Race recap – P.E.I. Marathon


Here we are, celebrating at the finish line on Sunday.

So how to reward yourself after running a full marathon?

That’s right, hot hamburger and fries at the Big Stop in Salisbury. Extra Ketchup? Indeed.

Anyway, still in recovery mode from the big race Sunday.

Below I’ve listed the technical details, include a time break down and other thoughts. If you are not into numbers and KM splits, this is probably a little tedious.

Later on this week, I’ll post some random thoughts on the event, the weekend and the Old Home Week-like feel at the finish line as well as a few photos.

I was delighted with the result and now, some 48 hours after the start, my legs are still aching pretty good.

Well worth it though.

Anyway, here is the recap of the race.

Awoke at 5:45 a.m. for 8 a.m. start, got ready and was not thinking much as everything was laid out the previous night. Got dressed quickly, said goodbye to Kathy, who was running the half and off I went. It is a point-to-point race from Brackley Beach to Charlottetown. We were transported to the start line by a bus convoy that was leaving at 7 a.m.

The bus convoy reminded of those buses that transport Clemson football players to the top of the stadium for their games – of course, there were not 100,000 screaming fans on hand.

The rest of the races, including my wife’s half, were looped courses, starting and finishing in front of Confederation Centre and Province House and in the heart of the city.

As it was, nerves meant I was one of the first to arrive in the general finish area and I saw the crews busily assembling staging, etc at both the start and finish locations. Saw the temp at 7C. It eventually hit 14C. I got a bagel, drank water I took with me, and was walking near a hotel when I spotted a friend of my wife’s, who was aiming to qualify for Boston (which she did at 3:48). She was eating breakfast so I stopped, said hi, sat for a few minutes but realized I forgot my Garmin at hotel (within walking distance). Not a good sign I thought.

After retrieving it, I then walked with a veteran racer down toward the bus convoy, almost getting clipped by a car as I was totally distracted. I was a border-line basket case. Another bad sign. I asked the woman, who had completed the PEI route many times as well as others, including New York, for her impressions of the course. “Oh, it’s a hard course.”

So despite the minor Garmin hiccup, and the non-accident, the timing was all good. I used the facilities, boarded one of 5 buses and off we went.

One organizer welcomed us and asked if we were ready and the response from someone behind me was “Oh my God.”

Took about 30 minutes to get there, so I sent Kathy a few texts and updated my fantasy football lineup. The mood was quiet anticipation. My only concern was the 15-20 minute line for the men’s washroom.  Similar lines for women. You can never have enough port-a-potties.

10 minutes before for the start, I was still in line but it all worked out. While waiting, had a gel and applied body glide. Very necessary in the past I have learned.

The game plan was to go conservative, try to ensure a sub-4 hour time and anything else would bonus. I had trained at 3:55 pace but who knew what the events of the day had in store.

Sticking in my head was advice from a forum on Runners World – ‘Go easy for 22 miles and then evaluate’.

I aligned with the 4-hr pace bunny after the scrambled beginnings and tried to stick with her but early on, I was not comfortable with the pacing of the 10/1 format they used, so I went on my own, pretty much.

The highlights: Final time of 3:55.16, personal best by 18 minutes. Gun time: 3:55:37.

I had the coveted negative split with a first half gun time of 1:58:28 and a second half gun time of 1:57.09. Was in 147th place at the half, 107th place at the finish in a field of 300. 293 finished the race.

Final KM was timed in 5:10, hitting 4:26 at one point. Garmin measured course at 42:26.

The final .26km, I hit 3:30 pace in my sprint and averaged 4:10. I had a lot left at the end.

31 of 42.26 kms were paced between 5:30 and 5:41, just two were above and eight were between 5:20-5:29.

Quick break of the splits

1-10km, approx 56:04 (5:41, 5:26, 5:33, 5:39, 5:35, (gel at 6.5 km) 5:39, 5:40, 5:37, 5:36, 5:36)

Flat section along beach, wind can be a factor, but it was not a factor at the start Sunday. Took 3-4 km to warm up and there was a hint of potential GI problems – this was a factor for first 30 km but I never did have to duck off course to deal with bathroom issues! A few minor hills, settled in after 5 km and had a decent rhythm. Slightly cloudy conditions but sun was breaking through for some great scenery.

10-20 km, approx 56:03 (5:36, 5:37, 5:37, 5:32, 5:29 (gel at 15km), 5:38; 5:40, 5:36, 5;37, 5:39).

Still on the paved road section, more gorgeous views. The morning light on Dalvay By the sea Sunday was a tourism marketer’s and photographer’s dream. The route was very twisty but I felt comfortable throughout. Chatted up one runner from Fredericton – Mark – and learned we had a least one common friend in the running community. The good thing through this mostly flat section that featured a few rolling hills was my comfort level. I kept telling myself not to bank time. First marathon bonking memories were still fresh and I did not want to experience the agony I endured in Moncton again. Of note, not a lot of spectators but since there was a relay component to the race, at every changeover point, there was a lot of energy and lots of people. Some stops featured bagpipers, others had a DJ rocking the tunes! There was always a surge in pace in these areas.

21-30 km, approx 55:27 (5:28 (gel at 21km), 5:35, 5:36, 5:29, 5:33, 5:29, 5:30, 5;35 (gel at 28 km), 5;38, 5:29). The halfway point, we hit the trails and it was a gorgeous run as the leaves were colourful and the winds still had not arrived. The potential GI issues were creeping back but again, it did not materialize. I did run with one lady for at 8-10 km in one of those unspoken, ‘let’s run together’ kind of ways. Turns out she finished in 3:58:xx and qualified for Boston. Very nice.  After I got to 25km, my inner coach had arrived, ‘you worked for this, stay focused, stay patient.’

It was crazy because I have never really done that before.

I am not sure exactly where it was but there was one great sign that was posted along the route said “Trust Your Training.” Perfect messaging.


This sign was perfect to see along the route.

31-40 km, approx 56:00 (5:34, 5:33, 5:40, 5:33, 5:32 (gel at 35.5km), 5:29, 5:34, 5:31, 5:45, 5:44).

The trail ended at approx 33 or 34 km and then it was time for the signature three-hill segment of the course, from 36-40 km marks. Prior to getting there, the head wind picked up (I am guessing 15-20 km per hr). Also, part of that segment, the route went through a cemetery (to which I told volunteers, that was not a good omen LOL). The first of the hills seemed like 400-500 metres and I managed to keep pace.  That was followed by a long stretch of 1.2 km, which also featured growing crowd numbers and shouts of encouragement. Very motivating. At 38 km, came the toughest hill in my opinion, approx 500 metres with a steep section in the middle (the Sobeys Hill for those who know the area). The winds were noticeable but as I went up those hills, my inner self coach followed – telling myself I was not about to blow the 22-week training plan now.

After the second hill, there was about a 750m straightaway and downhill section before the third and final hill ended essentially at the 40 km mark (the UPEI hill). I slowed but not by much as evidenced by the 5:45, 5:44 times above. I was in great shape, feeling good with a hint of emotion creeping in for the first time. I was at 3:43:40 and I was going to hit my goal.

Or so I thought.

41-Finish, approx 11:40 (5:26, 5:10, 4:13)

Just after the hills ended, two photographers were snapping photos, I assume for marathonphotos.com. I was really pleased with the race progress, mugged for the first and just as I was set to mug for the second, I felt a pull in my right calf.  It scared the crap out of me. I took two steps, fearing the worst. Thankfully, mercifully, it went away – no tear or pull, just a shock to the cardio system!

“No celebrating yet,’’ my inner coach scolded.

Of note, once the trails ended, we were running with the half marathoners and it provided a great opportunity to pass. I think I passed 55 people in the final 10 km and I was only passed by three. One of those people walked up the hills and then sprinted past me on the downhills – three times After my leg pull, she was about 75 metres ahead in the final 2.26 km stage. Once I recovered from the scare and felt good, I used her as a gauge to try and pass in the home stretch. Little did I know how much I had left and I was flying when I crossed the finish line. It was a powerful feeling.

Chip time 3:55:16; Gun time, 3:55.37. The overall results are here.

After visiting family, we embarked on a longer than normal 5-hr drive home, which featured the hot hamburger and fries in Salisbury. Monday, I was off work and basically, it was reserved for lazing around. My thighs are still super tight and I have a slight ache in my right foot and right knee. But I am much farther ahead in recovery already than the first one.

So thanks to Pfitzner’s 18/55 plan, lots of reading and the support of family and friends, I hit the goal. I am extremely satisfied.

2 thoughts on “Race recap – P.E.I. Marathon

  1. Nicely done. Surprised to see you trained at a 3:55 pace. That seems WAY fast with a goal of a 4 hour marathon.?
    Curious about the training plan? … must of been short runs?
    Been focusing on bike racing the past year … bored again … and thinking about trying to get fast running! 🙂


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