Kaitlyn is a guest blogger who is writing for 42.2 for the 2016 marathon training season. She will be writing monthly blogs, updating us on the ups and downs of her journey from 0 to 42.2.
At the end of October, 18 University of Calgary Marathon Training program members traveled to Dublin, Ireland to run the Dublin Marathon. Every single one of them finished the race with stories to tell, here’s Kaitlyn’s.
By Kaitlyn Fulton
October 29: The Day before the Marathon
After more than 13 hours of travelling from Calgary to Amsterdam to Dublin, I spent the first full day of our trip trying to recover from jet lag. That recovery included letting myself sleep in for as long as I needed, which turned out to be 16 hours! That’s the longest amount of time I have ever consecutively slept! Clearly, traveling farther than I have ever been away from home, had left me physically and mentally drained.
In the afternoon I attended the team’s pre-marathon meeting. It was held by the coaches to go over any last minute logistics and to walk us step-by-step through the events that would be taking place the next morning. Even with the coaches continually telling us that we were ready, I couldn’t help but feel my blood pressure spike whenever I was reminded of the huge race I was running the next day.
October 30: Race Day
I had been sleeping for about six hours before my alarm went off telling me to get up and get ready. There’s always that thought, first thing in the morning, of wishing I had gotten more sleep the night before, but getting everything lined up and prepared the for the race took much longer than I had anticipated. I knew there would be nothing worse than waking up and not being able to find the things I needed or running out of time to get everything ready. So even though it cost me a little bit of sleep, I considered being organized a success.
I traveled with the team from the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire to the race start on a bus we had chartered. Being with the team while I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed helped tremendously.
After saying goodbye to our loved ones, we headed into the participants area where we checked our bags, and were directed into different chutes based on our wave that all lead to the start line. Here is account of my race after the the gun went off:
First 10km: Slow and Steady
For the first quarter of the race, I felt great. After the start, my nerves had died down, and I had settled into a pace I was comfortable with. I was really enjoying all of the locals that got up early to cheer us on and the beautiful houses and pubs that lined the streets we were running on. In this stage of the race, we also ran through the largest walled city park in Europe. It was incredible!
After feeling like I had a good warm-up and was running strong, I picked up my speed. I ended up passing two pace bunnies and was feeling great. My plan was to stay ahead of or run with the pace bunnies, and I thought if I could do that I would make it to the finish with minimal problems. After all, how hard could it be to stay with them? Reflecting back, this stage of the race is where my plan went wrong. I was overconfident, and it contributed tremendously to the challenges I faced later on.
21.1km – 33km: Starting to Go Downhill
At this distance in the race, my legs were starting to get sore. I began to notice my energy declining a bit and realized that I was going too fast. I decided to dial back my speed at the 25 km mark in in hopes I could save my legs to help me get to the end of the race.
At this stage in the race, my legs were on fire; my mental state was at its weakest, and I was trying to cope with a very unhappy stomach. My mind was racing with negative thoughts such as: “There is no way I am going to make it through this,” and “What will I tell the people that believed I could accomplish this?” I felt discouraged that I found myself in such a low place. I had thought that race day was going to be just like a training day and that I would be sore and tired, but that I was going to be able to keep myself going strong.
Luckily, when I was at my lowest point, I found a teammate that helped me get to the finish line. I had just come out of a pub where I used the washroom, and there she was running towards me. I felt a sense of relief come over me when she gave me a hug and assured me that we were both going to make it. I cried when she hugged me and had I not found her, I am not sure how I would have picked myself up and out of the slump I was in. But together we continued on, putting one foot in front of the other to get to the finish.
When I arrived at the finish line, I felt a tremendous sense of relief come over me.
Even though I didn’t think I would make it, I did! And the feeling that knowledge gave me was so satisfying. My time was quite a bit longer than I was aiming for, but I am so proud of crossing that finish line – I did it!! I’m not sure there is anything more satisfying than hugging my coaches and teammates after the race while I was bawling my eyes out. It was an emotional day, to say the least.
After the race…
The evening after the race, the team met at the Forty Foot restaurant in Dun Laoghaire for victory brews and dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurant had two huge sets of stairs to get into it… OUCH! I had a delicious meal of chicken fingers and fries and enjoyed sharing race stories and struggles with my teammates. WE ALL MADE IT!! I didn’t last too long and headed to bed at about 10 p.m. and fell asleep right away. What a day!
This isn’t the end of running for me. In fact, it’s only the beginning. I am so grateful for the coaches and teammates that took the time to teach me the ropes this season. My life has become so enriched by the friendships, the training and the challenges I have faced and overcome. Even though the marathon was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, I think I am ready to redeem myself and to train for another one.