- September 27, 2007 2:32 PM |
- By Peter Hadzipetros
I'm beginning to relate to the looks Michal Kapral must get when he prepares for a marathon.
Kapral — a.k.a. The Joggler — gets in most of his training by running home from work at his downtown Toronto office. He's quite a sight in those reserved bicycle lanes — running while juggling three balls.
The current record is 2:52:15, a time that would put him in the top two per cent of all marathoners. He'll need to run at a pace of around four minutes and five seconds per kilometre to make it.
I'll be running that race, too. But without the balls.
I'll be wearing a bluetooth headset, which will let me blog live from the course and provide some colour from the middle of the pack — assuming I can run and talk at the same time.
I've been practicing — and enduring looks from some passersby, who roll their eyes at the guy who must think he's so important that he needs to be connected to the office even when he's out for a run.
But when you're planning a major change in your routine for a marathon, you do have to rehearse — because you learn things when you do. Like the bluetooth headset is waterproof — or at least water-resistant. I found that out when I got so comfortable with it I forgot to take it off after a run — until I was in the shower and felt it while washing the stubble on the top of my head.
So while this will be my 16th marathon, it will be my first while blogging from the course. It's also the first time that a Canadian marathon will be broadcast live from start to finish — on CBC Country Canada and on CBCSports.ca.
It could also prove to be the fastest marathon ever run on Canadian soil. A strong men's elite pack will pose a serious challenge to the current mark of 2:09:55. The women's mark of 2:26:01 could fall as well — three of the elite women have posted times either under or just over that mark.
And while that's unfolding, I'll follow a pace rabbit, a guy whose job is to bring in runners at a time of three hours and 30 minutes, which is good enough for any woman — and any man 45 or older — to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Maybe not the drama of the elites chasing big prize money — but still drama on some level.
6:50 a.m. ET (10 minutes to start)This is the time of day when you're wondering what you're doing, and wondering if it's too late to turn back. Making my way to the starting corral, I'm thinking that three and a half hours is a long time. This is when I start worrying that the coffee I had this morning will come back to haunt me. Why am I doing this, again?
7:08 a.m. ETI've found the 3:30 pace bunny, and I'm off. It's 14 degrees and there's not too much wind or humidity. The conditions are perfect – for most people, anyway. As far as I'm concerned, it's a little too warm. After all, the temperature will be going up a bit as the race goes on. And, silly me, I forgot my hat, so the sun could become a factor for me in the later stages. When it's beating down on you over the course of a race, the sun can really wear you down.
7:32 a.m. ETJust passed the 6K mark, and the pack has started to thin out. The first 5K was really thick with people, which makes it tough. You have to really watch yourself, or else you'll get tripped or you'll trip yourself. It's not quite elbow to elbow, but we have 12,000 people on three lanes of road, so things get a little tight. You see all kinds of people at a marathon. A guy passed me about 2K back – looked like he was wearing ballet slippers. He was moving. Light on his feet.
7:47 a.m. ETIt's going to be a long day. I just passed the 9K mark and, as I was doing that, on the other side of Lakeshore Boulevard the lead pack for the half marathon was passing by on their way home. They had about 5K to go, so their work will be done in about 15 minutes or so. I've got about 2:45 to go. So, yeah, it's going to be a long day.
8:05 a.m. ETI'm at 13K, and the race is beginning to take its toll. Not on me, though - I've actually picked up the pace a bit. But one runner must have been a little sore - he went off the road to run on the softer grass.
8:30 a.m. ETWe just passed 18K, and the part where the marathon and half marathon split. So the half marathoners are going home, while we have a ways to go. We've got the bulk of the race ahead of us – the lonely part where you feel it's a struggle. But you come across things in a race that put it in perspective and make you feel better. I ran the last 2-3K with a guy from Toronto named Mike who was pushing his daughther, Amanda, in a wheelchair. This is the fourth time he's done that at this race, and the ninth time overall. He's done it four times in Boston as well. So when you feel a little sore, you think about that and you know you can do a little bit better.
8:58 a.m. ETJust passed by the leaders going the other way. I'm only 15K behind them! They're really moving, but they're just a little over a 2:10 pace, so in order to break the record they'll have to pick it up. The race really unfolds over the final 5K. Someone will make a move to try and drop the pack. Those that can stay up will have a shot. Looks like we'll have an exciting finish coming up.
9:03 a.m. ETJust saw the Joggler at the 30k mark. He's looking good. Looks like he's on pace to break the joggling record.
9:18 a.m. ETAs we approach 29K the sun is beating down and there's still a ways to go. Trying to stay cool. Still hanging on to the pace.
9:39 a.m. ETI'm in the last 10K, approaching the final turnaround to head back downtown – the homestretch, so to speak. We're now in uncharted territory, at least by my training. I haven't gone over 32K in several months, so this is where determination comes into play. So far I'm managing to hang onto the pace. Although I'm really, really looking forward to the finish.
10:02 a.m. ET5K to go and I can't say I've hit the wall, but I keep sliding off one that someone puts up every couple hundred metres or so. I've been on my feet now for three hours and two minutes. If I'm able to maintain pace, I should be done in 25 minutes. Heading back towards downtown, every bit of shade right now is very welcome. There's no breeze and it's really warm.
10:16 a.m. ETThe signs of fatigue - you can see them in people. It's in their gait, in the way they reach for a cup of water and can't get their arm up very high. Just before the 40K mark a runner was down, being worked on. He was conscious, but he had hit the wall head on. At this point I’m going on fumes. But the finish is not far. I see the 40K sign. I've got about 10 minutes to go. I've got to hang on for 10. See ya at the finish.
10:27 a.m. ETThere's no better feeling than coming around the corner and seeing the finish up ahead. I just passed the 400 meters to go sign, and 300 metres is coming up. I'm all alone right now. There's a guy about 150m ahead of me, and I don't know about behind me because I'm not looking back at this point. 300 to go now. No matter how often you feel during a marathon, it's amazing how in the last little bit you can reach down and find something.
10:33 a.m. ETMy final time was 3:28:21, which was about a minute and a half quicker than I was planning. The last four or five K were a bit rough, so I lost so time there, but not too much. In the end I feel good. And I didn't throw up, so that's a bonus.
10:50 a.m. ETIt's about 25 minutes after the fact, and now that didn't seem so bad! I'm not so sore anymore. In another 25 minutes I'll be ready for a nice greasy breakfast and I'll start thinking about my next marathon. That's the thing with this whole marathon business – after a day like today, putting out the energy I did, I can spend the rest of the day with my face in the fridge and not replace the calories I burned. That's a good day for me.
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