Ottawa Marathon Weekend is upon us and here is the plan: drive to cottage on Friday night, drive to Ottawa on Saturday and run a marathon on Sunday. Sounds simple with the most difficult part, of course, being running the marathon.
A small hiccup is my son and a couple other sundry people are moving into our basement in our absence. Having cave dwellers move in isn’t in itself a problem, but cleaning out the cave is. It seems that I have enough stuff hidden down there to warrant me a guest appearance on “Hoarders”.
Some furniture needs to be re-located. My friend Karen who experienced back issues two weeks before the marathon while doing yard work hands out some strong warnings of caution. I move the furniture any way against my better judgment—and Karen’s. It all has to be done before I leave.
Kanoock needs a dog sitter, the cat needs someone to feed her, keys need to be cut for the new tenants. So much to do, so little time.
Somehow everything gets done, I am packed and we leave for the cottage late at night. Now, in long runs Lyndsay invariable has a story about some type of wildlife encounter.
“Hey, did anyone see the raccoon, baby ducks, wild turkey….fill in the blank?”
Of course no one else ever does so her sightings are completely unverifiable, although I am pretty sure the wildlife is real and not a delusion caused by long run exhaustion. She is like some type of ‘Wildlife Whisperer’ Shaman-like creature, beckoning the animal kingdom to appear to her during runs. She has a particular fascination with moose. She didn’t see her first moose in the wild until last year, which in itself is a complete mystery as she is from North Bay.
I am currently jolted upright in the seat as the brakes slams on. I see something waddle off the road, “What is that?”
“Good eye. Glad we didn’t hit it.”
Ten minutes pass. Once again I am bolt upright staring out the window.
A tiny little deer is in the middle of the road, looking the other way. We wait patiently until he slowly makes his way to the other side.
This is all too Lyndsay-like. I text her in my limited way.
Me: We almost hit a raccoon and deer.
Response: Oh, be careful. Watch out for moose.
Me: Okay, will do.
Another ten minutes.
“What was that?” I almost scream. Something little scurries under our wheels.
The silly rodent commits suicide under my car. I feel bad and experience the need to tell Lyndsay about this situation. After all, she is the Animal Whisperer. Maybe her special powers have magically transferred to me.
Now, I am not a texting expert (see previous post). Some people are developmentally delayed, technologically delayed or emotionally delayed. I am ‘texting delayed’. In my defense I would like to point out that there is only one letter difference between the word ‘mouse’ and ‘moose’. Luckily I sent a second correctional text before 911 was deployed…
Twenty minutes of peace. Phew.
Then a fox runs right in front of us. Luckily for us—and certainly lucky for him--we swerve and miss.
The porcupine that followed, however, was not so lucky.
It was previously run over when our car bangs and clanks to finish the job. Being behind another car, we are upon it before we have an opportunity to miss it.
I feel my muscles tense and my neck seize up. A headache creeps over me.
I am so happy to arrive at the cottage in one piece.
In the morning my Dad offers me his famous muffins, homemade and healthy. Now, the general rule of thought is to avoid anything with significant fiber the day before a marathon. So I query said muffin before digging in.
“Is this high fiber?”
“No, not really.” The statement is somewhat vague and a little bit sketchy. For some reason it reminds me of the phrase, “I am not a crook…”
I proceed with my line of questioning, “What’s in them?”
“Dates, nuts, whole wheat flour, orange.”
I am not sure what my father’s definition of fiber is but that certainly sounds like two bottles of Metamucil topped off with a helping of oat bran and a bucket of prunes. So I exercise the utmost of prudence….and only eat one…at a time.
The muffins are pretty good. Time to head out, my dad hands me 2 more muffins in a bag. Here are some for the road.
We leave just before noon and the drive to Ottawa seems to drag on and on. I am fighting a head ache and am getting hungrier and hungrier. The muffins are speaking to me. I resist for a little while but finally I cave and eat muffin #2.
Once in Ottawa we need to locate Lyndsay who is staying at a friend’s apartment to pick up my race kit.
Me: We’ll be there in 5
Me: Make that 30 minutes.
From Lyndsay’s I head to the hotel. I run in.
“What’s your name?” the desk clerk asks.
No reservation. No trace, no nothing. I take on the posture of a deranged women. Actually, I am a deranged woman at that moment.
“Here, why don’t you try online to look up your reservation?” The calm attendant leads me to a public computer.
Nervously I search my email for my reservation. Aha! I find it.
Here it is.
My email lists the correct nights, but the confirmation code listed 2 entirely different nights. I am not prepared to travel back to the cottage tonight. Enough wildlife has been sacrificed for this run.
“No problem. We have extra rooms.”
I love you, I think to myself.
I am now pretty tired, fairly stressed and hungry. That third muffin stares at me. I can’t take it any more. I demolish it.
We spend the night at the market getting a bite to eat and relaxing. I have a splitting headache. I take advil, wake up in the night and take some more.
“I don’t think I will be able to run tomorrow if this doesn’t lessen,” I say to myself at about 4 in the morning.
But I will the ache away and am up and ready by 6 am.
I head out towards Karen’s hotel.
Karen’s husband Jan looks at me, “What’s wrong?”
“I forgot my waffle.”
Athletes, even amateur just for fun ones, have routines and rituals that they feel help them perform better. And, mine is I eat this type of cookie/waffle about 15 minutes before a race or long run. I have left it in the hotel room. And, Jan says the kindest thing anyone could possibly say to me at that moment, “Don’t worry. You don’t need it. It would only make you feel sick anyway.”
Those are the best and smartest words ever. I relax.
The race starts and it is wonderful. The crowds are amazing, the weather perfect and the scenery breath-taking. Running is the easy part. There is no real stress – no traffic, no wildlife, no parking, no hotel reservations, no hunger. Just pure running. Simple, focused and fun. Poetry in motion.
I feel amazing for the most part, until km 28. This is the moment the muffins take flight. Up until today I have never visited a porta potty during a race, but today is to be a first. I cut someone off as I dart into the rectangular plastic blue cubicle. Maybe 3 muffins was a bit excessive. Two minutes is a small price to pay to avoid a life time of embarrassment.
Things improve until km 35 when my stomach acts up. I have a gravol for post race as I sometimes (always) have stomach issues after long runs. I make an executive decision and take the medication early.
Now, if I am ever approached to be the gravol poster girl I would do an excellent job of promoting their product. However, there is one side effect I do suffer with—sleepiness. Sleepiness is probably not the most desirable quality to possess at km 36 in a 42.2 km run. But despite my ever declining pace, I manage to make it over the finish line without curling up in a ball on the side of the road to take a nap.
The race weekend is amazing and the exact opposite of what I expect but exactly as it should be. Ironically, the easiest part of the entire weekend was running the marathon!