Run from hell

It’s sort of semi-hilarious, semi-tragic to kick off a blog predicated on the idea of attempting a sub-three marathon with a post titled the Run from Hell. But I can’t describe today’s…uh, “easy” run any other way.

Before I return to today’s perfectly horrible jaunt, I should say a few things by way of introduction. I’ve run some seven marathons, some more successfully than others. My personal best is 3:06 back in 2008 at the Valley Harvest in Nova Scotia. I’ve run strong enough previously that I believe going sub-three is possible.

Along the way, I plan to chronicle my training, talking about running and training in general, post article links, review products and more. Besides being a runner, I’ve been a journalist for over 25 years and currently write for Canadian Running as a contributing editor and have contributed to publications such as Canadian Geographic and Explore (with whom I won a National Magazine Award as part of a team for editorial package).

Why sub-three? Who set that as a goal anyway?  When and where did that become the Holy Grail of marathon running? How many people are capable of doing it? What does it take? Could anyone do it or did you have to possess special and particular physical and mental qualities? To answer these questions and many others, I decided I would train – train harder than I ever had before in my attempt to run sub-three. Currently, I am training for Boston; to clarify, it is in the fall that I hope to break that barrier. Boston is part of the work-up.

All of which leads me back to today’s run. The temperature registered above zero; outside, the trees were perfectly still. All in all, not a bad day in February to go for a run. Within a kilometre I realized I couldn’t breath, not an unusual occurrence since I have exercise-induced asthma. But by the fourth kilometre, my breathing wasn’t any better.  Normally, with the aid of my puffer, I’m good to go, at least after the first kilometre. But today I chuffed along as if an elephant was pressing down on my chest.

Then the school bus nearly ran me over. About 200 metres up the road, it had stopped to let a kid off. I heard the door shut with their hydraulic swish and then it began moving toward me. Stubbornly, I stayed on the edge of the road, not wanting to move into the verge of slush. The bus kept coming. I didn’t move. The bus kept coming. Suddenly, I was in a game of chicken with a giant yellow bus; at the last moment I stepped off into the brown slush on the road-side, shaking my fist as the bus roared past.

Turning onto the badly misnamed Broad Road, things got worse. Every two seconds a car roared past, forcing me to trot on the mix of ice and slush on the shoulder. I endured a kilometre of that before I turned again, this time onto the Smith Road, which would loop me back to my place for a six-mile run.

Apparently, the sun doesn’t reach the Smith Road. It was iced over and where it wasn’t ice, long swathes of brown slush sat like cold gruel. Gamely, I began loping along, only to start feeling faint. At 6 km, I did something I very rarely do, I walked for a couple of hundred metres. I took a gel and forced myself to begin running again. It was like being in the last throes of a marathon. It took everything I had to convince myself to keep pushing forward. I hit the small hill on Smith Road; it might as well have been Boston’s Newton Hills at this point. I slowly jogged up.

Then, on the other side, I began to feel better. Heading home I picked up the pace, only to feel as I was coming in a sharp pain in my left foot near the heel. It turns out now I have plantar. It looks like I’m off my feet for the next few days while I wait for it to subside.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this is hardly an auspicious start to documenting my journey. But it can only get better, right? I hope you’ll stay with me along the way. If nothing else, I’ll try and make the blog entertaining.

About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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One Response to Run from hell

  1. Plantar eh? Your run reminded me of the little old lady driving up the Hanwell Road as I was running down – it was about this time of the year and a lot more snow. You could just see her head above the steering wheel and no more. At first it looked like there was no one behind the wheel. She just keep coming towards me until finally I had to jump into the snow bank. Getting out of the snowbank was a lot harder than getting in, I can tell you. I wondered if she even knew I was there. She didn’t stop to see if I was okay. The joys of the longdistance runner!

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