There are two stories to tell about Toronto: the real one and the electronic one.
According to the electronic story – the one told by the live splits being communicated to the internet by my bib chip and the green mats placed at 21k, 35k, and the finish line – I was fast at 21k, a little slower at 35k but still close to goal pace, and then I dropped off the face of the earth somewhere between 35k and the finish.
My wife said that all the folks tracking me in real time were nearly frantic with worry when no time came up for me and my name kept getting pushed further and further down the list as other people finished. Everyone speculated that I had to have sustained a brutal injury not to at least walk it across the line. And they were right – it would’ve taken a brutal injury to keep me from walking it across the line, especially after 35k.
But I did not fall off the face of the earth, and I did not sustain a brutal injury – in fact, I crossed the finish line in 2:49:36, a huge PB for me. The problem is that my bib chip failed to communicate with the timing equipment, so my finish time never came up.
So now I’m in a strange position: the “official” electronic story and the real story are at odds. I have no official finish time yet, although I have contacted the timing company to try to get this resolved.
Other than this electronic glitch, the day was awesome. The weather was cool and sunny. My body was feeling good. Everything was working fine. My only mistake was going a little bit too fast over the first half of the race. I knew I was slightly faster than goal pace, but it felt so good that I thought for sure that I could hold it, that my training would make me tough over the second half of the course.
But as I should know by now, the marathon does not work this way. You cannot transcend your training! I passed the halfway point on pace for a 2:43 or a little better – and that was enough to throw off the last 10k of the race. As usual, I suffered from 32k onward. But I didn’t suffer as badly as in past marathons – I was still able to drag myself to a 2:49 finish, and I am absolutely happy with that result. I wanted that sub-2:50 badly, and I got it.
Alex ran with me from 25-41k, and having him there (like in training runs) was awesome, even though I wasn’t much for conversation, especially in the last 6k! It would’ve been nice to do the whole thing together, but having him there for part of it felt right. His encouragement down the stretch was crucial.
I learned one valuable lesson about post-race recovery – do not sit down! I sat after wandering around looking for water in the finish-line area (that’s another story – there was no freakin’ water at the finish line!), and almost immediately my calf and shin muscles seized up completely. It was incredibly painful – and it only went away when Alex finally hauled me up off the ground and put me back on my feet. In the future, I’m going to keep walking until I am sure my muscles are no longer on the edge of total seizure.
After months and months of training, I feel like I did okay. I’m happy and proud. I do hope I can get my time “officialised,” but in the end, the time is really only meaningful to me and a small circle of folks – oh, and maybe the Boston people... but I’ll worry about that another day.