Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Report: Montreal Marathon

This race report is very different then I thought it would be.  Per my previous post (see here), I did not have a great training season.  Due to this lack of training, I was going into the race with pretty low expectations.  I just wanted to run a comfortable pace and finish standing up.  Honestly, I think having low expectations helped a lot.  I could just go out and run and have no pressure on me.  And it worked!  I had a great race!

We started the race weekend with a visit to the expo.

Expo was nice - nothing super amazing, but big enough to entertain me and Pam for an hour.  Smaller selection of race clothing then other Rock n Roll races, but still a good selection.  I (of course) bought the race jacket (we know I love race clothing!).

I am going to run that!
The expo did also have a really cool booth were you could make your own North Face shirt.  I made one which had an upside down shoe with the Montreal skyline on it and a 42K on it.  For only $20 bucks!  Pam also made one with a shoe print on it.  Mine says Run MTL.  Great expo find!
Mine shirt is the top one - great expo find!
After the expo, we walked around Montreal a bit, but tried to stay off our feet.  We did encounter part of the race course - a big hill right at mile 10.
Yep, we'll be running up that hill
Race Day

The race started at 8:30am on Sunday morning out by Parc Jean-Drapeau.  Pretty easy to get to via the subway (they told us).  And it was - minus the 15 minute walk to the start which was pretty annoying.

The race started on a bridge (sorry, don't know the name).  We started near the end and ran down the off ramp.  The corrals were pretty well organized and they had the wave starts running smoothly.
A pic of the start from the race website
The first mile was down an off ramp and off we went!  My first mile was a little fast - combination of the excitement and the downhill.  I just kept telling myself to slow down and run my race - don't let the people around me control my pace.  The first couple of miles went around an amusement park - pretty fun to run under a roller coaster.

I had decided to break the race up like I do half marathons - two six mile sections with a mile in the middle.  By breaking it up like that, it was a lot more manageable then counting down from 26.  Since I had never been to Montreal and had no idea where I was, I just tried to soak in the event and scenery.  It was really beautiful.

My pace was turning out to be pretty consistent.  I was trying not to push it too much.  The half and full split at about 12.8 miles.  Once it split, the course really emptied out.  I was genuinely worried that my pace would slow once I was truly alone.  But surprisingly, I didn't.  I just tried not to over think it.  One foot in front of the other.  And my pace stayed the same.

Since I hadn't had a great 18 or 20 mile run, I kept waiting for the pain to set in.  But then I hit the 10k to go marker and realized I still felt really strong.  I almost startedto cry.  I couldn't believe it.

My pace really didn't slow until 22.  And then only by like 10-20 seconds.  I was amazed - couldn't believe it.  It was around 22.5 miles that we ran past the Olympic Stadium (Montreal hosted the summer games in 1976).  It's actually a pretty unique stadium and I was pretty psyched to get to run past it.  Shortly after we past the 5k to go mark.  I could not believe it.  My pace was still starting to slow, but I just kept telling myself it was okay to slow, I had run 23 miles.

There was a hill at about 24.5 miles.  It was an out and back so I had seen it going out and knew it was coming.  Right at the base of the hill, the 4:15 pace group caught up with me.  Since they were right next to me, I decided to see if I could keep pace with them up the hill.  And I did.  I continue to run with them for a little bit figuring I could try and prevent myself from slowing too much.

Right after 25, with the pace group right next to me, I was ready to be done.  So I decided the faster I ran, the faster I would be done.  And I took off.  Like literally took off.  My body was hurting but I knew I could push through it (and it made for some interesting race photos).  My mile 25 pace was much faster then any of the other miles.  When I turned the corner and saw the finish line - I was so happy.  I kept pushing myself until I crossed the finish line.

Once I crossed, I looked at my time - 4:16:52.  Holy cow.  It immediately occurred to me, I knew it was one of my faster times.  I knew it wasn't a PR (pretty sure my Dublin time will be my PR for a long long time).

My times overall were pretty consistent.  I was so happy and excited.

As they handled me my medal, tears definitely welled up in my eyes.  It was such a relief to be done and I was so happy it went well.  Better then expected.  I think since I had no expectations, it was pretty easy to just run how I felt.

I was definitely pretty sore for the next couple of days, but I was so overjoyed about the race it didn't matter.

Overall, this was an amazing race.  My final time was my second fastest time yet.  So happy about that!  I was happy I ran a comfortable race and was able to keep my pace the entire time.  Montreal provided a great course and a wonderful experience.

While the course wasn't lined with spectators, the ones that were out were fabulous.  They all cheered and yelled my name and definitely helped keep me going.

Marathon #9 in the books.  And a great one to boot.

Me in my official race jacket.
A happy marathon finisher.

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