This is the fourth race in the 12x12 Project series ... and not just the fourth race but - drum roll please - this little project is now international! In case you are new here and wondering what the 12x12 Project is all about, read this for the story behind it! I was really excited when Michelle applied for a few reasons. No. 1) I've always wanted to visit Calgary and No. 2) She has similar health values. So I was delighted to make the trek to Canada and run her first marathon with her!

I was staying with friends, but Michelle invited me to stay with her that Saturday evening so we could get to the race the next morning without any hassle. After a fun trip to the Calgary Farmer's Market (where I sampled pretty much everything), we went back to her home where her husband grilled cedar planked fresh salmon (YUM!!) with grilled veggies and brown rice. So good!

We were both kind of tired (OK, I was exhausted) so we went to bed. I swear my bedtime gets earlier and earlier! Perhaps it is the falling in and out of planes ;). At any rate, morning came quickly - woke at 4:30 a.m. and we left the house at 5:45 a.m., but not before I became an honorary Canadian with maple leaf temporary tattoos! So much fun. (Note: Michelle also gave me a very sweet welcome bag and card. Thank you, Michelle, I really appreciated that!!) I pre-made my Gen UCAN and drank it on the short train ride to the marathon start.


It was interesting to me that I was the American wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt while the Canadians were bundled up :). It was about 4 degrees celsius, so a little chilly. After arriving at the start, Michelle and I dropped off our bags at gear check and headed to the race start. I always love the air of excitement race morning! After hearing the Canadian national anthem play it was time to run!

It was strange running in kilometers vs. miles - the markers come so quickly! And it takes a while for 42. I think I like 26 better. Michelle had also trained using a 10:1 method which was also new to me. (I usually run non-stop for marathons barring any serious issue.)  Run 10 minutes, walk one. I have to say I am not a big fan of this and as you read the rest of the recap you'll see why.

We hit the first kilometer right on target time. Pacing duties at their finest :)! The sun was trying to make its appearance, but not doing a very good job. I was really glad I had packed my beanie and borrowed gloves from Michelle! We talked as we ran (and walked) and the miles kilometers ticked by. By the one hour mark, I knew that making Michelle's goal time was going to be a challenge. I've been running long enough to know how a runner is feeling. Breathing harder is one classic sign as well as getting slower with each walk minute. I kept asking her how she was doing and encouraging her. Remember, this was her race, her pace!

Around Mile 10, my right calf began to act up but I kept mum on it (except for one brief moment). I focused my attention to other areas of my body that were not in pain (ear, mouth, arm, etc). It really does work. I also prayed that I would be able to endure the pain and keep Michelle going.

Another fun part of having me pace is that I was also her personal photographer. So I was taking plenty of photos! Which was great when she saw her friends, parents and husband.

The weather had not gotten warmer and I was glad I was running because it would be cold otherwise. The sun was nowhere to be seen and a few times it looked like rain would soak us. Thankfully it didn't.

We got to 30K and only had 12.2K left. Michelle was having GI issues so her C goal became our focus: finish - our pace had slowed considerably. I was enjoying seeing Calgary on foot and high-fiving people when and where I could. And oh yeah my calf was still in pain. I pushed on and kept focused on getting Michelle across the finish line. In one piece.

At this point I advised that we keep "running" because walking breaks were hurting her more than helping and with that advice we kept our heads up and our feet on the ground.

At one point it looked like she was really hurting so I told her "just so you know you aren't the only one hurting." Sometimes it can feel like we are the only in pain - be it in life or whatever. I hoped it helped her.

Her husband surprised her one more time at around 39k and I know that was a big boost for her. Soon we nearing the 42K mark and we could hear the stadium cheering everybody on. Always a great feeling! With .2 miles we pushed on and soon she crossed the finish line. Welcome to the 42.2 kilometers (or 26.2 miles for us USA folks) family Michelle! We got marathon finisher hats at the finish (seems to be the trend this year) and made our way down the stairs to find FOOD! I was starving. And cold. And in pain (later that night I noticed bruising on my calf. Not a good sign). We got our bags, hobbled down the stairs and to her parent's car. Where I tried to get warm. I was still so cold!

After getting dropped off at my friend's place, limped downstairs I took a nap and THEN got a shower followed by some food.

Running the Calgary Marathon should be on your bucket list! It was great!