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Teachers to run in Boston Marathon
Meet two of our teachers from St. Patrick High School.
They will be representing our city and our Board as they gear up for the Boston Marathon this upcoming Monday.
English teachers, Trevor Zimak and John Power took the time to chat with us about the upcoming race.We bombarded them with questions and loved their sincere and in-depth answers.
The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most impressive road racing events. This will be John’s third Boston Marathon, and Trevor’s first.
When did you being running, and how did you get into the sport?
I started running in senior elementary school and continued throughout high school, but I never really took it seriously despite doing fairly well and making it to OFSAA every year. It wasn’t until I was 27 or 28 that I started running seriously. 2010. Two separate things got me started.
- I was helping with track and field at St. Pat's and someone was needed to run with the distance specialists. I volunteered thinking I'd be fine. The first run nearly killed me!
- I got a dog. He was an 8-month-old husky mix from the pound with endless energy. Running helped wear him down, so I started taking him for 30 - 40 minute runs regularly.
How long have you been training for the Boston Marathon?
I’ve been training for 7 years, but this marathon build started in December this year after competing at the Canadian National Cross Country 10km Championships.
Training for this year's race began in late December.
What does your nutritional and training schedule look like? Do you follow a strict regiment?
Nutrition is generally very healthy stuff - a lot of protein and carbs, as well as good sources of fats (almonds, avocado). I don’t eat a lot of sweets and never drink pop. I’m not a nutritionist, but generally you want a lot of potassium, magnesium, and calcium in your diet, as those are essential minerals to support proper muscle function. It’s also important that I always get some protein and carbs in quickly after a hard workout, to ensure the best recovery.
Training is daily, and most days consist of doubles. Saturday: a long workout (30-35 km) of total volume with anywhere from 20-25 km of hard pace specific work or interval training. Sunday: 30km of volume but broken into two runs - early morning and an evening. The AM is the bulk of the mileage. Monday: AM short run; PM workout day (usually 75 minutes total) with 25 minutes of an effort that is usually much faster than marathon race effort.These works are usually always continuous with alternating efforts. Tuesday: AM Deep-water Running (Pool Workout) PM 60-75 min easy run with 4-6 strides afterwards. Wednesday: Long Run 2hrs minimum up to 2:35:00 Thursday: Barefoot running ~30min (this helps to strengthen a lot of muscles in the lower leg) PM 60-75mins Friday: easy day - 45mins of running only.
I’ve averaged around 165km a week since the beginning of January
and topping out at 185km. Every third week is a lesser volume week to allow
Training schedule for this year has been an average of 50 miles a week over 6 days. I am also cycling and swimming, however, as I have a full season of triathlons ahead of me. I average around 14 hours of training a week with one day off.
I don't follow a strict diet other than just trying to eat healthy and get plenty of sleep.
What was one of your most difficult challenges preparing for this race?
Training through January/February/March has been difficult with the brutal weather this year. I became good friends with Miss. Treadmill this winter. HA! Training aside, teaching full time and preparing for class at night with all the marking English requires limits when and what I can do. On top of teaching and training, is a full-time family.
Weather is always a challenge when training for Boston. Since the race is so early in the season, I've had to do 2 - 3 hour runs through very cold weather. This year I finally learned to love the treadmill so I've been doing a lot of my race specific training (speed work) on the treadmill, as it's been impossible to do it outside.
The Boston Marathon is the third largest marathon in the United States. How does one mentally prepare to run such a highly publicized and reputable race?
It really makes no difference to me how many people are in the race or what race it is. Running is running and when the gun goes, I’m there to beat as many people as possible.
The size and spectacle of the race is not something that worries me. It's actually what attracts me to it as the energy amongst the runners and from the spectators is what makes it so special. I've also run the New York, Chicago, and London marathons, and they are all larger. However, there are logistical issues with Boston that make it more challenging. For one, it's a late start (10 a.m.). It's also a point-to-point course, meaning that we get bussed out to the start line in Hopkinton, Mass. at 6 a.m. and then spend 3 hours sitting in a field waiting for the race to start. The delay and the transportation means that your usual pre-race routine is impossible. What you eat and when you eat it just can't happen the way you'd like it to happen in an ideal situation. I try to practice this by eating early and then going for a walk before doing my long run on the weekend.
The course is also a very challenging one. I try to prepare for it by running routes around town with similar elevation gain and loss.
What is your best advice to anyone who wants to begin to run?
Don’t over do. Start with short runs and even run every other day. If you try to do too much, you will end up with an injury. More importantly, enjoy the experience and process. If you can’t find joy in it, chances are you won’t stick with it. It may sound odd, but I love the hurt that one experiences ¾ way into a hard workout or the pain after the first 20 miles of a marathon.
Start slow and embrace the challenge. It's really hard to start. I know that from experience. If you stick with it though, there's a point where one day you're running and 10 minutes go by and your mind has just been free to wander. Then you realize that you just ran 10 minutes without thinking about how hard it is. That's when you become a real runner. When you can just let your mind go and enjoy it.
Any words of advice to your students, who will be cheering you on from home?
Simple: Don’t let someone tell you can’t do something! You can do anything you want. But you better be willing to work for it, don’t expect it to be easy, this is something that has been instilled in me by my parents since I was a child.
However, enjoy the process and accept the pain, hardships, or setbacks that WILL happen, but remember most are only temporary. They may last a day, a week, a month, or even a year, but if you quit and give up, it lasts forever.
Endurance sports can be a great metaphor for other challenges in your life. Things are not always going to work out, but if you can find the right strategy to get you through those tough times, anything can be possible.
Trevor, this is your first Boston Marathon, how are you feeling? Are you nervous, excited; what are you most looking forward to?
I'm not as fit as I want to be for this race. I battled a very bad sickness over the March break and the week after. I had to take some serious time off and take another 10 days easy - to get back into the swings of things. I'm just going to roll with it, knowing that I have put in the base work months ago. I can't say I'm too nervous. I've run in some other races that have had strong international fields before, but this is the most prestigious race for me to date. What am I looking forward to afterwards? A huge burger and massive plates of fries drowned in gravy!
John, you’ve run the Marathon before, what are you looking forward to the most? Do you have any particular memories from past Boston Marathons that resonate with you?
I've always enjoyed the wave of sound that is the Boston Marathon. Because you're running from Hopkinton back to Boston, you run through 5 different municipalities on the way. In each of these towns, there is a roar of cheers, live bands, and drum lines waiting for you that you can literally hear from a kilometer away. However, there are points in between where there aren't a lot of spectators, and you find yourself running along a rural road with trees on either side. During those moments, you just hear breathing and feet hitting the ground. It's a really cool experience.
One more thing, there are literally only two turns in the Boston Marathon, and they come in the last mile. The entire race is a straight line you are following in an attempt to make your way back to downtown, and after you make those two short turns (a right on Hereford St. and a left on Boylston), you can see the finish line about a half mile away for the first time. On either side, there are spectators 10 deep. It's like the curtain rising on stage at a performance you're really looking forward to. It's a really special half-mile.