Calgary Marathon 2016 Race Report

I have had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head regarding Sunday’s race.  I was listening to a podcast last week on Trail Runner Nation with Keira Henninger, it was about Adrenal Fatigue, which thankfully I have not dealt with, but there were a few things that really struck a chord with me.  She said that before her recovery from Adrenal Fatigue, she would always push her body, demand more out of it, that she often wasn’t happy, even after a win. Honestly this is a bit how I felt post-race on Sunday.  I felt like I knew I had more, I could have done better, instead of thinking, WOW, that was a fantastic effort, I’m grateful that my body did THAT.  What the heck?! 

One of my favorite secret weapons during a marathon is to ‘Fake it till you make it’.  So that’s what I’m going to do now.  I am going to decide to be grateful, I’m going to decide to appreciate my body, and I’ve decided that I’m damned thrilled with my race on Sunday.  So here is my race report!

The week before the marathon there was a cold snaking its way through my family <<YAY Kids, #amiright>>.  I could feel that my body was fighting it, but it hadn’t given in yet.  I was taking Zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, trying to sleep more, and staying positive.  What else could I do?  The weekend also had a lot going on.  On Friday I headed down to the race expo, I really wanted to be there around 4pm for the start of the big MitoCanada event.   There is nothing that makes a marathon effort seem like a minor affair like seeing someone get on a treadmill, about to concur 24 hours and 260+ kms.  Calgary has an amazing running tribe, and it was super fun to hang out with some of them, and see just how strong, generous, and able they are.  If you haven’t already, go and read Dave’s race report!

Saturday was filled with family busyness.  My kids had soccer in the morning, then we had a BBQ at the zoo to go to, by the time I got home from the zoo I was tired.  I tried to relax for the evening, but that’s hard to do at home, with the kids and all of life’s normal tasks all around.  I did get all my race day prep done, snapped a ‘flat Terry’ pic, and tried to get to bed at a good hour.  My alarm was set for 4:30 am, so I’d have lots of time to take the train downtown and be ready for the race start.

A big pro for the Calgary Marathon is the start/finish area.  The start is just outside of the Grandstand, and it allows runners to hang out in the Grandstand before the race, the bathrooms in the Grandstand are also available.  It is a treat to have so many indoor bathrooms, with very short line-ups.

Rob and I found Lori fairly quickly, she requested some body art to remind her of how strong she is.


After a couple of bathroom breaks, I popped my pre-race Imodium, and Lori and I headed for the start line.  We had to climb over the corral fence to seed ourselves in the right location.  We had learned our lesson from 2 years ago when we didn’t get into the coral and ended up starting 7 minutes after gun time, and having to weave through the entire pack of slower runners for the first few km’s.  Even with seeding ourselves properly the first kms would prove to be fairly crowded.

KM’s 1-10 (5:06, 5:01, 5:10, 5:07, 5:08, 5:01, 5:02, 5:02, 5:02, 5:06) Total time 50:45

Chip time 51:08 – average pace 5:07

The first few kms of the race go north, across St Patricks Island and through Bridgeland.  Then we turned back south and through the East Village (which gets my vote for best crowd support/cheer station).  Lori and I took our first gel at 8 km’s, and the half marathoners split just after this point.  I keep hoping that I’ll get a marathon where the pace seems effortless to start, I still haven’t had that race, and I’m starting to become convinced that true marathon pace isn’t easy.  It’s a hard pace, and I just have to suck it up.  We worked during these early kms to dial in the pace, to not run too fast.  I think we did alright, especially according to the chip split.

KM’s 11-20 (5:06, 5:21, 5:03, 5:07, 5:09, 5:04, 5:11, 5:06, 5:07, 4:58) Total time 51:12

Chip time 51:22 – average pace 5:08

The crowed thinned out considerably after the half marathoners split, which was nice.  We headed up the hills in to Mount Royal.  This hill is never as bad as I think it’s going to be.  You can see our pace dropped for km 12, but really our pace/effort seemed ok through the uphill kms.  The day was not forecast to be windy, but as soon as we turned west onto 50th Avenue to head towards Mount Royal, I felt the wind.  This section was tough for me, the wind, plus the gradual uphill (which actually was a decent grade when I looked at the data after the race), made the effort hard.  We took a second gel at km 16, and in this section my stomach started to rumble.  It wasn’t cramping, but I could feel that a bathroom stop would be appreciated.  I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on the fact that we were nearing halfway, and that it was mostly downhill from here.

KM’s 21-30 (5:01, 4:59, 5:06, 4:56, 4:58, 5:50 <bathroom break>, 5:07, 5:06, 4:58, 5:11) Total time 51:12

Chip time 52:16 – average pace 5:13

We left Mount Royal, and thankfully left the wind behind for a while.  My stomach was getting increasingly unhappy.  I decided early on in this section that I needed to find a bathroom.  I pulled into a porta potty during km 26.  The stop was around a minute, and we tore out of there, trying to make up for lost time.  I hate having to stop for bathroom breaks during these fast races!  I think this is one of the things I’m most looking forward to in ultras, not worrying about a minute lost here or there, a minute is  nothing when the race is going to take 12 hrs or longer.  The second half of this section was downhill through Mount Royal.  My stomach was better, but not 100%.  I skipped my 24k gel, I couldn’t imagine taking it and needed my stomach to settle.  This 10k stretch wrapped up as we headed out west on Memorial.  The wind was back, and the temps were starting to feel warm.  I knew that the last 10k on Memorial would be the hardest of the day.

KM’s 31-40 (5:13, 5:09, 5:12, 5:06, 5:12, 5:14, 5:11, 5:09, 5:15, 5:26)  Total time 52:07

No chip time – average Garmin pace 5:13

It was right around this point when I said to Lori that I didn’t know if I could keep the 5:08 pace up, and that she should keep her pace if I dropped behind her.  My stomach was still really unhappy, I kept my pace up as well as I could, and looking at my splits I did an okay job.  There were a few km’s that were a bit slow, but then I’d kick myself in my own arse and pick it up again.  It was truly a mental struggle to keep moving, and I was glad in this moment to be suffering alone.  We all deal with pain and suffering in our own ways, I internalize it.  It was around km 37 that I passed my friend Michael, I encouraged him to run with me for a bit, but he was suffering and couldn’t keep the pace, so I carried on, on my own.  It’s often in this part of a marathon where everyone around you is suffering, we all assume that we are suffering more than others, and they the same.  I had someone tell me that I was keeping a good rhythm, ‘Yeah right!’ I thought, and carried on.  The end of this section had us crossing back over the river, and towards the East Village.  I was glad to be coming into the home stretch.

KM’s 41-42.2 (4:59, 5:10, 4:53 pace) Average pace 5:00

My stomach wasn’t good, but I didn’t care, I ignored it and pushed forward.  I was watching my time on my Garmin and knew that if I slacked here, that I’d miss my sub 3:40 goal, that goal was big for me because it was a BQ – 5:00 and meant I could register early and be virtually guaranteed to get in.  I was so close and did not want to f@ck it up now.  I came though the East Village, a guy next to me was goofing off, dancing and playing things up for the photographers, I wanted to kick him, alas I had no extra energy, so I instead I decided that I should put on a happy face for the photographers, because ‘fake it till you make it’, right?  So I smiled and gave him a thumbs up.  13330957_10154047480220791_8396503136932850327_nI was totally faking it.  It didn’t matter thought because I was really close.  I kept pushing.  I came around the corner and saw the road dip under the tracks, ok one last hill, and then the chute and then I’m done.  Keep pushing.  The finish chute at the Calgary Marathon always feels long, I was prepared this year though, and knew it would be long, so I just pushed through, I knew that very soon I could stop running.  As I turned the corner, I saw 3:39 on the finish clock, so I made it my goal to push hard to get in under 3:40 gun time.  I crossed the finish, my Garmin said 3:38:38 (chip time was 3:38:39), YES!  A PB, and a BQ – 6 minutes+!!

One of the news stations was filming the finish, and we managed to get a clip of both mine and Lori’s finish!

The aftermath

As soon as I finished, I just wanted some water… a volunteer followed me and helped me find some, first there were cups of Ultima (GAG), and finally some bottles of water.  I assured the volunteer that I would be ok, and she finally let me go on my own.  I must have looked pretty bad at this point!  I will admit that I felt pretty bad.  I made my way to the bathrooms, my stomach was cramping, and I was not feeling well.  I walked through the finish area to the bathrooms and did not see Lori anywhere.  I texted her, and she called me, she was in the Med tent!  Yikes!  I needed to gather myself a bit though before I could even get myself to the Med tent to see how she was.  I wasn’t feeling good, I had a chill, my stomach hurt, I drank my water, got a Jugo Juice Smoothie (they had them for all the finishers), and found my friend Michael and his family.  I sat down and tried to hydrate and feel better.  I still had chills and wanted my sweater that I had left in my drop bag.  It was my first time ever using a drop bag, and I was so grateful that I had, I was freezing, and didn’t know if I could make my way home without warming up a bit.  Lindsay (Michael’s wife) generously offered to get it for me.

After I drank a bit, put on my sweater, and felt a bit better I decided to go and find Lori, and find her family so I could tell them where she was and that she was ok.  I found her in the Med tent… I will let her share her story (and will nag her until she writes it out so I can post it here), but I’ll let you know that she’s fine, she had a salt imbalance.  She pushed through those last few km’s like a rockstar.  I’m so proud of Lori for her performance at the marathon.  I’ve had so much faith in her, and I know that she has an amazing potential as a runner, so it’s super exciting for me to see her dig deep.

Post Marathon thoughts

Like I said in my intro, I was feeling a bit disappointed, or something after the race.  First, I wished I could have kept my pace up and finished with Lori, but my stomach had other plans.  Second, it sucked to feel so sick afterwards, Lori and I had always talked about this moment, about hugging and crying at the finish, which did not happen.  We still haven’t gotten to have our victory beer.  We are going to take a night in the next couple weeks and celebrate.

Writing this L-O-N-G recap has been cathartic.  I often beat myself up about races, and then go and look at the splits, the empirical data, and it’s never as bad as I make it up to be in my mind.  Same goes for this race, I faded in the last 10k, but not severely, it was just over a minute slower than my first 10k which isn’t crazy, I mean lots of people fade by a minute a mile in the later stages of a marathon.

I will say that it’s going to take me a while to be excited to run a road marathon again.  I’m so excited to spend the summer on the trails, and excited to tackle some new distances and races.  I plan on running long, and high, and keeping things super fun all summer long.


7 thoughts on “Calgary Marathon 2016 Race Report

    1. Thanks Keith! I know there are lots who would be thrilled with this time, so I hope I don’t sound ungrateful, you know how our heads can mess with us a bit over these things? I am super happy with the result!

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