Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chasing that elusive BQ time

Today Miha and I did the Toronto Marathon. As you probably deducted from the title, none of us qualified to Boston. It just wasn't our day. I was sick and I had to slow down after 21Km and then I bonked at Km 36. Miha was sick too, but at least she managed to get a PR, so she's happy with her result.

Here's how the day went. For more than a week, Miha and I got a cold or some sort of mild flu and we did not feel well. I also got some stomach bug that gave me heartburn feelings and bloating. Last night I was coughing for a couple hours until I managed to fell asleep. In the morning my stomach was making the rumblies and I had to throw up and use the washrooms three times. Not a good way to start your day, especially when you have a marathon later on.

We got to the start line, in the Mel Lastman square, just a few minutes before the race was about to start. Then I followed Bryan's advice: go to the front of the start line, so that you'll appear in the race start photo, the one they might use to promote the next year's race. As you can see from our Time vs. Chip Time, we managed to achieve this very well, we actually were in front of the elite runners, just next to the official mascot, a white and blue big bear.

Once the gun went off, I sprinted and then moved to the side so that I won't get in the way of the faster runners. I've decided to follow the 3:15h pacing bunny and in the beginning all went very well. My heart rate was between 160-165, which is OK for me and I felt in good shape. After 5K, my HR went above 170 and I started to feel a little bit tired. At that point I already knew that I won't BQ today. From there on my HR slowly went up to 172-175 and it kind of stayed there. 175 is quite high for me and I started feeling more tired. I managed to keep up with the 3:15 pacing bunny for the first half-marathon and once I passed the 21.1 Km sign I realized that my HR was above 180. At that point I knew that it was time to slow down if I still wanted to finish the race. Also my left knee started to bother me more and more. My half-marathon time was 1:35h - 4:30 min/km, which was very good but I knew that from there on it will only go up. So, I slowed down to 5:10 min/km and my HR dropped under 165 bpm. I managed to keep that pace up to Km 36 when my left knee started to bother me really, really bad. And then the walk of shame began. I walked for the next 4K. Once I got back to downtown Toronto, I saw my friends who came to cheer me up. They saw me walking and kept telling me to start running and that the finish line was close. Thank you Ildi and Levi! I started to slowly run and once I got on the University Avenue, there were hundreds of people cheering you up. Some of them were yelling my name (it was printed on my bib) and were telling me "Go Ironman, you can do it. This should be easy for you" (I had my Ironman t-shirt). For some reason my knee pain seemed to vanish and I was running faster. My pace for the last 2.2K was under 4:40 min/km and I finished strong with a long sprint, passing everyone in front of me.

I finished in 3:42 hours, 27 minutes above my goal and 24 minutes more than my PR. It was not a good race but it taught me a few lessons, number one being: "Qualifying to Boston is not as easy as you think".

Miha finished in 4:08h. Her A goal was to BQ and her B goal was to break 4 hours. She did not accomplish any of them, but she was sick and in the end she was happy that she got a PR. Her previous marathon time was 4:14h at Mississauga Marathon in May.

We both plan to do Boston Marathon in 2012 and we have a year to qualify for it. I learnt my lesson today and I won't say anymore that it's easy to BQ, but I still think that is an achievable goal if you train properly. I know that there are many of our blog friends who want to BQ for 2012 and it will be really nice to run with them the most famous marathon in the world. And then get together and celebrate!


  1. Ha, I never thought of that about the promotional photo, good idea!

    Congrats on your marathon :-).

  2. Thanks Katherine ! Once they will publish the photo, I'll add it to this blog.

    Congrats again on your PR at the Toronto half-marathon!

  3. Congrats on a solid effort. No...the BQ is not easy. I too plan on gettin'er done next year to run in 2012. A few more months of chillaxin...and then it's time for my toughest training yet. Let's do this! So you need the 3:25 right?

  4. Thanks Q! I need 3:15 to qualify. I actually was 27 minutes short of BQ on Sunday and not 17 as I initially posted on my blog. In May I finished Mississauga marathon in 3:18h, only 3 minutes short of BQ. My goal now is to train for a 3:10 so that I can get a 3:15 even if I do not have a perfect day.
    So yeah, let's do this! I am working right now on my 2011 marathon race list.

  5. Man, I feel you on missing goals. Its alright though you have to keep pushing to try and get those achievements. In my opinion failure before success makes success that much sweeter :)

  6. I believe, too, that failure before success makes success that much sweeter. Plus, everybody else is going to do Boston in 2012 so I have plenty of time to qualify.