So, it happened. I ran my first official marathon race in Magog last Saturday. I did it in 4h47, which is slower than the first practice run I did to get an idea of my baseline performance. The story behind this time, however, is much more interesting.
The starting time was somewhat unusual: 16h00. There were about 45 of us for the 42k, and I remember being very nervous seeing all these athletic types stretching, rope jumping and doing all kinds of “pro-looking” routines to get ready. I mean, I was just a guy who didn’t know if he even deserved to be there in the first place, you know? The weather was sunny, clear sky and hot. We’re talking 35 deg C + humidex. The race consisted of 2 x 21k loops. We’d have to climb the mountain, descend, then repeat it a second time. The total elevation for the race was 600+ meters.
The race starts. Some runners start forming up organically and doing small talk, cracking jokes, complaining about the heat and having a good time. I stick with the slower groups, knowing that in these kinds of conditions I might very easily overdo it and burn myself prematurely. There are water stations every 3 km, so I don’t feel particularly dehydrated, which really helps. The first 10k is a long uphill stretch of asphalt completely exposed to the sun. From the 11th km or so, we’re climbing the mountain proper. As we reach the 21st km (completing the first loop), I realize I’m mostly running by myself at that point. The people that were with me either picked up a pace I couldn’t hold or fell behind.
Then, once I start the second loop, this is where I start to realize how bad things are getting. One of the volunteers at a water station tells me that people are starting to drop from the race like flies. The second half of the race is quite lonely as I start running into people who are walking and look in pretty rough shape. It’s a bit worrying, but the only thing I really care about at that point is the music going through my headphones. As I reach the 35th km, I come to the realization that I still have good energy reserves and I decide to pick up the pace and see how fast I can make it to the finish line without hitting the wall.
Once I cross the finish line, I grab a few snacks and start chatting with the other runners about how things went. Overall, only 19 runners finished the race out of 45. Brutal! I was hoping to do a better time, but some of the more experienced runners tell me that there are races where just finishing is its own reward when conditions are difficult. Once the results were out and I could see the photos from the event, I recognized some of the runners’ numbers and was very surprised to see who made it and who didn’t.
So there it is! Can’t wait to see how things go for my next race.