Tag Archives: marathon

Saturday Stories

It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…

Good advice here about the intensity of your workouts. 

A great post about why you should run the Ottawa Marathon this year.

An interesting post about what happens to elite runners after a big marathon PR.

Book Review: Long Road to Boston

This is a book I was looking forward to reading because I am finally heading to Boston in April. The timing of its release last month seemed appropriate for me for that reason. I also enjoyed Mark Sutcliffe’s previous book about running,  Why I RunYou can read my review here.

The book tells the story of the Boston Marathon before going into Mark’s efforts to qualify for Boston followed by his race day experience when he ran Boston. I enjoyed the historical aspect to the book because I was not familiar with all the stories and events that are described. It gave me a better idea of why the Boston Marathon has become the Holy Grail for many runners. 

Mark’s qualifying experience resonated with me for a few reasons. First, it also took him several attempts with some close calls along the way because he ran his qualifying time. Like me he finally met the qualifying standard in Pennsylvania (the Run for the Red Pocono Marathon for Mark and the Philadelphia Marathon in my case). Finally, when we both qualified we ended up beating the cutoff by 22 seconds. 

Last not not least I enjoyed Mark’s description of his trip to Boston and his race day experience. With my training cycle for Boston about to get underway soon it got me excited to start a formal training routine again and about what I have to look forward to when I go to Boston in April.

If you are like me and are heading to Boston or if you have Boston as a long term goal I recommend grabbing a copy of this book. 

Saturday Stories

It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…

A post about running and beer.

A post highlighting Canadian marathoners Eric Gillis and Reid Coolsaet.

A post about knowing when to go hard and when to take it easy.

A 40 year old dad qualified for the Olympic marathon

Race Report: Ottawa Marathon 2016

Yesterday was my 8th consecutive Ottawa Marathon and 14th marathon overall. Initially my plan for it was to try and beat my time from November and in the process improve my Boston qualifying time. Once it became apparent that we were in for a hot and humid weekend I changed that plan and decided just to run based on how I felt.

After watching my daughters run the 2 km with their grandparents Saturday afternoon I went home and made my usual pasta meal for dinner. I managed to get to sleep early and was ready for my 3:30 wake up call for a breakfast consisting of orange juice, oatmeal, a banana and a bagel. Finally, I ate a handful of raisins before I headed out the door to top off my glycogen stores.

Since I live close to the start line (2km) I opted for an easy run down there to serve as a warm up. It was already 18C (64F) before the start although there was a cool breeze to help. I decided to start out at a 3:15 marathon pace (4:35/km) and adjust accordingly if needed.

Figuring it wouldn’t be long before I started to feel the heat and humidity I settled into a routine of dumping a cup of water over my head at every water station and made sure to run under every misting station set up along the course. I figured it was best to get started on making sure I took efforts to stay cool before it was too late.

In response to requests from the organizers many residents living along the course also set up sprinklers and hoses to provided more relief for runners. The crowds supporting marathoners are usually strong  along most of the course but this year the support seemed even stronger than usual. As mentioned people had sprinklers set up all along the course, there were several locations where people were handing out freezies and there were even a couple of locations in between water stations where people were handing out bottled water.

My 4:35 pace felt fine through the first half but as I passed that point I knew I was going to start losing time due to a combination of a stomach cramp and the heat. By the time I hit 25 km I was now on pace for a 3:23 finish. From that point on my goal was to maintain a steady pace to get myself back to the finish line. My right calf also felt tight at times throughout the second half. I expected to have to deal with a cramp at some point but was fortunate to avoid that.

Around 37 km the 3:25 pace bunny caught up to me so I knew if I held on at that pace I finish in around 3:25. That task became a little more difficult when we made it back downtown to the point where the marathon and half-marathon courses merge. Normally the half-marathon starts at 9:00 and by the time I reach this point only the fastest half-marathoners are coming through (last year the lead male runner passed me at this point). This year, due to the heat, the half-marathon started at 8:15 and there was a large crowd of half-marathoners merging with the marathon course.

I probably lost some time over the last 3 km as I tried to make my way through the crowd but by this point but it did not matter. My goal for the day was just to have the best run possible given the conditions and I had already accomplished that. In addition, this change was necessary in order to make the day as safe for as many runners as possible.

I had the advantage of knowing exactly where my family would be watching for me to come in. As I rounded the corner to take on the final 1 km stretch I worked my way over to the west side of the road to be in position to see them. I slowed right down to give my girls high fives and my friend Greg who has been at the finish line for at least 6 of my 8 Ottawa Marathons was there to capture the moment with this photo….

I crossed the line in 3:26:37, not quite the time I was hoping for when I started my training but I am pleased with it for reasons mentioned above. Marathons are not easy and many things have to  come together on race day to reach your goal. If my current Boston qualifying time is not sufficient when registration closes in September I’ll just have to go after that again next year.

I went home and celebrated with a beer…

And lunch from Five Guys…

In a way I am sad to see Race Weekend come to an end. It really is a great weekend to be in Ottawa and an event I think is the best race weekend in Canada. Hopefully I can continue my marathon streak here going next year…

Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend


Race Weekend is here once again. Since I took up running it has become one of my favourite weekends of the year. It is certainly my favourite running event of the year.

In Ottawa we are fortunate to have a great event that is both the largest race weekend in Canada and largest marathon in terms of participation numbers. If you have never run one of the races I recommend doing so. It is a great experience.

Back in 2006 when I did the 5 km race it was the event that started to get me hooked on running. For the past 8 years running the marathon here has become an annual tradition.

Once again this year I am fortunate enough to be able to run the marathon. In addition, perhaps starting a new family tradition during Race Weekend, my daughters will be running the 2 km race with their grandparents.

Tomorrow afternoon I will make make my way to the finish line to watch the end of the 2 km race. Sunday morning I will be up at the crack of dawn to run the marathon.

Unfortunately this year our first heat wave of the year has coincided with Race Weekend. Hopefully we will get a break from the forecasted highs of over 30C (86F). If not my plan is to dial back on my pace and get myself to the finish line in the best shape possible.


Saturday Stories


It is time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week. 

Here are this week’s stories…

Lessons learned from a marathoner who has run 23 marathons.

Tips of using road shoes for trail races. This one was relevant for me since I am planning to run a 30 km trail race next weekend.

A post about the appeal of running a marathon.


Boston Marathon

Monday is one of the biggest days on the calendar for marathon runners. Of course I am talking about the 188th running of the Boston Marathon. Thousands of runners are currently on their way to Boston to take part in Monday’s race.

For some runners the Boston Marathon is just a dream because of the tough qualifying standards in place. For others qualifying for Boston is the sole focus of their training.

For me it has become the latter of the two. When I ran my first marathon I never thought I would stick with the distance and even if I did I certainly did not think I was fast enough to contemplate it. The very idea of qualifying for Boston seemed like a crazy thought.

As I began training more and improving my finish times because of it I suddenly began to think it might actually not be such a crazy idea. It has now become the focus of my training, maybe too of an obsession at times, but it is what I have be aiming for.

Since it became my training goal my qualifying time has been 3:10. I’ve come frustratingly close to reaching the goal on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to put it all together over the last 10 km of a marathon and by marathon pb is still 2:25 over that qualifying time.

Once again this year I will take two shots at it. Next month I can qualify if I get that elusive sub-3:10 result. Coming off a new half-marathon pb last weekend I am certainly motivated to take a shot at it again.

If not I will have my next opportunity in Philadelphia in November. On that occasion I will get an extra 5:00 added to my qualifying time because I would be in the next age group for the 2017 Boston Marathon.

Since I won’t be there Monday I plan to tune in to some of the coverage. I will do so in order to see who wins and to see how my running friends who are there fare.

If you are running the Boston Marathon Monday good luck!