Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Edmonton Marathon 2016

On Sunday, I finished the Edmonton Marathon in a time of 3:01:56 (chip time) and I am super happy with that. I actually thought I might not be able to accomplish this because my life and body (shins in particular) didn't allow me to train accordingly. On top of that when I started training for the marathon in April/May, I was still at 92 kg body weight! Damn winter blubber :) So I not only had to train but also make sure I'd lose weight, or else I will likely getting injured when I ramp up my running volume. And that's what happened - Overly excited, I set out running way too long and after a couple of weeks my shins didn't allow me to run anymore. Now I had to switch to cycling, which I also enjoy a lot, but the problem was I didn't really have the time (work and family life goes first) to go cycling for a couple of hours outside. So in order to be more efficient, I had to spend the nights on my stationary trainer in the basement when everyone else was sleeping. But still the weight didn't want to go down significantly...

Then when we came back from our 2-week "vacation" from Germany and Serbia in June, where we attended two weddings with two kids in tow, I started writing down the calories which I ate every day and kept it around 2000-2300 kcal (and still doing so). This was the best thing I ever tried. Slowly but steadily, I lost weight and the best of all was that I didn't feel "stuffed" ever again after eating. I am now at 84 kg which significantly contributed to my race result last Sunday! My shins also started to feel better again, however the the time spent running was still very low. During the last four weeks, I ran on average 2:42 hours and 30.3 km per week, which is not really much and also made me readjusting my goal time - I was now hoping to stay at least below 3:10 h.

Anyway, race day was finally there and I was very nervous the entire weekend. The reason being was that I wanted to finish a race in a time that would have required some specific marathon training. I also knew that it will hurt pretty bad at some point, but that's okay. As long as I wouldn't cramp up and needed to stop or walk, a sub 3:10 should work out I thought. With that in mind, the gun went off and I settled into a nice pace of 4:10 min/km, which was actually way too fast, but it felt so good at that point. I was also running with a good group for the first 10 km until I realized I was slowly pulling away. I finished the half way point in 01:27:19, which would have kept me way below 3:00 hours! During this time, my body already started to hurt but I was now determined to keep the pace up and go for the sub 3h marathon.

Shortly before the half marathon point (Photo credit: Edmonton Marathon Facebook page).

I kept passing people but at around 28-30 km the wheels came off. My pace dropped significantly mostly because my Glutues medius (butt) muscles got really tight and painful as well as my right Soleus muscle (part of the calf muscle) was about to cramp up. I had to reduce the pace or else I would likely started walking soon - and then even a sub 3:10 h marathon would have just been a thought. Somewhere around this time, I also saw Sanja and our two boys, Sean and Sawyer, yelling and cheering for me. This was wonderful and for a short period of time all the pain was gone - I couldn't wait to finally hug them at the finish line. But there was still some work to do.

Before going into the race, I read somewhere that the famous Paula Radcliffe counted to 100 when it got difficult in her marathon races but I didn't check whether it's true or not. However, I really liked that idea and did the same thing - and it really helped me to get through the second half of the race! It's an easy task to do even in a state of discomfort and also provides you with some feeling of progress. If you haven't done this yet, give it a try in your next race.

While counting numerous sets of one to one hundred, I also realized that sub 3h isn't going to work out anymore. Nonetheless, I kept on pushing as much as my muscles allowed me to. When I saw the finish line and the time of 3:02:00 on the race clock, I was extremely happy and relieved. Phew- what a day!

Thanks to all the volunteers for helping us athletes on the course and for cheering us on along the way! The Edmonton Marathon is a great and well-organized event. See you again next year!

Happy training,
Stefan

P.S. If you want to see my race on Strava, click here.

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