2013 started off with a great 8 week training block in Kenya where I ran a lot and came back to Guelph ready to put the final touches on my marathon build-up for Rotterdam. A small injury to my foot and getting sick slowed me down going into Rotterdam. The sickness came back stronger days before the race. The writing was on the wall but I gave it a shot anyways, went through halfway in 64:58 and dropped out after 35km.
After a recovery period I started to regain fitness and plotted to run STWM in the fall. A week later I broke my collarbone falling off my mountain bike. Seven weeks of no running ensued plus another couple weeks ramping back up my training. At that point I knew I wouldn’t be ready for STWM and changed my focus to the Fukuoka marathon.
It was a little unnerving that by September my best race in 2013 was a 64:24.
By late September I felt fit again and posted promising results going into Fukuoka (Canadian 10km win and 63:11 half). On race day at Fukuoka I felt ready to run sub 2:10. A fast early pace and running solo from 18km made it too tough for me and I finished in 2:11:24. Not bad, but short of my goal. That performance ranked me second in North America (behind Dathan Ritzenhein 2:09:47) which isn’t really that great because a 2:11 shouldn’t be ranked that high in North America. It’s more of a stat I would tell a non-runner who asks me what I do for a living and use it to justify running around everyday.
Three faces of “what the Fukuoka just happened?”
December wasn’t smooth sailing, I had a cold for a week and last week I barely ran because inflamed fibularis tendons. I’m not complaining though because the timing could have been much worse. The last couple days I’ve felt pretty good on the treadmill.
I ran 7446km in 2013. Short of my goal of 8000 but considering I took an unexpected 7 weeks off, not bad. Otherwise I would have easily hit 8500km.
In two days I’m off to Kenya with John Mason and Kyle Boorsma. I will spend over 6 weeks in Iten, Kenya and race a Belgian XC race on the way home. After that it will be a half marathon in March and a marathon in April (to be confirmed really soon).
Stay tuned for dispatches from Iten…
First off I’m happy with 6th place at the Fukuoka marathon. Also, I have no regrets going with the lead pack even if it wasn’t the best move (in hindsight). I better say those things off the bat because the rest of this post might not have the same tone.
(I started playing music, Anyone Seen My Baby randomly came on and that lyric stood out. I don’t think it was really impossible to hold on, but I couldn’t resist using it.)
I think I just ran 2:11:23 (saw the official result, 2:11:24). What I can’t comprehend right now is that my training and preparation this time was much, much better than ever. When I was warming up I was very confident in my condition and I don’t think I was over-confident because I knew I was going to have to work really hard and was prepared to do so. As we warmed up the rain stopped and I thought, this is it, this is the day.
I decided to go with the leaders as they were planning on 3:01/km and I was planning on 3:04/km. I figured that 3:01 with a group is easier than 3:04 solo. In fact, I know it is. The problem was a lot of my km splits were 2:59.
After 15km a lead group separated and I found myself running with Fujiwara (2:07 pb), Lamdassen (2:09 pb) and some other guy. It made sense to peel off with these guys as I was tired of seeing 2:59′s every once in a while. This seemed to be a reasonable group to run with.
However this pack slowed down a ton and after a 3:08 and 3:10 I left those guys behind me and got back into a 3:04 rhythm.
From about 18km I ran solo until the very end picking off 4 runners, who didn’t give up a fight.
I hit halfway in 1:04:11.
At 25km I was still well on Canadian record pace. When I got to the 25.8km bottle table my bottle wasn’t first on the table as it had been on all the others and I grabbed the wrong bottle and tossed it immediately. I took some of the generic sports drink right after but didn’t take too much in case it didn’t agree. Missing one bottle is not the end of the world.
After that I was dialled in on Matsumiya who was in 7th. I came to the 180 turn around, naturally slowed down a bit and found I was now fighting an annoying headwind. I had Matsumiya in my cross hairs and all of a sudden I saw my bottle to the left, made a sharp turn went to grab it but it slipped out of my hands. I stopped, turned around (I heard the crowd gasp) and decided to run on without it because I would have had to go back. This time I had to take in at least 150ml of the generic drink. That 5km split was slow (15:51) but with the 180 turn-around and the complete stop I figured I could get it back to 15:30′s. I was wrong, very, very wrong.
After 35km it got really tough and I was losing it a little mentally. A voice in my head kept saying that the record had slipped, it was gone, you’re done. And then I would tell myself that I could still get to 40k in 2:03 and be in the running for it. There were times when my pace got really slow and then I would pick it up. But those efforts didn’t last that long.
I hit 40km in 2:03:58 and was now focused on a PB. But I was suffering, bad.
I passed a Kenyan around 41km and I found myself passing him with gusto and feeling pretty good. I thought to myself at that point that there is more in me but I couldn’t access it alone. 20 seconds later I knew I had buried him and settled back into a slow pace.
With 400 to go on the track I looked at my watch and saw 2:10:00. I knew I wasn’t going to run a 55 second lap for a PB and cruised it in. I was deflated. Other than asking myself “what the hell just happened?” I was at a loss for words.
It scares me a little that my preperation could good so well and I still didn’t have it. I’ve gone out faster than today through halfway (63:58) and held on better (2:10:55). I held on better in Toronto because I was running with guys until 37km or so. That is where I can make improvement, with better pacing and running in a pack longer. I guess my training, theoretically, could improve too.
I’m frustrated because today was such a good opportunity and I came up short. Like every race, I learned a lot and I hope to build from here. The journey continues…
Here are my splits from my watch:
1:31:32 (15:27) (Unofficial Canadian 30km record)
Fukuoka Marahton starts at 12:10pm JST on December 1 (10:10pm on November 30 EST)
There are three sites (that I know of) streaming Fukuoka marathon;
Sometimes you have to download Keyhole TV, Japan Running News explains how to do that HERE.
I’m in Fukuoka now and looking forward to race day. The taper is fully on now, only one hour run today and some light exercises. I’ll hit race pace in two sessions this week to stay fresh. I’m also strategizing my post-race food which will most definitely include crepes and fresh dorayaki (packaged ones are nasty), which are both in crawling distance of my hotel.
Fukuoka is an amazing city with so much to see. Thankfully I was here last year for about two weeks and was able to explore. I was only slated to pace halfway in 65:30 and had time afterwards so I didn’t mind walking all over the place. This time around I’ll be more conscience about saving my legs which means a lot of movies and reading in the last few days.
Chiba was ok for the Canadian team placing 8th. We probably could have been 7th on a better day, but 6th place was way ahead in time. I warmed up with Alex before his leg and watched the start. They round the track twice before heading out onto the course and then I went inside to watch the action. I had to peel myself away from the TV to get my own run done. I had a good session of 3 x 3km on the roads and then did my cool down with the guys who raced the first leg once they rode the bus back to the stadium. It was good to hear Nick Willis and Will Leer say they wish they would have stayed with Alex when he went by them.
At the Chiba Ekiden they ended up having a 5000m on the track for the alternates but I decided to do my workout instead. I was prepared to step in for a 10km leg as 2:55-2:57 pace is in my wheelhouse right now. I didn’t want to get carried away in a 5000m on the track and risk getting tight from the turns. I felt bad because perhaps someone else could have been the alternate and got a race out of it. Hindsight is 20/20. I even asked other teams if they knew there would be a 5000m for alternates and they didn’t know either. Only about half of the teams entered a runner. In the end I was ready for a 10km on the roads if needed and that is the most important part about being an alternate there.
Full results: http://www.inter-chibaekiden.jp/sokuhou/total.php
The banquet was a lot of fun. The hosts present a bunch of funny awards and Chris Winter won “best smile,” you can’t argue with that. Zane Robertson was male MVP with his 28:04 leg record and the NZ team did the Haka for him.
Afterwards Nick Willis challenged everyone to a “circle of death” push-up contest. Each team enters one athlete and one at a time they do one push-up, then 2 push-ups, then 3…. The hard part is you have to stay in the plank position between turns (or at least stay on your hands and feet without bending your knees). Dylan was our representative and held his own by making it to 12 (or 13?) and not cheating (some of the other guys took a knee here and there) and having proper technique. In the end the Aussie and German both got to 16. Remember, you have a long time between turns, it’s intense!
Dinner from a vending machine? No thanks.
I did my final Guelph workout yesterday before we take off on Tuesday. In my last few road workouts I’ve been trying to nail down my bottles and I’m confident that I have it down. I even practiced taking the bottles with my left hand because the tables are on the left side at Fukuoka. Attention to details. Nailing down race pace was the main purpose of the session which was fine but I was a little worried going in as my legs have been tired lately. It’s almost time for the taper to do it’s magic.
On Thursday I did a track session (5 x 1600m) with Alex Genest, Taylor Milne, Kyle Boorsma and John Mason. My marathon legs had a hard time getting on pace for the first interval but after getting that one out of the way the pace clicked. I ended up averaging 4:26, which is good for me heading into Japan.
If there is a link to watch the Chiba Ekiden and/or Fukuoka Marathon it will most likely be provided by Japan Running News and/or Trackie.ca. Sometimes you have to download Keyhole TV, Japan Running News explains how to do that HERE.
Chiba Ekiden starts at 1pm JST on November 23 (11pm on November 22nd EST)
Fukuoka Marahton starts at 12:10pm JST on December 1 (10:10pm on November 30 EST)
Time to start packing…
Three weeks to go until Fukuoka marathon. The start lists are out and it looks as though I’m the 10th seed. START LIST
I’ve had some people ask me when I’ll start tapering. I won’t truly start tapering until 12 days to go. Normally it would be 10 days out but I’m travelling 12 days out so those days will have to be very light. The last two weeks have been pretty tough and the upcoming week won’t be much different. By the time I travel I’ll be looking for a little respite.
Once I get to Japan I have three workouts planned plus a couple of stride sessions. The workouts won’t be long, I’ll have one tough effort 8 days out (potentially a 10km race at Chiba Ekiden because I’m the alternate) and a couple others to remind my legs what race pace feels like. By that point I won’t be gaining fitness, but doing enough so my mind stays sane.
One thing that I need to nail down before I leave is my on-the-run fuelling. In my long workout last week I set out 5 water bottles with 200ml each of PowerBar Ironman Perform. I was planning to drink 150ml of each bottle. However, when I went home and measured the remaining fluid in each bottle I realized I was only drinking about 100ml each time. That amount of fluid is sufficient on a cool day but I’m missing my carbohydrate target (by 15g of carbs per hour). That’s significant over the course of a marathon even though I can easily get away with that amount of carbs for slightly shorter distances. Tomorrow I will set out my bottles again, this time I know how many sips I’ll need to take in 150ml. Fukuoka will likely be warmer than it’s been here lately so I’ll need the extra fluid anyways.
Yesterday I watched the Guelph Gryphons capture two more cross-country national titles. It’s the 9th straight for the women and the 8th straight for the men. Out of 28 All-Canadian positions (14 for each race) the Gryphons captured 13 of them and took the team wins by significant margins. RESULTS
A good day at the office as I won the Niagara Falls half marathon in 1:03:11. Five weeks until Fukuoka marathon.
The wind was coming from the West at 20km/hr, there was no rain and the sun was popping out… a good day (and a great day compared to OUA XC championships the day before). You can tell from the map below that, with a wind out of the West, you get a cross wind most of the time. The conditions on the course were nice but the wind was a little tough in the last 4-5km.
Scenic and flat course:
Had there been a wind out of the South I would have been aiming to run 62:30 and had there been a stiff wind from the North-West I may have ignored the watch altogether. Given the conditions, I set out to break 63:00. I really wanted to break 63:15 because that’s the fastest I’ve run in a marathon build-up.
I went out hard and by one mile (4:42) I was alone. I went through 10 miles (they only had mile markers on the course) in 47:47 (on pace for 62:42). After that I was getting tired and I let the wind get the better of me and lost almost 30 seconds in the last 3.1 miles. A little irritating but that will keep me hungry over the next five weeks.
It was a good run for me in the build-up. I felt very much in control and got a good amount below marathon pace. I ran 180km (111mi) last week so I came down for the race but still a decent week.
If anyone out there has my bag from the start line (#4444) that would be awesome to see that again.
Found a downside to the NB Beacon jacket: it’s hard to hide in the trees to take a pee before the race.
Test run in the new singlet – thumbs up! (photo from Charles Prange)
It was a near-perfect day for running as the temperatures were perfect and there was very little wind for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. To tell you the truth, as excited as I was about the weather I was also a little jealous after my last few marathons had less-than-ideal conditions.
Lanni Marchant and Krista Duchene were chasing Sylvia Reugger’s Canadian marathon record (1985) of 2:28:36. On the men’s side Eric Gillis and Rob Watson were chasing Jerome Drayton’s Canadian marathon record (1975) of 2:10:09 and the leaders were aiming for the Canadian soil record of 2:07:58.
All parties went through the halfway mark ahead of pace.
About 90 minutes into the race I went into the broadcast booth with Tim Hutchings (probably the best announcer in the business) and Michael Doyle (Editor of Canadian Running Magazine). It was great to sit down and watch the race unfold on the screen. It became clear to me pretty quickly that the cameras on the course were focused on the leaders and we weren’t getting any info on the Canadians. Twitter was the easy solution to get the updates I wanted. It seemed every time I looked down at my phone for updates that I would look back up at the screen and our faces were being broadcasted. This led to many friends tweeting and texting me messages trying to get me to laugh on air.
“I think something’s on your teeth”
“Sienna Heights owns me” (Inside joke about Kyle D losing a 4 x 800m back in the day)
“get off your phone when Mr Hutchings is talking to you” (all the way from Scotland!)
“give me a peace sign”
The good thing that came out of me checking my phone is that I was able to give some updates on the Canadians. Chris Moulton even made it really easy for me by tweeting how fast Eric had to run his last 10km to get under the record.
In the end Chimsa got the Canadian soil record running 2:07:05. After that I was anxiously waiting Eric’s arrival. I was ready to rip off my mic and run over to the finish line. Eric ended up running 2:11:48 for 5th and Rob 2:13:29 for 6th. It was a great result for both.
Eric had a few injuries this year and didn’t start a couple of marathons so to run 2:11 from where he was a few months ago goes to show that he is a big talent. If he can get some consistent training in between marathons then a big improvement is in the cards. That was Rob’s fourth marathon in the past seven months and he ended up with a PB.
It would have been great to see Eric break the record, and for me, selfishly, there would be less pressure chasing a six week old record than a 38 year old record! haha
The first women ran 2:25, which is a great performance but at that point we were really interested in seeing the Canadian women who were posting good splits through 35km. We could see them coming up Bay on the screen and knowing the course I was confident in calling that Lanni was going to break the record a minute or so out. They both ended up breaking the old record, (Lanni 2:28:00 and Kirsta 2:28:32). What a day for Canadian women’s marathoning!
New Balance made some awesome throwback singlets commemorating Jerome Drayton.
I wrote in a Tweet that Eric and I now need to pose with a big poster of Lanni and Krista…
One week until Niagara Falls half marathon!