The Road to the RVM continues

Days until the marathon: 13

About 20% of my year's total running mileage has occurred within the last month. Continuing my current training plan all the way until the marathon, that number will change to 30%. Surprisingly, it actually feels kind of good to be pounding the pavement a lot more again. Prior to triathlons, I started as a runner, and my running was my strength last year. This year I spent most of my time focusing on biking which paid off well but my running suffered as I hardly did it at all.

Today I decided to join up with the UBCTC for their Monday evening run through the UBC Endowment Land Trails and ended up running 10.5km at an easy 5min/km pace.  What was great about it was two things:

1. There were tons of people there, maybe the largest showing I had ever seen at a club running event, more than last year anyway. Actually, I didn't recognize more than half of them. It's nice to see so many people expressing interest in triathlon and in my opinion, finding a great group of people to train with.

2. How easy it was; we had done 8.5km and were almost done the run, I had to peel off to make it a little longer because I didn't want to stop. Sure we weren't going fast or anything, but I started to feel like this kid, or at least how I would feel if I were wearing such a sweet costume, hmmmm, Halloween is coming up...

It's great to see the progression and really fall in love with running again. I was starting to think of myself as a cyclist but now I see there is no way that I could give up running.

Sure, my training has started too late to make this marathon turn out amazingly, but I hope, that when the marathon is over, I can keep this motivation up and keep on running. It's exhilarating.

Longest Run This far

Days until the marathon: 14

Yesterday I set out on my longest run of the year.  Having ran 25km the week before I wanted to up it to at least 30km with the possibility of 34km. With rain the days previous I had been psyching myself for a cold and wet morning but as it turned out, it was quite lovely. It was a nice cool overcast morning, then the sun came out, and then there was a light breeze. With the day being as nice as it was I really had no excuses I could pull out.

I guess there's no need to drag this out into a long story.  Simply put, I ended up running 30.5km. It was slow and painful and tiring and it made me start to regret signing up for the marathon. Thinking about having to run another 12km at that point did not appeal to me. Trying to get into marathon shape in 3 weeks apparently wasn't the brightest idea. Oh well, too late now.  I'm not dropping out and I will finish, I just might be walking like a cowboy for a week or two after.  I guess I should be working on my Howdy's and Yee-Haw's.

My self designed training plan says it's now time to taper. No more long runs.  I plan on doing about 10km on Monday, 12km on Wednesday, and 22km on Saturday.

Marathon Training Event #2

Days until the Marathon: 18

Today was to be a short run - about a 12km run home from work but I did something else instead. There are a few guys from my office that do the Grouse Grind every week and since it`s nearing the end of Grind season, today I decided to join them.  Not quite marathon training (there are no mountain climbs in the course) but I think it`s got to help somewhat.

I`ve done the Grind a couple of times this year but both times I was going up with people at a more leisurely pace so I was excited to hit this one hard, go at my own pace, and see what I could accomplish, not knowing what to expect.

I started the trail with a slight jog; I figured I should make some good time while the trail was somewhat less steep. Almost immediately I started to sound like a train and my legs felt like they wanted to cramp. I realized there was no way I was to hold that pace all the way to the top so I settled down into a quick groove. I hit the 1/4 mark in 12 minutes. Now I need to mention that the trail is marked at 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and finish but these marks are for elevation gain - not distance, so since the first quarter is the least steep, it's also the longest. From that I figured my finishing time would be about 45minutes.

I continued on and hit the 1/2 mark in 8 minutes but from there I had to slow down a little because my legs were giving up on me. The next 1/4 took me 10 minutes and the final 1/4 took 8 minutes for a total time of 38:22.

Now that I've got a time I now have a benchmark for next year.

I would like to take this opportunity to put a plug out for my co-worker Duncan who is travelling to Tanzania next year to help out with the Canada Africa Community Health Alliance which specializes in bringing medical supplies and treatment to families in Africa who have little or no access to healthcare. He will help to oversee the structural design of a new healthcare center. Over the next month he will be doing the grind as often as he can and is looking for pledges (1-10+$/grind) to help fund his volunteer trip. If this intrigues you at all see his blog here: Instructions on how to donate can be found on his blog.

Marathon Training Begins

Yesterday I decided since the Victoria Marathon was only 3 weeks and 1 day away I should develop a training plan and start training for it. I ventured out on my longest run of the year; the plan: 25km.

I ran from my place down to Ambleside Park, back along the water to the Lions Gate Bridge, over the bridge to Stanley Park and down to and around the Seawall, and then back home. I was about 10km into my run and feeling great.  I had previously thought that running for 20km without biking 90km right before (which is what happens during the Half Ironman Triathlons) would be a cinch and thus far it appeared I was right. It didn't take long before I was proven wrong.

At about 16km my legs were hurting and with 9km to go my run turned from enjoyment to pure endurance. Anyway, I got through it.  I made 25km in 2:10. I feel confident that I will finish the marathon and I'm setting my goal time for sub 4 hours.  I'm pretty sure that with a few more weeks of training I would be able to go sub 3:30 but I'll save that for another year.  There's no point in pushing myself too hard and getting injured.

On a side note: one thing I forgot about was nipple chaffing.  Yes I'm one of the unfortunate ones who suffers from such.  There was a point on my run, and even now, where I wonder what hurts more, my legs or the nips. I'll have to remember to lube up before my next long run.

So with three weeks left before race day, meaning only two training weekends remaining, I plan on running a 30-34km run next Saturday and a 20km the week after to taper with a couple 10km runs in between.

On an additional side note: I had never done the whole Stanley Park Seawall before and it is quite gorgeous.  I saw Third Beach for the first time - it might be the nicest looking beach I've seen in Vancouver. I also ran about 7 feet away from a skunk.

Banff Race Report

This past weekend was the season ending triathlon for the Subaru Western Triathlon Series - the Banff Triathlon.  It was a long way to travel for a race (1700km round trip) but seeing as it was it's inauguration I had to attend.  This race only offered Sprint and Olympic distances so I took a break from my usual Half Ironman distance to attempt my first Olympic of the year (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run).

My race season had mostly been met with disappointment, posting much slower times than last year, and getting beaten relentlessly by Storm who no matter how far ahead of him I got on the swim or bike, he always managed to catch and surpass me on the run.

With the race being on a Saturday morning, the crew decided to leave Thursday evening after work, drive as far as we could, camp, and then continue on the next morning.

After hitting Sicamous, it was time to start looking for a place to camp.  Luckily we had our Splinter of Ninja Camping with us - Michael Duncan - who with unparalleled trained eyes managed to find obscure and hidden abandoned roads stemming off of the Trans-Canada Highway.  After a couple of failed locations we were fortunate enough to find a preemo spot near an old mine.

Setting up Camp in the Dark
Ninja Camping!
Morning stroke and I was able to fully take down my campsite and pack all my belongings back into the car before one generally good looking guy even got out of his sleeping bag.

The seven of us soon were off and back on the road.  Passing through Golden we saw a family of mountain goats chillin on the side of the road.  We stopped at Lake Louise and ingested some of the surrounding area's beauty.  We eventually made it to Banff and set up our camp at the gorgeous Two Jack Lackside campground - I highly recommend it.  The scenery was unlike the hustle of downtown Vancouver - instead of people and buildings tearing into the sky there were rugged mountains freckled with wildlife.

Excitement was in the air as the town of Banff was ready to welcome us into their home to race.

The team decided to hit the bike course to see what would be in-store for us the following day.

It was simply breathtaking.

As the day progressed and the evening settled in we looked for a place to eat.  I have come to find that my pre-race meal of choice is Thai Chicken Bites and pizza at Boston Pizza.  I like to order extra Hawaiian  pizza that I can eat the next morning for breakfast.  Every time I have had this meal pre-race I have had a good race and this proved to be no exception, but I get ahead of myself.

After enjoying a delicious meal, we headed back to camp to light a fire and make smores.

There is something about a campfire that just completely settles the nerves.  11pm came and it was time for bed.

Race morning:

We had heard the day previous that due to the combination of cold water temperatures and mountain air that the swim leg was to be shortened from 1500m to 750m.  At the time I was quite disappointed by the announcement because the swim is where I make up all my time on Winston and this was my last chance to beat him this year (It's great to have friendly rivalries to keep motivated). I figured it was game over between us. But when I stepped into the water a few minutes before the race started I began to feel grateful for the shortened duration. As I looked in people's faces - seeing the obvious discomfort from the frigid glacial water I tried to forget my own.  I soon started to shiver while wearing my wetsuit and noticed others shivering as well.  I think it was a smart idea to shorten the swim as hypothermia was a real threat -just ask Jared Penner who later pulled out of the race suffering from mild hypothermia himself.

Two Jack Lack
The swim was tough.  The 1500m altitude brought shortness of breath and the cold water seemed to freeze my arms so I could hardly bring myself to stroke.  I got through the swim and from thereon out it was a great race.

I decided to take my time in T1 - toweling off and putting on additional layers.  I burned 9 minutes and 5 seconds but I didn't regret it because although it was raining and windy, I was comfortable on the bike.  I left T1 in 163 place out of 350 but was able to pass 95 people on the bike, entering T2 in 68th - not bad. Although my body was warm, my feet were frozen.  So frozen that I couldn't feel them and struggled with putting my running shoes on.  I burned another 3 minutes in T2 but then I was off.

This turned out to be my greatest run of the year. It started off with frozen feet, but within a kilometer my toes were met with a burning sensation as they started to thaw. After about 5 minutes I ran into Winston and realized that he was about a minute and a half behind me (up until this point I had thought he was ahead of me).  I was feeling strong and was hoping I could hold him off for once.

I ran the first 5km in 22 minutes and at this point I was still feeling good and decided to pick up the pace (mainly because I could now feel my feet). I finished the last 5km in 21 minutes for a total 10km time of 43:14.  It was nice to be able to run a negative split.  I finished the race in 2:15:17 and was pleased to finally vanquish my foe who raced a solid 2:16:37 finishing only two spots behind me. Success!

My friends all did well.  Special congrats to Scott for finishing first in the 20-24 age group and Winston for finishing second in the same age group category.

Scott and Winstorm owning the Podium
I was going to leave in the early afternoon to hit the road back home and try to get back in a decent hour but they announced that there would be a draw for a Blue Triad frameset and you had to be there to win it. I figured the odds weren't great but good enough to stick around.  And am I glad I did.  My number was called and I won!  It was very exciting.

Blue Triad
I then drove all the way home, walked in the door at about 5:00am and slept for the majority of the next day.

What a fantastic weekend!

What am I Thinking?

Ever do something spontaneously stupid? I fear I may have done just that.

See, I got an email update about the Royal Victoria Marathon - as I have regularly since completing the race 5 years ago - and thought to myself, Maybe I should sign up this year? So what if I have hardly been running this year? So what if race day is only 37 days away? So what if the time I start training for it is about the same time that I should be about to start tapering?

With all that reasoning, or maybe anti-reasoning if such a thing exists, it's not hard to believe that I had to sign-up.  I just completed my online registration and I am officially in for this year's race.

I am in no way expecting a good time, this is more of a completion race.  But seeing how my PR is 4:33 it shouldn't be to hard to beat (coming from someone with no training).

Wish me luck!