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Reid Coolsaet: 'Not sure I'm in shape' to break Canadian marathon mark

Reid Coolsaet will make another attempt at breaking the Canadian men's marathon record, only this time his body might not co-operate. The two-time Olympian has been dealing with hip and hamstring injuries ahead of this weekend's Fukuoka Marathon.

2-time Olympian hampered by sore hip, hamstring entering Fukuoka Marathon

Hamilton's Reid Coolsaet finished Sunday's Fukuoka Marathon in Japan in a time of two hours 10 minutes 55 seconds, just 46 seconds slower than Jerome Drayton's Canadian men's record of 2:10:09, set at the same event in 1975. (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images/File)

Frustration is a word Reid Coolsaet has used more than once during his seven-year pursuit of the Canadian men's marathon record.

Fourteen months ago, Coolsaet was in the stretch run at the Berlin Marathon when Jerome Drayton's record time of two hours 10 minutes nine seconds rolled over the finishing clock. Coolsaet crossed 19 seconds later in 2:10:28.

"It was bittersweet to run a [personal best] and yet miss my goal by [19] seconds. I felt a lot of frustration coming so close," Coolsaet told CBC Sports in an email Tuesday before boarding a flight to Japan for this Sunday's Fukuoka Marathon.

"I was happy with the way I ran, so overall it was a positive experience. I use that performance to give me confidence that the record is within reach if I'm in peak shape and the weather co-operates."

I haven't had many indications in training that I'm ready for a PB.- Canada's Reid Coolsaet on this weekend's Fukuoka Marathon

The Hamilton native will be the lone Canadian in the race that begins at 10:10 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Establishing a new Canadian mark would make for a wonderful story, considering Drayton's best time was set on Dec. 7, 1975 at the Fukuoka Marathon in Kyushu.

But Coolsaet, who clocked 2:14:28 in August for a 23rd-place finish at the Rio Olympics and five times has been within 75 seconds of Drayton's mark, doesn't sound overly confident.

"I'm not sure I'm in shape to break the Canadian record," the Hamilton resident said. "I haven't had many indications in training that I'm ready for a PB.

"In past marathons I was dead set on going out on record pace. This time around, I'm not going to force that pace if it doesn't feel sustainable."

While Coolsaet has been bothered by nagging injuries to his hip, hamstring and psoas muscles — the primary connectors between the torso and legs — he hasn't stopped running. Earlier this year, he was hampered by an impinged nerve on the right side of his lower back that caused hamstring discomfort.

Managing the body

At the 2013 Fukuoka Marathon, Coolsaet went out too hard and was unable to maintain a 2:07 pace after the first 15 km, but held on for a sixth-place finish in 2:11:24.

"I tried to roll the dice on that one," recalled the 37-year-old Coolsaet, adding it's a challenge to find others interested in running the same pace. "If I'm going to try to run like 2:10.00 [on Sunday] there's no point in going out that fast."

The biggest challenge for Coolsaet is adjusting to a 14-hour time change. He arrived in Japan on Wednesday evening and was aiming to be outdoors as much as possible, eat meals at a proper time and sleep eight to nine hours each night, which is probably a fair bit more than his average since Sept. 30 when wife Marie gave birth to their first child, Louis.

After returning from Rio, the two-time Olympian realized the difficulty in running a marathon on a limited build-up and wanted to make sure he had a proper training block before committing to the Fukuoka event.

Coolsaet ran 200-plus kilometres four out of six weeks after the Olympics and "felt good in October" before tapering his training to 155 km. In early November, his speed returned after winning the mixed 10km race (29:40) at the Road2Hope marathon in Hamilton.

"I feel I need to break 2:10 relatively soon," Coolsaet said, "or it will never happen."

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