Posted by Danielle Sawinsky, Public Relations student, athletics enthusiast. November 15, 2015
Have you ever done something that challenged your mind just as much as it challenged you physically? Something that made you burst into tears the moment you finished due to not only the pain, but the emotion?
With my muscles aching from running the Niagara International Marathon this past Sunday, I am still on my runner’s high. I have set new goals, searched new races and am looking into the future.
The Niagara International Marathon was my first Marathon ever, having previously done one half Marathon, and Hamilton’s 30km Around the Bay. I would highly recommend this marathon; the route is nice and flat, provides amazing views, as well as you get to run in both Canada and the United States!
For me running isn’t about the time, the competition, and certainty isn’t because I love the sport of it. It’s about challenging my mind. It’s about proving to myself I can do it. Reminding myself that I can do these crazy feats as long as I have the self-discipline to push through. Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States, once said, “Anything is possible with self-discipline.” I could not agree with Mr. Roosevelt more.
The marathon had a flurry of emotions go through my body, and my mind. Running is more than anything, a mental sport. Check out the Running Room’s event page to discover and register for upcoming races of all sizes throughout Canada and the United States.
1. Nerves. The day before the race I went to the expo to pick up my race kit; this is when it hit me that I am running forty-two kilometers tomorrow. This is when the emotional rollercoaster started. I was a bundle of nerves the minute I picked up my race bib, until after the race started. My head was crowded with thoughts of race logistics, weather and injuries. Would I hit traffic on my way to Niagara? Would I find parking? Would I get to the race early enough to warm up and get comfortable? Could I really do this? The answer to the aforementioned questions were all YES. When I got on the race shuttle that transports racers from the finish line to the starting line all the way across the boarder in Buffalo, USA, which is when the anxiety kicked in.
2. Anxiety. Sitting on the school bus filled with other marathoners, I sat by myself as anxiety filled my head. I put my earphones on, and pressed play on the playlist I had specifically contrived for this day. The bus ride took about 45 minutes, but it felt like much longer. When we arrived at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the starting line, we all unloaded. The anxiety was real. I was surrounded my 1,499 other marathoners, but alone, across the boarder, questioning my ability, and anxious as could be. I went inside the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, admired some of the art and warmed up as I waited for all of the racers to arrive. The race started at 10 a.m. but prior to that we were corralled to the started line to await the starting gun. I bounced from foot to foot in an attempt to keep warm, and calm my racing mind. For me, this waiting was one of the most difficult parts of the race.
3. Excitement. When the gun went off, and feet started moving I was so excited, and the anxiety disappeared. I crossed the starting line and clicked on my carefully orchestrated playlist, I was struck by a wave of excitement. I was really doing this! The cheers and noise from the crowds along the course fuelled me. This initial excitement only lasted for the first 5km, and then it sunk in… I have to do that roughly 8 more times.
4. Doubt and dread. I’m no stranger to the feeling of doubt and dread in the middle of a long run. In fact, I generally dread running. This feeling crept up on me between kilometers eight and 10, and my brain began trying to psych my body out. This is when running becomes a completely mental sport and becomes heart vs. brain. When this happens, I fight back by turning my music up. I try to quiet my mind and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.
5. Confidence. After running in what feels like defeat for a couple kilometers, I pushed through it and was welcomed by a flush feeling of confidence. For me, this happened 10 km into the race when I ran across the Buffalo- Fort Erie, Peace Bridge, I couldn’t help but feel electrified as I ran across the boarder. This gave me a much-needed change of heart, kicked away the negativity and put a smile on my face. Hey, at least now I had made it back to my home country! Every step I took from here on out would be one step closer to the finish line, and one step closer to that sweet medal I couldn’t wait to have placed around my neck. This is the point in the race where I began to relax and truly trust my ability.
6. Pride. The cheers from the crowd and funny signs along the last portion of the racecourse pushed me to continue on. The last 5 km were physically the most challenging parts of the race as my body gave out. However, mentally, I was fuelled with pride. I was fuelled by the support of energetic people yelling my name (displayed on my race bib); the presence of the fellow marathoners also supported me. As I got to the last bit of the race, I could see Horseshoe Falls and that’s when the extra energy kicked in. I picked up my pace to a sprint and focused in on finishing the race strong. Even though I was pretty zoned in on the finish, the loud cheers of the crowd distracted me. After crossing the finish line, completely physically exhausted, so happy to be done and so proud of what I accomplished I broke down in tears.
7. Pain. The moment you stop running, your sweat sends chills down your body. This is why it is so important to get a recovery blanket thrown on you, and then change into warm clothes immediately. So that is what I did. As we drove home I got away with having my feet on the dash, to help circulate blood flow after being on my feet for hours. The rest of the day, my
stomach was in immense discomfort. I had a contrast shower (hot followed by cold, repeat), and then a nice long sleep. The next morning getting out of bed was hard, my muscles were cramped and sore, but that was nothing in comparison to the aching and pain I felt two days post race. Stairs are out of the question. Even with all of the physical soreness, I am still on my runners high, and it was totally worth it for the amount of self-pride, and achievement I got from this experience.
Have you ever run a long distance race like a half marathon or full marathon? What range of emotions did you feel throughout the race?