Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Long Tough Run

This was the year. I booked up my winter with ATB training to build the base. I spent extra time on the bike and in the pool working towards my first sprint triathlon bringing my fitness up. I watched what I ate and discovered a sensitivity to gluten. Changing my diet brought my weight down to below my high school weight.

I was training harder, running faster and looking for more. The goal was the same as last year, sub 4. A mere 18:01 less than the disappointment of last year.

Funny thing about goals. As you get closer to achieving them they don't seem as grand. 4 Hours seemed achievable and I was in better shape than that. In my last effort on the track before my taper I ran my yasso's in great from. The first 9 just below 3:45 and the last one in 3:05. Yep I was ready. But if I can run faster can I be happy with 3:59? I am in shape to run 3:45 and then sum.

The question was could my body take the beating of 42.2km? After last years painful finish and the struggle through the hills of Aldershot at ATB I just wasn't convinced. My long runs went better than last year. I did more higher km runs at a faster tempo and with less pain. I even focused on increased tempos for the final 2km of each, even the 36km peak run.I hit my all time highest milage month in Sept with 261km. Was I ready? I headed into taper certain that I had the time in, the miles in.

The taper started with a minor calf tweak and cut my kms lower than i wanted by about half. Then as I went into the last week a cold poked it's head out on Wednesday. Not now, can't happen. As I left work both Wednesday and Thursday I could feel fatigue in my legs and I hadn't run since Monday. Rest I told myself...you will be fine.

So rest I did.

Sunday morning arrived and I had a mediocre sleep at the hotel but was ready to go. Felt strong and was going to run 5:30's and aim for under 4hrs and not push the 3:45 time given the cold that was looming. i got to meet up with Bruce and Joanne Jones as well as Frank Vriezen pre race to help keep the jitters away. I made a point of finding Race Director Alan Brookes prior to the race to say thanks (I mean he did give me a free entry) and then wait for the line.

As is typical with these races the first km or so it is so hard to keep your planned pace. Got to KM one at 5:40 and decided to make up my time right away. My 5km split was just under 27 min so I was right between my 5:30 and 5:20 pace. I was feeling really good and made the decision to keep things in this range. 10km split still going strong with 54:44. I started to feel my left IT tighten at 15km but kept going hoping it would work it's self out. Got to the half at 1:54:35 which had me finishing under 4 hours even with a 2 hour back half. As I got to 25km I knew my day was not going to go as I hoped. I was starting to struggle. I slowed my pace to a 2 hour half 5:41/km and hoped it would hold. The closer I got to the meeting point I had planned with the family the more I knew it was all I was holding on for....make it to 30km and stop and give them a hug I told myself. As I passed by the meeting point searching for them, looking longingly through the crowds for Molly's flowered jacket, I realized they either didn't make it or we just couldn't see each other. Either way I was done. I hit 30km in 2:45:08 (a PB for the distance) and stopped shortly after to stretch my IT's. As I headed into the beaches I knew my day was done and I had 12.2 km to go. Suck it up and run walk.

The beaches were what killed me last year and this year I was done heading into it. I ran the flats and downs going out and walked the hills. After the turn and coming back up the hill it was a struggle to even keep going. I pushed on and into the wind now. So now I was walking, wet from sweat, into the wind. I was getting cold and still had 8km to go. I pulled into the Swiss Chalet and asked for a garbage bag. I had already stopped and sat on a few curbs to rest but was pushing on. Then it hits me...I can't finish. I see the medic tent and walk in. I tell them I am done so they try calling for transportation. They can't get through. they do their best to warm me up with no blankets or hot packs. They finally get through and find that transport is going to be an hour. I made the call to push on, tent to tent if I had to.

The next 7 km were a struggle of walk run with a few sitting breaks to get rest for the legs. Looking at my watch I realized I would need to run the entire last KM or so getting me to the finish just under 5hrs. So off I went tough as hell but I ran the entire last km.

After getting my medal and 3 bananas and a water i made my way back to the hotel to gather the family and head home, tail between my legs. I consider myself lucky to have so many people that are there to help remind me of the accomplishment that I have achieved, regardless of time.

So now to figure what these hips are going to let me do next year.


  1. So sorry you had such a rough day. We can never actually predict what will happen on race day that's for sure but we always hope for the best. You crossed that finish line and that's something you should be proud of, under those conditions!

  2. Mike, I am just so proud of you that you actually finished the marathon!! How wonderful is that????