Sunday, June 1

2008 Ottawa Marathon (Director’s Cut)

My goal on the day was to qualify for Boston (<3h15); given this was accomplished I’m happy. Truth be told, I was also looking at running a more consistent albeit slower pace than last year and if lady luck shone perhaps pull off a negative split.

Last year, if you discount a few early hilly kilometers, I only maintained pace until 20k, every consecutive kilometer was slower than my 3:47 goal/pace. This year, I was good to go until 26k and didn’t start losing chunks until 32k. A stark contrast was during the final 4k when last year I was dropping 30”/km. Regardless, I feel I was only marginally successful in achieving my second objective and as a result, I’ve given myself a B+.

The temperature at the 7:00 a.m. start was 8 degrees but without any cloud cover whatsoever it rose to 20 degrees by the finish. Standing on the start line, I was more relaxed than any previous marathon. I really enjoyed the energy from the other participants and couldn’t miss the contrasting faces of the 50+ elite athletes – those with confidence versus people oozing fear and self-doubt. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see anything but the remnants from the men’s race, passing the occasion individual as they’d dropped out, but I had a front row seat to what became pure carnage in the women’s field.

Km 1-5 (3:49, 3:47, 3:57, 3:59, 4:04) the start was uneventful, and I slowly slipped back into the crowd as over exuberant runners passed by, determined to build up their respective cushions. After a gradual rise the course takes a sharp right, leading passed Parliament and a statue of Canada’s most inspirational athlete (Terry Fox). Unlike last year where I slid into a nice group, I found I was being passed for the first 10k, held me own for the next 10k and then, despite slowing down managed to reel people in during the remained of the course. I couldn’t believe how light and comfortable I felt and it took almost 5k before I could settle into something nearing my goal pace of 4:00 km/pace.

Km 5-10 (3:49, 3:51, 4:11. 3:47, 4:11) I ran with a handheld water bottle again and enjoyed my first Gu at 9k. I definitely feel odd running with it but I believe I benefit from the additional hydration. Last year I wrote that the next 5k was nasty with several hills from 5-7 & 8-9, this year though they didn’t seem nearly as bad.

Km 11-15 (3:58, 3:57, 3:57, 3:50, 3:59) I caught up to a certain individual at around 12k as he was plodding along. He was having an off day but couldn’t restrain himself from respectfully reminding me that he should be far faster than this. I remembered that kilometers 12-14 were reminiscent of an uphill section of pavé at Paris-Roubaix and suggested that he adjust his pace accordingly. He continued to whine and I couldn’t help but think he had three choices: a) shut-up and race, b) relax and make the most of the day, or c) drop out. He faded on the first hill and I wouldn’t see him again for 5k.

Km 16-20 (4:00, 3:57, 3:58, 4:03, 4:02) these 5-k were reasonably flat, if not boring, and the race thinned out by this point and I ran alone from here on in. A certain weary soul caught back up to me at around 17k, mumbled something about needing water and then slipped back (apparently he dropped out shortly after the half). I had my second Gu at 18k and then tossed the water bottle a indication to me that the race was about to get serious.

Km 21-25 (4:00, 4:00, 3:57, 4:02, 4:01) I split the half in 1:23:37, passing the crowds in town around 23k before heading out alongside the Rideau Canal in what is a hot, exposed and lonely remainder of the race.

Km 26-30 (4:07, 4:08, 4:10, 4:11, 4:09) last year I found this portion of the course lonely and discouraging. At 27k, I had one of the two remaining Gu that I had tucked into the key pocket in my shorts and then desperately tried to hang on. Although I managed to split 30k (2:00:04) on pace for a sub 2h50 finish I had already started my gradual decline.

Km 31-35 (4:07, 4:13, 4:23, 4:16, 4:22) I hate this part of the course; with the second of two high points (Prince of Whales) strategically placed at the 35k.Km 36-40 (4:21, 4:13, 4:31, 4:24, 4:25) unlike previous races where I’ve been forced to walk, despite my gradual I never had to face that dark nemesis that has plagued me in the past.

The Finish (4:26, 4:25; 0:53) finishing a marathon always brings a smile to my face. Of course there’s the instant relief in stopping, but before that there is the always funny attempt at watching exhausted runners on the verge of cramping trying, desperately trying to pick up the pace… I was no exception.

Thanks for all the kind words and the promise of an IPA (India Pale Ale); Marc I’m looking forward to Boston and having a natter over at least a pint.

Training: 12-week (interrupted) marathon build

Cumulative time/distance: 79h36'37" approx. 1,100 km
Number of runs 32km or more: 4 (2 were in the same week)
Highest weekly volume time/distance: 11h20'51", 159 km (includes two long runs)
Average weekly volume time/distance: 6h38'03", approx. 91 km
Injuries: none

Result: 2:53:05, 4:07km/pace, 9 AG, 39:31 10k, 1:23:37 21.1k & 2:00:04 30k


Chris said...


I don't what your source was for temps, but those numbers are way low. I was out there with camera shooting the elites warming up and I was very comfy at 6:30...I dare to day it was 14 degrees C then. And I got a rocking sunburn so I think the finish was mid twenties.

I know race peeps like to say their weather was ideal, so I don't know if you got the temps from there or not. I know one year the Scotia half had a start at about 15 and finish in mid twenties and the race recap they said, 6 and 14....BAH no frikken way.

Peeps were dropping like flies.

Nice work ou there anyway. Boston 2:39!!! Woot!

Eric said...

The weather data I found shows it was 10C at the start and didn't hit 20C until noon. The high for the day was 24C.

Nice day for a marathon, especially if the winds were as light as this report says. Cheers!

Grellan said...

Nattering over a pint in Boston sounds good. Well done again. Onwards and upwards.

Walter said...

It was a great day and congrats to you Mike!!! I have a pic or two of you on the course. I agree with the 8-10degree assessment. It was a crisp morning. I remember thinking at 7am, I was at the 2k mark, I wish I had a jacket on right now. Anyway, it did warm-up, nicely;)

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