The Day Before the Race
All packed and ready for the 4 hour drive to Fredericton. I had pre-made all my meals for the weekend. Vegan Pad Thai for lunch and supper and Oatmeal with Peanut Butter, Maple Syrup, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds and Chocolate Chips for Breakfast. I also made a loaf of vegan banana for snacks. My water bottle was loaded with some Nuun for the drive to start pre-loading some electrolytes for tomorrow's race. Amanda could not make the trip with me this time so I was traveling with my friend Damian.Damian arrived at 10am to pick me up and we started the drive. The drive went fast although my left hamstring was starting to cramp a bit by the end of the drive. We arrived at our hotel and quickly got ready to go out for a shake out run.
To our surprise Damian's girlfriend had somehow purchased some of his favourite beer and had it delivered and chilling in the fridge for tomorrow, with an encouraging note to go crush it tomorrow! This was pretty awesome.It was pretty warm out this day, but it was really nice to finally be able to go running and actually feel warm for a change. Something that has alluded me for most of spring. Besides it was supposed to be much cooler tomorrow for race day so nothing to stress about.
We ran down the rail trail along the river to go and pick up our race kits. The intention was that this route would serve as a warm-up jog to tomorrows race. However, it was roughly 2.5k to pick up the race kits and another 1k to get to the start line. So a bit longer than I would have like for a warm up before a marathon.
This was a super nice run along the river and my legs were feeling great.
We ended up waiting in line for our kits for well over an hour. For some reason I had it in my head that this was just going to be an in and out kind of thing. Not a big deal though. We met up with a few fellow runners from Halifax and wished each other luck.
After picking up the kits, we walked the additional km to find the start line. Something I like to do before my races. We then easily jogged back directly to the hotel and found the direct route back was close to 2k. Perfect for tomorows warm up.
Back at the Hotel Damian was looking for a microwave. I jokingly said I bet if you ask they will deliver one to the room. Sure enough minutes later there was a knock at the door "here's you microwave" haha, what service!I ate the remainder of my pad thai, and we then took a quick trip to Trailway brewing to pick up some celebratory brews for after the race tomorrow. Keeping in mind I have not had a beer since New Years!
All in all it was a very relaxing day, and my head was in the best space pre-race that it has ever been. Relaxed focused and ready to go for tomorrow with minimal time spent on my feet. The rest of the evening we spent watching an old Start Trek movie, I had my Tulsi Tea and then meditated before bed.
Lights were out for me at 8:30. It took a bit for me to get to sleep, but I was not stressed about it, I knew my body was resting.
I woke at 4:00am before my alarm which was set for 4:15. Ate my oatmeal had some water then sipped on some chagga tea and watched some of my favourite youtube running movies. I made sure to stop drinking by 6:00am to ensure that my bladder would have ample time to empty before the race.
Damian and I left for our shake-out run down to the course at 7:15. It was cool outside and I ran down with a sweater on. Perfect temp to start running the race in. In retrospect this warmup jog was probably completed too early to actually warm me up for the race, so I think it was just more of a mental shake-out. Don't think the the timing of this had any influence on the race.
Arriving at the start line, we found my parents who had driven down for the race and I also got to meet a few runners who I had been following for a while on Strava and Instagram. As it turned out there were going to be running around the same pace as me so I would probably see them at some point during the race. One last dash to the porta-poty with less than 10 mins to start and I downed a salt pill. Electrolyte levels had previously been an issue for me.
Standing on the start line it always seems like the last few mins before the gun goes off that time seems to stand still. That 10 mines took forever to come. I lined up near the front, but a few rows back.
The Gun Goes Off!
Off the start, I settled in to race pace fairly quickly. Checking the first few splits coming in 4:14, 4:09. I found myself getting a bit to obsessed with checking my watch and I decided that was enough of that.
There was a group of 4 or 5 of us that from the start seemed to naturally settle in at the same pace. Near the beginning I was a bit impatient and started to pass them, but told myself, not to. Settle down, there is a lot of race left.
I found in the beginning of the race my mouth was a bit dry, so I sipped on my bottle which I had in a waist belt and also grabbed some water at the first few stations. I was feeling strong, relaxed and confident.
The first 7k went by really fast and before I new it it was time for the first shot of maple syrup. It was around this time that I realized maybe things were not quite going to plan. I was still feeling thirsty, but water was sloshing in my stomach. For some reason my body was not processing the fluid as it should? It was not bothering me, and I kept on taking in fluids as I should.
I also found the cups at the aid stations were smaller than I had anticipated. On the first lap of the course I was only grabbing 1 cup and probably not actually getting enough water.
Getting to the turnaround point near 12k I was still feeling great... for the most part. I was starting to feel like I was running a bit hot. Not in my core, but in my head. I had the volunteers dump some water on my head at the remainder of the aid stations. This seemed to help a bit.
Coming through the half, I found myself stuck in a pack of runners running a different distance, probably the 10k. Unfortunately, myself and 2 other marathoners ended up missing the point were the course splits and a ended up being funnelled into the finish area. I did not lose much time here, just a brief moment of panic and I spotted a way through the barricades. I came through the half in 1:29, on track for the sub 3 hr goal.
At this point in the race, I remember thinking to myself, you've got this your still feeling great and you should be able to pick it up in the home stretch. Just don't get too excited now, stick to the plan.
As we made our way over the bridge again, I found the bounce of the bridge starting to suck some of the life out of my legs. Still feeling good though.
It was around the 26k mark, all of the sudden I felt like I was working twice as had as I was seconds before. Not good. Ok Rick decision time. You can be tough and try to gut this out at your current pace and risk a huge blow up. No, lets adjust try to salvage a BQ I can still bring this in under 3:02. So I adjusted pace to roughly 4:25/km.
After 30k, things were continuing to spiral. I was still moving but slowing down substantially. This was a huge bonk.... again. I shifted into survival mode at this point. Up until 35k I was still holding on to the possibility of a BQ, but now the only goal left "Goal D" was just to bring this thing home to the finish. I was now walking through the aid stations, getting lots of water dumped on me, and drinking 2-3 cups of water. A later points getting a bit desperate I started grabbing a cup of Gatorade as well.
At the last aid station I believe with something like less than 2k to go things went from bad to worse. Roughly 1.5 months ago I sustained an injury to my oblique by sneezing in a awkward position at work. Yes an injury from sneezing. Anyways, it was at this point in the race that it instantly felt that someone took a knife to my side and just ripped it open. It was very painful to breath.
Not a fun way to finish a race, but it was my reality. A race that started out so strong and with so much promise I was reduced to a hobble gasping for every painful breath in the last 2k. I kept moving though and eventually made it to the finish. This last 2k felt like it took an eternity. But I made it.As I came around the corning and saw the finish clock to my surprise it says 3:09 xx. Being the type of person that I am, I see the opportunity to get sub 3:10. Its going to hurt, but I went for it. Finishing in 3:09:58. I'll take it. Not a BQ, but I finished with a 12 min marathon PR.
Surrounded by friends and family at the finish line, I was a mix of emotions. I was disappointed that I did not get the BQ, but I knew that I did the best that I could have done on this day. The hardest part was making the phone call to Amanda at home to tell her that I did not get it. She's always been so supportive of me and we both really felt like it was going to happen this time. But in her fashion as always I felt better after hearing her voice.
Not to be forgotten both Damian and my parents were amazing to have around at the end of the race, swarming me with snacks, drinks and support.
(A banana never looked so good!)
My Dad even pulled the car around much closer so I did not have to hobble that far. The walk of to the car was funny, we were going over some grass and I remember saying that I wasn't sure if I could navigate this off trail section to the car haha.
Also an honourable mention was when Damian offered to wheel me back to the car from the hotel in the luggage dolly haha. I guess I was in pretty rough shape. One thing I do know is that post race beer was delicious.
There is a lot more to running a marathon than just being fit enough to reach your goal. Some people have an easier time than others figuring out the nutrition side of racing and I am one of the ones that struggles with it.
Distance running nutrition is not something you can simply copy from someone who has it figured out. Everyone is different and depending on your body and metabolism. Some things will work for you while others won't.
I tested my race day nutrition extensively in training, I had no issues with it and no signs of bonking. You do your best to simulate race day in your training but ultimately you are never reaching race day stresses on your body for the same duration of time.Ive been trying hard to take a natural approach to fuelling and I will continue on this path. However, at this point I think maple syrup and I are breaking up. Its not you maple syrup its me. My body can't metabolize you as fast as I need it to.
Thanks to my family, friends, North End Runners for all of the support. Could not do this without you guys. Also a big thanks to Nova Physio and Active Approach for keeping this body going.
Races like these are not possible without the hard work of the organizers and volunteers. This was a great event and a great course. I will be back some day for my revenge.