On Sunday October 1st, as I was getting ready to get to the start line of the P’tit train du Nord Marathon, my nerves were on a high note. This would be my 21st official marathon and 24th of all-time, if we count virtual races. My partner Luke walked with me to the village. I did a 5 minute shake out/warm up and a few
strides. My legs felt good. I knew I was ready. I told myself that today I would succeed. My mind and body were put at ease.
It was 13°C at the start.
The race began and I settled into a good rhythm. A group of about seven guys formed ahead of me. They seemed to be going for 2:45. I wanted to keep them in sight, but not get caught up with them. I normally prefer racing solo.
There was one guy in between that group and me (let’s call him White Shirt). White Shirt and I seemed to be in sync, and I just stayed close to him for about 16k. He then picked up the pace, but I wasn’t ready to change what I was doing, so I stayed behind. I was feeling strong. I was running well. The kilometres kept passing by very quickly. Knowing Luke would be meeting me at several spots gave me something to look forward to.
Meanwhile, I knew there was another female runner ahead of me and I was 2nd. I was just hoping Iwasn’t going to be surprised with someone behind me catching up. I really, really wanted to podium. By 17K, the temperature had already risen to around 18°C and it felt humid. I started to feel warm. Sweat was getting in my eyes. I knew the grind was going to get more difficult.
My thoughts: “One foot in front of the other, Ana. Don’t let it get to your head.”
Around 24K, I got closer to that group of guys and noticed White Shirt had already passed them and was no longer in sight. And just ahead of the boys, I spotted Lynda — who was the leader, and I could see she had slowed.
I made my way to them. I passed them, then Lynda!!
The biker riding with Lynda looked back and noticed there had been a change in leaders.
I couldn’t believe I was now in front.
“Could I hang on to the lead?” I wondered.
This was the most important part of the race. Anything can happen in that 2nd half. It was getting warmer; I needed a distraction. Got my earbuds from my shorts. Hit play!
Every time we reached an area with spectators, the biker lady would tell them I was 1st and to make noise, which was so much fun! As I approached 29k, Luke saw I had taken over the lead. He yelled: yeah baby!! Keep it up, push baby push! podium! You got this! I really didn’t know how far behind Lynda was — or if any other girl was approaching me, for that matter!
I never looked back.
At 32K, I knew I was close to my PB time, but it was getting hard.
My thoughts: “Yes, this is hard. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s a marathon. You trained for this. You’re strong. Keep your focus. Keep pressing.”
Around 34K, I heard footsteps.
My thoughts: “Could this be Lynda or another girl?”
Whew! It was just 2 guys.
Then I saw White Shirt up ahead. I was getting closer and closer to him and my thoughts: “No way? Then: Am I actually going to catch him? Yes, yes you are!”
As I passed him, I gave him a fist pump to keep fighting.
The last 3K of this course are on pavement, which feels horrible after running on gravel for so long. I just thought of it as a 3K workout. Don’t lose focus. “I got this,” I said.
I then passed one of the guys who had passed me at 34K and after that it was all heart and grit to the finish. With 300 metres left, I had the biggest smile on my face. This is where the biker lady left me to take it all in. The crowds were so loud. I was about to break the tape. What a moment!
Winning a marathon at 46 years old!
I will cherish it for the rest of my life.
Thank you to my Coach Mark Senneville at @cs.athletisme for helping me get stronger. Thank you to Malindi Elmore who coached me from 2020 to 2022 and all the knowledge and wisdom she shared with me. Thank you to my friends for all the cheers and love. Thank you to my family and my biggest supporter, Luke for always helping me and loving me.
@marathonptittraindunord I broke 3hrs for the 1st time here in 2018, I ran my 2:46:40 personal best in 2021, and I won 2023. You’re special to me.