Dilemma

on Friday, May 20, 2016 at 10:15 PM

While talking with Kenny at the start of the Goodlife marathon a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he had considered doing the Whitby International marathon as his after Boston race which is taking place this weekend.  I had never considered doing Whitby, but it's timely placed and a relatively flat course.  I started thinking about maybe doing Whitby shortly after finishing Goodlife.  I'm not sure that a 45 second BQ cushion that I had at Goodlife would be enough. Would have liked to have at least a minute or something similar to what I had last year.  I would have had a good three weeks of rest and recovery between the two races. While I've done 2 weeks before, it wasn't ideal and I think three weeks would totally be doable. 

However, I did have to take stock of what my fitness level would be and what time I could reasonably run.  While Goodlife was a net downhill course, Whitby is a flat  course that starts and ends at the same place so no net elevation change.  I honestly think while doing Goodlife that I was more fit than I was doing Goodlife last year and if not, for the crazy headwind over the last 7 km I would have at least matched my time from last year.  The question however is how that fitness would translate onto a flat marathon course and that I'm not sure of. 

Crunching the numbers from Goodlife, the only time I was able to really bank under 3:15 was a result of the downhill drop of Goodlife.  If I eliminate the first half of Goodlife, from the 21.1k mark to the start of the wind at about 35km, I only averaged about 7:29 pace over the flat section which would have put me at a 3:16 marathon if extrapolated to the full distance. Goodlife though was a crappy day with rain weighing down my clothes and I had a side stitch issue so maybe I could knock a minute off of that in more ideal conditions.  If I look at my time in 2015, I did the last half of the race at about 7:25 pace which would put me at a 3:14:36 marathon, still slower than the time I had this year.  Could I do more? Sure, maybe if I hadn't pigged out on food in the last few weeks and put on about 2-3 pounds, so it was looking like that trying to do Whitby in the hopes of bettering my BQ time would not be in the cards, until I started doing some digging around in Garmin Connect. 

While the Whitby marathon claims that it is a certified course and a Boston qualifier, I'm not too sure.  I say this for two reasons.  Firstly, the Whitby course doesn't appear on the official list of certified courses in Canada.  While the list does have an entry for the WIN marathon, this was for the course in 2010 which is not the same route that is shown on the WIN marathon website or the same route that was used last year.  There doesn't appear to have been a measurement of the new course that was certified.  Now this isn't necessarily an issue if the course actually is the marathon distance as you can always get it certified later, if need be. 

However, there's a possibility that it's not even the right distance which leads to the second reason why I don't think the course is certified.  While scouting around on Garmin Connect to see what the actual route looks like based on previous people that have run the course, it appears that no previous Garmin has measured the course at being at least 42.2km

Less than 42.195km "marathon"?


While 5 people running is not a big sample size, the fact that none of them show a distance of at least 42.195km is a bit of a concern.  Now GPS isn't precisely accurate, but generally, based on past experience, GPS measurements of marathons are longer than the actual distance, not shorter.  While I'm not sure how actually short the course is, the longest is about 80m short while three of the routes show 200m short.  200m short would be about 55 seconds of running that I wouldn't have to do, which would be a big bonus for someone like me who's on the bubble.

Of course knowing all this could potentially taint any supposed BQ time and I'm  not sure I would be willing to benefit from this.  Would it be cheating if I intentionally ran a BQ time on a course that I knew was short?  That's a good question, and I'm not sure it's something I want to have to answer.

Goodlife Toronto Marathon Race Report 2016

on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:15 PM

I ended up doing Goodlife again. Yes, I know I said last year that I wouldn't after the terrible organization, but sometimes the weather throws you a curve which ended up being a forecast of strong winds coming from the northeast.

Forecast on Wednesday before race.
Strong winds from the east favored Goodlife as it's a net west course with only the last 7 km or so running into a headwind. Mississauga on the other hand has about double that running into the wind at the end. I little bit of wind I would have been able to handle, but this was gale force stuff so logic justified Goodlife.

Race morning was pretty much the same as it always was. Woke up at 5am for a 7:30 race start. Downed a bagel with peanut butter with a little bit of gatorade and was out the door by 6:15am on the way to the start line. Took a short detour before parking to figure out if they had correctly placed the 1km marker and yeah they had, so hopefully no F-up like last year. There was little bit of drizzly rain which wasn't too bad and of course the wind, but you could hardly feel it at the start line.  

Goal for this race was to be 3:12:20 which was about 10 seconds faster than last years Boston cutoff which was about 7:20 min/mile or about 4:33 min/km. 

Downed a gel with 30 minutes to start and was going to start warming up with about 15 minutes to go.  Bumped into Kenny who had just done Boston and was ninja running this race to try and re-BQ, which he did.  Goal for warming up was to get the HR to spike to hopefully get it to calm down before the race start, which I was able to get it to do.  

So as the race starts, my goal was to start off at the right pace and to maintain a nice steady cadence and proper breathing to avoid the HR spike. First two km were at exactly 4:33. I was kinda running with the 3:15 pace bunny for a bit at the start, but not for long because the 3:10 bunny and the 3:15 bunny were within 10 seconds of each other for at least the first 10km of the race. I think the 3:15 guy was going out too fast and the 3:10 guy was going out too slow.  I won't go into the km by km split as the tale of the tape is listed below.

Even though I was carrying a pace band, I knew the course profile and the weather were going to wreck havoc with split times so basically my strategy for the race was to be close to where I wanted to be after the Hog's Hollow hill (about 6km in), pick up some time on the downhill portion of the race (12-20km), pick up some additional time heading west (20-35km) with the tailwind and then hang-on for the last 7 km into the easternly headwind. 

Strategy didn't quite play out as planned.  By 10km in, I was only 10 seconds behind where I planned. By the half I was 26 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be (1:35:44). I didn't pick up anytime on the western portion and actually started bleeding back the time. The portion running through downtown wasn't as easy as I thought. Even though the wind was supposed to be at our backs, there was a couple of times there was strong headwinds. Also my HR spiked shortly after the half mark. At least I got through to the half way point without it spiking.  By the time  I hit 26km which was the start of the waterfront portion of the westernly route, I only had 8 seconds banked which I then proceed to give back (and then some) as I was running west.  

Even though there was a tailwind, I started to give back time because of two issues that were beginning to bother me.  Firstly, I could feel the makings of a side stitch starting to form on my right side. I was trying to do the breathing thing where you time your footstrike on the opposite side of the stitch as you exhale, but that was only working a little bit.  The second issue was that I started to feel that I needed to pee.  I had carried a gatorade bottle that I had been drinking from for most of the race, plus a cup of water at each aid station along with three cups of water to down my gel at the race start and then add that it was raining and that I wasn't really sweating because of the cool weather and it all adds up to a bladder filling up.  Now that I think of it, I think the two issues were related. The side stitch could have been caused by the extra weight. While running by the restrooms in Coronation Park, a place that I've stopped at many a time, I started to think how much time would I lose if I stopped. I didn't have nearly the amount of banked time that I would have liked and with the headwind still to come, I wasn't sure if I could afford to stop.  I continued on. Ran through Ontario Place and past the finish line on the way west. This was a route I had run many a time and I started to visualize where I could possibly stop for quick break and not lose too much time.  I thought that Marilyn Bell Park would be a good place, but decided not to when I got there because there were spectators there. I continued on and down the hill near the Legion building and then I see two portapotties up ahead on the trail. Finally! But of course, once I get there, they are both occupied. Damn! I continue on. At this point, I started thinking about just peeing on the run. My shorts were already wet and it was raining so there was going to be a good 10k for any liquid to dilute itself, and I don't think anyone would have noticed but modesty got the better of me and I held it in.  I hit 35 km and I was 50 second behind where I wanted to be.  I was still in BQ range, but only 1:49 under with 7 km of 30km/hr headwinds to come. Not so good. As it would turnout, neither the pee issue or the side stitch would bother me after 35 km, because I now had something else to worry about. The gosh darned F'in wind.
Actual weather measurements. Race was between 7-11am.








So at least the weather forecast was right. I had been mentally psyching myself up for the whole race to conquer this last 7km which I knew was going to be tough. My original pace band goal was out the window. My goal now was to just simply BQ with as much time as I could and to basically just leave it all out on the course. The first two km's of the last seven, I was trying to get a sense for what pace I could sustainably maintain running into the 35km/hr headwind and I figured on 7:40min/mile pace which was 20 seconds slower than my original goal. This was also easy math to do as it meant that if I could maintain that over the last 5km, I would lose about a minute of time. That, I considered acceptable so that's what I tried to maintain. Basically I ran the last 5km as if I was running in a a 5km race. Breathing hard in a panting one-one pattern like in a 5 k race. Trying to run the tangents and basically trying to shut out everything but getting to the finish line. The hill in front of the Legions building didn't even phase me. As I finally approach the finish line and turn south to finally get out of that wind with only about 50m to go, I was pretty much spent. Couldn't even muster up enough energy to sprint these last 15 seconds or so. Crossed the finish line and I was done.


Finish time of 3:14:15.

BQ cushion of 45 seconds.


Timing mat splits are:


2:47 Positive Split which wasn't too bad.
 
Comparing this to last year's race, I ran the first half 48 seconds faster this year, ran the western portion (13.9km) 7 seconds slower this year and ran the last 7.2 km 66 seconds slower this year (and remember that last year also had the extra 20m added on because of the parking lot issue). Overall I was 25 seconds slower this year, despite the fact that last year I had calf, blister and HR issues.

The only accurately placed marker prior to 37km last year was the 27km marker so if I split that up, from the half timing mat to the 27km marker (at Ontario place) which involves running in the downtown core,  I ran that leg 12 seconds slower this year and from 27km mark to the 35km turnaround which is along the waterfront, I ran that 6 seconds faster. 2:47


Overall splits are as follows


Km Marker Split Pace (min/mi) Actual Time Banked Time Relative to 3:12:20
1 04:33 07:19 0:04:33 -00:00
2 04:33 07:19 0:09:06 -00:01
3



4 08:52 07:08 0:17:58 -00:16
5 04:44 07:37 0:22:42 -00:05
6 05:11 08:21 0:27:53 00:32
7 04:01 06:28 0:31:54 -00:00
8



9



10 13:51 07:26 0:45:45 00:10
11 04:35 07:23 0:50:20 00:12
12 04:36 07:24 0:54:56 00:14
13 04:25 07:06 0:59:21 00:06
14 04:19 06:57 1:03:40 -00:08
15 04:29 07:13 1:08:09 -00:13
16 04:40 07:31 1:12:49 -00:06
17 04:31 07:16 1:17:20 -00:09
18 04:18 06:55 1:21:38 -00:24
19



20 09:10 07:23 1:30:48 -00:21
21 04:30 07:15 1:35:18 -00:25
21.1

1:35:44 -00:26
22



23



24 13:57 07:29 1:49:15 -00:08
25



26 09:07 07:20 1:58:22 -00:08
27 04:39 07:29 2:03:01 -00:02
28 04:42 07:34 2:07:43 00:06
29



30 09:16 07:27 2:16:59 00:15
31 04:34 07:21 2:21:33 00:16
32 04:33 07:19 2:26:06 00:15
33 04:38 07:27 2:30:44 00:20
34 04:34 07:21 2:35:18 00:20
35 05:04 08:09 2:40:22 00:51
36 04:44 07:37 2:45:06 01:01
37 04:44 07:37 2:49:50 01:12
38



39 09:16 07:27 2:59:06 01:21
40 04:52 07:50 3:03:58 01:40
41 04:33 07:19 3:08:31 01:39
42.2 05:43 07:40 3:14:14 01:54

I think I was late hitting the lap button for km 6 (which includes part of the hill) and that's why km 7 seems so fast, but I'm not sure.  Wish I had gotten split at the 8km mark.

A couple things about the course. The markers were correctly placed this year (Yeah!!) and the issue I pointed out last year with the parking lot that added about 20m onto the course was also corrected. (Yeah!). The 35km split seemed excessively long.  I measured this in google maps and that split is about 100m longer than 1km. All the other splits around it seemed about right so I'm still thinking something is up with that course. Water stations on the waterfront portion weren't well manned. I can understand that with the miserable weather, volunteers maybe don't want to come out. Those that did come out I give all the credit in the world to so I can't fault them for that. I think not stopping to pee was the right call.  A part of me thinks that if I had unloaded the extra weight, I would have been faster over the western part of the course. I fully expected that portion to be faster than last year, but it wasn't. 

Wore a sleeveless-T, shorts and dollar store gloves which I think was about right given the conditions.  Never really felt cold until after the race was over. .  

Post race was not pleasant. After running in the rain for 3 hours and then having to come to a complete standstill in the chute to get a medal and then having to shiver my way to the other side of the parking lot to pick up my checked gear which was out in the rain for two hours and then having a really small change tent that could not be used because it was packed, it was not a pleasant experience. Also, they had shut down the street car service to the Ex and not told anyone so I ended up having to walk to the streetcar loop across from Coronation Park.

So I got my BQ by 45 seconds. Will that be enough? There are some people in the Runners World Forums who are trying to crunch the numbers to guess at the cutoff and they are predicting a very low cutoff due to the warm weather in Boston this year and the fewer number of people that actually requalified at Boston. So maybe 45 seconds will be enough. I have no desire to make a fall marathon attempt as I don't really want to train hard over the summer. I tried to do just maintenance miles last year, in the hopes that I would be able to qualify just before the window closes, but it wasn't really enough and of course there's also the crapshoot of what the weather is going to be in mid-September. 
 I don't think I want to do marathon training this summer so I'm leaning towards sitting tight and hoping for the best. 


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