You’d never believe it from looking at me, but later this year I’ll be classed as a veteran for most if not all of the races that I enter.
It occurred to me some months ago that I would like to qualify for the London Marathon via a good for age place (3 hours 5 mins). The slight difficulty there was my lack of a god enough Marathon time. With this in mind I set our looking for a fast and flat Marathon. I’m sure it’s lovely, but Manchester didn’t really appeal to me so I started looking further afield. As luck would have it, the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon fell at a good time, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to run my marathon and pay a visit my brother and his family, who conveniently live in Toronto and have a spare room!
So I arrived in Canada on the Wednesday before the race, which was on Sunday. I began my booze taper Wednesday, which for future reference was:
Wednesday; 1 glass of whisky, 1 glass of wine, 4 bottles of beer
Thursday; 4 bottles of beer
Friday; 3 bottles of beer
Saturday 1 bottle of beer
Onto race day then.The race was scheduled to start at 7.30am
. It had been constantly raining in the days leading up to the race but thankfully this stopped before the race.
It was cold, 3 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of minus 4. As such I located a tshirt to go under my vest and my running gloves for warmth.
My brother kindly gave me a lift to the start line. On the start line I made a last minute decision to ditch the gloves and tshirt. A wise move as a mile or two in and I was roasting.
The race started at Mel Lastman Square and quickly turned onto Yonge Street, often mistakenly referred to as the longest street in the world. It continued on Yonge for around 6 miles. I was going a little under target pace and it felt tough so doubt started to set in. Support was limited but there were small groups at each major intersection giving some really great encouragement. The often heard shout of “you got this” became a bit of a mantra and turned my negative thoughts around.
After Yonge the race took us through some nice residential streets and a long tree lined road taking us downtown. I was feeling good at this point however my GPS went crazy due to the tall buildings, meaning that I only had feel to go by for a few miles.
Next up we hit the lake shore of the amazing Lake Ontario heading out for around mile 18-22. I was feeling tired and these miles were against the wind, but I’d had faster miles than expected earlier and was happy to maintain a 7 minute mile pace here. At around mile 22 the race turns back on itself for the finish, giving a useful bit of wind behind me as I struggled to maintain a good pace. Marshals were a little sparse towards the end and I almost took a wrong turn but was luckily corrected by a vigilant marshal! It was a little strange as you run back along a small path that you went out on with nothing separating it, which left me running against the tide of runners a little towards the end.
From about 3 miles out I’m constantly checking my watch thinking I’m going to easily go sub 3 here! Sure enough when my watch said 26.3 miles I was well under 3 hours. Unfortunately the finish line was nowhere in sight, darn GPS! Finally got to the end in 3 hours 1 minute and 30 seconds, well within the good for age cut off. Enjoyed the finish, free food and samples were plentiful. The free massage hopefully helped me in the days afterwards (although it didn’t feel like it!). Enjoyed the free can of beer, which as you can imagine was the first of many!
Some 3 and a bit weeks on it still amazes that I finished 31st overall, second in my category and was the first British person back!
Overall, I would recommend this race especially if your looking for a pb and fancy visiting a lovely city.
Written by Chris Carrick