Short version of report: 25 minute PB, 2 hours in medical tent
Long version of report:
It was pretty much a perfect day for the race. Low of 10 degrees, cloudy, slight chance of trace amounts of rain.
I was downtown before 6am, and stayed warm in the city hall until 6:45. Then I made my way to the corral. (Ambitiously, I was in the 3:30-3:59 corral, but whatever.)
My A+ goal was to break 4 hours. More realistically, I wanted to get close. My plan was to run the first 15km on 6:00/km (4:13 pace). I would make an adjustment there, and again at 32km. Playing it by ear was the plan.
Right off the start, I found myself moving backwards. The watch told me that I was running the desired 4:13 pace. My eyes told me that people around me were nuts. Expected.
The first few kilometers were new, and nice, but we did run through some shady parts across the river, in Quebec. There was a guy at one point cheering "Go, go, Quebec, Canada". All he knew in English?
Unexpectedly, my sister turned up on her bike at around 7km. Yay!
The crowds in front of the art gallery were in their usual state: loud, rambunctious, and plentiful. The race goes in both directions at this point, and I was able to run past the halfway mark just as the lead runners arrived.
"C'mon, guys, we can catch 'em!" I yelled.
The route is also new in the east end. We ran past the Prime Minister's and the Governor General's. We then headed back into the subdivision, ending up on a road that ran parallel to the Rockcliffe Parkway, across a broad expanse of field. I had to do a double-take at this point because, out in front of one of the houses facing this field was the Right Honourable Jean Chretien, former prime minister of Canada. Two runners actually turned around in front of me and ran back to talk to him.
I was holding the pace perfectly, waiting for 15km to come. When it finally did, I felt good, so I picked it up a tiny little bit.
I actually think I started going 5:30/km at this point, but I'll have to check my watch, later. Anyways, it felt good. I felt like I could hold the pace forever, which was the point.
I saw my sister again just before halfway, and had my second gel at 19km. Almost immediately, my tummy was slightly unhappy. I thought about ditching my running belt. I'd been taking on a lot of Gatorade, and my tummy was getting full. Bleh. At the famous Ottawa U dropoff point, I dropped off my belt.
Along the canal, down Colonel By, I seemed to encounter a difficult spot. I slowed to 6:00/km again. I was getting close to 32km, though.
I finally hit it under the underpass on Heron. They took out the parking lot this year, which is stupendous. I, however, was less than stupendous, so I didn't really pick up the pace like I'd hoped.
4:00 was pretty much dead.
I, however, was not. For the first time, I got to 32km, and wasn't starting to fade. I didn't have the next gear, like I'd hoped, but I wasn't moving backwards.
Except that I was wrong.
After a bit, I started running kilometers that were just perceptably faster than 6:00. I didn't feel like I was, but I was. Aroud 37km, I started to fade a bit. My sister was riding along side me (on the grass, the rain - yes, it was raining, was keeping the crowds away), offering words of encouragement to me and everyone else. I felt like I was losing steam, but the kilometers were still going by a tiny bit more quickly.
I wanted to walk. Oh, I just wanted to take a little break. I knew, though, that 4:10, my new silver standard, would fade away quickly if I did. I might even cramp up and be done. So I kept going.
I passed 41km in right around 4 hours. I was so close, but I wasn't there yet. I wanted to be, but 1.2km was looking long.
The signs started counting down the metres. 1000, 750, 500. At 500, oddly, I was feeling light-headed, and breathing...oddly.
I saw the family, and gave high fives to everyone. So, so cool.
I was slowing down, though, finally. Something wasn't quite right, and so I coasted in, arms upraised.
The red-shirted medical people were there. One asked me if I was ok. I mentioned my breathing problems, and they plopped me into a wheelchair and led me to the medical tent....
...to the back room.
My vitals were decent, but not perfect. My temperature was almost a degree below normal. My electrolytes were low enough that they gave me a litre of IV. Missed the vein the first time, too. They put a heater under my blanket (where do you buy these?). I suddenly had like 6 people waiting on me hand and foot.
Obviously, I wasn't totally ok, but I wasn't in serious shape, really. They replenished my electrolytes, got my breathing and heartrate calmed down, and got my temperature back up.
The problem was that, while they did this, my legs went completely bad. I cramped up so badly I simply could not move. When I tried, or when the cramps came back, I quite literally screamed in pain.
So I spent about an hour getting to the point where I could stand, with help. I was another hour before I was ready to walk out the door, with help, and get to the nearest place the car could be parked (not near - shame on the race organizers). Yuck.
I did cry at one point, though not from the cramping pain. When I first tried to stand up, and my legs could not support me, or even really move, exhaustion and fatigue reduced me to tears. It's no fun to run a marathon, only to find out you very literally can not walk afterwards.
All in all, though, I'm thrilled with my time, and with my effort. I could not have run any faster today, period. My preperation was adequate to the task.
This salt thing, though, is becoming a real problem.