Why do I do this...

Why? To be better...

1. I promised (only a few people will know what this means, and if you don't, you will).
2. I am better than this.

Personal Bests

Santa Race November 25, 2012
5k 30:51 min/sec 6:11 pace per km

Boxing Day 10 Miler December 26, 2012
16.09 k 1:42:22 hr/min/sec 6:23 pace per km

Road 2 Hope Half Marathon November 4, 2012
21.1k 2:16:41 hr/min/sec 6:27 pace per km

Road 2 Hope Marathon November 5, 2011
5k 34:18 min/sec 6:52 pace per km

Around the Bay March 25, 2012
5k 32:07 min/sec 6:26 pace per km

Burlington Runners Good Friday 5k April 6, 2012
5k 31:22 min/sec 6:22 pace per km
(Garmin Race Time 5k 31:12 min/sec 6:14 pace per km)

Imperial Glass 4/8K Grey Cup Run November 26th, 2011
4K 26:55 min/sec 6:44 pace per km

Non Race Personal Bests

2.4km 13:19 min/sec 5:31 pace per km
July 17, 2012

5k 28:13 min/sec 5:40 pace per km
Nov 15, 2012

10k 1:02:25 hour/min/sec 6:15 pace Aug/29/2012

Challenge Start: July 18, 2011
Start Weight: 286 lbs
Current Weight: 208 lbs as at November 11, 2012
Total lost: 78 lbs
Goal Weight: 197
Last Cigarette: June, 2011

Monday, November 26, 2012

Part III Race Day

Hamilton Marathon Race day Recap

So as I reflect back on this morning, I truly believe I would not have done one thing different up to and including race day. I believe my preparation and preparedness was the best it could be for a beginner who is over two hundred pounds and up until 2011 could probably say he hate running!  On top of that, I have to admit that when I was in any kind of physical condition,  running was more like punishment than any type of enjoyment. 

Race start was scheduled for 8:45, so to be well prepared I got there with a ride from Enz @ Downward Trenz. We were nice and early, the way I like to be and even though we were early, parking was not easy. Because of the hassle of parking, next time I will use the shuttle service that is provided.

We proceeded into Dofasco Park and were instructed once inside that all the half marathoners should go to the gymnasium which I did. Once in there, I took my layers off and gave all my unnecessary items to Enz and she took them and agreed to go outside to see the start of the full and lookout for another friend.

This left me to myself which I must admit I quite enjoy.  Its an opportunity to go over everything I had planned and do a light warm up of light jogging, high knees, toy soldiers and some easy stretching. That time was an all around great relaxing moment to take it all in, stay warm, and enjoy the time before the race started.

Our race was to begin at 8:45. I headed to the door about 10 minutes beforehand but noticed no one was really going out. I decided staying warm was more important than being outside and I am glad I did this as the race started a little late. Only once more people started to exit did I leave (thought it was a bit funny that organizers were not announcing anything) but I thought to my self that as long as I follow the crowd it will be all okay. I was there to finish not jostle for position and regardless the start line is there even if you are the last one to cross it.

Once outside I casually got in line for the race start. If I had to guesstimate, I was probably 200m back from the start line. This was closer than I expected and as I got in line I am sure it doubled behind me.

During those 5-10 minutes outside waiting, I just stayed focused on my plan of going out controlled. No out of breath running is what I promised myself and I reminded myself that people passing me is okay because if it was their first half also, it was also highly likely we would meet up again later on after they spent too much energy at the start. I drilled this into my mind, that there is no benefit to go out fast and then not be able to be give my best effort in the end.

Once the race started, that is exactly what I did, just ran a comfortable pace and there were many people passing me but I just ignored it. That is a difficult thing to do especially when you know you can go faster but I knew it was necessary and convinced myself that this may hurt many of them. Likely it didn't but I knew it could hurt me, especially my hip. Stay the course and finish.

The 3k mark was the first water station which I passed on, but it was the first time I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was a little off the 6:30 pace I planned. I was warm and lose so I picked it up a little. I felt great and can really say I was enjoying the group of people that were around me.

There were a few spectators at Centennial Parkway which was nice to see and always adds a small spark to my step. Now they were there for their friends or families but they were hooting and hollering which makes for a great running experience. 

The next water station came and went (6km...no water for me) but another look at my watch and I was below that 6:30 pace which pleased me and I still felt great. I believe it was 6:26 per km which as mentioned before is approximately what my average pace was over my training runs so I wasn't worried. The course was treating me well, I wasn't out of breath and not at all like I was pushing myself so I kept it there. Energy levels were good and no feeling that I was building lactic acid too early in the run. 

Now being at 6km this is where I needed to start being more careful and keeping thoughtful as for anyone that knows this course knows it is a complete downhill course right to the end and the next 5-6 km were going to be the steepest and I knew this could be a problem if I let myself go faster than I should. During this section there would be over a 100 m elevation change as we headed towards Lake Ontario.

Here is the link to the course map if you would like to take a look. http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5520844

Interestingly, I never trained much  for a steep downhill but I did heed the warnings. Reading something and doing it, really does not provide exact expectations. I am glad I thought about this because on km 7 I let my legs go a little bit (faster) and I found out why one needs to conserve on the downhill portions. That km was my fastest yet at 5:55 per km. I felt my breathing come up a little and decided to back off.  I am SO glad I did because on the next km I began to feel pain in my right calf which I had never felt before. It was not bad but focused in the middle of my calf like a slight burning sensation. It was not overly painful but enough to make you mindful and wonder if it was going to progress into something more.

This was what everyone was talking about when running downhill; the calf muscles are always stretched out rather than contracted like going up hill and they were not accustomed to it. When you read that, it really sounds like a minor difference but its a big difference for the muscle. I am convinced that if I kept that pace going which I could have, it would have most definitely caused a catastrophic injury in my calf and likely caused me to stop or seriously slow my pace. Thank-fully, I stuck to the plan and backed off.

 At about the 8k mark it was time for a gel pack.  I tore the top off and push the glob into my throat. It is kind of like the texture of honey but a little more fluid and less sticky but none the less a different sensation to try and consume while running!! Down it went and at the 9k mark there was another water station and because of the gel I took a cup and WHAM! Wow, I should have tried that pre-race. Its hard to explain but basically it was a pasty, sugary sweet but sour taste in my mouth. At the time I thought I was drinking sugar water instead I now know it was the combination. I thought this because I remember reading in race info that they were going to offer a energy drink at the water stations but I don't remember seeing any indications that it was anything that I took. Thankfully it did not cause any stomach issues so I just pushed on.

Here is the gel I used.

Approaching the 10k mark I knew there was a small elevation to get off the Red Hill Valley Parkway so I increased my tempo to maintain pace and started to pass a few people. As I rounded the corner on to Barton St I saw my friend and his son. This gave me an energy lift and the support was appreciated.

We  then entered the short trail portion down to Van Wagners Beach |Rd. There were some small hills through this section and the trail was very narrow. Not sure if this convergence made me nervous but it did increase my pace so not to block the elite runners. The Marathon leaders had already passed but the remaining top runners were coming through at the same time as my group which is far slower than them. I am not sure but I think this portion of the course likely annoyed many of the elite runners as we (I did) the recreational runners had no idea they were coming and it would have made them work harder to get through this area and maintain their pace. My pace went down to around the 6 min per km pace which was at about the 12km mark.

Here are my 1km splits up to getting down to Van Wagners Road.

So you can see that the major downhill started at about the 6th km but I did correct my pace and held back until that 12th km were there was a lot of passing and concern for being in the way of these amazing athletes. My time for the fist half of the race went to plan and I was still pain free (other than that small pain in my right calf).

Now because I did go a bit faster than I should have in the 12th km I slowed it down and took the atmosphere in and let me say this was most interesting time during the race. The way they laid the course out split the beach road path in two, so the slower runners could see all faster ones.  The expressions on the runners faces is what interested me most. They were in their last 5kms and watching is what I did for the next 3kms.

What an amazing story each face told. I mean many you could tell they were chasing personal bests, some were in pain, others had little expression, and then there were the few that you could tell they were filled with joy and were just so happy with their race/day. It was interesting to say at the very least and many runners made eye contact with me which was almost like a mutual hey and obviously many were doing the same as I. This was very cool and I am so glad I took that time to watch the race while being in it.

During that time I also took my second gel pack and made sure to ask at the water station that it was water that I was taking. They confirmed such and that's when I figured it was just the water with the gel pack that made that odd taste but I was expecting it this time so it was all good. That was about kilometer 14 or 15.

At km 16 it was time to run my race. It was my plan to run my hardest for the last 5.  Having past the 16 marker, I began to increase my turnover pace and it felt good. I began to look ahead and try to dial people in to chase. For me this is a great motivator. You can't always catch people but it creates a drive to go faster.

From that point on, I do not believe anyone passed me. Interestingly though, shortly before the 16 km mark, a man that I estimate was about 275lbs (looked like an offense lineman) passed me. I had passed him earlier and he was with a couple of friends and was running what seemed to be 10's and 1's. This is the person I chose to chase. He was about 100-150m ahead of me when I started my run for the finish.

Every time he stopped for his walking portion I would catch him a little but when he began to run, the gap went back to what it was. He was amazing and during this time I passed many people but not him. Gradually I lost sight of him, it must have around the 19k mark. He must have decided to run the remaining km's and not walk. It was amazing, he brought me along with him but had another gear and pulled away. This confirms that healthy people come in all sizes in my opinion.

I finished the race pushing as hard as I could, passing and out of breath. My last km was my strongest and relatively pain free (just exhaustion). I am proud of that finish and now have a better understanding of "running your race." I believe I ran the best I possibly could have.

Here is a picture of me taken crossing the finish line by our local newspaper  As you can see there was a young lady that must have been passing many behind me and caught me right at the finish. She recently swam one of the great lakes (Ontario I think) and I thought it was funny that I got into her picture.

 Here are my spits for the last half.


My chip time was 2:16:41 for a pace of 6:27 per km. As I said in part one, my hope was for a 2:30 marathon and at best a 2:20. Expectations were surpassed and with little stress. I believe my race was prepared, planned and followed. All that training was worth it to know I ran my best and can positively say I enjoyed every step.

I leave you with a final picture of me staying warm at the finish at the Road2Hope Marathon, Hamilton 2012.