The 2014 Saskatchewan Marathon

The Saskatchewan Marathon is a race that I hold near and dear (but I say that about all of them, don’t I?). In 2011 it was my first 10K, then in 2012 it was my first half marathon. In 2013 I exceeded my time goal of 1:57 to finish in 1:56:26, a new PB.

My spring racing season in 2014 was a busy one, with this being my sixth of eight races spanning three months. I love racing, and couldn’t decide which ones to run, so I just did them all. That maybe wasn’t the best plan, but it was fun!

The Saskatchewan Marathon has an expo the day before, as well as a pasta dinner with guest speaker. I go to both events every year, and both get bigger and better each year. It was here that I met my running hero, Bart Yasso, in 2012 and Canadian Olympic marathoners Dylan Wykes and Reid Coolsaet in 2013. The 2014 speaker was Marc Parent, author and columnist for Runner’s World magazine. While Marc isn’t as big a name as Bart, Dylan or Reid, I knew from reading his columns that he’d be an entertaining speaker.

Great shirt colour this year!

Great shirt colour this year!

I met my friends Glenda and Melanie for the supper. This would be Mel’s first half marathon, and possibly her last for a while after battling an injury during her training. We ate large amounts of pasta, jealously smelled the wine of the other couple at our table and went to get some dessert. Glenda tracked down an employee to ask which desserts were nut-free and made her allergy-friendly selection.

As we sat down, Marc took the stage and introduced himself. Glenda took a bite of her dessert and froze. “There’s nuts in this… yes, there are definitely nuts in this.” She immediately rooted through her purse and found some Benedryl to chew and told me she had an Epipen in her purse. “Please get it out!” I said, imagining her collapsing on the floor and me wasting precious time searching her purse. After a few minutes she decided to leave, saying she had better medication at home. After assuring Mel and I that she didn’t need us to drive her, that she’d be fine, and promising to text when she got home, she left.

Marc did not disappoint. We were not his first public speaking engagement, but it was the first time he’d spoken to runners, about running. He read from a few of his Newbie Chronicles columns, which I had read already but that was fine with me. I love hearing writers read their own writing, and both the words and his delivery were very entertaining.

Marc Parent entertaining us with his stories.

Marc Parent entertaining us with his stories.

Towards the end of Marc’s speech I got worried about Glenda again. I hadn’t heard from her, so I texted her. No reply. About ten minutes later, I texted again. Still nothing. My worry heightened, and I texted her husband. He replied that he had talked to her, and she’d decided to go to the hospital as a precaution. Hospital staff had lectured her for not taking her Epipen but cleared her to run. I was a little taken aback that she still planned to run the next morning, but it takes more than a stray peanut to slow Glenda down!

The next morning was clear but cool. Perfect. I wore the lightest singlet I have, and the same shorts I always race in. I find it very difficult to find shorts I like, and the fact that these are getting pretty worn causes me some anxiety! I arrived early enough to get rock star parking next to the porta potties and found a spot on the grass to spread out my blanket and do my stretching. Mel found me via texting (“I’m the dork laying on the grass behind the food tent, stretching”), and we chatted with some other women in the bathroom line-up (“wow, people are warming up… I need that energy for later! Not wasting it warming up!” Haha). We found Glenda, confirmed for ourselves that she was alive, and went to line up at the start line. We seeded ourselves differently, so this was the last I saw of either of them until after the race.

I noticed at this point that it was warming up a lot outside. The humidity was starting to rise, and I was very comfortable at the start line in my tank and shorts. Red flag. I should be cold at the starting line! Hmmmm.

The gun went off (no national anthem? Really?), and off we went. The first street we ran down was infested with pot holes. I know that it’s spring in Saskatchewan and pot holes are inevitable, but wow. I guess it helped me keep my pace slower in the first kilometre to be dodging holes and running with my head down!

I felt fantastic. I was running at my planned pace and maintaining it easily. A volunteer at the race expo had made a recommendation about where the kids and my parents could watch me go past (easy parking, nearby bathrooms and coffee, and a quick walk to see me again just a few kms later, after the turn-around point), and they cheered enthusiastically and waved their sign. I saw them a second time and blew kisses as I ran past.

Blowing kisses to my babies!

Blowing kisses to my babies!

Then we came out of the shady area of the riverbank and into the sun. Those clear skies were coming back to haunt us, and it was getting H-O-T and humid. I’ve run in hotter weather, but it hit me hard and suddenly. There was still 8 km to go, and I powered on for three, still close to my planned pace. Then I melted. Seriously. I poured sweat and no amount of water at aid stations seemed to help me feel better. I remembered a hot long run several weeks prior which had left me sick for hours and vowed to look into getting salt pills or something for the future. I eyed the building rain clouds and begged them to get here sooner. I took many walk breaks, and the sections I was able to run slowed to a shuffle. It was awful.

I struggled across the finish line in 2:00:04, still finishing a very respectable 358/936 overall, 146/724 women and 48/232 women aged 30-39, but a far cry from my 1:55 goal.

Hot and humid pity party

Hot and humid pity party

I got some chocolate milk and a banana from the food tent, then went and got the chocolate milk I’d brought along, just in case they didn’t have it at the finish. I had a pity party for a while, then went to see my friends finish. I managed to miss both their finishes, but saw them afterwards. We were all happy to finish, but all agreed that the heat had cost us a lot of time.

Hooray! Chocolate milk for all!

Hooray! Chocolate milk for all!

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Glenda and I

Glenda and I

Congratulations on your first half Mel!

Congratulations on your first half Mel!

Thumbs up: a better expo than previous years, good pre-race pasta supper and speaker, pretty shirt colour, kids Marafun event (I love that they do this, it gets so many kids active in our community! My kids will be doing this once they’re old enough!).

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Thumbs down: I would rather start earlier to beat the heat (though it isn’t usually an issue at this time of year), finish line food was not very good, and the medals have been the same for the past three years. In some ways it’s neat to have a series of identical medals, but a unique finisher’s medal is a draw for me, so it’s not as exciting to get the same one I got last year and the year before.

I was toying with the idea of running the full marathon in this event next year, but I think the temperature may have convinced me not to. However, to run any race in the fall is difficult for me, and a fall full would also mean long runs through the heat of the summer. Decisions, decisions! I’ll be there next year, but in which event? Suspense… 😉

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Awesome race! It was so hot out! I paced the 2:10 group and it was just all sun the last 5km. If you ever are looking for a running partner I am game.

    Reply

  2. […] This is hands-down the best race shirt colour I’ve ever gotten. I love this colour. The adidas shirts fit well and are a lightweight technical fabric. I wear this shirt all the time. (Event reviews from 2012, 2013, 2014.) […]

    Reply

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