Thursday, 28 July 2016

Nova Scotia Marathon report by Colin

Start line photo taken after the race once the rain stopped
My best friend, Austen, emigrated to Canada over a decade ago and the Williams family holiday was to visit them in Nova Scotia this year. As a challenge we decided to enter the Nova Scotia Marathon as Austen had never run one before. At the time of entering it in March I had no intention of trying to run a quick time, just wanting to get round as part of a bonding experience with my pal.
Before the start with Austen wearing his Moorfoot tribute vest (actually it was just a coincidence!)
I’d put my marathon demons to bed a couple of years previously when I finally broke 3hrs (2:59:08) at Manchester Marathon in 2014 having completed 7 marathons in the five year period before with a glut of times ranging from 3:00:55 to 3:07.
Except I hadn’t broken 3hrs at Manchester Marathon as I noticed the lead story on the main BBC website in April saying that the course was actually incorrectly measured 380m short. The organisers kindly send me a barely apologetic email to say that they’d recalculated the time and based on my pace on the last 6k I would have completed in the course in 3:00:52.

After the initial shock of not knowing whether to laugh or cry I decided that I already had the opportunity to right this wrong and train to finally go sub 3 on the an officially measured “Boston Qualifier” course. I managed to complete some of my best quality training in the two months before.
We flew out on the Saturday to Canada with the race was the following day and didn’t manage to get the best sleep in the two nights prior with a super early start to head off to Glasgow Airport and then the jet lag and excitement of meeting up with my best friend and his family.

The race is in its 46th year was very friendly and run by enthusiastic volunteers and gets a deserving good write up in Canadian Running mag.
The race is located on the southern most point of Nova Scotia and the course is a figure of 8 around Cape Sable Island sticking out in the Atlantic Ocean. It was pretty much flat but there were a few rolling undulations

The race combined a mass start with a Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km with over 300 competitors in total, but only 64 in the full marathon. It was warm and sunny low 20s when the race started at 8am.
The half marathon was part of the Nova Scotia ‘Performance Series’ and was won in 71mins with about 7 running sub 1:20 so when the gun went about 20 runners flew off down the road. My strategy was run fairly conservatively and get to half way about with over a minute under 1:30 and try to run even splits but know I had a buffer if I needed it in case I started to suffer near the end.

By the time we got about 6 miles the small field was completely spread out and about 10 miles there was only one runner in sight a little way ahead so I decided to make the effort to gently close the gap to have someone to for company to run with. I ran with Tim from New York City also trying to go sub 3 for the next 12 miles until he dropped back on one of the rises at about 4 miles to go. I was really glad that I didn’t have to run the marathon as a solo time trial! The route was picturesque as it headed out in the rural areas where most of the houses had lobster pots stacked outside and one of the many wooden churches I ran passed even had a World War 1 memorial with a kilted soldier on top such are the historic links between Scotland and Nova Scotia.
The wind picked up the further south and further into the Atlantic the island jutted and there was quite a strong cross head wind for miles 13-18. Unfortunately big storm clouds massed and the heavens opened and I was running through heavy (warm!) rain for the last 1hr 20.
I did have a couple of frustrations. The race was run on open roads and my last 10km coincided with the church ‘rush hour’ of what seemed like hundreds huge pick up trucks driving far too close to me. The car is king of the road in north America and giving pedestrians space isn’t the highest priority. At times I was running quite far from the road edge to avoid puddles so dodging traffic was a stress I certainly could have done without ¾ s of the way through the marathon.
You also had the option to leave your personal energy drinks and gels in crates to be transported to any of the water stops. I thought this was a great idea and had visions of the bottles being left on tables like you see for the elite runners in the London Marathon. Unfortunately this was not the case and I had to stop as almost all of my five fuel stops to search for my gel or water bottles breaking my stride each time. It certainly would have been better to simply carry my gels on a belt as I had before but I thought it would be a good idea to avoid the extra weight!

The last 4 miles seemed to drag and my pace dropped in miles 22 & 23 by about 15 seconds as they are slightly uphill but I had the buffer I needed so I didn’t stress and just hung in knowing that I should do it.
The euphoria hit me in the last half mile across the causeway when I could see the golden arches of McDonalds which was next to the finish and was delighted and relieved to cross the line in 2:59:24.
Sub 3! The demon is well and truly exorcised!
I also found out at the finish line that I was 2nd overall, 3 minutes behind the winner. I had been totally oblivious to my position as I had no idea how many people ahead of me in the first few miles were marathoners, half marathoners or 10k runners. Results here:
Finishing - with appropriate pick up truck in background

1 comment:

Gregor said...

Well done King Louie! Amazing coincidence that your pal had an exact match of the previous Moorfoot Junior vest!!