The Connection Runners + triathlon

The Quebec City Marathon

So we headed up to Quebec on Friday well ahead of the storm, and based upon forecasts not expecting much of an impact in Canada other than some rain late Sunday into Monday. About 6.5 hours driving time, and the kids were great. Our hotel was in Levis, the town right across the St. Lawrence River, and we decided to stay at the Sheraton right across the street from the marathon start to keep things simple. On Saturday morning, we met up with Jim and Jen (Mrs. 12 Marathons cousin and his wife.) They drove from Halifax, Nova Scotia and were both running 5k's that weekend.

We made our way to the Expo into Quebec City to pick up our bibs and then caught a bit of the Military Band parade that marched along the same streets as the Women's 5k race that the ladies ran in. Great to see Jen and Mrs. 12 Months finish strong, and while Irene was lashing her way up the eastern seaboard it was about 80 degrees and a very nice day in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.

We had a wonderful pasta dinner together, and when we returned to hotel we saw two elite runners, perhaps Kenyan if I were to guess, stretching in the grass and doing some crunches. I have never seen someone do crunches so fast - I was in awe. Anyway, I went to bed with dreams of running like a Kenyan and was asleep by 9:30 on the verge of marathon #10.

Then the unexpected happened.

I woke up Sunday morning to the unfortunate news that the race was off. Mrs. 12 marathons didn't inform me until I rolled out of bed because she knew I wouldn't sleep if I knew it was cancelled. Late Saturday evening the Quebec City Marathon race director made the difficult (and yes, controversial) decision to scrub the marathon. His method of notifying the field of runners? Facebook. No emails were sent to our registered addresses. If my wife's cousin hadn't checked Facebook that evening and called us at 10pm, I would have strolled on down to the start at 8:15 to nothing but a phalanx of empty porta-potties. (In fact, that was exactly what happened to a number of runners who stayed in our hotel. Lots of surprised and very unhappy campers.)

I looked out the window - cloudy, and the flag of Quebec snapped in the wind, but no rain. The Facebook posting said that we could run in the half marathon which was also scheduled to start at 8:30 - but in a different part of Levis, miles away. Fortunately Jim and Jen were running in the 5k which began in Quebec City, also an 8:30 start, and being a Garmin geocaching whiz, he quickly figured out where to go and dropped me off at the start of the 1/2 before rushing across the bridge to make the start of their race. (Thanks again!)

The heavy wind and rain wasn't expected until the afternoon, so the thought process was that they could get the half marathon in, but the full marathon would take too long because it was also billed as a run/walk. Wind on the bridges was another concern, and the safety of the runners, as well as the volunteers, was always the paramount priority. So yes, I understand. A hurricane/tropical storm was churning north, and they decided to pull the plug.

However, I must admit that my initial thought was why not make it a 7:30am, or even 6:30am start, if weather was a possible threat to the full marathon? This way they could have told the runners at packet pickup at the Expo on Saturday and allowed the runners, as well as volunteers, plenty of time for the adjustment instead of scrapping the showcase race. Having runners scramble at the last minute for transportation to the half starting line was far from ideal. Also, communication could have been handled better than it was.

I waited at the demi-marathon start for about 45 minutes, and no sign of the Kenyans. I think they bagged it and went to the airport.

26.2 or not, I would go for broke. I would make lemonade out of lemons and my goal was to try to get a personal best in the 1/2 marathon distance. I came here to run and that is what I would do. I have only run one official half before, and that was the Niantic Bay last September as a warm-up for my first 12 marathon race (Maine Marathon). My time was 1:44:00, or 7:56 pace. I felt confident I could do it, but training for a full is different than a half. I had a particular pacing strategy in mind, so now I would try to run the 13.1 as fast as possible, all-out, the entire way.

There was a serious piece of artillery to commence the start of the race, could have been an M777 howitzer, and a crew of ten fired it to begin the race. BOOM! We were off.

I didn't know anything about the half course except that it linked up with the full course at some point, so I knew I would have some hills to deal with but didn't know precisely where they would be. Mile 1 was 7:00 even, a nice clip for me. Then a pretty big hill greeted me as Mile 2 began, a steep one that I hit hard and still managed a respectable 7:36 for the second mile.

We crossed the bridge and it was windy, and then wound down the highway ramp and I picked up some speed but once we made it to the Quebec City side the headwind was pretty ridiculous. I found the resistance very tough, and more often than not was in a pack of runners and drafted a bit off of the runners ahead of me but if they started to slow I would pass and then find myself fighting the wind again.

Temps were cool, but no rain. I ran with my head down for a good portion of the race, especially as we followed the river, to shield myself from the onslaught of wind. I was focused on each mile split, and when I did the math and realized that I'd beat my 1:44 mark I pushed to get as far under that as I could.

We entered old Quebec City for the final 1.5 miles or so and it is beautiful - could have been Flanders or Brittany. I managed a 1:42:13 for my chip time, good for 942/4504 runners, and 219/802 in the 40-49 age bracket. 7:48 average minute per mile is a good pace over 13.1 miles for me.

(I'm right behind the guy in the gray shirt.) After Jen and Jim finished up their 5k they met me at the finish, and again it was great spending time with them - merci beaucoup!


And setting a P.R. doesn't happen every day, so I was happy with that - but my thoughts then turned to the 12 month challenge. My September is packed wth races. Sept. 16-17 I am doing the Reach the Beach Relay, a 12 person team, 24 hour, 200-mile race from Cannon Mt in New Hampshire to Hampton Beach. The next day is the Wallis Sands Triathlon. The next weekend is the Clarence DeMar Marathon, and the week after that is the Smuttynose Marathon. Back to back marathons will be tough, but I am leaning toward making the Hartford Marathon on Saturday Oct. 15th race #12.

That will make three marathons in four weeks - yes, three 26.2's in four weeks - PLUS I'll be running three legs in in the RTB that total 18 miles. I know I can handle the running, but something has to give - and I can make the call right now I am scratching the Triathlon. Just too much at the moment, so that will free up time otherwise spent swimming and on the bike. I have all winter to improve my swim. Ironically, at the same exact time as the Triathlon is the Kittery PTA Pirate 4 Miler that lil' 12 months and I ran in together last year - so I will once again run/walk that with him. So even an 'off' day isn't really an off day.

The problem with Hartford, is that technically it will be 12 marathons, 12 months... and thirteen days. So frustrated that it won't conclude on October 2nd like I planned it would, exactly 365 days from when it all began, but I don't see any viable alternative short of running 26.2 on my own.

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The Quebec City Marathon + triathlon