Two weeks ago, on a chilly Sunday morning in Toronto, I ran a marathon. That is one sentence I never thought I’d write. I. Ran. A. Marathon.
Two years ago, I decided it was time to do something new. I had broken my arm cycling and had spent the summer doing anything but exercise. I realized I needed a change and so I took up a couch to 5K program. Realizing I could run a whole 5K was exhilarating. I slowly moved up to trying 10K and even half marathons. But the whole time I said I would never run a marathon. Run for over 4 hours?!?!?!? That seems just crazy.
And then, I found myself registering for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I trained for what seemed like an eternity (5 months) and then one cold Sunday morning, found myself at the start line of the marathon. I could hardly believe I was there.
They say a marathon is one of the ultimate tests of human strength and limits. Running 42.2km pushes you past the point of what your body can regularly handle. It’s a distance you have to respect. I knew this going into it and yet, it still overwhelmed me. Throughout the race, I went through a gamut of emotions. The first 21.1km were through the streets and along beautiful sections of Lake Ontario. There were so many half marathon runners running along with us. Spectators lined the streets. The sun was shining. I was happy, alive, encouraging others, enjoying myself. Things went a little downhill after that. There were significantly fewer people, the streets we ran through seemed mostly industrial, the sun hid behind a cloud. I was just in pain and no amount of counting up or down the kilometers seemed to help.
But in the end, I made it. My amazing husband was a huge part of it, encouraging me through all the training and riding his bike through the streets of Toronto to meet up with me every few kilometers as my support crew. The random person handing out bananas at 34K also gave me the strength I needed to push on. Seeing the people behind me pushing on while injured made me keep going. And all the people who sent me text messages as encouragement helped me hold on.
I cried (or welled up because I refused to use up the energy it required to cry) three times that morning. Once, when they sang O Canada (I was so proud of my country). Once, when I crossed the starting line (I’m finally here! I’m doing it!). And once as I approached the finish line (I’m doing it! OMG! I’m doing it!). It took me more time than I was hoping and it hurt way more than I thought possible, but finishing made me realize there’s nothing I can’t do. I am a marathoner now and nothing will take that away.
French Toast Bagels with Caramelized Apples
Running and training so much basically means I’m ravenous ALL THE TIME. Eating a filling, nutritious and well-balanced breakfast keeps me from snacking on ridiculous amounts of candy and cookies throughout the day. This recipe is from Runner’s World magazine, and was made by a Montrealer JP Desjardins (Go Canada!). The only real change I made is that I didn’t have bourbon on hand, so I didn’t use any. Also, I found you can make way more than 2 bagels with the batter. So I make as many as 4 and then just toast up the bagels later while caramelizing another apple.
For the caramelized apples (if you’re making more than two bagels, then adjust this part of the recipe accordingly):
1 or 2 apples, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup or sugar)
1 ounce bourbon (optional)
2. Cut bagel in half and soak for a few minutes until softened.
3. In a small pan, sauté apple with 1 teaspoon butter and 1 tablespoon honey. When apples are golden brown, add bourbon and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan.
4. Pan-sear the soaked bagel with 1 teaspoon butter and cook on medium heat until one side is golden brown. Flip bagel, and cook until second side is golden brown.
5. Place the bagel slices on a plate and top with caramelized apples. Serves two or more.