Oct. 22, 2009


Last weekend I raced in the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon, doing well enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I'm still hobbling around the house... Racing was a bit of a last-minute decision as I only actually signed up six days ahead, but teaching a marathon clinic and my Ironman training gave me some confidence.

This year I got a ride to the starting line from a friend, so I was able to sleep in a bit instead of lining up for the shuttle busses. The forecast was pretty good; cold but calm and clear. It was a couple of degrees above zero before the start but rose to about 8°C by the finish. I wore a pair of Adidas running tights that gave a bit of "three-season" warmth and a new Running Room long-sleeve top that was also a tiny bit "fleecy" for warmth over a technical t-shirt. I wore a lightweight headband and knitted gloves too. My shoes were new Mizuno Wave Creation 10's. I was a bit unsure about them as my last pair had started to cut into the outside of my left foot during the Muskoka 70.3 race a month before. What was missing this time was my heart-rate monitor. I decided to race "old-school" using perceived effort this time. I did however clip my iPhone to my race-belt, so I could assess my performance afterwards. I regretted that though, as the phone bounced around too much and the Nike+ software didn't activate properly for some reason. It gave me a time but not a distance!

The start was pretty straight-forward, although there was a lot of crowding in the minutes leading up to the start. It took me about 45 seconds to get to the start line after the gun sounded, during which I joked about how I was "racing" but not even breathing hard. Almost immediately I caught up to a Toronto Triathlon Club friend who is usually faster than me. He was accompanying his brother-in-law on his first marathon, so I ran with them and chatted for a few kilometers but pulled away when I realised that I was not holding my intended pace. I had grabbed a 3:20 pace band from the race expo and really wanted to hold 4:44/km.

The race played out nicely from there. I held my pace well although the way the marathon and half marathon courses diverged and reconnected made the distance markers a bit confusing and gave me a moment of panic when they appeared to swap... I tucked away the headband and gloves around the 10K mark. It was great seeing friends (Paula and Jennifer seemed to be everywhere) along the course, working in the aid stations (Dan Rishworth from Enduro Sport gave me my first Gatorade) and at the finish line. I get a huge boost from that support. Up to about 30K I felt strong and passed a lot of people. But shortly after the turnaround point on the waterfront section my ankles started to get sore and my quads tightened up. I pushed on though, only taking three walking breaks.

Climbing up University Avenue I knew I was going to easily achieve my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon by coming in under 3:30:59. My 3:20 target would have also been met if I hadn't taken my walking breaks, but I still crossed the line at 3:24:22, giving me a Personal Best time by 6:34. My overall pace was a decent 4:51/km. Yeah me! No race photos yet, but here's a link to an interesting PDF that the organisers provide to each finisher. I finished 223 out of 1930.

Funny story: By random chance I reconnected with some friends from my days at Sick Kids; Dr. Brenda Gallie, a cancer researcher focusing on retinoblastoma, and her assistant Lucy. They had some fundraisers racing for their charity and had brought over a young Kenyan runner (David Kipsang). I spoke to him after the race and learned that he'd been delayed getting to the Half Marathon start line. He started a couple of minutes after everyone else and had to run through a field of 4900 runners, but still managed to finish a strong second! What if...

After spending the rest of Sunday curled up in a ball whimpering, I drove over to my friend Brian's on Monday to watch the Brazilian Grand Prix on the PVR. It was an eventful race with qualifying scrambled as a result of heavy rain. There was no rain on race day, but plenty of incidents. A three-car crash on the first lap nearly led to a trackside fist fight. During the ensuing safety car deployment McLaren's Kovalainen left the pit with the fuel hose still attached and Kimi Raikkonen had to drive through the resulting flames. Fortunately both were able to continue without consequence. Jenson Button managed a fifth-place finish giving him enough points to clinch the 2009 Driver's Championship in spite of starting 14th on the back of a gutsy drive. His teammate Rubens Barrichello was on course for a podium finish before an overaggressive passing move by Lewis Hamilton cut his left rear tire. Nick Heidfeld's BMW sputtered to a halt on lap 28, out of gas. One more race on the calendar; Abu Dhabi on November 1st.

Listening to: Day After Day by Inward Eye from Throwing Bricks Instead of Kisses.


  1. Ben;
    Do you think that Global warming will ultimately lead to the cancelation of the Boston marathon? Climatologists estimate that for every marathon and addtional 100 metric tonnes of C02 are emitted into the atmosphere.

  2. I'd be curious to see a supporting reference to your statement. Are you indignant over excessive exhalations?

    I've encountered you elsewhere on the internet and know you as a rigidly ignorant climate change denier, so I presume you're trying to imply hypocrisy on my part for not spending my days lying in bed in the dark so I don't hurt Mother Earth. What ever!

    In fact, many race organisers are looking at ways to minimise the impact of their events. There are plenty of ways to do many of the things we do now without continuing the harmful impacts. Formula One motor racing may be an exception though!

    Of course, once the algore World Gubmint really gets going it will be so much easier to do. :-)

  3. Ben;
    It's sad but true, I used to enter the Toronto marathon on many occasions but the intense damage and inconvinience to motorists prompted me to rethink my lifestyle choices and the negative impact I was having on the environment. Thats the beauty of climate change everything we do adversley affect the climate. BTW Ben climate change sceptic is a more politically correct term to use in this day and age.
    I have seen you on the internet and you seem to be the typical Torontonian. But fret not their is hope for you yet. Look at Stephen Harper a few years in Calgary and he's back in tip top intellectual shape.
    Sometimes it helps to be intelletually rigourous and open your mind to new ideas and concepts. If you don't you can fall prey to group think and religious cults.
    If you ever start to waiver in your fanatical beliefs, I'm here to help deprogram you. I'm gonna post a few more articles this weekend take a look and post some contructive comments. There's hope for you yet, you seem like a decent guy, just in need of a healthy dose of common sense and scientific rigour. I'm here for ya buddy!

  4. Cam, a skeptic is someone who questions a conclusion objectively with the purpose of promoting a better understanding. A denialist is someone who repeatedly rejects an idea that doesn't suit their bias regardless of logic or evidence. You show no indication of being the former and repeatedly demonstrate that you are a rather gullible version of the latter.

    Don't wear out those Copy and Paste keys!