Thursday, 27 March 2014

Anchorage Mayor's Marathon Recap.

When last I left you, I had told you about what ignited my passion for running.  I relived my first marathon while sharing it with you, the readers.  I thank you for taking the time to read it and apologize that all my blog posts will most likely be that long.  :)

In November of 2012, one month after the Nike Women's Marathon, I took a job in Vancouver Canada.  The first thing I did was find the local TNT chapter. I became a team mentor, a way for me to help others achieve that amazing feeling I felt at the end of every race.

I signed up for the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska (June 22nd, 2013). I figured if I was going to run another full marathon, I would make a vacation out of it.

It was a very unique experience.  Usually when a Team in Training team travels, they travel as a team. This was no exception, except that I was the only one signed up from our team for this race.

I trained with an small but excellent group of runners who all had their own passion behind their training.  A girl whose brother was diagnosed with cancer, a girl who herself was a survivor, a woman whose daughter was diagnosed at a very early age (in remission now), and several other touching stories.

It was a strange feeling hearing all of their stories.  They all has happy endings.  Stories of recovery, remission, and rejoicing.  My heart sank as I realized that my passion behind why I run was a sad ending.

But was it really?  I knew that Abi would want me to be happy for and supportive of my new team.  She would want me to make this 'sad' ending into a happy one.  After all, her story does not end with her death.

I trained hard for Anchorage and before I knew it the day was here.  I have told fellow runners on several occasions that the only way to fully prepare for a full marathon was to have already ran one.  Marathons are just as much a mental challenge as a physical one.  You always hear about the runners who don't "repsect the distance."

I had full respect for the distance.  Usually when one runs a marathon, they do what is known as a Negative Split.  This is when you run at a slower pace for the first half of the distance to conserve energy for when you run faster for the second half.  I tried this at Nike and found I had no energy for the second half.  So for Anchorage, I decided to just find a good pace and hold it for as long as I could.

The sun was out and it was a nice warm day.  At times maybe too warm. I took my time, stopping when I needed for a rest, or just to take pictures.

The course was a bit different than what I was used too. A good majority of it was a tank trail. But it was hilly.  For some strange reason I like hills and tend to run faster up-hill than on flat ground.  I blame Grampy's genetics for my muscular calves.

I reached mile 17.  This is where I crashed (or as runners call it, "Hit the Wall") during Nike.  I felt strong and very good.  I could not help but get a picture with my old barrier.

 As one does in marathon I kept running.   And as I always do, when I need a little help I always think of Abi.  She is always there to give me a little push.

I was approaching mile 24 and feeling great.  I felt unstoppable.  Famous last words right?  I stopped at an aid station to refill on water and then started back on my way.  About 5 steps back into it after my refueling, it happened.

The Wall.

It is literally how it sounds.  You can be feeling the best you've ever felt and then your body just says, "NOPE!"

I looked at the mile marker next to me. Mile 24. I started laughing.  Apparently I was laughing more than I thought, because a race medic on a bike stopped to ask me if I was ok.  I just smiled and said, "I just hit the wall."  His response was one of confusion, "Then why are you laughing?"  I pointed to the sign and simply said "It's mile 24!" Then hobbled on my way.

The reason I was laughing was indeed that is was mile 24.  I felt happy about hitting the wall this late in the race.  At Nike it had been at mile 17.  9 miles from the finish.  9 miles to push through.  This.  This was mile 24!  2 miles to push through! That I knew I could do.

Mentally prepared to push for 2 miles I rounded a corner and in the distance say a sign with a Canadian flag on it.  I assumed it was for the Montreal Team (whom I had met the night before at dinner).  Well that is nice I thought.  As I got closer I realized...... It was not for the Montreal team. It was for someone named Joseph.  How thoughtful!


I'm Joseph.

That is when the full impact of the sign (and what it said hit me). It was from Coach Albert and the rest of the team.  I stopped dead in my tracks and began to cry a bit (one day I may run a marathon without tearing up about something).  I fully expected Albert and the rest of the team to jump out of the bushes and yell "SURPRISE!!"  But they all have a race tomorrow.  In Vancouver.  I looked around in a daze for a second.  A few runners behind me stopped to ask if I was ok.  I pointed to the sign and just said "That's me."

(As you can probably tell by now, I am not in the best mental state from about mile 20 on)

They looked at me and said, "Oh that is nice! Where is your team?"
"In Vancouver." I responded.
"How did they get a sign up here?"
"I have no idea!" I said trying not to tear up/
"Would you like a picture next it?"

I just shook my head and handed them my phone.

This got me from mile 24 to 25.

From this point on in the race, it seemed like events where purposely happening to me to keep me going.  At mile 25 there was a woman in her front yard with a karaoke machine and a giant Team in Training banner across the front of her house.  She was singing "I will Survive"

She sees my purple shirt, stops singing, and runs out to shake my hand.  Turns out she was a cancer survivor who was in her 5th year of remission.  This got me from mile 25 to 25.5

At mile 25.5, A TNT coach from the Anchorage team (whom I had met the night before at dinner) sees me and starts running with me.  I don't remember what he said, but it got me to mile 26.

At mile 26 I was met by another TNT coach.  The day before a group of us had ran the last 0.2 miles of the course so we would know when we were almost done.  I knew that all I had to do was run up a big hill, turn into a park, and that the finish line was in that park.

The whole way up that hill, I chanted "Up, The, Hill"  in time with my steps.

I made it up the hill and sprinted across the finish line.  Another Full Marathon.  No "One and Done" for me.

That feeling of life came flooding back.  I felt so proud.  Proud that I was now a multiple marathon runner.  And proud that I could once again, honor Abi in my own way.

I made my way to the TNT tent with a huge smile on my face.  When I got there, everyone asked how I did.  "I...... I.......I forgot to look at the clock."

Turns out that despite my 7 mile crash difference, I only bettered my time by about 3 minutes.  But even though I did not make better time, I definitely had a better time.  And that is what I took away from this race.

As always, if you want to support my cause, please visit

As always thank you for taking time to read what I have written.  It means so much to me that you get to share in Abi's and my journey.

Be on the look out for my next 2 posts, My New Running Tattoo, and The Goofy Challenge Recap