Barrington Marathon July 2009

1 03 2010



Im certainly not going to be able to capture, the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical aspects of running a marathon as an Amateur athlete as im not a professional journalist.  Im going to give it a shot here though.

I have to do a bit of a pre-amble here first

Ive always run…………….I ran everywhere as a kid.  No point in walking when you can get there faster running.  My dad told all us kids if any of us could break a 5 minute mile hed give us $50.00!  I trained for a long time and ran a 5:03…………………when NIKE first came out Dad arrived home with a pair of brightly colored sneakers for everyone ( like that scene in the Big Chill)   Dad was a runner.  Not a fast guy, but strong and consistent.  He was a big strong man so he wasn’t fast, but like a locomotive once he was up to speed hed keep on going.  You had to watch out as hed invite you for a “little run” and you could end up on a 15km or so……..


Several years ago ( 2002,2003?) I was into some heavy weightlifting and also running about 10 minutes fast per day.  I could run a 5:30 mile and weighed 105 kg.  I was bench pressing between 340 lbs and 385 for double reps.  My sister Ava  started running distances.  She was always into jogging and played a lot of soccer.  She asked me to run with her.  I thought I was in great shape so I joined her for an 8km.  I almost died.  I kept asking if we were almost finished.  She convinced me to join the “Running Room” group and train for the Ottawa Marathon with her.  So we did.

The following dates may not be in Chronological order but the events and results are accurate>

We followed the program, her religiously and me at about 60%.  We ran through severe winter storms and the running room group helped me maintain the long Sunday group runs.  The training was tough and i found the long runs hard but started to look forward to them.  i very much liked the comraderie of the running and i was going through some personal stuff so it gave me clarity of thought and time to think.  my sister and i became very close through the training.  we had several amazing experiances like running at minus 22C with wind so strong it pushed you back on the bridge in hlaifax.  the water in your bottle would freeze even if you started with hot tap water.   I got the weight down to 103 kg and we ran Ottawa.  I had a blister from 26 km on and by the 40 I was running and praying.   i even cosed my eyes for a few secounds at a time and ran.  i had never been through anything as tough.   After it was over my second toe was swollen to twice my big toe and black.  I thought im never doing this again or ill learn to do it with less pain.

I got busy with life and work and didn’t train very well but decided to sign up for Barrington Passage Marathon as I had grown up from age 5 to 16 there.  I arrived at 107 kg.  OMG.  I honestly thought I would die on this one.  I slowed Ava down a lot as she really had to encourage me and keep me going. i almost quit 1 km out.  i really didnt enjoy this one at all.   Finished with 4:27.

Now I realized this is no joke.  To properly run a Marathon id need to be in much better shape.  I trained hard and ate better.  I ended up working out of Chicago for a few months and even hired a personal trainer who kicked my ass twice a week.  I dropped down the weight to 93kg and ran a 3;28 in Philadelphia that fall.  This was a great run and I saw that a marathon didn’t need to be so painful.  my Boston qualifying time was 3:20 so id missed it by 8 minutes.  i was on pace right up until 38 km and then started hurting bad.  i didnt mind though as id trained hard and was happy with the results.  after the race i flew to hawaii on business and got very ill.  my system was run down and i got “Bells palsy”  that was a bit scary and i vowed to “slow down” a bit.    i soon forgot that idea.    That following Spring I ran the “Bluenose” in Halifax, now notorious for its harsh  weather, and we ran a comfortable 4 hour and a bit.  I honestly felt so strong I could run another half after.  I was in good shape.

Well after this my training went crazy as I decided I needed to run an ultra marathon.  I didn’t follow a program though.  I was running a load of miles.  sometimes id run a 10 in the morning and a 15 or 20 that night.  frequently id run to the gym in Bedford from Dartmouth workout, run some hills with Diana and run home…3 to 4 hours working out.  Running two biusiness’s at the same time.  a real recipe for disaster.   I didn’t care when my body was hurting and ended up tearing a calve muscle very badly.  A lot of negative things happened in and around this same time with my business and financials and subsequently I moved to Montréal to pursue other business oppurtunities. 

I proceeded to gain weight and again tried to start running again.  I didn,t follow a program and didn’t stretch or train properly and ended up badly tearing the same calve muscle…………i fell into a bit of a depression and couldnt seem to find happiness in anything i was doing……………….well by march of this year I knew I had to make some changes in my life.  I had gained weight again to 104kg and my blood pressure was through the roof.  I had high cholesterol and felt like crap all the time.

I decided to get in shape and really focus on training.  Both upper body and running and I attacked the training.  Started eating very healthy and saw immediate results.  I dropped weight fast and stretched properly, iced my foot after long runs and above all followed a carefully constructed program. I ran because i enjoyed it, not as a punishment.  i started feeling excellant and things were going well in every aspect of my life. In only 14 weeks I had dropped to 89kg and had abs again!  The only negative in my training is my work schedule is insane.  I seldom got more than 5 hours sleep a night and often 2-3 hours.  Ive logged up 80,000 air miles from Jan to June often flying to London or the west coast and back in a two day period.  BUT I didn’t skip my training and seldom missed a run.

3 weeks ago I got hit with utter exhaustion and was feeling mentally down.  I was extremely worried about the up coming marathon in Barrington and considered running only a half……………due to a crazy work schedule I ended up in Toronto on the Thursday prior and had to drive back to Montréal ( 600 km) arriving late.  Slept 4 hours and got up and repacked and drove to Halifax ( 1350 km), slept 5 hours and drove to Barrington ( 275 km) arrived Saturday mid day and promptly had a 30 minute  nap.  Had a wonderful spaghetti dinner with Ava and the family and got to bed at 10pm.



Woke at 5 30 AM feeling great.  Had my oatmeal and banana and picked up AVA at 728 AM. Drove to the start.

It was extremely foggy and 15C  PERFECT.  I have had some dehydration problems in my long runs recently and welcomed the damp fog.  The group of Runners was 154 people but only 18 signed for the full Marathon.  Ava was running a half to keep me company as she had recently qualified for Boston 2010 in the Bluenose. 

We started at the back of the “herd” as I really wanted to run slow to ensure a finish as at this point I was still questioning my ability to complete the 42 km.

We ran a nice 5:50/km pace walking through the water stations.  At the 18 km I was feeling great and Ava parted ways to do the loop back for a Half.  Now im alone.  I put on the iPOD and listen to some tunes.  Eye of the Tiger of course, Angels on the Moon, If tomorrow was your Last Day…………….im feeling good and still running way back on the group.   I like this time to myself.  totally me.  i do alot of introspection and positive thinking.  i analysis myslef and the actions i do.  i think about how i could be a better person.  treat others and myself better. 

 I make a small mistake in skipping a couple water stations and arrive at “The Hawk”…………I hate this part as you run down a side road about 3km and then back.  It’s the Southern most tip of Canada which is cool but I don’t like back tracking. 

I get about 1.5 km in and already the “herd” is coming out (except the elite runners who are probably almost finished the marathon by now) This is tough mentally as it makes me really want to speed up.  I have some family members there and get some motivation.  In fact I probably have the biggest support group of the run.  My mom, my dad and his wife Radka, diana and elyse and Nicholas.  Ava and her husband Neal and her three kids Julian, Rachel and david.  My sister Yvette and her husband Raymond and her two kids Xavier and Aisha.  Pretty special to have all of that support.

It’s about 28 km so decide to ramp up a bit and start running at 5:40 pace.  Leaving the Hawk im starting to feel it but not bad.  More family members cheering me on and my Niece Rachel jumps in and runs with me a bit.  She’s a graceful runner.  So light on her feet it makes me feel lighter.  She pushes me a bit and gets me up to 5:35 pace.  We now spot the back of 5 runners about 1 km in front of us.   Shes like come on we should pass them….i grunt “not yet’ After 3 km her brother Julian jumps in and she exits.  Julian is strong.  Hes an amazing young athlete, Judo, water Polo, Swimming etc.  It doesn’t even seem like hes running.  Im starting to suffer a bit now and he gives me a message from his mom ( Ava) that the runners in front of me are all starting to suffer and I could “reel them in”  were now at 5:30 pace.  Julian takes my towel which is about 500g and my belt which is about 750g but they feel combined to be about 10kg!  Im looking for the 33km mark because that’s the distance of my longest training run.

At 32 Julian fends off a crazy dog with my sweat sodden towel.  I see the dog coming and barking.  im not afraid of dogs but i didnt feel like wrestling with a 40kg Lab just now.  i grunt “Dog Julian, your problem”…Julian runs between me and the dog, tells him to go away.  the dog does.

What people don’t understand who haven’t run a Marathon is the run starts at around 32km.  The entire run up to this point is strategic but really not that much of a physical or mental test.  At around 32 the body and mind start to work against you.  This is where you start to discover who you are and what you are capable of.

At 34 I pass a couple runners.  One thing I can do is Hills.  I train once a week on very steep hills and run up and down them.  Hill training to me is one of the most vital points of your training.  I ease up these little hills compared to running the Mont Royal in Montreal  The other runners  aren’t looking good.  As I pass the second runner he trys to speed up and we are going about 5:05 for a couple hundred meters.  i feel the speed increase in my legs but i still have fuel in the tank. 

  This point is important mentally as if I slow down and drop back ive lost a mental victory so I hold on and finally after 200 meters or so he drops back. 

 I slow it down to 5:30.  at 35km  I do some high fives with my kids but im starting to hurt a bit and I ask them to stop meeting me on the road. 

 At 36 I hit my wall !

  This is a point when your body starts to starve for oxygen.  The muscles are cramping, some organs are complaining.  Your thoughts can get muddled.  This point I hate and love. 

 You start to use logic to try and stop.     Like          “ ive been working too hard, and didn’t really train properly”, im not going to have a good race time anyway”, “it’s a small race and noone will know”       but it is at this point where I know I can change my life. 

 I start to think about my life and how fortunate I am.  How fortunate I am just to have two legs and be able to run.  If I finish I am among an elite group of less than 1/10th of 1% of the world who can do this!

I wonder if people dont put themselves in such an uncomfortable place how they can be comfortable. 

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

I know by pushing through this i can achieve anything i want in my life.  the harder this is the greater things i can achieve.  every runner knows this.  this is why we do it.  this is really the place we want to get too.  even olympic athletes marvel at amateur marathoners.  Olympic athletes are only out there for 2 hours and change.  they cant beleive we are plodding along for 4 hours!!!

My mind becomes clear.  My heart actually slows.  My breathing is steady and regular.  I hurt yet I feel euphoric.  I get emotional that I have all of these people here who love and support me.

 Im in the ZONE!

My sister Ava joins me at 37 or 38………….imagine.  She’s already run her half marathon and just pops in with me.  She tells me there are 3 more runners ahead who are hurting bad and I could reel them in.  “Reel them in” is a technique we use in distance running when tired.  We envision that we cast a long fishing line onto their shoulders and slowly reel ourselves up to them.  We actually feel like they are doing the work.  I am being very cautious. As I know I could burn out just meters from the finish line.  Im running periods of 6:00 and periods of 5:30.

Avas doing all the work.  Carrying my water.  Running ahead towards the water stations and demanding a wet sponge for me.  I don’t have to think.  Just foot in front of the other.  So many thoughts in my head but none in particular.  I look at my watch several times a minute as I forget what it said by the time I put my hand down.  We come up on the back runner and pass them.  Someone yells out 3 km left, I want to tell them to “Fuck off” as its 2.8!  You have to understand you start calculating steps now not kms.  40km Where the hell is the causeway……..maybe around the next corner??  No!  My god a 400 meter straight away!  Holy Crap! 

 I see my wife Diana coming towards us.  She has a bottle of COLD water…my god it’s delicious.  Half in me half on me.  She looks me in the eyes and I know I’ll make it.  She says ‘the causeway” is just around the corner.

The causeway is exactly a 1km run to the finish line!  Diana pulls in behind me.  Ava is beside me on my right.  They both run so softly it feels better.  Ava knows me so well that she says only a few words but they are the right ones.  1.4 km out and I start my move to the finish….questioning if it’s a bit long.  I think Diana says “wait” very gently but im not sure.  Diana and I train together often and no matter what distance we run we pour it on in the last 750 meters…………sometimes I get up to 3;25/km during that phase.  My legs don’t have much but my head says get this over with.  I was closing the gap on the last two runners but the one furthest out also seems to be ramping up and I know hes out of reach even though 5 km ago he was running and throwing up! 

 Im at 5:10/km and feels like im going fast.  Mind is trying to trick me now.  Every second step, saying WALK!  Have to concentrate now!  Could step wrong and turn an ankle, blow a calve, twist a knee!!!!!!

Ava softly coaching…”come on buddy” “your there”

Mind is throwing thousands of thoughts around per second.  Im a few steps back on the next runner and she’s laboring.  I switch to the shoulder and push to 4;45 pace.  Lungs are screaming.  Hearts at 165 per minute. 

Every step an eternity and a nano secound.  its so hard yet so easy.

 Where the hells the finish????  There all of the sudden out of the fog!  I see family, friends, and a sharp corner! 

What the hell, why on earth is the finish line around corner….shut up and run.  Run…….smile…try and smile, people are taking pictures……there a few more steps….the clock 410;55, 410:56, 410:57….no way it will be 4:11  final plunge !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FINISHED. 4:10;58     Stop immediately…someone trys to hug me and i push past them  sorry, need space around me…its over ……what a rush of emotion!   OH NO  I could have done better!!!!

 Tears, happiness, humility, pride, pain, OMG.  I just want to hug and thank everyone……water tastes so good!!!!  Banana   delicious!   I need some Chocolate!  Maybe a pie    yes a whole pie  rhubarb strawberry would be nice, hmmmm a steak…a big juicy steak with 1 kg of broccolli…..i need something green……… ………………………………………………………..ouch, my feet are killing me!


Im back.  I know now that I will be in this for the rest of my life.  For a s long as I can run I ll be doing these.  I start to think about training harder.  The DEATH RACE 2010…………..126km is it realistic.  My wife will be wanting to chat about that!

 I need to run.  i need the dicipline, the clarity of thought.  the time alone.  the sound of only my breathing.  the benefit of the physique, the calming influence it brings.  the goals to keep focused on.

My God thank you.  Life is beautiful.

HUMILITY!  I am a feeble HUMAN being.  I can only achieve what I work for.

I rest 30 minutes, do some stretching, shower, get in the car and drive to Montreal!!!!!!  I stop and eat frequently.  Ice cream, burgers…..what ever.  I drink several litres of water!

Today is my 44th Birthday

Im a runner.  I run theefore i am!




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