Shane Pegg – The Road to Boston

People Who Inspire Me: Shane Pegg

Shane Pegg is one of my dear closest friends.  He is a guy, like no other, who can call my BS and challenge me to be better while being incredibly supportive. (I wrote a blog post on my education blog about it: Who Challenges You?)  He is one of the guys who keeps me in check. Shane is a guy I love riding with. We are equal riders and we ride nicely, while chatting, until we spot the hill ahead and then we throw the hammer down racing to the top, because the polka dot jersey is at stake. (I hold the polka dot and green jerseys, in case you were wondering). We compete fiercely. He is a guy who can do everything and impresses me often. He kills me on the run. I am so glad he’s agreed to write about his road to the Boston Marathon. Enjoy. (I have no pictures of Shane running, so I’ve included a picture of him riding with his buddy, Lance.)

By Shane Pegg

I had two goals for my first marathon in 1996.  1) Under 4 hours , 2) Finish in top half. The result? 3:57:30 and 9078/28428. I can’t recall why I set those goals, other than the competitive side of me just wanted to beat a bunch of people.

But many memories do remain with me from that race in NYC. The lady hanging out her 4th storey apartment window yelling “Welcome to Harlem”. The bands playing on rooftops. The firefighters handing out fruit. Contributing to the world’s longest urinal. The incredible crowds cheering us on along the entire route. And the pain. The searing sensation that shot through both legs during the last 3 kms through Central Park is etched in my mind forever.  But I finished, and achieved my goals.

Fast forward 15 years. It was time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. To accomplish this, I needed to not only run my second marathon, but shave off nearly an hour from my first race to hit the 3hr 10min qualifying time required to run Boston.

The decision to take on this new challenge was based on a few factors. I have always found enjoyment in running. Getting outdoors, burning off energy and stress, observing God’s creativity in nature, reflecting on the issues and opportunities of the day, racing other strangers I encounter out running even though I know I should be running my own pace, and generally staying fit. Marathon training was a great motivator to experience all of this regularly.

Also factoring into my decision was a former roommate who started running marathons years ago and was within seconds of eclipsing my time, I couldn’t let that happen. Even the host of this blog played a role with his own ambitious Ironman goal. Somebody had to push him on his running (someone else can cover him on the swim, and we’ll leave the bike commentary for another day).

So I jumped into this latest challenge with both feet.

The target qualifying race was the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 16, 2011. A DQ Blizzard would be waiting for me at the finish line once I qualified, a large Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard. That would be my sweet little bonus reward.

I started training mid-June, four months in advance, lots of time. I kept the training schedule simple to start. 8km runs, 3-4 times a week for the first three weeks plus some Ultimate for cross-training. Soon it was 10km-12km runs 3 times a week, hills or interval training once/week and a long run on the weekend.  I updated the shoes, gradually built up distance and increased the long run by no more than 15% at a time.

It was time consuming. I would try to run early enough in the morning to minimize impact on family time but somehow our sweet little sleeping children would hear me tying my shoes and pierce the stillness with a morning greeting, generally alternating between a gentle whimper and a flat out “Daaaadddyy!” (Special thanks to my prefer-to-not-get-up-early wife for helping navigate these moments).

The Wasaga ½ marathon in early September was my one and only pre-marathon race on the training schedule. After my wife showed me how to race fast in her Olympic triathlon on Saturday, I posted a time of 1:26:23 during the ½ marathon on Sunday.  I was on track for achieving my 3:10 goal, maybe even breaking the 3 hour mark. A sub 3 hour time would actually help me successfully register for the Boston Marathon, which gives advance registration to those who run a qualifying race at least 5 minutes faster than the minimum qualifying time. This helps ensure you get in before they reach capacity, which they always do.

I felt great, felt strong, felt fast.  I had invested a lot of time in training and sacrificed sleep and family time to prepare. I was going to achieve my goal, I was going to qualify for Boston.

And then I felt it.

Two weeks before race day, half way through a 25km tapering long run. It started as an achy pain in one Achilles tendon, and then the other one. It didn’t feel right. I slowed down the pace, finished the run, and held my breath. 4 months and 800km of preparation flashed before my eyes. A last ditch effort of massage and physio later that week only validated what I already knew in my gut, not this year. It could have been worse, a lot worse. The tendons weren’t torn, yet. It was the “yet” that made the tough decision a wise decision.

So close.

Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But the Road to Boston, with all the fresh air, sunrises, turkeys, deer, and coolers filled with pop/water at the end of Mennonite’s laneways for purchase on the honour system, wouldn’t be a real road without potholes, pounding rain, wafting farm-fresh air, skunks, and injury speed bumps along the way, would it?

My goal remains, to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I plan to achieve it as soon as possible, hopefully next spring, because I love the challenge, and my DQ Blizzard is sitting across that finish line. What’s the motivation behind your next goal? And is it sweet enough that you can taste it?!