I spent more time analyzing my result before putting my thoughts down on here than I usually do after a race. Finally, here is my race report from Sunday’s STWM which was marathon number three for me this year having already run Ottawa and Montreal.
STWM was actually my second marathon in three weeks. After backing off and coasting in for the last 15 km due to the heat in Montreal three weeks ago STWM was to be my goal race for the fall, the latest in my quest to run a sub 3:10 marathon and qualify for Boston.
As some of you are already aware, I was one of the digital champions for STWM this year. We had been in contact over social media since the program was launched in June. I had the opportunity to meet a few of my digital champions when I was in Toronto with my family over the summer. Friday night I met more members of the group as we got together over food and drinks.
Saturday I went to the expo quickly to pick up my race kit but other than that tried to stay off my feet as much as I could. Sunday I headed over to the start early so I could meet up with some of the digital champions again before heading to my corral.
Once in my corral I ran into Andrew and Kenny, two more digital champions. They were aiming for times similar to what I what hoping for. The weather was the opposite of what I experienced in Montreal and Ottawa earlier in the year. I was glad that I went to Value Village to find some throwaway clothes to keep me warm until the last minute.
I felt strong over the first 10 km as we wound our way through downtown and out on to Lakeshore past the exhibition grounds and Ontario Place. I maintained a 4:30 pace for that portion. I crossed the 10 km line in 45:09 leaving me on pace for a 3:10 finish.
The next 11 km as we turned around and headed back downtown went a little quicker as I managed a 4:28 pace. I crossed the halfway point in 1:34:48 leaving me on target to meet my goal. I knew that there was still a long way to go at this point but I still felt like I could maintain the pace for a while.
Unfortunately, just after the half I encountered the first setback of the morning when I had to stop for a pitstop that cost me valuable time on the clock. I managed to get right back to a quick pace when I got back on the course but I was now behind my goal pace.
Around 27 km we headed out for the last out and back section as we made our way out The Beaches neighbourhood. At this point I my legs started to feel heavier but I was still running a comfortable pace although still slightly off my goal pace due to my earlier stop.
I saw Kenny and Andrew again around the 32 km mark as I approached the last turnaround before we headed back downtown. They were both headed back the other way at that point looking strong. I knew I was going to have to push hard if I wanted to get back on track.
Getting from km 35 to km 40 was the toughest point of the race for me as I felt like I was starting to run out of energy. Maybe I wasted too much time trying to do math in my head and figure out the pace i needed to run for a 3:10 finish or maybe I really was running out of gas but a 4:55 pace through this section left me even further behind my goal.
Around the 39 km point you come to a slight incline as you go over an overpass. Having done the race two years ago I knew that on the other side there was a slight downhill leading into downtown for the final two km of the race. I decided to conserve some energy and take it easy as I climbed the overpass so I could pick up the pace on the other side and make one last push to the finish line.
This is one of my favourite spots of the course. Not only is it close to the finish line but getting back downtown means the cheering crowds are back to pick you up as you make that last push. Here is a picture of the area I am talking about that I took a few hours after I finished.
I was able to pick up the pace again as planned with my pace for the last two km being 4:40 and 4:37. I ran past my family with about 800m to go. Knowing they would be close to the finish line I made sure to grab extra noise makers for the kids when I was at the expo on Saturday. I crossed the finish line in 3:14:26.
My quest for a BQ continues and will have to wait for another day. I am not completely disappointed with my time. I find out of town marathons tougher to plan for because there are fewer elements that you can control. Sunday was my fastest marathon away from home by 6:00 minutes.
In addition, having taken the time to analyze my effort I have a clear idea in mind what I need to adjust the next time out in order to take that next step and break the 3:10 barrier. First I need to review my pre-race breakfast so I can avoid any unnecessary stops. Second, I think continued strength work and more overall mileage is in order to hopefully deal with the fatigue that caught up to me around the 35 km mark. That said, getting more sleep the week leading up to race day would probably also help in that regard.
Like always after a marathon the toughest part for me is not being able to get right back out on the road to have another go at it in order to correct things I think I did wrong. Instead I will have to wait until the spring. I guess that is part of the allure to the marathon, if it was easier many of us would not be attracted to it.
For now i will take the time to rest and recover properly. First up will be finally getting rid of the nagging lower leg issue I have been dealing with for over a month now. Stretching and increased use of the foam roller have helped make it tolerable to the point that it is not really noticeable when I run but I have not yet been able to get rid of the issue completely.