Ironman Mont Tremblant

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Toronto Marathon Race Report

Whooo hoooo a PB!!!....Oh wait, this is the first full marathon I've done so any time would have been a PB!  I could have crawled and it would have been a PB

The weather was just nasty but at least it didn't pour but rather light drizzle and the wind while averaging 30 km\hr I'm sure there were several times it was over 50 km\hr.  That was a painful run but I'm glad I did it.  I'm some what disappointed I couldn't hold my pace as I died running up University Ave into the wind but that was expected.

Last night's sleep was horrible as I don't think I got more than five hours of sleep as I tossed and turned.  I'm glad I got a solid sleep Friday night with the help of a sleeping pill.  For some reason, the sleep two nights before the race is more important than the night before.  Why I have no idea.

I was constantly watching the Weather Channel for the last couple of days and they were pretty accurate with the forecast.  We got down to the start line at North York City Hall (not far from where we used to live) just after 7:50 am.  The Half Marathon went off at 8:00 am.  The area is surrounded by condos and office buildings and the wind was very strong and it was freezing cold.  I got ready while the kids waited inside the truck and then we headed over to the Starbucks to warm up and get the kids something to eat.  I had to go to the bathroom and there were two line ups in the Starbucks.  One for coffee and one for the bathroom.  While I was waiting, a lady with a small kid walked up to the front of the line, not realizing the line up was for the bathroom.    The lady in front of me told her sharply that she had to wait her turn.  Once she went into the bathroom I turned around and said to the lady with the small kid to go ahead of me and she looked very relieved.  Clearly you can tell which people that have small kids.  When a kid has to go, they have to go....immediately.  There is no waiting.  After I was finished, we headed over to the start line and the kids had to stop at every puddle to play.  The race was starting in less than five minutes and as usual, I was running to the start line.  At least this time I managed to make it to the start line BEFORE the race started.  I looked around for the 3:50 or 4:00 pace bunnies but couldn't see them.  I did spot the 4:15 pace bunny at the front of the pack near the start line.  WTF????

The race started and I jogged easily for the first couple of kilometers.  My brother Glen and his family were there as we headed down Yonge Street with the wind at our back.  Sweet.  Within two km, I was warming up fast and I ditched the garbage bag I was wearing (I was getting funny stares in the Starbucks).  The rain was on and off but more importantly the wind was at our backs.  I ran with an old neighbour for a couple of minutes as we chatted.  She remembered my name but I didn't remember her name.  Doh!

One of the problems I've had during long training runs was nutrition.  I talked to coach before the race and he said I should be consuming 300 calories per hour.  I never came even close to that amount so I was a little bit hesitate to crank up the calories but I didn't want to run out of gas during the race.  I calculated that would be two GU gels per hour and one bottle of Amino Vital. Coach suggested I use the 35 mm canisters that film came in and fill them with Amino Vital and add one salt tablet.  The plan was to run with one water bottle and when I emptied it, I would refill it at the water stations and add the Amino Vital as I ran.  I had to drink one bottle per hour so I ran with four canisters and about eight GU gels.  I wore my riding jersey that had three deep pockets plus I had two GU gels in the running belt.  This strategy worked out quite good as I knew they would be giving out Power Gel on the course as well.  They taste gross but do the job.

With the help of a nice tail wind, I hit the 21.1 km mark at an easy 1:54.  As we ran along Lake Ontario, I followed a guy that was running at my pace.  At some points I was running so close to him, if he stopped suddenly, I would have ran him over.  I was only about one or two strides behind him.  I hoped I could draft off him on the return trip back to the city (eastward into the headwind) after the 30 km turn around point.  Unfortunately, he couldn't keep up the pace with the headwind quickly taking its toll and I passed him around the 34 km mark and never saw him again.  I was beginning to struggle as the winds were quite furious at some points.  I knew I wasn't able to hold my earlier pace and it was only a matter of how much the headwind would slow my pace down.  I tried to hold a 5:30 min\km but it ended up more like 5:45 min\km and some times it was at 6:00 min\km.  By the 36 km mark I started saying to myself, "ok its only 6 km to go.  That's only one loop of the Rammerville loop I sometimes run around my house.

As we headed up University Ave, my pacing really began to slowdown as I kept drinking the Amino Vital.  I could feel my calf really cramp up but figured I could gut it out.  I hate the finish line as its 3/4 around Queens Park Circle and it feels like it will never end.  I managed a slight sprint at the last 200 meters but had nothing in the tank.  As soon as I crossed the finish line and stopped running, both my calves seized up and I fell on the ground.  Several volunteers ran over but I was ok after a couple of minutes.  I collected my big honking finishing medal which weighs about 5 pounds and got one of the solar blankets to keep warm.  The wind was whipping around and it was cold.  I made my way over to the food tent where they were giving out bagels, bananas and tangerines.  Pretty pathetic.  Someone gave me a carton of chocolate milk so I sipped that and collected my bananas.

I hobbled my way to the exit as my shin splint was killing me and looked for Tammy and the kids.  I prayed I'd find them quickly as I was absolutely freezing and my teeth were chattering.  I couldn't find them and I knew this was going to be trouble.  I told them I would meet them in the "family area" which I thought was on the southern part of Queen's Park so I hobbled\shuffled to the southern end (about 400 meters) only to find it empty.  I turned around and headed back to the finish line.  I was absolutely freezing at this point and hypothermia might be a problem.  I borrowed someone's phone to call Tammy but only got her voice message.  I headed back into the finishing area where they had warm tents for massages.  I signed up for one as my calves were killing me but was worried that Tammy and the kids would be waiting in the cold and rain. I headed back to the exit and I asked (begged) a volunteer to call Tammy.  Again, he got her voice mail and he left a message.  Just then, Tammy appeared at the exit gate and thankfully she didn't have the kids.  She left them at a friend's house.

We hobbled back to the car which was parked a long way from the finish line and I was absolutely freezing.  Finally we got in the car and I cranked the heater to 30 degrees Celsius.  Traffic was heavy heading back uptown and it seemed like it took forever as my teeth were still chattering.  We headed back up to Tammy's friend house near the start line.  We stopped at a Tim Hortons were I shuffled out to use the bath room.  I sure got a lot of strange stares just like the Starbucks six hours earlier.

All in all, not a bad race given the weather but not great.  I was on pace to finish around 3:48 but the end killed me.  I ran the first half at 1:54 but the second half at 2:00 for a finishing time of 3:54.  Good for 498 out of 1,296 and 61/115 for my age group.

Thankfully I didn't have to ride 180 km before this run or swim 3.8 km before the ride.

Funny of the day # 1:  I ran by a guy running with in bare feet.  I asked him if he forgot his shoes and he replied he didn't want to get them wet

Funny of the day # 2:  I ran by my daughter Rebecca before the one kilometer mark.  She yelled encouragingly that I was almost done

Funny of the day # 3:  In order to qualify for Boston, I would needed a 3:31 finish.  Not even close.


  1. Great race report - congrats on your PB too! That is one intense finish. I used the drafting strategy today as well when I could. I downed more gels/eLoad zone caps than I ever have before in effort not to bonk or have my calf muscles go out on me. The wind was tough at points, but the net downhill and cool temps were helpful.

  2. Despite the awful conditions yesterday, you nailed it! Congratulation! The last 6 km is going to be brutal no matter how you look at it, so that's no gauge of performance!!

    Way to go!

  3. Congrats on yer first Marathon. University is always brutal.

  4. Haha loved the end of the post.

    Hey man, smart move on nutrition. Honestly all I took in was about 300 calories the whole race... everyone is different though.

    Typical race day weather haha, always sucks when it is time to get the pay off for months of training.

    Yeah we always called it a PR (personal record) growing up in XC so it stuck with me haha.

    Well, WELCOME to the 26.2 CLUB!!!!! Keep moving around today, drink a lot of fluids and I would hit the pool for an easy swim to loosen the legs up :)


  5. I was thinking about all you suckers out in that weather yesterday - crazy!!!! I'm glad u pulled through and had a good time!

    Great result by the way! Thats awesome for the first one! I'm so jealous!

    I layed on the couch thinking how awesome it was that I wasnt' out in the crappy weather with EVERYONE ELSE that was racing this weekend. Except for me. Now that I am reading all these awesome race reports, I realize I totally missed out. I suck!

    I haven't done a Marathon yet... my first will be after a short swim and bike at some place called Lake Placid.

  6. Congrats Peter for finishing your first marathon. You did really great. Most of the people, me included, have a terrible first marathon because of their lack of experience. I still remember how I completely blew up around 30K at my first marathon and had to walk the rest of it.

    Way to go and keep up the good work!