I am an “official” marathoner. check! I’m also a “goof ball”, a “super social” runner and happy as could be. This year has been incredible for running and we haven’t reached half way.
Races so far:
Hypothermic half (13.1 miles/21 kms)
MEC race #1 (6.2 miles/10 kms)
Sprucewoods Ultra (32 miles/50 kms)
Manitoba Marathon (26.2 miles/42 kms)
Distance cover in races and training:
717 miles/1154 kms
MEC trail race #3
Summer Trail Series (long)
Marathon du P’tit Train du Nord
In the months leading up to Sprucewoods, I had talked about the possibility of checking off the Manitoba Marathon if I came out of the 50 km relatively unscathed. I was that typical half marathon runner telling people “I could never do a full marathon”, “I am not interested in a full”, “I am happy just doing the half” but secretly have always wanted to try. Well here was my chance. I have logged the miles. Why not? (Side note: Running a full is amazing. I encourage all half marathoners to give it a go. The low numbers, hospitality, extra cheers, and sense of accomplishment is worth it. Just put in the time. Pay attention to pace. Nutrition and run your own race)
TRAINING: I had 5 weeks between races. 4 to the taper. After taking 6 days off running, on May 20th I logged my first marathon training miles on tender legs and feet. It went well. Not much residual pain. 13 miles. The real test was the following weekend where I was set to do 19 miles. I continued my usual 2 mid week runs but started to hear some unhappy voices coming from my knees. The 19 miles turned into 17 miles but I was okay with it. The following week was the same, but the long run was down to 13 miles (it was 13 miles in the rain – great prep for yesterday). The talking was getting louder but I managed through the run. The days after the runs, the talking was loudest. The 4th week was a bigger week. I had 5 runs due to obligations like National Running Day and a trail running workshop I was hosting. The weekend’s long run was only 9 miles but there was way too much conversation from my knees for my liking. The taper became my usual taper, nothing other than trying to heal.
RACE DAY: I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I woke on time and got my food down without any problems. The pre-race rituals all unfolded perfectly. I picked up Nick and we were at the race. The new location of Investor’s Group Field (home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers) was a little tricky to navigate, but the benefit of being in a football stadium there were so many washrooms inside it was easy to finish off the morning rituals.
I had a great start. On pace, which is a miracle in itself (I had/have so much anxiety before a race I usually blast off the start line – especially the Manitoba Marathon). It was a solid start. My plan was to hang around the 4 hour pace bunny, but for strategy I wanted to be in front of him by about 30 seconds. (I expected him to do 10 and 1s but later in the race didn’t notice him following that plan). I hit the course split exactly as outlined and felt great. I started to notice a few things tightening up between miles 7 to 10 but I was happy and it was completely manageable. I took some Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes and ate a couple of dates and continued on as planned. Up to then I had run with, behind, and in front of my physio, JF and his training partner Anthony. We talked a little and parted ways. No disrespect. As we passed Mulvey school, about 10-11 miles I decided I would run with them. They were maintaining a good pace and felt it might help me in the long run. Somehow the pace bunny caught up and eventually passed us. This was okay as long as I kept the pace bunny in sight. I continued with JF and Anthony behind the bunny until I met up with a very experience runner who was crewing an aid station just after 14 miles. She helped me get some dates in my stomach and we both sensed I was about to lose the bunny. Jen reminded me to run my own race. I parted ways with Anthony and JF as Anthony needed to stop at the porta-potty. I also needed to refill my handheld and take some Tylenol for some of the talking from the knees. This had to happen at the next water station and I would need to walk through it. This made the gap between the pace bunny and me that much greater. This was about mile 16.
IMPORTANT INFO: My goal for this race was 4:20. In training for the 50 Km I ran a full marathon distance in 4:40 on a very cold and icy day and was self supported. I set a relatively conservation goal for this race, shaving off 20 minutes. That was the upper end. I talked about in the few days before the race about the possibility of hitting 4 hours or maybe even breaking that mark hence the 4 hour pace bunny. I knew a negative split was less likely as the later miles I knew I might need to walk a bit so thought stay ahead of the bunny as long as I could (maybe to mile 18 – side story coming) and then battle as much as possible. If I hit 4 hours or better I would be beside myself. Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible but just maybe…
SIDE STORY: The race passes right by my house. If you have read my other posts you will know I love my family very much and they fuel me, just like most. I knew they would be out there along with my neighbours and friends. Thank you! Also it was planned for me to refill my handheld with tailwind and have a small snack of salty potato chips. Being super social I knew I was going to hug, high five, bowl over, and chat with them all. This was the highlight of the run and I was looking forward to it. I knew I would lose the pace bunny at this point, but it would be worth it. I care about the time don’t get me wrong, but spending time with my family if only for a moment on course is so worth running a full marathon. I don’t know how I am going to do it in October in Quebec.
SIDE SIDE STORY: This is a bit tough. It was Father’s Day. I have two beautiful daughters. Charlotte 7 and Abigail is 4. We had a great Father’s Day. I am a son. My Father died of a heart attack a long time ago. I have some anger towards him and how he choose to live his life. He never met Catherine my super strong, smart, goofy, and supporting wife nor my two fun, strong, funny, and smart daughters. He motivates me to do what I do but he was not a positive role model. Motivation can come from what people don’t do and can not do. Dad I ran a marathon!
Back to the race… by the time I got to my family the bunny was long gone and I was totally fine with that. You can see by the pictures above how much fun I had at the family pit stop. I was there for about 2 minutes maybe more. After that I continued on perfectly on pace as if the bunny was behind me but around mile, getting close to my nemesis from last year, Fort Gary I knew I had to get the music in my ears. I decide to walk the Pembina Highway uphill loopdy-loop while I set up the music. It instantly helped. I got to mile 22 fine but was sensing the energy levels drooping. I decide instead of doing a 10 and 1 recovery, I would run about 90-95% of a mile and then walk to the mile marker and it was awesome.
SIDE NOTE: In the week leading up to the race I decided to try meditation. Catherine has used it for her running as well as my run partner Nick. Using the app Headspace I learned so much about meditation just in the 6 days. While I was walking the small percentage to the mile marker, I was finding that headspace by focusing on my breathing and wow, did it ever pay dividends. As I hit the mile maker I was off running, and then walking, meditating. This continue until the end.
There were two finishes. My family had packed up and drove to Investor’s Group Field (IGF) to see me finish and give me a lift home. Instead of going inside they were waiting outside on the road to the real finish and as I stopped to hug them I felt I was done. But Catherine yelled out, “now go finish!” What?! There was probably only about a half a mile left but I was next to done. My legs felt heavy and I could not go much further than the actual finish line on the field. It took some digging. Looking at my splits I ran that last half mile relativly quickly but it sure did not feel like it, especially because another running buddy, long haul trucker Cameron Mann found another gear and blasted to the finish.
Entering IGF was unbelievable. Such an improvement on previous years. I heard my name twice and as I crossed the finish line, I felt amazing. The SWU 50 km finish was much more memorable with my family but the grandiosity of IGF was pretty damn cool. And done! It was great hanging out on the field by myself for a few minutes but quickly a bunch my new found running family (friendly manitoba trail runners – a strava group) came over to grab some turf and share stories.
My official chip time was 4:09:13 and so I smashed my upper goal by 11 minutes. The 4 hour mark will have to wait, but seriously and honestly I knew I would not be able to run that fast. In the fall I will have another shot at that time in Quebec. I will train very differently with speed work and more strength training.
Thank you to the Manitoba Marathon and their crew. To all the volunteers and the hundreds of people that came out to cheer. Thanks to the Grosvenor crew. You are fantastic. Best cheering squad hands down. Thank you Jen Harrison for guiding and helping me through the prep and crewing at mile 14… you got me back on course. Thanks to all the friendly manitoba trail runners, to JF for hanging out with me on the course, afterwards, and getting me in to get some work done, to Anthony, of course to the Munson Park Thugz especially Peter/Nick for giving me the rasta love, headspace, and killing it out there daily… such respect.
Thanks to the funny little people that look and act a lot like me… I loved the nibs in the bag… you know me too well. Thanks for your love and support. Best Father’s Day Ever. Catherine, if you made it this far. I 100% support you if you want to tackle this. You truly are that extra special person that understands, tolerates, and supports me. Thank you for dragging the girls out and cheering me on. Much respect.
I will be taking a bit of time off mono-focusing on running. I have a date with the Hunt Lake trail, Falcon Lake trails, and Pembina Valley and some fun races throughout the summer, but I also love to golf, so will try to play some rounds until the training kicks in for Marathon du P’tit Train du Nord. I do have a commitment to running 1000 miles in 2017 and as you can see below I am getting closer. Hopefully I will be about 150 miles to the finish before I begin to mono-focus late August.
Thanks for reading. happy running. Good luck to Mallory Richard and all the runners competing in the Western States race.