Mississauga Marathon Report

on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 8:43 PM

So the race starts. I have a little trick I do at the start of every race. As you may have noticed there are usually two timing mats at the beginning of every race. One is usually right at the start line and the second one is usually a couple of metres behind it. One is supposed to act as a backup for the other. I always try and keep my chip from activating on the first mat and making sure that it contacts the mat that is right at the start line. I've always thought that if I activate on the first mat that you lose the extra 1 or 2 seconds from your chip time cause it thinks you started several seconds before you actually get to the start line. Anyhow, while hopping on one foot over the first mat and making sure that my shoe with the chip on it contacted the second mat, I forgot to start my watch!! I was trying to go out slowly and maintain a nice easy pace, weaving around the couple of people who clearly had not seeded themselves properly. At some point, I glanced down at my watch to check my HR when I saw the flash of 0:00:00 on it. SHIT!! Pushed the start button and was cursing myself. I had this nice pace band with 41 km splits on it which was now going to be useless. I had spent so much time putting it together and making sure everything was legible. On a side note, I realized that I only look at the minutes and seconds so I removed the hour number from most of the splits. i found it worked well. Also the boxes around the alternating numbers make it really easy to read. I had set the pace band for 3:10:30 to leave a little room for error in case the last km was slightly long.

Back to the story, I passed the first km mark and hit the lap button and it read 2:55. The split for the first km should have been 4:31. Some quick little math and I figured the pace band would still be useful all I had to do was add 1:30 to the watch split or subtract 1:30 from the pace band split. This was relatively easy math to do, but this would be valid only if I had actually covered the first km at the right pace which I wasn't sure I had done. (As it turns out, I would figure out after the race based on the 8km and 25km timing mat splits that the actual adjustment time was 1:24, but I didn't know this at the time) First km was actually done in 4:19 which was a little fast. I had decided that the first little bit, I was going to try and run by HR. My little track session last Wednesday had convinced me that I could maintain Boston pace at a HR of less than 170 so i tried to keep the HR less than 170 at the start. What I hadn't accounted for was that the first few km were a little bit uphill so I let the HR climb slowly. I didn't want it to get higher than 175 though. First 3 km are on a bit of a climb , km 4 is a big downhill and km 5 is mostly flat. Right on pace.

KM Split (km)
1 04:19
2 04:22
3 04:36
4 04:15
5 04:29

By this point I was trying to figure out how much time I had banked and whether I should slow down. I guessed that it was around 30 seconds or so which would put in line to finish with a 3:10:00 if i maintained the proper pace from that point forward. I endeavored to try and do this as going out too fast has burned me in the past. The start was congested. The half marathoners and full racers all start at the same time so there's quite a few people to run with. One thing I had learned from last fall was that I was going to run my own race at my own pace. I wasn't going to run with anyone else or latch onto a group. If people were passing me, I would let them pass. I skipped the first aid station drinking from the 710ml gatorade bottle that I was carrying with me. Some might thing that this wasn't a good idea, but I had trained all year carrying a bottle so this was nothing new for me. Starting in km 7 we turn into where there is a nice downhill and then a nice uphill. It was at this point, I get my first taste of the crappy water they are dishing out. It's definitely not bottled water and had a nasty taste to it. Most have come from the fire hydrants.  Really crappy. Hit the 8km timing mat at 35:29 which averages out to a 7:08 pace. Not too bad. A little fast, but nothing like the 6:59 pace I had pulled off at the 8km mark last fall. Pacing was going well.

6 04:27
7 04:43
8 04:19
9 04:09

It was during the little 4 km stretch that I encounter my first little concern with the placement of the markers. Some are definitely off. km 7 has a downhill but it measured as being slow. Km 8 has an uphill but it measures as being fast. km 9 is a bit of a downhill so that seems about right.

10 06:01
11 03:07
12 04:39
13 04:18
14 04:39
15 04:16

Km 10 was clearly long. Even though it was uphill there was no way I had slown down to 10 min/mile pace. This was confirmed by the next km split which was way too fast. Combined the two km measured about right. I was really concentrating on turning over at 180 cadence. I've found that it really helps to maintain your pace. Shortly before the 15km mark, the full marathoners turn off and separate from the halfers. It suddenly got a lot more lonely. After turning off, there was a woman I could see up ahead who kinda looked familiar. As I closed in on her, i realized that it was the same woman who had blown by me in the last 10km of the two marathons last fall. Hah. I was getting my revenge as I passed her.

16 04:28
17 04:34
18 04:33
19 04:25
20 04:28
21 04:34

Km 16 through to 21 were uneventfull and pretty much on pace. I did notice at this point little beads of water dripping from the brim of my cap which usually means my cap had become saturated with sweat. This is usually my way of testing if I'm putting out the right effort. The fact that it had taken over an hour to get to this point was a good sign. last fall, i think the little drops of water were starting to fall by the 3km mark. I hit the half way mark and saw the clock was around 1:35:00 gun time. My chip time for the half was actually 1:34:13 Or course I didn't really know the chip time for certain, but I estimated that I had banked about a minute of time which I could live with. First half average pace was 7:11 pace. Pretty good looking back in retrospect.

22 04:34
23 04:27
24 04:25
25 04:39

It was during km 22 and 23 that I noticed the wind for the first time. We were running in a southeastern direction and the wind was coming from the east. It wasn't a strong breeze but noticible. We then turn into a southwestern direction and the wind is at our backs. 25 km split was 1:51:46 or 7:12 pace from the start. Looking good. Shortly after the 25 km mark there's a turnaround and the wind now becomes a bit of a head wind. I didn't have much room for error so I trudge on trying to maintain pace.

26 04:25
27 04:30
28 04:46
29 04:21
30 04:27

I notice during km 26 through 30 that I'm passing quite a few people. I think the wind and the marathon distance was taking its toll on some others. I was checking the splits after and it's interesting to see the number of people that passed the 25km mark at about the same time as me or slightly faster that ended up finishing 5 to 10 minutes behind me. I think I had trained myself to run in the wind so it wasn't bothering me that much.  It was during these kms that I dumped my gatorade bottle which was close to empty.  I kinda felt like the scene in Apollo 13 where they let go of the lunar module and thank it for saving their lives.  That gatorade bottle had gotten me this far and I was kinda sorry to see it go. 

31 04:39
32 03:59
33 05:15
34 04:34

I had been running most of the race with a slight tilt to my head. It'll be interesting to see how the race pics look cause I really wasn't looking out for the race photographers. I think most of them will be with me looking at the ground. I generally try to be on the lookout for cameras so I can wave at them, but that didn't happen this time. Shortly before the 31 km mark, while running along admiring the fine cracks that were in the pavement, I heard my name yelled out. Whipped my head around and saw that it was a running acquaintance that I had done some long runs with who was out cheering. Nice to see a familiar face at the 30km mark.

Turning right onto lakeshore blvd heading east, we encounter the head wind. I mutter some swear words about the wind to the guy I'm passing. At least I think it was a guy. I had seen this dude (and it was a dude) at the expo the previous day as he was behind me in a line to get free frozen yogurt. HE was dressed in a pink running skirt and had a pink top. HE had has nails painted. HE had fake Boobs (i think) and HE had a masculine voice. I knew I was coming up behind him because i could hear the volunteers talking about him at the previous water station. Anyhow, this GUY was either trying to be one hell of a stunt runner or he was in the process of getting gender reassignment. I'll see if I can find a picture of him when the race pics come out. Anyhow I passed him at this point and didn't see him again.

km 34 turns off and runs by the lake. I ran this marathon back in 2006 and it was this portion that mentally defeated me. The wind back then was directly in my face and I just couldn't fight through it. Not today though. wind probably wasn't as bad and I was able to continue on.  

35 04:53
36 05:02
37 03:55

By this point I had only taken about 2 gels which were split over 4 water stations. I should have been at 3 or 4 by this point.   I don't quite remember why I hadn't taken more.  I kinda just kept saying to myself, next aid station.  As it would turn out, I would not take any more.    

Km 35 and 36 are back onto lakeshore blvd and i remeber this two km stretch from 2006 also. This is a relatively straight stretch of rolling hills. Back in 2006, I remember looking at these hills and wondering how was I ever going to get through it. Lucky for me, this year I spent most of the time looking at the ground, so it didn't bother me that much. Passing the 35 km mark I had about 30 seconds banked and was on a 3:10:00 pace. The 30 seconds was completley eaten up by the next km which I think was misplaced. The 30 seconds cushion was then immediately put back by km 37.The misplaced markers were starting to worry me. I started to worry about the time I had lost at the beginning of the race. I had assumed it was 1:30 but what if i was wrong. If it had been 2:00 it would mean that i wouldn't have any room for error from here on to the finish.

38 04:50
39 05:08

This feeling was then made worse by the next two km splits which were both slower than desired pace. Passing by the 39 km marker, I looked down at my watch and saw a horrible split.  I was too afraid to look at my pace band as I was afraid of what it would show.  If I had slipped behind Boston pace, I probably would not have been able to push on. 

At this point, I said screw the pace band and the km markers. trying to worry about pace with misplaced markers was not going to get me anywhere. I figured I had about 15 minutes left of running to do and so I started to try and focus on pace and turnover.

40 04:04
41 04:33
42.2 05:17

I continued to hit the lap button as I passed the markers, but didn't bother to look at the split. I was going to try and finish as strong as I could. Last little bit is on this really narrow trail and to compound this, the 3 hour half marathon walkers were still on the trail. I was weaving in and out trying to pass these people cause I didn't know how much time I had to spare. I was downright sprinting right at the end. Didn't even see the clock as i passed the finish line. Did the last 1.2 km at 7:05 pace. Clicked stop on my watch and saw that it read 3:08:57.

If my 1:30 estimate was right of the time I had missed at the start, I had BQ'd. If it was 2:00, it was going to be close. It it was more than that, I was going to start crying. I wandered about the finish area trying to do the mental calculations to see if I had qualified. I was too scared to go look at the results. I went and got a massage and some food and then went to pick up my bag. The first I actually knew I had qualified was about 30 minutes after I had finished when I checked my email on my bb and saw congratulations from quinto sol and yumke. You guys knew before I did!!

Looking back, if I had bothered to check the clock as i passed the finish line, I knew I would have qualified because it would have read 3:11:09. It defintely took me longer than 9 seconds to cross the start line, but it's easy to look back at it now and see how silly it was to have been worried.

Well that's it. HR graph is as follows.

Generally I was able to keep the HR below 170 for most of the race. It was above it at the start, on a couple of the hills and right at the end, but other than that it looked pretty good, i think it was a good sustainable effort. Maximum that was reached was 178 on the hill at the 8km marker. Average for the whole race was 168. I was breathing pretty heavily for the last 2 km or so. One-One breathing pattern. Based on past experience, I can usually sustain that type of breathing for 3-4 km so i started at the right time. Some stats.

First half: 1:34:13
Second half 1:36:11
1:58 positive split.

8k 21.1k 25k 42.2k
Split 0:35:29 1:34:13 1:51:46 3:10:23
Avg Pace from Start. 0:07:08 0:07:11 0:07:12 0:07:16
Expected finish time. 3:07:10 3:08:26 3:08:40

The course is supposed to be a net downhill, but the rolling hills don't make it feel that way. I'm quite happy with the 2 min positive split.

I've always been envious of the Marathon Guide results for races cause they tell you if the person BQ'ed. I didn't like looking at my results there cause it always reminded me that I had not, whereas others that finished close to me did. Not anymore.

I've been looking at this page every day now.

Just wanted to thank you all for following me on my quest for personal glory. as I mentioned previously, one of my goals was to run Boston before I turned 35. Well I turn 34 this year which basically meant I had to qualify this year. That's why I've been into this obsessive training these past few months. To be honest, I was starting to hate it. It felt like a second job. Having to get up early do a certain number of miles at a certain pace. Now I can kick back and enjoy the summer!

Thanks for reading!


Audrey said...

I'm SO proud of you!! I've been watching you try and qualify for quite a while so this is really cool to see it come to fruition. Just, wow!!

YOU SO can relax!!

Triseverance said...

Incredible, what a great race you ran. Yes please kick back and enjoy the summer.

yumke said...

Great report. I can't believe you had the timing issue. Maybe in a way it let you focus on running not time?

Great work, it's been a pleasure following you since 2006. Share in your joy. Enjoy the summer of "easy" running?

Sonia said...

Awesome report!! I'm so glad you BQ'ed, it was a hard quest but you made it. Like I said on RM, I believe the fact that you forgot to start your watch worked in your favor!!

As Yumke said I don't think you'll be into easy running! Maybe shorter races but not easy running lol

Quinto Sol said...

Excellent report... I am not a fan of pace bands but they seem to work for you...

Man, you have worked so hard for this BQ, it must feel awesome now; the smile on your face could only tell one story: that of a BQer...

My most sincere congratulations!!! Enjoy Boston.

jen said...

Congratulations. Awesome report. I am so impressed at your consistant pacing, mental focus, and physical strength. You are incredible. Fantastic job out there, I love seeing that BQ by your name. Enjoy your recovery summer (triathlon summer?) and let this BQ glow last as long as possible. You are going to LOVE the Boston Marathon. See you there next spring!! :) :) :)

L*I*S*A said...

I'm so proud of you....way to get the job done. It's been a pleasure reading along as you set out to achieve this goal. I look forward to reading about Boston training!

Ryan said...

Congrats, Fran. This was a huge accomplishment. I know the fear you felt in the final moments of the race I know the feeling you have now - and it is awesome. Enjoy!