Ottawa Marathon 2018: PR and First Ever BQ!

In Running, Travel, Race

Chip Time: 3:00:40 (6:54 min/mile).
Marathon #8. New PR. First BQ!!!
Bib #3581. Overall: 96/2742, Men 20/151, M25-29 84/1825.
Prelim Results:

Goal A: sub-3:02. CHECK.
Goal B: sub-3… Curse of “finishing just over a round number” strikes again. 3rd consecutive week! Breaking 3’ll be a goal for another day.

As for a writeup goes — all I have now is a huge, incoherent jumble of thoughts in my head. It’s going to take time to process them all.

All I want to say for now is that I wore my shirt from Marathon #1 today. I ran that marathon, the 34th Vienna City Marathon, one year and one month ago, on April 23rd, 2017. I ran that marathon in 3:27:20 (7:55 min/mile)… I remember the tears welling up at the finish line. (I also remember the intense pain.)

When I crossed the finish line today, there were no tears as I had expected. No arms spread out in victory at my first BQ, as I had desperately tried to visualize to encourage myself. Just… numbness. I gave the last two kilometers everything I had. They eagerly took it all: Thinking was over. Emotion was unnecessary.

As I limped to a bench with a bagel and power bar, the emotions returned. They returned suddenly and furiously. I hid my face and choked back tears. For the previous minute, I was horrified I wasn’t feeling anything. For the next, I didn’t even know what I was feeling. It was just… something raw, innate and overwhelming, neither positive nor negative.

Finally, it passed, and it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure what time I had finished in. As I crossed the finish line, I thought I saw 3:00 on the board. But that was impossible; the 3-hour pacer had eclipsed me with 5K to go! I checked and double-checked my watch. I had turned on GPS tracking with my phone too. I tripled-checked. But there it was: 3:00:40. It finally dawned on me then that I really beat my goal time. I really BQ’ed. Really. Really, really, really!!!

Another wave of emotion washed over — this time, belated elation. I felt like jumping, I felt like dancing. Of course, surrounded by a cadre of other exhausted and dazed runners, some of which seemed rather downtrodden, there was no way to celebrate. Besides, my right calf had started cramping — which was perfect since the race was already over! I sent some excited messages to some friends (who are no doubt tired of my weekly post-race messages), then went to reward my GI tract for holding out as long as they did, in the City Hall restroom.

The back of that Vienna Marathon shirt reads “theatre of emotion”. Sometimes I’ve thought about that marathon, that special #1, and have wondered if I’d ever feel that way again. I mean, every marathon has been special. But, running is a drug; would I ever hit that high of a high again?

Because, in fact, I don’t think this one didn’t really hit that same high! But, this felt so complex. There was ambition and resignation, loneliness and camaraderie, lost-ness and focus, and apathy and ecstasy. A theatre of emotion…

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