To start with – the Manitoba Marathon was well organized again this year and as always the volunteers were fantastic along the course and at the finish! Another great race put on by the Manitoba Marathon team!
OK, so the day started off pretty early for me – the pups got me up a half hour before my alarm was set to go off for the race. No sleeping in I guess. Luckily I had gone to bed quite early and still got a good 7+ hours sleep or so. I’m glad I did because I knew it was going to be a rough run.
Folks that follow the blog or my twitter posts know that I had a rough couple months and my training really fell apart. By the numbers I had 556 miles on my shoes so far this year but at the same time last year I was at 810. A very significant difference year over year. The bad statistic though was the missing 18 and 20 milers. I knew I was going into the race trained to do an ok half marathon but not trained for a full at all. I was going to be relying on sheer determination, a lot of pent up frustration and whatever residual stamina I still had left from the Dopey Challenge training.
So basically I knew going into this race that it was not going to be great for me physically.
It was a beautiful day though and not raining like last year’s Manitoba Marathon so that was a positive but it was forecast to get pretty warm. Not Florida warm but still enough that it was going to be a factor in the race with the humidity.
Again this year I took the park and ride option instead of trying to find a parking spot at the race and everything worked pretty efficiently again. I basically got out of my vehicle and wandered over to the bus got on and we were on our way in a few minutes. It was a short drive and we were dropped off close to the bag drop tents. Very smooth.
The only hiccup was that I realized that I had forgotten to put on nipple protectors before I left the house…but I figured I would forget something and luckily I had packed a set in my hydration backpack and I put those on before I got on the bus. Apparently I was rushing though and one didn’t stick properly…more on that later.
I wandered around the start area, hit the port-a-potties and checked out the changes in the course right at the start. New this year was an adjustment to the course for where everyone starts. It used to start with a straight shot down a road but now there was a 90 degree turn about 100 feet from the start line. I was worried this was going to be an issue (thinking back to the hordes at Disney races and how crowded a corner like that could get). Luckily it wasn’t an issue but it definitely slowed down most folks through that first chunk of the course.
While wandering around, I ran into a gentleman from work who was out for his second marathon (first about a month or so previous). I had a good chat with him about strategies and different races and then we headed out to the get in our chosen finish time zones.
I chose to line up with the 4:30 run/walk pace group. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep up with them or not but it seemed like a good spot to start as I tested myself out. But I was still worrying about the heat and what that would do later in the race.
But then it was time to start – after a couple quick twitter interactions with Kenny (@runshooze on twitter) as he offered encouragement to help get me started.
I realized very quickly that heat was definitely going to be a factor and after pacing evenly for a few minutes I decided that sticking with the 4:30 pace group wasn’t going to work. Basically doing the math it meant I would probably hit the half about 2:10-2:15 (which didn’t match my previously determined plan of trying to hit around 2 hours and then just do what I could after) and the heat would be up and I would probably be already tanking out. This would then likely make it harder to keep going and probably do some hefty damage to my confidence.
So I weighed all the factors and decided to do something pretty dumb and the opposite of what all the marathon gurus will tell you. I decided to run the first half of the marathon fast – I was going to be struggling hard for the second half no matter what but I figured if I could get the first half done quicker, it would mean less time pushing in the heat later.
At that point then I bumped the speed up and decided to follow my original plan – hit the half at around 2 hours and go from there.
By mile 2 I had passed the 4 hour group and the 3:45 group – I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone else but it was what I figured I needed to do.
I passed mile 7 before the hour mark and the 3:45 group passed me shortly before the 8 mile point as I was already feeling the heat.
Right around the 9 mile marker a gentleman I interact with on Twitter (Anthony – @DrAnthonyH) caught up with me and we had a bit of chat about different races and our goals, etc. We also quickly talked about WDW Marathon races and then he continued on and I kept rolling on.
Less than a minute after that I saw Heather and my son and daughter up ahead cheering me on – I caught site of them just as Anthony was giving my son a high five.
They hadn’t spotted me yet so I put on a burst of speed and bolted up to my son and started tickling him instead of what he thought was going to be a high five from another anonymous runner. Surprised him pretty good! And, I think, the folks that were standing beside my family that didn’t know at first what was going on until my daughter gave me a hug and started saying “Happy Fathers’ Day!”
I chatted with them a little bit and then kept moving.
About mile 11 or so I felt some chafing and realized I had lost one of the nipple protectors – not much I could do about it then but I as I was wearing a white shirt I started to wonder what the shirt was going to look like when the race was done!
Just prior to the half way point the gentleman from work passed me and wished me luck on the rest of the race and at just about the half way point the 4 hour pace group passed me. I hit the halfway point at about 1:59 (so goal achieved).
It was at that point I ran into my family again as they had moved to a second viewing spot. We talked again at that point and off I went again.
Not too long after that I started to hit the wall for sure. I was still pushing but it was taking way more pushing to keep going. The heat was also definitely playing a factor at this point.
I also started adding a minute of walking after I hit every mile marker from here on out. I was carrying about 2 liters of liquid in my hydration pack that I had been using frequently but I started making sure to supplement with water at every water stop and using sponges to help cool off. Sponges were plentiful too so kudos to the Manitoba Marathon team for that!
I hit the 18 mile point at around 2:57 or so. That was great for my confidence – it was slow and pretty rough but I also knew I would be under 5 hours to complete.
At this point I sent out a proof of life tweet and got moving again.
Right after that I ran into the wife and kids again before continuing on. I didn’t run long before I ran into a family who was giving on freeze pops…and they had blue! It was glorious! Much thanks to those folks whoever they were!
I kept going from there and was struck at the difference in the weather from last year. This race was hot and sunny and last year I remember being so soaked that passing trucks splashing water onto me as I ran didn’t even phase me.
At about the 4 hour mark I decided to stop and send another proof of life tweet as I had hit right around mile 23. After I sent the tweet my phone started beeping that it had low battery. I wasn’t going to finish this without music so I popped off my hydration pack and dug out my spare battery.
After a relatively quick battery swap I was back on my way. The 4:30 pace group went past me around this point.
Shortly after that I saw the 10 mile marker for the half marathon folks (who share the same finish line) – only a 5k left to go. I knew I was going to survive!
My pace picked up a bit when I was running but I was doing shorter runs now of maybe 3-5 minutes at a time before walking again for 30-60 seconds.
I was here that I learned something very specific about my running that I am going to have to watch for in the future and train against. Basically when I would stop running I would feel a bit woozy, almost light headed but after a few seconds of breathing properly I would be fine and able to go again. I realized that as I was trying to run and push as hard as I could, I was tensing so much that I wasn’t breathing properly. It took me about 10-15 minutes to figure that out and then I was fine.
Then at about 24.5 miles I ran into the wife and kids one final time and I started the final push.
About this point I was probably half and half running versus walking but I was still moving and still coherent.
Then the final corner before I start in towards mile 26 and final stretch on the stadium track. Finished upright with no apparent injuries and under 5 hours. And even the lost nipple protector didn’t cause too much grief. Marathon #11 in the books.
I was handed a popsicle and slurped that down. Chatted with a lady who had just finished her first marathon and was asking other finishers around to sign her arms and legs, etc in celebration. Awesome for her! The Manitoba Marathon is great race for first timers – very friendly.
I then grabbed some water and had a quick chat with one of the volunteers who was obviously there to make sure that runners were still healthy and able to hold a conversation.
I then wandered out to the buses and got on. As I was getting on the bus driver asked “a bit stiff?” My response “no where near as stiff as I will be when I try to get off the bus!”
An accurate prediction – but surprisingly not bad.
I wandered out to my van, hopped in and drove home.
After unloading all my stuff I wandered into the kitchen for a big glass of milk and some bacon. If “recovery bacon” isn’t a thing, it should be.
Had a bit of a scare as I was sitting at the kitchen table leaning forward talking to the kids and getting my Fathers’ Day cards from them…my arms started to tingle a bit. Oh crap…but then I remembered the breathing lesson from about mile 24. I sat up straight, had a few deep breathes and everything returned to normal.
10 minutes later I was in the pool with the kids stretching out the legs and working the kinks out. While cooling off.
I got about a half hour there before we had to get dressed and head out to our son’s piano concert. He did awesome! (and I actually survived) Several people we didn’t know commented on how well he did and how much energy he had. Very cool!
After that we headed to Boston Pizza for a celebratory supper for all of us and I had a beer the size of my head.
And we ended up in the pool before bed again. A very good Fathers’ Day all around.
The next day I woke up and my left ankle was almost locked – after a bit of walking around though it worked itself out. Over the course of the day I went for a couple 40 minute walks that included a few jogging attempts that went well.
Now 2 days later my legs are fine and I suspect I will try a recovery run later today. I have already done swimming pool resistance exercises and 15 minutes of deep water running with no ill effects.
I may not be the fastest, or the strongest (or the most dedicated) runner but man I recover fast. And I am grateful for that!
So coming up I have the 12 hour Lemming Loop that I have signed up for in early October. And I also signed my wife and I up for the WFPS Half Marathon for a couple weeks after that.
I will be starting to work out a training schedule for the 12 hour Lemming Loop in the hopes of breaking over 52.4 miles in the 12 hours (49.278 last year). I will also looking to see if I will want to add the Treherne Marathon (which is about an hour drive away) in early September to my schedule as a training run and as maybe a chance for some marathon redemption.
I should be posting up my planned schedule and goals and such in the next few days – I am going to have to work hard this summer!