Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Marathon Affair

Wow, just thinking about the last nine days leaves my head spinning and thinking about all the myriad ways in which the marathon has insinuated itself into my life...

I have run two dozen marathons in the past eight years, run them in runners and kilts and combat boots, run them fast (at least for me), run them slow, run them alone and run them as a Pace Bunny, I have run them hot and run them cold, in the rain, on sunny days, in sleet and snow and run them in three countries, two states and two provinces, I have run victoriously and run until I bonked.  I have eaten, slept and dreamed marathons.  My years, my Spring and my Fall have been planned around marathons and many vacations have had a marathon at the center. I even came up with the idea of starting the Totem to Totem Marathon.  And of course I started my Boston or Bust Marathon Blog...

I thought I had experienced the marathon in just about every way I possibly could and then I went North to Haida Gwaii and I experienced the Marathon in a whole new way.

I went to Skidegate in the Queen Charlotte Islands and helped Neil Wakelin measure the Totem to Totem Marathon course in order for the race to be sanctioned and certified, as, among other things, a Boston Marathon qualifying course.  It was such a fascinating experience to break a marathon down into its constituent components, 50 metres of steel tape at a time. And in the rain I might add.

Here is my Face Book Photo Album of the trip -

Walking and biking and driving and running the course multiple times over three days made 26.2 miles seem like such an intimate distance.

It took Neil and I two and a half hours to measure an accurate to within one inch (or is that two centimetres) one kilometre stretch with which to calibrate the Jones Counter which we had attached to a bicycle.   We hammered nails into the shoulder of a perfectly straight stretch of highway and then measured with the steel surveyor's tape and spray-painted the road for good measure.  Because it was raining, we had to go into the Co-op and buy paper towel and actually sop up the the shoulder of the highway until it was dry enough for the paint to stick... Now that must have been something to see!

Then Neil sat in the truck and worked out all his calculations, translating the number on the measured kilometre into miles and kilometres on the Totem to Tote Marathon Course.

The next day - still drizzling rain I might add - we measured the course in just under four hours.  Or about the length of time it takes to actually run a marathon for the average person!  We saw a bear, several deer and multiple eagles along the course.

We marked out every mile and 5K marker, and a 10K, and Half Marathon course as well, along the full Marathon route.  And we built in just under 50 meters of error to make sure the measured distance stood up to any scrutiny in the future.

Neil was grinning from ear to ear despite the rain and the cold, as he contemplated measuring out what he thought might be one of the prettiest, flattest and fastest marathon courses he's ever been on, let alone measured.  And after 112 marathons all over the world - his PB is a 2:28 - this transplanted Kiwi knows his marathon courses.

Of course, part of the reason for Neil's grinning may well have been the knowledge that after we measured the marathon course, Andy Wilson was taking us out fishing for Chinook!  See photos for the results of THAT endeavor!

Neil and I were so enthused about the course that we talked about running all 42.2 K the next day, but given time constraints settled for a fast and hard 10K.  Until of course when we reached the 10K turnaround and Neil said, "Let's do the Half course!", which we did.  In 1:42:00...  I was gasping at the end.

We flew back to Vancouver bubbling away with ideas for the Totem to Totem Marathon. Neil thought it was a fabulous race to run as a Boston qualifier and a natural place for runners to set a Personal Best.  Only time will tell.

After getting back to Vancouver, on Sunday I ran the Scotia Bank Half Marathon as a training run.  Because let's face it, I'd already raced a Half Marathon up in Haida Gwaii!   I did it in 2:16 at an average heart rate of 138.

On the Tuesday night tempo run I was still stiff from the weekend and did an easy 6K.

Last night I ran 10K in 48:15 at an average heart rate of 158. That's almost three minutes faster than two weeks ago and I felt much, much more comfortable.

I weighed 203 pounds this morning.  Twenty-three pounds to go...


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