So, the dumbest idea I’ve probably ever had was signing up for a half marathon before Edith was born. But, it was also one of the best decisions. To be fair, I had my doubts about it, thinking that I would have no time to do anything but parent in the first few months. While Edith has proven me wrong about that, a new position at work has made fitting my regular runs into my schedule a bit more challenging. At times, it seems I get up and start working, then go to work, come home and spent some much needed time with the family and then get back to work. With multiple deadlines and multiple distractions making those deadlines more challenging, finding time for my training runs proved more and more difficult.
However, when I saw that Montreal had a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and shared that with Lindsay, I signed up to run my second half marathon of 2012 at Lindsay’s insistence. My first half was the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon at the beginning of the summer, here in Burlington, Vermont. While I thought I trained somewhat well for this race, I had some problems where my legs locked up and I was left walk-running/limp-running the last 4 or 5 miles. My goal for this race was to improve on the finish time I had at the VCM. Having already completed one half marathon, I decided to train using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training program in an effort to improve on my previous time. When I chose this plan, I had the best of intentions. I figured I’d find an hour or so a couple days a week at work to fit in my shorter training runs and Lindsay and I both figured that finding time to do my long runs on the weekend wouldn’t be a problem. As the runs on the plan got longer, I started taking more and more shortcuts. I would skip one of the shorter, 3 mile runs each week and would often find myself delaying my long run or just skipping it all together. As the race got closer, I began to get more and more nervous about whether I’d be able to complete the race.
After giving a presentation to a couple hundred people at work on Friday afternoon, it was time to hit the road and head to Montreal to get settled in for the weekend leading up to the race. We found a great two bedroom in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal on AirBNB. We arrived in Montreal around 7 PM on Friday night (after a few wrong turns thanks to Lindsay’s dad). The landlords owned a shop on the first floor and one of their employees was able to show us the low down about the apartment. The apartment was up a steep set of stairs to the second floor and after 5 or 6 trips up and down for luggage, I had a feeling that those stairs would tire my legs out over the next few days. After a false start ordering online, I made the trip to our favourite spot for food in Montreal, Aux Vivres where Lindsay got a Buddha Bowl and I had the macro bowl. Some good, nutritious food to start the marathon weekend off was just what we needed.
We woke up Sunday morning and after some coffee from across the street, we hit the road and grabbed a Metro to the Place Bonaventure for the marathon expo to register and pick up my swag bag. Now, the only race expo I had been to was for the VCM which was a significantly smaller race, but this expo was far and away the best one I’d been to. I started out picking up the swag bag where I got a really great, high quality brooks tech shirt, a “backpack” and a free t-shirt I had won from the Brooks booth. Lindsay and Edith even beat me at the skeeball game! It definitely wasn’t fair since it was two against one! One mistake I did make was walking entirely too many miles around Montreal the day before the race. This only added to my doubt about how I would do in the race and whether I could complete it.
After a nice quiet night with Lindsay (which included our first 45 minutes alone since Edith was born) where we took a trip to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for dinner, I headed to bed early to get some sleep before the big day. After tossing and turning all night, I woke up to my alarm at 5:30 am and went through my pre-race ritual of chugging a pint of water, drinking a cup of coffee and having a small breakfast. At this point, I was shaking with anticipation (I’m always nervous before a race, even the smallest ones) and made the final decision to run the race. I did make sure I knew where all the metro stops along the run were just in case though! I stretched and then headed downstairs to the bus station right outside the apartment. After standing there waiting for 10 minutes, I finally realized that the bus was not actually running that day due to the marathon. I then headed the mile or so down to the Mont Royal metro station to catch the metro to the island, where the race was happening. Where there would normally be 1 or 2 people boarding the metro at 7 am on a Sunday morning, there were literally thousands of racers heading for the race.
After arriving at our final destination, (Jean Drapeau metro) I made my way to the nearest washroom. Only to be stuck in line for what seemed to probably be a small, public, park washroom for about half an hour before giving up. I decided there had to be the normal bank of porta-potties somewhere closer to the start line and filed in line behind the swarm of other racers heading towards the start. It was a cold, windy morning on the island as we walked the 2 km or so to the start line on the bridge. Once I finally made it to my corral (#13, the 2:15 projected finish time) on the bridge, it was another 45 minutes to an hour of shivering and hopping around trying to keep warm before our corral made our way to the start. As they announced corral 13, we still weren’t at the start line, it would appear the stragglers and people going to the washroom along the bridge were enough to form another corral in front of us. So, they finally called corral 14 and we were off, starting to make our way through the course. At this point, there was nothing I wanted more than to be able to run and warm up in the sun.
Stay tuned for the rest of my half marathon story!