Hayley Carruthers' England International Marathon Debut in Toronto
Positively, the build up to my first international marathon debut was a lot smoother than I expected it to be with increased mileage and harder longer sessions. One huge bonus included being first British woman at the Great North Run with a 5 min PB, which I still am in disbelief about, giving me the confidence the training was certainly working. 
As I have been running since May 2016 and racing since November 2017 you could say I am still fairly novice. At this stage in my career I had just become used to racing, being coached and training hard. This was very quickly followed by an email to say I had been selected to represent England in the Toronto waterfront marathon merely 18 months after running my first ever marathon in 3:22:58. This would be my third marathon and with regards the marathon distance I still class myself as very inexperienced. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles.
The whole week in Canada was a blur of excitement and opportunity. Meeting the team for the first time was absolutely brilliant as I felt like we had known each other for years, it was actually quite strange. However, we were all there for the same reasons and that was to run as well as we could to represent our country. We all had different backgrounds personally, professionally and as athletes so we all had plenty to talk about!
It felt very special arriving in Gatwick wearing my England kit (and OOFOS shoes obviously!) which was shortly followed by myself and Helen sprinting through the airport because we almost missed the plane due to being deep in a conversation over a Starbucks! Turns out the OOFOS shoes were great to run in as well!! 
We arrived in Canada and the days leading up to the race were quite surreal. The press conference, expo, interviews, physiotherapy treatments – you name it! I felt like a ‘proper’ elite, it was so exciting. I felt so privileged to be sharing a hotel and meal times with some of the best athletes in the world. It was quite nice to realise they are just normal people like you and I but they can just run REALLY fast!
During the week as race day started approaching I thought the nerves would kick in but I was shocked they didn’t as race day got closer.
However, when I was standing on that start line the nausea, nerves and fear set in. Why? Because I cared about the result and wanted to make sure all my training was put to good use. 
I had two choices. Aim for a show-stopper performance on my England debut and put myself on the line with the risk of ‘blowing-up’ or just aim to PB and accept the time I was given. For anyone that knows me I don’t do things by halves. Yes, I doubt myself at times but who doesn’t!
As soon as the gun went off all of my nerves evaporated and I felt nothing but gratitude for the opportunity that I had been given and I was going to savour every moment. For me this meant focusing on each mile as they came and living in the present. I didn’t think about what I had done or what I had to do, but only what I was doing at that present moment. 
I made my choice at mile 17. I felt relaxed, smooth and energetic. I felt too good not to risk it all. So that’s what I did and I ran the last 9.2 miles as hard as I could. The result was an 11 minute PB and the most enjoyable race of my life. 
Post Race Recovery
Post-race mostly consisted of going back to the hotel to refuel with carbs and protein to kick-start the recovery process (and try to absorb the PB euphoria)! We were driven back to the hotel in a big yellow school bus (cool I know!) and all sat down to eat and RELAX! The hard work was done.
All I wanted to do now was find my family and my comfy clothes and we headed to… a huge games arcade, up the CN tower, restaurant for more food and a celebratory drink! I was too excited to sit around so luckily my trust OOfos sliders came in very handy and my feet flight like I was walking on clouds!!
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