Friday, October 26, 2012

One Man's Journey ... and Back

Thank you to Roy for sharing this amazing story ... I'm sure many of you can relate to this adventure into the heart of darkness and back. 

My name is Roy and I'm neurotic (This is where I think you all say "Hi Roy")
Now for the disclaimers. There is nothing that follows that you need to read. You're being sent this because you've either recently expressed interest in my marathon and Cn tower climb journey, or once upon a time you've expressed interest in them. If you no longer have interest in these tales (or to be honest never did and have been patronizing me) or never have and have told me to stop sending them (yeah I'm talking to you Frank!) feel free to delete and be done with this.

If you're still reading, you're doing so at your own risk because you know I like to ramble. The marathon tale is a marathon in itself.

When we last met, I had completed my first full Marathon in Oct 2011. At the time, I was somewhat satisfied with my time of 3:42 even though the last 10 km were an experience in pain and inability to go forward owing to the symbolic wall that I had hit. This was followed by my best ever CN tower climb in April 2012 of 12:29 and best ever half marathon of 1:38 in May 2012. A summer full of training which included runs in Vienna, Austria, Mont Tremblant Quebec and Markham Ontario, the normal shedding of weight which led to the inevitable comments of "Hey Gandhi how's it going " or equally risque comments of "If you lose any more weight, I'm going to have to sponsor you on World Vision", and the total denial of alcohol, deserts and fried food. By the morning of the marathon, I weighed 140 lbs which was the same as last year. My pants were no longer fitting and I found myself longingly thinking of burgers, beer, wings and most of all CHIPS! OF course all of this was part of my belief that a healthy and low weight body would get me my best time (to save you the suspense of wondering, it didn't!)

It was a mild but wet morning on Sunday Oct 14 as we made our way down to the Marathon start line. I was feeling relatively good after a Sat night of lying on the sofa in prone position with the tv on (a rarity and maybe even a first for me). Only slight issues were a throbbing toe (never, EVER kick a door with a marathon less than a week away - there's a story behind that that I will only share if you buy me a beer or three), and a massive crowd that I knew would be in my way at the start. Nonetheless, I was aiming for a sub 3:39 time. The race started and it was a slow, SLOW start. Many, MANY people in the way. I passed some but found it tough to get into the pace I wanted. I uh passed a guy in full hockey gear - apparently he was trying to get into the guiness record book for fastest marathon in full hockey gear. Maybe I should have contacted guiness to see if I could aim for the fastest bald brown principal with a throbbing toe. There can't be THAT many of us out there!

At the 6 km mark, I was running at about a 5:10 pace which was 15 -20 seconds per km behind where I wanted to be. I didn't completely panic but did try and pick it up a bit. By the 11 km mark, I was still about 2 minutes behind where I wanted to be and would never in the end make up that time. Nonetheless, I was feeling fine with only a bit of foot and leg pain. Passed my cheering section at the half way point still feeling fresh and exchanged my water bottles as well. By 30km, doing alright and victory of victory I passed the 32 km mark still feeling o.k. I was going to do this . I was going to be alright. I was not going to hit the wall. And I didn't. What did happen however is that I fell apart mentally by the 34/35 km mark. My general plan is to run 5km segments and take a 30-45 second break to refuel at those points. All was going according to plan until about the 34/35 km mark when I suddenly started to fell incredibly drained and was taking breaks of over a minute ever 1 km or so. My pace which had been right around the 5 min per km mark for so long started to creep up and then soar up to over 6 min per km. The breaks kept getting more frequent, my time started going out the window and I knew that wall or not, something had gone wrong. At that point the mental shut down began. Negative self talk is a powerful thing. I despaired for the result I was heading towards but couldn't pick myself up. I kept taking longer and more frequent breaks. Someone told me the 81 year old was beating me. For the record, the 81 year old crushed me with a time of 3:31 - a time I still can't seem to get. As I reached the 40 km mark, I made a solid commitment to not stop anymore but my pace was that of a shuffling slow SLOW knee replacement surgery patient (no disrespect to any knee surgery patients out there because in truth you might of have been faster than me at that point). Couldn't even manage a final kick. Apparently Chantelle who rarely shows emotion cried as she saw me approach the finish line because I looked like I was coming from the grave. A future Halloween costume - Roy of the Dead - The Marathon Finish!

I crossed the line at 3:47 which was a full five minutes slower than last time. I was demoralized and spent, and only made it home because Lisa managed to get under the barrier and let me lean on her literally until we cleared the labyrinth of the post marathon walk - an experiment in sado masochism if you ask me. You finish a marathon, let me out instead of another seemingly endless walk! It probably is a sign of how little I weighed that Lisa COULD support my weight. At that point I was completely disconsolate. Brian was more than little annoyed at my lack of pride in my accomplishment but I didn't consider it an accomplishment at that point and still only KIND of do. Yes I finished but all that training and all those hopes for a 5 minute slower race? Excuses? None. Wind was o.k. Weather was ok and my foot didn't impact enough. I just couldn't do it. Now all I do take solace in is that the more I read the more I know that it's the last 10 km that are the issue in a marathon. First one I caved at 32 km. This one I caved at 34. I've said I am NOT doing one next year but whenever I do, maybe I'll get to 36 or 37 before I break. Time will tell.

Post Marathon was an interesting graphic story of hurling several SEVERAL times at home to the point that the next morning I weighed 137 lbs!!! Fun stuff.

The marathon was on Oct 14, Oct 15 was off and then Oct 16-18 CN tower training

This email is already too long so condensed version of cn tower climb is this. Wasn't expecting a good time going into CN tower climb because my foot was starting to throb and calf muscles were tight.

Got up at 3:40 am. on Saturday and at the tower by 4:45 am. 20 people were already waiting in line. There are LOTS of sickies out there! Climb seemed to go well and while I didn't have a pb time, I did have my third fastest time at 12:41. 12 seconds off my pb from last April. Take a look at the results so you can see my name in the top 15.

Notice I didn't send you the marathon results (go to for those results)

All told, I was satisfied with the CN tower climb, and sadly I've decided NOT to retire yet. The day will come when I start getting much slower. On that day, I'm done. Until such time, the training regime will continue but for next few months, it's more about getting muscle mass back.

For the record, I've gained 10 pounds since the marathon and about 7 since CN tower climb. I doubt my one day of weight training can account for that so maybe it's the 3 bags of chips I've inhaled as well as the snacks and deserts. At the very least, my pants are starting to fit again. So thanks for reading or deleting and you won't have to hear anymore until April when the journey of the neurotic brown man continues!