Marathon Training – Chapter Nine – Big City to Big Country

Training for any event and being successful is dependent on a lot of factors. Effort, scheduling, diet, goal setting and time. Time is the one that I find the most precious. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time and that is time away from work, home, your family (which can be a good thing and a bad thing depending upon your situation). I am blessed to work in a profession that has extended periods of holidays and a supportive family that have allowed me to dedicate myself towards the goals as set out in my training schedule before I return to work and then struggle to find the most appropriate time to exercise and train!

These past two weeks were a test as I returned to work. The first week I attended a conference in Toronto and this past week was spent in the office. Talk about extremes! The first week was a return to the ‘Big City’ where I spent some time attending University and falling in love with the busyness and action of the city. There was always something to do, always somewhere to go and action always in…action!

Exercising in a big city has its challenges as well. I love finding a route that is continuous (without major interruptions), safe and well lit (if I am running at dusk or later). That can be a challenge in the city, as is running a route that is not lined with pedestrians, cars, bicycles and my personal nemesis, the e-bike (can’t hear them, they ride on bike paths and they can’t decide if they are bike or scooter!)

I brought my family with me to Toronto for a big city adventure. While they were off on an adventure, I attended a conference. I like the conference. Good conversation, good topics and great location. We ended early-ish the first day and that was a great time for me to personally throw on my shows and go for a run. Two conditions didn’t make it ideal. 1. I was down-town in Toronto. 2. It was HOT! However, just because it isn’t ideal doesn’t mean that you give up! So, without the help of my GPS (works intermittently), I ran based on time and feel, running by city hall, the police station, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Toronto and back. It was hot, sweaty and using Map my Run, I could see that I ran 11K in 55 minutes (remember, it was mostly flat).

The next day was conference and travel home so I didn’t get a chance to get a run or a bike in, so I decided the next day would be my big bike (in place of a run). So, I got up, ate and fuelled properly and then hoped on my bike and took a scenic ride in Peterborough County through Keene, Hastings, Norwood and Duoro. 92 Km on my bike in 3:09:23. This was important for me as not only am I training for the Niagara Falls marathon at the end of October, but I am also participating in the my last team triathlon of the season where I am doing the bike leg of a 70.3 half ironman team relay where I have to ride my bike 94km! I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

What a difference. Going from the city to the country. Although I love the bustle and action of the city, I love the calm and vastness of the country. Rolling hills, animals, little traffic and lots to look at. I love the city but I think the country is where I am most at peace with myself and the world around me.

Following a day off after the big bike ride (legs didn’t hurt that much after the ride), I went for my longest run yet. 30K in 3:00.00. It was long and slow, but fun! I helped a woman get her scooter unstuck from a rut in the pedestrian pathway as well as helped a man catch a stray lost dog on a beautiful morning on the pedestrian pathway through Peterborough Ontario. I love the path. Everyone is friendly and it is safe with few interruptions.

I felt good on the run and was great till 26k. That is when my knees become very sore and my IT bands started to flare up creating intense and sharp knee pain. A few walk breaks and a few IT band stretches and I was working through the pain. That is the bad news. The good news is the IT band / knee pain is coming later and later in every workout, which is great news to me!

The next week (or this past week) I was back to work in the office. Exercise was a challenge as I had to balance work and family schedules, so I did a lot of my running at night, with my new friend, the head lamp!

photo (1)

The head lamp is not used because I cant see. It is used so that others can see me, especially when I am running on the roads at or after dusk. For instance, I ran 10K,  ran 7 hills and a quick 6K last week at or after 9:00 PM! As the weather gets cooler and darker earlier, I will also start to wear my safety vest and head lamp so that I am even more noticeable when running.

Lastly, yesterday was my biggest run to date. 32K from Sandy Beach near Ennismore to Bobcaygeon. It took 3:20K, was slow but that also had to do with a few factors;

1. I left my fuel bottles for my fuel belt at home and had to run without any fluids (although bottles were planted on the route).

2. It was hot!

3. I was running on a busy highway

4. I have never EVER run that distance

Good news. No jarring or sharp knee pain or IT band issues. Bad news. If any, it had to do with time and feel, as I was tired late in the run but I attribute that to the heat and lack of fluids. I had a good soak in the tub and a good stretch following my fun and after a soak.

So, I am re-adjusting to running after the kids go to bed, in the dark. However, this is the deal you have to make with your inner devil to get in your mileage and exercise. There is only a limited amount of time in each day and you have to figure out what works for you.

Next week, work kicks into high gear and I am ‘tapering’ from the bike in anticipation of my 92K bike ride next Sunday at the 70.3 half ironman event in Huntsville!

Stay tuned!

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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