26 May 2016

Anticipating my first one-legged race

The weekend is almost here - and not just any weekend, but the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.

I've been looking forward to being part of the biggest road running event in our country for a couple of reasons - first because it's the terminus of our RunNinjas sensei Jim's epic trek from the Fredericton Marathon to the Ottawa Marathon, and secondly because I'd targeted this marathon as my goal race for the spring season (in hopes of attaining a sub-3 hour finish).  Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray ...

Jim is doing just fine, and managing to capture some fascinating people and experiences as part of a video documentary that he is compiling along his journey's route.  We RunNinjas are going to be over-the-moon to be able to reunite with him and celebrate this phenomenal and superhuman accomplishment!

On the other hand, I will have see what Sunday brings, and celebrate just being able to get to the starting line.

Since my last adventure running with my friend Nav at the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon I've been battling some knee issues, and as I've discovered just recently a strain of the short head (lower part) of the biceps femoris.  Tenderness, weakness and pain led to me taking almost a full two weeks off immediately after the GoodLife Marathon and then resuming training/tapering with modest success.  As such I'll be heading into Ottawa with a bit of a busted wheel that will be taped up like Red Green had attacked it.




If that wasn't enough, the one thing that I've heard about racing in the Ottawa Marathon is that while the course itself might be conducive to decent finishing times, the ambient conditions may not ... and this weekend is shaping up to be a messy scorcher.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/weekend-weather-forecast/ontario/ottawa

I've been heat training this week (layering up for workouts on even the warmest days) to try to acclimatize but I'm not sure whether or not it will have any significant benefit based on the projected forecast.

As such it will be a real roll of the dice in terms of how things turn out.  If there is a silver lining in this (thunder)cloud it could be that the one mitigating factor might benefit the other, as the heat seems to alleviate the tightness and pain that I have been feeling in my right knee.

I'll get to the start.  I'll be excited to be putting my fluorescent orange Skechers GOMeb Speed 2016 through their first race.  It'll be awesome to share the experience with all of my RunNinja tribe (some of whom I've helped coach in preparation for their first marathon) and reconnect with Jim.

One way or another, it will be a memorable weekend ...!

#GOlikeneverbefore #RunJimmiRun #RunNinjasCapitalTakeover
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06 May 2016

Race report - 2016 GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon [Guest Post]

Grateful. 

That was my emotion when I toed the starting line of the Goodlife Toronto marathon. 

When I initially planned (during Summer 2015) on training to run a fast marathon at the PEC marathon (October 2015), half way through the training I had a glute issue that wrote off my training efforts. And any hopes of a ‘race’ planned! I still ran that marathon, primarily treating it as a ‘systems-check’ and ‘speed-check’. 

Training 
I spent the most of the first 4 months of 2016 training for this marathon, in the backyard of where I live these days – Toronto. I had a variety of interruptions from January to April, from 3 weeks of travel to India / Dubai in Feb, to some Achilles strain in April. When life got in the way of training, I had to use a pen to keep moving around workouts and adjusting the plan to get in the right portion of mileage and intensity with sufficient rest and recovery in balance.18 weeks in and 628 miles later, I was ready for the race weekend. 

Pre-race 
I went to the Exhibition Place on Friday to pick up the bibs for my friend and I. The expo was the usual –find your bib #, pick it up based on your event registered for and walk ahead to get your T Shirt – and I thought it was pretty small and uneventful. Just a handful of stalls and running vendors. I was done in less than 10 minutes and found myself taking the return shuttle to downtown from where I was heading home for my first carb-loading of the weekend. I heard from other folks who have ran this race in the past that the expo has only gotten smaller, and support, etc. on race day was not being very well organized in recent years. 

Shumit – a friend from India, these days is in Michigan – was running the full too. He and his wife Ekta came by on Saturday, we had some pasta at a local diner close by, talked running, and some more. We were up at 4:30 am, without an alarm, continuing our conversation on running. I still remember talking to Shumit on the telephone a week before I ran my first marathon in 2009. Being new territory back then, I could use all the tips I could find. Shumit gave me some valuable input that helped me. As you’d imagine, we’ve been good friends since. 

Race morning 
Ekta drove Shumit, Ryan and I to the start. Ryan is a local running friend from my local running group, East York Toronto Runners (EYTR). He was all fired up to run a 3:05, and seal his spot at Boston 2017. Everybody in the car was so engaged in conversation that we missed the intersection where we had to get off to walk to the start. Half a km later, Ryan is the enlightened one, and we find ourselves taking a U-turn. 

Everything happens for a reason. I earlier touched upon how I was hoping the PEC marathon (October 2015) would have been a fast marathon for me. When I still got there, hoping to run a decent time, I decided to stick to the 3:30 pacer. This introduced me to Patrick Voo, a genuine human being and a fabulous runner. Patrick and I became friends after the run, and we stayed in touch. He offered to pace me for the Toronto marathon back in March. And even before he finished his thought, I took him up on the offer. 

I wish I had my phone before the bag check-in because I would have loved to take a picture of the huge sign that Patrick had made that said “NAV”. It was fun to see the expression of some runners as we traversed through the crowd, trying to get close to the 3:15 pacer. And confusing some folks in the process. I even saw a couple of them taking pictures. Anybody want to share some here?? 


First half – Fun 
The plan was simple. Try to stay in the 3:15-3:17 range. Go a bit easy on the hills / incline, let gravity drive you on the downs. Save the legs. Try not to push too early, and maybe get an even (ideally, a negative) split. The weather called for light rain for the first hour or so, with some occasional windy conditions. 10 minutes to the start, people started to throw away their trash-bag turned ponchos as the drizzle started to wade off. 

7:30 a.m. and off we went. The start line was the same for the half and full, but since we kicked off an hour before the half marathoners, we didn’t have a sea of people to dodge our way through. It wasn’t long before we settled into our pace. I’m not sure if Patrick was an ‘exclusive one-person pacer’ in the past, but boy did he look like a seasoned one at it. I seldom watched the pace on my Garmin. At most, I would look at the watch when it beeped every mile’s split; and once in a while, when I saw myself losing ground on him. I guess that’s what you get when you have a fine runner leading you in a marathon. 

Starting at Mel Lastman Square, the course took us north for about 800m before turning around to head down Yonge Street for the next 8 km. The first half of the race has a net downhill, with the occasional inclines. The only ‘climb’ I’d consider is the Hoggs Hollow Hill – a 500m steady incline, just after Yonge & Sheppard – at the 4th km. Being so early into the race, we kept it nice and steady, focussing on effort rather than pace. I thought it looks like a killer of a hill only because there’s a huge drop before you get to it. All about perspective! 

We chatted a good bit in the initial miles. I did give Patrick a heads-up early on that I was going to save up the numerous tokens of appreciation, for all the great things he was doing as a pacer, to thank him big at the end. Before I knew it, we hit the 10k mark in 46 minutes and change. The course then hangs west into a stretch than zig-zags through many corners as we go through some pretty neighbourhoods, passing the Upper Canada College, Casa Loma, handing us down into the beautiful Rosedale Valley. This was one of favourite patches as we ran through the picturesque section. Trails in our peripheral vision, running a long and slightly winding stretch, and making friends with runners in the same pace range. 


We were hitting our splits for a 3:15 pace, but could not see the official pacer in the horizon anymore. Positive split is a popular strategy in such a course, where the first 20 kms has a significant amount of downhill stretches. This probably explained the split for the first half split of many runners, including us as we pass alongside the Don Valley Parkway on Bayview Ave to register the half marathon distance in 1:36:56. 

Second half – Agony 
The second half starts by running through downtown, a 5 km stretch heading west ward, first onto King Street and then onto Wellington Street. It was nice to run on familiar ground for a bit, and getting the first real chance to run on flat roads since the race started. We made friends with a couple of other runners as we ran in a 5 pack for the next 20+ minutes. As we ran through the financial hub, we got a sneak of some landmarks – Air Canada Centre, CN Tower, Harbourfront, Rogers Centre, Billy Bishop Airport – every now and then, between those tall buildings on the south side.

26 km in, I let Patrick know that my right Achilles was bothering me for the last 10-15 min, and was only getting worse. We decided to keep at a 3:16-3:17 pace, letting go of a couple of folks who looked strong. If this wasn’t enough, my left Achilles also played along and bothered me from the 34th km. As I was being a cry-baby, I learnt much after the race that, Patrick was also having issues with his right knee from the 16th km. But he kept pressing, because I was counting on him. Isn’t he a stellar of a dude or what! 


Back to the race, it teases by taking you adjacent to the finish line, heading further west as you get into the last third of the distance. The final 14 km is an out-and-back from Ontario Place to Humber Bridge, on the Martin Goodman Trail. I was hurting in my Achilles, but I was feeling alright otherwise. My stride was good and breathing normal. For the first 5 km out, we enjoyed some tail wind. 2 km to the turn around, and I could feel the wind picking up. The turnaround as such is a small cone shaped trail section that houses the park boat ramp which you circle around, and make your way back. I would imagine that it would be easy for many runners (especially the back packers) to be confused to which turns to make. 

The conditions started to worsen in the last 8 km. With light rain and headwind, my body was getting cold. And the series of inclines (that at this point felt like mini hills) was making it only worse. I saw Shumit and Ryan before and after the turnaround, and they too looked spent. When you feel like you are pushing hard and your pace is 45-50 seconds / mile slower, you know that it’s not your day. I was determined to keep moving, and that’s all I managed. All the above factors meant that I lost about 3:40 in the last 8 kms. Crossed the finish line in 3:19:41, a PB by 5:07. 


Post-race 
I felt a huge amount of gratitude for Patrick for giving up his time, energy and more importantly, a potential good time for himself. I don’t think my embrace and words could relay my deep appreciation of his selflessness. Thank you so very much Patrick, you’re the best dude. 

Patrick continued to help me beyond the finish line. I was hypothermic and was trembling like crazy. He helped me grab my bag, change into some dry clothes and get into some shelter to warm up. Standing at the massage tent was not going to cut it, since I could not cease to tremble. We then moved to the medical tent where I was first made to go horizontal, wrapped up in a few layers of mylar blankets and cotton sheets as my body temperature plummeted to 34C. I was then advised to sit next to the heater. Finally, after about 55 minutes my temperature returned to normal and I could walk and talk without moving like a bobble head. I realized that I was not the only one since many runners seem to have faced the same fate. 

I have to mention here that the race organization in many quarters was below par. The bag check area at the finish line was unattended and uncovered. I know of a few folks who picked up their bags to only find wet clothes in them, and I also met a lady (who I would think isn’t the only victim) who couldn’t find her bag. There were supposedly two aid stations where gels were available – 28th km mark and 41st km. a) I didn’t see them handing out gels at the first aid station, b) why would you want to give out gels one km to the finish!!?? The race t-shirt I hear was of better quality and design a few years ago; honestly, I couldn’t care too much about the t-shirt, but I might imagine a majority do. The medal is huge, which is good as this seem to be their unique selling proposition (not that I’m a fan of medals either!). I just hope it’s does not become their ONLY selling point. 


In the last few days, I’ve had a chance to reflect about my race. I’m very grateful to have been able to complete another marathon; another lesson to be absorbed. If there’s one thing I can take away, it’s confidence. I know better than to expect perfect conditions on race day. Receive what you are offered, and adapt accordingly. Given the sub-optimal training season until now, I thought many facets of the race day turned out well – the target in hand, the ability to sustain the pace all along and the determination to stay strong when the going got tough (in the last 10k). I’m confident of only getting stronger in my next phase of training, as I work towards creating a great memory in Berlin. Here’s to better times ahead, literally! 

~ Navin Sadarangani

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28 April 2016

Pound for pound

Have you ever obsessed about weight as a runner?

Feel like if you could only get to that 'wafer-thin' status you would fly down racecourses like an elite-level marathoner?

I sure have.

Even now as I prep for another race this weekend (my first running of the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon, albeit as a pacer for a friend) I'm wishing that I was just 3-4 lbs. lighter.  Perhaps I'll get there for my goal marathon in Ottawa at the end of May - and if I do then perhaps it'll be thanks to some of these tips and tricks for tweaking my bodyweight.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!



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21 April 2016

Race report - 2016 Boston Marathon

26.2 miles is 26.2 miles no matter where you run it ... right?

Nope.

Pre-race
Of course running the 120th Boston Marathon necessitated being in New England, so I'd planned to arrive on Friday of the marathon weekend and return Monday evening almost immediately after the conclusion of the race.  While I initially had intended on making the eight-or-so hour drive into the USA (because I do love a good road trip) I did figure out that it might well me more economical (and less mental stress) to fly down - and thanks to the generosity of my friend Stan I was able to capitalize on some tucked-away Aeroplan miles to get me to Logan Airport and back.  I was also the recipient of a gracious offer of a place to stay over the marathon weekend.  As anyone who's run this race before knows, accommodation can come at a real premium - room rates are jacked for this event that draws national/international attention, and hotel bookings are made literally almost a year in advance.  So it was quite fortuitous/serendipitous when my wife Ally and I had dinner with a friend and his family last summer - and one of those family members happened to be a nephew who was on conference in Toronto but whose home was in (where else?) the greater Boston area.  When this topic of conversation came up over the dinner table I casually slid my way over a few chairs to where he was seated and let slip that I had qualified for the Boston Marathon and had plans to run the 2016 edition.  Well - doesn't he say "we love the marathon - we usually join a midnight bike ride down the course route the day before the race, and if you do come why don't you stay with us?"

Music to my ears.

-- Friday --

With those pieces in place Ally (together with Robyn, our 12 year old) was kind enough to wake up at 4:30 am to drive me down to the airport to catch my morning flight.  The standard guidelines that they give you for flights into the US is to arrive two hours before scheduled departure - and this day I needed all of that.  Who knew that a Friday morning would be so crazy in the customs and security area?

The flight over to the east coast of Massachusetts was perfectly uneventful, and having landed at Logan it was an easy hop onto a no-fare shuttle bus to the South Station train/bus hub to catch a commuter rail line out to the town of Needham (just south of Wellesley and about equidistant from the start and finish lines of the race).  I was met at train station by my friend Mike and the family dog (Mocha), and after settling in at the house we took in an afternoon walk in the local forest.

The evening consisted of meeting the remainder of the Yeh family, enjoying a lavish spread of a meal together and then being schooled in a friendly (is there such a thing?) game of Exploding Kittens.


A photo posted by patrick voo (@pbfvoo) on

-- Saturday --

It was nice to be able to snag a true sleep-in after an early start the day before (I snuck in my 50 min. run at 3 a.m. before the pre-flight routine) - trying to bank hours of sleep is always an integral part of the prep for any marathon for me, and so waking up to a bright New England morning with no alarm necessary was just what the doctor ordered.

The morning was a lazy one spent reading and re-reading various posts about how to properly handle to the morning-of logistics for the Boston Marathon, as well as scouting out a few more race reports.  After lunch my new friend Sunu was gracious enough to drive me into downtown Boston to hit up the expo and check out a few sights.  I'd initially considered heading down solo earlier in the morning but decided not to be such a loner neglecting the company of my host family - and while I believe that that I indeed opted for the better choice I'm almost certain that waiting until the noon-ish hour to nab my race kit and check out the exhibitors put me/us into the most hairy window of time possible.  It was an absolute zoo of people - not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart.


Guess who's making a bee-line for the Skechers Performance booth!

One of the most unbelievable moments at the expo happened while I was chatting with Anna from Skechers' corporate HQ and who should I see flowing by in and amongst the throngs of people but my buddy "Fast" Bill Steinburg!  I was absolutely astounded that we should cross paths in the sea of humanity at the Hynes Convention Centre especially since we had had any designs on meeting there whatsoever - but then again we did happen upon each other in the aftermath of the Around The Bay Road Race in the FirstOntario Centre, so perhaps we each have our homing signals fixed on one another.  Apart from that I really did use the visit to the expo only to retrieve my bib and race kit, exercising (what I believe to be) a high level of self-control in not purchasing anything from the multitude of vendors - not even the vaunted official 'celebration jacket' which was designed in some questionable colour combination to commemorate this year's Boston Marathon.

Sunu then led me down toward the finish line area on Boylston St., and after a few obligatory shots of the most famous painted section of road in the running world we extended our mini-tour down to Boston Common and back along the boutique-y Newbury Street.  After one last stop at the Boston Public Library it was time to return to the car and out to the suburbs again.

-- Sunday --
Just about everyone who's prepped for the Boston Marathon says that this is the 'put up your feet and rest' day, despite the temptation to tour even more sights in and around Beantown.  I did snag a crisp, early morning shakeout/Western Aussie carboload run and then decided to join Sunu and her son Christian for the morning service at their church.  They were having a special 'hymn sing' Sunday given that many families were away as this was the start of "Spring Week", a holiday period for the school system that mirrors (and in this case complements) March Break.  I just have to say that if my arrival in Boston could in any way be considered evidence of my so-called running prowess, attending a church hymn-sing painfully reveals my lack of any appreciable tone or voice modulation.

The rest of the day consisted of a giant plate of bucatini pasta for lunch, a couple of episodes of Daredevil on Netflix, watching Mike and Christian prep for their midnight bike ride along the marathon course route, and getting my gear laid out for the morning.


A photo posted by patrick voo (@pbfvoo) on

-- Monday --

Monday morning started in the same way that most marathon days start for me - a 15 min. kickstarter jog right out of bed followed by breakfast (this day it was a bagel with peanut butter + honey along with a blueberry muffin), then a shower and finally donning the race apparel.  Sunu was kind enough to offer to drive me to the runner drop-off point in Hopkinton on her way to work - this saved me taking the commuter rail down to Boston Common to catch the buses to shuttle us up to the Athletes' Village in Hopkinton.  Still, in order to avoid the traffic congestion in the small town roads of Hopkinton we needed to arrive there are 7 a.m. - a full three hours before the scheduled start of the first wave of open-class runners (to which I was assigned).

As you might anticipate there was a decent level of security as runners loaded up to board the shuttle buses (yes, even the drop-offs had to hop on a short bus ride) to the Athletes' Village, including a full wand inspection.  On the short trip I had the opportunity to chat it up with my seatmate named Joe, who'd travelled in from the Dallas, TX area.  He is an English professor at Texas Christian University, and a speedy 2:28 marathoner.  I hit him up for any tips and tricks he had set his PB here at Boston, and his advice was much the same as everything that I'd read - go easy over the first five miles, and put whatever you have left into the final five because it's a smooth downhill stretch.

The Athletes' Village is basically two large sports fields populated by some giant event tenting (for shade), extensive rows of portable toilets and otherwise littered with runners sprawled out on the grass trying to stay as rested as possible before engaging the test of endurance before them.  I tried not to wander around too much (as I usually like to keep moving) but before I plopped myself down on some trash bags that I toted along with me I had my first 'celebrity encounter' of the morning.  I recognized the face of one runner as he was coming my way and clicked in that I'd come across J-Mac, or Jason McElwain.  If you haven't seen his story on social media it's well worth checking out - and it was great to chat with him however briefly about his experience of running the Boston Marathon.



The next couple of hours were spent intermittently closing my eyes for a quick snoozle, doing a few warmup exercises and otherwise people-watching.  As is usually the case I find it fascinating to see all the different ages, shapes and sizes that runners come in - especially ones that are faster than me (which were easily identifiable since for Boston the bib numbers are assigned based on qualification times and not order of registration - so the lower the bib number, the more blazing fast you are!).

My second celebrity run-in was as the PA announcer called all first wave/red-bibbed competitors to enter the walkway leading to the starting chute.  By this time the porta-potty lineups were enormous and as I weaseled my way through the thousand or so people waiting to answer nature's call I happened upon - who else? - but "Fast" Bill.  Seriously - what are the odds that two guys from the same hometown would bump into each other in unplanned fashion twice over the course of Boston Marathon weekend.  It certainly defies my calculations ... anyway, a quick check-in with and wish of good luck to Bill and I carried on toward the chute entry point.

** Parental guidance alert - the following content may not be suitable for all audiences **

[In the process of doing my pre-race research I came across a helpful little series of Boston Marathon race tips on the Runner's World community web forum that I found helpful - not the least of which was a suggestion (for the guys) that a Gatorade-type bottle and a decently-sized garbage bag can make for a personal porta-potty.  Believe me, that came in handy just before I made the trek toward the start line.]

** end of questionable content **

The third celebrity encounter occurred just as I joined the throngs who comprised the Wave 1 runners as I happened to spot a familiar-looking, deeply tanned and muscular man in a yellow North Face singlet.  I immediately recognized him to be Dean Karnazes and I approached him just to say "can I get a fist bump for good luck?"  He was incredibly gracious and said "I sure hope it helps - have we run together before?"  I then let him know that I'd met him during a fun run with Team Running Free back in 2014, and again as he was the official starter for last summer's The North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50 miler in Collingwood.  To my amazement he said "I remember that day - it was really hot" (having hit a humidex of nearly 35°C) and also commenting "Blue Mountain was a lot tougher course than I thought it would be"!  He wasn't in any rush to brush me off and in fact walked with me for a minute or two before being approached by other runners who similarly recognized him as a modern running icon.

The race
After loading up on some free sunscreen and bypassing the last field of a hundred some-odd porta-potties I joined the other sardines in Corral 6 of Wave 1.  The national anthem was played, starting field announced, and starter's pistol fired.  We were off.

Sort of.

Crammed in as we were it was about a three to four minute shuffle to just get across the true starting line.  The guy beside me in the corral (from Colorado) noted that we would likely be running in close proximity to one another for the first four to five miles due to congestion, and that that's why the corral system is so important - otherwise we'd be sandwiched in between slower runners or much faster runners, resulting in frustration and trip-ups either way.  However, the saving grace during that initial stretch was that it is an elevation drop of some 200+ feet so things kept moving.



One of the first sensations to hit me was how hot it was already.  The call was for a high of 66°F (about 19°C) but with no real canopy/cover and a near-cloudless sky the sun factor made it feel all of that and more by just after 10 a.m.  While this might (and did) up the challenge for the marathoners it also lent itself to gorgeous viewing conditions and therefore tons of spectators out cheering us on and soaking in the pleasant springtime conditions.

The second sensation/observation was just how hilly the entire course actually felt ... most of the fame is reserved for "Heartbreak Hill" in Newton (at just after the 20 mile mark) but from start to finish it was like one big roller coaster ride.  It wasn't enough to have the sun beating down on us (as my singlet-revealing sunburn can attest to) but the 'over hill and dale' terrain really did take a toll on the quads long before the famed rise near Boston College.

The third of my 3 Hs for this race was headwind, as this contributed not only to the fatigue level when it kicked in at around the halfway point but I'm sure that it also insidiously accelerated the dehydration process for almost all of us who were running into it.  And it wasn't the gusty kind either - which could have made it psychologically devastating for anyone trying to hit a particular time goal for the day - but it was steady enough that before long it faded into the background such that you didn't notice it in a discernible way except to observe your per-mile pace continually creeping higher and higher.

With all that being said there were many great moments along the route for me - like
  • seeing so many neighbourhoods and groups (even one motorcycle club, all in full biker colours) setting up their own unofficial aid stations
  • being offered the equivalent of at least two full bags' worth of strawberry Twizzlers along the way
  • high (or low) fiving kids and the kids-at-heart lining the streets

  • the Wellesley College scream tunnel - yes, hundreds upon hundreds of girls holding up homemade signs and yelling at the top of their lungs "kiss me!" ... this was an unbelievable boost of energy (and unplanned injection of pace), and while I didn't kiss any of them I was momentarily tempted when I saw the sign "Kiss me if you don't want Trump to be president!"
  • passing by and cheering on the uber-inspirational Rick Hoyt (being pushed by Bryan Lyons, stepping in for the now-retired Dick Hoyt)
  • hearing someone yell from out of the crowds behind me:  "do you run for Skechers Canada?  I saw your post on Instagram!"
  • making my way over to touch three Canadian flags being waved by roadside fans
  • powering through a nasty right hamstring spasm at the 25th mile marker and not having to stop or be reduced to a walk
  • turning down the four-block homestretch on Boylston Street and managing to shift into one more gear to pass four runners before finally crossing the finish line.
 
Post-race
Immediately after crossing the finish line I kept on moving as I had designs on walking the 1.5 miles down to the South Station terminal in order to catch a commuter rail train back to Mike's place.  What was very cool was that in a way I finshed the race where I'd begun - having turned to look around me at the finish line and spying Jay, the guy from Colorado, who was standing beside me in the starting corral.  He'd finished just a few seconds ahead of me (talk about evenly grouped!) but confirmed that it was indeed a difficult day as he'd finished the 2015 Boston Marathon (in windy, cold and rainy conditions) a full 13 minutes faster than he had on this day - and this he attributed to the weather.
One of the things that you discover while running the Boston Marathon, and maybe especially after you've finished, is just how supportive and appreciative the local community is of the runners who come to participate in the race.  While walking the streets over to South Station wrapped in my race-branded thermal blanket (man, does the wind howl down Boylston and chill you to the bone!) I was greeted by innumerable smiles and random comments of "great job!" and "congratulations!".  I'd even read that if you wore your medal around for the remainder of the day you might benefit from some discounts or freebies - such as when I went to purchase my commuter rail ticket and the agent behind the glass booth said "it's okay, you've got your bib number and your medal showing so you get to ride for free".  Bonus!

I was able to snag a quick shower back at Mike's place before he graciously gave me a ride to Logan Airport to hop my homeward bound flight.  One of the things that I was looking forward to on the way home was being able to fly with Stan who was catching the same flight back after having come to town to support the Adaptive Runners that he coaches.  We deconstructed everything from race conditions to coaching conundrums to the state of the Toronto Raptors' post-season drive.

All told I had an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I've been asked whether or not I will return to run the Boston Marathon again (having actually clocked another qualifying time at the race), but I'm not sure that I will, at least for the foreseeable future.  It's not for lack of enjoyment or appreciation of the event - it's because (a) it's not cheap, even with a standing invitation to stay with my good friends the Yehs; (b) I have other destination races on my list - like hopefully Chicago in October 2017; and (c) I know first-hand what it's like to try so hard for so long to qualify only to have your hopes dashed because there were so many registrants that you didn't make the cut (since the B.A.A. takes the fastest times first).  If by my restraint an extra place opens up for someone else to cross off a bucket list item then I'm happy to help make a dream come true.

Because one of mine has - thanks to the support, interest, encouragement and sacrifices of my family and friends.  Boston 2016 is now a memory ... one that I'm privileged and honoured to have.

Race gear for the 2016 Boston Marathon:

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16 April 2016

Next stop ... Boylston Street

It's taken about five years and eight marathons ... but it has finally come to fruition.

I'll be running the Boston Marathon as a runner who met the qualification standard.

Like me, many people have this on their so-called 'bucket list' of races - and so I'm humbled and honoured to have finally made it onto the list of 2016 entrants.  On Monday April 18 I'll be lining up with 29999 other athletes in Hopkinton, MA to tackle the 120th edition of the world's oldest annual marathon.


One does not get here without a plan - and nor does one step up to it without one.  The numerous seasons of training schedules are now in the books, so it's time to define my goals for this event.  As I'm often inclined to do I've set three 'levels' of goals:

  • 'A' goal - relish the people/atmosphere/experience
  • 'B' goal - relish the people/atmosphere/experience
  • 'C' goal - relish the people/atmosphere/experience.

Thank you to all of you who have cheered, challenged, encouraged and enabled me to get to this point.  I hope that after all of your investments and mine I can hit one of my goals for this historic marathon weekend.

#GOlikeneverbefore #haveafastday #RunNinjaRun
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