Sunday, April 29, 2018

Cornwall Marathon Race Report

I’m writing this race report because I found zero online from the two previous years so wanted to put one up for people who were interested in this race and because a few friends have asked me to. Luckily I know a girl who’s run Cornwall and met another one on Instagram and between them they answered all of my questions.

Info: this is a point to point course that runs along the St Lawrence river. You want NW wind. Lucky for us on my race day we got SE. 😵 It’s a fairly flat course, there’s a bit of a long incline around 16k and then quite a few rollers on the back half that on a normal day would be nothing but when your legs are exhausted they’re not the greatest. We were bussed to the start and there was no shelter at the starting area. Thankfully because it was pouring rain the busses stayed and allowed us to remain on them until it was time to line up. The first couple of km is on gravel which was unfun but after that it’s all paved, some road some trail path. There were a lot of aid stations but not many of them had porta potties. Four of these stations gave out gels. I also saw a lot of ambulances on course so they have your safety in mind. I was worried with it being a smaller race that it would be pretty lonely out there but there were always people on course around me and a fair number of spectators even in the garbage weather. There was no race expo but considering there were only 250 spots for the marathon what vendors would bother coming out? Around 31k the half marathon merges with the marathon and the 10kers joined in shortly thereafter. I didn’t have any issues with it being overcrowded which was nice. I found at the Ottawa marathon once the half marathoners join in it’s insane with the number of runners. There are showers at the finish which is amazing but please remember to bring your towel. I saw way too much of women in there! Over all I thought the race was great and would recommend it 100%. Two running shoes up. LOL

Now onto my story......

Cornwall is a 4+ hour drive from where we live so hotels were required. Fab drove Ivanka and me and we left on Friday around noon. The drive to the Ottawa area is pretty boring but Fab kept us entertained with his playlist and random musical trivia. Fab and Ivanka soon found out that I like to belt out random lines from songs even though I’m an awful singer. I’m pretty sure they were happy to get out of the car after 4+ hours of that. 🤪 
Road trip!

We met Robin at the kit pickup and then went to East Side Mario’s for dinner where everyone had water and pasta for dinner. No beers. Lame. Everyone went back to their hotels after that to get ready for bed. Robin and I shared so we chatted about random stuff while we got our gear together and tried to figure out the weather. It kept changing so everyone brought a ton of clothing choices. Around 930 we turned the lights out and tried to get some sleep. 

Fast forward to 430am and Robin trying to turn the alarm off on my phone. I slept fairly well, woke up a few times in the night but was able to get right back to sleep. I got up, had my microwaved oatmeal breakfast and checked the weather. Rain. Of course. This would be my third marathon in a row in the rain. Thankfully the wind was fairly calm because it was blowing in the direction that we were running. If it was strong I probably would have said Eff this and gone home and tried to run GoodLife or Mississauga next weekend. I went over my clothing choices and decided on shorts and a tee with arm sleeves. Obviously compression socks too. I was feeling pretty constipated which was a worry and hoped I’d be able to go at the race start. We left to pick up Ivanka around 530 and headed to the race finish where we would be bussed to the start. 

The bus ride was pretty uneventful but we did find our friend Heather on the same bus so that was nice. 
Not sure what filter my phone used to make me look like Voldemort
Who knew Voldemort was also running this race?!
We got to the start and put on our rain ponchos to go get into the porta potty lines. I was freezing after a few minutes and started shivering when all of a sudden this strange pair of arms comes from behind me and started rubbing and hugging me saying “oh you’re so cold”. What the hell?! I’m not a hugger at the best of times so this was downright obscene for me. Thank God it was my turn to use the potty quickly so I was able to get away from the random rubber. I was able to “go” here but knew I’d have to go again at some point in the near future and prayed that things worked out. We made our way to the start in the pouring rain and Ivanka and i decided to keep our ponchos on for a little while longer. The gun sounded and we were off. When I was packing my things to come to Cornwall I tightened up the straps of my hydration vest but didn’t double check the fit. Well guess what. I had actually loosened them and this thing was bouncing around like a muthafugga and I could instantly feel the chafing begin. Perfect. Running in a rain poncho made out of shower curtain material is a noisy endeavour so I ditched it around 2k. Fab was still running near me at this point and I wondered if maybe I should just say forget it and run for a 4 hour finish with him because I felt slow. I checked my watch and realized that I was running my proper pace so decided to just keep going for it, I was doing better than I thought. In the weeks leading up to the race Zindine and I thought that I do better in races with a workout so he suggested I do 3 14k sets, 5:20km 5:35/km 5:20/km. I knew the last 14k was not happening at 5:20/km so set up 6 intervals of 7k and decided to assess myself after each one. Hopefully I could run the first 4 sets at the faster pace and let myself slow down at the end. The first 7k went by pretty quickly with an average pace of 5:16/km. Go me. The next 7k also went by in the blink of an eye with an average pace of 5:14/km. Nothing very eventful happened in this first 14k except rain. I was soaking wet and my fingers were pretty cold. They were giving out gels at the 8k aid station so naturally I grabbed one. I don’t use gels but they’re free so I’ll take it. Now you know I’m also cheap. LOL I stuffed it into the side pocket of my vest and it loosened the friggin thing even more. Great. Thankfully I was able to tighten the chest strap and that helped a little bit. 
It's fine. This is fine. 

Around 14k the route turns onto a main road and we run on that for about 10k. It was fairly quiet of traffic thankfully. Around 16k I could feel things going on in my tummy and knew that I was going to have to use the bathroom at some point sooner rather than later. There were not a lot of porta potties out here but there were a lot of forestry spots so if worse came to worse I had options. Always find your options when dignity is involved. You never want to be this guy. 

I soon came upon the 21km timing mat and noticed that they didn’t have a clock so I had no idea how I was doing. The way my watch was set up I could only see my 7k pace and how much I had left to go of that 7k. Now I could always press a button but my fingers were cold and I’m lazy. This 7k was an average 5:23/km. I was slowing down but nothing too bad. There had been a bigger incline in there so I’ll blame that. There had been another gel station in there so obviously I grabbed one (because I use gels so often) and I stuffed that one into my shorts pocket. It took a few tries to get it in there because of my numb fingers. Eventually we turned off this main road and were onto a paved trail. The rain had finally stopped and I was getting a bit warm, except for my numb fingers, so I pulled my arm sleeves down a bit. My gloves were soaked so I took them off and ditched them at a garbage can hoping that if I could dry my fingers out a bit they’d warm up. The rollers soon started after this but they weren’t too awful and I was still holding a sub 5:30 pace so I wasn’t too worried. My watch beeped the fourth 7k with an average of 5:27/km. 28k and i was still feeling pretty good. Was I actually going to do this?! It was around the 28k mark where my race at R2H started to fall apart so I was feeling pretty positive. 

The next 2k I was still holding a sub 5:30 pace and my fingers had finally warmed up a bit where I was able to push the button to see where I was. 30k in 2:40. Another hour and a bit to go.....if I didn’t let myself walk at all I would get my BQ. Ok, fuck this, no breaks! You’re feeling good. You can do this! Cue Ice Cube « you can do it out your back into it ». And then it happened. Right as I started to think this was going to be MY race my tummy had other ideas. Cue Ministry « IT’S TIME! » Frig. I don’t want to shit my pants in the middle of a race but I’m so close. I can almost touch my BQ. Well if Shalane can take an 8 second poo at Boston I can too and veered off to go to the washroom. Probably I was more like 40 seconds because my soaking wet shorts were sticking to my skin but I eventually got them up and took off. At least I felt better knowing that I wasn’t about to be made into an internet meme and I’d be able to look my friends in the eyes again. Obviously my pace here slipped and I clocked this 7k with an average 5:38. It’s ok, you’re still ok. It’s fine. You can do it (put your back into it). I passed the final gel station where I must have looked a bit rougher than I thought because a man was telling me I was so close now and I should take a gel while stuffing it into my hand. My fingers didn’t want to work again and I couldn’t get it into my pocket so I finised the last 10k holding this gel. It was an Endurance Tap and they’re expensive, of course I’m keeping this one! I had caught up to a lady in a white tank after this right as her kids came out to cheer her on. Even though they were girls voices I pretended that the "Go mom’s"  were for me. That’s not creepy is it? 

Finally my watch beeped for that final 7k segment and my legs were starting to feel like lead. I quickly checked my time again and figured if I could keep my pace under 6mins I’d be ok. I knew that this was going to be the longest 7k of my life and I buckled myself in for the suck. As each km clicked by my brain shouted louder for me to just walk while my legs got heavier, but I never let it win. Just keep running. You can walk in 40 minutes. You can walk in half an hour. You can walk in 20 minutes. You can do it! (put your back into it) The 10k had joined us at this point and every time someone would zip past me I’d want to shout at them “hey just take my bib with you!”. I saw some old dude with a walker on wheels flying by the other way and I thought “frig man, I need that worse than you!” I’m such a good Christian. During the last 5k I kept hearing what I thought was a business with a loud speaker outside. Beep beep beep and muffled talking. I never thought anything of it until I realized that the sound was coming from my pocket. OMG I’m pocket dialing people but I’m way too tired to give a shit (turns out I made like 20 pocket video calls LOL) All of a sudden Nicole’s voice came out of my pocket “Sam you video called us!!! Go go you can do it!!” “ I’m fucking dying” I gasped and the call ended. I looked up and saw a photographer and gave zero shits. I don’t care, I don’t even have the energy to fake it for him. Then I saw the big bridge that I had seen in the course video and knew that I was close to the finish and was so happy. OMG I’m almost at the end. “Just walk for 10seconds then” my brain said but I didn’t let it win. My BQ cushion was slowly slipping away and I knew that I didn’t have a second to spare because my cement legs couldn’t go any faster so I was just going to have to suck it up and hope for the best. My vision started to blur but I kept going. Then two little bridges came into sight and I knew the finish was right over those. And then I could see it in the distance. I said aloud just in case there was anyone on a call in my pocket that I could see the finish and shuffled my way as fast as I could until I was finally over the line and my friends were calling my name and telling me that I did it! 
Just make it stop
I’m pretty sure the first words out of my mouth were “I had to take a poo break at 30k” because obviously they all needed to know this. And now I wait until September to see if 3:19 is a good enough cushion or if I literally shit myself out of Boston, but at least I’m not this person! 

Photo cred to Heather's mom. This is literally 30 seconds after I crossed the finish line. I'm not 100% sure I have a pulse 
Chip time 3:51:41. My BQ is 3:55 because I'm old 

Overall I'm really happy with how my race went and I'm super proud that I didn't ever stop or walk other than the bathroom break. I really hope that I make the Boston cutoff because I honestly do not want to try and feel that crappy again. That last 7k was SO hard. Kudos to people who can negative split a marathon because that's messed up. LMAO Congrats to Ivanka who also got a PB and BQ, and to Fab who got a massive PB all while training for an Ironman, and to Robin who finished her 19th marathon in super fast time. And also Heather who finished in 3:30. That's nuts.


  1. I never knew you wrote this until I posted my blog and checked the right side to see other entries (including Emma's Ironman entries). This is such a great recap. You did pushed through and that's such a big deal. Once you do that you'll find the next time easier. I hope your 3:19 gets you into Boston. My fingers are crossed. It was nice bunking with you as well.

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