Hamilton Marathon – The Tale Of The Tape

hammerAfter a summer of more ‘relaxed’ training, where I hemmed and hawed about whether to skip a fall marathon and just run a few shorter races, I decided to give it a go after all. For more on my summer of relaxed training read this.

The best part about this race was how good I felt in the final few days before the race. I not only trained with far less mileage, max long runs of 30k, and far fewer speed-work sessions, I tapered with more vigor (less?) that usual. I was perhaps, even a bit stale. But it was nice to wake up on race day feeling really fresh.

My mileage had been averaging 80-90k/week, which although is no slouch commitment, is much less than the 110-140k that I put in from January to April. And my schedule led me to many, or mostly solo runs where my efforts are always far weaker than group runs. So I knew I was really being optimistic when I pondered running a faster time than my previous 3:08 at Goodlife Toronto Marathon this past spring, especially since I headed into Hamilton a full 14 lbs heavier than I was in April/May. That’s right … pizza, good, ice cream good, beer, good. Strengthening and core exercises to supplement my running …. um, what are they again?

For the first time in 5 attempts, we arrived at this race on time to catch the bus to the start and not be rushing around. (note, Anita ran the half marathon and my good man JP was also running the marathon, his 4th in 6 weeks). After taking care of some final details, I found myself at the start line, moments from the gun, feeling as confident as I ever have. I guess that’s good and bad. The bad being perhaps that I ran my fastest split (4:10) in the first km! My fastest 5k was the first (21:30) and by 10k I knew I had been a little ambitious. But it just feels so good to run the first 10k. After 35 marathons I should know that the first 10k should feel deathly slow. Live and re-learn, and re-learn again.

I suspected the fatigue was going to hit early and just settled into a decent pace of consistent 4:25’s. At halfway I was at 1:33 with the downhill coming up and I was still feeling fresh. Maybe this was going to be a great day after all. But ugh, the wind. The wind had been swirling on the first 21k and not causing too much trouble but from the moment we hit the downhill, it was right in out face. What would usually be a great spot to ease up and still pick up some time, was actually the slowest part of my race so far. I frustrated myself trying to force it and trying to find someone to draft behind. I was in no mans land running in a very sparse demographic and had to suck it up. As usual, the downhill ends and I start to feel the agony of the course. 14+ km to go and the freshness now gone. it was time to go to work. 2 more kms and I lost the drive to hold 4:25s and worked on maintaining a 4:30 pace. My average at this point was around 4:25 still so I figured sub 3:10 was still a go. Maybe faster if I ever managed to dig up a 2nd wind. A 2nd wind never did rear it’s head and 4:30s turned to 4:35s, 4:40s and the final 4 km were in the 4:45 range. At 41k, my buddy Geoff pushed me through and ran me in. This was the slowest km of the race at 4:58 as y feet, hamstrings and quads all sang in unison: “we, are done, we wish to stop”   and as I crossed the finish, I looked up in time to see the clock tick over to 3:11. I actually thought I’d lost more time than that and momentarily wished I’d pushed hard enough for 3:10xx but those are just numbers. I moved on and soaked up the familiar euphoric post marathon rush. The rush you get whether you’ve bombed, killed it, or anything in between. It just feels so good to be done.

Anita was there for me and chased me as I passed by her, eyes trained on a far away picnic table where I could lay down. It was much-needed and many would tell me to keep moving but I felt good enough to crash for a few minutes. The post race food at Hamilton is decent enough and we met up with JP in the food tent and all headed for the car. Our planned quick getaway included a stop at the nearest Starbucks whereupon my wooziness was quickly righted. It was a cozy, warm ride home, and the laziness of a marathon Sunday afternoon awaited. I soaked it right up.

Some people say they never want to run another marathon again for a few days after the race, some say it takes weeks to get back to considering running another one. Not me, I was thinking about, and looking forward to the next one the second I crossed the line. And more so today. Bring it on.




Beaches RunnerAbout Beaches Runner
Crazy mad runner, wanting to be fitter and faster but too busy to do it right. Still, I keep trying.

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