Garmin Ambassador Steve Way battles virus to take on Toronto team challenge

Steve Way

By Steve Way, Bournemouth Athletic Club

So not the perfect build-up I was hoping for in my international debut. Since a couple of days after Bristol I had been suffering from a cold/virus and even though all the external symptoms had gone seven days before the marathon I was still obviously struggling as I didn’t manage to hit my five-mile split from Bristol, were I ran the “Victory 5” in 25:22.

Things didn’t improve much by Tuesday when I did my last session of nine miles with two at the marathon pace felt tough and my heart rate was close to half marathon effort – not the confidence booster I was looking for!

Tried to remain optimistic and enjoyed the build-up to the race with the rest of “Team England” in the race hotel.

Waterfront marathon 

Race morning came around and having stayed as close to UK time as possible during our stay in Toronto, I was able to get up at 3:20am for my morning jog without too much trouble.

My plan for race was simple, go off at PB pace and hope that everything felt how it should! If it didn’t then I would have to re-assess the situation and react to it. I knew our team manager Darran Bilton was planning to run the half marathon in around 68:30 so this would be perfect to latch on to.

The race started and apart from the surprise of seeing “Santa” running 5:15m/m pace (which he managed to do for a good few miles!) everything seemed to be going okay. Sat behind Darran and off we went….. unfortunately it only took a couple of miles for me to realise that my effort levels were already too high to consider continuing at this pace. Looking afterwards at my HR data my assessment was right as I was already at 168-169bpm by three miles which is close to half marathon effort.

My plan was to back off, leaving Darran to pick up the next group behind, which turned out to be the Canadian Tristan Simpson and another chap who was only running the half. This worked out well and even though I was disappointed that a PB was almost certainly off the cards I was happy that I was able to get into a respectable pace with some company.

This continued all the way to half-way and we were knocking out the miles at around 5:20-5:25m/m, respectable if not spectacular!

The halfway split came in at 70:17 and I was hopeful of a similar second half. At his point though I lost all of my running mates. The half marathon chap went his separate way to his early finish and the Canadian Tristan dropped off the pace and wasn’t seen again. (finished in 2:33)

The next eight miles were quite a dark time for me, running on my own with no-one in sight with just the knowledge that I wasn’t going to PB. My pace started to drop, going from 5:18m/m at thirteen miles to my worst split of 5:44m/m at twenty one. My effort levels also dipped, dropping to around 160bpm, this was slightly disappointing, as it felt like I was giving it my all but it shows how much harder it is mentally when you are running on your own.

Check out the full horror show in my Garmin splits!!

The only thing I had to look forward to at this stage was being caught by the lead women, who were charging through at an ever-increasing pace. They were being pulled along by train driver Paul Martelletti, who was doing a fantastic job of ensuring some new course records were on the cards. There were a couple of turn-around points where I could tell they were getting closer and so it was only a matter of time before they swallowed me up.

I knew that the women were looking for a time of 2:23:30, so assumed that they would be going at around 5:25m/m-5:30m/m pace. My plan was to jump on the back of this train and hold on for as long as I could, so I was quite surprised how fast they were going when they did catch me. Unfortunately for me, they were on a charge and I managed to hang on for around 400m before the 5:15m/m pace they were doing was too much for me. My team mate Dave Norman (also suffering from a cold)  was in this group and so I had to watch him drift into the distance as well.

Having someone to chase (albeit not very well!) did help me to pick up the pace a little and the last five miles were around 5:30m/m. Not fast enough to stop a fast finishing Cesar Lizano from passing me but I did manage to stay within a few seconds of my teammate.

My finish time was 2:23:47 and the team managed the Bronze medal in the international match, mainly due to the good performances of our ladies!

My thoughts having crossed the line………..

• Disappointed to have raced a marathon and not PB’ed, it’s the first time!

• Pleased not to have completely disgraced myself with a respectable, if not stunning time representing my country.

• Missed opportunity on a fast course in good conditions, if I look where my training and fitness levels were 4-5 weeks ago I can’t help but be disappointed with the result.

• Ouch!!  – Tip of the day, always wash your new vest before racing a marathon if you would like the tops of your nipples to still be intact at the end 🙂

I would also like to thank England Athletics and especially Ian Ladbroke for giving me this opportunity, the whole experience was great even if I didn’t manage to PB!

Steve Way is a member of Bournemouth Athletic Club and pioneer of Garmin's Run Club training academy. Providing training and competition at all levels in track and field, cross-country and road running, Bournemouth AC challenges its members to log their training sessions with their Garmin Forerunner sports watches and save, store and share their data on Garmin Connect. Members can then see where they rank in the club, track their improvement and compete against each other.