Monday, October 3, 2011

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

I've refrained from blogging since my Vancouver Marathon race.  I wanted to keep the blog pure, my attempt to get into Boston.

Since I ran Vancouver in May, I've been going through a lot of thinking.

Without a doubt, I know I did as well as I could on that particular day, but I had a nagging thought that I could still do better.

I had gone so far as signing up for another marathon about 5-6 weeks after VIM.  But what I found was, my immediate enthusiasm for this race waned as it drew nearer.  My tempo runs also started petering out with the rare warm days we had, and once again, the ugly word "doubt" reared its head.

In the end, I decided not to run.  Instead, we had a fantastic family vacation in Oregon.

As the dates for Boston signup approached, I thought it was a pretty outside chance I'd make it.  Sue signed up on the first day saying it took her 5 minutes (vs 3+ hours last year) and she received the confirmation within the hour.

Monday morning, I wake up, nice and early, to make sure my computer was ready to go.  7AM comes and I sign in/up and I'm done by 7:05.  Upon reading the fine print, I find:
It is no longer first come first served, but based on time and likely other small factors like placing
Admittance will not be confirmed until the following week.

Getting through the week was difficult... I was thinking that if only I had run the Foot Traffic Flat I wouldn't have had to go through this anxiety.

But the Monday does arrive and I'm out and about.  I check my email at 11:30A and the subject line reads: Boston Marathon Entry Confirmation

My heart starts beating like mad and I quickly scan the email to see: has been accepted

Tears well up as I begin to comprehend the moment... the realization of having my dream coming true is just too hard for many to really understand.  From being the slowest kid in the slowest gym class (i.e. "Awk Block") to qualifying for the legendary Boston Marathon.... I've come a long way.

I am so ecstatic, everyday I reflect at just how lucky I am.  It was a very long road, but now I can enjoy it... the fruits of my labour.  I had blogged about this before, but I knew it was going to be difficult and that's why it is even more satisfying.  Nothing good comes easy.

Between the time I signed up and when I was accepted, I made a small change to my plans.  I originally thought to not race Boston and enjoy the experience, take pictures, high 5 spectators etc.  But in light of being chosen to run while many didn't, I've decided it would be an affront to them and embarrassing for me to not give it my all.  So yeah, I'll be racing it.

I'll be doing a few shorter races in the fall (i.e. Turkey Trot, Fall Classic) and then going back to John Hill in January to prepare for my race.

"But Charlie, don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted.... He lived happily ever after." -- Willy Wonka

Monday, May 2, 2011


I'm happy.

No, I didn't get my 3:20 I was hoping for.  I didn't even get 3:25.  But I did PB and had fantastic support for my race.

I woke up at 4AM to start my day.  A cup of beet root juice and a bowl of oatmeal with berries.  The weather outside looked pretty clear by 5A and cool, but comfortable.

I picked up Chantelle and a couple of her friends and then headed to park about 1k from the start.

I made my way to the start area and stood about about 20m in and saw Kate.  She invited me warmly and told me to hang on, it was going to be a fun one.  As the race neared the start, I threw off my H2H hoodie and found the temperature fairly comfortable.

I started out, and immediately kept my sights on Kate.

We didn't talk much, but by 13k, she said we were going in a bit too fast.  I felt pretty good, but I thought I'd heed her warning.  By the time we hit Stanley Park, we were on track for a 3:20.  I was still feeling pretty good.

There's a lot of rolling hills as you make your way around the park... you don't notice them much when you drive, but when you're running, it's hard not to.

At this point, I notice our time is slow for the km markers.. I decided to take advantage of the downhill sections and give it.  Kate's now behind me... mistake or not?  We'll see.

I make my way out of Stanley Park.  I'm feeling a little tired and there's another slow incline up to the bridge.  I'm excited now because my bunny, Sue, is going to meet me at 27k.  By the time I get her, I'm 40 seconds off my target pace.  I'm not happy, but I figure I can still reel it in...

Well, that didn't happen.

I pushed, Sue pulled, but my body was really starting to feel the effects of the pace and distance.  We put another 5k or so at a pretty decent pace and I thought, 3:20 is out, but 3:25 is still there.   But my body had other plans.  The effects of the rolling hills in Point Grey with the stupid #@$@# U-turn up 4th Ave, the sun beating down, and going out a bit fast... my body started to really hurt.  By the time we saw Eric at 36k, I was nearly all spent.

6k.  That's barely a warmup.

Only problem was there's 36k before that.

About 1k from the finish
At this point, my body was screaming to stop, but Sue and Eric wouldn't allow me to.  I trudged up the bridge and picked off a few runners.  At the crest of the bridge I ran as fast as I could down.... which probably wasn't that fast.  The last 100m or so, I just gave it.  Caught one of the guys, but couldn't pick off the woman in black.


Broke my PB by 10 minutes.

Officially it's a BQ, but I realize being last in line probably won't get me in.

I thought I'd be upset.  But I'm not.

It's what I tell people... all you have to do is your best.  Whatever happens after that, is just that.  Just make sure you have no regrets and leave nothing on the table.

I ran.

I ran as hard as I could, and can proudly say, I gave it everything I could.  There's no woulda/coulda/shoulda's.

I socialized how I was hoping to get a 3:20.  And I was.  (Still am??).  If I fail then I fail, but at least I gave it a shot.  When my days are up, I never want to ask myself, "what if?"

Live life.  No regrets.

Friday, April 22, 2011

All Good Things Come to an End

This is it.

A week to go.

I'm kinda melancholy.

Running has been my identity for the last few years.  I've met so many friends, had so many experiences... I've braved the elements and soaked up the wonderful sights.  It's been my security blankets on bad days it's enlightened me on good days.

Although I still plan to run, but it won't nearly be as far (ie 16k max) and certainly not with John Hill.

It's time to spread my wings with things like swimming, biking, climbing and some hiking/camping (i.e. West Coast Trails).   The last few months have been difficult.  I've led a sheltered life in order to get the best out for my running and not risk injuries.

My goal is to run a sub-3:30 with my stretch goal as a sub-3:20.  I know it won't be easy... things are going to really have to go my way in order for me to reach my stretch.

Seven more sleeps.

I'm very melancholy.

I'm really going to miss you, like you wouldn't believe.

Grete Would Go

On April 19, Grete Waitz, one of the greatest marathoners in history, passed away at age 57 from cancer. Among her many other accomplishments, she won the New York Marathon a record nine times, and during her career she repeatedly broke the women's world record, bringing it down by over nine minutes!

Grete was diagnosed with cancer in 2005.  Looking at pictures of her, even after her diagnosis, it was easy to see her beauty through a glowing smile.  But like all heroes, she was so much more.  She never stopped promoting running and health.  She also worked with Special Olympics and after being diagnosed, she helped to start a Norwegian foundation, Active against Cancer.

I don't view myself as being overly emotional.  But this has stuck a chord with me.

How often do you take the safe route?  How many times do you ask yourself, why, instead of why not?

I challenge you to take a risk, and ask, what would Grete do?  

Grete would go.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Don't Quit

I know it's been awhile since my last confession, but it'll be a little clearer after you read the blog.

I felt so crappy after last week's JH session.

2x200m, 2x600m.  Pretty short by JH standards.

The 200's went well, but on the first 600, I felt really tired and stopped at around 300m when I felt myself slipping.

John asked if I was injured, and I said no, just tired.  He then told me something I hope to take with me to my grave...

You don't stop.  You need to complete what you set out to do, because if you allow yourself to stop once, it makes it easier to stop again.

I felt/feel so crappy.

I just finished telling Shawna, it doesn't matter about time/pace, just make sure your effort is there.

It's true.  All of it.

It is weird, I had set such a high standard for myself, when I found myself slipping on my target I'd just give up.

It started on a tempo run in March.  There was a horrible headwind blowing and after about 13k of the 18 that was planned, I started slipping to a 4:40/km. I thought, "if I can't hit 4:35, I may as well stop".  So I did.

For 2 of the next 3 tempos, whenever I found my pace slowing down, I stopped.

I had never stopped before on a tempo... maybe because I didn't have high expectations, but having stopped once, it really did set a precedent making the subsequent ones that much easier.

With only a few weeks to go, I've switched back.  Last week, I decided against wearing my Garmin and managed a 4:43 for 21kms... not great, but I'm actually happy because it is so much better than quitting.

Tomorrow, I'm going out for a 22k tempo.  I don't know what my pace will be, but I do know I'll have run a hard 22k.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sometimes When You Win, You Lose

If ever there was a time in my journey that things are a little off, it's now.

I just hit two new PB's this week... the 2 miler and the 1 mile intervals.

My calf pains also feels like a thing of the past... the pain/discomfort has pretty much subsided.

Everything just feels like it is lining up for me.  I should be ecstatic.

So why am I not?

I am feeling more like a hockey team that just won their 3rd game in a best of 7 series.  Good job, but no time to celebrate.

It's difficult to be happy when my "target" time doesn't guarantee me a BQ and only allows me to be the second group to register.

I realize, I need to control what I can and live in the moment.  Translation: keep on working to improve and let the chips fall where they may.

"Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is everything.” - V Lombardi

Friday, February 18, 2011

Taking Nothing for Granted

I try to never forget how lucky I am to be chasing a dream.

Last week's long run before the First Half race was a cold wet one.  But I thought, I'm so fortunate that I am doing what I want to do at this very moment.  Sure, I wouldn't have minded if it was warmer and dryer, but the fact of the matter is, I'm out there with a bunch of friends and we're having a good time.

The following week, the conditions were ideal to race the First Half Marathon.  Cool and dry.

I went in thinking I'd run a 15k tempo and then slow down to a 5 min/k pace, but John would have none of that.

So I gave it.

I had a terrific race.

I went out a little too strong, 4:10 for the first km and then slowing to 4:25.  By kilometer 3, I was in my zone and kept my pace of 4:36 for the rest of the race.

In the end, I knocked 10 minutes off my previous half marathon PB, and came in at 1:38:07.

The time translates to a 3:25 marathon.  Pretty solid into a BQing.  I was stoked.

BAA had a different plan.

  1. They are having a rolling/staggered admissions. Faster people get to register earlier... until the race is completely sold out.
  2. 2013 They are lowering qualifying times by 5 minutes across the board. But with the rolling admission, it makes the times moot.

I'm not giving up, but I am rethinking my strategy.

The balancing act of what is possible and what I'll likely need to be able to register.  I'm thinking a sub 3:20 will be where I need to be.  This gets me into the second group to be able to register, and is comparable to a 1:35:37 half... 2.5 minutes faster than my recent results.
On the way home from JH the other day, I was driving along the Park drive when I was rounding a bend and saw headlights headed straight for me.  I jammed on the brakes and avoided a collision.  I suggested to the driver he was going the wrong way on a one way street.

I really am lucky to be given the opportunity to chase a dream.