From Centennial to Boston: a marathon tale

Carl Nash took up running in 2010 after turning 40. In April of this year, he was thrilled to complete the Boston Marathon.

By Carl Nash

Carl Nash took up running in 2010 after turning 40. In April of this year, he was thrilled to complete the Boston Marathon.

I never used to run. I decided to take it up in 2010 after turning 40 and feeling really out of shape.

That fall, I worked my way up to a 10k on Toronto Island and trained the following year (2011) for the Scotiabank Half-Marathon in October, running it in 1 hour 47 minutes. I was thrilled. And hooked!

With dreams of running a marathon (42.2 km) the following year, I started by doing track work early mornings at Mowat C.I., and running from my house down to the Port Union waterfront, then either east to Rotary Park (Ajax) or west to Morningside Park – depending on the direction of the wind! I trained for six months and completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3:44:46 – 14 seconds under my goal! I started dreaming about qualifying to run the Boston Marathon.

Boston requires running a qualifying marathon based on your gender and age, so I targeted the 2016 race when I would be in the 45-49 age category. I would need to run sub 3:25 to qualify. In November 2014 I ran sub 3:21 at the Hamilton Road to Hope marathon…and in September of the following year found out I had been accepted into the April 2016 Boston Marathon.

In October 2015 I ran a personal best once again at the Scotiabank Marathon, which improved my ‘positioning’ for Boston and helped me raise almost $5,000 for Youth Unlimited (the youth organization where I work).

In the 18 months leading up to Boston I did over 230 training runs covering over 2,700 km (not to mention biking and swimming!) to prepare. I went in uninjured and ready to go.

Our time in Boston was an amazing experience. On Friday my wife Leanne and I went to the huge Run Expo to pick up my race bib, and got to see the Jays play at Fenway Park. Saturday we took a bus tour of the course and Monday was race day of the 120th Boston Marathon, longest running annual marathon in the world.

The day was warmer than runners would prefer (20ºC and sunny) and the hilly course was into a headwind from the North East.

The Boston Marathon had over 30,000 runners organized by qualifying times. I went in ranked 9,345th. I was determined not to go out too fast and get sucked into the downhill portion to start the race, knowing that the famous ‘Newton Hills’ would be waiting for me between 27–32 km. My strategy worked well, and I passed lots of runners on the hills and the second half of the course, running the second half only 90 seconds slower than the first. Still, the wind took a toll and I finished about 2.5 minutes over my goal. My official time of 3:16:02 moved me up to 4,059th place overall (out of 30,741) and 451st for men in my age group (out of 2,879). I was very pleased! Cross one off the bucket list!

Six years ago I jogged for the first time since university. If you had told me then that I would complete the Boston Marathon, I would have thought you were nuts!

The Waterfront Trail in our community is beautiful. Hopefully I will see you there, running in our community!