Disclaimer: WordPress is being silly and on my laptops the photos come up right side up but on my phone it comes up as sideways! I’m sorry for the inconvenience!
This week’s Monday on the Run is going to be a little different. Since I took most of the week off to recovery from Mississauga Half Marathon, I have a little guest post for you instead!
For a while now, I’ve been following Alicia’s journey as she trained for her first marathon. And by follow, I literally mean follow. After my half marathon, the first thing I did when I got my butt to the couch was go on Sportstats and look up Alicia to see how she was doing at BMO! If you don’t know Alicia, she goes by @aliciarunsfast on Instagram and is honestly the sweetest woman you will ever meet. I’m seriously. I fell in love with her Instagram over the months as she was one of the most positive and supportive IG-ers I’ve had the pleasure to follow. She’s seriously taken the role of my Vancouver BFF! However, just because she’s such a sweetie, doesn’t mean she won’t tell you like it is. She won’t lie and say she her 22 miles were easy peasy. She’ll tell you that it was tough because it was. Nothing irks me more than someone who will only tell you the positives and hide how much work that was really put into their training run.
So why am I tell you all of this other than you should totally follow her on Instagram? Well, because I enjoyed Alicia’s journey to her marathon so much, I wanted her to share it on my blog. She is honestly on my top 10 inspiring gals and I really hope you guys find inspiration in her like I do.
My love of running really started in high school. I had joined my track and field team and found it was something I immediately enjoyed. After I decided I wanted to be a bit more serious about running, I joined the University of Toronto Track and Field Club which gave my training more structure and intensity. I was also very lucky to develop close friendships with people on the team. However, I don’t think I had the discipline and maturity to really focus on running. So I probably could have been a much stronger runner than I was if I had actually done all the runs I was supposed to every week. But I did truly love it!
Soon, I moved out to British Columbia to go to the University of British Columbia (UBC) and I was running very casually. I was focused on my studies and the social part of being at university. I originally was interested in art history but decided to switch my major to Kinesiology. UBC Kinesiology has a program where they teach you everything you need to know to basically be a student trainer with a sports team at the school. You were then partnered with a varsity team and your job was to be an athletic trainer focusing on injuries and injury prevention while working with a physiotherapist and sports doctor.
Shortly after, I started to have a fairly serious back injury and was told to stop running all together. So I just focused on my studies and the team. After graduating I took a year off to work and then decided my true passion was in cake making and fine pastry so I went to pastry school. It was during that time that I started running again. I ran my first half marathon in June 2014 (1:55) on basically no training and yes, it was a painful race. I would say I was always in shape through working out and running casually but I never followed a specific training plan. I then ran another half marathon in August 2015 (1:53). I didn’t really train for it, the whole race was a struggle but I loved it anyways. I decided right after that I wanted to run more races but I would train for them so I could feel strong during the race and run a time that was more reflective of my fitness. I believe my love of the sport was always there but sometimes we need a bit of a push to get us back into it, and that race was it for me.
I chose a half marathon in Febraury 2016 and my goal was to run a sub 1:40 half. I figured that would be a good halfway point to my first marathon. I ran 1:37 and was super excited. After that I threw my heart into my marathon training. That was the focus. I was determined that I would get to that start line on May 1st feeling ready and confident about the race. And I felt like my training went really well. Of course there were tough days. As Carmy said I am not one to sugar coat things. I also get super irritated when people only post the positive aspects of their training, its not real! Some days are just going to be difficult. I don’t believe anyone ever said running a marathon was easy (and if they did they were lying!).
I mostly trained on my own. I work from 5 am to 1 pm most days since I am a baker. In addition I don’t usually get my weekends off since the bakery is usually the busiest on Saturday and Sunday. This made it more difficult to train with a partner, since I didn’t have the typical Monday-Friday 9am- 5pm schedule. I did all my longs runs on my own. I was not able to train early in the morning before work (because I refuse to wake up at 3:00 am) and mainly did my runs in the early afternoons. But I made it work. I am realistic about my running, I understand that some days you really don’t want to do a workout so maybe you do a light run instead. Or things in life come up and you end up missing a run. That’s OK! We have to be more forgiving on ourselves, there is no point in stressing about the missed workouts. Move on and make the next ones better!
The gun went off and we started to run. I felt alright the first 5 km but at km 6 I knew there was something wrong with my legs. I was feeling so much pain and achy-ness that I had never felt before. I struggled to get to the 10 km mark and then struggled even more to the half marathon point. My parents were a few km after that and I pulled off to the side and said to my mom “something is really wrong with my legs.” She listened to me and basically told me I would not be happy if I didn’t finish. The next 20 km were a battle between my legs and brain telling me to stop and feeling the desire to cross that finish line. My family split up and saw me as many times as they could along the course. And I had a friend jump in and run with my from 32-37km. They helped me so much! I finally finished in 4:13 which was about 45 minutes slower than my time goal and what I had predicted I’d run based on my times in training. I was beyond disappointed, embarrassed and sad that the past 5 months of training had accumulated to this race.
It’s been 5 days since the race and I’ve been able to reflect on my experience with the marathon. I am so proud to be a marathoner, to have pushed myself through 37 kms while my legs felt terrible. I never really considered myself to be a tough person but after that I know I am strong, mentally and physically. I realize now the importance of finding joy in the journey. I poured my heart into my training for this race for 5 months, all leading up to the one day. And on that day, things didn’t go as planned. But that doesn’t take away from my hard work and commitment to this sport or all the hours I put into my training. I love running, more so now than ever before and I love the journey that brought me to this finish line.