The 2014 Mississauga Marathon was a totally different race experience for me. For starters, I was going to be pacing my friend Nicole and not running solo trying to set a new marathon PB. Since my goal race is six weeks later, I didn’t want to run Mississauga full out at my race pace. I wanted it to be more of a training run. I proposed the idea of being a pacer to Nicole and she was very enthusiastic. She was trying to get a Boston Qualifier time of sub 3:40 and I thought I could get her there with my previous marathon time just under 3:37. Of course I didn’t feel any pressure until the days leading up to race day.
Race day weather was looking okay except for the wind gust warnings. It would be cool at the 7:30am start so I wore a thin long sleeve with shorts and gloves. Only in Canada can you run a marathon in May and wear both winter gloves and sunscreen! After a stellar 35k training run a few weeks back I decided I was going to wear my trusty Vibram FiveFingers over the Merrell Barefoot Trail shoes that I’ve worn on my previous two spring races.
I woke up at 4:30am and immediately started making my go to, can’t fail, pre-race meal: 2 eggs scrambled in butter, 1/2 an avocado drizzled with olive oil and an espresso. I’ve had this meal before all of my long training runs as well as the Chilly Half and Around the Bay 30k and I will never go back to eating bagels or english muffins. I needed some extra fuel for this race, so in addition to the figs and Larabar, I made a PB&J sandwich using the Wheat Belly sandwich muffin recipe. I tried it on 33k and 35k training runs and I really enjoyed it. To carry all of this extra fuel I had to upgrade my race belt. I picked up the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Essential belt. It gives me enough room to carry my race fuel as well as car key, ID, bank card and phone, plus it is barely noticeable.
I was super happy to see all of my DailyMile friends at the pre-race meet up and even a few people from my old Running Room clinic days. Everyone seemed ready and excited to get going. Some were trying to break 4 hours and others were running their very first marathon. After a little race strategy discussion, Nicole and I made our way to the start line and before I knew it we were off on our BQ attempt.
The 2014 Mississauga Marathon
Start to 14km
The strategy for the first 14km was to run at goal pace (5:10/km), ease up on the hills at U of T and Mississauga Road and run slightly faster on the downhill portions. I thought we could bank a little bit of time in the first third as we might need some extra time in the final third. It was hard to find a lane for the first 5k or so but it opened up after that and we found ourselves slightly ahead of goal pace for most of it. At around the 10k mark, Nicole started to experience back pain so we had to take a few unplanned walk breaks until it subsided. Once we split off from the half marathon course the crowd of runners and spectators all but disappeared. It was probably the least amount of fan support I’ve ever experienced on a race and I’m not sure why. I wasn’t hungry by this point but I made sure to take in some water at the 12km aid station.
14km to 28km
This is the section of the course I like to refer to as the wasteland. It’s an out-and-back through an industrial area with little crowd support. This was also the point where the wind really started to get to us. The crazy headwind made us work a lot harder and as a result we started to feel fatigue earlier than expected. At 20km I let Nicole go on while I stopped for a bathroom break. She must have really picked up the pace as I had to run at my half marathon pace to catch up to her. I still wasn’t hungry after 21km but figured I should eat a little so I took three figs. At the half way split we were at about 1:52 – only 2min off of our goal time. After the 25km turn around we started to see our other friends waving at us and that helped to lift our spirits. Our pace had really slowed down at this point and the wind got even worse. How can we still be running into the wind after the damn turnaround? It got a little bit better once we turned onto Orr but our legs were toast.
28km to Finish
Of course the final portion of the course features steep, rolling hills. I mean what’s the fun in running a totally flat marathon, right? Rolling hills + strong wind = major suckage! At 30k I ate my Larabar and we started to walk more on the uphills and through every water station. I know Nicole was tired (as was I) but had to do everything in my power to get her to keep going. The BQ time was out of reach by this point but I still thought we could finish sub 4:00 if we pushed. I tried to convince her to not focus on the remaining distance and just go to the next water station. At 40k I was pretty tired and just wanted this race to be done, but we came to the final water station and knew the finish line was within reach. Some of our friends who had been waiting to cheer us on joined us for the final km to the finish line and gave us a much needed boost.
My official time is 3:55:54. It’s not the result that we were hoping for but it’s still a sub 4:00 and 25min better than my first marathon in 2012. I tried my best to keep moving after getting my post race fuel but the wind was really making me cold. The wind gusts at the finish area was so bad that all of the exhibitors had to take their signs down. We hung around for a little while to see our other friends come in and chat about the race before making our way home.
The 2014 Mississauga Marathon wasn’t my best effort but this race wasn’t about me. I know we didn’t achieve Nicole’s BQ time goal, but the weather made this run a lot harder than it should have been for the both of us. I’ve run Mississauga twice now so next year I’m going to look at running a different Spring marathon, maybe Ottawa. With all three of my Spring races complete I now have the Niagara Ultra 50k to look forward to. I can’t wait!