Well it is official I am finally a Marathoner! Yesterday I ran my very first marathon and cannot believe how alive (and sore) I feel!
The weekend in a whole was amazing. My boyfriend and I left for Vancouver Friday afternoon. After a very full but smooth flight we landed in Vancouver.
What a beautiful city! The ride from the airport was when things really started to get real! In less than two days I would be a marathoner.
The stay in Vancouver started off amazing. Our room wasn’t ready so they upgraded our room to an ocean view. The view was amazing so we had to take a couple selfies to celebrate.
From there we got unpacked and headed to the expo to pick up my race pack. The expo really made things sink in even more. I was really running a marathon. I took some pictures but was freaking out completely on the inside.
The next day I had everything planned. I had an amazing breakfast and ventured out for coffee. I even got to say a quick hello to my friend Bob (and his girlfriend) who was running the marathon. He is an AMAZING runner and has ran Boston twice now so he is truly an inspiration. He let me know I was going to do great which was reassuring and nice to hear.
From there we went on an air plane tour of the city. Daine loves this stuff, I am trying to get into it but definitely get scared at time. It was really beautiful. I really enjoyed it… For the most part. Occasionally I may have looked like this….
My boyfriends aunts came and met us to drive the course to calm my nerves. It was breathtaking. My main concern was the consistent downhills… I mean I train for hills but this course had more down than up. I knew that I may have to adjust my strategy a tiny bit to ensure I didn’t injure myself going down the hills.
As I am sure most runners do before a race I have a certain traditions the night before my race. First I always eat butternut squash ravioli. Its my favorite! I also always have a LUSH Bath bomb bath with their Big Blue bathbomb. This bath was followed by a reassuring phone call from my dad who is training for his first half marathon at the end of May. He calmed my nerves, stopped my tears and let me know to relax and its just like my other runs with dad. I don’t know what it is about parents but they are magic in knowing exactly what you need to hear. This calmed me enough to move on to the next tradition I have, laying out everything I am going to use/wear during my race.
I think I drive my boyfriend crazy because through all of this I tend to pace and over analyze, which I did the night before this race as well. I finally fell asleep only waking up 3 times for water and then stayed awake when I woke up a 4th time at 4:30am.
I couldn’t believe it was race day! I started by making coffee, slamming some water of course and jumping in the shower. I had my banana and my pre-race breakfast of oatmeal and a smoothie then continued to get ready. I phoned my mom and messaged funny pictures to my sisters and brother saying “Race Day.”
I know they appreciate my early messages although they are reluctant to say so. From there I jumped on my boyfriend to remind him it was race day and that I wanted to be 1.5 hours early for my race. Thank goodness he is so supportive. He didn’t even question me… It may have been the crazy look on my face. Once I got all dressed up and stretched, rolled and hydrated I was ready to head out. As we walked out of the hotel I started feeling overcome with nerves. My boyfriend reassured me that I was going to do great. I am not sure it helped me believe that but realistically he saw me at my worst in more than one occasion and still had faith in me. I should probably trust his word right?
We stopped for a quick coffee and then followed the trail of runners to the train. The train was full of marathoners. Everyone looked so calm. I figured they were doing the same run as me so I should probably chill out. I even heard some great advice, do a body check every 10 km, making sure nothing hurt and form was good. When we got to the race grounds my nerves got crazy. I saw that start line and panicked. Nothing a quick call to mom can’t fix though.
I took my first gel and then I was ready to go. My boyfriend gave me a great big hug and reminded me I was going to do great. This time I believed him. I wiggled my way into my corral and calmed my breath… After a couple selfies of course!
I couldn’t believe how many people were there! the sea of marathoners to be went on forever!
At this point it becomes a bit of a blur as I was so focused on staying calm and not letting my nerves get ahead of me. And we were off! I was officially running my first marathon! The first bit was a struggle to get out of the crowed. This mile was one of the hardest as everyone was eager to do the exact same thing as me. I remember reminding myself to stay calm and run in the shade. There was no rush as it was a marathon not a sprint. That’s the only time I have ever been able to use that saying literally. The km markers flew by! The downhill was not something I had trained for and well the front part of my legs began to get sore but I tried to block it out. When I got to km 9 it was hill time! My music made me giggle as I turned the corner to go up the hill Miley Cyrus “The Climb” began to play. I was quite excited because I like up hills. I train them and love them. To top it off it was a nice break from the consistent downhill I had been running the last 8k. This hill lasted a couple km’s. When I got to the top I felt so alive! It hit me again… I was running a marathon!
The run proceeded into the UBC area which was beautiful. The old trees were so nice and the shade was even nicer! I made sure I was stopping at every water station even for a little sip of water and Ultima. The km’s began to fly by again.
As we got closer to the water our half way mark started to approach. At this point I was running slightly ahead of the 4:00 pace bunny. I could feel the heat. I noticed people were starting to slow and some even stopped. I even saw someone collapse! At that moment I decided that I was going to go as slow as my body needed me too. I made sure that I was keeping up with my 10 km body checks, stopping by every station for a sip and to pour water on my head.
The crowds cheered which was so amazing, people would say my name (Which was weird at first as I forgot my Bib said it) and fellow runners would cheer me on for running my first marathon. Every few minutes I would be reminded of how my legs still hurt, I don’t really remember any point that they felt 100% but I pushed through. I would follow that reminder with the fact that I was really running my first marathon!
I don’t think think any runner says they look great in their race photos but man I have no word for mine.
I made sure to take a gel every ten km’s, It was a great little perk up as I was feeling the energy drain from my body. As I approached the 30 km mark I knew I was getting close to where I would see my boyfriend as he said he would come around Stanley Park. The only picture I am smiling in while running was the second I saw my boyfriend.
He was just the pick up I needed. I mouthed “This Sucks” to him and smiled. He smiled back and I continued on my way. Stanley Park is beautiful and was full of people cheering us on. Stanley Park is GIANT. That road felt like it went on forever.
Before I started my race I decided I was going to dedicate each mile to a person I love and count down for the last 10k. The markers were in km so it kind of messed up my flow but I knew about who’s mile I was running. I had also asked each person to send me three songs to listen to while i ran their mile. My music timing wasn’t right so I missed that but I still focused on them.
10 km to go! My best friend Tia helped me through mile 20. She has been my best friend for over 5 years and she has been there and helped me through everything. I thought of funny stories about things we did and laughed at some of the random stuff we have done through the years. I could picture her say “Go Jocey Go.” That’s just what I did. I knew if i stopped it would make the pain in my legs worse so I kept going!
8 km to go! My boyfriend Daine was mile 21. He has been there for me and supported me through everything. I thought of how lucky I am to have someone that will stand in the sun for four hours with the hopes of seeing me, jumping between cheering stations. I could picture him telling me that I could do it and not to be a sissy. Crazy techno started playing which helped me pick up my speed a bit. I reminded myself to just keep going because I am no sissy! He always knows what to say to make me laugh. I wish the photograper’s would have caught me on this mile because I would have been smiling or laughing I am sure.
7 km to go! My brother John was mile 22. My little brother is an amazing person. He is hard working and does everything he puts his mind to. We don’t talk as much as we should but I am so proud of him and I know he is so proud of me. I am really lucky to have such a great little brother. I could picture him saying “You Can Do It Sis.” I couldn’t stop there I had to keep going. I knew my brother would push through even if he was tired so that what I did. I just had to keep moving. I said that out loud every couple second.. “Keep moving, you can do it.”
5 km to go! My sister Sheralee was mile 23. My little sister knows me better than pretty much anyone. She is strong and supportive. She is always my go to. The funny part was I she had to coax me to keep moving on my very first 5km run 2 years ago in October. She is also a great cheerleader. This may sound crazy but I think I even argued with her as I could picture her saying I was doing great and to keep going. I laughed because I figured the people running past me may think I am a little crazy for talking to myself but this was my marathon and I can talk to myself if I want to. Sher would laugh at that too because well she would justify my self talk as well. I figured I was probably making a horrible face as I run with this almost confused/tired look to me. Oddly enough I was right… My facial expression was just that.
4 km to go! Mile 24 was my dear old dad. My dad had been running with me as he is training for him first half marathon on May 29th. My dad cheers me on, inspires me to be better, and is there to hold me up when I can’t take any more. In both running and life. Luckily with running he hasn’t had to help me up because I am stubborn and keep going. My dad would say (as he did the night before) just think of it as another run with my dad and that I can do this. He would tell me to quit with the negative talk and that he was so proud of me. With that I pushed the I cants out and told myself I was doing great and to keep going. At this point I thought I smiled for the camera but apparently not. My dad always takes amazing race photos… That gene apparently doesn’t run in the family. At this point I remember thinking this was never ending. I repeated to myself again (almost the full last hour I think) You can do it, just keep going.
3 km to go! Mile 25 is dedicated to my sister Kathleen. She is a fighter and inspires me everyday by her strength and hard work. She is also kind of a hard a**. I knew with her she needed to be 25 because the last 10% is always the hardest. Kathleen is so busy with her life. She dances for Shumka and is going to school to be a nurse while also working at the hospital. She never gives up on her dreams! She also really believes in me which I know all family members but it still means the world to me. Kath would never sugar coat it if she didn’t think I can do it. Her drive kept me going. I could hear her say that I’m killing it and that I’ll get through. She has done dance performances in front of thousands of people with a stomach flu so I knew I could manage a couple more miles. I splashed myself with some water at the next station and reminded myself I am almost done my first marathon! Just a note for any of you who may be running your first marathon in the future do not cry while running. At this point I was overwhelmed with emotion and started to tear up, I could feel my airway getting a little blocked so I did some breathing exercises to calm me back down.
1 km to go! This is where my fearless momma came into play. I needed my mom to be mile 26. She is who started me running, She is who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and she is the person who would jump in and run with me if she could have. The past year my mother has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis which has made her have to quit running. I was running this for her because I knew she would have loved to run that last mile with me. A couple days before the race my mom sent me the sweetest message.
I repeated those words in my head over and over. The dog days are over is a song my mom used to run too. This also fits my life as in the past couple years I had gone through a lot with my poor dogs. I lived through all that and I knew I could get through this last mile. I could feel her pulling me forward with her positive words. As I came around the corner a lady yelled out “Great Form Jocelyn.” My mom always poked my tummy when I ran and would emphasize the importance of good form. So what amazing timing. As I turned the corner for the final stretch I could see the finish line.
I pulled my core tight and pushed forward. This was it! I was finishing my first marathon! I held back the tears and put all my energy into staying strong through that last UPHILL km which by the way felt like it took a year! I was doing it! It was real!
As I crossed the finish line I threw my hands in the air and made sure to keep moving I grabbed my medal. 4:07:11 was my official time! I didn’t beat the 4 hour goal but I did it and I felt great! At that moment I realized I was a marathoner, who cares about the time! (I always care about time so this was a big moment in my life)
I saw John Stanton who I would have loved to say hi to as I help train runners at the Running Room and have read his book way to many times. But I was feeling pretty emotional and would love to not cry on him the first time I met him.
I did it! I was a marathoner! This wonderful lady handed me an apple juice and I remember just wanting to walk. I saw Daine and I am really not sure what I said to him but I figured I would find him. Note to self make a plan on where you are going to meet your loved one after your marathon. You do not want to have to walk around looking for them.
Everyone kept congratulating me it was so amazing. My phone rang. It was my dad! I burst into tears yelling “Daddy I am a Marathoner!!” He told me he knew I could do it and he was so proud of me! I hung up and was going to take a couple pictures but my phone died. I proceeded to waddle around looking for Daine. A nice couple talked to me about my time and how I was feeling. I made my way back to the hotel and Daine called my name and hugged me. I think I repeated “I am a marathoner” and “that was so hard” one million times that afternoon.
I had some Nuun and a banana, showered and stretched. I then headed to the hotel lounge where I ate the tuna tataki I had been craving followed by beer and a chicken club with french fries. At this point i remember feeling like food was my favorite thing in the world.
People smiled at my as I waddled by. I wore that medal proudly. I was a marathoner!
Thank you so much to the BMO Vancouver marathon for putting on an amazing event and for all the volunteers that made it possible! Thank you to all my boyfriend, friends, family, running buddies, fellow runners and bloggers for you support! Thank you the Sweat Pink and Move More Fitness Community for constant encouragement! You have all made my first marathon one to remember and I couldn’t have done it without!
If I have one tip for anyone going to run their first marathon it would be to believe in yourself, talk to yourself as much as you need and trust your training because you really can do it!
Can you believe it? I am officially a marathoner!