In the end, 4:04:17 was my chip time. My goal was sub 4 hours. It was a great day for the run, but the course was very hilly.
Ninety marathon runners lined up (with some deer) just prior to the race start and at 0830 we were off. The first half of the course shared the streets of Ucluelet and the Wild Pacific Trail.
Although beautiful to run, the trails offered some views of the Pacific, they caused me some problems as I was unable to get up to my desired race pace. I also have issues with not knowing where I am going and I was anxious to get out onto the road part of the course. The WPT came into play twice during the race. After about 5.5 k, we headed onto the Lighthouse Loop of the trail for about 2.6 km before coming back out onto the roads.
Another jaunt through the streets for about 6km, with lots of support from the community, volunteers and relay racers, we headed back onto the trails for another 6km or so before finally getting out onto the roads again.
The course from here was basically out and back, with the marathon runners, marathon relay teams and the half marathon group sharing the course. I had an inkling that I was in trouble when I finally got out onto the road. My pace was down and the hills had already sapped a lot of energy.
There were more hills to come however, and still a good deal of distance to cover.
The relay team runners played havoc with your mind! Because they were only running about 1okm each, they tended to go by you pretty quickly. That could be really disheartening if you let it get to you and I tried to not focus on the passes that were occurring. One other big factor that came into play was a discrepancy between my Garmin gps and the course distance markers. The difference between signage and my gps was about 4.5 km and that really made things difficult in terms of not only figuring out where you were in relation to the finish, but also trying to set up a final kick (if there was one left in me?). There were also a number of other runners who had the same issue with their gps and the road distance signs so I know it wasn’t just me. At the end, my Garmin says I ran 38.65 km in 4:03:13 versus my chip time of 4:04:17 and 42.2 km.
There was one point that my mind started playing tricks with me and it did have an effect on me. On one stretch going down the Port Albion Road, where we would turn around and come back up the road, there were two bridges. The farthest bridge, at about 28km was the turn around point. The day before the race I had driven the road to get an idea of what it was like and noticed that there was a small narrow bridge on the road as well. For some reason, during the race I forgot that there were two bridges and when the first narrow bridge came into view at about 26km, I was mentally crushed to see a hill beyond it with runners heading up and returning down it. I had it in my mind that the first narrow bridge was the turn around point and I now had no idea how much farther up the road I had to go. When I finally reached the second bridge and the turn around, it dawned on me that I had mentally screwed up. The Port Albion Road was a tough section with lots of gnawing hills, mostly short but there were a couple of longer ones…in both directions.
I had taken lots of water, used the water stations and had plenty of gel carb to get me through the run. I had no problem with any of that but did have to refill one of my water bottles (I wore a Nathan trail belt with 4 @ 10oz bottles) near the end. Another mistake I made was what I ate the night before the run. Steak. Probably not the best choice since it’s protein and not carbs. I know better than that, don’t know what I was thinking and I won’t make that mistake again. At the end of the day I think this may have affected my performance to a small degree but I’m not going to blame a steak. It was a bit warmer than I would have liked, 12c. I would have liked it cooler but still conditions were good.
As the end neared I had to figure out what I thought was the true distance and I tried to visualize the last bit of the route. I tried to pick up the pace with about 3 or 4 km left, based on the road signage. Finally, after almost 4 hours of running, and after making a sharp left turn, there it was, the finish line. It was a little uphill with a slightly steep, quick incline right before the line and I was able to muster a little more speed to get across in my time of 4:04:17. This was a hard race and took more out of me than I thought it would.
At the end of the day I was happy to have been able to finish close to my goal time. I can brag that I finished 36th overall in a marathon…out of 90 runners!
The injury I suffered to my right foot and big toe the week before the race had no bearing on my ability to run at all. But boy my feet were sure sore after the race. I had to go soak them in the freezing Pacific (just like icing them) within an hour of finishing the race. An interesting point I noticed about the results is that in my age group, 50-59, six out of seven runners in that category finished in the top 36. That I think is a pretty good showing for us older guys. Also, as a bit of weird information, the song playing on my ipod as I crossed the finish line was, and I kid you not, Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”, which happens to be one of the great guitar songs of all time in my opinion.
A big shout out goes to the race organizers of the Edge to Edge as well as the volunteers and community who supported the race. I was surprised by the turn out and show of support along the route from such a small community. They really embraced the run.
Also, I have to thank my wife Sylvia who supported me and was my biggest cheerleader through almost 6 months of training and put up with my aches and pains just as much as I did. She was a big factor in this race for me. Thank you for your support.