The Mississauga Marathon race weekend started on Saturday, April 30, 2016 in the evening with the 10 kilometre race. It just so happens that the race route take the runners directly past my home in Port Credit, Ontario, Canada. It then proceeds along the shores of Lake Ontario to the Lakefront Promenade Park finish line. If everyone wasn’t running so hard and exerting such extreme effort, you MIGHT actually enjoy a most scenic part of town. Of course, if you paused to savor the sheer beauty of the route, you would NOT truly be running a race now would you???
For the past number of years (this was the 12th annual race), the old coach has been positioned at the top of our driveway wearing my giant Mickey Mouse gloves and enthusiastically cheering on the runners. As you can see from the video clips, they actually make a sincere effort to high five, low five, fist pump or do some combination thereof to said gloves. It never ceases to amaze me how many runners look forward to me being somewhere on a race route with my gloves – a little thing that obviously makes a positive impact on runners when they are in a tough spot mentally and physically.
On Sunday morning, May 1 (my special day – birthday, in other words!), I got out on the marathon and 1/2 marathon courses to coach, motivate and accompany a few of my runners past and present. It was one of the nastiest race mornings I have witnessed – at least in the Canadian springtime – driving rain, 3 Celsius temperature, powerful south-easterly winds…and 2 metre waves crashing on the shore. The spray actually hit the runners at certain points. In spite of this, all of the runners persevered and most crossed the finish line.
Now, back to the coach and the race route. Being in a perfect position around the 15 kilometre mark, I got shots of our local Running Room manager (Lucas) who, as an elite marathoner, finished 4th overall in just over 2:30. He moves like a cat!
Not TOO far behind Lucas came the 1st female marathoner. She looked exceptionally strong – albeit, this was only 15 kilometres into the 42.2 kilometre total. I can say she still looked strong when I saw her again at 32 kilometres.
My real mission was to seek out one of my longtime marathon clients (and good friend), Dave Harris, and support him along the route. He was just in front of the 3:40 pace bunny – exactly where he needed to be for a Boston qualifying time – at the 14.5 kilometre mark. He looked calm and strong at this point.
I also got a shot of Dave as he ran past the 16.5 kilometre mark, still looking relaxed and powerful. This was a good sign moving into the next quarter of the race. He was staying low, tight, light and forward – perfect squat-scoot technique. His shoulders were down and back and his head and neck relaxed with arms driving forward with purpose.
After riding out to the 31 kilometre mark, I quickly realized that the severe weather and sheer magnitude of running so far would take a major toll on ALL of the marathoners. As you can see, the 31 kilometre marker looked lonely and forlorn above my bike. It would stay like that for much of the race. The gaps between runners were significant – it was quite simply too difficult to hold on with a number of like-pacing runners.
By the time Dave hit the 31 kilometre marker, the wheels had started to fall off. I immediately hopped on my bike and started doing what I do best – pull a rabbit out of my runner’s hat and get them to the finish line!
I found out later that Dave started to cramp slightly in his legs around the 22 kilometre mark. At that point, he was still right with the 3:40 pace bunny. Dave knew, though, that if he kept pace, the cramping would be so severe as to cause him to walk it in. Both of us were not about to let that happen. Dave dropped down his pace but NEVER walked – a major accomplishment, all things considered. With me pulling out every motivational, insightful coaching tip in my repertoire, Dave kept up a sub 4:00 pace to the finish. He quite simply did NOT give in. After all, this was his 12th consecutive Mississauga Marathon – where he has committed to doing another 7. This totals 19 in a row completed – a promise that Dave made to his son, Cameron, who passed away at age 19.
I am proud of Dave and what he accomplished on May 1. His commitment to Cameron and CameronHelps knows no bounds. Mark my words…sooner rather than later, he will conquer the cramping and then conquer Boston.
A number of my other Team Over The Toppers are racing later in May and June. Kerry is taking on the Ottawa Marathon on May 29 whilst Kristen, Iona and Lauri are running the Niagara Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon on June 5. Also on June 5, a number of my runners will be doing the MADD Strides For Change 5 kilometre walk/run in Port Credit, Ontario – an event that I co-direct.
If you are thinking about doing a race, consider joining one of my run clinics. It will be a life-changing experience for you!!