Monday, May 30, 2011

'GI' Jane hits Ottawa

And for the first time I’m not referring to the military sense of the word.

First off, I have to say that I have a newfound respect for Paula Radcliffe. She was already my idol, but yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to truly appreciate her prowress. She gives absolutely everything she has in order to reach her goals, whether that means running through injury, sickness - or stopping in the middle of the London marathon, in front of 500 000 spectators, to take a crap in the middle of the road. On national television.

London 2005 - Paula shows no shame

Not that that happened to me - exactly. I may have not experienced her degree of 'exposure' or embarassment, but it was enough to initiate some pretty strong feelings of the sort. And unlike her, I did not get back up and hammer my way home for the win. So she's got a few degrees of toughness on me (if that wasn't obvious already!). Furthermore, I didn’t stop in the middle of the road: I was diligent enough to retreat to someone's lawn (though still in front of the race course...and spectators) and help fertilize the soil of the supportive Ottawanarians (did I just invent another word?). Thoughtful, right?

Perhaps I should go back to the beginning, though I can imagine everyone can guess what hit the fan. Everything leading up to Ottawa seemed to go smoothly. I tapered well, I was in a good mindset and I felt ready to conquer the distance. On race morning, however, I was not feeling very well and this made me extremely anxious. Of course I was up at 3AM unable to sleep so this means I was pacing around the hotel, then the downtown streets of Ottawa, for a good three hours before the race, trying to clear my system and get things in order. Unfortunately I wasn't too successful. So, I went into the race not knowing how my stomach would hold up but hoping for the best.

The conditions were not too bad - no wind, rain was holding off - but it was muggy and hot. Within the first couple km I knew I wouldn't have a breakthrough day. I went out in 4:12 or so and for the next 15k worked harder than I should have been to maintain 4:00/km. My legs felt flat, but I got into a groove and figured I could still run a PB. As per my race plan, I took swigs of gatorade at every station. I also miraculously managed to find AND snag my bottles at the elite water tables, something that I had failed at miserably last year, managing to get my hands on one of seven of them. However, the race quickly became a battle between staying hydrated versus my mounting gastrointestinal distress with each swig from a bottle (and NO, it's not because I filled them with vodka! Those were only my after-party bottles! On second thought...they could have very well been misplaced...). Anyway, at about 22k, I realized I would have to stop. I was extremely uncomfortable and searched madly for a port-o-potty. I saw nothing. I tried to push onwards, but it only got worse, and by about 25km I had to stop - ANYWHERE.I was ready to pull a Paula Radcliffe and go in the middle of the road. All my dignity flew out the window and (I'll spare you the details here) suffice to say that some spectators along the course may have some entertaining stories to tell their friends that night.

I thought things might get better after this, and they did for about a minute, before I had to make a second stop in a more secluded area (I basically just ran into the woods this time, nice). And when I was back in the mix at 29k, I began to get stabbing stomach pains that made me run hunched over like an old woman. And thus, a new G.I. Jane was born, this one much slower. I had lost enough time at this point to make me cringe and I realized that if this continued, I wouldn't be able to continue to run let alone set a PB. So I stumbled to the side of the road and had a good cry before Nic AZ and Jeff found me, slapped me across the face and told me to stop being such a baby.

Ok, perhaps they weren't THAT brutal (but really, how do you think Nic has made me run fast? Bedtime stories and cups of hot cocoa?!) but they did smack some sense into me and wrote it off as a bad day.'This is the world of marathoning sista, next one's yours!' Nic would later say. Now that I'm a little less upset I am grateful that I'm healthy and still fit and I realize that there will be other races. And since it wasn't a fast day anyway, I can't be too distraught over what could have been.

So that was that. Crappy day all around! Unfortunately my parents had flown in from Vancouver who never see me run so that was a pretty sad way of premiering my 'marathoning talents' to them, whatever those are. At this point I'm not sure that they exist! Two things are for sure - I am not deviating from my normal eating (as herbivorous as it may be!) pre-race, and Ottawa will not be my third marathon! It is a great event and race weekend, but I think it's time to try my luck somewhere else.


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  2. Hi Jane. I'm glad that you've been able to put this setback in perspective, while maintaining your signature self-deprecating (or dare I say, defecating?) sense of humour.

    Your next marathon will remind everyone the real reason you're known as G.I. Jane - because you're as tough an athlete as they come.

    Speaking of your next marathon, this year's Toronto Waterfront Marathon could be the perfect venue for you to make a triumphant homecoming!