I have never felt so happy and accomplished in my life!
Today I reached a life goal: run a sub 4 hour marathon.
Here’s the story !
This year has been different when it comes to running. When my sweet dog Rainbow passed away in January I really thought I was going to pack it in. I didn’t have the desire to get out there and train. Something inside me turned off from running.
So I decided to try different methods of keeping strong and healthy!
Gym, spin class, intervals … these kept me busy. And to be honest my feeling of “fit” didn’t change much. And I didn’t even miss running!
But once a runner always a runner. During our nice stretch of weather in the beginning of March I wanted to see if I still had it and went out on a 21 k route. It didn’t feel that bad… one thing leads to the next, now I’m running Around the Bay (30k).
And then I’m registering for a full marathon! What switched in my brain? I don’t know, but if you are a runner I’m sure you’ve been here, signing up for races and not even thinking twice.
When I ran Around the Bay I used this as a test of endurance. Can I run long without doing all the long run training?
Is it possible to keep up your endurance with other methods of training? Like spin class and strength workouts?
After the Mississauga marathon I can confirm yes!
During my first two marathons I was all about that weekend long run and in the end I know it built my endurance but it also made me tired. And I would get to the start line tired and kind of bored with running. I finished both of these marathons in 4 hours 14 minutes! Weird that they both came out at the exact same time. And both races had me fading fast from 25-35 KM.
This year I felt energized to run, strong and no stress ! Truthfully I did not go into the marathon thinking I would break 4 hours. Of course it crossed my mind, but I didn’t really think it would happen.
Oh and by the way, I only decided to run this marathon 2 weeks ago! Originally I signed up for the half marathon.
A lot went right for me today!
- Weather was perfect
- My sister in law, brother in law, niece and nephew cheered me on at 22k and 28k ( that is a make of break zone during a marathon!)
- No stress in prep or time goal
- Hometown race, no travel & familiar with route
- Did not hold back on the gels (was taking more than usual, every 6k)
I think all of these things set me up for success!
The only thing that went wrong was my contact lenses! I ran the race with only one eye, had to ditch my right contact during the race as it was blurry, maybe sweat? Salt? That was unexpected!
The first 15 k I ran on and off with my brother and his friends who were doing the half marathon.
We split here and as soon as I entered the “full only” route I thought, “this is where the race begins.”
I felt like I was in a dream from 15 to 30 k I felt amazing. Seeing my family and having them stocked with my BCAA drink was really helpful! Plus the encouragement you get from family on the route really adds the extra push! Plus, how adorable is little Grace with her sign!
As I hit the 30 k mark the clock read 2 h 45 min. I could not believe it ! I actually called my co worker Dr Doug as I was running and screamed into his answering machine about my current state in the race! He’s my impromptu running coach, always so supportive and interested in my races.
I started to fade a little around 35 and that is where I had my first walk break. For me that was a record in itself. I remember the Ottawa full, I wanted to stop at 18! So to make it to 35 was fantastic.
I kept thinking to myself, I am on track for sub 4. I couldn’t believe it.
The Mississauga Marathon is a gorgeous route! The parks and waterfront make the end beautiful. Some rolling hills, bit of a breeze off the lake and lots of spectators here.
I would recommend another water station in between 30-35 k, that stretch felt really long and this is a classic spot where marathoners start to crumble a little… or a lot.
As I got close to the finish I knew I was going to do it! Still my legs wanted to stop! I walked and ran, again and again. And then said no more of this – just finish!
I’m now 2 km to the finish and I make a wrong turn! Why!!!!! Too many people were crowding the route (spectators just chatting). I saw a trail that seemed like the right path. But then realized this was not right. I asked a group of people, I think pretty frantically, “is this the marathon route?!” They quickly got me back on the right path pointing to a different trail.
I started running with a man who had run over 40 marathons. He said, “I’ve never finished over 4 hours”. So I told him I’m sticking right by your side.
When you get to the open bay of Lake Promenade park you know it’s close! I saw my mom, brother and friend Paul and I just remember screaming, “I’m going to get sub 4!” (Yes, they have teased me about this all day).
The last few meters didn’t even feel like real life! I crossed that line at 3 hours 57 min 43 seconds. I looked at my mom and cried, she always makes me cry!
I love the marathon because there are no short cuts. It’s all hard work.
This race opened my eyes to the effectiveness of cross training. Repeating the long run over and over again was making me tired, not stronger. I needed a shake up in routine to reach this goal. Today I shaved 17 minutes off my marathon time!
Why should you run with Mississauga Marathon?
- Great organization from staff for registration/expo/ bib pick up
- Interesting route with a solid decline
- Supportive and positive runners & cheer stations
- Great post race action: lake side, tons of food, music, bleachers for spectators
- Awesome baggage drop off and pick up by AMJ Campbell
- Start of May usually brings comfortable running conditions
Today is a great day. I cannot wait to inspire more people to run!
This is a perfect time to mention that this spring I’ll be teaching a 10 k running course with Running Room in Oakville.
Encouraging others to run makes me love the sport even more. The runners high is real and once you experience it, you are hooked.
Now my feet are up and I’ve already eaten 2 oatmeal cookies.
I don’t even think I’ll be able to sleep tonight, I am so happy!
4 thoughts on “It Happened! Sub 4 Hour Marathoner”
You are amazing Rachel! So proud of you. A true inspiration.
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Congratulations and I’m sorry about your dog.
Congratulations Rachel! And I loved your weather forecast post for the race!!
Woohoo – congrats!!