11 Nov 2013
The weather couldn’t have been better for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon—a bit of wind, but overall a cool, dry day. I felt calm at the start line, and a hint of excitement knowing it was time to execute my race plan. Three months of focused training and just one shot at nailing it.
I ran smoothly right out of the gate. Mike Del Monte was my assigned pacer. From the moment I met him until he pulled off the course, he was brilliant.
We reached the half in 1:18:38 (about 2:37 pace) and things felt incredibly easy. We were about 20 seconds ahead of goal pace (2:38) and appreciated some banked time with a slower second half of the course still ahead. Trent and Hilary offered amazing support. On borrowed bikes, they rode up and down the course assuring us we were looking smooth and staying on pace. I felt fantastic.
Mike stayed with me until 32km (2km farther than expected of him) and at about that point, my calves began to twinge. Last year when this happened, I held pace until the twinges became cramps and a few kilometers on, when I refused to let up, my legs seized. This time, to avoid repeating 2012’s agonizing crawl to the line, I eased off the gas. For the next 8km, I focused on preventing comprehensive cramping. With 3km to go, I dug in hard to get back up to pace. The cramps came on strong but I had just enough to make it to the finish (this time upright) in a time of 2:40:20. The result was more than two minutes faster than my marathon debut and six minutes faster than the Canadian age group record (45-49).
While I didn’t reach my goal of 2:38, I’m extremely happy with my race. I was thrilled to be a part of an historic day for Canadian women’s distance running. Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene ran PBs and took down Silvia Ruegger’s national record of 2:28:36 that had survived 28 years. Add to that some impressive performances from Lioudmila Kortchaguina and Natasha Wodak (both with sub-2:36 results) and you have a breakthrough day for Canadian women on Canadian soil.
Distance running in this country is finally getting its due. Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes have paved the way, inspiring male and female Canadian distance runners alike. They’re great role models who have shown what it takes to run a fast marathon: consistent and intelligent training and a commitment to getting the details right.
I want to thank all of my friends and family who offered encouragement and kept me motivated through this process. I’m always amazed how those closest to me—even those who have never trained for a marathon—accept my focus on a rigorous day-to-day regime; there are trade-offs to do it. I’m deeply grateful to Coach Trent who dedicated much of his limited free time to help me through some monster workouts. He’s still managing to squeeze amazing results out of this ‘middle-ager’ while keeping her healthy and motivated—testament to his sound coaching skills. I owe at least a few beers to my steadfast training partners Ian Hallam and Hilary Stellingwerff who made the work so enjoyable and encouraged me every step of the way. Thank you too, to Alicia Shay for inviting me into her Flagstaff home and for providing some lovely training company at altitude.
So far, I’ve enjoyed my post-race recovery. The first week home I did some hiking on the beautiful trails here in Victoria. I’m now running regularly again, but without a set schedule from Coach Trent (he gets a well-deserved break too). The pause from intensive training will help me to be physically and mentally ready to get back at it next month. For now, the goal is to gradually increase my volume over the next few weeks. I’ve accumulated some significant fitness gains that should transition me through to a solid spring season.