Thursday, October 23, 2008

Toronto Marathon 08 Race Report

Leading up to the race

The days leading up to the race, I gone through many emotions. And I must admit, I am not very confidence. I only did one 20 miler long run. Michael mentioned that the more 3 hr run I do, the less suffering on race day. I was having stomach issues during my long runs. My last race simulate run (10 k), my stomach was getting queezy by the last 2 k. If that was my marathon, it would be a long day.

The 100 km I put in before tapering was a killer (overtrain). Good thing it is taper time.

I spent a lot of time reading through my blog. Where I started. I read my first marathon, my Ironman race report (Part I, II, III). I retrace the route I started to run 10 years ago. I reflected on all the tough training I set myself. I told myself that I've done everything I can for this race. Whatever happens on the field, let it be.

I don't have much strategy. My goal was a 3 hr 45 min. That's equate to 5:17 min/k. So I plan my whole route with those pace times. I actually went back to a strategy that I adopted when I did my first marathon. The first 30 k is really a warm up for the last 12 k.

The best part about taper is that I force myself to relax. I spend a lot of meditating and being alone (me an introvert). I really didn't do much. On Sat, I woke up at 11 am. I never slept that late before.

Race Day

Nothing different than my other races. Get up. Have two can of boosts. Clear the stomach. Shower. Pack my stuff and go. My friend, Kat, will be there cheering me on so I went to pick her up before I head out.

The weather was looking great. It was a bit chilly. I drop off my car. Drop off my bag. Take the first gel. By then, I was loosening up and feeling pretty good. I am excited and ready to go. I still have no expectation of this race. I am just glad to be here. I did this race three years ago and being there brought back a lot of emotions. It was my first marathon. Now I am back...

Marathon? What marathon?

First 21 km (13 miles)

The miles flew by. I started off following the 3:45 pace bunny. He mentioned that he was doing 10:1 and he was running at a fast pace. I slowly let him go. He was running a fast pace. The race is long and if I have the energy I will catch up to him later. There is no need to push the pace. Keep the heart rate low (high 150s to low 160). Easy. I deliberately run on the outside lane to stay away from people.

I was actually having fun. I drink at every water station. Gatorade and/or water. And gel every 40 min. Stomach has no issues. I was having so much fun that I started to tap every pylon I ran by. I high fived the kids on the street. I thanked every police officers.

Marathon is fun...weeeeee

I bumped into a lady with a Ironman jersey. She just did IM Kentucky and told me the weather was brutal. She also did a marathon three weeks ago and now running a full one. Nuts I told her. We chatted up about Ironman...then I kept moving.

The course leaded us some of the most beautiful places in Toronto. I loved it. Tall trees hovering on both sides. The fall color is bright and vibrant. Leaves were falling around us.

22 - 30 km

The last half of the course was an out and back. It is pretty flat. By now, you started to see people fading. Some stopped to stretch. Some started to walk. I kept cruising along. A band was playing Rolling Stones' Can't Find No Satisfaction. I sang out a few lyrics outloud. :) It was fun.

At around 25 km, we started to see the pros coming back. I picked up a Power Gel (Strawberry). Oh nasty. It was bitter.

By 27 km or so, my right quad was aching. My left feet felt like there was a blister. The race is about to begin.

30 km is the turn around mark. By now, I was doing the math. I figured if I kept this pace, I would finish 3:45 no problem. I mentioned this to another runner. He was excited and run even faster.

Cameron Brown once said....20 miles (32 km) of hope, 6 miles (10 km) of reality. This was the pharse in my head as I turned around. I almost wanted to say this out loud to those around me. I kept my mouth shout for fear that might unsettled other runners.

I started to picked up the pace at 30 km. I am running around 5 min/k. I had reservation whether I could hold this pace for 12 km.

This was also the moment where I thought about my liver transplant, my father lost his job while I was in the hospital, all the kids who is fighting cancer. It was a touching point. That's it. The game is on.

For the next few kms, I kept on the pace. Darren once used the phrase, "keeping the wheels together from falling off". How true. I was hanging in there. Those who I let go earlier in the race, I slowly reeled them in. The longer the race, the stronger I become.

The last three km had a slight incline. I passed a water station without drinking. I was hurting and weak. My whole focus was moving as fast as I can. I felt like I don't have the energy to pick up a cup of water.

There were about 6-7 traffic lights and I used those as reference. Boy that was tough. I was barely moving. Everyone was cheering, you are almost there. Right.

Run ugly!!!

I looked like a mean walker (and cheated too...I have both feet in the air)

Here was the point where a decision had to be made. My mind, my body wanted to slow down. I can walk and still make my goal. I can slow down to a jog. I choose to keep going. Move those feet!

The last 800 m ended with running around a semi circle. It was at this point, I saw a glimpse of a flailing arm. It was my mom. My parents were there just in time to see me finish. Looking back, I was glad for them to be there. I needed it. I kept shuffling and run towards the end.

I stopped my HRM and saw 3:39.....sweet. I was sore. I had to keep walking to keep my legs from cramping. I high fived Kat and Edwin (another friend who come to see me run). It is over....

Pain! At least I am not alone :D

Thanks to Kat for taking many photos and cheering for me.


It is hard to explain how I am feeling. There are so many emotions going through the marathon. A lot of people asked me about my race and how I I text message to my friend.

I am joyful from the run (marathon) not because of my result. Frankly, even if I didn't finish I should still be joyful Joyful for being alive. Grateful for being able to get up without pain and have the opportunity to enter the race (or as we say it..toe the line). The joy of the process and gratefulness sermount the satisfaction of the race.

I am pretty happy for being able to run. Much less do a marathon :)....

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

What a great run, and a great report too, Cliff. The big smile in the last photo says it all, really. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

Anonymous said...

you are an inspiration :)

AddictedToEndorphins said...

Did I ever tell you that you're amazing?? Your ROCKED That race. Seriously. Someday I'm going to have to get you to pace me to a 3:40...:) Someday.

Rest up well Cliff, you deserved it. And, eat what ever you want.

ShirleyPerly said...

Loved your race report, Cliff! You ran a very smart race, I think. I do not like using pacers either because they do often run either even pace or take walk breaks, neither of which is my usual marathon strategy. I'd much rather run the whole time and negative split. It's much more fun and motivating, too, to be passing folks late in a race.

Congrats again on your huge PR!

Brent Buckner said...

Great preparation, strong race and fabulous report.

Pix with both feet in the air - good show!

Steven said...

Excellent job, great pics, and fun RR, Cliff!
You earned some rest...go enjoy it.

Phil said...

Awesome job Cliff.

"Here was the point where a decision had to be made. My mind, my body wanted to slow down. I can walk and still make my goal. I can slow down to a jog. I choose to keep going. Move those feet!"

How many times have we all had that conversation!

Jen's Journey said...

BIG congrats on a great race! I am very happy to have come across your blog. I am starting to race again after loosing 69 pounds and your blog is definitely an inspiration!

I LOVE the title of your blog as well - what a great way to be a witness!

Blessings - Keep reaching - Jen

TRI Vortex said...

Man, miles don't even fly by for me on the bike. You go Cliff Bar.

elaine s said...

i packed the jam into my purse

Unknown said...

Love the race report and photos!!

You kept the wheels on. You had fun. You finished strong. Doesn't get much better than that!

Spokane Al said...

I am catching up with your blog and was very glad to read about your excellent marathon. You really rolled along and looked strong in each and every picture.