Chicago Marathon 2018: Race Recap

 

IMG_1700I was unsure of how early to arrive at the start-line, the recommendation was 5:30am, 2-hours before the start. I knew that was too early since I was not doing bag check, plus standing for that long before a marathon didn’t sound ideal. I woke up before my alarm, sometime before 5am and made a small cup of coffee. I got dressed and applied a lot of Glide. I ate most of a sesame bagel, with nothing on it.

I decided to follow the same fuel plan I used for the Erie marathon, a month earlier since I found it worked well. I had pre-mixed 2 bottles of Maurten: one for in the hotel while getting ready, the second for in the corral. That is a lot of carbohydrates to take in (100g per bottle), and I don’t recommend fuelling this way unless you have trained for it. I used Maurten all summer, spent time figuring out how many grams of carbs would be ideal during a marathon, and fuelled my long runs accordingly. Aside from that I had 5 gels, Endurance Tap, to take every 7km.

It was raining when I woke up, a further reason I wasn’t eager to stand outside for extra time. I was very prepared for rain though, with a poncho, and lots of shower caps, 1 for my head, and 2 for each foot. As shown below, I was runway ready.

IMG_1484

My walk to the start was a mere 800m, so I left around 6:20am and headed over to the race. Once there, it was an overwhelming sea of people moving in every direction. There was a lot of signage though making it easy to figure out where to go. They had security before entering the corral, but since I had no bag, it was very fast. I was able to quickly find the E-corral, which was pretty empty at this time. Immediately, I ran into two teammates, so we hung out until the start.

When I put my qualifying time in for this race, about a year ago, the time I used was 3:31 from the Eugene Marathon in May 2017. The pacers in my corral started at 3:35, which was over 10-minutes slower than my goal. I knew this was not the appropriate corral to be in, so I made sure I was right at the front. We began walking to the start, and saw the corral ahead of us start the race, there was only about a 15 second gap before we started. It was crowded, and the GPS was going wild, like I knew it would. I focused on trying not to weave too much and not worrying about the GPS and feeling the pace.

My plan for the first 5km called for a 4:55 pace, that was my only focus for this first section. I also knew my friend Jess would be cheering by the hotel which was around mile 2. I really didn’t know what my pace was, and I didn’t see a km marker until about 2km, where I tried to lap my watch to fix the GPS. Turns out that first 5km took 24:50, 4:58 average, a bit slower than planned. I saw Jess, easy to spot in a basset hound raincoat, waved, and smiled and carried on.

After the 5km mark, the pace plan was to increase to 4:50 for the next 16km, until 21km. This section of the course took us north until 8 miles / 13 km mark before heading back south. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the course or what was happening for this stretch. I felt like I was just “in the zone” waiting for the next pick-up. I can tell you that the spectators and support were absolutely amazing, but other than that, I don’t have too much memory, it’s oddly a blur. So many runners, so many faces in the crowd, so many cups and gel wrappers on the ground.

I took my first gel at 7km, another at 14km, and another at 21km. I didn’t drink much water, just small amounts, and not at every station. The weather was my ideal, overcast, but not too cold, very comfortable. It rained, I barely noticed. I felt strong  and prepared. My pace for km 6-10 was 4:55/km, again behind what I was supposed to be doing. The watch thing was tricky and in spite of lapping at km markers to try and fix it, my watch still wasn’t lining up. I accepted this early on, and did my best to feel it out. Km’s 11-15 were on track, 4:50 pace, km’s 16-20 were back down to 4:54. I arrived at the half-way point in 1:43:17, a 4:54/km average. This was 58 seconds behind where I was supposed to be at the half-way point. I was aware that I was behind, but I didn’t lose confidence.

I focused on the fact that I was already half way there, and even better, I felt GREAT. I felt like I was just waiting to turn up the pace. After the half-way point, we headed west to where we had been the previous day for the Nike store. After 21km, my pace plan was to increase to 4:45/km, and hold this until 35km. Km’s 22-25 were 4:41/ km average. Yes, a bit faster, I was trying not to go beyond my pace, but it was hard. I really felt high-energy and couldn’t wait to pick it up. I also knew I needed to wait and avoid picking it up too early. I took my 4th gel at 28km. At this point, we began moving south towards Little Italy. Km’s 26-30 came in at a 4:43/km average. Still feeling super strong.

When I hit 30 I knew the race was about to begin, everything I had done up to this point felt like meditative junk miles. I was waiting to see that 30k marker. Km’s 31-35 were an average of 4:46/km. We were now heading south east. This helped even out being a tiny bit faster than planned for the previous 10km. I came through 35km in 2:49:25, a 4:50/km average. Still, I was behind, now by 1:05. I took my last gel at 35km and then it was time to get to work. We were heading south for a few more km’s before heading north towards the park and the finish. My pace plan was now to increase to 4:40/km for the next 5km. Km’s 36-40 were an average of 4:39/km,  I was feeling good and excited. I was also waiting for this rumoured hill, unsure of exactly when I would encounter it. There was a mild incline on a bridge which I figured was the hill,  it really wasn’t bad, barely a hill I thought to myself.

After the 40km mark, I was to go all out until crossing the finish. This was the most anticipated part of the race, because I was curious to see what I still had left. I ran the last 2.2 km in an average of 4:33/km. The rumoured hill was in there, with less than 1km to the finish. I could see the finish around the corner, I could see people being taken by the hill. I embraced it, embraced the temporary discomfort, peaked the hill, and sprinted to the finish.

My official time was 3:22:37. This was 41 seconds off (slower than) what my plan had me coming in at. I took 2:56 off my previous PB at the Erie Marathon in September. I finished feeling SO good. While I am happy with my effort in Chicago, I also know I have more in me. I cannot wait to run another marathon and see what I can do. Is it April yet?

Chicago Marathon 2018: Pre-Race

7B%MgU3WQM2fBsabGtdYbw.jpg

I arrived in Chicago on Friday just before 5pm local time, and wasted to time. I quickly dropped my stuff at the hotel before heading to the expo. American race expos have a lot more going on at them compared to Canadian ones, especially the World Majors. Normally I enjoy walking through the expo, but this time I just felt bored. I grabbed my marathon and 5k bibs, did a walk through, took 1 photo and then left. It was time to eat dinner and relax.

The next morning, I woke up early as always and had coffee and a small breakfast at the hotel with my friend Jess, before heading over to the 5km. It was raining with thunder and lightning when we woke up, and my other running buddies weren’t sure they wanted to run in that. Fortunately it cleared up, the start was delayed a little, and since we did not want to stand in the corrals for extra time to seed ourselves properly, there were quite a few waves ahead of us. By the time we were running, the weather was pretty good, overcast, but a little humid. I am pretty sure we laughed for most of those 5km and it was a great way to shake-out our legs before the big day.

IMG_9297

Post-run, I walked by to the hotel, which was under 1 km (pretty pleased with how that turned out), the finish of the 5km was also in the same park as the start/finish of the marathon. I had a quick shower and we headed out to find a proper breakfast. We ended up at a place called Yolk which featured a massive menu. Anywhere that considers 2 full-size pancakes as a “side” knows nothing about portion control, but worked out just fine pre-race. I ended up with an “Ironman scramble” which was egg whites and veggies with pancakes on the side and grits.

The next item on the list was the Nike store, they were releasing the finishers gear the day before the race, so I wanted to make sure I got a jacket it my size. We arrived at Nike only 1-hour after opening and already they said they were out of small jackets, and suggested coming back “tomorrow at 8am”, which would have been 30-minutes into the marathon. After a quick phone call, I decided to make the trip to Nike Bucktown, 4 miles away from the flagship on Michigan ave. They had all the sizes and it wasn’t a gong show like the downtown store. I may have ended up with a few more items than just the jacket.

We grabbed coffees at a cute shop called Red Beard, and then jumped in an Uber back downtown. We had tickets for the Architectural boat tour, but our driver was super confused about where to drop us off, and we ended up doing circles while the boat pulled away. When we arrived, we were told we could do the tour the following day, so we went to Pret a Manger for lunch and then headed back to the hotel. I organized my clothes and fuel, re-read my race plan, made sure I knew my paces and then hung out until it was time to head out for dinner.

I had made a dinner reservation at Mama’s Boy, which considers itself italian peasant food. We were meeting my friend Lisa from BC, who was also running the marathon and her mom. The place was absolutely packed when we arrived, which I’m sure was the case with all italian resto’s that night. There was a large crowd of people waiting for seats which flowed right into the dinning area. The servers knocked and elbowed them out of the way, saying “move” as they passed. The atmosphere was interesting, and the food was pretty good. We were done by 7pm and then headed back to the hotel for final pre-race prep.

Race Recap: Erie Marathon

IMG_8927.JPG

Last Sunday I ran my fifth marathon, The Erie Marathon, which is in Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania. The race is known for the high percentage of runners who BQ there year after year. They even have t-shirts for purchase at package pick-up reading, “I BQ’d at The Erie Marathon”. Previous to moving back to Toronto in May, I had never heard of the Erie Marathon, nor had I anticipated adding a third marathon into my race roster for 2018. After joining a new running team, I heard about the race and it piqued my interest. My intention had been to train for the Chicago Marathon, giving up my dream of returning to Boston in 2019. I figured the BQ with a 3-minute buffer I earned in Boston this year would likely not be enough, and had briefly resigned myself to considering alternate spring marathons, like Paris, and London. Needless to say, that didn’t last long and I modified my plans to run an early fall marathon in addition to Chicago, with the plan to BQ in Erie. This would secure my spot on the very last day before the Boston application submission window opened, which coincided with my birthday.

I focused and worked hard in the 3 months leading up to Erie, and had a really great training cycle. I went into the race feeling prepared, and confident that I would achieve my goal, not just to BQ, but to PB, and finish in under 3:26. Although I had a strong training cycle, an unforeseen challenge arose just 10 days before race day.  One of my teammates called me at 6:30AM because a message had been posted on Facebook announcing that anyone who accepted hydration or nutrition from someone on the sidelines would be disqualified. By this standard, accepting an orange from a child on the side of the road, could result in disqualification. Several of our teammates and other members of the Toronto running community had built their fuelling plans with the expectation that fuel would be provided by team-mates from the sidelines of this small-town race.

The post generated concern from several participants, but nothing changed, the response was still if you accept anything from the sidelines you will be disqualified. This put a negative tone on the event, and so started the jokes of how else runners might earn a DQ. Would we be permitted to run in bras or were shirts mandatory? Were we allowed to smile? It seemed unnecessarily strict and after all, the goal was to do well by our own standards, we were not contenders to win the race. I modified my fuelling plan and luckily no other obstacles arose.

My race day morning began around 4:45AM. I got up, made a cup of hotel coffee, and an un-toasted bagel with PB, but only managed to consume half. I wasn’t worried though, I had eaten pancakes, soba noodles, a half-sandwich, a piece of baguette, and pasta the day before. Plus, my fuelling plan had me consuming 198g of carbohydrates, which equalled 800 calories before I ran a single step. I got ready and headed to the shuttle buses to meet-up with some of the other team-members for the 1-mile ride to the start. It was pitch black (flashlights were included in the race kit) and a bit cold, the weather had been calling for rain and flooding, but fortunately the forecast changed.

Once we arrived at the start, the typical pre-race chaos ensued, long washroom lines, people yelling each other’s names trying to find each other, etc. We ended up finding a few other familiar runners and wished them well before lining up at the start. My focus at this point was finishing my second 500ml bottle of Maurten before the race began, which I did seconds before the gun went off. As we set out, my focus shifted to keeping my pace controlled, the plan for the first 5km was to stay at 5:00/km.

I finished the first 5km in 24:45, only hitting 5:00/km for one of the kilometres. I told myself to stay on pace for the next section which had me targeting 4:55/km over the next 15km. Km’s 6-20 took 1:13:32, average pace 4:54/km. During that stretch I saw my dad, team-mates Matt and Kim who had come from Toronto just to cheer us on, as well as coach and Mel who were screaming and holding a Happy Birthday banner. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces. I also saw a water bottle of electrolyte attached to a tree and laughed to myself. During the first half of the race, I took 3 gels, which I carried on my person.

For km’s 21-35 my pace was meant to increase to 4:50/km, I am not exactly sure how long that stretch took because my watch lost GPS after around 33km. Anyway, I can say for 21-33km, my average pace was 4:49/km. I took 2 gels in that time, my final one at 35km for a final boost before the plan had me pick it up. I got to see Matt and Kim again, as well as my dad which made me happy. I had not been thinking about much up to this point except the task at hand, executing the race plan, fuelling and the occasional thought of I really need to pee, can I wait? 

After 35km, the plan was to increase my pace to 4:45/km for the next 7km. By this point my GPS was not working at all, my watch was showing paces in the double-digits. I knew my energy level was still high, and my legs still had more to give, so I stopped looking at pace altogether and ran on feel. I began passing people, and just did the best I could to maintain the pace I thought I was meant to be holding. There were only mile markers, but I decided not to bother with auto-lapping and just run. With 2 miles left, I knew I would finish around the 3:25:xx mark. I think I was smiling for the whole way after that, I knew I had hit my goal, and nothing was going to change that, so I remained calm and kept moving forward.

With less than 1km to go I saw coach, Mel, Matt, Kim and Rachel, just as I reached the straight-away to the finish. I could see the finish, but it felt far. I like to do a big finish and sprint as much as my legs will allow, so I did just that, gaining places as I passed others. I crossed the finish and threw my hands up. I had done it, a BQ with a substantial buffer, a sub 3:26 marathon, and a 5 minute and 34 second PB. Looks like I’ll be Boston bound in 2019 after all.

Reflections on my Early 20’s: why I’m Running a Marathon on my Birthday

Running down Queen St at 6am few Saturdays ago, I passed broken beer bottles, half-eaten boxes of poutine, puddles of vomit, from someone’s Friday night and a few people just finishing up their Friday night. At that moment, I fully realized how much my life has changed since I last lived in Toronto just over 4-years ago.

At that time, the roles would have been reversed (though I would never waste poutine). My Friday night’s were certainly not spent eating nutrition dense meals and going to bed early in preparation for a big Saturday run. For as long as I can remember, I have felt torn between focusing on fitness or focusing on “having fun”, albeit someone else’s idea of fun. Sure drinking can be enjoyable, I enjoy beer immensly, but staying up late and drinking something you don’t like with the goal of getting drunk is not fun. Especially, when that voice in the back of your head says, “you’re going to feel like shit tomorrow and not want to do anything”. I knew that lifestyle wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t ready to move on, and hear all the accompanying “you’re so lame” comments that would have followed.

Staying up late and getting up early to exercise may not be ideal for successful training, staying up late, drinking excessively and getting up early makes training almost impossible. I used to try to do both. I still worked out 6-days a week then, but it was a lot different than it is now. It was pretty normal to show up to a spin class smelling like vodka from the night before, and somehow still get through the class. I guess that’s what is now referred to as a weekend warrior. I ran then too, but typically just a couple 10k runs a week to burn off the “drunk food”.

At that time, the idea of running a marathon was impossible. It simply did not make sense to me how someone could run that far; I was certain I never would. I was right, it was impossible, because running a marathon with that lifestyle would NOT have worked.     About 8 months before I moved to BC, things began to change, I had run 4 half’s at that time, including a best of 1:45, which I was happy with, and had achieved with little training. The day I got that PB was significant for a few reasons, and I used it as inspiration to run more and prioritize health. I lifted weights, I ran 4 times a week, sometimes up to 16km on an indoor track to avoid the snow and ice. In the month before I moved to BC, I began running everyday. I set a goal to run 100 miles that month and I did. I remember feeling so happy about that.

Moving to BC in June 2014 was a massive change, I knew no one there, and had no sense of obligation to participate in anything I didn’t want to. I was working in a craft beer bar, which was awesome, and surrounded by people who were living my old lifestyle, but it no longer mattered. I went out sometimes, but mostly I wanted to prioritize running and that was that. In January 2015, I began training with a coach and met other like-minded people. My intention at that time was to prepare to run a marathon. My coach wanted me to build a strong base first and knock a few more minutes off my half-marathon time before committing to a full. I put in the work, and my times continued to improve. In October 2016, I lined up at the start-line of my very first marathon in Victoria, BC.

Almost 2-years later, I am preparing for marathon #5, The Erie Marathon on Sunday September 9, also my 29th birthday. I have spent the summer training hard, running 6-days a week. I feel stronger than I ever have, and happy with the training I have put in. This is how I chose to spend my summer, and I have never regretted it. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to my 20’s than to run a marathon on my birthday, and set the tone for the next decade – where I will continue to do things my way. I have grown a lot since 2014, my priorities have changed, my goals keep getting bigger, and I plan to keep chasing them.

Shoe Review: Saucony Freedom ISO 2

When the Freedom was released about 19 months ago, it was a game-changer. It was the first shoe to boast a full-length EVERUN midsole. A very responsive, yet still cushioned shoe that became an instant favourite. The updated version dropped this summer and while I was a fan of The Freedom to begin with, I like it even better now.

With the second edition, you still get the full-length EVERUN midsole, but you also get the debut of ISOKNIT. The previous model had an ISOFIT upper which has a sock-like feel and “morphs to the foot for a custom feel”. Those features are maintained with ISOKNIT, and the addition of a performance knit gives you more freedom of movement and makes the shoe more breathable.

One of the most striking changes in the new version of this shoe is the fit. The Freedom ISO 2 has a much more spacious toe-box than the original version. I was a little cramped in the previous model, and typically reserved the shoes for track-workouts. I love the fit of the second edition! While I will still be wearing them on the track, I plan to wear them during other, longer sessions as well.

By the Numbers:

Offset: 4mm (same as previous edition)

Weight: 8.2 oz/232g (8.1 oz/230g)

Price: $199.99

Training Recap June 4-10, 2018

This week I started running with a new training group! The workouts start EARLY, 6:30am and the WU needs to already be completed by then. I am always up early anyhow, and enjoy getting my workouts in at the beginning of the day instead of at night, part of why I joined this group.

Monday: 6km easy to start the week.

Tuesday: Back on the track! 2km warm-up, 800m @4:20-25, 600m @4:20-25, 400m @mile pace, 200m @mile pace, 400m @mile pace, 600m @4:20-25, 800m @4:20-25, 2km cool-down. I also strength/ core.

Wednesday: 5km easy for Global Running Day!

Thursday: Mona Fartlek WO, 2km warm-up, 2×90” @4:20-25, 4×60” @4:20-25, 4×30”@4:20-25, 4×15” @4:20-25, 2x1km@MP, 2km cool-down. I also did a HIIT WO- been a very long time since I’ve done one of these.

Friday: 6km easy, went out to Ashbridges Bay. I also did core.

Saturday: “Long-Run”, 14km out towards the Leslie Street Spit. I also did core.

Sunday: OFF. According to my watch, I walked almost to 18km.

Total Weekly Mileage: 50.1 km

Training Recap May 28-June 3, 2018

This week was pretty relaxed, no workouts, no long-runs, I just did what I felt like. I cannot tell you the last time I did that because it was YEARS ago. I went on 5 runs, at all times of day. It was good, but weird. I don’t plan to continue this way though because when it comes to training I love plans and structure!

Here is how the week went:

Monday: OFF. 

Tuesday: 8km easy, and core. It felt good to get out and stretch the legs after my partial Buffalo Marathon. You can read about that here if you are interested: Training Recap May 21-27 and Surprise Race Recap

Wednesday: 10km easy, a typical out-and-back route along the beach/lakeshore. I also did core.

Thursday: 6km easy, a little rip around the beach to Ashbridges Bay Park. I also did core and strength training.

Friday: OFF. 

Saturday: 10km easy, headed out around 5pm which is late for a Saturday. I was otherwise engaged during the day, but it ended up being a nice time to run. I chose a different route which took me along Dundas. I also did core.

Sunday: 12km easy, it was grey and breezy and kind of west-coast ish. I enjoy that weather.

Total Weekly Mileage: 46km

This week is going to be a big week of NEW. I have been in Toronto for a month now, but what have I been doing? What are my plans for work and training here? I’ll touch on al of that later this week so stay tuned.

Training Recap May 21-27 and Surprise Race Recap

This week was a bit lighter because I was tapering to race. This race was not previously mentioned here or on IG. I did not mention the race leading up to it for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t want any pressure, which can sometimes happen. Another is that I thought my plan was a little out there. It wasn’t just a any race, it was a marathon.

Here is what I did leading up to Sunday’s race:

Monday: OFF. 

Tuesday: WO, 10’ easy, 3km@4:54, 1km@4:30, 3×90”@4:15, 15’ easy. I also did core.

Wednesday: 30’ easy, I also did core.

Thursday: WO, 10’ easy, 5’@4;43, 2×2’@4:14, 3’@4:35, 15’ easy.

Friday: OFF.

Saturday: 20’ easy, this is the earliest run I can ever remember doing, I started before 6am.

Sunday: 5’ easy, Buffalo “Marathon”.

Total Weekly Mileage: 49.1 km

Buffalo Marathon Race Recap

Obviously, 4 runs and a marathon cannot add up to only 49.1km. So how did my mileage end up like that? I did not complete the marathon. But before I get to that, I will start from the beginning. Why did I feel the need to run another marathon just 6-weeks after Boston anyway? Simple answer, because I’m never satisfied, always looking for another goal. Boston was an amazing experience, it was everything I thought it would be an more. However, while I was happy with my result, it was not necessarily what I trained for. I know that it’s not all about the result, but I felt like I had more in me than the time on the clock reflected. I thought I could do another marathon piggy-backing off the great training cycle I had for Boston, and decided to try and do that in Buffalo.

This is a big marathon weekend in Canada, there was also Ottawa and Calgary. I chose Buffalo because it’s closer to Toronto than Ottawa, and also because based on historical weather, it seemed like Buffalo would have cooler weather than Ottawa (spoiler alert: it didn’t). The courses are both know to be pretty flat so either one was fine for that. Anyway, I registered and decided to run another marathon in close proximity to Boston. My time goal was just to do 1-2 minutes faster than Boston, so 3:30ish. The reason I wanted this time was to secure a BQ with a bigger cushion. I didn’t think it would be realistic to ask too much and look for a massive PB, I just wanted a couple extra minutes.

I arrived in Buffalo around noon on Saturday, stopped by the expo for my race kit (most underwhelming expo I have ever seen). My race kit was a shirt and a bib with pins. Following that, I walked down the street to a cafe for lunch and then to my airbnb, which was in a loft over the cafe. I spent the rest of the day relaxing like you do before a marathon, and I was feeling good. I watched my carb intake for 3 days leading up to the event to make sure I was actually “carb-loading”. My pre-race dinner was pasta and bread which I had delivered, so no extra walking! I ate at 5pm and then continued relaxing and Netflix bingeing. I drank a ton of water.

The first problem began when I wanted to go to sleep. There was a large vent over the bed that would activate every 10 or so minutes and it was VERY, VERY loud. Loud enough that it kept waking me up. In addition to that, I felt like I heard 100 sirens, as well as loud people coming and going between midnight and after. My alarm went off at 4:45am, and I began making coffee and oatmeal. I ate almost all the oatmeal, which was better than usual because it’s often hard for me to eat much in the morning before a marathon. I got all my gear on, slathered myself in Glide and sunscreen, and headed out at 5:50am.

My 5-minute easy warm-up took me almost to the start. I waited for a bit and then joined the corral to ensure I would be in the right position. It was good I got in there early because it was absolute chaos. We were shoulder to shoulder, it was all self-managed so there were people in the completely wrong places. There were a lot of people who weren’t even in the corral when the race started. There was a count-down from 5-minutes and then the American national anthem, and then surprise, fireworks! Well the announcer did not warn us about this and it scared me so much I almost cried. Oh the emotional rollercoaster that is the moments leading up to the start of a marathon!

The start was pretty congested, but it didn’t last long luckily. There was water within 300m of the start which I found strange, especially because the next water station was pretty far away. My first 5km were: 4:51, 4:54, 4:54, 4:50, 4:50. It was pretty hot, and I was sweating even before the race started! Still, I felt pretty good aside from a bit of stomach discomfort but I tried to work through it. We were going around residential streets and there were more people out spectating that I thought there would be. It kind of reminded me of the Eugene marathon, the small town vibe and quaint residential streets. Km’s 6-10 were: 4:58, 4:54, 5:02, 5:33, 4:54. Km 9 included a time penalty because I ended up having to stop at a port-o-let. Since I was able to hit pace for km 10 I remained optimistic. I was following my fuel plan perfectly, a gel every 30 minutes.

Km’s 11-15 were: 4:56, 5:01, 5:10 (hill), 5:05, 5:01. This was OKAY, but not great. Things were already beginning to fall apart, as in, my legs were starting to feel tired. This is way, way too early in a marathon to start “feeling” your legs. I tested it out for another km and then I knew it was not my day to run a marathon. I had gone in with the intention of dropping out if things weren’t going according to plan. This was not a big, special goal race, it was a last minute thing and the decision going into it was that there would be no point in forcing it if I was unable to execute. I also didn’t want to complete it just for the sake of it and have to take all the recovery time, this race was purely for time. Since I was not going to hit the appropriate time, there was no reason to complete it. The weather of course was a concern, along with the fact that I had run a challenging marathon 6-weeks earlier.

When I knew for sure that it was not my day, I began to think about when I should drop out. I still wanted to get in a decent Sunday long-run, plus I needed to pull out somewhere convenient, where I wouldn’t be too far from my Airbnb. I decided to run at least half of it and then see how close I could get to my Airbnb on the course. At 22km we were 1 block from my Airbnb, so I pulled over, unpinned my bib, walked the block and went inside. I was shocked at how salty my legs were, it was insane! I have never been so salty before! My legs were also pretty sore and tired, I grabbed a giant bottle of water and put my legs up the wall.

I showered and scrubbed all the salt off, and then relaxed for a while. Eventually, I walked downtown to Public Coffee and Espresso and had a Turmeric Kombucha, Americano, and breakfast bowl with eggs, sweet potato and avocado. This was planned so that when I was done, the brewery would be open. I arrived there for 12-noon when they opened, sat at the bar and wrote this recap over a beer or two.

The short version of how I feel about this is: no harm, no foul. Of course, it would have been amazing to feel great and nail that 3:30 marathon, but today was not the day for that, and it’s okay. If I didn’t try this, I would have been left playing the “what if…” game. I am happy I went out today and tried to run another marathon, even though I only ran 52% of it. As I sat in Public Coffee, I looked up what other marathons were coming up, like I always do after a race. What I learned today is to appreciate what I have already done. There will not be another marathon from these legs until October in Chicago, and I couldn’t be more excited about that.

What does “I can’t” really mean?

The other day, one of my brothers’ colleagues said to me, “I heard you run marathons”. To which I said, “Yes, that’s true”. He then said something like, “How do you do that? I can’t even run 8km without barfing!”

I am confident that any endurance athlete will have a story or 10, about someone asking them, “How do you run a marathon?” or “How do you do a triathlon?” etc. I find this question difficult to answer because it’s pretty simple. You put in time, effort and train for your endurance sport of choice, and then you do it. There is no magic. Regardless of the response, it is typically followed by something like, “I could never do that!”

But how can you know for certain that you CAN’T do something if you never try? You see, the choice of language, “I can’t” cannot be interpreted literally.

It can mean:

“I don’t want to”.

“I have never tried”.

“That seems daunting, I’m scared just thinking about it”.

Etc.

It can also mean:

“I am not trained to..”

“I can’t…TODAY”.

These two statements are true of endurance athletes too, the ability to complete a marathon or triathlon requires training, it’s not just something you up and do on a random afternoon (typically). Even people who are seasoned endurance athletes go through periods of un-fitness, and times where they aren’t prepared to complete long events. Training is hard, there’s no question, it involves prioritizing, organization, and dedication. Just because something doesn’t come easy, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It means it’s going to take time and effort.

Saying you “can’t” is limiting yourself, putting a box around a goal and saying no without ever fighting for it. I believe this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you have it in your head that you are unable to do something, you probably won’t try to do it. Even though it’s more than likely that this goal would be attainable if the necessary effort was put forth. There are very few things someone actually “can’t” do so long as a goal is set, and we give ourselves the time and tools to complete it.

You may have heard of a tool called S.M.A.R.T goals. It can be used for any type of goal, personal, professional, athletic or other.

S: is for specific.

M: is for measurable.

A: is for achievable.

R: is for relevant.

T: is for time bound.

Using SMART goals is helpful because it keeps you accountable. Sometimes the difference between meeting a goal or not is realizing it by saying it or writing it out etc. Sometimes the difference can be the language we use, for example, “I can’t” vs. “I can’t right now” or “I’m working towards…”

Anyone who can was previously someone who couldn’t. The only difference between those who can and those who can’t, is that those who can are willing to try, willing to potentially fail in pursuit of being able to accomplish their goal. We aren’t born with the inherent ability to do many things, let alone run a marathon. Some of us choose to spend our time training in order to run them. So before you say “I can’t” do something, ask yourself, “Have I ever put forth the effort required to meet this goal? Seriously, have I?” If the answer is no, don’t say “I can’t”.

Training Recap May 14-20, 2018

I went into this week feeling anxious since I had 3-days off in a row due to being sick. In the grand scheme of things missing 2 runs is not the end of the world, but any runner will agree, missing 2 runs in a row does not feel good. It was the right call though to rest and get healthy! This week I completed all my runs and nailed a big workout, further evidence the rest was the right decision.

Monday: I ran 10km with my dad, it felt difficult after 3 days off, but that’s to be expected. I also did core and upper body.

Tuesday: My dad and I ran another 10km, different route though. It felt better than the previous day! I also did core.

Wednesday: WO day, first one in a week. It was: 20′ easy, 2×16′ as: 4’@HM, 3′ easy, 1’@10km, 4′ easy, 4’@HM, 20′ easy. It was freaking windy, so that made it a bit harder, and probably coming back from a cold made it hard too, this felt tougher than normal, but I got through it. I hit this in the morning because I had the Saucony Run Your World event in the evening, a 5km downtown during rush-hour. I tested out the new Saucony Ride ISO’s during the run and they felt great!

Thursday: 45′ easy, this was a slog after my double-run day, but I anticipated that and embraced the relaxed pace. I also did core.

Friday: 30′ easy, this was a little shakeout since I had a big WO on deck the next day.

Saturday: This was the largest WO I have done since Boston training, I was a little nervous about it, but am happy to report I executed without any issues. The WO was: 20′ easy, 5km@5:05, 4km@4:56, 3km@4:50, 2km@4:39, 12′ easy. When I woke up it was pouring rain, and I haven’t run in rain or poor weather since Boston. I was not feeling getting soaked, so I checked AccuWeather, saw when the rain was predicted to stop and waited until then to run. I have never done that before, and it’s funny to me that I did since I lived in the PNW for the last 4-years, but hey. I also did upper body and core.

Sunday: 90′ easy, I ran an OG “long-run” route out to Sugar Beach and back. It used to feel like a big accomplishment when I ran this 16km route back in the day. Today it felt like it ended quickly, I must be a marathoner…

Total Weekly Mileage: 87.1km