Friday, May 17, 2013

Race Report: Fredericton Marathon 2013

I wore my SF t-shirt for good luck!
I'm late writing this report because it's taken me a few days to process what happened last weekend. The short version is that I planned to run a full marathon but only managed to complete a half. Plans changed because my knee locked up at around 19k and I knew it was going to be a long, slow second half (if I managed to finish at all) and I didn't see the point of hurting myself in order to run another slow marathon. I also wanted to be able to run Cabot Trail Relay next weekend. The last time my knee locked up like that (when I ran Johnny Miles in 2011), I hobbled for a long while afterward and found running hills particularly challenging.

I can't put my finger on the precise cause of my meltdown last Sunday. I know I went out too quickly and had trouble settling into my goal pace of 6:15/km and I was still a bit congested from the flu I contracted 10 days before the race. In addition, I didn't have an ideal taper. We were in the midst of kitchen reno insanity, work was hectic, and I booked more social commitments than I should have. By the time Husband and I drove to Fredericton Saturday morning, we were both more than usually frazzled. Looking at this pic from before the race, I can see how tired I was.

On the upside, we stayed at the delightful Parkside B&B, had a great pre-race supper at the Snooty Fox Pub, and visited with friends Saturday evening. On Sunday, the weather was perfect for running (misty and 14 degrees C), the course was beautiful and I felt strong and optimistic as the race started. 

Grinning because I made it to the start line
In fact, I felt strong and optimistic until about the 19km mark when, for no apparent reason, my knee began locking up and got quite painful. I stopped several times to stretch it out but it quickly became clear that I was in serious trouble. I completed kilometres 20 and 21 agonizing about what to do and stopped just before the finish line to speak with an official about my predicament. He reassured me I could switch to the half so, with a heavy heart, I veered left to the finishers' chute instead of right to start the second lap, picked up a finisher's medal, spoke with the time-keepers so they could make the necessary adjustments and limped back to the car with Husband. Not the ending I hoped for but the right thing to do in the circumstances. 
It's annoying that I look less tired in the after picture
Needless to say, I was very disappointed. After months of training, failing to run a sub-4:30 marathon was a huge letdown. Of course, given how sick I'd been the weekend before, it wasn't a complete surprise but I couldn't help hoping I was strong enough to pull it off - even without 100% lung capacity.

The big challenge now is to figure out how to squeeze in another marathon this year. I hadn't planned to run a fall marathon since I hope to tackle Cape to Cabot in October and would prefer to run shorter "long runs" in August. However, last weekend changed all that. I'm now considering a few options. I've never run the Valley Harvest Marathon, for example - a relatively small race where I might finally be able to run a sub-4:30. The trouble is it's only a week before C2C, which isn't ideal. Another option is Maritime Race Weekend in mid-September, which would be much better timing (six weeks before C2C).

Of course, the alternative would be to accept that I blew my shot at a marathon this year and forget about trying again. Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen. We all know I'm too stubborn to give up that easily. 

Speaking of stubborn, this week on a whim I signed up for the Bluenose 5k. It's the only distance I haven't run at Bluenose and it's the event's 10th anniversary so I wanted to join in the celebration. Plus there's a very cool 10th anniversary finisher's jacket for sale. (Yup. It's all about the swag.) And maybe all the hills and speed training I did while marathon training will pay off and I'll run a 5k PB. (Unlikely given that the course includes a climb up and over Citadel Hill but a girl can dream, can't she?)  In any case, once I've finished the race, I'll head to Point Pleasant Park to take up my post as a course marshal for the half and full marathons where I'm especially looking forward to cheering for my good friend Janet and my boss, both of whom are tackling the half. The forecast looks good so it should be a great day!

Thanks to everyone who offered words of encouragement and support before, during and after my marathon attempt last weekend.  Hopefully, the next one will go better.


  1. I'm sorry you had a tough race, but you definitely did the right thing. We're in this for the long haul, so you've got to put your body first. If it's any consolation, it took me three tries to nail a sub-4:30 marathon. You'll get it at the next one when all the conditions are right. Keep on plugging!

    1. Thanks, Karla. Really appreciate your encouragement and support.

      Given how I've been feeling the past week, I feel sure I did the right thing. Hopefully, things will come together next time. I ran a 4:36 in San Francisco so I really think I have it in me. :-)

      Anyway, thanks again!!