Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

My shiny new medal for marathon number 3.

And just like that, I’m on the train heading back to Guelph. The weekend was a giant big ole bag of amazing. I love Ottawa and I’m definitely going to miss it (as I always do whenever I leave). I’m also going to miss hanging out with Mark, my friend and fellow marathoner1. Without him, my trip wouldn’t have been nearly as fantastic.

Since the marathon was to start at 7:00am yesterday, Mark and I decided it would be best to get up at 5:00am. That gave us time to eat, stretch, and mentally prepare for the 42.2 kilometre trek we were about to embark on. As per usual, we were both filled with nerves and excitement and anxiety. I tried to burn off my nervous excitement by hopping around the hotel. It didn’t really work.

Around 6:30 we left the hotel and made our way to the starting gate. The number of entrants was mind-boggling. Thousands of people were nervously pacing – some with game faces on, some laughing, others stretching. The runners spanned pretty much every age, size, and shape possible. I saw blind runners, and runners who had physical or mental disabilities. Seeing so many people accepting the marathon challenge was inspiring beyond words. It was also just what I needed to get me pumped up even more. I was excited to start. I was determined to prove to myself that I couldn’t just run a marathon, I could run two in the span of 3 weeks.

Race gear and bib photo. The sparkle is actually magic that makes running a marathon possible. True story.

I’ve got this, I kept repeating to myself.

Before I knew it Mark and I were running. Our pace felt good, my body felt good, the weather was perfect.

This run is going to be awesome, I thought.

My trusty RunKeeper reminded me every kilometre how I was doing. One kilometre down, two kilometres down. Average pace. Current pace. Before I knew it, I’d passed the 10km marker. I assessed the situation. Body feels good – check. Breathing is easy – check. Nothing feels stressed – check. Pace – 5:18 per kilometre – awesome.

I kept running and decided not to slow down. Nothing suggested I should. Fifteen kilometres – all was still good. Twenty kilometres – holy shite, I’m doing as well or better than my previous marathon.

Twenty-one kilometres. W00t! And at a 5:14 pace – even W00t!er.

Twenty-two kilometres. Woot! But with a minor blip. I hope this isn’t what I think it is I thought to myself. Just keep running – hopefully things will self-correct. Hopefully.

Pre-race photo.

Twenty-three kilometres. Crapshite. Self-correction isn’t going to happen. I have to intervene2. The minor blip had turned into a full-on disturbance in the force. For those not aware of what a disturbance in the force is, I refer you to my previous blog post here. In short – it also goes by the name of Runner’s Runs. A clever and very apt moniker for gastrointestinal cramping and suchlike that sometimes hits when one runs for great distances. In some cases, breathing can fend off the impending attack. In other cases, you’re shit out of luck (no pun intended – ha!).

Sadly, the Ottawa Marathon would end up being one of those situations where I was S.O.L. Around the 23km marker I had to stop to, um, take care of business. Sadly, when I realized that ignoring the rumbling down below would result in me being that guy who shat himself while running the Ottawa Marathon was also the moment when I realized that the closest bathrooms were behind me.

Yes indeedio folks – I had to turn around and travel backwards while running the marathon. This would be considered by most to be counter productive to finishing the race.

Regardless, it had to be done.

Parliament hill, as seen on pretty much a perfect day.

I can honestly say, I have never ever ever been so happy to see port-o-potties as I was at that point. Normally they are disgusting and gross and so full of wretched evil that I can’t even fathom going near them. Yesterday they were exotic palaces, bastions of hope and sweet relief filled with unicorns and rainbows and chirping birds and everything in the world that is wonderful3.

Once I found the bathrooms, I had to wait my turn. And wait. And wait some more. And oh sweet baby Jesus wait some more. For comic effect, you might want to picture me doing the pee-pee dance that little kids often do. Except I’m an adult4. And except it wasn’t a pee-pee dance5. For extra comic effect, you might want to imagine how awkward and challenging it was, in the heat of the moment, to remove my compression shorts. For those of you not in the know, compression shorts are tight. Skin tight. The idea is that the shorts improve circulation and keep muscles and such in place while running – so that injuries are reduced, and recovery times following a long and crazy run are minimized. This also means that getting them off in short-order is pretty much next to impossible.

Needless to say, my average pace suffered. And it continued to suffer as I had to stop several times to, um, take care of business.

Celebratory dinner at the Whalesbone. YUM.

Despite all of this, I was bound and determined to finish the marathon. I mean, I was more than half way.

So I kept running in spite of the great disturbance in the force.

The kilometres kept dropping. Not as fast as before, but I was making progress. And fortunately nothing really hurt – well, some parts were tired, and some parts were a bit sore – but nothing to the point where I thought I need to stop. In fact, beyond the disturbance in the force, the race went exactly as I wanted. I ran, and ran, and ran. I was hydrated. I was fuelled. I wasn’t injured. And I was still smiling.

When I passed the 40km marker I smiled – inside and out. I was hit with a huge case of runner’s high and I just plowed through. It was around this point – possibly earlier, I forget – when the half-marathoners merged with the marathoners in a sea of crazy-ass people running crazy-ass distances. It was also at this point that I saw someone running with a prosthetic hand. And it was at this point that I was re-inspired.

While eating this, Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” was playing in my head. Except beret was replaced with sorbet, naturally.

I crossed the finish line truly ecstatic. My chip-time ended up being 4:05 (a 5:49 average pace) – shorter than last years Ottawa Marathon, but longer than the marathon from 3 weeks ago. But honestly, I couldn’t care less about the time. I’m stoked that I was able to finish given the situation. And I’m stoked that I was able to prove to myself that I could run 2 marathons in a month (technically in 3 weeks) without injuring myself.

Afterwards, Mark and I walked around for a long while to prevent our muscles from seizing up after the abuse we had put them through. We also treated ourselves to a very tasty beer (after stretching, hydrating, and showering of course), some sorbet, and then dinner at The Whalesbone. It was the perfect end to a fantastic day of running.

Thanks again to everyone who supported me along the way. To everyone who sent me Tweets, thank you. They kept me laughing and motivated. To those who attempted to follow along on RunKeeper – thanks!

For now, I’m going to enjoy the scotch that was just delivered to me, and I’m going to consider which marathon will be my third for the year.

Because why stop at 2 when I can do 3?


1 And kick-ass marathoner at that. Mark looked the Ottawa Marathon straight in the eye and laughed. He crossed the finish line 3 hours and 45 minutes after starting. I’m so freaking proud of him!

2 I realize that self-correction and me intervening are technically one and the same, but let’s pretend that my body is a machine that has a mind of its own and I don’t always have to do things to make it feel better.

3 Today they are, once again, gross and evil.

4 Apparently.

5 Okay, it was maybe 10% pee-pee dance. The rest was, well, a dance of other sorts.


12 thoughts on “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

  1. Congratulations, Dr. Dan, on your amazing marathon time! You realize that this is a kickass time, even for someone who hadn’t had to stop several times?

    Also, I’m realizing that I’m a craptastic friend who never texts or tweets you words of encouragement during your races! My excuse, however, is that I live in the past, so by the time I wake up on a Sunday morning, you are already done your 42.2 km! You should come and run back here in the past sometime!

    Also, runner’s high >>>>>>>>>>> runner’s run.

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