing Heather was with me.  That or I'm getting wiser at I get older (ya right!).  One decision I wish I'd made differently was the long sleeve shirt.  It was only about plus 11, and I hate being cold, so I opted for a long sleeve under my nuu-muu, and later in the day, I was wishing I wasn't wearing it.  The gun went off, and we were near the back, so we had a slow start.  Right over the line, the flow of traffic was going about 5:30/km - which I knew was WAY too fast for me, but we had to get out of the congestion before slowing down, and we did that within a km.  Running in and among the half marathoners was a lot of fun.  We stayed pretty close to superman for about 7 km.  He got a lot of comments on his costume, and made for a little comic relief.  The first bit was a little too fast, about 6:30/km, but I figured maybe just maybe I could sustain that pace.  Whenever we got much over the 6:30 pace, I'd try to reign it in a little and slow down, but it felt good.  Heather and I were chatting up a storm, taking in the ambiance, and generally enjoying a near perfect day for a run.  I barely remember noticing any sense of exertion for the first 10km.  At 10k, we took a walk break even though I didn't feel tired yet at all, I knew that it would extend my range by taking a bit of a stretch and cardio break. Lots of people passed us during this walk break - I had to remind myself that most of them were just running 21 because I was tempted to put on the gas and stay ahead of them.  When the walk break was over, away we went, and once again, the next 10km flew by in no time.  at 16km we broke off from the half marathoners, then we were able to see who the truely tough ones were.  The pack thinned significantly at that point, and was glad to have Heather with me to keep me from wondering if I was still on the right track - but then again, I'm not sure if her sense of direction should always be trusted (kidding).  We travelled up Spadina crescent to the new bridge where we turned around to head back.  I was encouraged on the way back to see that there were people behind us.  This is when it started to get a little harder.  Somehow between 18km and 21km each km felt like 2km.  I was anticipating a walk break at 21, and this time, it felt a little more needed.  I wasn't winded yet, but my legs were starting to feel tired. After another quick walk break, we started up again, but this time, I didn't feel the sub-7 min mojo any more.  I kept us at an even 7 min per km for a few km, but at 26 I started to feel light headed and seeing spots ... time for more Gatorade!  

Funny When I was a kid, I used to get light headed when playing sports and I'd push through it, and eventually the blood and oxygen would come back to my brain, and I'd be fine, but as an adult, I don't like to push through.  I start having fears of passing out (even though that's never happened), or of something worse, so I took another walk break at 26 km until my vision cleared, and I stopped seeing spots.   I took a couple more walk breaks before I got to my scheduled break at 32km and it was somewhere between 26 and 32 that we decided to turn on the music.  That was a good boost to my energy - having a beat to run to - although some of the songs were slower - note to self for next year - get rid of slow songs... I need the beat.  

at around 34 km I decided that I was slowing down because  I was just too hot - so I did something a little crazy (as if running a marathon in the first place isn't crazy enough)... I undressed in downtown Saskatoon!  outside ... in public ... with cars driving by...In the blink of an eye it was: off with the dress, off with the long sleeve top, on with the dress - almost as fast as superman changes outfits.  Poor Heather had to hold my sweaty gear and while I pulled the superhero change-a-roo, but ishe volunteered to run with me, so it's not my fault.  

Almost done
almost there
One more walk break at 32km, and then we were on the home stretch. No more turn-around points, just up to Broadway street bridge, over the bridge, and back to the finish line... just a hope and a skip... after 32 km... with sore legs ... and lungs that were tired ... and feet that were aching... and shins that were burning ... and a heart that was pounding .... with barely any other runners in sight ... one step at a time...  This is where the true test began, but I knew at this point that even if I walked to the end, I would meet my goal.  I knew that even though it hurt, and that it was going to hurt for the next few days, I was about to be a marathoner, nothing was going to stop me.  I tried to relax and listen to the music, chat with Heather, and keep a positive attitude.  This is where I started to realize how amazing my sister is.  She had just travelled the same road as me, suffered the same punishing workout, and yet, she had a smile and her main concern was to make sure I was feeling good.  She distracted me from the pain with stories about work, and her running around the city, and with the music.  I tried to sing along to a few songs, but I was too short of breath to actually sing.  I'm sure I pretty much sounded like a cow being tortured by an aplple dangling just out of reach, and I know some of the race volunteers were watching to see if those noises were on purpose, or if I was going to keel over any second.  

Coming into the last km, I decided to take my last walk break.  I didn't want the folks at the finish line to see me walking, so I walked until the last corner, then started jogging again.  I wanted to finish strong and tried to speed up to 6:30/km, but my legs were locked in at about 7:30/km and that's all had.  It's an interesting thing to will the body to move and to see it respond much slower than the mind has instructed.  When I saw Brian there with the camera, I knew now was the time to smile for a good picture.  Looking at the pictures now, I see that most of my smiles look a lot more like a grimace than a smile - and honestly I was feeling much more grimacy than smiley.  Passing Brian and heading to the finish was fantastic.  Conal and Sarah, Gracie and Joel were there to meet us - Heather was so pumped to see them, she took off like a shot.  I tried to keep up, but my legs were in auto-pilot with only one speed.  

Crossing the finish line was great.  Heather turned around and gave me a great big bear hug, and at that moment, I thought she was going to squeeze me in

Sisters a
half, my back cracked, and my legs kinda gave out... she had to hold me up... but I was done, and we did it together!  we turned and recieved our medals together, and then went to meet the family.  At that moment Heather was off to visit her family, and I needed to walk slowly to keep my muscles from seizing.  I walked down the road a little, then the emotions hit me.  I'm not exactly sure how to describe the emotions, just that the marathon had been physically and mentally taxing and I needed a little release.  I broke down and cried.  I was done! What more could I say.  I was relieved and happy, but also a little sad that it was over.  Then I dried my tears, and turned around to come back and meet the family.  Got a big kiss from Brian and said Hi to the rest.  

It was time to head home and get cleaned up and eat a nice big meal... I turned and said "yikes" the truck is parked about 1km away at the other end of the parking lot.  I think THAT was the longest km I travelled all day, but the slow, easy walk to the truck was probably part of why my muscles have recovered so well.  

What a day.  I'm so glad I did it.  It was well worth all the training and I know I'll do it again some day - not this year, maybe not next, but I will be back!  Thanks to Heather for making it such an enjoyable experience!