Going Long - Training to be a Sinner in Alberta

Boston Marathon

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Garson - Sudbury,ON,Canada

Member Since:

Apr 20, 2013



Goal Type:


Running Accomplishments:

I ran my first marathon in 1998: "The Friendly Marathon" in Massey, Ontario.  I was 32. I had never raced in a shorter event, and I trained really poorly - ended up running it in 4:00:30.  After that, I gave up running for the most part for 6 years.  I got into karate a bit more seriously, until I got my knee kicked out and had ACL surgery.  Then I became a 'fair weather runner' and started to run half marathons every so often.  As a priest, entering weekend races always meant having to book a holiday, so it just didn't happen much.  My holidays were primarily focussed on various canoe and kayak trips.

At some point, I started training more consistently, and started to think of myself as a runner.  I guess doing that in your 40's is better than never doing it at all.  I even started to wonder if I had it in me to qualify for Boston.  Well, I did - twice.  First time didn't count, I suppose, since I didn't make the "cut".  But the second time was a charm, and on my sixth Marathon, run in Chicago in 2015, I beat my BQ by almost 6 minutes.

Through it all, I've made tons of mistakes - and have had lots of injuries to show for it.  Hopefully, now that I'm in my 50's, I'm a bit wiser and can use that to my advantage to continue running for a very long time.

My PRs:

5k (12 run):      Guelph, ON.     October 10, 2016   (50 yrs.)   20:10

10k (10 run):    Collingwood      October 5, 2013  (47 yrs.)  43:37

Half Marathon  (23 run): Cleveland   May 18, 2014  (48 yrs)  1:33:08

Marathon (11 run):  Chicago       October 11, 2015   (49 yrs.)  3:24:07

Ultras (5 run):   

Run for the Toad 50k Trail   September 30, 2017 (51 yrs.)  5:31:23

Niagara Falls 100k   June 17, 2018 (52 yrs.)  12:26:30

That Dam Hill 24 hours   September 15-16, 2018  Completed 100 Miles in 23:20:44

Sulphur Springs 50 mile Trail   May 25, 2019  10:37:27

Haliburton Forest 100 mile Trail   September 7-8, 2019  26:46:27

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Pacing my sister in her 1st Half Marathon.

Short-Term Running Goals:

The Disney Dopey Challenge in January, 2019.   That was fun

Sulphur Springs Trail Ultra (50 miles) in May, 2019.   That was muddy

The Haliburton Trail (100 Miles) in September 2019First place Master

A1A Fort Lauderdale Marathon in January 2020 (qualify for Boston) Qualified: 4:39 under my BQ time

Sulphur Springs Trail (50 Miles) in May 2020 (warm up for S7)

The Sinister 7 Trail (100 Miles) in July 2020 (decided to go for it)

New York Marathon in November 2020 (IF I get in via lottery)

125th Boston Marathon on April 19, 2021.

Long-Term Running Goals:

Run until this old body of mine won't let me run any more.  I was inspired in the Spring of 2016, watching the start of the Ottawa Marathon.  Near the back of the pack was an 'old man', running with his walker.  I loved it!  I thought ... there's me in 20 years.  Maybe.  


I am a Roman Catholic priest of 26 years, ministering in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie.  I spent 8 years ministering in the small town of Wawa (where I helped establish the annual Blackfly Run) and 9 years in Sault Ste. Marie.  I have been in the Sudbury region now for 9 years.  Currently I Pastor 2 small Parishes:  St. John the Evangelist in Garson, and St. Bernardine of Siena in Skead, covering the area just Northeast of the city, surrounding the Sudbury Airport.

Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 140.00 Year: 366.20
Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 Lifetime Miles: 324.20
Brooks Cascadia 11 Lifetime Miles: 288.00
Saucony ISO Triumph 4 Lifetime Miles: 262.00
Nike Zoom Vomero 13 Lifetime Miles: 307.00
Salomon Speedcross 4 Lifetime Miles: 160.25
Brooks Ghost 11 Lifetime Miles: 254.25
Brooks Glycerin 13 Treadmill Lifetime Miles: 347.00
Saucony ISO Triumph 4 Treadmill Lifetime Miles: 353.00
Total Distance
Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 51.00Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 44.00Saucony Kinvara 6 Miles: 6.00Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 Miles: 26.00
Weight: 149.57
Total Distance

Recovery run; 8:48 pace.  Peak mileage of 63 miles this week.  

16 weeks down; 2 to go!  And no training days missed for any reason.

Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 10.00
Weight: 148.00
Total Distance

Easy run; 8:42 pace with hill bursts/strides in miles 2, 3, 5 and 6.

Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 7.00
Weight: 150.50
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Total Distance

Easy run; 8:48 pace.  Gorgeous day:  5C/40F.  First time in the training cycle that I felt like I was overdressed.

Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 10.00
Weight: 151.50
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Total Distance

Easy run in the cold rain; 8:48 pace.  Just 1C/34F and a steady rain ... I was very soaked through by the end.

Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 8.00
Weight: 149.50
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Total Distance

My final "strength" workout.  6 x 1 mile intervals with 400 recoveries.  Aimed for 7:27 pace (10 seconds faster than marathon pace).  Came pretty close:  7:23  7:24  7:24  7:25  7:24 and 7:24.

Maybe that's a sign that I'll run 7:34 in Boston!

Took it outside, as the rain finally stopped and the predicted snow did not fall.

Got my runner's passport from Boston in the mail yesterday!

Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 11.00
Weight: 149.00
Total Distance

My final marathon workout this morning.  10 mile Tempo Run (marathon pace).  Ended up a tad fast, at 7:35/mile.

After Wednesday's strength work, I had a 4 hour drive to Sault Ste. Marie for meetings.  Not nice, sitting that long after a hard workout.  Thursday was off, but then a 4 hour drive home today after this workout.  I'm a bit sore.

This morning's run I did up in the Hiawatha Highlands.  Hills and wind, so I was happy with the result.

Now to taper and let all the sore body parts fully recover.  In particular:  my right hip (bursitis) is still achy, left hamstring is tight, and my left calf is too.  That, along with a few other aches and pains after 17 weeks of training.  Nothing that I can't manage, and I'm looking at being 100% on April 17th.  And so far, the weather looks good for that day.


Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 13.00
Weight: 150.00
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Total Distance

Recovery run; 8:39 pace.

Passed 10 other runners today, going the other way.  I don't think I saw that many runners all winter.  To see that many in one hour was amazing.  Spring, I suppose.

Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 8.00
Weight: 150.00
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Total Distance

Can you believe it???  18 weeks of bang on training - no lost days for any reason - and nine days before Boston I get hit with the Norwalk Virus!   Aaarrrrrhhhh!

I didn't feel quite right after my Saturday morning run.  Bloated.  Not hungry.  Had to force myself to eat.  Well, that night, while I was leading the Passion Service at Church, while my Deacon was reading the Gospel, I had to rush out.  Didn't quite make it to a sink or a garbage can, I'm afraid.  Got home and spent the next 36 hours in bed.  Unspeakable things blasting out of me from both ends.

Felt better this morning.  Less headache and nausesa.  Mostly just a really sore stomach - like I went five rounds with a gorilla in a boxing ring.  Trying to keep hydrated and eating as much as I'm able.  That basically means sports drink and toast.

I tried a run today - barely made 5 miles at 8:57 pace.  I just feel weak.  

I am SO grateful this happened now, and not next weekend.  Plus, I'm in tapering mode anyway, so my biggest goal now is to get my strength up in time for Boston.  It just goes to show ... anything can happen on the road to Boston.

Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 5.00
Weight: 147.00
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Total Distance

Freezing rain today, so I took it to the treadmill.  6 easy miles; 9:00/mile pace.

Still not quite 100%, but I'm able to keep my food down now and managed to get my weight up a bit.  I'm still hopefull I can get my glycogen levels optimized for Boston.

Saucony Kinvara 6 Miles: 6.00
Weight: 149.00
Total Distance

Turned the corner!  Starting about mid afternoon yesterday, I felt 'normal' again.  Ate an entire pizza for dinner.  Had a normal night of sleep.  Ran the 6 miles this morning easy at an 8:42 pace.  Scheduled for 5, but decided to tack on the extra.  Legs felt strong, and my stomach no longer feels like it's full of acid.  

Tomorrow is supposed to be an off day, but I think I'll run 5 easy.  We'll see how things unfold.

Oh, my Bishop found out yesterday that I'm away Easter Sunday.   He is thoroughly unimpressed.

Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 6.00
Weight: 150.50
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Total Distance

Normally would not run on Thursday, but I was forced to take Sunday off and cut back on Monday, so I decided to go for a slow run today; 8:50 pace.  I think things are falling into place.  Eating primarily carbs right now.  Mostly packed and ready to go.  Know the weather in Boston for Monday (hot!) I was able to decide on my running gear for the race.

Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 5.00
Weight: 150.00
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Total Distance

Easy run; 8:43 pace.  Beautiful morning.  Man, I'm eating everything in sight, and my weight just won't budge.  I guess I'll just have to trust my body is storing up the glycogen the way it's supposed to be doing.

Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 6.00
Weight: 149.50
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Total Distance

Last shake out run before Boston.  8:39 pace.  A parishioner joined me for part of it.  I run past his house every day, but this is the first time he joined me on a run.  He qualified for his 1st Boston also - running it next year (maybe with me).

Good to go!  I have a parishioner picking me up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to bring me to the airport.  Scheduled to land in Boston just before Noon.  From there, to the expo, then check in to my room at 3pm, pasta dinner that night and SUCCESS the next morning/afternoon!  

Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 6.00
Weight: 149.50
Race: Boston Marathon (26.2 Miles) 03:53:58, Place overall: 13885, Place in age division: 1142
Total Distance

Not sure how to write this one up. I'm still in Boston...flying home tonight. So I'm in a restaurant and on my cell phone. I just wanted to give an initial reaction and will fill in the details when I get home. So, obviously I'm really disappointed with my time. At the same time, I'm ecstatic to have been able to run Boston, and my time is not relevant. So, really mixed emotions. I went from Plan A to Plan E really fast. Amazing how quickly things can go south in a marathon. I didn't even HAVE a Plan E to start. So, the A plan was to break 3:20. And really, I was in shape for it. I thought. Plan B was to PR it. Plan C was to BQ it. Already at Mile 4, I knew I had to go to Plan D, which was to just enjoy the experience. Plan E I came up with around Mile 21. That was to just get across the finish line. Well, at least I managed that. So, I came in just under 3:54, a good half hour slower than when I qualified in Chicago. But I did come in. I ran BOSTON! Nothing will change that. When I get home, I'll flesh out the sordid details for posterity.

Okay, I'm finally home.  After a 90 minute weather delay, leading to a missed connection and the loss of my luggage.  Finally got reunited with my luggage (came in on a different flight), but had to overnight it in Toronto.  Long day of travel.  But I'm home.

So, the sordid details (I won't be upset if they are never read):

I arrived in Boston on the Sunday.  It was 34 degrees when I left Sudbury.  It was 86 degrees when I landed in Boston.  It would cool down to 75 degrees by Monday.  Ouch.  I had to store my luggage at the water taxi place, ride the T to the expo to pick up my number (was awesome walking by the finish line and seeing all the activity around there), then back to the waterfront for my luggage, then a long ride on the T (with a transfer) to the Airbnb I had booked.  Then back downtown on the T for the pasta dinner, which I didn't get to eat.  A LONG day (up at 4am) and I was unimpressed.

They assigned pasta dinner eating times.  Mine was 5:30.  I got there just before that to discover a LONG line that wound around City Hall.  Seriously - it took me almost 10 minutes to walk to the back of the line.  And there we stood, in the hot sun, and the line did not move.  For an hour.  I'm not sure when it might have moved eventually, but after an hour, I was done.  At 6:30 I took the T back to the Airbnb.  A couple on the train who had been to the dinner (first in line) told me what the hold up was - the Mayor had to come, with a marching band, and make a speach.  Seriously, Boston Marathon people?  For that whole time, they would not let anyone in, for security reasons, I presume.  I will NOT vote for that mayor (even if I could)!

Anyway, what I SHOULD have done was find a restaurant.  But I didn't know Boston and I didn't want to wander around.  So, what I did do was accept the invitation of my airbnb hosts to eat with them.  When I first checked in, they were having an Easter party (lots of people) and told me I was welcome to join them.  They said it was all Ethiopian food (where they were from).  It smelled good, but don't do anything different from your training routine, right?  But now I was stuck, so I went back there and joined them.  I mean, hey, the Ethiopians do pretty darn good in marathons, so they must eat the right kinds of food, right?

Well, I tried to keep it basic and to avoid the spicy stuff and anything I thought might be risky.  It WAS good.  And I declined the beer they offered.  By 9:30 I went to bed.  The party continued (quite loud) until Midnight.  Oh, and my little room had no air and no window.  It was HOT.  Ah well.  Who needs sleep the night before a marathon anyway?

So, up at 4:30, and off I went.  I followed the same basic pattern of eating I had rehearsed several times.  Took the T to the baggage check, got on the bus, and was off to Athlete's Village.  A tip of the hat, by the way, to all the volunteers.  With the exclusion of the stupid Mayor, I dare say that everybody in Boston is golden.  The bus ride is about an hour, and then I had about 90 minutes in the Village until it was time to move to the start line, almost a mile away.  The atmosphere was fun and exciting.  Everything was going without a hitch, except for that heat.  It never really cooled down much overnight, and the sky was clear and so it heated up pretty quickly.

So, the start at 10:25.  Seems to me it took about 4 or 5 minutes for me to get to the start line when the gun went off, and it was kind of a slow shuffle until then.  Since we were seeded according to our qualifying times, everyone around me was basically running the same pace, so I just settled in to the big crowd and went with it.  I'm not going to bother listing my mile splits since they won't be accurate anyway (which I'll get to).  The official splits were at 5K intervals, and they are posted online of course.  But I was aiming for 7:37 mile splits.  I hit that once - in the final half mile.  Go figure.

So, the race course.  I knew it was downhill, and I knew it was undulating, but I was caught a bit off guard by the uphills.  Yes, primarily downhill at the start.  But with some good uphills peppered judiciously in.  Aid stations every mile, beginning at mile 2.  I thought that was a bit much, but it turns out I could have used more.  I was SO THIRSTY.  Constantly.  I drank what I could at every aid station, but was thirsty again after a quarter or a half mile.  Seriously - I've never experienced that in a race before.  I knew I was well hydrated, but you'd never know it by my thirst.

Already, by mile 4 as I mentioned above, I knew things were not going well.  My legs had no 'umph' in them.  It was like I had no glycogen stores - like I had not carbo loaded at all and was already depleted.  By the end of mile 4, I could see my splits were consistently around 7:45.  That would actually have been decent at that point of the race, if I had felt good.  But I didn't.  I knew I couldn't run faster that day if I wanted to finish, and I could already feel the life leaving my legs.  So, I settled for Plan D (just enjoy the day) and kept on.

Well, my splits went to around 8:00 for the next 3 miles, and then slowed to the 8:30 range for the next 13 miles.  That would bring me to the bottom of Heartbreak Hill.  But those splits don't actually tell the whole story, as my GPS watch is set to autopause when I stop moving, and I stopped moving 6 times in that race:  I had to make emergency porta potty stops at around miles 8, 11, 14, 17, 20 and 24.  Yes, a new record for me.  6 stops.  

I was terribly bloated and gassy and cramping.  I had planned on eating 2 chews every mile.  I couldn't eat a thing.  I tried gatoraide, and that just made things worse.  Instant reaction.  So, I ended up running the majority of Boston on water alone.  And even water was causing me to cramp.  Seriously, I don't know how the Ethiopians do it with their diet!  But I'm not even sure I can blame that.  I think the heat was hitting me worse, and it was affecting my insides.

Since my GPS stops when I do, I was able to figure out what those stops cost me:  8 minutes.  Yup, take away the portapotty breaks, and my time was 3:45:51.  Still not great, but better.

So, I mentioned Plan E above.  That was formulated somewhere around mile 21, when it dawned on me that I might not finish the race, based on how I was feeling.  At that point, I wanted to throw up so bad, but I was afraid to, in case it might prevent me from moving again.  I mean, I can't say I was having fun anymore, so I threw all my focus into staying upright and putting one foot in front of the other.  I was also determined to not walk - not even through the aid stations.  Not even up the Newton Hills.  But Miles 21 to 24 were all over 9:00 pace, and mile 25 was a shockingly slow 10:37.  Ouch.  I have to confess, I DID walk through an aid station there.  And it took everything in me to start running again.

When I look at those later splits, I'm amazed, because after Heartbreak, it's basically all downhill.  But the downhill hurt at that point, and my legs felt like pegs.  I had read about that feeling in the latter part of marathons, but this was my 1st time experiencing it.  I've decided I don't like the feeling, just for the record.

I did pick it up when I made that right turn on Hereford, despite the little incline up, and poured it on when I made the left on Bolyston.  A little pre-mature, perhaps, as I hadn't realized how far away the finish line still was.  And I was sobbing too, by the way.  Not in pain.  It was really emotional for me.  The wonderful volunteers at the finish line (who were kept quite busy with distressed runners) kept asking me if I was okay, and I had to tell them again and again that I was just emotional.

In truth, I felt fine.  No blisters.  No tender spots.  No muscle pain.  Left ankle a little sore, perhaps.  Even at my airbnb where I had to climb a steep flight of steps, there was no problem.  I trained to run a 7:37, and ended up running a minute/mile slower, so my body did not take a beating at all.

I made my way back to my room to shower.  Tried to nap, but couldn't (too noisy and too hot), so went back downtown for dinner (steak, wine and cheesecake!) and wandered around the finish line until it actually started to feel colder.  It was nice to wear the Marathon jacket and medal together for the 1st time.  By Tuesday, it was downright chilly.  Would have been a great day for a marathon.  The same with Wednesday, when I started my trip home.  And home, by the way, is currently still sitting at 34 degrees.  Brrr.

So, the post mortem analysis ...

Reasons why I sucked at running the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2017 (in what I believe to be the order of greatest significance):

1)  The flu.  Getting sick, with Norwalk or whatever it was, 9 days before the race did me in.  Yes, my training was done and I was in peak condition.  But the illness depleted me just when I needed to replendish my glycogen stores.  I lost 5 pounds and barely managed to put it back on.  No matter what I ate that week, it just didn't seem to "stick".  I know I put on an honest face all week, but that was psychological self-assurance (positive thinking) more than truth.  I never really got my legs back, and on Marathon Monday, I couldn't perform.  I knew it almost immediately.  Biggest reason for my poor performance.  Oh, and mother nature can be a "*itch", at times.  10 years without being sick - not even a cold - and I get this a week before the Boston Marathon!

2) The Heat.  Especially combined with #1, this hit me hard.  All my training runs were done in frigid weather.  The Boston Marathon this year was far from frigid.  Nothing I could do about this one, but it looms large in my performance.

3)  Travel.  Arriving in Boston the afternoon before, and rushing around to do everything that needed to be done.  I was tired from the Holy Thursday/Good Friday/Easter Saturday celebrations, and I was tired from the early start, the travel, and the chaos of Boston the day before the Marathon.  I knew this would all be the case, but I had no real choice.  I was already in my Bishop's bad books for missing Easter Sunday.  I couldn't control getting sick, I couldn't control the heat, and I sure couldn't control the date for Easter being on Patriot's Day Weekend.  I made the best of it, but it was not ideal.  Previously, I always arrived at my marathon destinations several days or more before the race, and for good reason.

4)  My Accommodations.  Poor choice, I know, but I made the decision to cut expenses wherever I could.  Boston is not cheap!  And my 1st booking, which I made well in advance, was cancelled by the owner on short notice, so I was grateful to find this one, even though it was far from ideal.  It wasn't a make or break issue in terms of my performance, but combined with already being sick, tired and hot, it certainly contributed.  

5)  Carbo Loading.  I'll put this in the lowest spot, only because I know that ideal Carbo Loading takes place the whole week before, rather than the night before, a Marathon.  I really don't know what my night before Ethiopian food might have done to me.  I suspect it had some influence on my gut, but not a whole lot.  It certainly was not responsible for my 'dead legs' at the start line.  Still, it was a 'wild card' situation that should not have happened and which I could have controlled a bit more.

Well, that's it.  Some significant factors beyond my control, and a few that I could have managed better.  However, I did the best I could in the situation I faced, and I'm happy for the experience.

What happens next, I'm not sure.  I'm running the Run for the Toad Ultra in October.  I have nothing planned beyond that.  For now, I'm going to rest for a couple of weeks, and then ease back into my daily running routine.


I follow the Hanson's Training Method, and am part of that facebook page.  Luke Humphrey is the 'science guy' behind the method, the main writer of the book, and the face/voice of the Hanson's Group.  He ran Boston last Monday in 2:23:12 - 27th overall - but was aiming for a 2:20.  He did a one hour post-Boston analysis for all of us on the facebook page which I watched last night, and it helped me to put things in perspective.

So, the analysis I did myself above was basically bang on.  The heat hurt virtually everyone.  My primary mistake was not making the mental adjustment to run slower PRE-RACE.  I stubbornly held on to the idea of a 3:20 effort for the first 4 miles until I was forced to slow down.  By then, it was too late.  Had I run a 3:30 effort from the beginning, I would have been in much better shape.  Hard to say, of course.  Anyway, listening to his analysis helped.  I just need to put this one behind me and focus on my next goal.






Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 Miles: 26.00
Weight: 150.00
Total Distance
Brooks Ghost 7 Miles: 51.00Saucony ISO Triumph 2 Miles: 44.00Saucony Kinvara 6 Miles: 6.00Mizuno Wave Sayonara 2 Miles: 26.00
Weight: 149.57
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