Vancouver Bound…Again

As is the tradition, I’m writing a post a couple of days prior to the BMO Vancouver Marathon as we fly out from Toronto.

The flight provides a good opportunity to take some time to write up some thoughts about how training went and also to look ahead to the race itself.

img_0294Just like last year, the weather wasn’t great in Toronto today as we flew out. Unlike last year, it’s an Air Canada flight instead of WestJet and I have Ginny with me for the trip. The weather in Vancouver looks good, with sunny skies and warmish temps for the whole weekend.

Race day looks to be sunny with temperatures between about 10ºC and maybe as high as 18ºC by the time I finish. That’s a wee bit warmer than I prefer, but the seawall section is generally shady and it’s always a bit cooler along the waterfront as well.

Looking back, thinking ahead

Training went really, really well. I avoided injury through out and missed very little training. All four months were over 200km and I’ll have run a total of 900km after the short shakedown run tomorrow.

img_0077My long runs went really well, including a 30km treadmill run that was a solid test of my mental game. The 29km run in Naples, FL in the heat was also a big test and while I faded at the end, considering the conditions, it was a great run too.

I ran all of the hill workouts (save one when we were in Florida and there weren’t any hills) including the 10 x hills monster workout.

Race expectations

It’s been a good while since I’ve had a good marathon. My 3:36:01 in Ottawa in 2015 was the last one I ran from start to finish. Generally that lack of a good race has come down to hot weather on race day and the rib injury last fall.

The weather is looking good for Sunday and with a solid 18 weeks of training under my belt, I feel like I should be able to run a good marathon this time around. My PB is probably out of the question, but I would like to beat my course record of 3:48 if I can.

Like last year, I’ll probably run with the 3:40 group and go from there. My “A” goal is to beat 3:48. My “B” goal is to run the whole 42.195km. And my “C” goal is to just have an enjoyable race on my favourite course in my favourite city.

One Week To Go

Seven days until the BMO Vancouver Marathon. It will be my 12th full marathon and my fifth time running 42.2km in Vancouver.

Training is all but done and things went really well this year. It’s the last day of April tomorrow and with a rest day scheduled, I can call it a month at 242km. That comes on the heels of a 225km March and makes four straight months over 200km. I’m at 880km for the year and I’ll be heading into the race at just about 900km.

Injury Free, Good Long Runs

I made it through the winter and spring mostly free of injury. I had the usual minor foot soreness that I’ve dealt with in the past. Some rolling and stretching kept things in check and it never really caused me any issues.

Life didn’t get in the way either. Our March Break trip to Florida brought a few challenges in terms of getting the runs in, but aside from a pair of weekday runs, I managed to stay on track. That included running 29km solo in Naples in the heat.

The long runs went really, really well too. I didn’t have any tough runs outside of the Florida run where the warm temps really took a tool. I had a couple of good 29km runs and a really solid 32km.

The last 32km ended up being 30km and indoors on the treadmill thanks to some awful weather on that Sunday morning.

What Spring?

The weather this winter was not terrible. But spring was basically non-existent. We had a couple of cold runs, one slushy and windy run and then a whole bunch of generally cold runs. I think I only ran long in shorts twice?

Even the weeknights were tough with cold weather making for more treadmill running than usual, especially in April when normally I’d be able to switch to some outdoor running at least a few days a week.

18 Good Weeks

All in all it was a good four months of training and I’m proud to have really stuck with the program from start to finish. As mentioned, I missed just two runs since I started the program back on January 1. I only shortened up two runs as well. One was an 8km that turned into 5km thanks to some stomach issues. The other was the 30km treadmill run that was supposed to be 32km outdoors.

Taper Time

Two weeks to go and that means one thing in marathon training – it’s taper time.

This is when you officially say, “I’m done training,” and switch your focus to resting and getting ready for race day. That doesn’t mean no running, but it does mean far less mileage for the next couple of weeks.

I ran 23km today at a bit slower than race pace. This week I’ll do the usual 6/10/8km weeknight routine. On Saturday I’ll run 16km at race pace and then it’s really time to rest up with just 6km on Sunday, 6km again on Tuesday and a final 10km race pace run on Wednesday.

I generally take Thursday off on race week and then pick things up with a very easy 3km the morning before the race.

Some runners talk about the taper crazies, but that’s the least of my worries. After 17 weeks of hard training with no breaks, I’m ready to ease back a bit and enjoy a couple of weeks of easier runs.

My focus is to not do anything dumb over the next 13 days. I’ve got a big run left to do, and I need to be healthy, rested and injury free. That means no stupid speed runs, or silly things like stubbed toes. I’ve been there and done that before; I’ll be taking it easy on stairs and not pushing things out on the run either.

The Last Long Run

Sometimes you do what you have to do.

Today was one of those days for me and I got my run done. There’s a very nasty weather system rolling through Toronto this weekend and running 32km outside just didn’t seem like a good idea.

IMG_0243.jpgWith 3cm of ice pellets on the ground, freezing rain falling all day and winds sustained in the 60-70km/h range with gusts even higher than that, I decided to hit the treadmill at Variety Village instead of “braving” the conditions.

I’ve run 23km on the treadmill before, but getting up to 30km was going to be a challenge. My running buddy Miguel decided to join me for at least some of the fun. I do a fair bit of treadmill running during the winter and spring, so I had a bit of a mental advantage heading into this run.

Miguel lasted through about 16km before he said “enough” and head home. That left me with a good 90 minutes to run solo which didn’t exactly excite me. Keeping my head in the game was key and I managed to break the run up into a few sections to stay sane.

I also used a bit of visualization, imagining where I was on the Vancouver course as I ran. It wasn’t easy and by about 25km, I was starting to think about packing it in earlier than the scheduled 32km.

I got to 29km and then pushed through for another kilometre before I decided that I’d had enough. Realistically, running another 11 minutes wasn’t going to do much in terms of training effect. 30km was a solid effort, all things considered.

Now I can say I’ve run 30km on a treadmill and I can also look forward to a shorter 23km run next week before the taper really starts. In three weeks I’ll be running my fifth BMO Vancouver Marathon. I’m pretty much ready.

Six Weeks To Go and Feeling Strong

42 days to go until I run 42.2km in Vancouver on May 6. Training is going really, really well.

I had a 32km run today which is where I’ll start since it was a great run. I kept a consistent pace from start to finish on this one and ran my fastest km split for kilometre 31. There was plenty left in the tank today.

The Week that Was

I missed another run this week becuase of travel, but it was the Tuesday 6km tempo run. No big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Wednesday I got out for 11km with 9 hills on the treadmill at Variety Village. I didn’t much feel like running those hills, but I did them and it felt good to stick to the schedule.

Thursday’s 8km steady run was tough thanks to a hard hills workout the night before, but again, I got it done and that’s what it’s all about in marathon training.

Saturday was the usual 6km run which was nothing special and that’s how I like them.

Through the Worst

I’m through the worst of the training now. These three weeks are always the toughest both physically and also mentally. Three super long Sunday runs with lots of hills in between and some travel made for some extra fun. The first 29km and last 32km runs were both great and the 29km in the heat in Florida was fine too when you account for that warmth and sun.

I’m happy to have a bit of a step back here now with just 23km next Sunday and the last of the hill training on Wednesday. I’m ready for the last push here to the taper with just a pair of runs in that 29-32km range now.

My Strava Fitness score is now 68 which is pretty amazing. I had set a goal of hitting 70 before race day and it seems likely that I’ll hit that this week and push through to the mid-seventies or higher before May 6 rolls around.

I’m feeling better than I ever have at this point in training for a spring marathon.

A Week in Florida

Getting the runs in while on vacation is always tough. We’re in Florida for eight days and with four days at Disney parks, and another few days down in Naples, it was going to be a challenge to get in the usual five runs a week.

img_0135I snuck in the fist 6km on the Tuesday we arrived. The Disney resort has a nice running trail that’s about 2.75km but just about 6km if you double back around on the last section.

Wednesday I was scheduled for 10km and I skipped this run since we were spending the entire day at the Magic Kingdom. Such is life.

Thursday morning I got in the planned 8km on the trail before we went over to Animal Kingdom for the day. Ginny got out on the run with me too so it was nice to have someone to wave to every so often.

Saturday was checkout day, but we both snuck in another run and that meant the usual Saturday 6km for me.

Long Hot Sunday Run

That brings us to Sunday. With a 29km run scheduled, I mapped out a nice route from our place in Naples down to the Gulf and back. It was already 19ºC when I set out at about 8:00 A.M. and it just got warmer from there.

That beats running in the cold…sort of. Truth be told, I really don’t like hot weather running and this one was a bit of a slog for the last 5km or so. But things could be worse, right?

Fitting in runs when travelling is always tough, so to be able to get all but about 10km in is a good accomplishment. I’ll still easily clear 200km for March. After today’s run Strava says my fitness score is 67 which is higher than I was even after the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. Training is going well.

First 29km in the Books

Things get serious fast when training for a marathon and this was the week it all happened.

The schedule called for 29km today – the first of three weeks of runs in the 29-32km range. With just eight weeks to go now until race day, this first 29km run is always a test of how things are going.

I’m happy to say that I passed today with flying colours. I ran a very solid 29km today with tons of energy and pace left at the finish. I dare say I could have grunted out a full 42.2km today if I had to.

Tempo and Hills

I ran the usual weekday runs this week, including a 7 hills run on Wednesday. That sort of kicked my ass and Thursday’s 8km run wasn’t easy. My legs felt a bit dead, but I toughed it out and finished up the 8km that was in the calendar. A rest day on Friday was just what I needed and I had the usual power and energy on Saturday for the easy 6km.

Fit and Feeling Strong

Strava now rates my fitness as a 62 which is better than I was at any point of my training last year, including the day before the race. I have to say, I feel stronger and fitter now than I have in a really long time.

We’re off to Florida on Tuesday and that will be a bit of a challenge in terms of training. I hope to be able to get in a quick run on Tuesday some how, then also a couple more while we’re at Disney. We’ll see how that goes. Sunday’s long run will be in Naples, Florida and I’m looking forward to running in the warm weather for a change after a pretty tough winter up here in Toronto.

Sticking With It

I need to just keep the pedal to the metal now and push through for the next two months. Race day is just around the corner and there are just five weeks until things start to ease back into the taper. As tough as training is, when you get to the plateau, it’s really not a long time spent there.