29 May 2014

road review - skechers GOmeb speed 2

i'd been shying away from these shoes for a while because (generally speaking) i have a preference for footwear with a wider forefoot or at least space for decent toe splay - and i'd read that (a) meb keflezighi has narrow-ish feet and that (b) in designing these racing flats with Skechers Performance Division (SPD) he'd requested that these shoes hug the foot rather snugly.  so after passing on the first iteration of the Skechers GOMeb Speed, i found myself with a pair of the GOMeb Speed 2 thanks to my friends at Skechers Performance Division - and this time quite excited about them!

it's hard not to be struck with a 'love at first sight' impression from these shoes.  i opened the box to see the gold/black New York colourway, and the words "Limited Edition" printed on the non-removable insole.  how can you feel anything but special when you don 'limited edition' racing flats?

so how did i really feel about them?
  • fit - let's tackle this one off the top.  it was my biggest concern with this model, and as they were provided to me they weren't sized up or down compared to my other SPD shoes.  the first slip-on was surprising, as i definitely did not feel as cramped in the forefoot as i'd expected.  form-fitting would be a good way to describe it - a little north of snug and a little south of 'generous toe-box'.  length was spot-on, and i liked the way that the heel fit (not too high on the achilles, not sloppy at all).  although these shoes have very cool printed overlays and not stitched ones, i still opted to skip cross-lacing the first pair of eyelets like i did with the GORun Ultra to allow for a bit more breathing space.

  • weight - many other people have commented that these shoes just feel fast, and i have to agree.  at somewhere a hair over 7 oz. per shoe, there's a 'hardly anything to them' kind of aura to them.  as a racing flat, this means that there's just enough structure to them to help your feet experience some support (especially in the later stages of a longer run like the marathon) without wearing you down by forcing you to carry unnecessary weight with every stride.

  • drop - listed at a 4mm (18mm heel, 14mm toe) drop, the GOMeb Speed 2 give the impression of being level and low.  this shoe provides just the right platform for a mid/forefoot striker to activate all of the necessary tendons and muscles for efficient coiling and propulsion through the running gait.  

  • outsole - i've found that most racing flats will give you very little jazz in terms of textured outsole design, basically because its about maximizing traction and ground contact.  the GOMeb Speed has a fairly straight-forward dimple/pod design, with strategically distributed GOimpulse rubber sensor pods (M-strike design) for durability and enhanced traction.  the remainder of the outsole is Skechers' proprietary ResalyteTM mid-sole material which is tough enough while keeping the overall weight down.  all in all it's plenty grippy, doesn't pick up gravel (unless you manage to lodge it in the space where the stability plate is visible).

  • midsole - a nice firm midsole which is great for a racing flat ... i definitely look for a stable platform which offers good impact rebound rather than cushy-ness for my marathons.  add to that the Dupont HytrelTM stability plate for some added 'pop' (which proved helpful over the last 7km of this year's mississauga marathon) and this shoe offers outstanding racing performance.

  • aesthetics - these are a seriously groovy pair of kicks.  this colour combo is flamboyant without being flagrant ... you could totally wear them out for a night on the town and they would look cool without screaming 'jock'!

  • laces - the GOMeb Speed 2 comes with two sets of laces, and while they contribute to the overall lusciousness of the shoe i found that they lacked the elasticity of 'standard' laces.  this might be part of creating a tight riding package for racing - and while they don't bother me at all while running there's something about the feel of laces without any give that makes me think that they belong on dress shoes.
here's the full video review for you as well:

i know that it becomes rather trivial to post a 'footprint rating' when it just appears as if i'm in desperate and utter love with all Skechers Performance Division footwear, but let me share two quick notes in passing:  
  1. i am providing an honest - not obligatory - review of the shoes that i receive as a Skechers Performance brand ambassador.
  2. i will soon be reviewing a pair of Skechers running shoes to which i will not be giving a full five-footprint rating (shock and awe)!
... but for now, the GOMeb Speed 2 receive a well-earned five out of five.

*** disclaimer:  i was provided with the GORun Ultra by Skechers Performance Division (Canada) but was not obligated to provide a positive review.  all opinions - however poorly expressed - are my own.


16 May 2014

race report - MEC Barrie 2014 Race Series Two

after having just run the mississauga marathon, i had already planned to participate in the MEC barrie 2014 race series two (hey, at $15 for any distance you can't go wrong) but to only go for the 10k distance as a bit of a shake-out run.  however, i made an intentional decision to treat the race in mississauga as more of a training run (even though i delivered a PB and a BQ time) and so went right back into my six-runs-a-week training approach in anticipation of my A-race at the Limberlost Challenge.  given how i was feeling, i made a brash-ish call and let my friend lewis know that i would instead be willing to pace him to a 2-hour half-marathon for the MEC event.  this would be my second go at being an unofficial 'Team Skechers' pacer.

i registered on-site at the MEC barrie retail location and picked up my kit at the same time.  it really is a no-muss-no-fuss process, made easier by the fact that there is no chip timing for this series of races (at least not until the registration numbers climb a bit higher - or so i'm told).  what's great about this super-affordable kind of event is that you still are provided with a handful of clif bars or gels, which is almost always the best part of a race kit package for me.

race day
lewis and his wife picked me up on the morning of the race, and we headed into orillia together.  given that we were only tackling 21k and at a very manageable pace for me i didn't have a huge breakfast - but out of respect for the fact that this was still a race and i had a responsibility to lewis, i did wake up the prescribed four hours before start time and followed a very similar routine as i had the weekend before.  a race is a race.

the OELC grounds was a-buzz with activity when we arrived - including race organizers and participants, but also other groups who had rented space there and were conducting team-building activities.  it almost had the feel of a mid-to-large scale race based on the sheer number of bodies moving around the site.

while the sun was out when we first arrived, it ducked in and out from behind cloud cover and there was a decent breeze afoot which made for deceptively cooler conditions.  not a problem for me as i find 5-10°C pretty much optimal running weather, but we would need to account for the wind as a factor both in terms of pacing effort and (de)hydration.

i figured that a pacer in funky lunatik athletiks socks would be easy to follow ...

we saw a number of familiar faces milling around near the start line, including our friends jim willett, steve elliott, sean rootham and marc dyson.  jim was the official timer once again, while steve was attempting a sub-1:30 half and sean and marc tackling the 10k.

first 5k - 28:17

my plan was to run as even a race as possible - if not for lewis' sake then for my own so that i didn't blow out my still-recovering legs.  of course we went out fast than our required 5:41/km (covering the first km in 5:33) but it still felt pretty controlled and conservative. 

at just about the 5k mark we hit our first aid station (water only) and took some early drinks.  i shared with lewis the 'finger-in/pinch' technique for picking up cups and drinking on the run (which in the end may have turned into a detrimental tactic and learning this new trick apparently swayed lewis off of his original game plan of walking through some of the drink tables).  at this point we also looked back and noticed a couple of runners just a few metres behind us and discovered that they were trying to latch to us since my "unofficial 2:00 pacer" sign was pinned to the back of my shirt.  with that in mind, i felt great about now having the opportunity to pace/coach/encourage some other runners to hit the same goal ... nevermind that they had "GO LIKE NEVER BEFORE" staring them in the face as well!

km 6-10:  28:24

the rolling hills of this particular lakeside course started to become apparent through this stretch, and we also began to contend with headwinds after some turnaround points.

i think that it was during this time that i really noticed that we had a decent police presence (for road marshalling/closures) and appreciated it very much.  again, for a budget-priced event this was a real bonus to have officers and cruisers available to keep us safe, along with the fantastic volunteers along the way.

as we headed toward our first turnaround point we saw steve coming back toward us in what looked to be fourth position.  he looked really strong and reported that he'd cleared 10k in under 40 minutes ... making me extremely envious/jealous.  oh, to be 29 again ...!

i also took my first gel at 8k, and found out that lewis had planned to not take anything in terms of nutrition for this run.  i was a little skeptical but certainly didn't want to monkey around with his day any more than i already had.

km 11-15:  28:25

steady as she goes ... i offered some ideas to lewis about how to take advantage of drafting off of a pacer at this point because i was still feeling very good, but could hear his breathing a little more prominently now.  we also saw one of our fellow 2:00 pace groupers fall off by about two minutes, so the elevation changes and wind were taking a bit of a toll.  the climb to km 15 was also a bit of a doozy, taking us up 19m to the peak point.

km 16-21:  35:05

the home stretch was a tough go for my man lewis.  first off there was a turnaround just after 15k to bring us back up that nasty hill for a full, long 21m climb.  also, as i reached for my second gel lewis indicated that his stomach was feeling empty and that perhaps he'd need to review his nutrition plan for races.  i offered to him my second gel as it was a plain-jane vanilla flavoured one which i'd hoped would not upset his already taxed GI system but might offer a final kick for the end.  he gratefully received it and we both hoped that it would not be too little too late.

trying to stay on target as best as possible, lewis faded back by about 25 seconds after the long hill climb and so i spent the next km or so turning around (and even running backwards for a stretch) shouting encouragements and little mental cues to him (e.g. "focus on a quicker not longer stride", "if you catch up to me you can benefit from the drafting", "use the downhill to your advantage").  like any determined runner lewis broke through the wall and we reconnected with about 1.5km to the finish.

i don't know whether or not i'd fallen off of the pace in trying to make sure that the imaginary elastic did not break, or if the final uphill climb to the finish did it, or if i relied too much on garmin measurements but we crossed the finish line in 2:00:10 (for lewis) and 2:00:11 (me).  i really wanted to get lewis in under 2:00, but as our friend jim said to me afterwards many races provide a 59 second buffer, so lewis could quite legitimately consider himself a 2:00 half-marathoner.

gun-time:  2:00:11 / garmin time:  2:00:11 (21.26 km)

right at the finish line our buddy steve was there cheering us on with his wife and baby daughter.  steve had clocked an outstanding 1:28:30 for fourth place overall - so we were proud to have our photo taken with him.

i'm standing in a ditch ... no, really, i am!

we didn't hang out too long even though there were complimentary sports massages available (again, how great is that for such an affordable race?).  we did see a few of our other 'pace group' runners navigate the finish (in 2:01:32 and 2:08:39).  aside from lewis' fantastic effort, the highlight for me might well have been hearing one guy tell me "you were so inspiring" and that it helped him to finish as well as he did.  mission accomplished.

the only thing i'd change on the entire day?  making sure that i cross in under the pacing time designated.  whether i was assigned to a specific runner or not, that's twice now that i've come in just over the target time.

oh well - i get another shot in october when i serve (officially) as a 3:30 pacer for the county marathon.  and by gum, i will get those people across in under 3:30!



12 May 2014

on the run ... with yuki kawauchi

he is the toast of japanese popular running culture.  somewhat of an enigmatic competitor, yuki kawauchi is a non-corporate athlete who works a full-time job as a high-school administrator while entering more races than just about any elite-level runner of any nationality or descent.

known as the "citizen runner", yuki has brought his gut-it-out/hold-nothing-back approach to distances from 1500m to 50km in events across the globe.  most recently he placed ninth in the 2014 hamburg marathon to become the first japanese man to clear 2:10 in seven different marathons as well as tying the record for most sub-2:20 marathons (with 34) by a japanese runner.  his PB of 2:08:14 may not threaten the PBs of other world-class elite marathoners, but having achieved the status of folk hero well beyond japan means that he is a hot commodity in the eyes of many race organizers.

as my own personal running hero, it's an honour to have yuki take some time out from his busy 2014 schedule of 25 planned race events to share some stories and reflections with the rendezvoo point.
. . . . .

1.  A lot has been said and written about your schedule as a civil servant, working from 12:45pm-9:45pm.  What advantages do you find by not being a corporate runner? 

(a) Being able to enter as many races as you want to, as frequently as you want to 
(b) I love my job! 
(c) Inspiring people by showing them that you don't need to be a professional runner to succeed in racing 
(d) I can avoid overtraining by only running once per day 
(e) Other 

YK:  "A" - My dream is not only to compete in the Olympics or World Marathon Championships, but also to keep racing for the rest of my life, and to run in races in Japan and all over the world.  This is my biggest motivation to keep training.  I'd also like to choose the races I participate in without being influenced or restricted by sponsors or coaches.  Therefore, I have decided not to belong to any corporate teams.

2.  Many people were excited to have you running in the 2013 New York City Marathon.  Now that you have run two of the World Marathon Major events (Tokyo and New York), what international race would you most like to tackle next? 

(a) The Boston Marathon, because it's a point-to-point net downhill course 
(b) The London Marathon, because the last few years they have had the fastest and most competitive elite fields 
(c) The Berlin Marathon, because that's where the marathon world record is most often broken 
(d) The Paris Marathon, because the field there is competitive and I could finish as top Japanese runner there 
(e) Other 

YK:  "D" - Among the many international races, the race I'd like to be in the most is the Paris Marathon.  Unfortunately, I haven't made it yet because April, the month the Paris Marathon takes place, is the beginning of the Japanese government's fiscal year, and I have always been very busy at this time.  However, I'd like to try to run in the race while my ability is at its best.

The London Marathon is one of the best races in the world as well.  I'm very interested in running in the London Marathon since I couldn't represent Japan at the London Olympics.  I'd love to take part in the London Marathon race as well as the one in Paris.

3.  Racing as often as you do your must have some interesting stories from races - which is your most memorable moment from a race? 

(a) Participating in the World Marathon Championships in Daegu and Moscow 
(b) Having to buy a new plane ticket to get to the 2013 Egyptian Marathon because you'd accidentally forgotten to pack your passport 
(c) Becoming the record holder for shortest time between two sub-2:10 marathons after the races in Fukuoka and Hofu in 2013 
(d) Collapsing from heat exhaustion at the 2011 Okinoshima 50k ultramarathon 
(e) Other 

YK:  "A" - I was very proud of my achievement at the team event in the World Marathon Championships in Daegu, Korea.  It was the proudest moment of my life.  I won't be able to race as a member of a team at this event again, since the team event has been discontinued.  However, I'd like to keep training to be selected for either the Olympics or the World Championships again, but as an individual runner.  The race in Oki in Japan (D) was very memorable as well.  I lost consciousness 300m from the finish line.   It was the only race that I have not finished in my marathon career of over 350 races.  Also, the NYCM was the most exciting and inspiring race in my life.  It was a great competition.

4.  Everyone likes to run a race differently - for me I find that I race best/enjoy it the most when I run: 

(a) With a pacer to keep me on target 
(b) With a large group of Japanese runners because I am familiar with them 
(c) With a large group of Kenyan or Ethiopan runners because they are some of the fastest pack runners 
(d) Out in front on my own 
(e) Other

YK:  "A" and "C" - In order to get the best result, running with a pacer is the best race tactic for me.  However, running with large groups of the fastest pack runners is the most enjoyable type of race for me.

*** for more on yuki kawauchi's accomplishments we recommend following "the kawauchi counter" on brett larner's japan running news blog.

*** many thanks go to brett larner as well as to ichiro ando (of the Saitama Prefectural Government sports division) for establishing a liaison with yuki kawauchi, as well as to yukiko nogawa for translation work.

07 May 2014

race report - 2014 mississauga marathon

two words really sum up the key variables that affected the experience and outcome of this year's mississauga marathon for me.



i was genuinely excited to visit the expo this year - in previous years it was a pretty utilitarian visit, getting my kit and a few gels (at the normal 'expo special pricing') in record time and heading back home.  the expo is straightforward enough but nothing at which to particularly linger around.

what was different this year was the Skechers sponsor booth.  i was eager to meet some of my contacts with whom i gotten acquainted vis-à-vis the Skechers Performance Division brand ambassador program.  it was well worth the visit - Skechers had two exhibitor locations - one just past the t-shirt pick-up table and one at the end of the first exhibitor row.  both were high-visibility high-traffic locations, so they were really featured in a way like no other sponsor at the expo.  i was able to meet several Skechers staffers, plus the national manager for Skechers Canada - who when introduced to me by the marketing manager said "oh, you're that patrick?" and then proceeded to show me that he had the rendezvoo point blogpost why not skechers ...? bookmarked on his phone.  how cool is that?

apart from the meet-and-greet with Team Skechers, i didn't pick up my usual complement of gels as the next day i would be stopping by our local Running Free store to pick up my team kit gear which had arrived, so i figured that i would also take advantage of my team member discount to get the gels there.  instead i spun the Subway Commit To Fit wheel and had to run 30s on the spot for a prize - and took home a cool Subway water bottle.

race day
with a usual 4:00 am rise-and-shine alarm i started off my day with a peanut butter/honey/chia bagel, a bowl of quinoa-oatmeal and some gatorade-beet juice mix.  apart from the juice combo, i'd never tried this kind of breakfast before (note to kids and first-time marathoners:  don't do this).

i arrived at the start line area about an hour before the gun would go off, providing me ample time to suit up, grab a couple of selfies, get in and out of the porta-potty as well as squeeze in a warm-up jog.

putting the GOMeb Speed 2 to work again!

it didn't take long to realize that the wind would play a factor on this day ... with reported gusts up to 50 km/h it wouldn't matter whether it was coming at us from behind, the side or in front because running on a windy day is always going to require more effort than a non-windy day.

as i proceeded into the starting chute there were three key people that i ran into:
  1. stan ong - my pal who was targeting a sub-1:25 HM time, but at that moment was scurrying around looking for another friend who was to meet him with his bib for the day!
  2. cris from Skechers Performance Division (Canada) - he was there photodocumenting the event for Skechers, who was a first-time sponsor of the Mississauga Marathon.  he also snapped a quick pic of me in my newly acquired (yep, never wore this shirt for any run before - again, don't try this at home) Skechers technical tee.
  3. peter, the 3:20 pace rabbit - the strategy which i'd clearly laid out in my mind since the hamilton marathon last november was to run with the 3:15 pacer until about 35k, and then race through the finish.  in the chute i looked for that pacer, but could only find a 3:20 pacer whom i'd recognized as peter - a guy who paced for 3:15 the last couple of years at the same race.  when i asked him whether or not there would be a 3:15 pacer this year he said no, and essentially i took away that he thought that it would be better for him to pace a 3:20 race.  this of course bunged up my plans to not only follow a pacer but also to take advantage of running with a group.
kms 1-5:  22:34

i wanted to start off conservatively, not expending extra energy weaving through the crowd and getting a rush from passing slower runners.  i'd read that starting out too fast and surging past runners uses up exponentially more glycogen than running at the same paces in the latter stages of the race - so the game plan was to play it nice and easy.

which worked until after km 2 when the 3:20 pacer went flying by me, easily clocking a 4:00 min/km pace.

what was he doing?  was my garmin giving me a misread?  and how would i ever hope to finish in 3:15 if the 3:20 guy was ahead of me?

enter cardinal mistake #1 - i pushed it to try to keep up with him.  i definitely felt the increased effort, and was hoping to God that i wouldn't pay dearly for it after 30k.

kms 6-10:  21:55

at km 8 i once again did something that i've never done before in a race - i made a quick dash into the bushes for some bladder relief.  it didn't actually feel too too urgent a call to nature, but i figured that i needed to slow down anyway and that i would feel better without the pressure at my waist.  

kms 11-15:  21:59

a fairly uneventful block of 5k - i felt like i was in a good rhythm and was running alongside someone from the brampton benders running club.

kms 16-25:  45:07

just after 15k a funny thing happened ... i caught the 3:20 pacer!  i asked peter whether or not he had gone out faster than required and he answered yes, but that now the toughest part of the course was behind us and that they would ease back on the gas at that point.  i didn't check, but i think that if he did have any aspiring 3:20 racers with him they would have been already sucking wind if not left trailing somewhere behind him.

after this i also felt the burn from going out hard, and wanted to cruise for a stretch in the hope of having something still left for a kick at 35k.

kms 26-35:  46:25

toughest stretch - not only because this covered the section where most runners experience 'the wall', but also because the wind was at its most active as we ran out toward the lake and made the u-turn dead into it.  the 29th km was my second slowest at 5:00 min. because there were times that i was leaning forward so much to counteract the wind's effect.  

kms 35-42:  38:21

at the 35k mark i mentally switched gears into racing mode - i pitched the gloves that i'd been wearing (and at the same time inadvertently threw away the boston marathon-coloured rainbow loom bracelet that my daughter had made for me) and started to activate my glutes for a stronger push-off.  three steps into racing mode and my right hamstring started to spasm and threatened to seize up altogether if i didn't put an end to all this nonsense ... so looking at my watch and recognizing that at this point i could cover the remaining distance at 5:00 min/km and still hit the BQ mark i decided to stick with the simple cruising pace that i'd maintained to this point.

discretion is the better part of valour, they say.

as i hit the finishing straight i took off the bandana that i'd been wearing and started whipping it around in the same fashion that tsegaye kebede had done as he approached the finish line in the 2013 NYC marathon.  that guy is so much fun to watch, and reminds me that you can compete at the highest level and still let everyone know that you're having a blast.

as i crossed the timing mats i could see that my gun time was pretty much 3:15:00 bang on, and simply trusted that my chip time provided me with the slightest bit of buffer to come within Boston Qualifying time.

gun time:  3:14:59 / chip time:  3:14:43 / garmin time:  3:14:52 (42.7 km)

as i didn't have any one travel down to the race with me, the first person to greet and congratulate me when i crossed the finish line was nick from Skechers ... they really are my family, already!

aside from a calf cramp that ambushed me while wandering in the post-event picnic area, i was feeling really quite good after putting out a PB effort - but the chill in the wind was especially noticeable after i'd stopped running, so i headed immediately for the shuttle buses back to the start line parking lots.  

while in transit i wound up chatting with a guy named george who'd finished a few minutes ahead of me - i recognized his shirt because i was drafting off of him for a bit, and found out that while he's run marathons in places like boston, san francisco and even sydney (australia), he's not even what he would consider a runner.  he's a cross-country skier, which just serves as a reminder that when it comes to running endurance events the key to a great performance might just be more the 'endurance' part than the 'running' part. 

all in all, i'm very pleased with my effort to finally attain a BQ time - and while a trip to the boston marathon in 2015 is still by no means a given (the registration process may just weed me out because i cut it so close - 17 sec. under my qualification standard), i know that i've outdone my old self and claimed the title of boston qualifier ... and no one can take that away from me.

many thanks to all those who helped me to reach this milestone in my running career:
  • my family, for putting up with loads of running-only laundry and days and nights spent wondering if i'd gotten lost or run over in polar vortex weather
  • my former coach, rick ball, for invaluable lessons and insisting that i get a garmin
  • stan ong - age grouper extraordinaire, top-rate blogger and huge cheering section
  • Skechers Performance Division (Canada) for not only great equipment but also outstanding support!
  • the barrie roadrunners for pushing the pace on me during our wednesday night outings
  • the MEC barrie running ninjas for helping me to tackle 32+ km days on my scheduled training off-day!
  • Team Running Free - it was great to see so many Team RF representatives at the race
  • my pal mike st. john - my first running partner and inspiration to go hard no matter what the elements might bring.
next stop is the limberlost challenge on july 12 - my 'A' race and the next new title to adorn ... ultrarunner!



01 May 2014

changing it all up for race week - the checklist

with just a few days to go before the 2014 mississauga marathon, i'm running through my checklist of things to bring/do:
  • gatorade, beet juice and clif bars:  i've actually decided to tackle carbo-loading a bit differently this week compared to previous marathons.  i'd read that while most distance runners have a sense of the advantages of carboloading, most do not do it enough - so this time around i'm going to try a three-day carboload after having come off of a two-day carbodepletion mini-cycle.  honestly i feel as fit as i have ever been in my life, and am ready to start the fueling process for this race.

  • Skechers GOMeb Speed 2:  none of my previous marathons have been run in a racing flat - and in fact, the only time that i've raced any distance in a racing flat was my last 10k event in which i also wore the GOMeb Speed 2.   a review on these is still to come, but at this point i can say that the fit is better than i had expected, and the pop on these shoes (courtesy of the Dupont Hytrel™ stability shank/plate) makes the propulsive phase of the running gait cycle seem that much more dynamic.  besides being a Skechers Performance Division ambassador, i would have had no questions about using these for the race this weekend - especially after Meb's iconic win at boston last month.

  • garmin 305:  i contemplated running this marathon naked (get your minds out of the gutter people!) but i have essentially been doing that this week with my tapering schedule.  normally i would have included a couple of speed intervals and hill repeats in this final taper week, but after some reflection and paying attention to how my body is feeling i decided instead to forego intensity and pick up a few additional miles.  this is different from any of my previous training plans, but i do feel very good about it.

  • blue-and-yellow rainbow loom bracelet:  one of my daughters made this for me last december - she'd asked me what colours i might like to have for a bracelet, and i requested blue and yellow (boston marathon colours) so that i could wear it during this upcoming marathon as a reminder that i'm just trying to hit my qualifying time.  in both of the last two marathons that i ran i felt that i had all the conditioning pieces that i needed to hit my BQ time - but in both instances i feel that i went out much too fast and bonked.  this time i feel even more confident than before (having run more miles in this training cycle than any previous, as well as pushing out race-pace runs geared toward a faster-than-BQ finish) and will be planning to run a very controlled race through 35km.  the bracelet is to remind me that i need to stay with the 3:15 pacer until we cross through the proverbial - and in the mississauga race it's a visual - wall.
at this point i feel more than ready - the 'madness' of the taper really hasn't struck in the same way as in previous pre-race periods ... it's more of a sense of expectation of success.  

see you at the finish line!