On May 12, I completed my third marathon. I was scheduled to do this one last year, but I developed sciatica just days beforehand. So I had to withdraw from the race. While I was back to my regular running near the end of Summer 2018, I avoided full marathons for the rest of the year.
Going into the Fredericton Marathon, I was better prepared than my last two. Since January 1, I have been running virtually every morning for at least five kilometres (even in the winter with minus 20 wind-chills). I did a few races (including two of half marathons), and even went for a 50-kilometre run a couple of weeks ago (going for distance and not speed per se, although I beat my prior 50-kilometre run by over an hour). Furthermore, taking my wife’s advice, I went to get properly fitted for shoes and met with a running coach for some pointers.
For my third marathon, I decided to do a few things differently. First off, I was going to rest the day before; no running or even working-out. Secondly, I hydrated up, a lot, days before the big race (not just the morning of). Normally I have at least two litres of water every day; on Friday I had four. The next day, I must have had at least five. Third, I would carb-up in the latter afternoon/early evening (normally I don’t eat until 9:00 p.m. or even later). Fourth, I had a hydration pack (bad idea). Fifth, I would consume my energy gels every seven kilometres (which worked great for me). Finally, unlike my prior marathons, I actually got a good night’s sleep.
Saturday morning, I hit the road alone. I got to town at about 3:00 p.m. and went straight to the Fredericton Convention Centre to pick up my kit. I hung out briefly to see some familiar folks from my running circles/friends/communities. I stopped to check out the marathon map and saw that it was slightly different than what I did (as a half) in 2017. After getting a bit familiar with the altered route, I went over to the Epic Canadian (one of my favourite races) and Sole Sisters booths to chat with the race directors. Due to low registrations for Sole Sisters, I purchased two entries to help support it. The race director thanked me in-person for my gift to help two women out and I was only too happy to do so. I went outside and wasn’t entirely hungry just yet, so I went for a brief walk around the area while playing some Pokémon GO™. After about an hour, I went over to East Side Mario’s® just after 5:00 p.m. to carb- and hydrate-up. I order lasagna, got all-you-can-eat bread (made it to four loaves), and I asked the server to please leave me a pitcher of water (which I finished). Stuffed and full, I felt great, knowing I had a few hours until bedtime. I went to my friend’s place (Alyssa, a fellow LesMills Instructor who’s also a Presenter) to hangout and chat for a bit (I was crashing the night). We caught up on things for about two hours as I kept drinking more water. Afterwards, I FaceTimed with my wife back home. She wished me well on the marathon then I went to sleep.
Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and immediately finished one litre of water. My breakfast was oatmeal, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and orange juice and chocolate milk. When I did the Run Our Shore Half Marathon, I made the mistake of running it on an empty stomach. By 6:00 a.m., I stopped drinking water as the marathon was at 8:00 a.m. I packed up my things and went to a nearby grocery store to park. It was a bit chilly that morning, so I mainly sat in the car until about 7:30 a.m. I phoned my mother to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, but she didn’t answer. I left a voice mail, telling her that I would phone her again later and that I won’t be answering calls between 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Then I started to warm up with some light running, BODYATTACK™ moves, and went for one last restroom break. But in all of this, the race lineup was already big. I ended up stuck at the wrong pace area (I thought I needed at least 4:15 pace to qualify for Boston Marathon).
The marathon started at 8:00 a.m. Like almost every race I do where I start somewhere in the middle (Erica keeps telling me to go near the front), I spent about four or five minutes navigating my way through the sea of other runners. Things started to spread out for me when I got onto Saint Anne’s Point Drive. Going up the bridge was the only real elevation of the whole route, and we only had to do it once. Then turning from Field Street onto Northside Trail, my music paused, and the phone rang (I had forgotten to put it to silent). Without looking, I knew that it was my mother. I couldn’t answer it, so I just let it go to voice mail. A few guys running nearby had a good chuckle and I said that I knew it was my mother, but that I was going to have to call her back.
With Maritime Race Weekend, I ended up running alone more often than not. With the Bluenose Marathon, this was hardly the case (due to being in the city). With the Fredericton Marathon, I felt it was a halfway point between both. There were crowds, and about half the time, I felt that there wasn’t (with Gibson Trail being the most noticeable).
Nearing the halfway point of my race, I had to cross the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge. The wind was pretty strong, and my race bib ripped off on the bottom right side. I panicked, fearing the thought of my race bib flying away towards the river and not knowing what I could do about it. So for my trip across the bridge, I held the race bib against my body to ensure the wind wouldn’t catch it. While it may have appeared to onlookers that I was in pain by holding into my core, I just wanted to ensure my race bib wouldn’t fly off of me.
At the halfway point, I noticed that I was just under 1:30:00. Which was fine, but I needed to remind myself that I had to do a negative split if I wanted to make a 3:05:00 finish.
In doing my third marathon, I caught on a few things that affected my performance (albeit slightly). One, my hydration pack was very useless and quite counterproductive. Not only did it cause some bad chafing on my right neck, but I wasn’t able to get any water out of it. Every time I tried to take a sip, I used too much air and energy trying to get some hydration. I attempted this twice then I abandoned the idea. I actually felt like untying the thing and throwing it in the trash can while racing. But in all honesty, I was okay as I had my own water bottle, and I wasn’t as thirsty as I was in previous marathons especially after the halfway point. I’m convinced that all my hydration in leading up to the race worked. I did stop for some water and Gatorade® on the second half out of a habit, but honestly probably didn’t really need it all that much (as my own water bottle was sufficient). Second, my music. I had mainly BODYATTACK™ songs (and often these were the Plyometric or Power tracks). While it was great to run to the beat of the music, I sometimes got caught up in playing the choreography in my head, trying to coach it, and before I knew it, I found myself slowing down. I would remind myself to stop coaching the choreography and get back to focusing on the race. I had to do this a few times throughout the marathon.
Somewhere along the Nashwaak Trail, I did have a bit of an emotional moment. I was thinking about how well I was doing, and pondering what other marathons I’d like to try. Then the Marine Corps Marathon popped in my mind. I imagined doing that one in memory of Clint, and how emotional it would be for me to do so, especially after crossing that finish line. A tear started coming down my face, and I had to snap back to reality that I was in the middle of a race.
Soon I was coming back onto the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge, and once again I held onto my race bid to ensure it didn’t fly off. After I crossed it, I picked up the speed to make it to the finish. As I approached the final turn on the Lincoln Trial, my Runkeeper™ updated me that I was nearing three hours and ten minutes. In the last few kilometres leading up to this final update, it felt as if my time was going up faster and my pace going a bit slower. I thought I needed at least a 4:15 pace the whole time to qualify for Boston (at 3:05:00), with a 4:00 being a “buffer” re getting under 3:00:00. I was wrong for the whole marathon. Ugh! Lesson learned.
Running towards and crossing the finish, I didn’t stop but slowed down to a fast walk. I received my medal and as I kept moving, a young woman offered and handed me a bottle of water. I thanked her for it and kept walking. I went over to a booth where I chugged down several cups of Gatorade® very quickly, which felt absolutely great. Then I went over to some open space on the grass and slowly tried to lay down to do some back extensions, something I do after almost every workout and run on my physiotherapist’s advice. I started some stretches, all of which were stubborn to execute. I was very sore nearly all over. In fact, there was even a Sheltie nearby and I couldn’t bring myself to stand up to go over and see it. After about what I estimate was 20 minutes on the grass, I slowly got up and started to walk away. I saw a fellow runner from Truro named Joel. We shared our times, both of us missing the Boston Qualifier, and congratulated each other on finishing our marathons. I went back to my car then went up the hill/road to go stretch a bit more and shower at a GoodLife FITNESS®. Due to the chafing, the shower was rather painful, but got through it anyway. On my way out, I bumped into Alyssa doing some lunge work. We chatted briefly, I told her how I did, and thanked her for letting me crash her place the previous night. We gave each other a farewell hug then I left the gym.
Given I didn’t want to be in town any longer than I had to (as it was a four-hour drive back), I just went to a nearby KFC® for some post-marathon calories. While enjoying my meal, I noticed something very important; I wasn’t injured. Yes, I was quite sore, and understandably so, but I wasn’t injured. No limping; no pain. After years of instructing lots of classes and doing tons of running, I know the difference between soreness and injury/pain. A lot of it may have been trial-and-error, but I’m certain that getting fitted for proper shoes and talking to a running coach helped me out so much with it.
Driving back, I phoned my mother to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and told her how I did. She told me about my sister’s graduation from Cape Breton University on Saturday. Once done talking, I had time to reflect on my third marathon. Not only did I achieve a new PB of 3:10:14 (beating my last time by 38 minutes and 31 seconds), but I accomplished it injury- and pain-free and was within minutes of a Boston Qualifier. I was very happy/pleased with all of this and knowing that I’m getting closer and closer to making it.
The funny part about my reflecting was realizing that I was very excited for my next marathon (scheduled in September), but I was thinking about what other ones I could do in 2019. Over the years, I learned about the importance of rest, relaxation, stretching, mixing-up my training, and proper hydration/eating. While I am excited, I don’t want to overdo anything that’ll put me on the shelf again.
Back home, I struggled to unload my stuff from the car as I was obviously still sore (but thankfully injury/pain-free). I filled the bathtub with hot water and dumped in some Epsom Salts. I initially considered stopping elsewhere for a hot tub, but with my chafing, I didn’t want to chance an infection nor would I have even been allowed in. The bath was soothing, and just what I needed after both a marathon and long drive. My wife returned that night, and at my request, brought home a rising-crust pizza and a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake for us to enjoy.