Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. I know that's not how it's said in QC, but it's what I learned at school and 65 million French can't be that wrong, can they? The reason I say that is because I remember this very night seven years ago, before Bluenose 1. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by all my running kit, contemplating my second marathon (my first in seven years) and totally freaking out.
Fast forward seven years, it's now BN 8 and I have 11 more marathons under my number-belt but I'm still sitting on the floor, freaking out slightly. Some things have changed. The pile of clothes is smaller. I know I have to wear the Running Room Pace-Bunny T-shirt and hat with bunny ears. Arm-warmers probably, but with a T-Shirt not a singlet, so I'm safe from my snob self! I'm still debating between three pairs of shorts; two of which have seen marathons before, but one of which should probably not see another! I have new Balega socks (thanks Luke MacDonald and A1) and I think I'll use the Precision 10s rather than the new Precision 11s (which I haven't quite dialled in yet). The Ronins can stay on the shoe-rack tomorrow; weighing more than 70 kgs I don't think this Clydesdale wannabe should do a full in a 7 oz racing flat.
If it's a nice day, I'll break out my new bling from the bike-shop, a sweet pair of Oakley Flak-Jackets. Thanks Terry. Yeah baby, yeah!
I have a love-hate relationship with this race. I'm still waiting for my 2nd place medal from 2005. From the small tempest swirling around BN in the Chronic and on-line, Gerry Walsh's recent comments, how the race is for everyone, not for Elites, I guess I'm waiting in vain. It's flattering to be classed as "Elite", but still, I'm your average age-group runner who trains hard, was blessed with a reasonable gait and good mitochondria and occasionally gets lucky. I occasionally win a race (or at least place) too! So it would be nice to get rewarded for that. But that's another story.
I do think, however, its unfortunate how some people have jumped on the "the race is too hard" bandwagon as to why BN is unpopular with local runners. Sure, it's hard. So is Boston. I think if the race was better organised, and that means the City coming on board and coming on board big-time, then the race would be better, and more people would run. Have the 5K and 10K on Saturday like Ottawa; that'd free up the roads and avoid a cross, yes a cross, of runners tomorrow. Let runners, not bureaucrats, devise a clear route, not this one and a half loops of Halifax that gets people confused and led to the mass DSQ three years ago. It can be hilly, sure bring 'em on, but make it easy to follow, and not rerouted to make it easier for some-ones Sunday Timmies run. Close some more roads. We have what, three or four miles of closed road in 26 (Brunswick and Ilseview)? Does Boston just close Boylston? Does London just close The Mall and Tower Bridge, but open the bridge after two hours and make everyone run on the sidewalk? Do all of that, and more, and make BN a real destination race, not something we have to apologise for.
Oops, rant over. Sorry!
It turns out I've done five BNs, four fulls and a half, in the seven editions. The fact I keep on coming back must mean I like it, right? This will be my third time pace-bunnying. The Running Room let me bunny the half and then carry on for the full as a semi-official, quasi-endorsed bandit. I spend five minutes after the race in the timing van with Mark from Sportstats, who I sometimes work with as an official in Quebec, and they reconcile my time from a >3hr half into a >3hr full! I do find bunnying rewarding, to help people do that pace. Last year, there were so many PBs in my group, for both 10K and the half. Regardless of what happens in the second half, that's always a good feeling. To be honest, nowadays I think I get more out of that, than I do out of my own achievements!
I missed one BN to do Ottawa and missed one due to illness. I think Mark "Cookie Monster" Campbell has done all seven. Given that I've done so many, and these are the roads I train on all the time, gives some advantages. I can visualize nearly every step of the way. This is pretty useful when you come out of Shubie and are faced with the spectator wasteland that is Waverly Road and Braemar. I know exactly how bad Maple and all the other hills are.
Conversely, I know how bad Maple and all the other hills are. I have, statistically speaking, suffered badly on nearly every portion of the route at some point over the last ten years, which means I can tell a bad race or training-run story about every sector on the course; Oh yeah, I blew up here, bonked there, threw-up in that corner. Those negative thoughts can dwell on your mind at some point in the race.
This will be my first race this year; my last was the Fort Lauderdale Resolution Run 5K on Boxing day. I've logged a moderate number of miles this year, just over 1400 kms, not the most ever but not the least either. I'm also going to be unapologetic about mixing my units, deal with it. I'm not sure how my legs are going to behave. I have no Moose, for example, to measure myself by, nor do I have any shorter races to sharpen my legs and top off my lactate pathways.
My running buddies tell me I'm running strong, but the marathon is a different beast. I don't think it matters how many times you've done one, each time on that start-line is a new roll of the dice. Like die, the marathon has no memory and weird shit happens after 20 miles. You can train all you want and perhaps ameliorate how bad the shit's gonna be or when it's gonna strike, but strike it will and the marathon will have no mercy as to whether it happened last time or not. It's not about avoiding the man with the hammer (as the French say), it's how you deal with him when he comes. Essentially, just remember you're not due, by right, a good marathon after three bad ones, or visa versa.
Well, I think I've successfully transferred some of my angst onto the screen. Time to go and try to make a decision on those shorts, charge the Garmin and get an early night.