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Worst Marathon Ever.

“The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy…It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.”  – Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ


I’ve always known that marathon training was not just about getting the body ready to run 42.2km.  There is so much more to the marathon than just running.  Your body can run. It just puts one foot in front of the other, and you keep moving forward. That’s the joy of distance running, your body goes on to autopilot and before you know it, you’ve gone 15, 20, 30 kilometers.  It is your mind does during the run that makes all the difference.


On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I stepped up to the start line of my 5th marathon. It was my third time at the start line of this same race.  It was all so familiar, yet so strange to me.

In the month before race day, I had been having calf issues. One day I would have a fabulous run, the next day I could barely walk. Then I’d have a great day, but couldn’t run to the end of the block. I felt like my body was failing me.  In the days leading up to the race, I had crazy dreams where I didn’t even make it to the start line.  In the days leading up to the race, I had told my coworkers to expect me to return to work on crutches. In the days leading up to the race, I had given up. 4 days before the marathon, I went out for a 6K run, that I had to cut short because of leg pain. After that, I skipped my last 2 runs before race day.  I actually missed 7 runs in the last 4 weeks of training, including 2 of the longest runs.

On Sunday, October 7, 2012, I stepped up to the start line of my 5th marathon, and I did not expect to see the finish line.

The first 30km of the race couldn’t have gone better.  I was running on pace for my second sub 4hr marathon, even with having to stop and fix my shoes & discovering a lovely pink tinge to my sock.  There was no pain in my leg, and things were going pretty well but  I could feel myself slowing down, and I was starting to struggle.  I’d been running with a training buddy, and he was having a much stronger run than I was having. I kept telling him to leave me behind, but he wouldn’t go. He was insistent that we were going to cross the finish line together, but I knew that wasn’t in the cards.  I could feel my right leg starting to misbehave. I could feel myself starting to run with a limp, but most of all, I could feel myself losing the will to push myself.

I managed to convince my run buddy to leave me, and run his own race.

As soon as he was out of sight, I started to walk. And cry. And walk. And cry.

My leg wasn’t hurting, it just wasn’t working right.  And I just didn’t have the desire to push myself.

At first I walked for 5 minutes, then tried to run again, but it didn’t feel right. Nothing felt right.

I looked at my watch every now & again and saw the minutes passing by.  On the long walk through Oak Bay, I made many friends.  Struggling marathoners are a chatty bunch.  Maybe the talking distracted us from the feeling of failure.  Maybe it was just good to know someone else was in the same boat as we were.

I cried a lot in that last 10K.  I stopped and chatted with friends on the sidelines and got a few supportive hugs.  I ran along with the same group of struggling folks. Each of us getting little bursts of energy at different times.  One of us would pass the other, then our energy would peter out, of our pain would return, and we would start walking.  The same 4 or 5 of us played leap-frog for miles.

I remember running when I could, but giving up whenever I started to feel the limp coming back. I remember thinking about how far it was to the finish line. I remember people I know passing me. I remember seeing all my previous marathon times passing. But the one thing I don’t remember is ever thinking about quitting.  Not finishing simply wasn’t an option.

The only option was to keep putting on foot in front of each other and to keep moving forward.

I kept checking over my shoulder in looking for Kathryn & Skye. I was hoping they were having fabulous runs and that they were together. I was hoping they would come along and pick me up and their energy would carry me to the finish line.  That didn’t happen, but you can go read their blogs to see where their days went bad!

Once I got through the dreaded “James Bay Loop” and I was nearing the 1km to go mark, I started to talk myself in to running to the finish.  I held it back until the last corner, the last thing I wanted was for the leg to give out in the finish chute before I got to the line.

I rounded the final corner, and some Running Room buddies were there calling my name. That was the final burst of energy I needed to power across the line.

When I got across the line, I guess I was looking a little worse for wear.  I was immediately greeted by medical personnel trying to usher me in to the medical tent for assistance. In typical Kirsty fashion, I refused the attention until after I had my medal around my neck.

Once I had my medal, I went in to the medical tent and got checked out. The  calf muscle was fine, and the pink tinge to the sock was no worse than it was at the half way mark, so they sent me on my way.

All in all, it was my Worst Marathon Ever.  But you can’t call me a quitter.

Now I have a new shiny medal, and now I can move on to new goals for the new year!

The last 10K was lonely.  I felt like I was a disappointment to not only myself, but to my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my training buddies, to everyone.  But when I got to the gear check, and got my hands on my phone, the out pouring of support from everyone was amazing.  It definitely lifted me up to know that so many of you supported me, and were proud of me, even if it was the worst marathon ever.





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One Comment

  1. Susan says:

    Oh honey, your worst marathon, as you know, is still better than the millions of people who would never start or even DREAM of a full marathon. I think my dream of a full marathon is pretty much going to stay that. I hope that you get some good rest and treatment for that leg and you will be back on it before you know it. Aren’t bad races a humbling and yet weirdly beautiful experience? I wouldn’t trade my bad/hard races for anything, no matter how hard they were. You have my total admiration!!!!!