May 30th, 2016
When you’ve run as many races at JP Bedard, sooner or later you’re bound to DNF. Here’s why he believes that this runner’s nightmare can actually be a gift.
When you hit a wall of demotivation, what thoughts do you use to keep on going?
I’ll never forget the advice I received from my creative writing professor at university. She used to say, “Don’t overcomplicate the message, and always remember K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).”
Much has been written about the dreaded wall that runners hit around the 20-mile mark of a marathon. In fact, the lore is so rich that many races erect a ceremonial wall or archway to remind the runners that they’ve just crossed that epic milestone. What we don’t hear a lot about is the other wall, and by that I mean the wall we hit when our motivation to train begins to wane. This can occur for many reasons—overtraining, increased mileage, extreme weather conditions, or even our non-running life encroaching on our ability to run.
Whatever the case may be, I like to remind myself of those sage words: K.I.S.S. I step back, and instead of focusing on quantity, I focus on the quality of my runs. Every once in awhile we need to re-evaluate our training to make sure we aren’t doing the same workouts over and over again or that we are not falling into a rut.
If I simplify my running practice to its purest meaning in my life, I’m reminded that I don’t run to break records, or to qualify for Boston, or even to impress my family and friends. Instead, I run because it brings out the best in me by keeping me accountable, and in general, it makes me stronger for life’s adversity. If my running is stressing me out, I know it’s time to take it, and myself, a lot less seriously.
Have you ever had a DNF? If so, what was the most important lesson you took from that?
The dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) is both the biggest ‘nightmare and greatest gift that running can bring into your life. If you sign up for enough races, sooner or later you’re bound to face this crisis. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given came from a fellow runner who was one of the contributors to my book. He said, don’t worry about failure… just make sure “you fail better next time”. And by that he meant don’t shy away from failure and disappointment, but rather, make sure you suck all the marrow you can out of it—listen to all the lessons it teaches you, and remember that if you never strive for anything, you never fail.
I have DNFed a few times over the years, and I’m not going to lie to you… It’s not pleasant, but it is necessary. Three years ago I was running the Buffalo Marathon, and leading up to the race all my training was indicating that I was on target for a comfortable sub-3 marathon.
Well, race day arrived, and the weather was hot and humid. I completely ignored all the warnings and I went out fast and hard despite the conditions. When I hit the half marathon turn off, my stomach was a gurgling mess, and I was shaky and nauseous. I had no other option than to pull out of the race. Walking back to meet my wife at the finish, I felt embarrassed for dragging her down to Buffalo, not to mention the cost of a night in a hotel. And guess what? She hugged me, and couldn’t care less whether or not I finished. She was still proud of me for listening to my body. So, the lesson I took from that DNF was to pay attention to the weather at every race and to not lose sight of the ‘big picture’.
Send your advice and questions to JP email@example.com. Want more tips, tricks and practical advice from JP Bedard? Check out his previous posts with questions from elite and everyday athletes.
May 27th, 2016
As conversations around Ottawa Marathon race weekend centre around the heat and rumours of race cancellation due to extreme weather, we caught up with Kevin Rutherford, CEO of nuun, which is the hydration product that will be served on course.
Q) People are nervous about the heat. You’re supplying the hydration. What is nuun and are you scared?
A) Nuun is Optimal Hydration. It’s a complete electrolyte profile, basically — what you sweat out, it replenishes. So quite honestly, no I’m not scared or nervous at all. Nuun is designed for these extreme situations. Optimal hydration is a critical strategy to ensure a great race, especially on a hot day.
Q) What exactly is nuun made of?
Nuun is a combination of four essential minerals: sodium, which is the salt we lose, and potassium, calcium and magnesium. These are the minerals you lose when racing and what you need in your body for proper muscle function. Your body releases sweat as a cooling function, and in that sweat you naturally lose those minerals. Put simply, Nuun puts in what your body needs replenished when you sweat.
Q) Does water not have those minerals?
A) No, not all of that. Water’s not enough.
Q) So it’s going to be hot race day. So hot that we might not even have a race. That said, if we do, does nuun have to work overtime in extreme heat?
A) Yes, in a sense. Your body’s going to need more of it. Electrolytes are mission critical to replenish and to avoid muscle fatigue and cramps. Another way to think about Nuun is rapid hydration. When you are severely dehydrated, a paramedic won’t give you water in an IV, they will give you electrolytes to get you back to where you want to be.
Q) Can runners drink too much nuun?
A) No. You can’t drink too much nuun but surprisingly to many people, you can drink to much water.
Q) Can you explain?
A) Hyponatremia is when you drink too much water. You can’t drink too much nuun because any excess electrolytes in your body you’ll urinate out. In rare cases, you can drink too much water and then you can have a low sodium concentration in the blood.
Q) It’s your first year on course in Ottawa, the country’s largest race, and with so much attention on heat and the weather and hydration, are you nervous?
A) No, I’m not nervous. In fact, I think this is exactly why we’re here. This is our opportunity to help runners have a shining day in challenging conditions. Nuun is designed for these types of situations.
Q) So besides drink nuun, what else can we do?
A) Acclimate yourself to the conditions. Don’t step out into the heat for the first time on race day. Hydrate throughout the race, and start slow and finish fast.
Q) If it was up to you, would you run the race?
A) I am running—with zero hesitation.
May 27th, 2016
Women’s kicks have come a long way in recent years, with bold hues winning out over pastel shades. But will the trend in gender neutral fashion soon make its way into the running world?
By: Karen Kwan
Will the Adidas Adizero Boston Boost 5 help a runner hoping to qualify for Boston (me! How ’bout you?) qualify? Rather than a promise of a BQ, its name comes from the fact that a portion of each pair sold goes to the Boston Runs as One fund. I’ve only run twice in them but thus far they are comfortable for me (a bit of background: I overpronate slightly and they’ve felt good with and without socks, no blisters or pain). Plus they feel extra lightweight on (they weigh 190 g for a UK size 5.5) so you feel like you can really fly in them.
They’re slightly less cushiony than I usually prefer but that makes sense given they’re designed for racing and fast training. Plus, they feature Coolever mesh upper and lining, which is designed to manage heat and enhance performance, which will be helpful now that the warm temps have arrived.
And the red (it veers close to a deep fuchsia in tone) with the white and black colourway is great. Fun and cheerful without being overly girly. But the men’s colourway in grey and orange is a cool combo, too. Often men win out with the better colourways, wouldn’t you agree? Women’s runners have come a long way from when there were only the choices of white, baby pink and lavender…but I know when it comes to my personal taste, I often favour the bright, bolder look used for the men’s style of the same shoe. Gender neutral styling seems to have yet affected the running shoe market. It’ll be interesting to see if it does in the next couple of years.
Find Karen Kwan’s weekly running fashion posts every Friday on Instagram. Karen contributes to a number of publications and you can also follow her travel and running adventures at Health & Swellness.
May 26th, 2016
As journalist and novelist, Pico Iyer once said, “Anyone who has traveled knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around, but you’re traveling in order to be moved.” For me, therein lies the essence of running in general—an ability to ‘move us’ through movement, not so much in terms of distance traveled in miles, but by ‘taking us away’ in order to ‘bring us back to ourselves’.
Being somewhat of a creature of habit, I tend to follow the same running routine week after week—a long run every Sunday, followed by alternating tempo runs, hill workouts, and recovery efforts peppered throughout the rest of the week. I’m currently over in the UK visiting my family, and as a result, I find I’m struggling with not only adapting to the five-hour time difference but also being out of sync with my running mates on social media.
Not one for running with my phone when I’m at home in Toronto, I usually carry it with me when I’m running in a foreign city or abroad. I’d like to say I do this so as not to miss an opportunity to photograph a new landscape, but in all honestly, I’m so ‘directionally challenged’ that having the ability to access maps and GPS on my phone provides me the sense of security I need to get out the door each morning for my run.
My family lives in the most picturesque pastoral region of England’s west coast region, so it’s safe to say, my runs over here are a stark contrast to the gritty urban vibe that greets me as I routinely crisscross Toronto’s urban core. Whereas in Toronto I’m dodging taxicabs or tiptoeing my way through a maze of streetcar tracks, over here in England, I’m navigating twisty undulating country lanes without a car in sight. I’ve been posting lots of photos of my runs on social media, and that has sparked many questions from the running community about how I incorporate running into my work and recreational travel, and what tweaks—if any—I do to my regular training schedule.
Like many of the athletes I know, I am drawn to running for its ability to quiet all the noise and confusion that surrounds my hectic lifestyle. How ironic that it is through movement, that I seek not silence, but a degree of inner ‘stillness’. When we are able to reach this place as a runner, it’s not as though there is an absence of noise in our mind, but rather, it’s the fluidity of motion, which allows us to make the space to hear whatever it is inside us that most demands our attention.
It makes no difference where your travels lead you, making the decision to explore your new surroundings by way of running is sure to be the best way for you to take in all of the cultural, architectural, and nuanced richness of this new environment. By its very nature, running enlists a tactile interaction with our surroundings and opens us to a degree of discovery we could never expect to achieve in any other mode of travel. I love heading out for a run in the pre-dawn light and making my way through a new city or village as it slowly comes to life for a new day.
It’s been said that “wherever you go, there you are”, so it should come as no surprise that the surest way to recalibrate my mind and rejuvenate my soul is found at the other end of a run. If you’re anything like me, half of your suitcase is comprised of your running gear, and one of the first things you do when you arrive at your destination is figure out the most convenient running route and nearest places to have your post-run coffee!
What are some of your favorite experiences running away? I’d love to see, post a picture and tag @runjprun and @iRunNation on Instagram or Twitter.
May 23rd, 2016
Summer’s unofficially here and now, there’s a whole new wave of sports bras that will have you ditching your racer back.
By: Karen Kwan
The last few years, brands have really stepped it up in the sports bra department—using the straps to create cool patterns, designing fun prints ranging from florals to edgy graphics, and incorporating a mix of textures including mesh and fabrics with high shine, for example. And although a handful of women run and work out with just the sports bra on with nothing worn on top of it, based on what I’ve observed in classes in Toronto (it’s still too cold here to run outdoors without a tee), most women wear a tank or a tee as well, which covers up that stylish little number.
But with spring here and summer approaching, will the warm weather have you wearing just your sports bra? It almost seems a fashion crime to cover up such well designed pieces…plus, it could be motivation to whip that core into even better shape.
Personally, I’m undecided. My main concern is chafing; I almost always run with a fuel belt and I’m pretty sure a fuel belt on a bare waist will translate into mega chafing, ouch. Also, my gut tells me running in just a sports bra will translate into much unwanted attention. If when running covered from head to toe and sweating buckets garners cat-calls, well, I can only imagine the whistles wearing just a sports bra and shorts will bring about.
Weigh in, ladies. Will you work out in your sports bra with no singlet or tee layered on top of it this season?
Find Karen Kwan’s weekly running fashion posts every Friday on Instagram. Karen contributes to a number of publications and you can also follow her travel and running adventures at Health & Swellness.
May 20th, 2016
People always say running is hard on your body and it certainly can be, especially on your feet. Your feet are the shock absorbers between your body and the ground when you run. And we ask a lot of our feet; they must be rigid enough to help you propel forward, yet pliable enough to conform to different surfaces. Very rarely do we reward them for all their hard work.
By Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg BSc. Kine
Your foot is a complex body part; it is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 2 arches (medial lonitundinal and transverse) and 3 regions (rearfoot, midfoot and forefoot), and numerous ligaments, muscles, bursas and fat pads. Your foot is also capable of a variety of different movements; it can invert and evert, dorsiflex and plantar flex and abduct and adduct. With so many moving parts and the constant impact, running can lead to tight muscles and inflammation, which can lead to foot pain (usually diagnosed as plantar fasciitis). Regular release of these tight, intrinsic muscles, via tennis ball roll outs, will keep your feet healthy and pain free, which means you can continue running all season long.
Tennis ball roll outs
HOW TO: Standing, place a tennis ball underneath your right foot. Shift your weight over your right foot and roll the tennis ball back and forth under your foot slowly. When you hit a spot that is tender, hold the ball there for 10-15 seconds before moving onto the next spot. Switch sides. A golf ball also works, although this can be more intense because a golf ball is harder and smaller. Also try a frozen water bottle, especially if you suffer from plantar fasciitis as this will allow you to ice at the same time.
May 19th, 2016
The Brooks Launch 3 is a reliable looking shoe that says let’s go for a run. It comes in five colour options, including my favourite, black. I trialled the pink/coral/blue version. I got several compliments on the wow factor of the colour combination, including one from my husband who claimed he saw my feet before he saw me. If you are concerned with being all match-y then this combo might be tough to co-ordinate with other pinks and corals but as I said there are other options.
By: Christa Davidson
This shoe feels light and airy when you strap it on and it cradles your foot like a baby. Running in it feels quick, springy and responsive because of the BioMoGo midsole construction. This is a product that is eco-friendly in production and waste but still retains the dynamic properties of Brooks DNA.
I forgot these shoes were on my feet while I ran which is a point that always gets a gold star in my books. I ran on paved roads, gravels paths and the treadmill during testing. I preferred them on the road and I would have no problem doing my long runs in them.
The Brooks Launch 3 is a neutral shoe that Brooks indicates is great for people with medium to high arches. I have high arches and I would agree that my foot felt supported and cradled. It’s designed for road and track running, weighing 7.9 ounces with a 10mm drop. The upper is made of a mesh fabric which contributes to the light feeling but also serves to help keep feet cool and dry. 3D print technology gives the upper strategic support where needed while retaining flexibility. There is blown rubber in the forefoot which provides a springy toe off and I did feel this difference. As I mentioned earlier, the midsole is constructed with a material known as BioMoGo DNA. This material is said to be dynamic, adapting to the needs of the runner. It is also marketed as retaining its properties better and longer than EVA. The Launch 3 can be picked up at running shoe retailers across Canada for a reasonable price of $130.
The Final Kick
This shoe has everything I want in a running shoe and may very well become my long run shoe this summer. I really appreciate that this is a great shoe at a great price. We are all unique, as is demonstrated by the sea of shoe options available to us and as such we should be open to the best shoe for us at the best price. As the old saying goes, if the shoe fits then wear it and I would add, if the price tag is under $160, then wear it with a smile.
May 17th, 2016
If you are anything like me – which I feel like you are since you’re reading this – then you will agree that long weekends don’t equate slacking off in the training department and eating like garbage; right?
By: Jenn Pike
I love long weekends for the chance to enjoy an extra day with my family and friends and for the opportunity to have a little extra time for training and in the kitchen creating new and delicious recipes like these ones below.
Whether your sport is endurance based like long-distance running, or maybe more interval based like sprints, hills and HIIT or you are a strength-training and/or yoga junkie, each one of these recipes will not only ignite your training but inspire your long weekend love affair too.
I am often asked as a nutritionist what my food staples are in my kitchen. When it comes to slow-release, foundation and functional carbohydrates SWEET POTATOES are at the top of my list. I roast, bake, grill or steam these beauties of each and every week as they are chalk full of nutrients like B6, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids? They are the perfect addition to your training and healthy living journey to add an extra hit of color and mega dose of nutrients. Did you know that here in Canada our growing season for sweet potatoes is actually quite short? That’s why I use US organic Sweet Potatoes for my pancake recipe below and most of my sweet potato recipes in general.
These Cinnamon Swirl Sweet Potato Pancakes are packed with a great source of carbs, fibre and protein and make the perfect post-training breakfast.
If you’re rushed and don’t have time to make the pancakes or maybe you’re on the go then I would highly recommend adding a smoothie to your training/eating regime to help replenish and restore your bodies needs from exercising. I have a smoothie each and every day and so does my husband and my children but we switch it up ALL the time. One recipe that I am crushing on right now is my Chocolately Coconut Cacao Smoothie. It. Is. Ridiculously good. I use coconut water as my base post-training to help replenish my electrolytes and offer up a healthy dose of potassium and magnesium. I only use Thirsty Buddha coconut water as it is 100% non-gmo, Canadian-based and part of the 1% for the planet project that gives back to environmental working groups worldwide. Delicious tasting and awesome intentions…my kind of company.
Another great training food staple for me, and one that is easy to prep and make loads of leftovers are my Turkey Feta Burgers. They use very few ingredients and are a breeze to put together and cook. For me I love to use my Phillips Indoor Smokeless Grill, which is perfect to use YEAR ROUND, has one perfect heat to work with and cleans up in a cinch. I make these burgers or swap the recipe into turkey meatballs and store them in the fridge for 3-4 days for a quick option to have over top of a salad or leftover roasted veggies.
Here’s to wishing you a great long weekend with friends, family and great tasting food!
Cinnamon Swirl Sweet Potato Pancakes
1 organic sweet potato
1/3 cup almond flour
2 large eggs, organic
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
ONE: First peel the skin and then prick with a fork all over. Cut sweet potato into quarters and place in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook in microwave for about 10 minutes until soft.
TWO: Allow the sweet potato to cool slightly, then mash with a potato masher until smooth. Measure out 1/2 cup sweet potato and reserve any remaining for another purpose or double the batch for you recipe.
THREE: Preheat a skillet or pan on the stovetop on medium-high heat and a little coconut oil or ghee. Combine 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato and all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl or food processer until blended well.
FOUR: Use a 1/4 measuring cup to portion batter onto skillet. Use the back of a spoon to shape. Watch for bubbles on the pancake’s surface before flipping. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.
FIVE: Serve immediately with your favorite toppings, such as fresh fruit, sliced almonds, a dash more cinnamon and voila! Delicious and nutritious.
Turkey Feta Burgers
1 pkg organic, ground turkey
½ cup goat feta
1-2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
Fresh herbs and spices to your liking
ONE: Combine all ingredients to form patties and grill. You do not need eggs or breadcrumbs to hold these together.
TWO: Use your Phillips Indoor Smokeless Grill and cook until clear juice runs and you achieve your desired taste, texture and flavour.
THREE: Serve on a gluten-free bun or on top of Boston Bibb Lettuce greens and garnishes of your choice.
Chocolately Coconut Cacao Smoothie
1 cup Thirsty Buddha Coconut water
1 scoop Genuine Health Chocolate Vegan+ Protein Powder
1 frozen organic banana
Tbsp. raw almond butter
Tbsp. cacao nibs (plus a little extra for garnish)
½ tsp. cardamom
Shredded coconut for garnish
Extra water for thinning depending on desired consistency
ONE: Place all of your ingredients together in your blender MINUS the coconut shreds and few extra cacao nibs.
TWO: Blend for 60 seconds. Pour into a fabulous glass and top with a few cacao nibs and some shredded coconut.
To book a private consult or purchase holistically life enhancing products visit jennpike.com.
May 17th, 2016
By Chris McPeake, Longboat Road Runners
It was intimidating. That’s what I remember the most when I first thought about joining a running club. In a time before Facebook and Twitter, I scoured the internet looking for a group or club that I could join.
I had become tired of running all the time by myself and hoped to find people to run with once in a while. The problem was all of these running clubs seemed to be full of runners, really good runners. People who were fit, fast, and even ran races. I mean I ran but I was not really a runner there was no way I could join a running club. I had all but given up on the idea when I had a chance encounter with a group of runners from the Longboat Roadrunners. They sold me hard on coming out and joining them for a run. My whole I’m not a runner fell on deaf ears. “You run don’t you? That makes you a runner.”
Joining a running club was probably one of smarter things I have done. Early on I learned that inside the running club nobody cared how fast I was or how far I could run except for maybe me. It opened up a whole new world when it comes to running and provided a much needed support system as my running goals changed and grew. What you can get out of a club all depends on what you are looking for but the benefits can be endless.
One thing about runners is that we like to talk about running, just ask any non runner. The wealth of experience and knowledge you find in most clubs is immense and other runners love to share. With the growth of social media now finding a club or group that fits your running needs should be far easier and less intimidating than when I was first starting out. Want to train hard, run group tempos, speed work and improve your race times there are clubs for that. Want to get some decent coaching and training plans, no problem. Want to run easy and drink beer afterwards there is a club just for that as well. What you will end up discovering is that there are many runners that run with multiple groups depending on what they want to get out of their running.
One of the perhaps unexpected benefits that the appears to come out of a wide range of individual clubs is a much stronger and vibrant running community as a whole with the clubs really helping to keep social connections between many different runners in a sport that can sometimes be seen as solitary. Are people still intimidated at the idea of joining a club or group? I want to say no, but in my experiences coaching runners and clinics have lead me to believe that yes it is still intimidating for some, especially newer runners. Don’t let that stop you, find a group that is a good fit for you. You will be glad you did.
May 15th, 2016
The goal was simple: to re-qualify. With the blessing of entering a new age category, I had an additional 10-minute buffer to honour this great race and to prove that I belonged in it. Getting to the Boston Marathon marked the end of a long journey and I was determined to cap it all off by taming the course to my goals.
As my wife and I arrived into Boston for the marathon weekend, the city had been unmistakably transformed into a running mecca. Welcome posters lined the airport luggage carousels, running advertisements blanketed entire transit stations, and marathon banners were draped over city lamp posts.
And then there were the jackets.
To the uninitiated, Boston looked like it was hosting a convention of people wearing unusually gaudy athletic jackets. To the marathoners, the distinct colours of each year’s Boston Marathon jacket represented the legacy of runners returning year after year. This wasn’t just a race – it was a homecoming.
The expo served as our first stop and we were welcomed with enthusiasm. Volunteers celebrated my “first Bawston” as they handed me my coveted bib. I stared at that bib with a bit of disbelief. Was it really mine? Was that my name on the packet? Did I really have to run another marathon in a couple of days? With a rhetorical “Yes” to myself, it was time to get ready to race.
The School Bus Field Trip
Race day dawned and I was like an excited little kid getting ready for a field trip as I boarded a school bus to the Hopkinton start line. Instant connections were made with runners from all over the world as we shared qualifying stories and lamented the anticipated heat of the day. I tried my best to conserve my energy, but the excitement in the air was contagious.
As we arrived into the tented area of the Athlete’s Village, there was finally a sense of calm. It was two hours before race start and it was time for a final bagel, banana and porta potty visit. As I was about to leave the village for the start corrals, there was a burst of excitement as I stumbled into a couple of familiar faces.
Sherab and Ray are a couple of runners from the Toronto area that I met through social media. Whether I bump into them in real life or see their training postings online, I have been inspired by their training regimen and constant cheers.
Seeing them reminded me of the smorgasbord of support that I had received to get me here: from the cheering poster that my wife and kids made, to those who pushed me on speed workouts and pulled me through long runs, to the many, many generous words of encouragement posted to my social media profiles. Little did I know how important theses moments of support would be for me to run this race.
Beckoned to Start
The race marshal beckoned so it was time to head towards the start corral. Hopkinton’s small town charm was displayed via the landlocked locals who choose to sit out on their lawns to cheer us on. It was a beautiful sunny day for spectating but it was nervously warm for running. With a shot from starter’s gun, it was go time.
Given the Boston Marathon’s course profile, my race strategy was to take advantage of the downhill first half and run it 1-2 minutes faster than the hilly second half. The first 5K went as expected with a slightly fast start due to a big elevation drop in the first mile. The sun was shining, the crowds were out, and people were cheering my homemade nametag – life was good.
0-5K / 22:53 / 04:35 min/K
The Boston Marathon course takes runners through a tour of several small towns with the volume of spectators building to a crescendo in the city. Stretches of quiet would be overtaken by cheers as we entered each local area. The course itself required constant attention in navigating efficiently through the many rolling hills, twists and turns but my pace kept on point.
5-10K / 23:22 / 04:40 min/K
The next 5K were relatively flat and I eased off on the pace. The sunshine complimented the beaming support received from the heartfelt crowds. As a world-class race, the Boston Marathon offers hydration stations at every mile. However, as a world-class spectacle, the Boston Marathon locals offered up everything from orange wedges, to freezies, to cold-water soaked paper towels, to beer. It was the richest buffet of support that I had ever seen at any race.
10-15K / 24:10 / 04:50 min/K
We were now headed into Natick and the race started to have more of a big-town feel. Rows upon rows of spectators greeted us and outstretched hands of little future runners were happy to give us all a high-five. One of the most memorable sections featured a series of individual trampolines with kids bouncing up and down to motivate us on. Spurred by these pleasant distractions, I was able to keep my pace dialed in and I looked forward to crossing the half-marathon mark.
15-20K / 24:06 / 04:49 min/K
Passing the halfway point was an important milestone as it meant that I could start counting down the kilometers to go. My calves were thankfully cooperating as there were no signs of them cramping despite my left soleus being quite knotted only a few weeks prior. My half-marathon split, however, was a minute slower than I would have liked, but I rationalized to myself that I was saving it for the hills of the second half.
21.1K / 1:39:47
Although I anticipated what the next section was going to be, it still hit me as a complete surprise. I was in a quiet section of the course, but I could hear a distinct, high-pitched roar from a kilometer away. These were the screams of thousands of women forming the Wellesley College Scream Tunnel and it was the most fun I’ve ever had while being yelled at. Despite the cheers, my pace was starting to falter but I wasn’t sure if it was from fatigue or from just wanting to linger on in this magical tunnel.
20-25K / 24:27 / 04:53 min/K
A marathon is 26.2 miles but at this point in the race I had wished that it were 26.2 kilometers. The downhill portion of the race was over and it was time to start climbing through the Newton hills. As soon as I began climbing, my quads sent me an unnerving message: it was over. The combination of the heat, downhill, and a lack of training volume caused my quads to cramp up in ways I had never felt before. Although the pursuit of a goal time ended here, this was where the race would truly begin.
25-30K / 27:05 / 05:25 min/K
The next few kilometres were erratic. I don’t remember much except that it was hilly. My legs felt like glue was being poured into them and I had to keep them moving to avoid becoming permanently stuck. The heat was getting to me but I was thankfully distracted through the pursuit of different flavoured freezies as generously provided by the locals. My pace slowed to a crawl as I climbed Heartbreak Hill but the most emphatic cheers of the crowd helped to power me through.
30-35K / 31:58 / 06:25 min/K
With the worst of the hills behind me, I gained some confidence to pick up the pace of my legs again. The students of Boston College provided the strongest support of the day as they would systematically cheer runners by name. My greatest anticipation, however, was in knowing that I would be seeing my wife, my brother and friends along the course soon. Seeing their friendly faces buoyed my spirits and caused me to run my fastest splits in this latter part of the race. With their well wishes behind me, it was time to get to the finish.
35-40K / 28:32 / 05:42 min/K
The momentum of friendly faces, however, was only a temporary reprieve. My legs yielded to depletion and I was reduced to a murmur of a shuffle. Every step was a concentrated effort of defying the urge to stop. As I turned onto Hereford St., I was overwhelmed at the thousands of faces cheering for all the runners – cheering for me.
My body desperately wanted to shut down but I imagined each of those anonymous faces as representing every person who has supported me along the way to get to this race – to get to this finish. I could feel the goodwill of family, friends and my many running supporters tracking me online and I could hear their voices through the sea of spectators.
As I turned left on Boylston St., the finish line came into sight. The grandstands overflowed with encouragement for runners to give it one final push. My shuffle persisted and I barely resembled the runner that started this race. My initial goal of running a re-qualifying time was necessarily changed to celebrating the success of simply getting here. Success was already realized a year and a half prior when I ran my most perfect marathon to qualify, and today, success would be realized by crossing a finish line and becoming a Boston Marathoner.
42.2K / 3:41:35
For those of you who have journeyed with me to this point, please accept my sincere thanks. You are the ones who have cheered, paced, liked, and commented to keep this runner going to achieve what was once a dream. You are the ones who have re-qualified success for me and I hope that someday, somehow, that I can return the favour.
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