Sunday, August 23, 2015

Edmonton Marathon Review

They don't get much better than this.  I loved this race, number 88 since my myeloma diagnosis.  Edmonton does a great job.

My race:

I entered the Marathon Walk, a walk-only division in the marathon which allowed a one-hour earlier start, and finished in 6:03:16, way ahead of my expectation of 6:30 to 7:00.  That's actually a pace of 13:51, and I am quite happy with it.  Truth be told I did run a little bit, but maybe just a dozen times or so for about 15 seconds (45 footfalls) each.  I doubt that my running could have advanced me by more than a minute or so.  I finished 4th of 14 in the Marathon Walk and first (of one) in my age group in the Marathon Walk.

Pre-dawn start
This finish was a solid 20 minutes faster than my last marathon, Columbia SC, in which I tried to run as much as I could, and 11 minutes faster than the Lost Dutchman Marathon in Arizona the month before.  Perhaps there is a message here.

By golly I really did enjoy this marathon.  People were wonderful, the course was very flat, weather was excellent, and I felt great throughout.  Now my muscles are tired, as they should be, but nothing hurts except, just a little, the bottoms of my feet and a bursa on the outside of my right hip.  Something new but temporary I'm sure.  Better in the morning.

What doesn't hurt:
  • My calves.  No cramping this time, always such an issue when I run a marathon; and
  • My hamstrings, which have raised such a fuss in recent months.
My girls did well too, in my opinion, finishing in good time.

The Edmonton Marathon:

John Stanton is the founder and CEO of the Running Room stores (and magazine), and godfather of this marathon.  I met John in Woodbury, MN, when he was opening a store there, and yesterday he introduced me to a crowd of runners in Edmonton's Shaw Conference Center, the epicenter of the marathon.

It all happens at the Shaw.  Expo, start, and finish of not only the marathon but the half, the 10k, and the 5k, maybe more.  That's quite convenient.  On the advice of friends who live in Edmonton (thanks Nelson) we parked at the bottom of the Shaw and only had to walk a hundred meters to get into the Shaw, then the escalators, and up to the start.  People staying at any of several nearby hotels would have it just as good.

The marathon course itself is two out-and-back 10.5k routes, mostly on little-used residential streets, often along the bank of the Saskatchewan River.  With today's clear air the view was very impressive - at several points we could see  Edmonton's downtown skyline in sharp relief over the river.

Police were everywhere, always polite and often smiling.  One laughed out loud when I told him he looked like he should be a Mountie!  (He had that square jaw and strong face I remember in paintings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.) Wherever there were no police, there were volunteers instead.  I thanked a hundred of them, and there was never any question of which way to turn.  They really did the job.

Despite the river with its impressively high banks, the race is up on the plain and quite flat.  That might account in part for my good time, who knows.  I spoke with people after the race who had just run their personal best.

I would run this race any time.

  • The overall men's winner was Tom McGrath of Edmonton, finishing five minutes ahead of Thomas Omwenga of Kenya.  
  • The women's winner was Emily Potter of Alexandria, VA, fully 18 minutes ahead of the next woman.  Indeed, Ms Potter was sixth overall, besting all but five of the 365 men.  I saw her three times, and she was hauling! 
  • Sign: "Blisters are part of the game."  Indeed.  But none for me today.
  • Sign: "Toenails are unnecessary." 
  • I wish I could remember more of the signs ...
Canada is metric, so my splits are in kM:  25:10 (3k), 8:34, 8:28, 8:32, 8:45, 7:39, 9:20, 10:09, 8:14, 18:09 (2k), 15:53 (2k), 8:13, 8:01, 16:54 (2k), 8:18, 8:59, 9:35, 7:56, 8:23, 8:25, 8:41, 17:37 (2k), 16:60 (2k), 17:16 (2k), 17:23 (2k), 8:26, 9:05, 8:56, 8:39, 8:43, 8:34, 8:59, 10:20 (1.2k), total 6:03:33, pace 13:51.  The finish clock says 6:03:16, I'll take either one!

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