Tag Archives: running in hot weather

Race Report: Boston Marathon 2017

This is a race report I have been waiting a long time to write. There is so much to say about my experience in Boston that I will leave tonight’s post to my race day experience and I will likely post additional thoughts on marathon weekend in Boston later this week.

My day started off at 5:30 when I got up and had breakfast consisting of a bagel and a banana. Following that I slowly got ready, said goodbye to my family and left the hotel room just before 7:00 to catch the subway to Boston Common where I would catch a bus to Hopkinton. Since I was in wave 2 I was instructed to catch a bus between 7:00-7:40.

The process for getting on the buses was my first indication of just how well organized the B.A.A is on race day. Within 5 minutes of getting off the subway I was sitting on a bus waiting to take runners to the athletes village. Shortly after we pulled away, drove past Cheers on Beacon St and headed down the highway.

The bus ride took roughly an hour. Not that I needed one but it was a reminder of just how long a marathon is. It was also gave me my first visual of some of the communities along the course (Newton, Wellesley, Natick) that I had heard so much about since I took an interest in the Boston Marathon.

At the athletes village I took advantage of the food that was available and had a second breakfast consisting of coffee, a banana and half a Clif bar. I had a couple of magazines with me to help pass the time but I really could not focus on them.

Fortunately my time in the athletes village went by quickly. Before I knew it my wave was called to the start area and it was time for me to drop my throwaway clothes in the donation bins and head down Grove St. toward the starting corrals.

The walk down Grove St. is just under 1 mile long. It is the first glimpse you get of the downhill nature to the start of the marathon. I made a point of heading to the left side of my corral because I read that T.J. Spirits, a biker bar in Ashland,  was the first area with vocal crowd support that the marathon passes. It is located along the left side of the course at mile 2 or 3.

I was in the corral for about 15 minutes before wave 2 started. Due to the downhill nature of the first portion of the course my plan was to try and run conservative for the first 5 miles in order to keep my legs in shape for the uphill portions in the late stages of the course.

The fact that it was a warmer day than expected (18C at the start) was another reason not to go out too hard. I was later told that this year’s marathon was the second hottest Boston Marathon in the last 10 years.

T.J. Spirits did not disappoint. There was a large and boisterous crowd as we passed by. I felt good as we passed through Ashland and into Framingham where the course started to flatten out a bit. My initial plan was to try and pick up the pace in Framingham after a conservative start.

My first indication that I might have a tougher second half came around 15 or 16 km into the marathon when I started to feel tightness and twitching in my calf muscles. Based on my previous experience this is usually a precursor to muscle cramps later on.

If you have heard anything about the Boston Marathon you have likely heard about the scream tunnel at Wellesley College just before the half. I am not sure how far away I was but I could hear the noise coming from a distance before I reached the college and the boisterous crowds of students. Here is a sample of what runners encountered this year.

After the scream tunnel we went through the city of Wellesley. It was at this point where I decided to make the most of my experience and have some fun. I began giving high-fives to as many of the smallest spectators along the course as I could. I also offered encouragement to the military veterans running on artificial limbs I passed along the way.

Between 25 and 26 km there is another lengthy downhill portion as the course moves into Newton. Once I got to the bottom and made the right turn onto Commonwealth Ave. and passed the Newton Fire Station I knew that I was about encounter the Newton hills,  a series of 4 uphill sections culminating in Heartbreak Hill at 32 km.

At this point I knew I was getting slower and losing time. Despite that I was determined to push ahead and not take any walk breaks on the hills. Although I was moving slower I survived the first 3 hills without stopping.

At some point on Heartbreak Hill I started to get cramps in my left calf. Since they were not yet as bad as cramps I have experienced in the past and I was still determined not to take a walk break I decided to slow down and keep going in the hopes it would go away.

My plan worked and I crested Heartbreak Hill knowing boisterous crowds were coming up at Boston College and the course was mainly downhill the rest of the way. The support of the BC students and the downhill nature of the course gave me a boost I needed at that point.

The next boost I received was the appearance of the famous Citgo sign on the left side of the course. From there I knew I had roughly 2 km to go until I crossed the finish line. The final portion of the course involves a right turn on Hereford St. followed by a left turn on Boylston St. for the final 0.5 km.

About halfway into this final stretch I saw a runner in front of me in need of assistance. Two runners in front of me stopped and were holding the runner in difficulty up by her arms when I got closer. I stopped to see if I could be of assistance in getting the runner to the finish.The runner was experiencing cramping in her legs and did not want to be carried to the finish line at that point.

I did what I thought was the next best thing and hurried to the finish line and alerted the first medical official I saw to the fact that a runner nearby was in need of assistance. Based on this article it would appear that what I observed was not an isolated incident and given the warm conditions I am not surprised,

As I walked away I turned around took a last look at the scenes on Boylston St. before I to collect my finisher’s medal medal and put an end to my Boston Marathon experience.

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

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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.

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Saturday Stories

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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. As always, if you came across anything you feel is worthy of mention here feel free to post a link below.

Here are this week’s stories…

Tips for running in the heat.

Benefits of hill workouts.

One of my fellow STWM digital champions posting his thoughts on running and training for a marathon.

Saturday Stories

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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. As always, if you came across anything you feel is worthy of mention here feel free to post a link below.

Here are this week’s stories…

Tips to beat the heat.

A post about taper madness that kind of sums up how my week went. Also some great tips for mental success.

A great video on the science of running a marathon.

I do most of my running on my own but here is a great post about group running.

Running During a Heat Wave

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This seems to be a common post at this time of year. The past couple of years it seems like we’ve had a heat wave lasting a week or a but longer. Our current heat wave has started over the weekend and looks like it will last through this upcoming weekend.

In terms of running it has slowed me down a bit or changed the time of day I was going to run at. Although I did not run today I did get out for a few runs during the heat wave.Given the heat I just kept my runs to an easy pace.

With this current heat wave expected to last into the upcoming weekend I will get 2-3 more runs in before we see the end of the heat wave. Since I am not quite into my focused training for the Philadelphia Marathon I will likely to stick to a fairly easy pace for those runs.

If you are looking for for tips on hot weather running you’ll find info here

How do heat waves affect your running?

Running in Hot Weather

With some parts of Canada and the united States experiencing a bit of a heat wave this week it is a good time to take a look tips for running in hot weather.

I had my first taste of the heat wave this evening with the weather hitting 30 C and 38 C with the humidex. As a result, my plan was to take it easy and stay hydrated throughout the day. Staying hyrdrated was especially important given the fact that I did not have a water bottle with me to carry during my run.

How did I do? I managed to keep it to a fairly easy pace for myself, just under 5:00/km. I also threw in a couple walk breaks when I got going faster than I wanted to since there was no need to try and be a hero tonight. I wasn’t out to set a pb. I ended up getting in 9.9 km in 50 minutes tonight.

Speaking of water, if you are running with water pouring water over your head every now and then can help keep you cool. Part of my strategy to deal with the heat during last month’s Ottawa Marathon was to  pour water over my head at many of the water stations. It seemed to help as I was still cool at the end of the race.

Need more tips on running in hot weather? Check out these helpful articles from Canadian Running Magazine and Runner’s World.

1 Week Until the Ottawa Marathon

Today was officially my last long run before next Sunday’s Ottawa Marathon, although compared to the distances I ran the last several Sundays It wasn’t really a long run. Today’s plan called for 19-20 km.

The forecast was calling for a hot day all week and a late start this morning meant it was already well into the 20’s by the time I packed up my daughter in her Chariot and we left the house for the run.

Given the heat and the fact that the marathon is only one week away I decided to keep a very easy pace. Anytime I noticed my pace getting under 5:00/km I would slow down or stop to take a drink and make sure my training partner was fine.

In the end due to the heat I decided to head home earlier than planned. I ended up with a total of 17.5 km. I think was close enough to my intended mileage for the run and it just was not worth push any harder with race day so close.

Now I can only hope the conditions will not be quite as hot next week although if they are the one bonus is that the marathon starts at 7:00 meaning we should at least see cool conditions for the start.

As per my habit from the past few Sundays, I enjoyed a cold beer as part of my “recovery” from the run. Today’s selection was a Festivale from Beau’s Brewing Company, a father/son venture that has developed quite a following in these parts.

Early Spring

My first runs of the year in shorts and short sleeves might be my favourite runs of the year. There is just something different about them. It feels liberating after running in extra layers over the winter months.

Normally around here this happens in May or if we are lucky in late April. However, this year has been different. Record temperatures, about 25 C (77 F), the last two days have meant that I was able to run outside in shorts and short sleeves.

As someone who enjoys skiing having the season cut short by record heat is not necessarily a good thing because it meant I could only get out skiing a couple of times this year but I won’t complain about being able to run in shorts and short sleeves this early in the year.

One added bonus to this weather is that it will give me more of a chance to get used to running in warm weather before the Ottawa Marathon in May. Normally this is not the case as race weekend usually ends up being one of the first warm weekends of the year.

Has early spring weather had an impact on your running this year?