Recently I ran marathon #4 at the Prince Edward Island marathon on the lovely island of PEI. The course was a point-to-point variety with the marathoners starting about a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Charlottetown and running their way back.
We were bused out to the start on a truly beautiful morning; I was running my first marathon with my love Nicola and our good friend Rod was running the first leg of a relay marathon. At one point we had the sun rising on one side of the bus with the hunters moon setting on the other; incredibly beautiful.
Near the Start
It was a bit chilly at the beginning of the race with temperatures near zero degrees celsius however we are Canadians who also knew that we would warm up quickly upon running.
The first 3-4km of the race were run next to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on one side with an inland water body on the other…it was pancake flat which helped us ease into the race and find our pace. We turned more inland at this point but were still following the inland water body and gawking at a few “shacks” that I’m sure cost more than I could predict. We were still running with Rod at this time which seemed to make the km’s go quickly by. We were also running at one point with a man from Manitoba named Doug who was running his 51st or 52nd marathon; he wasn’t sure actually!
At around 6km Rod finished his leg then we ran with his lovely better half, Joanna. Nicola and Jo promptly scooted out ahead and chatted which was fine because I was enjoying the course and the colours. Sadly after a further 5-6km we bid Jo a goodbye and ran on our own. I must admit that I enjoyed having a relay as part of this race, not only did we get to run with our friends but each exchange point had very excited, energized participants and friends alike cheering them on.
Having left the water vistas earlier we were now running through rolling farmland vistas plus an increase in the wind. Now it wasn’t “a right gale” by any stretch of the imagination but it was gusty and right into our faces; from about 16-17km until 21km we ran in to the wind and I certainly noticed a difference in our running during this time.
My right calf began to bother me during this time as well, it wasn’t near bad enough to slow me down but I was of course concerned about later and my stride.
At this time we turned and ran on a multi-use trail of crushed gravel that wound its way for 13km through farmland, occasionally an orange pumpkin field and lots of trees. This part of the run is actually a gradual downhill and we were keeping our desired pace until about 32km when Nicola had a bout of vertigo that brought her to her knees within a few steps. The awesome fighter that she is we only stopped for a short period and were back running again. Unfortunately between this and my leg, which had become progressively worse began to plant a bit of doubt in our minds.
At 34km we exited the trail on the roads, only 8km left and it was on asphalt!
Nicola began to cry, I was a bit confused. Was she hurt, angry, frustrated? No she was happy to be off of the trail and have only 8 km left. At this point we were at about 3:50:00 or so and even with a slow 8km we would be under Nicola’s time from Vancouver, which was a mark she wanted to break badly.
I wasn’t aware of how badly unfortunately because we really didn’t talk about pushing through pain or difficulty to achieve this PB. As a runner i should have known better and I should have both pushed myself but also pushed Nicola on a bit more because we started having more unplanned walking breaks. Nicola had assumed that we were well under the PB time, which we were initially, but once we started walking, it tightened considerably. I mistakenly assumed that we were walking because of vertigo or my leg or that we were tired but we had both assumed that each was needing the walking breaks when it turned out we were both prepared to push through!
I love that each of us was concerned about each others condition but if we had communicated our desires and condition better, we could have skipped a number of the walking breaks.
Nicola had also discovered late in our training cycle that her watch didn’t have the battery power to last for the whole race, thus after about 32-34km she had no idea of our time or pace and was relying on me to keep us on point as it were. This is where I tripped up as i didn’t keep informing her of our progress. If i had continued to alert her on how much time we were losing we would probably would have also skipped a few of the walk breaks.
After series of hills we roared our way to finish, with Nicola dragging me, sprinting, to the finish.
Curses! We were over Nicola’s time from Vancouver and she hadn’t realized our time until we were within sight of the clock.
As we crossed the line Nicola was completely upset, confused, crying, mad and all of the other things that competitors would be. It was a shock for her to see that we would not set a new PB after a great training cycle. I was happy to have finished and was very happy that I had maintained my energy level through the marathon for the first time; each of my previous 3 had seen me hit the wall….but I was despondent that my love was so unhappy and disappointed.
I knew her mindset well because I had felt the same way after Chicago and she reminded me of that fact during our discussions afterward.
We walked to the community centre to get a massage…well I hobbled as my calf and glute on the right side had become a solid mess then met a slew of people for food and beers….mmmm beers.
We stayed the night in Charlottetown, had a great meal, then drove back to the beach where we had started the next day and took a nice walk no the sand…beaches are great for recovery in case you didn’t know. We even stopped at Vesey’s seeds and picked up a few things for our garden.
After coming home on Monday we had dinner and talked about the race, what went right and what went wrong. Physically we were both good aside from my leg and her head….these were known quantities. We talked honestly about out lack of communication during the run and vowed to never let it happen again. We also agreed that we were being pretty hard on ourselves seeing that we had both just finished running a marathon…together! This has and will always be our main goal, when you can run together with the person you love, especially over a long distance, and finish, then you are some of the luckiest types of runners!!
For me, my races are over for the year, I was wanting, perhaps, to run one or two shorter distances but my schedule has conflicts. However, in the new year training will start again for the Ottawa marathon at the end of May. We will be running it together with our afore mentioned friends Rod and Jo, and we are extremely excited.