Sunday, May 8, 2016

2016 Sporting Life 10K - Start Fast, Finish Faster...

Like many Toronto runners the Sporting Life 10K has become an annual tradition for me. It's hard to turn down any race that lets you run straight down Yonge St. through the heart of the city. Limited hills, except ones that go down, also make it very appealing. It would be tough to have a faster 10k so I find it's a great confidence booster early in the year.  Each time I've run this race I've be able to improve on my previous personal best. Last year I felt terrific but went out too fast and paid the price in the final kilometers as the course flattened out. I finished in 40:36 and although I was happy with the PB I was frustrated to miss running under 40 minutes. A goal I'd known I had let slip away. This year I would chase that elusive time.

The lead up to this race was ideal. Although I entered 2016 with not the best health, the last couple months I've been feeling strong at mid-distance and during tempo and speedwork sessions. I was fairly confident that with a good lead up, and staying healthy I could achieve my goal. Coach Rejean sent me a race plan on Sunday afternoon titled Start Fast, Finish Faster. The previous week I joked with him about the relative simplicity of 5k &10k plans. Basically start fast, keep running fast and try to finish before you puke. Really, that's how these races go; Light the fire and see how long you last.

I slept well and woke up feeling pretty relaxed. I used to be a wreck before any race, however the more I race the more I am able to remove emotion and try to stay logical with myself. If you're going to talk yourself into panic then you're going to have more to worry about than just making your legs move.

I met up with my friend Billy and he gave my wife and I a ride uptown. When we arrived at the start a half hour before the gun the temperature as a perfect 5 degrees Celsius. I was able to get in some decent strides during a short warm up and made my way over to my corral and the countdown was on. Jonathan found me at the start and wished me all the best. It was nice to finally meet him in person! Hoping we can get in a run soon.

Once the gun went off I was trying to tell myself to just keep cool and run my own race. As you can see, this is still something I need to work on. I ran the first kilometer in 3:34 -  WAY fast, but I wasn't worried as I knew if I could ease back into my goal pace through the second kilometer I would be fine. I found myself tucked in with some MB Performance and Longboat runners and tried to hold the pace with them which I was fairly successful with. It's always tough to gauge this race as the downhills feel really good and you're fighting with your head not to push the pace, but you also know that when it flattens out you're going to want some time in the bank if you happen to slow. I was able to keep the legs spinning pretty well through the first 6km, which is there the fight always begins.

Not only does the route flatten out at 6k, but its where you start to feel the exhaustion start to kick in. My legs felt great but my stomach - as is usually the case - started to get the spins. Pushing your body into overdrive will do that. 6km was also where my watch started to squawk at me. I forgot I had set a pace alarm on my Garmin, so every time my pace would slow over 4 minutes per kilometer it would beep at me. I started to see some numbers I didn't like as I approached the 7km mark; 4:01, then soon after 4:12 and I knew I had to collect myself. My first thought was 'oh no, here we go' but I was comforted by my earlier splits that I had a bit of buffer - then I had a third thought which was to just suck it up and push on. I couldn't count on my buffer and with 3 kilometers to go I had no excuse to stop pushing by getting comfortable. 12 minutes of running is all that was left I told myself, just hold on 12 more minutes. It was also around here I saw some of my Pace and Mind teammates who gave me a much needed boost through their incredible support. I made the turn onto Richmond St. and knew I was going to hit my goal of running under 40 minutes but it was going to be close. That turn is always bittersweet as you know you're close to the finish but it gets flat and it can be hard to adjust coming off the downhill. It also gets quiet, and it becomes easy to pick your own head and overthink. There was also a headwind, which although wasn't too strong, it was just enough resistance to slow things a bit. I was passed by another MB Performance runner at this time and I was able to tuck behind him for a bit of a break - Thanks!

 Photo by Andrew Young

Not surprisingly, this 8th kilometer would be my slowest with a split of 4:08/km which means again my watch was yelling at me to go faster! I tried to do just that and was able to drop back down to 3:57 for the 9km with the help of a slight downhill and losing the headwind. That was short lived as as soon as we cut back westward onto Front St. the wind returned. I was feeling a good level of hurt right so it was a delight to hear my friend Sherab yelling at me to hurry up! And, anyone knows that when you see Sherab, Ray probably isn't far behind and it was pretty fast that she dispatched him to run with me through the final kilometer. Man, was the company ever needed. We shared some words and it was a great distraction. The help was compounded as we ran past the Tribe cheering section and then the final turn where the Parkdale Roadrunners have their party every year! Ray looked at me and asked if I wanted to pick up the pace for the final 300 meters and I said yes and he took me all the way through to the finish. I crossed the finish and looked at my Garmin;

 38:30 -  Mission Accomplished

Overall Place 137 / 18687 - Gender Place 121 / 7776 - Category Place 30 / 1414

 As I walked through the finishing chute another runner came up to me hearing that Ray said congrats on going Sub 40, he asked if it was my first and then told me it was his too. We chatted a bit and then wandered our different ways through the water and food stations. I searched for Carmy as I was getting my medal because I knew she was volunteering, but no luck. I did however hear an enthusiastic 'Brandon!' and turned to see Orest who absolutely killed his race (12th overall!). Another friendly runner I've become friends with online, and in passing on the MGT. It was nice to finally get to talk face to face.

A fantastic Sunday and a great day of running to cap off what has been an incredible weekend. I'm excited to build on this experience as I work towards the Ottawa half-marathon on May 29th. I hope you've all had fun running this weekend, leave me a link below so I can check it out!

Thanks for reading, have a great week,


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wake Up

There is nothing more humbling than watching a Marathon in motion. A reminder of the truth of pain and sacrifice that the memory tends to forget. Think back to a particular race or hard run, I'm sure you remember it was tough but I doubt you can remember the utter misery. The burn of your lungs, the immobilizing build of acid in your legs - it's a shit show. And, it's probably best that we don't remember this level of detail as we would probably never want to run again. It's the thrill of the triumph of mental fortitude over physical breakdown that keeps us coming back. It keeps us on the hunt for our own edge of performance. Sometimes we fall short and feel more could have been given or we push too hard leading to a dramatic crash and burn. However if we are able to accurately assess our own abilities, remove the ego and bravado we can ride on the thin line of success.

On Sunday I went to the 28k mark of the Goodlife Toronto Marathon to cheer on some runners before keeping my buddy Joe company for a few kilometers as he attempted his own BQ. 28k has always been where the mirage of the marathon begins - before quickly vanishing again. You're comfortably running away from the half-way mark, and there is less road in front of you than behind.The golden rule, when it feels good you don't push the pace. If you do, it'll only be a few kilometers later when that high comes crashing down. Witnessing the race from 28 to 42.2k was a harsh return back to reality. It's where you see the triumph and tragedy as the miles take their toll. Conditions were far from ideal for racing and there was a lot of hurt to be had.

I know I'm rambling and look, I just kinda need to get these thoughts out - even if they're not yet complete. The marathon is a beast and if there is one truth that was reaffirmed it's that in running though everything is earned, nothing is promised. I'll admit, I've been living with my head a bit in the clouds since launching this blog. The concept that if I just train harder, smarter and push myself further I will be able to run a BQ. While these things are certainly required, they by no means present a magic key to the door. No level of preparation and training will take away the pain of running a marathon. It's gonna suck. However, if I can embrace (erm tolerate?) this suffering long enough I just might be successful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Hey, hey!

     I was thinking about this whole blog launch the past few days. I mean, it's sort of like when you first start out in any relationship. You make your first impressions and if that works well you go home all giddy and plan out your next moves. You're eager to make the phone call, but too soon and you're desperate - too late and she's gone forever! ...Anyways, this is my second call to you.

I'll share with you my intentions right off the bat; I hope to squeeze out a post once a week. My life really isn't that interesting so there is a good chance I could slack off even further, but I'll try!

 Secondly, I need to come clean. Like any first date, you've been given some white lies (c'mon my wife had to have known I wasn't really Mr GQ when we first met). My truth?.. 15 minutes are unlikely to get me on the start line in Boston - that time is probably closer to 17 or 18 minutes. 15 is just the neat, round little number that gets me a Boston Qualifier (BQ).  However, because of the popularity (especially since 2013) of the race, entry numbers have skyrocketed and they've had to put a cap on the number of entries per qualifying bracket. So technically this means that running a qualifying marathon in 3:05 is too easy (the fuck?!).

What does this mean for me? Obviously I would like to run Boston and experience the rush of the crowd, the school bus to Hopkinton, the girls of Wellesley and the Citgo sign. But more than anything I just want to be able to call myself a Qualifier. To know that I have faced the challenge, fought and overcome.

So,  I hope that we can move past this early fibbage and onto better things together. Boston baby, one run at a time! That's all I have for now, as you can see from the Strava widget on the right side I had an Interval workout with my team Pace and Mind tonight, and I am exhausted and hungry. Time to recover.

Talk soon, run happy!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Welcome to 15 Minutes To Boston!

Who am I, what is this all about?

My name is Brandon and I am a 30-something runner from Toronto, Canada. Like anyone who has laced up a pair of shoes to run I have always viewed the Boston Marathon as the ultimate celebration of hardwork and dedication. While my addiction to running started innocently enough, late in 2014 I got a coach, joined a team and became a full fledged junkie. Since elevating my running I have been fortunate enough to run with some of the best runners in the country. This inspiration has forced me to ask more of myself and ignited a push to achieve. The culmination of my first year training with a team led to me running my fastest marathon yet, a 3:20 at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. In short, this race was perfect and I felt for the first time everything went right during a race. While this is awesome, it made me realize just how tough running a 3:05 Boston qualifier is going to be. I have worked so hard, and I will have to work so much harder to fight for those 15 minutes.

That is what this site is all about; The fight for 15 minutes.

I'm a realistic guy, I don't expect it to happen this year. However if I work harder than ever before, set realistic training goals I believe I can make it happen in 2017  ... And if not 2017, we'll keep fighting until it does happen. I hope to use this site as a journal of my journey towards Boston and hopefully I'll be interesting enough to keep you along for the ride!