Went to Ottawa in hopes of running a fast 10km…came home the Canadian Marathon Champion…it was a bit of a strange weekend. Wanna hear about it?
On Friday morning I was in the elite athlete hospitality suite at the hotel for the Tamarack Ottawa race weekend. I was kinda just skimming over the details of the weekend; schedules, registered athletes, prize money, so forth and so on. I glanced over the list of athletes registered in the Marathon, there was a whole bunch of really fast African dudes, but the Canadian field seemed a little light. I was a little annoyed because this race is our national championships yet none of our top guys were here…then I realized something, this is our national championship and our top guys are not here! Maybe I could be national champion? That’d be kinda cool right? I then looked at the prize money that corresponds with being national champion in the marathon. That’s when I texted my Coach.
Coach texted back; “can ya win?”
me; “I think so.”
him; “how fast do you have to run to win?”
me: “probably about 2:20ish”
him: “okay, just don’t do anything stupid”
me: “thanks coach”
I then sought out Elite Athlete coordinator Manny Rodrigues.
“Hey Manny, can we speak for a minute?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Can I run the Marathon?”
*blank stare*…5 secs later...”sure, okay. If ya want.”
“Cool, thanks Manny”
I then went for a little jog, wanted to try to process things, but I think I was doing to much processing because I managed to get absurdly lost in French Canada. My 45min shake out jog turned into an 85min tour of lovely Gatineau. At least that gave me some extra time to think, and after I finally made my way back to the hotel I was still content that we had indeed made a good decision.
The decision to run this marathon was based off some quick calculations of risk vs. reward. Obviously Marathons are damn hard, one cannot take it lightly. Luckily my recovery from Boston had gone swimmingly. Over the 6wks since that race I had gotten my volume back up to a decent level and the legs felt fine. I was not super fit by any means, but there had to be a bunch of residual fitness still in the ole’ legs.
I had however been taking aim at a fast 10km, so my longest run since Boston had only been 18miles and I had only one 10mile tempo run under my belt. I was a little scared solely based on the fact that no matter the pace, 42km is damn far, it’s gonna sting! Definitely a bit of a risk, but sometimes ya gotta take chances, spice shit up a bit.
The next day I went and watched the 10km races, they were awesome! Kelley Weibe rolled a pretty solid 29:22 for 8th place, that kid is friggen funny man, really looking forward to putting in a lot of work with him over the next few years.
Being out there and watching the 10k was pretty exciting. I love that road race energy, but it also got me a little nervous. And maybe a few doubts were creeping into my head also. Seriously, what the hell was I thinking? I had just run a marathon where I had absolutely destroyed myself. Was this gonna be ok? I mean, Lucas McAneney and Clout are good runners! I gotta respect their talents and 2:20 is no walk in the park!
Sure when I was in peak shape a 2:20 would be pretty chill, but I was far from peak marathon shape! Oh man, I was seriously getting nervous, I am not a smart man! But I had made my bed and the next morning I guess I’d lie in that sucker.
Race morning came and I was feeling better. The weather was great, the energy was positive and legs were ready. The race had set up a pacer for the Canadian crew, BMO Vancouver Marathoner winner Thomas O. was assigned to take us through at 2:16 pace. It was a little quicker than I wanted, so I decided to back off for the first bit and work into the race.
The gun went off and I just chilled for the first bit and got myself into a steady flow. Lucas and Thomas were out in front for the first bit, but eventually I worked up to them and then we rolled together. Our group settled into running 3:13-3:16’s and it felt really easy, I was happy about that.
At about 12km I had noticed a little heavy breathing off to my left and figured I’d throw a little jab to see how Lucas would respond. I made a quick little move and he didn’t respond…but neither did the rabbit! I was a little annoyed about that. I figured Thomas would come with me, because I was still gonna be on that 2:16 pace. The idea behind my move was to drop Lucas and put him in no man’s land early. But since the rabbit stayed with him I just ended up isolating myself! Now they could work together and work back up to me. Tactic fail! I was a little pissed. I decided to keep pushing as to put a bigger gap on those guys. I managed to put 30-40sec on them over the next 5km and then I settled back into a chill pace.
I was pretty much all alone for the rest of the race. It was okay though, it really gave me the opportunity to read my body and have complete control over my effort without any distractions. There was also awesome crowds I could pull energy from and I had the lead Canadian vehicle there with my man Kent giving me constant updates of pacing and such.
Gotta give huge props to the Ottawa Marathon Organizing Committee. They manage to put on this event with 45,000 runners with only 3 paid staff! This event runs on the power of volunteers and community support. That is something that is so cool about the road racing scene, a lot of people are doing this for the love of the sport. It’s truly a brilliant thing that we are so lucky to be a part of!
So anyways. I continued on and at 34km Kent informed me that I had 1:45 on Lucas. I was happy about that. My legs were getting a little tired and I was able to sit back and chill. At around 35km the course double backed on it’s self and I was able to pull some energy from my fellow runners heading in the opposite direction. Congrats to all the other finishers out there! Great job.
At 38km I was pretty tired. I think a big part of this was simply due to the fact that I had not done a 38km run in a long ass time! Even during training doing an easy 38km run is hard! 38km is a far ass way to run folks! I focused on keeping my stride fluid and the arms pumping. I came on through to finish as the national marathon champ in 2:18:33. Not gonna lie, I am super pumped about this. I have not won very many national championships, so this was quite cool.
Overall I am very pleased with the way everything played out. It was a perfect day for a marathon, the course was not too challenging and my body responded well. It was certainly a hard run, no doubt about it. I did suffer some out there, and it was certainly quite uncomfortable, but I am really happy that Coach and I made the decision to switch races. I’m gonna take a few chill days here to recover, we’ll then have a little chat about where to go from here. It is always good to have a plan, but at the same time ya gotta leave room for tweaks here and there, ya gotta take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
After the race I hung out with my parents, they had their own little adventure this weekend, but as always they were there to cheer on their boy. Best damn parents in the world, love those two!
So that is that folks! What an awesomely fun weekend! Damn I’m lucky to be doing this! Thanks again to the whole Tamarack Ottawa Race weekend crew! Manny, John H, Kent…Everyone involved in this event, top notch folk for sure, they even provided many a post race beer!
Onward and upwards my friends, cherish the grind and eat your vegetables.