The conversations depicted below cover a few of the key exchanges made during the race between fellow Liv9 teammate Shelley Doucet and I (Nat Couture), but are not necessarily everything that was said nor are they necessarily accurate. My post race alcoholic celebration binge may have affected my memory. I'm also making Shelley sound like a machine because she's probably a T-1000 disguised as a small woman. Joking aside, this was a real team effort from a couple runners with matching goals. We came up with our plans independently, but due to their similarities we consciously made an effort to work together to stick to the plan and improve our chances of a successful run. Compared to my other marathons this race was pretty business, but in a good way. We still did some high-fiving but I'd say this year they were a little more selective.
The Nat and Shelley Record Breaking Plan: (Target ~2:45 marathon)
1-Plan was for slow start, steady in the middle, and accelerate in the final 8k downhill
2-Target split at the half: 1:22-1:23
3-Slow start specific targets: First mile no faster than 6:20, and first 5k around 19:40
4-Target pace: 3:54min/km (6:17 min/mile)
5-In the second half, plan was to push hard through the Newton hills and hammer it after Heartbreak!
The primary goal was 2:45, but if we felt good the objective would become 2:43, achieved with a big negative split in the second half of the race.
The Race Play by Play
At the start, we got into the coral a bit late and figured we'd be fine in the middle to back of the coral as we didn't want to take off too quick. In hindsight we should have pushed our way closer to the front as Shelley's record required a good Gun time, not chip time, a fact we overlooked. Nonetheless, the gun went off, and we got to work.
5 mins into the race:
Shelley: "I think my watch is not working, it's showing 9min/mile; darn"
Me: "We'll use mine. We're a bit slow but not that slow.
Shelley: "Do we need to speed up?"
me: "I think we'll be ok, these people will clear out before too long. I'll try to keep us on pace"
Just after the 5k mat:
me: "That's 19:51 Shelley, so a bit slow, but should be ok given this heat"
Just after the 10k mat:
me: "That's 39:22, so we're back on pace and just need to maintain this"
On our way to the half we were ducking and weaving through people trying to stay together. Running side by side we'd fetch water, gels and Gatorade for one another. Regularly we were picking up bottles of water from the crowd just to dump on our heads to cool off. We were gettin-er-done with maximum efficiency.
Just after half marathon mat:
me: "Looks like 1:22:59. A bit slow, but given the heat, that should work out perfectly"
Shelley: "oh. ok. Yeah that's probably good"
me (already feeling the heat): "I'll do my best to try to get you to the end of the hills"
Shelley: "That would be great"
Passing by Wellsley:
Shelley (running on the right hand side of me): "You wanna trade sides?"
me: "You trying to get me in trouble? I'm gonna stay over here, you can kiss the girls"
After 25k mat:
me: "1:38:17, not sure what the 5k split is, but we're running on pace"
me: "Now we just need to get through the hills. we got this"
After first hill (around mile 16):
me: "Man, we just killed that hill. We didn't even slow down."
Shelley: "Yeah, that was awesome."
Just after mile 17 aid station:
me: "Only nine miles left."
me: "And it's really only 4 hilly ones and 5 downhill. That's nothing""
After each of the next two hills (passing loads of people on these):
Shelley: "How we doing on the hills?"
me: "We just killed it again. We're doing awesome on these hills. We hit the 30k in 1:58:06. We're bang on our pace now"
me: "Ok, let's just catch our breath, we got one more big one. Not too quick"
At the top of heartbreak hill:
We had just pushed it hard and my legs were starting to feel it big time. Shelley and I had gone to opposite sides of the road to pass people. It hadn't dawned on me that Shelley didn't know what pace we were on track for (she told me this at the finish line). This might have actually helped as she was likely nervous that she'd miss the record and ran harder because of it. I finally got close enough for one last chat.
me: "We just killed that last hill and we're back to our pace. It's all downhill now"
Shelley (Looking super strong): "Ok, good."
As we start to go down the hill, I looked at my watch and I was running 3:30 min/km and Shelley was pulling away from me.
me (yelling from across the road): "You got this now Shelley, giver! Finish strong"
I followed close behind till the 35k mat, staying within 3 seconds. In the next km or two, I could see Dan Leblanc (from Moncton) up ahead, no sign of Colin. Shelley was about 30m ahead and we both said a few words of encouragement to Dan as we passed. Shelley was gaining ground on me and there was no way I was gonna keep up.
My legs were in severe pain, and I counted each km down just hoping my legs wouldn't cramp up. I was keeping the pace pretty good, but I was digging deep to work through the twitching and stiffening of my quads. I was on the verge of cramping, just like last year.
At 38k, I couldn't see Shelley anymore but was certain she would get the record.
Finally, 1 mile left. I realized that I just had to get to Boylston and it would only be 800m from the corner. I felt like vomiting but could see the finish line. "Jeez that's far" I said to myself.
Mike McNeil (friend I was sharing a room with, yelling from stands on left): "Nat!! Nice work. You got this!"
I looked over and waved and just hoped I wouldn't puke before the finish line in front of all these people.
Shelley and Colin (Moncton) had just finished ahead of me and were just behind the finish line. Dan finished shortly after, as did Greg McCann (Fredericton). We all shared some hugs and high fives and posed for a few photos with our hard earned medals. We were all glad to be done and super happy. We also knew Shelley had the provincial record!
At this point, Shelley clearly wanted to make a scene, or show us that she's not a robot, so she let one of her calf muscles cramp up so she could fall on the ground. She also may have just wanted to get a wheel chair ride :) She still claims it was a real cramp and also that it was the first muscle cramp of her life. wow. I gave Shelley some Liv9 electrolyte capsules and we shared a 4x dose of Liv9 BCAA recovery blend and began to hobble back to our hotels. The end.
Shelley, Colin and I all broke personal records, and to boot, Shelley broke the Provincial record by nearly a minute, (2 mins if using chip time). All in all, that was one of the best race experiences I've ever been a part of and can't wait to see what's next.