Chapter 8 – Pounding the Pavement

I am 9 weeks into Marathon training. Almost half way through training for the Niagara Falls Marathon, which takes place at the end of October. The last three weeks were a wild adventure in training that essentially wrapped up the Summer training season as I am know returning to a regimented work schedule, which always creates a challenge with balance of my other lives (husband, father, drummer, professional, amateur chef etc etc). However, as I reflect on the last three weeks, I am quite proud of the resolve and dedication that has been shown while training for the marathon.

I believe the part of the reason that I have higher motivation to exercise and get on my running shoes or on my bike is the realization that I have a higher motivation as a goal. I am not just running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October, but I am running the Niagara Falls marathon in memory of my beloved uncle, Brian Smylski, the former executive director, curator and founder of the Niagara Falls Children’s Museum, as well as the executive director and curator of the Niagara Falls Art Gallery after losing a battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Losing anyone to cancer hurts but my uncle was my kindred spirit. I looked like him, followed a similar path to him, remind people of him and developed a close relationship at a time in my life when I needed that relationship. I think about him often and cherish the memories that I have, but I want to keep his memory, his efforts and his legacy alive in the Niagara region. So, running this marathon in my home town, where he lived, where the museums are located to raise funds to support the educational programs he helped found, develop and implement sounds like a great way to keep his memory alive!

So, I have a moral purpose for training. I am following a pretty good training schedule that I have developed from a variety of sources, focussing on running, cycling, stretching and pilates. Over the last three weeks, my distances on the bike and running have increased and my body feels like it is adjusting the constant stress of pounding. Only time will tell if it will hold out in the long term.

Let ‘s recap the last three weeks as there were quite eventful

Week 1:

Started off week one completing in a team triathlon in Beautiful Bala Ontario with friends and family. I did a 30K bike and a 7 K run in 1:38:21. The run was a bit slow but the bike was great. Took the next day off to recover. Then ran 8K at a 5:20 pace, followed by a 44K bike at a 2:14 pace. Next day, I rant an 8K run doing negative splits (running faster each K) at a 5:15 pace and then had a nice easy 6K run at a 5:21 pace.

This week I felt great. I exercised mostly in the mornings and had decent weather and was able to take much time to stretch and foam roll after all exercise, paying special attention to my IT bands, my quads and my hamstring, which can become tighter than my dad’s wallet!!

Week 2

Long run was 19K. It was slow. And long! 6:21 pace. My IT bands hurt bad and created some jarring knee pain at 17K that slowed me down. A big concern for me is my IT bands when I pound the pavement this much! Stretching and rolling helps, but I am concerned that if they continue to flare up, my desired time of 4 hours won’t be attainable! Next day was off (thank goodness!) I think went for a lovely 36K bike ride at a 1:58 pace. Took the next day off to prepare for the longest bike ride of my life! Next day I rode 94K in 3:18:00 on the 70.3 Half Ironman bike course in Muskoka, where you essentially ride your bike around the Lake of Bays. Heaven help me! It was long, hilly, hard and did I mention hilly? My bum. Mu back. My neck. My goodness!!! The next day was a well deserved day off before I did an easy 6K run at a 5:57 pace.

The highlight of this week was obviously the 94K ride, proving to me and to anyone else that anything is possible!

Week Three

The smartest thing I did last week was take it easy after the 94K ride. The dumbest thing I did last week was ride my bike 94K a few days before our next team triathlon in Ennismore with family and friends!! I only rode my bike while my wife swam and ran, which is her first running event since an injury sidelined her close to 9 months ago (way to go Ging!). The bike was a struggle. My time was decent. I was happy (1:55 pace) but my legs felt tired! And then, I ran 21.3 K 90 minutes after the bike ride. It was the longest distance I ever ran and at 18K, my knees and IT bands were aching and hurting, but I take that as good news as they are aching later and later…..maybe there is hope! I took the next day off and then ran 6K at a blistering (for me) 5:09 pace doing negative splits. I started hill training the next day, running 5 hill repeats at 85%. I love hills. I could do hill repeats over and over all day long. Love the challenge and how it forces us to run properly and avoid heel striking and shin splint development. Next day hoped on the bike for a 28K ride, which was a nice warm up for our weekend away in Mt. Tremblant where my wife, myself and friends volunteered at the Ironman event.

Before we talk about the event, lets talk about the course. I rode the 90K bike loop with friends in 3:15:00 at a 2:10 pace. It was awesome. Beautiful, rolling hills, beautiful landscapes but not nearly as challenging and cuss word inducing as the 70.3 bike course in Huntsville/Muskoka. Now, the Ironman. It was AWESOME! Had such a great time. Got to see a wide range of athletes of a variety of calibres competing. We volunteered together and brought enthusiasm, energy and support to the riders that came through our station. We loved every minute of the weekend and I am so inspired to do this event….when I am 65 and have all the time in the world to train for it!!! Oh, yah. I also need to learn how to swim longer than one 10 metre length without sinking….

So, I head back to work. That means running after supper and after the kids are in bed. That means late night snacks, two showers a day, hydrations issues, sleep issues, televisions issues….but that is the price you pay for exercise. It interrupts your life because exercising becomes your life!!!

Can’t wait to see what the next few weeks bring.

Will my knees hold out? Can I avoid injuries? Will my IT bands ever not hurt? Why does foam rolling make me cuss? Is porky pig anatomically incorrect or just wearing pink spandex pants?

Stay tuned to find out!

For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at


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