Coming into this race, I know I am faster than last year but I didn't do enough long runs, only two long runs over 30k, one was around the bay 30k and another was a 32k two weeks ago, the rest were a few ones around the half marathon distance. I've been undertrained and entered a marathon in the past so I expected anything could happen after 30k.
I arrived the start about 40mins before the race, plenty of time, plenty of parking, no long line-ups for the washroom in the sport complex. Saw Jon and Karen, had a brief chat while we were waiting for start. Not that many people so there were no corrals, knowing jon is shooting for a 1:45 half, I placed myself behind and around karen, but Karen told me that I should place a bit more front so I don't get caught with slow half runners and mess up my pacing. Race started and we headed off on victoria street, we passed by the Lynn Conservation area - a forgotten place that I have been many years ago for hiking, at that time I couldn't even run 3k! the scenic was nice although it is a bit warm and humid but I felt great, I had to slow down every km to hit my target 5:19 pace. Saw Jon coming back on the 8k turnaround, he was looking good. Around 8-9k I passed Karen, not sure what was the problem but she was slowing down. I continued to cruise with my goal pace. At this point, the only problem I had was that I had a natural call, I've decided to take the washroom break before half way, cause I wanted a slower half just like I did in Goodlife Toronto marathon last year. Things were quite uneventful as my plan seem to be executing just fine, around 18k I had my washroom break, what a relief! Before 19k split turnaround saw jon coming back strong, he said he's already got 1:45 in the bag! And I thought it was going to be the same great day for me as well.
As full and half marathon split, things changed dramatically. Only a bit more than 100 runners entered the full, it was a long stretch between most of the runners. I didn't see anyone in front of me, no one behind me either... then there was a section that the trail was under construction, a race marshal directed me "nice and easy on the grass" to run across a grass field, this was the beginning of the "downhill" of my race. My pace slipped on this grass field, that was not easy... the trail continues but there was nobody except the sun was out at full force, absolutely no shades and nowhere to hide. All of a sudden I felt my legs were tired, it seems the cramp might be coming! I couldn't believe it at this early stage this is started to happen. I had e-load at every water station, gel, saltstick caps, and this dorky soccer socks (my cheap version of compression socks to prevent my calves problem. I slowed down my pace but tried to keep them sub 6min/km, hoping legs would get better in later stage. Surprising that while I was off my pacing, I passed several runners and there were couple runners walking back, looks like they were going for DNF and probably suffering more than I was. 26k we turned into the industrial area, these were no man's land out and back inclines, you see long hills over a km ant d came back on the same route. There's no spectators except the volunteers at aid stations and one cop. I saw a few front pack runners turned back already, it seems most of us were exhausted under the heat. It was very tough for me to run these out and back industrial routes, my legs were getting worse and I felt this was like hawaii ironman's energy lab in kona! my body was overheated. There was a red-shirt guy behind me, everytime he saw a runner coming back on the back route he would shout like a military man to encourage other runners, I found it worked as a mental boost to other runners and yourself as well since you see nobody cheering for you. I started to say "good job" and a thumb up to the runners on the other side. The red-shirt guy and another tall young guy passed me. The little cramps in my legs were forcing me getting slower and slower to 6ish pace, the pain in my legs and the heat, DNF came across my mind. When I passed 30k mark, it was 2:43, this is the same split that I had with last year's toronto marathon! I know it's impossible to pull a negative split like last time but perhaps I still have a chance to at least get it under 4hrs! At 30k water station I stopped to dump water or maybe some e-load too on my head and back, another runner passed me while I was at the water station, we were back into the open trail but still no shades and nowhere to hide, I can feel the real cramp is coming. At 32k my left calf completely seized up, I had to stop and stretch, as I strectch my calves my quads started to cramp!! No stretching could help, now every part of my legs were cramping! I gave up, not on finishing this marathon, but I gave up on suffering legs cramp problem and having it to ruin my race! I've decied to suck it up and kept on running. I was cursing all the way in the trail, and wishing for a set of fresh legs! cramping went away for a short moment but came back on different spot, it seems the "red paint dots" weree everywhere on my leg. By keep going I passed the runner that passed me at the water station, she seem to be out of gas and started walking. As the trail ended at the Heydenshore Kiwanis park, instead of heading back, volunteer said "sorry but you'll have to go this way", once again we were running under the sun out and back on two streets and one of them being under construction. Again, we get to see nobody except runners out and back, struggling. Looking at the distance on my Garmin, I know we were almost there, I picked up my pace and ignored all those little cramps everywhere in my legs, I have learned how to do fast hobbling last year in Scotia Waterfront Marathon, my form may look ugly and it helps me to go at 6 or sub 6 pace. Surprisingly several runners that looked strong ahead of me started walking, I also managed to pass the fancy shirt guy and the red-shirt guy. Heading back to the Heydenshore Kiwanis park, I poured 4 cups not sure water or eload on my head, here I come! the finish line!! I can hear some crowds! one old guy looking strong passed me with about 400m to go, I passed another guy that was walking to the finish. Clock didn't wait for me, it went over 4hrs and my garmin was going over 42.2k already I still don't see the finish line! Finally we had to. make a turn and I tired but cramping legs didn't allow me to sprint to the finish. Garmin shows 42.54k! what's up with the extra 345m?? but it didn't matter anymore because at 42.195 on my garmin I was over 4hrs already.
Checking the official result, I was surprised to see someone that I have passed turned out to finish ahead of me. The full marathon was small race, I clearly remember all the runners ahead and behind me, perhaps it's the sun made my brain malfunction. Let's not despite the fact the 2nd half was a lonely course, runners might unintentionally or intentionally missed those out and back routes and continued their way, it wouldn't be too difficult if I wanted to cheat my way to Boston. :-) This turned out to be my 2nd worst marathon record.
There was a finisher tech t-shirt which was a nice touch to the finish of the race, the medal is MADE IN CANADA! cool! Thanks to Jon and his daughter coming out to the finish line, I've made him waited around 20minutes more...