Monday, February 14, 2011

My "First Half" of 2011

If today is any indication that the half marathon in Vancouver yesterday went well, my body will certainly tell a story as I have been hobbling around on two very sore legs and my back is also incredibly sore!  Every major muscle group is painful, actually even some minor muscle groups as well!  Calves, shins, hamstrings, quads, glutes, paraspinals along the back - you name it! 

Prior to the race, I visited Victoria for several days and stayed with BFF Jadeen and her wonderful family.  We had lots of fun and the visit went by way too fast.  Saturday rolled around and i found myself on the ferry to Vancouver - in the rain of course!  I took a bus from the ferry and met up with Geoff (who flew to Van from Edm) at the skytrain, and we made our way to the hotel.  In the days leading up to the race, I biked on the trainer for an hour on Wed, ran 30 min on Thursday (outside!) and also swam 2500m with Jadeen's masters swim group (super hard quality effort workout which included 4 broken 200's where I averaged 2:26's), ran for 30 min on Friday and took Saturday off completely. 

Sunday morning Geoff and i awoke around 6:30am to beautiful weather, which included clear skies and no rain.  Yay!  We were staying about 5 blocks from the race site, so around 7:30 we started making our way down there. 

geoff was looking pretty energized and awake at 7 in the morning...

I decided to try (for the first time ever in a race) wearing my compression leg sleeves.  This will be the first and last time that I wear those in a race.  They ended up making me really hot and then they didn't stay all the way up exactly where they were supposed to.  I could feel them slipping down ever so slightly when I was running but obviously did not stop to fix them, so i had to just put that annoyance out of my mind!  I also became incredibly hot and overheated, as I was wearing little gloves (which I threw away in the first mile or two), a headband to cover my ears (which I took off in the first couple miles and wore around my neck), speed shorts from Lulu and a long sleeve top (didn't wear the jacket of course).  Man I get so hot in races and just need to suck it up and dress in less and face being a little cooler at the start.  I could have just been wearing a t-shirt or sleeveless top yesterday and been fine.  Also for the first time ever in a race, I decided to be one of those people and wore my I-pod!  Best.Decision.EVER.  I wonder why I have never done that before?  More on that later.

Race started at 8:30am sharp.  At 8:25am, I was still in line for the porta-potty, only a couple people back.  AAHH!  But I was in and out and trying to make my way through the masses of 2000 people at the start line, when all of a sudden the race started.  I was probably about halfway through the crowd, so I spent the first kilometer weaving through all the racers.  And I think I went out a bit fast.  In my defence, i haven't raced in 5 months and was rusty on the pacing!  Anyway, I felt pretty good, not amazing by any means, but decent, and kept chugging along and passing people the first bit.  It was fantastic running with music - I kept it loud enough to drown out the sounds of my own breathing, so I wasn't completely aware of how hard I was working.  All i know is that my legs felt GREAT, and my lungs felt... just average!

I soon came to a sign that said '3', and I thought, 'Wow, 3km, how many songs have I listened to?".  I did wear a watch in this race but kept it hidden under my long sleeve shirt and only ended up looking at it only TWICE - at the 10km and the 10 mile markers, so as not to become negatively preoccupied with time/numbers.  So right after I saw that '3' sign, when I saw a sign that said '5km', I was very surprised and not to mention pretty stoked as i assumed the first sign was for 3km, not 3 miles!  This music thing was a good idea after all!  I kept pressing on and enjoying the spectacular course that this race follows.  It goes through Stanley Park and along the seawall, and part of it is on the same course of the Vancouver triathlon Worlds' 2008 course, so I thought about that a bit while running as I had a lot of fun in that race and during that trip.

I worried a bit while running that maybe I was pushing a bit beyond my limits and that I had gone out too hard, as i felt pretty close to redlining.  In fact, the whole race was such a hard effort that I wouldn't be surprised if my heart rate was in the 190's the whole time!  Crazy!  At the 10km marker, I decided to peek at my watch to get an idea of what kind of pace I was running, as I felt like it was ridiculously hard and I was hoping i was doing well.  I calculated that I needed to be somewhere under 50 min for the split in order to be able to go a PB, so when I saw 45:43 I was very surprised!  That gave me a boost to keep on pushing the hard pace, so that's what I kept doing.  I decided to look again at 10 miles, and my split there was 1:14:50, which is actually a PB for me in that distance!  My previous 10 miler PB was 1:15 in April of 2010.  I was elated but at the same time worry and doubt crept in again, as the effort was so hard and I still had 5km to go.   

The last 3 miles were incredibly rough.  My hamstrings started to become really sore, and my pace slowed considerably (not even sure how much, all I know is that it did).  I made it to Mile 11, then finally to Mile 12 - only 1 mile to go!  The last mile was completely painful, as my lungs were on fire and my legs were getting progressively sorer, most likely due to not having run on pavement in 3 months (with the exception of 1 run!), and not having even run outside in weeks.  The last KM felt like it was going on forever and was complete torture - it was a huge effort to put one foot in front of the other and to even lift my feet off the ground!  I finally rounded the corner to the finish line - and crossed in a chip time of 1:39.55, which was a PB by over 5 minutes.  YAHOO!  I am super happy with that, considering the training was far from ideal what with the crappy winter we've had the past 3 months.  It really was a shock to my system to run a 1/2 marathon at that effort on the hard pavement!

First race of 2011 - done and done!  Now I need to recover these sore muscles of mine, refocus, and get back to training!  I have 2 more days here in Vancouver (work), then I return to Alberta just in time to miss all the warm weather that's been occurring!  Ha!  I hope a lot of the snow melted while I have been away :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

getting ready to race

Only one week to go until my first race of 2011, and also my first race in 5 months!  It's going to be tough starting things off with a 1/2 marathon but i'm excited for this distance as it has been at least 2 years since I last ran a stand-alone half.  The training prep has been far from ideal, but i think i've done a pretty good job in dealing with the crap Mother Nature has thrown our way so far this winter.  But really, what can we expect living in Alberta - the winter can be so unpredictable here.  Last year training for this race would have been not bad at all but the amount of snow we've had this year has been insane!  If the weather turns out to be miserable next weekend with snow, I won't mind at all, as us Albertans will be prepared for that! 

As far as training for this race goes, i have done all that Geoff has scheduled for me.  This has included weekly interval sets, ranging from short to long (1 minute to 1 mile), long runs, and easy runs.  Generally I ran 4-5 times a week.  Consistency is everything, and i have definitely been consistent with my running.  I have done a LOT of my running in the past few months on the treadmill.  In the past few weeks alone, I have actually not even run outdoors once, because of the ice and tricky footing.  I'm just not interested in risking a fall or injury at this point in the season!  I'm sure that running the race next week all on pavement will be quite a shock to the body.  However, it was either very poor quality runs outside, or good quality runs indoors in a controlled environment and I chose the latter as it made more sense.  So we'll see how it turns out!

My other training has also been going well - I've been doing 2 strength sessions a week, biking 1-3 times a week, and have swam 3 times a week the past couple weeks.  Last week I did about 11.5 hours of training, this week was definitely less than that as I only ran 3 times.  After the race next weekend, I will start biking a lot more and the focus will likely move from running to biking for a bit.  I am finally back on track in the pool as well!  What it takes for me is a couple weeks of 3 sessions a week with some hard focused sets, and I start to get my groove back in the water.  I've typically been doing 2000m-2300m for my workouts, and had a few key sets this past week with an 800m time trial during Thursday's workout.  I swam a 10:35 which is not too bad for me at this point of the year.  I'll plan to do a 1500m TT in 4 weeks or so and aim to beat my PB from last year.  TT's are not super fun but they are key and definitely have a place in training if you want to improve!  It's a hard, focused effort, good practice to get used to swimming hard for a sustained period of time, and good for boosting the fitness as well as giving you a benchmark of where you are at certain points in the season.  I do them with my group starting in about november, through to April (no TT's necessary when race season starts!). 

I'm leaving Wednesday evening for Victoria to visit BFF Jadeen and her beautiful family for a few days.  So excited!  I'll be there till Saturday, then I'll catch the ferry over to Vancouver where Geoff will meet me.  The race is Sunday, then I will be working in Vancouver Monday-Wednesday and flying home Wed. evening.  Geoff is flying home Monday morning so the crazy terriers Hugo & Wylie will have to be in a kennel for 2 nights.  Hopefully they behave themselves!