While I’m here I’d like to thank
Last summer at the World Championships a guy asked me for my autograph with my personal best. Under my signature I wrote “27:56.92”. He said “good luck in the 10km” in which I replied “I’m actually running the marathon.” I explained to him how I wasn’t happy with my marathon PB (2:17:09) and that PB was going to be obsolete in a few days anyways. A few days later in 22C heat I could only slightly improve upon my marathon PB and knew it was going to be at least a year before I could do anything about it.
The days leading up to the Scotiabank Toronto marathon I kept thinking that it had been three years since I had been this prepared for a race. With my two big injuries through ’08 and ’09 I never had a proper build-up for a race until now. The weather on Friday broke all kinds of heat records and it was pretty windy throughout Saturday but the marathon Gods blessed us with a perfect day on Sunday and I knew I had to make the most of it.
The gun went off and we flew down University Ave and I quickly got into my group of five which included a Kenyan pacemaker (Simon Tanui), my teammate, Rob Watson, who was also acting as my pacemaker, Dylan Wykes who was going to help with the pace as he was running the 1/2 marathon and Thomas Omwenga, a Kenyan who sometimes trains in Hamilton. We went through the first 10km in 30:40 which was a little fast but I was feeling fine so that was good.
I still had my two pacemakers through the halfway mark (21.1km) which we hit in 1:05:03. Mathematically, it looked as if the Canadian Record of 2:10:09 could be accomplished but I knew that I was already slowing down by that point and figured that sub 2:11 was now the goal.
Surprisingly, in the next 200 meters my Kenyan pacemaker dropped back which worried me because he was supposed to go to 30km. So now it was just Rob and myself and I was hoping he could last until 25km. However a couple hundred meters later I noticed he was labouring and I asked him if he was alright, he wasn’t. So before the 22km mark I found myself all alone battling the clock.
Up until 35km (1:48:15) I was running pretty consistently for my km splits, which I was tracking closely on my watch and the KM signs. And then I started to hit some kilometers in the 3:10 range and knew I had to toughen up to get that Olympic standard of 2:11:29. Then I hit the DVP overpass which is a decent uphill cresting at the 39km mark and I finished that km in 3:18. If I continued at that pace I was going to miss the Olympic standard and my legs were starting to get very tired.
I kept looking at my watch and making calculations in my head to figure out what I needed to. That extra 200m over 42km makes these calculations a bitch during a marathon. It was clear at 40km (2:04:20) that I couldn’t be much slower than 7 minutes for my final 2.2km.
The crowd on Bay Street was amazing and it lifted my spirits. However Bay street runs uphill and that did nothing to lift my spirits. I then caught an Ethiopian with about 400 meters to go and started to race him. When we hit 200m I looked at my watch and knew that I was going to break 2:11:29. With a few steps to go I saw the clock and started to celebrate, I had my time. It’s hard to explain all the emotions that were going through me because of my injuries back in 2008 so I’ll let this picture do the talking.
2:11:23. 6 seconds under the Athletics Canada Olympic Standard and fastest time ever recorded on Canadian soil by a Canadian.
Now this result doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to the 2012 Olympics. My time has to hold up as the top three times in Canada going into the Olympics. Having achieved the standard so soon in the qualifying process gives me the luxury to be more aggressive and chase faster times. The plan is to improve upon yesterday’s time by the time London rolls around. I’ll also have to ‘prove fitness’ in the months leading up to the Olympics, which ensures Canada sends fit athletes.
Through the last 10km of the race I thought I was going to be reeling back a bunch of stragglers from the lead pack but I only passed about 3 or 4 as many guys posted fast times. The winner posted the fasted time ever on Canadian soil. What I think is amazing is that the my 10th place time was faster than the 10th place time at Berlin (one of the most prestigious marathons in the world). In fact Scotiabank Toronto is the second deepest marathon (Paris is first) through 10th place in the World this year. Yes, deeper than London, Berlin, Prague, Boston, Dubai, and Rotterdam. I kind of feel sorry for the Ethiopian who finished 9th (2:11:21) and didn’t get any prize money. Thank goodness for Canadian only prize money!
There are so many people I’d like to thank because they helped make my result possible. My coach, Dave Scott-Thomas, was obviously a huge part of the equation as was my training partner Eric Gillis who ran 2:12:07 yesterday in the marathon. Hopefully next marathon we’ll actually work together in the race too. Rob Watson did an amazing job as a pacer and kept the other pacer, Simon Tanui in line. We had a good support crew for many of our road workouts who handed us water bottles (Cal, Moulton, Rob, Lee). Trent Stellingwerff who is my nutrition/fuelling coach. Speed River dudes, Josephat, Karanja, Paul Felix and and everyone else accompanying me through the training. My physical therapy support group is top notch… Brenda Scott-Thomas, Marcell Meresz, Dr. Galvin, Dr. Mountjoy, Lance, Jay Ball, Gloria and Sue from McMaster, Dr. Kvedaras, Dr. Gamble and Ron O’Hare who helped us through the race weekend. My parents, family and friends for the support. It was great having them and everyone else who was cheering for me on the course. Alan Brookes and Ian Ladbrooke put together a great event and made sure we had a good set-up to run fast. Inspiration and advice from great marathoners such as Gord Dixon, Sylvia Reugger, Bruce Deacon and Jon Brown. New Balance has been a great sponsor. PowerBar (kept me fuelled during the marathon), CEP socks, Zanagen (I’ll be using the anti-inflamatory cream today!) and Quest for Gold.
Dave Chappelle Daniel Rono finished 3rd yesterday in 2:08:14 (his PB is 2:06:58)
Now it’s time to rest my weary legs and get after some cookies!