I am not a marathoner.
I don’t know how to honestly put all of my emotions and thoughts into words, without wanting to cry. But on Sunday, I did not become a marathoner at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM). I did not reach my goal on Sunday, but I now realize, I will just try again. I am human.
If we back up to before Sunday, I knew I was ready to tackle this goal. I had trained. I overcame many obstacles with my own body and I never gave up. My health at times was not perfect but I never let that stop me, or define me, I was going to be a marathoner. I missed only one long run, but I knew being healthy going into Sunday was more important over getting one last long run in. I talked to my coach on Saturday night, told him all the emotions I had and he basically told me, I was ready.
The week before STWM, I was hit with a cold (picture sinus infection meets chest cold) and my hip started giving me problems after my 10k in Niagara. I went and saw Dr. Ashley, to get it fixed. I was fully confident, and I knew I was going to get this done, nothing was going to hold back my determination.
I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that I was going to fail myself. I kept using the word fail, until a wise man sent me an email this week telling me I did not fail.
Sunday, happened. The weather was not perfect at all for someone with asthma like myself, the sun was out, but I was confident. Koren and I had a pace to maintain and if I was doing just a half I would have scored an amazing PB.
The first half of the run, Koren and I ran a good steady pace, we ran a bit with Jennifer and it was fun. I was having fun. My body was not mad at me, it was getting done. There was plenty of shade in the first half which helped with the blazing sun. I saw people running during the out and back, cheered for them, they cheered for me. This is where the confidence gets built even more when you hear the cheers by random people while running. They know you are getting it done, you’re in the back half, but you’re not giving up.
I am thankfully to the cheering stations who stayed out in this portion for the back half; Black Toe Running and Tribe Fitness. Staying out to support the full run truly means a lot and it carries a lot with back half runners, so thank you again.
I never ever thought during STWM, I would be that one person going to the right, to finish the second half of the marathon as everyone was turning left. It was an odd feeling, because at this point you became alone again. I met my folks at the half way point to grab more Kleenex, a wrap with peanut butter and a cold bottle of water, we didn’t stop, we grabbed and ran. It was all part of the plan.
The second half was out in the sun, it was here I felt the heat and my asthma started acting up. Koren and I was the back half and at this point there was still a few people we could see behind us, but now the guys in the white truck were taking down the km marking signs, so we really didn’t know what distance we were at. Koren found this a comfort. I had my watch, so I knew we just had to follow the road and we would be ok.
When we hit the Bayview extension out and back, our friend Andrea ran with us. She was volunteering with the Red Door Shelter and was waiting for us. She ended up running 5kms with us (in her full skinny jeans and cotton shirt) to her car.
It was at this point the juggler passed us and we became the last people out there, as we had our own personal police escort. It was ok, and I am beyond thankful this officer in the SUV had some common sense and didn’t ride my ass as I ran, I think that would have put me into a panic attack.
Once we made it over into Leslieville area, the runners that were heading towards the finish were amazing, the words of encouragement was one of a kind and it was truly unique. It was here we saw JP, Mary-Anne and crew. We received hugs from Peter and encouragement to keep going.
Koren and I continued for a few more kms until this motorcycle stopped us and told us we needed to move to the other side (around KM 33) as we were being turned around towards the finish. I was not going to be completing the full course.
It was this point, this man that took the wind out of my sails. We slowly walked to the other side of the road. I just stood on the side of the road and cried. Yup, I ugly cried. This man just took my goal away. I was not going to be a marathoner (today). I think most of the runners who went by figured I hit the “wall”. At this point I said why rush back and I really couldn’t stop crying. So we slowly walked on the right side as everyone passed us.
I had to do one of the hardest things for me to do was to text my dad the words below.
We had a plan already in place, so I needed to let my own cheering crew know it just wasn’t happening. So they were not concerned or worried with the jump in kms or if the tracking was off.
We slowly and I mean slowly made our way back. I said there is no point in running to get some amazing time, because this means nothing. The man on the motorbike made sure of that.
Once we got back towards the Bonnie’s Dream Team, we had more people supporting us, but I said to Koren, it feels so fake, if only they knew what just happened. We did run into a woman who has been following my journey, she walked with Koren and I to the finish. I told her I would not be a marathoner, with tears running down my face, she gave me a huge hug.
So Sunday, I crossed a finish line, was given a medal and a time registered on sports stats, but I am not a marathoner, I know the truth, the stats show the truth, I got a useless medal for going 37kms and being forced to turn around. I think having a DNF would have been easier to swallow over everything that took place, if I was being forced off the course and turned around.
Before everyone gets all indifferent about this, let me explain why this has hit home even more with me being in the back half, this is what is on the CRS website regarding this run, time frame etc;
Koren and I also spoke to information/help at the expo, asked questions about “turn around” spots and if there was anywhere I had to be by a certain time, as if there was, it would of possibly changed how I started the run. The person confirmed there is no “turn around” area and that if anything we would be asked to go to the sidewalk to finish. But I got turned around.
Runs should make it clearer that there are certain “turn arounds”, so every runner is aware. They should also make it clear if the counting clock for the course is from the first elite who touches the starting mat or the very last runner a crossed the start.
I have a heart that still hurts over all of this (and sort of feels broken). I am beyond happy for everyone who completed in all races of STWM, who had fun, an excellent run etc. But my own heart still hurts on how this happened to me.
On Sunday and the following days, I had all these messages flooding my phone, SM with congratulations, how proud they were of me, etc., I had to take to SM to advise the following message:
It hurt a lot to have to explain this to everyone, not that I couldn’t do the marathon, I was told I couldn’t do it.
I felt like I failed. Not just myself but the companies and people who believe in me. I felt like I let people down, including Koren who was with me for this journey. I know that if I was given the full chance I would have crossed that finish line as a marathoner and done it successfully.
I sent a message to someone at Nuun (he has supported me from the start years ago) who replied back with the dad role and said these words to me: –> “You didn’t “fail”. Just please stop using that word right now, child. Failure, in my eyes, is never signing up, never doing the training and never getting to the start line. That is failure, as I see it, in the endurance world. You have made so much progress with your physical wellness since we first met years ago. Failure??? Please!!!”
When I told my coach what happened, he replied being super supportive and told me next time my dig deep will happen and this won’t happen again.
I had messages from random strangers who saw my SM post writing that I am an inspiration, I never gave up with all my setbacks. I’ve had so much support from people who have helped me get over this, emotionally I’ve been a wreck all week. I told someone, I figure this must be how the second place team feels in losing the Stanley Cup or the World Series.
I received a text message from a friend who told me I am the phoenix I will rise again, which is true. I will try again at a marathon and be fully successful. I will be a marathoner, this goal didn’t die when I was turned around.
So thank you to everyone for the support this past week. It means a lot, the words have helped heal my heart.
I still am going to show the world that the back half can and will succeed when we put our minds to something, regardless of what a man on a motorbike thinks.
So I am not a marathoner, this does not define me or my running ability, it just means my goals will be adjusted for 2018. I will still lead the back half in and represent us at runs. I will continue to be me, work towards my goals.
Some pics from before: