Like a many of you who’ve picked up this issue, I decided to run my first marathon nine years ago because I wanted a new challenge and to get in shape. With hubris as my trusty guide I decided that, not only was I going to run a marathon, I’d qualify for the Boston Marathon. Hubris. Def init ion: e xcessive pr ide or self-conf idence. My training plan went well through that summer, leading up to my chosen race in the fall, the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon. I’d fallen in with some of the faster, more seasoned runners in my training group and successfully completed each weekly training plan. I was on course for the time I needed to qualify for Boston. Sure, people talked about this thing called The Wall, but how bad could it really be for such a gifted athlete as myself ?
One of the most humbling experiences of my life, as it turned out. Foolishly, I didn’t really respect what everyone said would come in the last quarter of the race. The first 30k or so felt great, with visions of ‘Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston,’ dancing in my head. Then the reality of what the vets in my training group kept telling me, and I only half-listened to, struck fast and hard.
Within 5k I was reduced to a grinding walk-shuff le, with well-meaning spectators taking what seemed like pity on me with shouts of “Good for you, you can do this!” Do this? I thought I would crush this! After a month of nursing my bruised ego – and a wife sick of hearing about it – I still felt I had unfinished business to take care of, so I decided to take another shot at the marathon. But this time, I came in to my training with a heightened respect for the process of preparing to successfully run 42.2 kilometres.
And even though that next marathon still kicked me in my arse, I stuck to the training process by committing to the mileage, doing strength training and listening to the vets a little more closely over post-run coffees. Three marathons later, I finally went right on Hereford, left on Boylston.
I’d found my edge, and we hope you do too, whether that’s finding the best fit for your feet in our annual fall running shoe guide (p.62), or with healthy foods to go the distance (p.24), or perhaps through the inspiring stories of those who have crossed the finish line despite incredible odds, such as Jen Stronge, she successfully pulled a loaded sled 611 kilometres to the Arctic Circle and became the first Canadian woman to complete the Arctic Ultra (p.38). Then there’s Lanni Marchant, who used her considerable edge in becoming a lawyer and one of our country’s greatest distance runners ever (p.52). There’s also Tony Machado, who took the edge he found through running marathons and paid it forward by inspiring others to make it through the infamous Wall (p.6).
Whether your “edge” means making it across the finish line, or all the way to Boston next spring, we hope this issue helps you f ind it .
Dave Carpenter at the Boston Marathon in 2017