As his training peaks, Terrace runner Brent Webb has only a few more weeks to go before the Boston Marathon April 16.
The 54-year-old runner picked up running again over three years ago, after dropping off from the sport for close to 30 years after high school.
But he threw himself into the sport full force, driven by the taste of fitness and fullness in his lungs.
He ran his first 21K half marathon that same year, 2014, and his first full marathon the following year, 2015, already aiming to qualify for Boston.
It was his third full marathon, in Victoria October 2016, when he qualified for Boston, finishing the 42K in 3:22:07, a full eight minutes under Boston’s elite 3:30:00 cutoff for men age 50-54.
Since then, Webb has mastered two more marathons, both in Vancouver last year.
The first was in May 2017 with a time of 3:23:14, and the second in October in 3:18:22. (The average is roughly 4:20:00 for males in a marathon, according to Running USA.)
Webb says he was disappointed with his finish time in May, about a minute longer than his prior time, so he hired running coach Rob Watson from M2M: Mild to Marathon, who corresponds from Vancouver.
Having a coach organizing and adjusting his training schedule gives Webb peace of mind that his training is staying on track, even when things like illness or busyness alter his training.
Webb’s most recent race was a February half-marathon in Vancouver, where he finished in 1:33:00.
Looking ahead to Boston, Webb is nearing his training peak, with a five-day regime that includes long distance runs, now at 38K, and speed-based tempo runs, with 5K intervals at “a snappy pace,” now at 3:55 per km.
It will be Webb’s first time running in the Boston Marathon, but he is aiming for his fastest time yet: a finish of 3:15:00.
“That would be my best time ever,” Webb said, adding that there are a lot of unknown factors since he hasn’t run the Boston Marathon before.
He’s read up a lot on the run, known for its series of four hills, particularly the renowned Heartbreak Hill.
“Heartbreak Hill is actually very similar to Kalum hill or Lanfear hill,” said Webb. “It’s a very similar elevation and a very similar length.”
But the estimated 28-metre climb has a 3.3 per cent grade and is positioned between the 25K and 30K mark, a time when most runners ‘hit the wall,’ noted Webb, adding that’s why its such a challenge for most runners.
“It’s a finisher for a lot of people,” Webb said.
“That’s the unknown (for me)… I’m nervous — or the positive word would be — respectful, of the hills,” he said.
But more than the hills, Webb says it’s the crowds and navigation challenges that worry him most.
With 30,000 runners each year, the Boston Marathon has an estimated 500,000 spectators and involves an early-morning bus ride to transport the thousands of runners from the city to the start line.
“That makes me nervous… just the logistics of getting yourself there and set up,” he said.
There’s also the challenge of locating his wife amidst the crowd after he’s finished the race, a time when he expects to be drained and chilled to the bone.
And yet, Webb says he’s also excited.
“Just being able to be part of such a phenomenal world-class run just kind of blows your mind,” he said.
“You’re training for a marathon, but it’s not just a marathon. It’s the big marathon… it’s the Boston.”