Race Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal Marathon

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While the focus of my posts about marathon training have been geared toward the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I actually had another marathon scheduled three weeks before STWM. Today I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Montreal.

It was by design that I did not mention Montreal on here in a long time. First, my focus has been on STWM because I am a digital champion for the race. Secondly, I did not want to focus too much attention on Montreal in case I was not running it as a goal race or in case things did not go well.

My approach to Montreal was discussed with my coach a couple of weeks ago. We thought I was ready, based on how my training was going, to take a shot at a pb. However, once I started looking at the weather forecast last week and it looked likely that it would be hot today I realized there was also a good chance I would have to back off and save my pb effort for Toronto.

Since the start and finish lines are in different locations I had to take the subway to the start line this morning. Fortunately there was one right around the block from our hotel. Since the race started at 8:30 I left the hotel at 7:00.

After a quick ride I dropped off my bag to be transported to the finish line and headed for my corral. That involved walking halfway across the Jacques Cartier bridge. It felt warm already and once the pa announcer started making his announcements by warning that it was already 17 degrees C (62 F) and was expected to be at least 23 C (73 F) by 11:00 I knew a pb would likely have to wait for another day.

I decided to start out at my goal pace and at least give myself a good tempo run. The race starts off by going down off the bridge to Jean Drapeau Park, a couple of small islands where you will find La Ronde amusement park and the track for the Canadian Grand Prix formula 1 race. Once you get down on to the islands from the bridge the course goes around each island. Having attended the grand prix on a couple of occasions getting a chance to run down the straights, past the start line and through the chicane turns was a definite highlight for me.

The next section of the course heads back into the city starting off with old Montreal before heading up to the Plateau section. One thing I will say about Montreal is that it reminded me how flat Ottawa can be.

Once we were up on to the Plateau the half-marathoners headed off to finish in Lafontaine Park while the marathoners kept going for another loop before coming back to the park. I experienced this in Philadelphia as well and when you are running the marathon it can be a lonely feeling at first when you see the crowd of runners thinning out substantially. Despite that I found myself settling back into my routine quickly.

Despite the hills and the heat I was able to maintain my goal pace past the half. However, between 27 and 28 km in I was starting to feel the heat get to me. At that point I decided to slow my pace and take it easy for the final 15 km so I could recover and take another shot in Toronto.

One thing that pleasantly surprised me about this race was the crowd support. Once we were back in the city there were crowds cheering everywhere. I don’t recall there being many quiet sections. At times the encouragement made it hard for me to maintain a slower pace.

In the end I crossed the line in 3:36. It was not the pb I was hoping for but I think I did the right thing. Had I continued to push my pace i could have finished in the 3:15-3:20 but that would have made a pb in Toronto unlikely. The number of runners I saw receiving medical assistance because of the heat also tells me I did the right thing.

Instead I will, hopefully, recover quickly this week and get back to training for STWM so I can take a good shot at a pb. With an earlier start to the race and 3 weeks to go until race day hopefully the weather conditions will be more suited to a pb effort.

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