Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009 HSBC Calgary Marathon

My feeling in the week leading up to the marathon was that I was in waaaaay over my head. Again. But I had to show up, as I had new shoes to run in and they are very nice! I was really freaked out about having to run in the heat. I run like shit in the heat, worse than usual! And to freak me out even more, my mileage was not what I felt it should be due to this and that. Mostly mental injuries. You know, the ones that feel really serious and you take a day off and they are completely gone!) And, to top it all off I was feeling really fat.

Cheryl and I get to Calgary just in time Friday night for the free food and booze for the elite athlete`s at the Hyatt. (I know you are wondering why I was there. I lied saying I would run a 2:25 marathon and Jeremy Deere believed me! Sucker!!!!!) I am eating celery and drinking water while there is wonderful, free scotch calling to me. So cruel! And Cheryl is eating wonderful looking canapes and drinking wonderful wine. I gotta get this free stuff sometime when I can take advantage, not now! Well, I have noticed this fellow in the corner who I think looks a lot like Jon Brown.

Through the use of my superior, Hercule Poirot like deduction I figure out it is indeed Jon Brown. (Somebody called him Jon and he answered yes. In a snobby British accent. Those British are sooo damn snobby!)) This is the Jon Brown who finished 4th in two Olympic marathons! (first loser, really) I wander over casually to have a conversation.

It goes like this:

Mark- are you Jon Brown!?

Jon- yes, yes I am.

Mark- cool.

Long, uncomfortable silence followed by me slinking away in a most embarrassing manner.

I spend Saturday worrying, fretting, eating and drinking. Until 7 PM that night when a good friend of ours who is putting Cheryl and I up whilst in Calgary graciously offers to give me a hypnotherapy session to help me with my run. I really suspect it is to stop me from ripping my hair out in clumps. I agree, thinking I need all the GD help I can get! To be truthful, I am a huge disbeliever in pretty much everything. (except the Moonies, that cult`s got it going on!) But I think it helped me. Stopped me from pulling my hair out, anyhow.

I sleep not too bad, and wake up at 5 for my one slice of toast and jam. Cheryl drives to the VIP parking lot. (this is awesome!) We arrive at 6, with plenty of time. I spend the next hour going back and forth to the porta-potty, you know the drill. The weather is perfect for the start, maybe 8 degree`s. But, there is no cloud and no breeze which worries me. I do no warmup. (I can warmup in the race, it`s a freakin marathon!) It`s then I realize how long it`s been since I ran a marathon. I am completely unprepared. I have no bodyglide, and no gels. Oh well, I guess I`m going anyway!

The gun goes off and in the first kilometer I do something unprecedented in Mark Armstrong`s marathoning history. I make a smart decision early. I decide not to run my marathon pace which I have been using in training. (3:53/KM) I decide to try and keep the pace around 4, or just slightly under. I can go for broke another day, I need to get this one under my belt or I may give up on the marathon. (Well, not really)

At around KM 2 I hook up with the Brendan Lunty, and his training partner from Camrose Ian Blokland. When I see Brendan I shake my fist at him and yell "Lunty"! (I stole that from you A.J. I know, but I like it!) At KM three we pass the 1:45 half pacer. He really, really needs to be
fired. His group is dying. I`d be pretty mad if I were one of them, but then again maybe they all ran a 1:25! However, I doubt that happened.

We run together until maybe 5K until I tell Brendan to go away as he is making me run too fast as I just want to run sub 2:50, not 2:43. (on this day. Ha, Ha, Ha!) He trot`s away, like the fast runner he is. Bastard! This leaves me with Ian, who then refuses to shut up. Nice fellow, I like him a lot. But shut the hell up!

The conversation:

Ian-the last k was 3:55, wanna know what I did last night?


I am feeling quite good as we approach the biggest hill in the race around KM 16 or so. Once again, I think I run pretty smart. I tell Ian that I am not running up this hill hard at all and he can do whatever he wants. He stays with me and I run comfortable up the hill doing 4:30`s which feel fine.

We arrive at the halfway around 1:24:45 which I am happy with. Around KM 25 I spot my wonderful wife who asks me how I am doing. I respond with a "not good". I was actually doing quite well, but was thinking of the hardship to come. I am running back down the big jesus hill when I pass 32k and change and realize all I have to do is run under 41 minutes for 10K and I`ve got it in the bag. Any idiot can do that, I think. Not so fast, you idiot.... However, I just keep running and holding my pace without a lot of problem.

At around 40k I am closing on a runner and as I come alongside he stops dead. His friends on the curb yell frantically at him, and I feel no sympathy for him as I push forward. (am I bad?)

When I can finally see the clock I realize things are looking good. I cross the line with clock reading 2:49:56. Home free with the sub 2:50! I think..... They announce me as top master. Hey, I made money! it`s good to be old!

I feel surprisingly good, with no stomach problems or any problems at all. I took water at every 2 stations with Gatorade in between. I took no gels. I carried one that I was given on the course, but threw it away after carrying it for 25 minutes deciding whether or not to take it.

I am very happy, collect my money and Cheryl drives me home.

I really want to thank my friends and Jack at Fasttrax for all their help these last couple of years. I likely do not deserve all the help I have received. Thank you.

One last thing. Never, ever, run a marathon. It`s long, and it hurts a lot.

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