Four Weeks and Counting

With the BMO Nesbitt Burns PEI Marathon Weekend on October 16-18 only four weeks away now is the perfect time to take a good look at how your training went over the summer and whether or not you are ready to tackle your event.  Let me share a personal story on why you should be thinking ahead to that weekend.

Back in summer of 2000 I had just started to enjoy and get competitive with my running.  For me it was all about how much faster and longer I could run and I was having lots of fun.  I was a little naïve about training but still managed to have some pretty good results, so I thought one day in August; why not do the PEI Marathon that was coming up in about 6 weeks? I’m in shape . . . how hard could it be?  I continued with my usual training and managed to get what I thought were some good long-runs in. With some hindsight and GPS measurements, I think my longest run was about 13 miles.

Race day came and I was excited and nervous for my first attempt at the marathon.  The leaders took off and somehow I managed to use a bit of common sense and run a slightly slower pace, but by halfway I realized with some excitement that I was in third place.  Holy Cow, I thought! My first marathon and I am going to be on the podium. In order to keep my position I figured I could skip a few of the water stops without it affecting me.  By the 26 or 27K the lack of preparation and race fueling started to take its toll.  By about 31 or 32K it felt like I had a gorilla on my back and he had a plastic bag over my head cutting off all my oxygen. I started to stumble and weave a little bit and then came to a complete stand-still.  I had hit the wall.  Not only did I hit the wall, it hit me.  Nausea, dizziness, dehydration, and lack of motor skills were just some of my symptoms.  Luckily a first-aid vehicle came by and took me directly to the finish where I basically collapsed and the medics had to give me oxygen to help bring me around.  My wife, who was at the finish area waiting for me, was kind enough to snap a picture of me in all of my glory.  I use that picture to this day to remind me how important preparation is for a marathon. Not doing any/enough long runs, starting out too fast, and not fueling properly were just some of my errors.  You might be able to fake your way through a 10K and maybe even a half-marathon, but a full marathon is an unforgiving distance.

Runners and walkers getting ready for their first 5 or 10K still have some time to get ready for marathon weekend but if you are taking on the challenge of a half or full marathon a trial long run to see how you handle the distance and pace is in order.  Life, weather, injuries get in the way and can derail the best laid plans.  Making an adjustment to your goal if things didn’t go as planned this summer.  Try out Canadian Running Magazine website:  www.runningmagazine.caas they have some great training resources for every level runner to help you in these final weeks.   Click on the “Training” link to get the information you need.

Don’t let my training mistakes scare you away, just make sure you are prepared for the distance.  I was ill-prepared, over-confident and some would say delusional. It’s much more fun to have a good run and finish upright and smiling then wind up like I did. The BMO Nesbitt Burns PEI Marathon looks forward to seeing you the weekend of October 16-18.

– Rob MacKenzie


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