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Toronto Marathon 2012 - Lindsey Kuper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lindsey Kuper

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Toronto Marathon 2012 [Jun. 24th, 2012|03:36 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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I've neglected to write about the marathon I was in last month! Alex oniugnip and I headed to Toronto in early May to spend time with friends and run the Toronto Marathon -- my first time on the Toronto course.

As marathons go, Toronto is supposed to be an easy course -- essentially downhill for the first half of the race -- so I started out feeling pretty confident in my ability to PR. My plan was to start with the 4:15 pace group and see how that went. I was able to hang with them for the first 11 km or so (for comparison, the total marathon distance is 42.2 km), but started dropping behind soon after. I didn't mind too much, since I hadn't expected to manage a 4:15 pace for the whole race anyway. More troubling was the, uh, gastrointestinal distress that I started experiencing right around the 12 km mark. A toilet turned up at an aid station around 17 km, and I felt much better after availing myself of it. I hit the 21 km mark, which is roughly the halfway point, at 02:07:52. That number makes it sound like I was doing well, but since the first half of the course was downhill, I probably should've been going faster and saving up minutes for the second half.

Things took a turn for the worse a little after the halfway point, when I started desperately needing a toilet again. When I finally got to another toilet around 25 km, there was a line for it. It was pretty disheartening to stand in line, watching waves of runners go by, not able to do anything except wait. And, worse still, it eventually turned out that we were all waiting in line for an empty stall! When I finally did get out of the toilet, the 4:30 pace group had blown by, and I spent the next couple of kilometers catching them. I caught the 4:30ers around 30k or so, and I even carried the 4:30 sign for a little while, but I wasn't having an easy time of it, and the group leader eventually took the sign back because I was starting to lag.

After all that, the last 10k of the race had every right to be miserable, but in fact, it wasn't. After I dropped behind the 4:30ers, it was clear to me that I wasn't going to PR, so I just decided to relax and enjoy the beautiful, sunny morning and the fact that I was out for a run. A guy came up alongside me and complimented me on how even my pace was, and we got to talking: his name was Ali, he was in his 50s, and he'd run over a hundred marathons in his life. We spent an enjoyable twenty minutes or so trading race stories, and it was a welcome distraction from how my legs felt. Eventually, Ali needed to slow down a bit, so I wished him well, went on ahead, and finished in 4:34:13, missing my Barcelona PR by just about exactly five minutes.

In conclusion: I want a do-over, dammit! Toronto is a lovely, scenic city, and a course like this seems like the kind of course I should be able to PR on. The toilet stops (not to mention the time spent in line) should have been avoidable -- I usually don't have to stop during marathons at all, and I've never before had to stop twice. My only guess as to what might have caused it is that just before the race, I ate some apparently-gelatin-containing candy that might have disagreed with my digestive system. I had sort of blindly trusted this candy to be okay to eat before running, since it came in the race kit provided by the marathon organizers. Oops.

Pathetically small thumbnail brought to you by MarathonFoto.com.

Oh, yes: photos. The thing about race photos is that the mechanisms in place designed to keep people from downloading photos without paying for them get more elaborate every year. This year, I had to contend with various JavaScript indignities, an animated GIF watermark overlay, and an obnoxious orange server-side watermark that I found no way to get around. The unwatermarked thumbnails are so pathetically small as to be almost pointless. Alex had the idea of replacing orange pixels from the watermarked version with the corresponding pixels from the thumbnail; it might still come out looking awful, but it would be better than what I have now, and just getting it to work at all would be fun. In fact, I want to try doing it in Rust with the help of libjpeg, exploiting Rust's C interoperability features -- I've never really played with those. It might have to wait until after the POPL deadline, though.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: gwillen
2012-06-24 11:18 pm (UTC)
Man, races themselves do not really interest me that much at all, but that last paragraph amuses the hell out of me.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2012-06-25 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm glad to have served as a source of amusement. In fact, the reason it's taken so long to post this is because the watermarked photos were so bad, and I thought that if I just looked harder or did more URL hacking then surely I would figure out where they were hiding the better ones. (I'm not asking for hi-res photos -- if I wanted those, I'd pay for 'em! I just want something like, say, this -- something that I'm not embarrassed to illustrate a blog post with.) But, no, apparently they're gonna make me drag out the heavy libjpeg artillery.
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[User Picture]From: bubblingbeebles
2012-06-25 05:07 am (UTC)
i'm not sure what i would do with a first-half-downhill course. i like pittsburgh's course a bunch.

also have fond memories of finally spotting the 4:00 pace dudes at mile 22 of last year's pittsburgh, which was the moment i knew for sure that i'd succeed at breaking 4 hours.

Edited at 2012-06-25 05:08 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2012-06-26 03:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, the drawback of the first-half-downhill in Toronto is that once it's over with, there are no downhills to look forward to, and in fact, there's a 50-meter rise in elevation in the last 5k. I like the looks of the Pittsburgh course -- pretty hilly, but with the last 5 miles downhill.
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[User Picture]From: bubblingbeebles
2012-06-26 05:19 am (UTC)
pittsburgh's course's downside has been the final stretch, in my two-time experience. last year after doing 2+ straight miles on liberty and penn, it turned across the 6th street bridge, turned again, and went 1000ft more before finishing. this year was somewhat better, but there were still two turns right before the finish (and the second-to-last bit on smithfield was terrible).
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[User Picture]From: gawm
2012-06-25 07:08 pm (UTC)
you rock
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2012-06-26 03:04 am (UTC)
Thanks, G!
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[User Picture]From: pixelherder
2012-07-02 07:06 am (UTC)
I don't suppose you happen to have easy access to Mathematica? The watermark problem seems isomorphic to shadow removal and there's quite a bit that's been written about that.

Edited at 2012-07-02 07:10 am (UTC)
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