Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Race day in 12 days!

I am quite excited about the April Fool's Run race now when before it was simply my race before my big race, or my "B race", per se. I registered for this year's race soon after completing the race last year because of a really good discount, not knowing what this year held for racing plans. And now suddenly over the last couple weeks, I am actually focusing on it with the mentality of "let's see what I got!" And through talking up the race, I also recruited 2 of my TNT teammates to join me at the race. It's going to be a fun weekend.

I was quite pleased yesterday when I contacted the Fool's Run race director, Teresa, about having Team In Training brochures available at package pickup for the race, throwing in there that I'm excited about the race. She responded by asking if she could quote me in an upcoming media release. So my excitement is noticeable, I suppose. :) Check out the media release here.

And over the last couple weeks since I convinced myself to run this one for speed, I've given training for speed a bit more effort and ensuring I don't skimp, skip, or replace those workouts I need to do. I have been doing my workouts religiously as designed by my friends at the Peak Centre and in fact, tomorrow I'm doing a full 40min of my lactate threshold running drills. But in addition, I've been incorporating tempo-like work into my week and trying to throw faster stuff into the heart of my long runs. Last week I ran with David (the winner of the Fool's Run last year) for a shorter distance (somewhere around 11 or 12km) and in order to not make him have to go too slow, I ran quite a bit faster than I would for a training run normally. The cost of trying to find a compromise speed with an elite runner! I didn't wear a Garmin so not sure how fast it was, but it was definitely faster than I first planned to ran that day. And he gave me a lot of feedback on how to improve my running form which I'm making conscious effort to incorporate into my running. And since then, I also did my long run with my TNT teammate Derek who is also quite a bit faster than me naturally (an experienced 3:30 marathoner) and he paced me to a much faster than usual pace over a long run and it felt comfortable too, except for the fact that I was lacking sleep. He too gave me great advice to consider and I tried something new today as a result. But I thought those two runs last week with these friends were kind of exceptions and easy running after then when I run solo again would be back to normal.

But then this week happened...Yesterday and today I went out for easy runs, and tried not to look at my Garmin until the end of the run, and just go for feel. Keep it easy, focus on breathing, focus on good form. Again, when I looked at my stats after, I was pleased with my pacing as it was close to what I need to pace myself at for the half marathon to achieve my goal, yet felt easier than what it would have used to feel like. In fact, Alison joined me for the first 4km of the run today and she commented that we must have been going faster than usual which I didn't realize until I looked down at my watch and saw we were going a good 40sec/km faster than we usually would when we run together. Wow oops! I guess the work I've been doing is starting to pay dividends. Of course on race day, it will be a longer distance and there are hills to contend with, oh yes, and my own mental race-day demons to battle as they try to convince me I need to slow down. But I'm getting well used to this pace over longer distances, so it should feel more natural on race day. Only time will tell if I achieve it on race day, but I have the confidence that a sub-2 half marathon really is attainable!

See you at the finish line in 1:58.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Next race on the horizon, thinking of speed!

I'm excited to have another race on the horizon! It feels like it's been a very long time since I raced, when it's only been a month. I think I would happily race once or twice a month if I could afford to splurge more often on race entry. Anyway, I digress!

The beavers...
My next race is the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool's Run which I'll be running for the second time. Last year I had an amazing experience there, one of the most fun racing atmosphere's I've had, and this year promises to be just as great as I'll be heading over there with a couple of my friends from Team In Training and of course, my favourite cheerleader, Cam. Last year I ran it slow, as a training run, only really pushing myself in the second half of the race. I kept it a social run, taking it easy the first half of the race with my friend, Patti, and socializing with other runners on the course, poking fun at the guys dressed as beavers and so on.

 I'd been thinking I'd do something similar to that this time around given that I'm really upping the ante on my training volume now and don't really want to rest up too much before the race. But this week I've been really feeling inspired to toss that idea out the window. If I'm running this race, I'm going to give it my best effort. I will simply move some of my higher intensity sessions so they're not too close to race day, but I'll keep the volume as planned. I have a few reasons for this change of heart:
  • Half marathons aren't what they used to be for me anymore. Before I needed significant recovery after the effort, and now I can whip them off and bounce back the next day no problem. So throwing this into the mix won't impact my ability to train hard in the days following the race, and I can simply resume where I left off. I may not be lining up at the start well-rested, but the effort of the 21.1km won't take a lot out of me that one day's rest after can't fix.
  • Each half marathon I did last year, there was a progression of better finish times each time I raced. My race last month was my fastest yet, and I want to build on that momentum and confidence. I don't yet have my next half marathon planned beyond April Fool's so I don't like the prospect of not knowing when I can run and try to better my time again will be. I do have another race at the end of April I am considering and a couple in the summer I might end up doing, but nothing in stone. After this race, the only thing for certain is the June marathon. If I'm chasing sub-2, I need opportunities to try to get there.
  •  Today I met with a local elite runner, David Palermo, who just happened to be the athlete that won the April Fool's race last year and is back this year again to defend his title. No coincidence here I think - the universe is trying to tell me that this race I ought to take it more seriously. After talking a bit about the race with him today, I've decided why not give it my all! 
It's not like I'm a beginner runner anymore, I know what I'm capable of, I know how much I can push myself and see results, and I know what's too much to handle. This isn't. My last two half marathons were the ones I felt the strongest and most consistent throughout. I want to keep going with that confidence and momentum. I'm positive that if I simply move some of the high intensity stuff out of the the few days leading up to the race (ie., just one day of weight training and no speed work that week) it won't matter if I did a 20-miler a week before race day.

David Palermo, at the front of the pack, bib #1
The more David talked about the race, the more I realized how much I want to take on this course with a harder effort, given I didn't give it my serious all last year and I still finished with a respectable time considering. He said to me that despite it's undulating nature, he still managed to get his personal best time there, so it's a great race to try fast - hills can be restful. So why can't I too try for a personal best?! Why not!
I remember the hills not bugging me at all last year either. Hills add variety to a race and different uses of your muscles and I'm well used to them living and training in North Vancouver - I find overly flat courses tiring in ways as my legs don't get to try anything new to get up or down a hill; it's the same monotonous motion over and over again. As I'm home now writing, I'm still thinking of what David said to me at the end of the conversation about this race, "See what you can do!" And that's exactly what I'm going to do - see what this girl here is made of!

26 days to go!

My 2012 Finish Photo!