Flying And Running. By Mike Thornton

TORONTO August 28th 2014. Digital Champion Mike Thornton started running a little more than three years ago. Like many others, he started to run to better himself physically and mentally. After getting into the best shape of his life, Mike decided to take on his first 10k. Pleased with a top 10 finish in a local race, he continued on to take on several half-marathons and even a 30k course. The 2013 edition of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was Mike’s first full 42.2k race. When he is not running, Mike works as a commercial pilot. Fitting marathon training around a busy work schedule while travelling can be tough, but it keeps him sane. Mike also enjoys running as a member of the Brant Death Racers Running Club. Connect with Mike on Twitter @MikeThorntonCA and on his blog.

Flying And Running. By Mike Thornton

What does it take to run a marathon? A lot Mike Thornton Blogof guts, a plan, and the time and commitment to that plan. Any marathoner will tell you that the hardest part of the marathon in fact is NOT the race itself. The hardest part of the marathon is the training! Training consists of months of long workouts, sweat, tears, recovery meals, icing all the sore bits… you know the drill. All of this happens while you try to carry on with your daily life. For me, this is where marathon training gets a bit challenging.

I work as a professional pilot for a cargo company in Southern Ontario. We operate daily flights across the province and into the United States. For the most part, a pilot’s schedule is usually to operate for days at a time away from home on what is known as a “pairing” where they fly to other places usually for overnight stays. Luckily, with my job I have the luxury of being home every night. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be as successful in planning marathon training around a flying schedule. Having said that, there are some challenges that do come up when balancing flying and running. Here is what a day looks like for me along with some challenges and advantages to marathon training on-the-go.

Daily schedule: So, what does a standard day look like for me? When I’m working I wake up at 5:00am to be at the airport by 6:00. By 7:30am we are flying and on the ground within 1-3 hours. After unloading the freight, we have downtime until the evening. This is so the client can do their pick-ups for the day, and we can bring the cargo back to base to be sorted for the next day’s delivery. In the 6-11 hours or so of down time, I can get my runs in. Usually after we leave the airplane for the day I eat breakfast, go for a run and depending on the workout will also hit the gym for weights. After working out, I legally need to rest to reset my duty time to be able to operate the evening flight so a nap is mandatory (Yes, my job includes naps *thumbs up*). Depending on the flight, between 4:00 and 7:00pm it’s time to head back to the airport, load the returning freight and fly home. This gets us back to base around 9:00pm. Sounds like a long day, right? It can be, but if properly balanced with rest, exercise, and eating properly it’s manageable.

Mike Thornton Blog 2Challenges: The hard part about being so mobile with marathon training isn’t so much the running itself, but complementing that much running properly. It’s easy enough to find a decent spot for a run but how about recovering? Each day, because the time away from home is so long, I have to strategically plan out each meal. I plan not just what I’m going to eat but how I am going to transport it. Will what I want to eat keep fresh? How much food do I need? What if I need more? I’ve been working the cargo gig for almost a year and a half now and I’ve got the food problem well thought out. I know what works for each meal and depending on mileage, how much food I will need. I find taking fresh fruit and veggies easy but they need to keep fresh too. Usually I can accommodate that with a hotel fridge or find a nearby grocery store at destination for other things that I need. I also bring my foam roller with me everywhere. It usually makes my co-worker for the day ask “What the heck is that?”

Furthermore, I need to stay completely organized all of the time. Every night I pack the gear I need for both indoor and outdoor runs just in case the weather is bad or we have mechanical issues and get stuck for an extra day. There is a little bit of unpredictability in the job. Sometimes you’re needed at another base or on another flight because of a maintenance issue or to fill in for someone. When that does happen and I am caught without my running gear, I take it as a rest day and never stress about it. I try not to let running ruin flying for me and vice-versa. Balance is key to success.

Lastly, sleep can also be an issue. Since I work multiple days in a row, it’s sometimes hard to come home and automatically wind down and go to sleep right away. This leads to less than the recommended 8 hours per night. Usually I end up with around 6 hours of sleep per night and take a nap from 1-3 hours, sometimes even 4 during the day following my workouts.

Advantages: My job takes me to several Mike Thornton Blog 3different places since we have bases from coast to coast, and there are lots of cool things to see. I’ve discovered amazing new trails in several different locations all across the country. This keeps marathon training interesting when things can get tough like right now at peak build. I can be in a different spot almost every day of the week running on a country trail near Kingston, a conservation area in Sault Ste. Marie, or running alongside the Detroit River. If you find yourself lacking some motivation, I suggest you take a new route or explore a trail maybe in another town. The change of scenery will keep you motivated.

The biggest advantage in my situation is that I have both a sport and a job that I absolutely love. Every day I get to enjoy my two most favorite activities, running and flying. I consider myself very fortunate to have this balance and fully embrace the challenge of managing the two. The early wake up calls during the week for work also make it a little bit easier to haul myself out of bed early on Saturdays for the long run. I should add that I get all weekends and holidays off since mail isn’t delivered on the weekends. This is a very uncommon thing for a pilot!

The balance of running and flying is about give and take. There are sacrifices made on both fronts so that I can do them harmoniously together. The match may not be perfect, but both are a work in progress that I enjoy. I have plenty to learn in aviation and marathon running and feel lucky enough that I can see lots of new things both in the air and on the trails every day. The days are long, the miles are longer but I love it. Hopefully you’ve found your balance too. See you all soon at STWM!

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Injury Ends Dylan Wykes’ Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Plan, by Paul Gains

With regret Alan Brookes, director of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon today announced the withdrawal of Dylan Wykes from this year’s race.

Wykes informed the event this week that he is unable to compete due to a suspected stress fracture in his ankle.

“I don’t actually know the specifics of the injury yet,” Wykes said. “I had originally thought it was a stress fracture. We are getting some imaging done just to clarify things. I am in a boot and on crutches at the moment. It certainly means that Toronto is out of the question at this point.

“I was dealing with a bit of a hamstring strain for a little while and ended up taking a little bit of time off for that. Then when I tried to start back up I had pain in my ankle which iswhere the ‘stress fracture’ is. It just came on over two or three days. I was dealing with the hamstring pain at the same time. I wasn’t able to put any weight on it.”

The runner who is the second fastest Canadian marathoner of all time (2:10:47) is scheduled to have a bone scan Friday in Vancouver.

“Clearly we’re disappointed to receive the news of Dylan’s stress fracture,” said Brookes, “for Dylan’s sake, as much as for the race. Anytime you have an athlete of Dylan’s calibre withdraw, it’s a disappointment.

Kelly STWM

Kelly Wiebe, Vancouver Sun Run 2012 Champion and Modo Spring Run Off 8K 2014 Champion

“But we believe we still have our best-ever men’s race on offer, with Shami Abdulahi  (Ethiopia) battling Peter Some (Kenya), and top Canadians Eric Gillis, Rob Watson and Kip Kangogo all gunning for fast times and new records. Also we are excited about Kelly Wiebe’s debut. He has been training with Dylan and Rob. But above all we wish Dylan all the best for a speedy recovery.”

Wykes whose wife, Francine, is expecting the couple’s first child in October, has spent the past week in an emotional roller coaster.

“Definitely I have been up and down I had been getting in really good shape and was looking forward to running in Toronto,” he said. “Just looking forward to reestablishing my identity – as much for myself – as a marathoner.

“At this point I get to focus my energies on Francine and the baby coming. So that is something that will distract me otherwise It would be pretty easy to get pretty down about where this puts me now.”

-30-

Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Shami Abdulahi Returns to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Chasing Records, by Paul Gains

Kenneth Mungara & Shami Abdulahai Dawud race to the line at STWM 2011

Kenneth Mungara & Shami Abdulahai Dawud race to the line at STWM 2011

TORONTO. August 26th. Three years ago Shami Abdulahi Dawud came within a step of winning the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It would have been his first international victory at the distance.

The 30 year old Ethiopian returns to the IAAF Silver Label race this coming October 19th a much more experienced and determined athlete.

Like several of his rivals he has been informed about the course record. But Abdulahi has one distinct advantage: the man who has shared detailed information on running fast in Toronto is none other than Derissa Chimsa the record holder himself. The pair are training partners.

“I remembered I lost the victory in the last meter of the 2011 race and I don’t forget the people of Toronto who support us in the race,” Abdulahi recalls. “(this time) I’ll come to win with the course record. Yes, I’m thinking to do that and I’ll try to do my best.”

Following the 2011 visit to Canada’s largest city he received an invitation to race the 2012 Dubai Marathon and took full advantage of the glorious opportunity. He recorded a new personal best of 2:05:42. Ironically the man who finished a step behind him on that occasion was Chimsa.

When Chimsa ran that impressive 2:07:05 a year ago it was, at the time, also the fastest time ever recorded on Canadian soil. It has since been beaten by another Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay who ran 2:06:54 in Ottawa this spring. Abdulahi has no doubt done the math. A new Canadian all comers record would earn him an additional $40,000 on top of the $20,000 first place prize. Significant time bonuses provide even more incentive to run fast.

Shami battles Canada's Reid Coolsaet and Kenneth Mungara through The Beach in 2011

Shami battles Canada’s Reid Coolsaet and Kenneth Mungara through The Beach in 2011

Abdulahi certainly has the credentials to chase this record. His magnificent Dubai result was not a one off situation either. Three months afterwards Abdulahi won the 2012 Hamburg Marathon in 2:05:58, his second time beating 2 hours 6 minutes.

Coming from the famed walled city of Harar about 500 kilometres directly east of Addis, Abdulahi is the second sub 2:06 man to be confirmed for the 2014 Toronto race, the other being Kenya’s Peter Some. When told that there are seven men in this year’s race who have personal bests that are faster than 2:09 he nods his approval.

“That’s good because the race will be competitive,” he declares. “No, I haven’t raced Some before but I know him. He is a strong athlete.”

Abdulahi says he was inspired by the exploits of his famous countrymen Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, who have won five Olympic gold medals between them. Winning his first 5km race in Harar gave him the incentive to follow in their footsteps and in July 2008 the Addis based Defence Force Sports Club brought him to the capital.

2011 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront MarathonSince June of 2009 he has trained with a very strong contingent of runners all of whom are represented by the Italian sports agent Gianni Demadonna. Although they push each other in training they are largely supportive of one another and, should he beat Chimsa’s Toronto course record, he doesn’t expect that to cause any rift with his friend.

“It is difficult to describe my training but I’m in a good shape and I train well and I hope
it will continue until Toronto,” he explains. “I like to train in Entoto (the mountainous region on the outskirts of Addis), mostly I do long runs there. Gemedu Deddefo and Gebeyehu Berihun are my coaches. No, there isn’t rivalry with the other athletes but we help each other always.”

Although training and the recovery takes up most of his days he admits to enjoying watching action movies on television as well as English Premier League football. The latter pastime is something he apparently shares with his rival Peter Some. The Kenyan is a committed Manchester United supporter while Abdulahi loves Chelsea. The pair, no doubt, will be aware that the two teams play one another the week following the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Abdulahi comes from a family of farmers who grow corn and sorghum in Harar. Twice a year he returns to the region to visit his parents, his three sisters and four brothers. In a country where the per capita income is $470, his running brings opportunities to provide for family as well as ensure some economic security for himself. In the future, he says, he will invest in a business but for now he is concentrating solely on his running.

With the addition of Abdulahi this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is clearly the strongest field assembled for the event. Whether the records will fall is to be seen. But both Some and Abdulahi have designs on victory as well as the record prize purse and that bodes well for the race.

For further information and entry to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon visit www.stwm.ca

-30-

Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

How YOU can become a World Record Holder at STWM! Calling all runners to take on a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ challenge!

GUINNESS GWR_NewLogo-FullColour-R-RGBBelieve it or not, on October 19th, YOU could become a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ record-holder at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, if you take on the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS Challenge! How about “Fastest Marathon as a Vegetable (male or female)”, in a wedding dress, in a gas mask, wearing armour, dressed as a shoe, a logo, a telephone box or a nut? [see complete list of current GWRs below]. It’s an opportunity that’s open to everyone who toes the start line.

“The wonderful thing about Guinness World Records is that they  give everyone a chance to be a World Record Holder,” says Race Director Alan Brookes. “I think we’ve built a reputation for record-setting at Toronto Waterfront, and quite a fondness for the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS along the way.”

Michal Kapral with Annika in the "pram"

Michal Kapral with Annika in the “pram”

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon’s Guinness World Record setting run began in 2004 when Beaches resident, Michal Kapral set a new GWR mark of 2:49:44 for the “Fastest Marathon While Pushing a Pram” with daughter Annika on board. Michal returned in 2005 to set a GWR for “joggling” – running 3:07:49 while juggling 3 balls the whole way! Instantly, a new sport was born and some great contests against Boston’s Zach Warren followed. Zach captured the record in Philadelphia in late 2005 and bettered it in 2006, before Michal reclaimed it on Toronto’s Waterfront in 2007 with a fabulous 2:50:12, which still stands today.

Since then, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon has seen a wonderful assortment of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS titles. Jefferson the Dog set a mark for the “Fastest Marathon as a Mascot” [4:16] in 2010. Stephane Hetherington ran a very impressive 2:33:58 to set a new GWR for “Fastest Marathon in a Superhero Costume” in 2012. The past two years, Maple Leafs fan Paul Statchuk has set truly Canadian GWRs, first with the “Fastest Marathon in a full Hockey Kit (including stick)” in 2012 [4:08:43]; then with “Fastest Marathon in a Lacrosse Uniform” [3:46:58].

"Maple Leafs Man" Paul Statchuk receives his GWR at the STWM 2012 Finish Line

“Maple Leafs Man” Paul Statchuk receives his GWR at the STWM 2012 Finish Line

In addition to the chance of getting your name in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS books, those attempting a new record will also be in the running for one of Scotiabank’s “Best Costume” Awards. Winners will take home cash prizes for their charities, as well as glory and lots of great media exposure! Stephane Hetherington “double-dipped” this way, setting his GWR and winning a best costume award for Start2Finish in 2012.

“The marathon is just a wonderful city festival,” says Brookes. “It’s about joy, achievement, and celebration. There is so much energy and excitement; and the record-setting runners, the costume and charity runners are a vital part of this. Fellow-runners and spectators alike love the atmosphere they bring. We hope to see lots of runners chasing a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title this year, and going the distance for their charities in fun costumes”.

If you’d like to be part of record-breaking history this year, check out the list of existing records below, then email press@guinnessworldrecords.com no later than October 1, 2014.

Please note that GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS participants must be entered in the STWM event (REGISTER TODAY) before registering online at www.guinnessworldrecords.com

APPENDIX. Complete List of Current Guinness World Records for the Marathon [August 24, 2014].

Fastest marathon by a mascot – Male – 3 hr 51 min 50 sec; Female – 4 hr 02 min 56 sec
Fastest marathon in military desert uniform – Male – 3 hr 50 min 31 sec
Fastest marathon as an insect – Male — 3 hr 32 min 41 sec; Female – 3 hr 24 min 10 sec
Fastest marathon backwards on inline skates – Male — 1 hr 39 min 59 sec
Fastest marathon barefoot – Male – 2 hr 15 min 16.2 sec; Female – 2 hr 29 min 45 sec
Fastest marathon by a linked team – Male — 2 hr 55 min 24 sec
Fastest marathon by a marching band – 6 hr 56 min 48 sec
Fastest marathon carrying a 20-lb pack – Male – 3 hr 12 min 29 sec; Female — 5 hr 07 min 56 sec
Fastest marathon carrying a 40-lb pack – Male — 3 hr 25 min 21 sec
Fastest marathon carrying a 60-lb pack – Male — 4 hr 39 min 9 sec
Fastest marathon carrying an 80-lb pack – Male — 5 hr 58 min 58 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a baby – Male — 2 hr 51 min 18 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a book character – Male — 2 hr 42 min 17 sec; Female – 3 hr 39 min 49 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a bottle – Male – 3 hr 31 min 57 sec; Female – 4 hr 54 min 36 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a boxer – Male — 3 hr 35 min 34 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a cartoon character – Male — 2 hr 46 min 40 sec; Female — 3 hr 28 min 26 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a clown – Male — 2 hr 50 min 44 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a commercial brand character
Fastest marathon dressed as a cowboy – Male — 3 hr 09 min 09 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a crustacean – Male – 3 hr 55 min 13 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a dairy product – Male — 3 hr 09 min 58 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a doctor — Male – 2 hr 53 min 11 sec; Female – 3 hr 54 min 06 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a fairy – Male — 2 hr 49 min 44 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a fruit – Male – 2 hr 58 min 20 sec; Female – 4 hr 32 min 28 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a gingerbread man — Male — 3 hr 42 min 20 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a golfer – Male – 3 hr 10 min 4 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a jester – Male – 3 hr 1 min 56 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a jockey – Male – 3 hr 08 min 30 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a leprechaun – Male – 3 hr 09 min 40 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a lifeguard – Male — 3 hr 00 min 01 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a logo – Male — 3 hr 37 min 14 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a love heart – Male — 3 hr 28 min 21 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a monk – Male — 3 hr 29 min 32 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a Mr. Potato Head – Male – 3 hr 38 min 20 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a nun – Male — 3 hr 17 min 58 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a nut – Male – 4 hr 29 min 36 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a playing card — Female — 4 hr 23 min 57 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a postman – Male — 3 hr 47 min 35 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a Roman soldier – Male — 2 hr 57 min
Fastest marathon dressed as a sailor – Male — 2 hr 52 min 32 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a shoe – Female — 4 hr 40 min 56 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a star – Male — 4 hr 46 min 45 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a sumo wrestler – Male — 3 hr 51 min 54 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a tap/faucet – Male — 3 hr 52 min 09 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a telephone box – Male — 5 hr 54 min 52 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a television character — Male — 2 hr 49 min 51 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a toilet – Male — 2 hr 57 min 28 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a vegetable – Male — 2 hr 59 min 33 sec; Female — 3 hr 47 min 15 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a videogame character – Male — 3 hr 29 min 41 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a Viking – Male — 3 hr 12 min 11 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as a waiter – Male — 2 hr 47 min
Fastest marathon dressed as a zombie – Male — 3 hr 18 min 38 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as an astronaut – Male — 3 hr 08 min 45 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as an organ — Male — 3 hr 36 min 42 sec; Female — 3 hr 52 min 02 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as Elvis – Male — 2 hr 42 min 52 sec
Fastest marathon dressed as Santa Claus – Male — 2 hr 55 min 50 sec; Female — 3 hr 43 min 20 sec
Fastest marathon dressed in an ice hockey – Male — 4 hr 8 min 43 sec
Fastest marathon dribbling a basketball – Male — 3 hr 23 min 42 sec; Female — 4 hr 28 min 11 sec
Fastest marathon dribbling a football – Male — 3 hr 29 min 55 sec
Fastest marathon dribbling two basketballs – Male — 4 hr 39 min 12 sec
Fastest marathon flipping a pancake – Male — 3 hr 2 min 27 sec
Fastest marathon in a bomb disposal suit Male — 6 hr 55 min 59 sec
Fastest marathon in a fireman’s uniform – Male — 4 hr 39 min 13 sec
Fastest marathon in a four-person costume — 6 hr 29 min 44 sec
Fastest marathon in a full-body animal costume – Male — 3 hr 31 min 36 sec
Fastest marathon in a lacrosse kit – Male — 3 hr 46 min 58 sec
Fastest marathon in a martial arts suit – Male — 3 hr 21 min 31 sec; Female – 3 hr 30 min 14 sec
Fastest marathon in a military dress uniform – Male — 3 hr 47 min 14 sec
Fastest marathon in a nurse’s uniform — Male — 2 hr 48 min 24 sec; Female — 3 hr 13 min 58 sec
Fastest marathon in a police uniform – Male — 3 hr 09 min 52 sec
Fastest marathon in a straitjacket – Male — 3 hr 49 min 48 sec
Fastest marathon in a suit – Male — 2 hr 58 min 03 sec
Fastest marathon in a two-person pantomime costume – Male — 4 hr 49 min 18 sec
Fastest marathon in a wedding dress – Male — 3 hr 00 min 54 sec; Female — 3 hr 16 min 44 sec
Fastest marathon in an American football kit – Male — 3hr 45 min 30 sec
Fastest marathon in an animal – Male — 2 hr 48 min 29 sec; Female – 3 hr 18 min 09 sec
Fastest marathon in cricket uniform – Male — 4 hr 16 min 21 sec
Fastest marathon in film character costume – Male — 2 hr 42 min 52 sec; Female — 3 hr 53 min 40 sec
Fastest marathon in full military uniform – Male — 3 hr 49 min 21 sec; Female — 4 hr 54 min 15 sec
Fastest marathon in school uniform – Male — 2 hr 50 min 17 sec; Female — 3 hr 14 min 34 sec
Fastest marathon in scout uniform – Male — 3 hr 44 min 33 sec
Fastest marathon in superhero costume – Male — 2 hr 33 min 58 sec; Female — 2 hr 48 min 51 sec
Fastest marathon on crutches – Male — 6 hr 24 min 48 sec
Fastest marathon on stilts — Male — 6 hr 50 min 02 sec
Fastest marathon pushing a pram – Male — 2 hr 42 min 21 sec; Female — 3 hr 31 min 45 sec
Fastest marathon run dressed as a snowman – Male — 3 hr 47 min 39 sec
Fastest marathon running backwards – Male — 3 hr 43 min 39 sec
Fastest marathon running with an egg and spoon – Male — 3 hr 47 min
Fastest marathon skipping – Male — 4 hr 28 min 48 sec
Fastest marathon skipping without a rope – Male –5 hr 55 min 13 sec
Fastest marathon wearing a gas mask – Male — 3 hr 28 min 38 sec
Fastest marathon wearing a wetsuit – Male — 3 hr 25 min 00 sec
Fastest marathon wearing armour – Male — 6 hr 46 min 59 sec
Fastest marathon wearing chainmail (upper body) – Male — 5 hr 49 min 07 sec.
Fastest marathon wearing flip flops – Male — 3 hr 47 min 33 sec

Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Everything I Need, I Already Have. By Lara Winnemore

TORONTO August 24th 2014. Lara Winnemore loves running and is excited to share her love of running with others as a 2014 STWM Digital Champion training for her first full marathon. Lara competed in track and cross country in school but stopped doing sports and dance in her teenage years. Fast forward 20 years and running helped Lara get back in shape after starting her family. Running was instrumental to maintaining her sanity as a working mom but in 2010 it took on a more meaningful role in assisting with her recovery after sustaining various injuries in a car accident including a traumatic brain injury. While her life looks different now, running has helped her realize that while loss shapes us it does not have to define us. We can still strive to have an amazing life! Connect with Lara on Twitter @viva_lara.

Everything I Need, I Already Have. By Lara Winnemore.

LARA Winnemore BlogMy kids always ask me after a race, “Did you win mom?” and I laugh. It’s hard to explain to a child that for even the serious recreational runner, winning isn’t necessarily a realistic expectation. But it’s a good question. What does winning actually mean? I once came in 8th in my age group (on my 40th birthday weekend no less) in a Canada Running Series 5K which was shockingly awesome, and I’ve never run that distance that fast again. For most of us, the concept of what makes a winning run is not going to be coming in first place. And so we focus on continuous improvement. Your first race in any distance is often entered with the goal to complete, and subsequent attempts for most of us are to set a new personal record or PR. At the same time, we are all aging, and at a certain point in time the experts say that means we are slowing down. I know, I know “But I never reached my full potential as a runner! I could still get faster!” And some of us will.

But we can’t ALL be outliers. I am slowly coming to accept at the age of 42, that despite my firm belief in myself, lots of running knowledge, a coach, and proper training protocols, I’m probably NOT one of those outliers. I saw huge improvements in finishing times as a beginner runner, but then I plateaued. And on top of that, I still suffer from some chronic health issues as a result of a car accident 4 years ago, so there really IS a limit to how much running I can do and as such how much faster I can get. I know I am not the only runner out there guilty of maybe putting too much pressure on herself to be AMAZING, to be BETTER, to keep STRIVING every day for more and more, despite maybe some real practical reasons why that might be a stressful and not so realistic goal long term.

So how do you balance desires, beliefs and reality? How DO we keep “winning”? Where running has taught me so much about myself and my ability to reach beyond my limitations, and has given me hope in the last 4 years since my accident that I CAN be strong again, yoga grounds me and gives me that balance. The concept of Ahimsa in yoga is really important – do no harm. Not just to others, but to ourselves. The frustration of not being able to run as well or train as hard as I used to can lead to disappointment, negative energy and harmful thoughts. And the dark side of yearning to constantly be better is always that we risk never quite being satisfied with where we are now – the idea that we aren’t YET good enough, that we need “fixing”. And then we miss out on now. Ahimsa teaches me to shift my focus away from all that – it’s the difference between goals and intentions, between winning and losing.

So instead of chasing PRs I’m now trying to experience “personal bests”. That, for me, is how I can keep “winning”. Same thing you say? In my opinion what makes a personal best run can have very little if anything to do with your finishing time. I think one of the greatest things about running is that it allows us to push beyond limits and go further physically and mentally than we can imagine. But in the same way that yoga is not just about the asanas or poses, running is not just about how fast you can go or where you place in a race.

One of the best races I ever had was also one of my slowest half marathons. But it was undeniably a personal best run for me. In May 2014 I ran the Toronto Goodlife Half Marathon as a member of Team in Training and raised $1500 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada. Unfortunately I had sprained my knee and ankle cross country skiing for the first time in the winter which kept me out of training for 6 weeks. I did have a time goal when I started my training that was PR focused – to go sub 2 hours. But after my injury all my energy went to fundraising and fulfilling my commitment to run for those who couldn’t…my goal truly became bigger than me.

I decided to run “naked” that day – without a watch or a I am Already AmazingGPS device. (Gasp!) And something amazing happened. I ran by feel. I actually noticed the CN Tower and the cheering crowds, and even the other runners all around me. I noticed my breathing. I took time to walk through aid stations and thank volunteers. I smiled at spectators. I reveled in the sun on my face, felt alive when that blustering wind hit in those last few kilometers, and actually smelled spring in the air. I was grateful to be able to run even though it was hard! I truly FELT the words of our Team in Training honoured hero Lydia as I thought about her personal story of cancer survival she had shared at our inspiration dinner the night before. “Be who you already are”. For me that meant, already strong, already good enough, already a winner. Why hadn’t I noticed these things before?

Going in to the race I set an intention to simply have a positive experience. At the race expo I stopped by a booth where you could predict your finishing time and if you guessed right, win a prize. I thought, why not! It wasn’t a primary goal for me. I made a light-hearted, nonchalant prediction that I would finish in 2:06:30. Not a PR. In fact it was 5 minutes slower than my previous 2 half marathons. Amazingly, I crossed the finish line in 2:06:39, only 9 seconds off my predicted finish time, and without running with a pace bunny or ever looking at a watch. The best part was I had actually enjoyed the race, I was there, in that moment and AWARE. I had been mindfully present. And in doing that, I met my performance goal, which had been completely secondary to my reasons for running that day. When I got home and my kids asked me, “Mommy, did you win your race?” I said for the first time, YES, and absolutely meant it as my truth.

I woke up to the world during that race, and what happened was just the beginning of what continues to be a transformative experience as I now train for my first full marathon. I’m still pushing physical limits by the mere fact of setting an intention and acting on it. I’m training to run a freaking marathon for goodness sakes. Some days I just pinch myself with giddy excitement to see if it’s really real. Other days I moan like so many of my running friends as I contemplate new distance milestones. And on the days I am fearful, when my chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia flares up, when I must put running on hold to deal with the stresses of my personal life or to care for my family, I tell myself, “I am already strong and amazing. I don’t need fixing. I will be okay”.

In running as in life, there are things we can control and things we cannot. Fundraising for a charity that is close to my heart (my dad is a blood cancer survivor), drawing inspiration from my yoga practice and the amazing people I am meeting along the way, and lacing up each day from a place of positive energy, not fear, is helping me to make every run a personal best.

On October 19, 2014 I will run my first full marathon. As I look towards the start line, my running intentions are to:

1) Run for the reasons that are best FOR ME and not to prove anything to anyone else,

2) Drop expectations and instead run with acceptance and gratitude,

3) Remain fully present in my body and aware of the world around me,

4) Celebrate every step of the way.

Pema Chodron reminds us that we already have everything we need. And it’s true. So think about the journey you have taken just to arrive at the start line, BE who you already are, and know that YOU HAVE GOT THIS.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | 2 Comments

How To Win A Marathon. By Steve Layton

TORONTO August 21st 2014. Digital Champion Steve Layton used to eat too much, eat the wrong things, and work long hours until his unhealthy lifestyle caught up with him. Obese and tired of it, Steve changed jobs, sleep habits and his diet for the better. Four years later Steve is fitter, healthier and happier and a proud member of the running community! Steve is thrilled to be running his 4th marathon at STWM and is honoured to do it again as a Digital Champion, enabling him to encourage others to test their boundaries and try running a marathon or other outdoor activities as way to get active and improve their life. Connect with Steve on Twitter @SteveWLayton and on his blog.

How To Win A Marathon. By Steve Layton.

Based on this blog’s title alone you might be Steve Finish line STWMthinking that this post will be a detailed report of how elite runners make there way on to a podium after 42.2 KM.

Nope, I’m writing this to explain how you, yes YOU, CAN WIN A MARATHON.

You win a marathon from the second you sign up for one by setting a challenge that is so big for yourself that it brings to the top the determination, self confidence and perseverance you know you have deep inside, but may not have a way to express.

You win a marathon when you realize that the challenge itself is a tangible manifestation of an obstacle you want to overcome. It can be representative of, and way to heal a deeper physical, mental or other personal obstacle you cope with everyday.

You win a marathon when you realize that running one is not just about your completing the distance, but taking the first step to start it.  This monumental single step grows your confidence with each step that follows as you run in to the unknown pushing your mental and physical abilities beyond what you thought was ever possible and beyond.

You win a marathon when unbeknown to you, your training, dedication and achievements leading up to, during and after the race inspires those around you to make positive and healthy changes in their lives as they watch you change for the better in ways that you often do not even realize yourself.

You win a marathon from the moment you announce you’re going to tackle one, to the moment you put on your finishers medal.  This is regardless of your pace / time or who finished before or after you.  None of these things matter in winning a marathon as the only person you are racing is your present self, your physical being, your fears, your uncertainties and you overcome them all the second you cross the finish line.

You win the marathon because you chose to challenge yourself when you did not have to.

You win the marathon because you chose to set an obstacle that seems to many impossible and found a way that worked for you to overcome it.

You win the marathon because once you have the experience, skills and determination that enable you to win a marathon, you realize, you have the inner strength to overcome anything.

See you all in the winners circle after #STWM.

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | 1 Comment

Kenya’s Peter Some Headlining Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

Peter racing hard at last year's Lisbon Half-marathon where he placed 2nd in 60:21. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run

Peter racing hard at last year’s Lisbon Half-marathon where he placed 2nd in 60:21. Photo: Victor Sailer, Photo Run

TORONTO. August 19th. Although his training is going exceedingly well for the upcoming Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (October 19th) Peter Kimeli Some was not quite himself this week.

The winner of the 2013 Paris Marathon, in a superb personal record of 2:05:38, took the news that his beloved Manchester United had lost their English Premier League opener quite hard.

“I like football very much and my favourite team is Manchester United,” the Kenyan marathon star explains. “My favourite player is Wayne Rooney. I hope the Dutch coach Louis van Gaal will bring Man United back to the title in England and hopefully to be the best team in the world.”

Some has experienced the ups and downs of his football team over the years, mostly by watching the side on satellite television at his home. But there’s no getting away from the fact his focus is otherwise exclusively on running well in Toronto. The race, for the seventh consecutive year, is an IAAF Silver Label race and he knows he will face a formidable field.

The course record of 2:07:05, set a year ago by Ethiopia’s Derissa Chimsa, is one target but he is also aware that the fastest time ever run on Canadian soil is 2:06:55. That standard was recorded by another Ethiopian, Yemane Tsegay, in Ottawa last spring.

“I have the plan to run a new course record in Toronto,” he declares confidently. “And that’s why it will be very important that the weather conditions are good and that there will be strong and stable pacemakers. And of course, also, a victory is important for
me.

“My long term goal is to improve my time. When I’m in the shape like last year in the Paris marathon I can run again below 2:06:00. I hope I can run faster than 2.06:55 but I cannot predict the exact time. But with the help of God’s power I will do my utmost best.”

Some remembers the Paris race very well. Against a very strong field he took roughly three minutes off his personal best to stun the favourites.

“It was a strong field in the Paris marathon,” the 24 year old concedes. “Several athletes in the field had already run a sub 2:06:00 time. When I started in Paris, at that moment, my best time was 2:08:33, which I ran in the Frankfurt marathon. But I knew I was in really good shape so I was not fearing any athlete.”

Like many of his countrymen Some used his winnings wisely choosing to build himself a new three bedroom bungalow in Kapsabet, which he shares with his wife Kangogo Cheburet and their one year old daughter Sheerlen Jebet. He continues to plant vegetables and look after his cows and chickens when he is not busy training or recovering.

Although he is managed by Dutch based Volare Sports, a company which also represents such marathon stalwarts as Geoffrey Mutai, Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto, because he lives in Kipsabet, he does not train with them, but with his own group.

“Yes, training is very competitive,” he reveals. “Several athletes in the group have already run below 2:10:00 in the marathon or below 60 minutes in the half marathon.
Some of the strong athletes in my group are Stanley Biwott and Dickson Chumba. Dickson won this year’s Tokyo marathon and, in the past, the Eindhoven marathon in the Netherlands. I’m also training together with some of my brothers like Nicholas Togom (winner of a ten mile race in Schortens, Holland August 17 in 46:32).

“I run at least 25 kilometers per day. But in my long runs I go further. Depending on my program I run sometimes 40 kilometers, sometimes 35 kilometers, sometimes 30 kilometers and sometimes 25 km.”

Quite apart from the high altitude of the Great Rift Valley where he lives and trains genetics must play a part in his success to date. His father was Some Muge, the bronze medalist at the 1983 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

“I’m inspired by my father,” Some explains. “He was a strong athlete in the past and he told me to try to become a professional runner. He also inspired my brothers to start running. My father was a farmer and well known athlete in Kenya. He became Kenyan national champion at 10,000 meters and cross country in the years 1982, 1983 and 1984.

“Unfortunately, my dad passed away when I was 8 years old. My mother encouraged me to run and she always watched and inspired me when I was running in training or races.”

Some has, in the past, represented Kenya on the world stage which in itself speaks volumes of his ability. A year ago he finished 9th in the 2013 IAAF World Championship marathon in the muggy conditions of Moscow. There he ran 2:11:47. But city marathons can be quite lucrative. Indeed, victory in Toronto would earn him $20,000 while a course record would be worth an additional $35,000. There are time bonuses on top of that not to mention a good appearance fee.

“Athletes who ran the Toronto marathon already have told me that it is a good marathon with a flat course and with good weather conditions,” he says. “I really hope the conditions will be okay this year again.”

With an international cast of elite racers and good pacing the course record could very well fall to Peter Some. Now, if only Manchester United can turn things around to make him totally content.

For more information on Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, see https://www.torontowaterfrontarathon.com

Posted in Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Holding Onto Motivation, Keeping That Determination. By Amber Renton

TORONTO August 17th 2014. Digital Champion Amber Renton was one of those individuals who often looked at marathoners and thought they were ‘crazy’. After running her first half, she was hooked and had that burning desire to keep going! She knew she wanted to be ‘crazy’ too. After having to put her marathon dreams on hold because of an injury this past spring, she’s strengthening up and getting ready to conquer STWM this fall! Originally from a small, northern town called South Porcupine (Yes, that’s a real place), Amber now lives in Toronto and works as a Respiratory Therapist. She is a plant based runner who excessively tweets about her pets, diet and journey to 42.2! She is hoping to motivate, encourage and help other fellow first marathoners cross that finish line by sharing her training experiences. Follow Amber on Twitter @gingersontherun and on her blog.

Holding Onto Motivation, Keeping That Determination. By Amber Renton.

So here I am exactly halfway through training for my first full marathon. I started training nine weeks ago and I have nine weeks left until thousands of us come together at that starting line. Really, only nine weeks ago? I feel as though I’ve been doing this forever. Being at this halfway point through training, I’m about to encounter a new level of training I’ve never experienced before and start to run distances that a few short months ago did not seem possible. I’ve been asked by people along the way how do I do it. How do I find time or the motivation to get my butt out there day after day? Motivation is the easy part, it’s all around me. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with some amazing people through social media who are run streaking, marathon training, trail running, doing relays, charity runs, you name it people are talking about it. People from all different lifestyles and communities are talking about running and sharing their stories. I am in constant awe of the running community and it really inspires me to follow what they are doing. That being said, we’ve all heard that quote that the mind will give up a thousand times before our bodies will. Sometimes we need to change things up a bit to keeps our mind motivated.

A Friendly Boost

I am very fortunate to live in a city that has multiple running clubs that are willing to take in strays. On any given day of the week you can join up with a running crew and enjoy the company of others. If ever you get sick of running alone or need a little boost in motivation I highly recommend seeking out your local running crew and joining in.  In my experience all are very accepting of fellow runners regardless of speed which was really reassuring for me. If you are a runner in this city, I can guarantee you are a part of an accepting, unbiased, extremely friendly community of amazing people. You just have to reach out and join in! Having a commitment to show up somewhere and run definitely helps give you that extra push to make sure you get that run in on those days when you feel like it’s easier to make up excuses and skip out. These are especially helpful for the longer runs to ensure that you’re running at conversation pace. The company on runs that last hours at a time is always welcome as well!

Amber Blog 1

NightTerrors Run Crew. Photo Credit: William Chaupiz

Family and friends of course can be your biggest source of motivation, after all these are usually your number one fans! Every time someone calls me crazy or insane for training for a marathon it’s a rush of motivation. People are following your progress and cheering you on. Even though running has become an everyday part of your life, you start to realize that you are inspiring people around you. Have you ever felt that excitement when you have successfully shown someone the joys of running? Some have come to rely on you for that spark in motivation. A glimmer of inspiration. Any positive impact on someone’s life is a reason for me to push harder and to keep climbing.

Avoid Monotomy, Spicing Things Up

Let’s face it, running every day is not for everyone. Although I do admire those who can do it, injury and boredom are very real possibilities for the majority of us. Cross training has done wonders for me personally. I am still not the fastest runner out there, but I am very excited that I am currently injury free and going strong! Spinning and swimming are my go to cross training workouts. Both allow me to work on my cardiovascular endurance without pounding the pavement, giving my shins and feet a bit of a break. I currently cross train three days a week and run three to four times a week. Before cross training I was bogged down with sore muscles and injuries. It’s really made such a positive difference for me and the change up keeps things interesting as there’s always a new challenge awaiting me in each of the three sports.

As you can probably tell, I enjoy change. I do get bored easily so everything about my training continues to change week to week. In addition to cross training, I vary my running routes often. If I’m doing a long run I tend to get lost in a trail system somewhere. For short tempo runs, I’ll aim for flat surfaces to better gage and maintain my speed and for those short easy runs I often don’t plan it at all.  I just let my feet direct me around the nearby neighbourhoods. Variety is key to keeping my interest. Changing up the scenery and terrain has been an easy way to accomplish this.

Music is another way to keep boredom at bay. I have a lot of music, some of it organized, some of it scattered. Although it looks hilarious clipped to my clothes, I run with my little iPod shuffle. Whatever mood I’m in I add that playlist and if I really want it to be random, I put it on shuffle. It’s as easy as that. My brain works in mysterious ways, and even if I am forced to run that same route for a little while, by changing up my playlist it’s like a whole new route altogether! Music also flows closely with my mood. If the two clash, I’m in for a messy run! Sometime even though you’ve changed up your route and music, you still can’t seem to get out of that running rut. When all else fails I recommend forgetting about your training schedule altogether. Forget about paces and the marathon ahead, leave your watch at home and just run. Enjoy your favourite landscape and route, listen to your favourite music, keep your head up, look around and run until you feel like heading home. A few of these runs can remind you why you fell in love with running in the first place. Sometimes that’s all I need to get me back on track.

Avoiding Procrastination

As marathon training progresses, more of your time is required. Some days you need to dedicate 4 hours just to working out. That’s part of the journey, the road to getting to where you want to be. Some days you wake up full of piss and vinegar, other days you wake up procrastinating through the day pushing your run later and later. Although I’m a big fan of night time running, mostly because I work well into the evening most days, I do know that if you wake up and get your run out of the way, you won’t dwell on it and have time to make excuses as to to why you can’t fit in that day. Don’t think about it, lace up and get out there. Even if you’re tired, once you get out there and running, you’re much more likely to get that full work out in. There are more times then I can count when I’ve been sore and tired and have convinced myself that I’ll only run a few km to loosen up instead of the full workout I should be doing. Once I get out there, I always end up finishing the full workout and feeling pretty good about it. The hardest part is always just getting your butt out that door when your mind is telling you to curl up on the couch.

Amber Blog 2

Pace & Mind Run Crew. Photo Credit: Inge Johnson, Canada Running Series

Writing out your schedule helps keep your workout schedule realistic. I have a monthly calendar on my fridge dedicated solely to my marathon training. I write in my workouts in two week blocks and manoeuvre things around to fit my work schedule or personal commitments. Having a hard-copy helps stick to the plan and I get this odd sense of gratification when I get to check off the day. I also keep a log and each day type out what workout I was supposed to do, what I ended up doing, and how I felt about it. This keeps me accountable to myself and to my coach. No one wants to write down and admit that they have skipped a workout!

The next time you are thinking about skipping out on a run, think about how much work you have put in to get this far. Remember those runs this past winter? I think they still haunt me! How does that saying go? Don’t look at how far you still have to go, look at how far you have come! Nine weeks will go by in the blink of an eye. Get out there whenever you can and enjoy every step. I don’t know about you, but from losing toe nails to submerging myself into ice baths, this has been one heck of a ride so far and I know that crossing that finish line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see you there!

 

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Leave a comment

Running And My Quest For Honesty. By Sally Seabrook

TORONTO August 15th 2014. Digital Champion Sally Seabrook lives and trains just north of Toronto in Barrie. Being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle has always been an important part of her life and running has played an integral role in that. Diagnosed almost ten years ago with hypothyroidism also presented a new set of physical challenges for Sally and running has certainly helped her manage the ups and downs. Committed to make her physical and mental well-being a priority, running has served a greater purpose and over the past two years Sally has been able to take on opportunities for competitive running as well. Sally is honoured to be a Digital Champion for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and determined to go the distance in 2014. Connect with Sally on Twitter @SallySeabrook13 and on her blog.

Running and my Quest for Honesty. By Sally Seabrook.

It has taken me the majority of my adult life to Sally Seabrook Blogestablish a sense of balance amongst all that I’ve committed to take on….marriage, children, career, and higher education to name a few. Ok, let me clarify that I have a sense that there SHOULD be balance but am not yet perfect at achieving said balance. I am; however, closer then I have ever been.

Registering for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and being chosen to represent this years race as one of the Digital Champion Ambassadors has given me an opportunity to reflect on my past experiences with running and my present efforts at balancing marathon training and life. During this reflection I have discovered something rather horrifying…I am one hell of a liar!

I’m not talking about the little white lies we tell to others in an effort to spare hurt feelings. Her butt probably did look big in those pants right? I’m talking about the ones we tell ourselves in an attempt to rationalize or excuse our own behaviour.

I am guilty and I’m about to open the floodgates of honesty in an attempt to shed light for those of you who may be short changing yourselves as well. Here are the biggest and most frequent lies I’ve told myself over the years.

I have small children.

Making myself a priority was a consistent struggle when my kids were young. Being a young mother I spent my time, focus, and energy being a good mother and raising my family. Like most mothers taking time away from that to focus on myself usually resulted in an overwhelming sense of guilt! On the contrary! This is a great time to instill the importance of regular physical fitness in your children. Find ways to make fitness fun and a family affair. Children shouldn’t be the reason we don’t have time to be active, they should be the reason we are active!

I’m too busy.

I had the good fortune when my children were small to be a stay at home mom. However, by the time my youngest began public school I was more then happy to thrust myself into my chosen career field. Unfortunately, this provided one more reason for me to rationalize a break from running. When in fact, this was when I needed it the most. The reality is that most mothers today are in some way or another a part of the work force and despite the fact that time is even more sparse deserves to take time for herself.

Oh no, this doesn’t impact my running.

So here it is, less that a year and a half ago, I was a smoker. Yes, I WAS consistently running at this point and lying to myself that this wasn’t impacting my performance. Seriously, what a load of crap! My aha moment came on Family Day in 2012 when I realized the extent to which I was willing to mislead myself and my health. I needed to take care of myself and I needed to set an example for my children. I QUIT!

I just ran 30K so now I can EAT ALL THE FOOD!

In the last year and a half I was REALLY careful not to turn an addiction to cigarettes to one with food. My recent marathon training has helped me do this in that I see food as having a distinct purpose: FUEL! I never thought I would have a sports nutrition plan but I do and have come to respect its importance.

I’m tired.

So I’ve come to realize that there is tired and then there is “tired”. Both of them are important in their own right. When I wake up and I’m legitimately tired, as a result of potential over training, his is a cue that my body needs a rest day. I’m learning to take a rest day and not feel guilty, but rather respect the fact that this is just as good for my body. This is vastly different then I’m “tired”. This is typically the unmotivated side of me that just wants to stay curled up in bed on a rainy morning. This is where the push comes in and the reminder that I always feel ten times better when I’m done with my run.

Well there you have it. A progression of lies and excuses over the past 22 years that have often come in handy to rationalize not focusing on myself. Marathon training has been an illuminating journey of self-discovery where self-importance has become prominent and my quest for balance seems actually possible. Although, many who look at my weekly running mileage may argue an imbalance has swung the other way, those are the people still curled up “tired” in their beds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Digital Champions, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | 1 Comment

Rob Watson: The Runner’s Runner Returns to Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, by Paul Gains

041_IJ_SVHM11_0832TORONTO. August 14th. Rob Watson remains one of the most popular runners on the Canadian scene as much for his willingness to race often as for his superb results. In 2013 alone he ran four marathons, eliciting “That’s Robbie!” comments from his peers.

When he lines up for the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 19th though, he will do so knowing his intention of smashing his own personal record of 2:13:29 is realistic. It will be ‘only’ his second marathon of 2014.

Last year he finished 11th at Boston (2:15:33), won the Canadian Marathon title in Ottawa a month later (2:18:34), raced to a 20th place finish at the IAAF World Championships in steamy hot Moscow in August (2:16:28) all before recording that personal best on the very same streets he tackles this October. That his body survived the punishment is still a surprise to the 31 year old.

“At the end of last year I was pretty banged up especially between the World Championship marathon and Toronto,” he admits. “I was barely hanging on. So to go out there and get a ‘PB’ in Toronto I was actually surprised I was able to do that. I wanted to allow myself to recover and relax this year because last year was pretty hard on the body.”

Together with coach Richard Lee, Watson, a native of London, Ontario who now resides in Vancouver, decided to change both training and his approach to the big races.

“We were kind of lucky we got away with that. ‘Next year we have got to focus on building upon this and being a little smarter,’” he remembers saying to Lee. “The big thing about this sport is you have to remain healthy and consistent so you don’t want a big injury and, when you run four marathons in a year, you are pushing the envelope and risking injury.”

Dylan & Rob

Dylan & Rob

Lee, who doubles as personal coach to Watson and his training partners, Dylan Wykes and Kelly Wiebe, as well as being the BC Endurance Project coach, is very much a hands-on coach. One of the first things he did with Watson’s training program is decrease the volume but increase the quality. Watson, a graduate of Colorado State University, now runs 200km in a week, much of it below six minute mile pace. Training with Wykes (2:10:47 personal best) has been beneficial, Watson confirms, though it can sometimes mean they run too hard.

“Yes it most certainly does get competitive,” says Watson, laughing. “That’s the thing when you have three pretty decent runners working together, somebody is going to be feeling pretty good one day, and they are going to want to push the pace a bit.

“But we are also mature and we understand the way things are. If we are doing a workout and Dylan is having a good day, the fact of the matter is he is a 2:10 guy and if he is feeling good he is probably going to thrash me. Sometimes I have to let him go and let him do his thing.”

Sensing the competitive nature of the training could sometimes pose a problem coach Lee often accompanies them on their long runs riding along on his bicycle.

“Kelly and I were out for a 37k run the other day and we were getting after it a little bit near the end,” Watson recounts. “We had coach Rich on his bike. He was like, ‘chill guys, chill, we are not out here to run fast, we are out here to run volume today so just relax.’ So it’s nice to have Richard there to put the brakes on us sometimes because we can get going. Dylan and I were supposed to go out for an easy 15 miler two weeks ago and we ended up hammering it. We had a legitimate workout two days later and we were both fried from it. Sometimes you have to be smarter.”

Another benefit of belonging to this training group is that they all live near one another in the Kitsilano Beach area of Vancouver. They socialise after training often sharing pizza and beer at Double DD Pizza which is right next to Forerunners, the running store where former Canadian marathon star, Peter Butler employs both Wykes and Watson, on a part time basis.

Watson laughs when he’s asked whether he has bought a car to replace the BMW he sold to finance his move to Vancouver several years ago.

“Actually Rich Lee gave me his old car,” Watson reveals. “It’s a 1997 Toyota Corolla and yesterday on the way to Seattle (to see the Toronto Blues Jays play against the Mariners) it went over 459,000 km. It’s not nearly as nice as my old BMW but it gets the job done. These things are indestructible.”

318_IJ_SVHM11_1259It’s a given that training and recovery take up most of his time these days. But he is also reading plenty to fill his spare time. Among the books he has been enjoying are Boys in the Boat” an account of the US rowing team that went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and Golden Spruce, a history of the British Columbia logging industry. He is also a keen fan of Manchester United and has plans, once the Toronto Waterfront Marathon is in the books, to attend a match at the legendary Old Trafford stadium. He laughs when he explains he has accumulated enough frequent flyer miles through his busy racing schedule.

For now everything is focused on getting a good result in Toronto, a race he obviously admires.

“The goal for Toronto Waterfront, I want to set a pretty solid ‘PB’” he admits. “It would be great to be a 2:11 guy; 2:12 would be alright too. I want to set myself up so that when the Olympic window opens up you have a legitimate chance to chase the standard, whatever that might be. You know I would love to run 2:11 mid in Toronto. That would be pretty sweet.

“The best thing about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is just being Canadian and running a big time marathon in Canada. There is such a positive vibe there.

“There is so much support for Canadian athletes. (Race Director) Alan Brookes and Clif and the whole Canada Running Series team, they do a really good job taking care of us. They find us good pacers. It’s a nice relaxed vibe where they take care of you and all you have to do is go out there and run.

“It’s a pretty good course. If you have a nice weather day you can run really fast on that course and hopefully we will get a nice day on October 19th. Everything else is set up for us to run fast.”

Everyone is invited to race with Rob at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront on October 19th; come out and cheer him on; maybe join him for his post-race victory reward of cookies and beer; and to definitely follow him on Twitter @robbiedxc . Race info www.stwm.ca

Posted in General | Leave a comment