I ran Rock n Roll DC in DC back in March and had ideas about what other events I would do, but plans changed when I decided I wanted to spend most of my vacations in Denver, Co - therefore eliminating any race choices outside of driving distance. From there, it left Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Montreal. Since I am running the Philadelphia Marathon, I opted to not run RnR Philly and decided on Montreal and Brooklyn.
In small attempts to save money (mostly on dog boarding) I booked an overnight AirBnB for Saturday night. My mom decided to tag along, so we left Albany around 8:30 and made our way towards Montreal. It's an easy drive with a quick stop at the border. We found the apartment quickly and picked up the keys. After we stopped for a quick lunch & need for wifi to find the expo. ( T mobile cell works, but data did not - also my GPS didn't work... amazingly we managed to get around the city easily)
The expo was a maze. For me, it was totally fine but included a lot of stairs, which are a struggle for my mom. It seemed to take forever to just find the hall. Packet pickup went quick and we meandered our way through the series of vendors. My mom very kindly bought me a pair of compression sleeves that I had been eyeing for a while and we left to walk around outdoors. Unfortunately not having much access to the internet or really where we were, we wandered in circles a bit around the expo - which was lacking. As much as I had wanted to see the city, I was tired from the early start and was eager to get off my feet. We found our way back to the apartment and lucked out with one of the 2 spots on the street that weren't residential permit parking.
We decided to head to a small restaurant around the corner - which ended up having 4.5 stars on yelp (with over 200 reviews!) It was trendy and tasty. The couple to my left was speaking in Spanish and on the right in French, since Albany is its own bubble -it seemed like I was a lifetime away, not just a 3 hour drive. After I picked up a beer from the store and enjoyed it while reading and relaxing. (my 500th on untapped!) I went to bed at a decent hour and slept well - despite waking up multiple times to check the clock.
I was up at 6ish, dressed, and walking towards the metro by 6:30. I was torn about what to wear, the forecast said it wouldn't be above 50 for the entire time I would be running. 50 is my favorite running weather, but it had been 80 just days before, so 50 is still cold. I wore shorts but figured I'd end up in my long sleeves for the whole day so opted to wear my well earned Syracuse 1/2 Marathon pull over.
I wasn't entirely sure how long it would take to walk/metro/ etc so I always prepare to be early. Luckily the airbnb was a direct walk to the metro and I had no trouble navigating. I found a Tim Hortons near the start and bought a small coffee to enjoy while waiting. I had initially big hopes for warming up and getting extra miles, but I was struggling to get myself going.
As the start time approached,I finally made my way up the bridge to the start. There were corral starts, so I knew I wouldn't be starting at 8:30. But for most things in life, I'm a sucker for being early ( started all the way at birth folks). I used the bathroom twice ( this becomes important) before finding my way to my corral. Once there I began chatting with a Montreal native - we discussed races we'd like to do and areas to visit.
Most everyone around me was speaking French, but the common language of running was very apparent. Around 8:45 we were finally off - within the first half mile, it felt like I had to pee. I had peed 3 times since leaving the apartment and twice within the hour. I knew I didn't have a critical amount, but we were in a wooded area so I decided I'd just go for it, rather than think about having to pee for 2+ hours.
I darted off into the trees and had a quick pee before joining back with the race. I haven't peed during a race in nearly 7 years, but I had decided to not go for a PR but to treat the run like the tempo workout I had missed earlier in the week, so I wasn't worried about any time lost. I pulled myself back for the first 2 miles before running at tempo / marathon goal pace for 8 miles. I put off deciding what I'd do after mile 10 until I got there, hoping to enjoy the city and the run.
The first few miles loop around on an island. Legs, lungs and heart felt good. I noticed almost immediately that I was getting warm, I ditched my ear warmer and I unzipped my top and rolled up my sleeves. The thought of tucking my long sleeve around my waist for 2 hours wasn't very appealing, I was hoping that once I got my groove, I'd realize I wasn't as warm as I thought.
Before mile 3 I was too hot to deal and I repined my bib to my Janji singlet while running. I held onto my pullover for a quarter of a mile before sadly throwing it off to the side. I don't regret ditching it, but I regret not wearing a shirt I would have rather donated. I suspect if I had worn an ugly nonfavorite shirt, I would have felt cold all day and had run in it - so it goes. ( if you're ever at a second hand store and see it, feel free to grab it for me, I'll pay !)
After I kept plugging away- I had a gel just before the 4 mile water station. I hadn't been running tangents well ( and there were A LOT of them) so my watch was consistently .15 early. Since I was determined to maintain a steady pace for the 8 miles, I didn't mind, GPS isn't a perfect!
After we finally left the island, we ended up in what I'd consider the 'boring' part of the course. Luckily since I had never seen it before, it was still interesting enough.When we turned back, we headed into the old port - which had cobblestone streets (not the worst to run on, but different) and a good amount of spectators, finally.
Its around here that we gain a smidge of elevation before reaching the park & finish line. My early morning chat with the Montreal man made me aware of this, so I was prepared. It was one of my slower miles (9:51) but I also managed to suck down a second gel and a banana while plugging up hill.
We turned right onto the fantastic street with pink balloon lining the street. It looked SO awesome. I began grinning ear to ear. I felt great, I started to pick up the pace a bit, I knew at this point it wasn't likely I'd hit a new PR, but since I 'completed' my workout and still had some gas in the tank, I figured it'd be silly not to go for it. I kept trying to do bad runners math, but with my watch not correct by this time, I couldn't quite figure out what exactly I needed to run. ( I also wasn't exactly sure of my PR)
The final push was tough, but my average pace for it was also hovering near the 8s. I finished with a big ass grin on my face.
I didn't PR, but I felt awesome, better than I felt when I did PR or any half marathon I had done in the past year. I received my medal, snagged some water before taking a finishers picture. I made a quick stop at the Heavy Medal tent to collect the World Travelers medal before reoriented myself and finding my way back to the apartment.
It was around now that I wished I hadn't ditched my shirt, because my tanktop was sweaty and now cold. I walked directly in the middle of the streets to stay in the sun as I made my way. My airbnb was on the Marathon route, so I was able to see lots of speedy people as I made my way up! It was a bit of a reality check that it would be me in November (maybe not as fast...)!
It didn't take long for me to shower & pack before my mom & I made our way out of Montreal, we got a bit turned around, but I found a perfect brunch spot before driving back to the USofA. Naturally we were in the slowest customs line ever, but we were allowed to reenter. Our timing was a bit off, but my dad saved the day by picking up Marcy dog from the kennel so that I didn't have to drive like a maniac!
Overall it was a great trip, Montreal has a lot more to explore - I hope to find some time to visit again with a bit more planning. I felt that the event was well organized and enjoyed the opportunity to run in another country!