My first week of training consisted of 3k on Monday, 4.4k on Tuesday, and a lengthy 6.3k on Wednesday. This was followed by 3 days of walking like my grandfather near the end of his days! Suddenly the HALF-Marathon seemed like a better idea, though still a daunting one at that!
Slowly but surely the training got easier, the distances longer and the recovery periods shorter and after a 13k warm-up race in Burlington, I ran the half in October and was thrilled to finish in the top 100 and under 1hr 30.
The following 12 months were filled with races; the Boxing Day 10 miler, Around the Bay 30k in the “Hammer”, the Bob Hartwell Half in Aurora and various 10ks in and around the GTA. A rib injury and a nagging IT band injury prevented me from running the Mississauga Marathon, so I again ran the half. A PR brought my confidence back and now The Toronto Marathon in October was my goal.
I continued training, doing mostly base mileage, the odd hill work-out and sporadic gym sessions, but the discipline wasn’t there. My times had plateaued, and I was avoiding the truth; I needed to do some HARD work! Then one day while trying out a new pair of trail shoes in Sunnybrook Park, I happened upon a group of runners doing interval training. Now that’s what I need I remarked to Louise, my girlfriend, and so I had found XSNRG! A new found trail-running cohort, Bill James, highly recommended my joining the club and suggested that if I committed to Tuesday night work-outs and our Saturday morning runs, that a 3hour marathon could be achieved! Huh! I’d have been happy with a 4 hour time 10 months earlier. Quickly the weeks passed. Tuesdays hurt less and less, as did Saturday mornings on the trails and I was sorta, kinda sure I was ready for 26.2 miles.
Marathon Day arrived overcast and cool which neither concerned me. I ate my regular race-day breakfast then Louise and I drove to the start line over an hour early. The wait seemed brief. I ran into Bill warming up, we hugged and wished each other good luck and then we were off. The first 5k were cool and windy but as soon as my core temperature rose, I felt great. The loop around and back to Mel Lastman Square went well and Louise was still there with my Dad, his girlfriend and 2 of my brothers cheering me on. The first half was complete shortly thereafter and I was on course for a SUB 3 hour time! But, that slight tightness in my glute I’d noticed a few kilometres back did not like Hog’s Hollow Hill whatsoever and I was forced to slow the pace. Finishing quickly became my new goal. The encouragement of a former roommate at the Eglinton aid station helped immensely and the sight of my daughter Greta, at 27k and her “GO GO DADDY” sign (with a Cola Clif Shot attached!) was positively invigorating to say the least. Bill came up beside me at the top of Rosedale Valley Road, we exchanged pleasantries and away he went. I was comfortable with my pace so I just tried to keep him in my sights and plodded onward. It was at the bottom of the hill where I felt the onset of “wall” like symptoms, but a walk through at the next water station was all I needed to get back on track. At 35k I decided to give it a push to see what I had left. Sub 3 hours was out of the question now, but I wanted to be as close to it as possible. Bill obviously had something left as he finished in a tidy 3:03:45 and I was well pleased with my 3:05:16.
At the Finish line, I was a little freaked out to be met by a small throng of family, including my mother, and friends organized by the ever industrious Louise. And so it was done! I had completed my first marathon, 14 months after the initial idea.
As I write this, 2 weeks later, I’m still feeling the buzz, which was heightened yesterday morning as I received my confirmation email from the Boston Athletic Association regarding my entry in the 110th running of the most famous of all road races. There is no way I could have accomplished this feat without the help of the XSNRG group, and the Saturday morning trail runs with the “Mad Dogs”. I continue to be inspired by each and every one of you. Thanks to Ian Henderson for leading the group on Tuesday nights, to Michael Brennan for 5 Peaks, Bill James for his spirit, Zeljko Srnic and Wayne Clements for their encouragement. Lastly, to Louise, words cannot properly express my gratitude for all your help in achieving my goal. You made it so much easier. Thank you!
Helloooo Boston !