I am 8 days out from finishing the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and feeling pretty good. I am satisfied with my time of 2:11:21, I have recovered well, been enjoying the downtime with my family and ,..... I have time to think over the race and the build up and here is what I have come up with....
I came back from NS early Aug ready to get to work. Wasn't in the best shape ever 11 weeks out, no sweat though, knew a lot of that was still to come. Settled into a new routine of 4:30pm workouts with club and UofG guys on Mondays, can't beat the atmosphere of 20 athletes out for 16x500m on a XC course. Thanks for allowing me to jump in guys! Longer marathon sessions came Thursday mornings with new training partner Robert Winslow, 2:22 marathoner and fellow StFX alumi (+ a Chiro at HPC on campus, check him out). Rob was shooting for sub 2:20, came ever so close 2:20:11, excellent build-up and race! The long run came Sat or Sun depending on family schedule and how I felt.
As the weeks ticked away, found fitness came as I'd hoped. Only thing holding me back was a bit of inconsistency with alinement causing left hip to get cranky. This settled down around the half way point, helping move from PB goal, to low 2:10. I rely a lot on consistency in training to gage fitness, this build-up was running pretty smooth. The numbers were favourable too, in a couple key workouts, 90' straight and 5xmile, each were better then I've ever done.
I was feeling pretty confident heading in, more so then any race in the past. Coach Dave Scott-Thomas and I talked twice about race plans. First, half way through, Dave come up with two potentials, one more conservative with PB as main focus, a higher % chance of feeling good last 7k. The other, get after first half and take shot at the ol' record. Having options that far out was important, able to focus on day to day training and see where fitness gets too. A few weeks later we met up again. With workouts going so well, and personally feeling on my game, decided to aim for upper limits of what thought possible. We both believed 2:10 low was it for STWM 2014, after a bit more discussion on why, plan A was set. Plan B was to get under 2:11, and Plan C was a PB.
Once plans were finalized with Dave, I then worked on visualization and execution with Kim Dawson, a professor of Sports Psychology at Laurier. I've been working with her for some time now on mental skills training. I consider it one of my keys to constancy and continued enjoyment of the sport. On this occasion we dialled into visualizing each unique section of the 'marathon', and the STWM 2014 course. We did this almost three weeks out, timing was not accidental. Mentally running the whole race in my head took some energy, not something you want to be starting night before. It helped to think clearly as race got closer and gave me more confidence in believing in the process and my ability to execute.
Once again the organizers brought in strong pacers which I'm very grateful for. Alan Brookes and his team at Canada Running Series do amazing work for our sport in this country, thanks guys!... The first couple k was up hill, pace was good, 3:06ish.. 3:04 would get us to goal half split of 64:45 (2:09:30), gotta leave a bit of room for fade off back end. We then headed 3k down Bathurst, this section is quick, and so were we, got to bottom on 2:07 pace.. Vitaliy Sharaf of UKR, a 2:09 guy from Boston this year was right behind pacers and I bet he could have run faster if not for me keeping pacers on pre determand pace, he finished 2:09:52. It was interesting to run 25K+ with a guy who went on to run a time I'd like to run. In hindsight I learned, sub 3' k's down Bathurst, and 3:02-03's along Lakeshore with wind at our back is simply necessary, and you have to be comfortable rolling with it on this course. I can't say I totally was. That wasn't totally in my control but this was, so I also wore a GPS watch for the first time in a marathon, it's a great training partner in long temp session and I thought maybe it'll relax me out there on long straightaways that way can look at pace any time. Only thing is, and Reid warned me about this, GPS is not always accurate enough, especially in the city, turns out he was right. It was reading a second fast most of the time, and it measured course at 42.56, I will not be wearing one in my next race.
All that being said, I was pretty pleased with my run. The body felt good for 35k, last pacer dropped out at 32k. 10k to go and still on pace for 2:10. It got tougher without help, but the thing that really slowed me down starting with 7k to go, was my quads! It's the first time they've felt that sore at the end of a marathon. I slowed down more in 2013 but it was more overall body fatigue, this time my breathing, arms, and head were still in it, just couldn't move the sore dead quads fast enough. Despite the soreness and slowing down late, I'm taking a lot of confidence from not throwing in towel and giving up on plan C, a personal best, got it by seven seconds and it feels good!
Want to give a special thanks to Brenda Scott-Thomas at Speed River Physiotherapy for helping me feel my best thought the build-up!
Also big thanks to others for their support New Balance Canada, PowerBar, CEP, Coach DST, PhD Kim Dawson, RMT Lance Dawson, Physio Ron O'Hare, Speed River T&F Club, + a big hug and kiss to Emily my wife for all her amazing support!!!
I start running again later this week, and working toward my goal of a spring marathon.