Monday, 25 May 2009

Guest Blog #2-- Emily Tallen on her Ottawa Experience

Thanks to Emily T. for this account of her thoughts and feelings going into and coming out of what would end up being an abortive first marathon attempt. We're still not sure why (perhaps we'll never know), but the body Emily woke up with on race morning was not the one that got her so brilliantly through her build-up. She had a mild virus early in the week and reported feeling a little tired and sluggish in the days leading up to the race, but much of this is normal for marathoners late in their taper phase. The weather conditions (windy and slightly warmer than expected) also conspired against fast times on Sunday, with runners at all levels either abandoning their pre-race pace plans after a few kilometers or, like Emily and several others, persisting through 21k only to fall apart shortly thereafter. The performances of the lead runners, always an accurate gauge of basic course speed and atmospheric conditions, were 3-5 minutes slower than expected, with most of the damage coming in the second half of race. This is significant because the lead runners can receive double or more of their finish-place prize money in time bonuses, which are graded by the minute; thus, if these well prepared and "incentivized" professionals are falling well short of their time goals, the chances are that slower runners will land even further adrift of expectations.

Other Ottawa Notes:

-Dylan Wykes will be selected to represent Canada at the World Championships marathon in Berlin on August 22nd.

-After suffering from the acute onset of allergy season last week, yours truly broke the Canadian 45-49 record in winning the master's division of the 10k on Saturday evening (my time was 31:11 and the old record is 31:31). And this time there can be no doubt about the course! (Credit, BTW, is owed to the makers of the allergy/asthma drug Singulair, which seems to have done the trick for me).

-P-K athlete Troy Cox overcame the conditions and a very dicey achilles tendon (the decision to even start the race was put off till the final few days) with a solid 2:42 to grab 4th in the master's division of the marathon.

-Rookie Matt Pieterson ran a very solid road personal best of 30:50 in the 10k. Already an accomplished duathlete, Matt looks to have many of the tools for great success as a distance runner. With the support of his fellow Ottawa-based training partners-- veteran Canadian marathoner Matt McInnis and Rejean Chiasson-- look for Matt to make some big gains between now and the national X-C meet in Guelph this December. Matt P. and Rejean are up next at the national 10,000m track championships in Toronto at the end of June.

Emily T.--Ottawa Marathon:“A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head..”

The song “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head” by Andrew Bird precisely sums up my feelings when it comes to racing Sunday. I’m pretty sure the song is about drug addiction but running is my crack so this song works for me. My addiction gets me out the door everyday without the thought of even considering day off, numerous friendships, a sponsorship from Mizuno and a chance to chase my dreams. To say I’m nervous would be an understatement, making it to the World Championships is something I’ve thought about since Athletics Canada released a statement stating that they would send five women to the 2009 World Championships in Berlin that finish in a time of 2:43 or less. I know I’m capable of achieving my goal, all of my marathon pace runs have indicated that I’m in 2:38 shape. But it is a marathon and there are plenty of variables so needless to say I’ll be walking around with a “Nervous Tic Motion of the Head” until the completion of the race.

Reflecting on this build up I feel both extremely thankful and relieved. Thankful because I’ve received incredible support and relieved because I’ve been able to get through the training without any setbacks. I wouldn’t have a clue how to put the intricate pieces of marathon training together let alone get through the workouts without the help and advice from Pat and Steve. Steve is always eager to share his experience and is one of the most motivating people I’ve ever met; ask him to share some running stories with you sometime- I promise you won’t be disappointed! I’ve learned a lot from this marathon build up and to say I’ve made sacrifices along the way would be far from accurate, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and therefore feel as though the sacrifices are more of a blessing as it’s given me the opportunity to do something that I feel extremely passionate about.

I woke up this morning at 4:30am had some coffee, paced the halls and got ready to go, it always amazes me how quickly time passes before a race. Pete Quinn was kind enough to pace me today, the plan was to go out in 1:20 as the first half of the course was fairly challenging. I felt a bit “off” right from the start and really started to get into trouble around 15km, my legs felt heavy and had a similar feeling that I usually experience in the final 2km of a 5km. I assumed I was just hitting a rough patch and I just had to push through it. Over the next 7km, things didn’t turn around and my pace was slowing by 30 seconds a kilometer. Making the choice to drop out of the race was not an easy one, a rush of emotion hit me as I thought about all of the early nights, long marathon pace runs that Steve had been so kind to help time me with, my family who was waiting for me to run past and the realization that my dream of going to Berlin was not going to happen. The reason for dropping out is an attempt at salvaging a track season, had I finished I would’ve been far off goal pace and totally depleted therefore a longer recovery would be needed.

Over the years if I’ve learned anything it’s that running is not tough due to the burning in your legs you experience in that final stretch to the finish line or miles logged in training; the hardest part is developing persistence and patience when dealing with disappointment. I don’t plan on quitting in this lifetime so I’ll be relying on persistence and patience to get me through this disappointing time as I look ahead to racing on the roads and track this summer.


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