Half Marathon

Mind over marathon: What to do when your body wants to quit

My BQ attempt at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria last year, ignoring the pain!

I wish I could train for a marathon without running those 3-hour-plus long training runs. No matter how beautiful my running route is and how interesting the podcasts I listen to during my long runs are, I always start thinking about how hungry, tired and chaffed I am and how much I just want to stop running and be back at home.

I guess I sort of skipped the long runs in 2013 during training, but that’s because I already put in those once weekly 3-5 hour long run days several months before while I was training for the Squamish 50. Then I took a two-month break, got up one day and ran 24 km, and then ran a marathon a week later.

I know there are marathon training methods where your longest training run is only about 25 km. These plans also include several longer runs (12-16 km) per week, plus a day or two of strength training and a tempo run. Although the proponents of this method say your endurance will be marathon-ready and you are less likely to overtrain and injure yourself by skipping the once-per-week high mileage runs (which may be true), here’s why I don’t like that method: you miss out on training your brain. (more…)

Mind over legs? How to run a marathon without training

"Proof" that I ran the 2013 Goodlife Fitness Marathon :)

“Proof” that I ran the 2013 Goodlife Fitness Marathon 🙂

Somehow, I managed to run a 3:41 at the 2013 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. That’s almost a 25-minute improvement over my previous marathon time of 4:07 something from two years ago. Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are about that… especially considering that I only just decided to sign up for this race a few days before the event date. Apparently not training properly works well for me?

Last year, I ran a personal best at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria half marathon without proper training, either. In fact, I did everything you’re NOT suppose to do before a race (I wrote a post about it here), but somehow managed to beat my fastest half marathon time by five minutes. I chalked it up to the fact I was racing under somebody else’s name and was doing it “just for fun”, with no intention of getting a PB. (more…)

So I’m running a marathon in two days…

Running the 2010 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Running the 2010 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon

…and I haven’t trained for it.

Apparently I haven’t learned my lesson from my torturous adventure at the Squamish 50 and I don’t take my own advice about training for endurance events.

But I love to run. And I love this race. So I’m doing it.

I was on the fence about signing up for the 2013 Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon for months, then decided I wouldn’t run it because I didn’t have time to fit in any long runs. (more…)

My 2013 non-New Year’s resolution post!

Winter run at Gowlland Todd

Winter run at Gowlland Todd

Well… I didn’t really meet the 2012 goals I set out in last year’s non-New Year’s resolution post, partly due to work/life factors, and partly because I didn’t follow my own advice of setting small, weekly goals for yourself as you work towards your larger goals.

I didn’t end up competing in any triathlons in 2012 because I was crazy busy organizing the majority of the triathlons I probably would have participated in. I did get back in the pool for a little bit, but was sick of everything triathlon by the end of summer and lost my passion for it slightly. I didn’t do a marathon in 2012 so I didn’t get my sub 4-hour PB, but I did manage a super fast half marathon time, beating my previous best by five minutes. With all things considered, I still had a great 2012 fitness-wise. And I know 2013 is going to be even better. (more…)

How to train for a half marathon without actually running…

Me and Deb

My running buddy Debbie and me post race. PBs all around, plus finally took down a friend’s half marathon record he’d been taunting us about for years… (hence the number 1s!)

I think I did everything you aren’t supposed to do before a 21.1k race. I hardly ran in the weeks leading up to it. I went on a 18 km hike the week before followed by a 19.22 km run the next day “just to see if I could do it.” I did strength training the day before ’cause I felt like it. I drank beer the night before the race, also ’cause I felt like it. I didn’t stretch. I didn’t eat my go-to pre-race breakfast. And I waited until the very last minute to register.

I pretty much untrained myself for the 2012 Goodlife Fitness Victoria half marathon, and had one of the best runs of my life, with a personal best to boot with a time of 1:41:33 (22nd in my AG out of 479 women!) (more…)

My non-New Year’s resolutions post: Goal setting and my endurance sport plans for 2012

Me in Maui after finishing the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon. Has nothing really to do with this post. I just thought it’d be more interesting than a stock photo of ‘Happy New Year’ text with squiggles and sparkles.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Mainly because I’m always thinking about, planning and refining my goals — personal, fitness and otherwise — throughout the year. But January 1st is a good time to reflect on the highs and lows of the previous year and how they changed you, as well as look forward to and plan what you want to achieve in the year to come.

And by planning what you want to achieve, I don’t mean the lose-30-pounds-and-make-time-to-read-more-books type of plan (otherwise known as the ‘New Year’s Resolution’) — I mean actually writing down your goals, and considering what it is you actually need to do to reach them.

For me, I knew 2011 was going to be the year I completed my first triathlon. Not only did I have no idea what I was doing or where to even start, but also I didn’t even know how to swim. With my target goal in sight (meaning I signed up for the triathlon before I even had a bike or knew how to swim), I wrote down all of the steps I needed to take in order to get there — the first being to get a good triathlon coach, which helped take all the guesswork out of the rest of the steps! (more…)

Twitter, runners and cancer research

Miss May in the Van Island Runners for Cancer calendar. Photo credit: Will Winter Photography

I have to say I’ve met some super awesome runners and fellow endurance sport enthusiasts through social media.

This group of Victoria-area and social media-savvy runners of all ages, levels and abilities came together under the #yyjrun hashtag on Twitter a few years ago. We get psyched for races together, cheer each other on and support each others’ goals, offer tips and training advice, run together, suffer through injuries, training road-blocks and taper madness together, race together, and have coffee and dinner together. And most recently, we’ve come together to raise funds for a cause close to all of us. (more…)

Fort Rodd Hill Half Marathon: Harder than I remember…

We made it!

About 5 km into the 2011 Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon, I was seriously questioning my decision to run that day.

I started to come down with a cold the day before, and hadn’t run over 14 km since the BMO Half Marathon on May 1st. There was also that 90 km bike ride I participated in just seven days prior, so my legs weren’t feeling super fresh.

But the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day for a run.

Despite the fact my head was stuffed up, my throat felt raw and I couldn’t hear out of one ear, I headed down to the starting line on the beach near the Fisgard Lighthouse at Fort Rodd Hill.

Warming up for the race

I ran this event last year (see my race recap here) and remembered enjoying the run, even though the race was delayed and had to be rerouted due to an early morning fire that destroyed a nearby business.

I did not enjoy the run this year.

The race itself was well-organized, fun and friendly, but the route was tough. You’re pretty much running uphill for the first 7 km until you come to an extreme downhill that takes its toll on your joints… then you do it all again (the half marathon route is two loops of the same 11 km course).

My legs wanted to move at a half marathon pace, but my upper half was suffering: I could barely breathe, my head was pounding, I was coughing and sniffling and spitting (gross), and my stomach cramped up more with every step.

When I reached the downhill at Esquimalt Lagoon, I seriously considered dropping out.

Then I thought of Jess, a running friend who so badly wanted to complete the BMO Marathon this year that she ran injured and in pain for 21 miles before deciding to stop (read her marathon story here). I was only 10 km into a half and just felt uncomfortable, not injured… I needed to suck it up.

When I reached kilometre 17 at Esquimalt Lagoon on the second loop, my friend Mere caught up with me and we decided to pull each other along to the finish line. Mere and I run at about the same race pace on a good day, so I was glad I wasn’t the only one suffering on the course that day!

Getting our hard-earned participant medals!

We finished together in about 1:52:59, which is still a decent time, all things considered.

We were trying to pose for the finish line photo... didn't quite get my arms up in time

So what did I learn from this race?

Just because you probably could just get up and run a half marathon without much thought or preparation doesn’t mean you should.

Oh, and don’t tweet about your horrible race experience when your coach follows you on Twitter and didn’t put it on your triathlon training plan… sorry Noa! 😉

The marathon countdown is on

Indy & me hiking up Mt. Kobau in Osoyoos in the summer.

24, 26, 30, and 32 down without a single blog post. I thought I was supposed to be blogging about my marathon training?

Maybe I didn’t because those longer runs were draining any desire I had to write about running. When you spend 2.5+ hours running on Sundays, the last thing you want to do is go home and relive it in a blog post. Not that I didn’t have some interesting runs.

I ran a 26km after work once with a backpack full of clothes, work shoes and lunch containers, into a strong headwind along part of the marathon course and then down the Goose. I was going away for the weekend to see a concert in the states, so it was then or never. I felt surprisingly good, although my upper back felt buggered.

I ran a 30km on the hottest day of the year. I ran Elk/Beaver Lake three times (was supposed to be doing a 32km that weekend), and I was so hot and dehydrated I jumped in the lake with my clothes on when I hit 30km (shoes and Garmin removed, of course). Just didn’t have it in me to go on.

Last weekend, I finally ran 32km. The plan was to do it the weekend before, but I ended up racing the Lands End Half Marathon that weekend (more on that in a minute). I went out the night before and had a few glasses of wine, so it took awhile for me to get going. I didn’t end up leaving until 4pm. When I set out, a group of Langford’s finest were stumbling their way to the Luxton Fair, beers in hand. One of them decided to run alongside me, much to the delight of his friends, as I made my way to the Goose. He was stumbling and struggling to keep up, saying something like “slow down, I’m spilling my beer!”, so I ran faster. He gave up after only 20 seconds!

After that amusing episode, I headed off down the Goose to Swan Lake and back. I felt great, took a bunch of walk breaks and made it about 25-28km before the leg cramps started. I ended up having to wait over 10 minutes to cross Sooke Road thanks to a broken cross walk button, which didn’t help the situation. By the time I reached 30km, my muscles were seized up and I had slowed down to about a 7:00 pace. Ugh. I overshot my kilometre estimate too, and finished my 32km still one kilometre from home. I hobbled home in the dark and ate my weight in pasta that night.

So here I am on the taper. I have a 1:30 run to do today. I did I 10km yesterday plus a workout DVD, which probably wasn’t the best idea, since my butt, legs and thighs are screaming at me right now. I need to ease up a bit with my workouts and wine consumption if I want to finish the marathon in an upright position.

More on Lands End: Kirsty and I both ran half marathon PBs at Lands End. So glad I gave up my Beerfest tickets for that weekend…I don’t think a PB would have been possible if I spent 6 hours drinking beer the day before.

It was pouring rain and the course was up-and-down, but I managed to finish in 1:45:46. About half of my kilometres were sub-5:00; crazy, since my usual training pace in 5:30-5:45. It’s amazing what your body can do when your racing.

Kirsty ran it in 1:56; a new PB for her after running the Nanaimo Half Marathon (and setting a PB there, too) the week before. Two consecutive halfs in two weeks; not even I would do that! She’ll be running the half at the GoodLife Victoria Marathon; a sense another new PB for her there, too!

I promise I’ll update more. Now with less time spent running, I’ have more time to write. The countdown is on.

The Fort Rodd Hill Historic hills, rain, fire, delays & baby ducks Half Marathon

Early morning fire that shortened the half-marathon route. Photo credit the Dale Langdon from the Times Colonist website

When I crossed the finish line today for the Fort Rodd Hill Historic Half Marathon in roughly one hour and 49 minutes, I wasn’t super excited or feeling like I could take on the world – the way I usually feel after completing a challenging half-marathon, let alone getting a new PB.

I felt too good to feel accomplished.

My legs felt great, for starters.  When I stopped to lift my foot to have my timing chip removed, I didn’t strain to find my balance and the muscle power like I usually do. I casually walked over to my parents, who were patiently waiting for me to cross the finish line in the rain, and gave them hugs instead of staggering around zombie looking for chocolate milk and a place to sit.

During the race, I kept up a great pace – I started slow and picked it up to a 5:17 – 5:20 pace, and I didn’t breathe hard except when I ran up the hills.  I crossed the finish line with a PB of 1:49:17, but I knew I was a little slower than that.

An early morning fire destroyed part of the Colwood Plaza, and I guess they shut down the portion of the Galloping Goose Trail that we were supposed to run on.  After a half-hour delay, we ended up running all the way along Sooke Road instead of taking the Goose Trail.  Since I knew this would shorten the route, I knew my time was going to be off.  Not knowing your exact distance and time can be an issue for some runners; I know it is for me. Sometimes races or PB goals come down to the seconds, so accuracy is important.

As soon as I got home, I mapped out both routes using Walkjogrun.com.  My best guess is the race was shortened by about 400m.  According to my pace running a 20.7 km race, I should have come in around 1:52, which is still my half-marathon PB by two minutes.  So why wasn’t I completely elated when I crossed the finish line like I was at BMO?

I think the combination of not knowing my exact time and not feeling totally gassed at the end made it feel like just another run.  It was also a small event; maybe 200 runners or so.  Everyone was fairly spaced out on the road, so most of the time I didn’t see other runners; I just felt like I was out on a long Sunday run on the Esquimalt Lagoon loop.

Or maybe I’m just becoming more efficient, and should start to step it up to the marathon distance?

It was a great run, though.  The jazercise at the start was quite amusing, and it was a well-organized race.  The scenery was great, too; the lighthouse, the old historic forts, and the lagoon are definitely the highlights.

Other highlights for me included seeing my friend Meghan watching out of the window of her house, then coming outside to cheer me on when I ran past.  It was also kind of cool seeing the damage from the blaze, although I do feel bad for the owners of that property. I got to meet Kirsty, which was great, and see her come flying down towards the finish line in great form! I also saw some cute baby ducks waddling along down on the beach at the lagoon – all in a day’s run!

So what did I do right this time as opposed to my last half-marathon? I think the constant excercise and running the week prior had a lot to do with the condition of my body during the run.  I’ve also been doing yoga three times a week to stretch and breathe, which I think helped a lot. 

So what’s next? I would like to do two of the GutBuster Trail Running Series runs, and will be adding kilometres to my Sunday runs to build up to the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon in October.

But for now, it’s time for feet up, rolling-pin, lap top and food!

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