Race Reports

Toronto Marathon

I am so excited to report, that through hard work and disciplined training, I was able to run a new personal best time at the Toronto Marathon.  The weather conditions were among the best I have ever experienced for a race.   I was a little worried that I would be too cold while I walked around the starting area to watch my friend Nick start the Half.  As soon as we all bunched up in the corrals, it got much warmer and I felt better.

As soon as we started running, the temperature seemed to become much more comfortable. I started off near the front as I had planned, with only about a dozen guys ahead of me. I knew I would need someone with a good pace ahead of me to pull me along if I were to hit my goal.

Now I usually like to have a range of goals in mind so that I can adjust my plans according to how the race is going and still be successful in some way at the end, whatever the result may be.  I was confident to break 3 hours in the worst case scenario (Worst case, provided no HUGE disasters occurred).  My main goal was to run a PB which would be anything under 2:56:14" and I still felt fairly confident in that, based on my recent running results and training.  I really wanted to go under 2:50' if I was feeling good early on. Another marker time for me to shoot for was 2:48’, which would be 1 hour less than my first marathon 4 years ago. 

The ultimate goal, which is more of just a fun goal, was to run a marathon faster than Lance Armstrong, his personal best was somewhere around 2:46 to my knowledge at the time.  I have had a small rivalry (only in my own mind) with the champion cyclist since earlier in the year when he passed me in the Boston Marathon.  I was on target for a 2:48' in that race until the 30km mark where out of nowhere, Lance came up from behind and passed me with his posse and left me in his dust.  I fell apart in Boston with 10km to go and gave up about 13 minutes in the last stretch of the race.  I was happy with my overall time and experience in Boston, but felt like I had some unfinished business with my goal of beating Lance’s time, just cause he's such a great athlete.

So let’s get back to the race.  It was a fantastic course.  My only complaint would be the lack of direction on the Martin Goodman trail around Ontario Place.  I suppose the field was very spread out near the front and only a few runners came through before me.  I had no idea if I was going the right way at one point.  I was asking regular people in the parks which way the marathon was supposed to go. 

It was a long way to the turn around at 30km but once we got there, it was a great feeling to be heading back towards the finish line.  My legs were starting to feel a bit heavier with about 9km to go.  I was really struggling to keep my pace going.  I had a bit of a surge when I saw a runner ahead grabbing his hamstring and noticing his pace slowing.  I slowly caught up to him and passed him with about 8km left to go.

The last half of the race was quite lonely since I could barely see anyone ahead of me and there were only one or two guys within a 500m behind me.  I fought through the heavy legs and kept taking gels to help try delay any spontaneous cramping, which I knew was not too far off.  Once I got close to the downtown the pace became a little easier to maintain, mostly because of the extra crowds and cheering. 

After the turn to head north, I knew I was almost there and my ultimate goal was within reach.  I tried to focus on having a very positive attitude throughout the entire race.  I barely noticed the uphill grade near the end as much as what seemed to be very L O N G kilometers.  The Team Diabetes water station provided me with an enormous amount of strength and I was able to catch up to a slowing runner just ahead of me and pass him.  I get so much cheering when I race for Team Diabetes and I thank all the supporters SOOOOOO much!!!! Thank you!!!

That surge only lasted about a 1000m; Queens park was still a few blocks away.  My legs were really starting to get heavy and I was pretty much giving it everything I had, unsure whether I could maintain the pace all the way through the last 1000m while trying to hold off the runner which I knew wasn't too far behind.  I fought my way around Queenspark and once I reached the top of the circle and could see the finish line, I magically discovered an extra gear and gave it an amazing sprint to the finish line, holding off not only one, but two guys that were behind me. The second guy must have been catching up to me for several kilometers and I had not noticed.  After many congratulations to my fellow runners who all ran fantastic races, I received my medal (and very nice one at that) and made my way through the finishers’ shoot and the medic tent, for some minor icing of knees.  I felt great afterwards, considering the achievement that just took place, and was extremely happy with how the day went.

The final result was 2:46:33" and 8th place overall.  I am extremely proud of this race and wonder if I will ever attempt to better this result.  My chip time: 2:46:30” which is about 13 seconds faster than Lance's PB in NYC in 2007.

Prince Edward County Marathon

After having a great visit with Danielle in Kingston, I drove to the race site in Picton, before the sunrise, to catch the bus.   While on the bus, I met a mother, who has done several Ironmans and with plans to run her first 100km race this November.  It was very inspiring to chat with her for a bit as we rode to the start of the PEC Marathon

At the start line I met a few more Muskoka 70.3 finishers as well as some of the running maniacs from the online forum that I read and post to from time to time.  I offered to be a pacer for their 3:30’ Shallonge group. 

As the race began, I settled into a pace with Casual_Runner and chatted with him for a while.  Then I ran ahead to chat with Doonst and we were able to share many stories and plans for our future races.  I kept him on his target pace through 25km.  At that point I wanted to break out into a bit of a tempo pace and I begun to speed up.  Before I knew it, there were very few runners ahead or behind me.  Suddenly, around 35km, the leader in the half marathon sped past me and then I finally had someone to pull me along with a blazing fast pace to the finish.  I tried to stay with him as much as possible but he was running splits around 3:30”/km so I just tried to keep him in sight. 

There were some surprise rolling hills in the last 6km, which slowed me down a bit, but I just started to try harder and dig deeper.  I was feeling good and wanted to finish strong, just like I did the previous weekend in Toronto.  The last 2km where as close to a sprint as I could muster. 

They were giving out free massages after the race, which was something I was definitely in need of.   I collected my 2nd place medal for my age category and I was back on the road for the 5hour drive back home.  Driving was almost more exhausting than the race.  My chip time: 3:16:09” with another large negative split (about 11 minutes).

© Brian Groot 2020