December 15, 2008

Long Run Along Bosphorus, Istanbul

For our long run this week, I really wanted to experience running along the Bosphorus. It is such an important part of this city. At any time you'll find locals walking along, sitting by, swimming or fishing in this strait which forms the boundary between the European and Asian parts of Turkey.

My sister's regular running buddies, two Dutch neighbors, were also keen for a change of their usual Sunday route in the woods. As we left home at a very relaxed 9.30am to drive to the area of Sariyer where we'd park the car, it was very foggy.

But when we arrived at our starting point, the sun had come out and the views across the Bosphorus were spectacular. Both professional fishing boats and private fishermen were trying their luck. While we saw other runners, we counted them on one hand during a two-hour run.

(These images were taken a day earlier when it was raining at similar spots to where we did our long run.)

December 13, 2008

Registered for the 2009 Vancouver Marathon

Yesterday I registered for the Vancouver Marathon 2009 (May 3), just before December 15 to take advantage of the early registration fee. (There is a 5.5% fee to pay online.)

I've run this course once before and I am hoping that this year's experience will be very different.

The actual course is OK - mildly undulating so on paper it should be a relatively fast one. In practice I found it hard to get into a good rhythm last year but, again, I hope it was mostly me and not the course.

My training for this race will start in earnest in about two weeks and I am excited!

It includes five 3-hour runs (if all goes well) - the most I've done.

I've been trying to include weight training for a year or more. But I keep putting it off - let's see if I can get it together for this marathon!

December 06, 2008

Training overseas

One of perks of being a runner is that training provides the perfect opportunity to explore places on foot. I am in Turkey for 2 1/2 weeks and then in the Netherlands for five days. Both are family visits.

My sister has been living in Istanbul for nearly three years. After a visit in September 2007, I am back to see her. The difference between this time and the last is that she has become a runner too.

She started running in early 2008 with the goal of completing the 10km Nike Human race in
Istanbul. She did, and then trained for the 15km of Istanbul held in October. She completed that one as well and is still following a training routine that involves running four days a week.

Needless to say that I am so proud of her. She visited me in Canada earlier this year for 10 days and we did our runs together. Now we have a chance to do so again. Today is our long run and she will take me to the forests near Kylios.

I am looking forward to running outside as we have done our training on the treadmill this week. Mostly because when she returns home for work it is already pitch black outside.

Another reason is that last year I had an unpleasant encounter here with a couple of the many street dogs that roam this area. While most of them are friendly and asleep, early in the morning hunger puts some of them in a bad mood as they search for food. I was in the unfortunate position to run into a couple of those. Luckily, a local was around to help me out but the experience made me more cautious about running along the streets in this area early in the morning.

When I go to the Netherlands later this month, I plan to do the same 10km race I did there last year. This certified and flat 10km race was the first where I managed to run sub-41 mins. Since then I have broken 40 minutes twice, before suffering a few months of sluggishness and slower times in training and racing including a 10km of 41mins of change. That's a few months ago and I feel much better now so I am very keen to test my current level of fitness.

November 03, 2008

Prized Entry for the First Half in Vancouver

We knew that we had to sign up as soon as registration opened. Last year the 2000 spots for the First Half (a half marathon in Vancouver) sold out in five hours apparently.

I woke up a couple of times last night, reminding myself to sign up for this race as soon as I woke up. When I went to the online race registration at 7.15am, it was 73% full. Tim and I both registered as quick as we could. The race was sold out just before 8:30am, after opening at 5am.

Pfew, very lucky!

October 30, 2008

New goals

Time for a new six-month training program. The key goal is the Vancouver marathon in May. It's close to home and I would like to follow up the 2008 finish line with a much better one in 2009.

It will give me enough time to recover - both mentally and physically - from the Victoria marathon I just ran in October and also provides me with plenty of time to build back up. Coach Pat Carroll has given me five 3-hour training runs for this marathon, which is one more 3-hour run than I did for Victoria and a record total.

Along the way, there are some great goals such as the 5K race planned for the first weekend of December. It's been a long time since I raced a 5K and I am looking forward to getting closer to that 19:00 and possibly even into the 18:xx.

I love getting new training programs - such a great map for the next six months. I am excited!

October 19, 2008

Victoria marathon splits

For the first time, I was alert enough throughout the final stages of a marathon to keep taking all my km splits. Here they are:

4.15 2 (it was unreal how fast everyone started - even at this pace i had hundredSSS run past me)
4.26 6
4.23 3
4.11 5 (whoops though i do think this was downhill)
4.25 7
4.36 5
4.27 4
4.19 5
4.27 3
4.19 1
4.33 3
4.30 5
8.51 1
4.28 3
4.18 5
4.53 9 (i do think this marker and the previous one were were a bit off)
4.34 3
4.16 8 (must have been downhill again)
4.25 7
4.25 6 so 21K at 1.33 10

1.33 37 (halfway split as marked in results)

3.53 2 (no way i think but tt's what the watch says)
4.19 2
4.16 6
4.22 6
8.48 0
4.26 4
4.33 9
4.15 6
4.48 0 (think this and previous one are the sames kms as the above 4.18 and 4.53 on way back into town. turn was at about 23.5km
4.39 0
4.29 2
8.54 9
4.30 1
4.42 9
4.41 2
4.38 6
4.18 3
4.27 6
4.56 3 (for final 1.2km)

3.07.11 on watch, official result 3.07 10

October 13, 2008

Marathon PB

Sometimes everything falls into place, despite a few minor hiccups. (One was that I found out two days before the race that my left shoe was torn. With no other marathon-capable shoes in my collection, I bought a new pair the day before the race - breaking one of the cardinal rules not to try anything new on race day. But I did buy the same type of shoe I had done my training in and used the old insoles.)

The weather was spectacular: chilly, sunny and dry. The course was amazing, gently rolling and with amazing ocean and mountain views. A fantastic organization and friendly positive volunteers also helped confirm my positive frame of mind.

I'll post a race report later. For now, I'll just tell you that I crossed the finish line in 3:07:10 - a 98-second PB. Pretty happy.

October 08, 2008

Approaching Marathon Race Day

Four days until race day! I love the feeling of pre-marathon excitement mixed with trepidation about the final 12km. But I've forgotten enough about the misery of the Vancouver marathon in May this year that I am happily looking forward to the Victoria marathon.

Training has been a bit mixed - as noted before here, I didn't feel right pretty much from the start in the Vancouver marathon. And in the months since then I've been a bit tired and flat, running some of my slowest times in my speed sessions since Pat Carroll became my coach in June 2005.

Both Pat and I have been at a loss to find a reason, but perhaps driving across Canada by myself, another 4000km roadtrip and a slew of international visitors required more energy than I realized. In the last two months, the stressful process of buying a house and starting renovations has also left me more tired than usual obviously.

As always, I have thoroughly enjoyed my training - running is just such an important part of my life as it really helps me clear or organize my mind and recharge mentally. As Tim also decided to enter the Victoria marathon, we've been doing our long runs together which of course makes it more fun.

Since Vancouver I've only done two races, a 10k mon the road (finishing 90secs slower than most recent ones) and a 15km trail race. Last Friday, I had for the first time in six months a speed session that made sense with my times earlier in the year. While that's very promising, it makes it hard to set a goal time for this marathon.

Pat and I agreed on aiming for 3:10 and see how that goes. My PB is 3:08:48, set in Canberra in April 2007, and my most recent time is 3:12:26 (Vancouver in May 2008).

I cannot wait for race day, whatever it will bring. I love a challenge and a marathon will always provide that!

The forecast for Victoria on Sunday is for a dry sunny day with temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees.

August 19, 2008

Little blogging, still training

It's been a while since updates. But that doesn't mean I have slacked off my running. While I've been tired overall since the Vancouver marathon, which I have mostly noticed in slow times for my timed repeats, I am still enjoying my training. And I am still planning to race the Victoria marathon in less than 8 weeks from now.

Last Sunday I did the first of my four 3-hour runs for this race. Given that Tim was away, and I was on my own for the whole thing, I was pleased with how it went. Part of my time was spent thinking about the three incidents of that week, all in the area and therefore making the `bear in area' signs come to life during my runs. But thankfully I didn't come across any black fur.

And the most recent Sunday had me race for the first time since May 3. The race was a 10k in Richmond. The setting was great, and the course was pancake flat. While I ran my slowest time in a long time (I am afraid to look it up), I was happy with my near-perfect pacing and not hurting too much for too long. As an added bonus, I was third female.

This weekend I am doing my second 3-hr training run and hopefully this time Tim will keep me company - he is also toying with entering the Victoria marathon.

June 27, 2008

Back to Timed Repeats

On Tuesday I had to run my first timed repeats since I did the Vancouver marathon on May 4. Some six weeks without them has been nice. But also good to see where I am at.

My sessions was 8 x 500m, with as much rest in between them as I wanted. I did them on a path nearby that has 500m and K markers. The section was flattish with some undulations.

My 500m times were:
1min rest
1.08 rest
1.30 rest
1.45 rest
1.50 rest
3.41 rest
2.39 rest

I had to report those back to my coach. He said that meant I averaged about 1:48, and gave me a goal for today's session. I have to run 5 1K repeats, with 1 minute rest between each. My goal is to run them in 3:48 or faster.

June 15, 2008

Victoria Marathon

After a great holiday with my parents and Tim through Alberta and British Columbia, and an easy training schedule, I decided to make the Victoria marathon in October my next main goal. My coach Pat Carroll had already given me a tentative training schedule for that race, but given me the option to change my mind over the holiday.

But I am in `marathon mode', and the idea of long runs all over the Canadian summer appeals to me. Besides, I am toying with the idea of entering the 2009 Boston marathon. Assuming that my entry would be accepted, I'd run the mythical Boston marathon 10 years after I ran my first race of that distance - Ottawa 1999. Back then, making it to Boston by meeting the qualification times seemed like a tough ask and I've always dreamed of running that race.

But first back to Victoria in October. Pat's training programs are always varied, but this time he's thrown in some changes I find very exciting. For the first time since I joined him in June 2005, he's given me days with two runs. I am scheduled to run four 3-hour runs in total, with three of them followed by a 30-minute run in the evening. Love it!

What I've also decided to do is do two weight training sessions a week. In 2005, I used a great weight training program, aimed at Ironman triathletes. It's a great workout that addresses the whole body, and I couldn't believe the difference it made after six weeks. Gaining extra strength, particularly in my core, will help my running I believe.

That sub-3 hour marathon is firmly on my mind - the timing doesn't concern me too much, and Victoria may or may not be it, but I am convinced I am capable of breaking that elusive barrier.

Today I did a 2-hour run, and felt great. Tomorrow I am doing my first weight training session.

May 18, 2008

Recovery Program

As always coach Pat had great advice. He suggested four weeks of `down time' - I'll keep you posted as to what that means for me when my new training program arrives. And he also recommended I wait until mid-June to decide whether I want to commit myself to running another marathon in mid-October. That would still give me 17 weeks to prepare for the Victoria marathon, so plenty of time.

So that's what I'll do. At this point I am quite keen on a `revenge'-marathon because the latest one didn't go as I had in mind, and I know I can do better. But perhaps I'll feel different in four weeks time. It's starting to look like summer here, so I may prefer to do some cycling and hiking instead of 3-hour runs on a Sunday morning.

May 12, 2008

Taking Post-Race Laziness to Whole New Level

The Vancouver marathon was 8 days ago, and since then I've run once. It's the laziest I've been in probably 18 months or even longer. And I am really enjoying it. Partly because I know the next block of hard training will be right around the corner!

It's very important to have a mental and physical break from the demands of sticking to a training program. That's why I've decided to make the most of it. But I am already hatching a plan.

I've asked my coach whether he thinks making another marathon my main goal for the next five months is a good idea. If so, then I will do one in mid-October. If not, I will focus on 10km races and half marathons. Either option sounds good to me, so I'm waiting to hear what he recommends.

Next month it will be three years since I enlisted Pat Carroll as my coach, and I've recommended him to many others. His conservative approach to training mileage and focus on recovery have helped me remain injury-free, and have helped me get better consistently. Of course I've had to take care of myself as well, and my preference is for Active Release Therapy sessions which I aim to have about once a month.

Thinking about and putting together a race plan is always something I love to do, and I think most runners would agree with me. It's a time to dream about goals to achieve, and stretching yourself.

May 08, 2008

Vancouver Marathon

I didn't finish in the time goal I had in mind. In fact I didn't even better my marathon time.

My training had been going well. Since June 2005 Australia's Pat Carroll has been writing my programs, and with great success. When I joined him my best marathon time was 3:24, set at the Gold Coast in July 2004. He helped me take more than 10 mins off that time when I ran my next marathon, again at the Gold Coast, in July 2006. I finished in 3:13.

In the Canberra marathon in April 2007, I ran another big PB, finishing in 3:08. Three months later I did the Gold Coast again, but I had to settle for 3:15. That was OK, as I knew the time between the two marathons was a bit short.

After setting a 10km PB of 40:24 in December 2007, I began my preparations for the Vancouver marathon on a high note. And I was even more excited when I broke that elusive 40-min barrier for the 10km in January 2008, when I ran 39:51 in a race in Langley, winning my first 10km in the process.

My marathon training went well. I run five days a week, and usually about six hours or 80km.

At the Sunshine Coast half marathon at the end of March I shaved a minute off my best time for that distance, finishing in 88:13. I was right on target for my goal for a 3:05 marathon (or even a bit better.) Or so I thought.

My race pace was 7:03 per mile, with a target range of 6:58 to 7:06. I hit the first mile spot on at 7:02 and it felt easy. It got harder after that, even though I ran the next three miles in 7:07, 7:08 and 7:18 respectively. I had to pick up my pace slightly and it should have felt comfortable at that stage in the race.

But it felt like hard work already. And after running eight marathons, a couple of ultras as well as five Ironman triathlons (which finish the day with a full marathon) I know you feel relatively good until at least 25km. This time, I got halfway - a bit behind my goal pace - and I was struggling and I didn’t understand why. From about 25km it was getting really hard, mentally and physically. The 3:10 pace group had run by me and there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't even have the energy to stay with them for a little bit.

I reached 30km at 2:14:24, a solid 10 minutes behind my goal. By then, I was in survival mode. I desperately tried to avoid giving in to an overwhelming desire to stop and go home. It just felt all hard. I thought I’d be lucky to finish in 3:20, instead of my 3:05 goal time. I realised my PB of 3:08:48 would remain my best marathon time a bit longer. I remained focused on making sure I kept running, no matter how slow. I no longer checked my mile splits as they were too disheartening.

All I could do was focus on getting to that finish line. By mile 23 my spirits lifted a bit as I was proud of myself for not giving in, and by mile 24 I was actually picking up my pace. But it took a lot of effort, and in the final 500m I was desperately trying to stop myself from throwing up.

Three women passed me in the homestretch, but my protesting stomach prevented me from caring. The four of us finished within 5 seconds of each other. I crossed the finish line in 3:12:26 and was completely spent.

My calves were concrete, and it was hard to walk. It felt like one of the hardest marathons I have run, not the course but just the way I felt compared with how I should have felt or have felt in previous marathons. In the end it is the second-fastest time I have run one so I'll take that. But I find it a bit hard to think about how the time compares to my expectation of 3:05 or even at least a PB, let alone my dream goal of running closer to 3hrs.

As my always-positive coach said to me, ``You had a go and a true fighter will bounce back for another chance at the title.’’ So I will first take his advice of chilling for a week or two, and then decide on some races over the next few months. I'll definitely do another marathon because I am convinced I have a sub-3 hour marathon in me.

I guess it wouldn’t be as much fun if it was all so easy, would it?

April 19, 2008

Half Marathon PB

While I am happy that the records keep on coming my way, and bettering a previous best set in December 2006 by more than 1 minute is not bad at all - I was expecting more!

But with the last 6km as hilly as they were, I should be content that I didn't lose more than the 2 minutes I did off my pace. Yes - at 15km I was still spot on for an 86-minute finish! That's pretty exciting. I also passed the 10km mark at my fourth-fastest time ever for that distance!

End result 88:13 for the Sunshine Coast half marathon.

Based on this, coach Pat set my goal for the Vancouver marathon at sub 3:05. He's told me to aim for being at the halfway mark in 1:32:30, keep up the pace, and then hammer the final 5km!

That works out to 4:23/km. I'll have to work it out in miles as well since that is what will be used at the markers. Only two weeks until race day!

April 01, 2008

Sub-40 Again

This Sunday I raced in a local 10km. Since I last did one in January, and broke 40mins for the first time, I've been training for the Vancouver marathon, held on May 4. The past three weeks were the heaviest training load, with three consecutive Sunday long runs of three hours.

Lots of hills have made for interesting training and I feel much stronger. So I was pretty happy to finish this 10km in 39:55 (not only first female, but first overall hahah - it was a small race - though I had two people chase me and I was chasing one of them between about 4.5km and 8.5km of the race!

The course was relatively flat, with three minor hills, but it had lots of twists and turns and two sets of short stairs. I felt good, but not great. So I was pretty happy with my time.

Next goal is the Sunshine Coast half marathon on April 6. I am planning to race hard! My current PB is 89:16.

January 20, 2008

Unexpected PB - sub 40 10km!

About a month after having a dream 10km, my mindset is very different as I start another 10km race today. I am at the Chilly Chase in Langley, BC. Since my PB a month ago, I got quite sick with a bad cough and flu at the start of 2008. I even had to miss running sessions for eight days. When I got back to running on Jan. 6 I didn't feel quite the way I felt before getting sick.

And when I ran a 3km time trial five days ago, I fell short of my goal by at least 34 seconds. That may not sound like a lot but it was the slowest time I'd run it in quite a while. Coach Pat has me doing these 3km time trials regularly. I did this one on a track, so while the laps make you go a little crazy, it is flat and traffic free.

I had five day after that time trial until the race. With little at stake, I decided to aim for about 4:05min/kms and just see how long I could keep that up. The course was pretty flat, the first 3km were slightly uphill with another slight uphill in the second half of the race, and of course the downhill parts in between.

I started at the front of the race and had a smooth start. I tried to find a rhythm at a pace that felt slightly uncomfortable yet not too bad. At the 1km-mark my watch read 4:11. Hmmm slow for a first km when I am usually so pumped and go close or just under 4mins. Oh well, I felt like I was running hard enough and kept at it. The 2nd km and 3rd km went by in similar times. So I decided that as looking at my watch didn't make me that happy, I'd do a bit less of it.

I focused on catching a guy in front of me who then sped up as I passed him and we ran together for a while. Then I aimed for the next guy in front of me. (I'd looked back at about the 2.5km or 3km mark and didn't see many people behind me and couldn't see a woman so I knew I was in front.) It took me a while to catch him and as I did he sped up as well. It was great as we pushed each other along until about 9km.

From there, I could see the turning point that led to the finish, and with that in mind I found a little extra energy. As I turned the corner and could see the finish, I checked my watch and was surprised to see that perhaps I could finish in just under 41 min. Of course I found a bit extra speed until I saw the clock with about 15metres to go and it read 39:4X! I sprinted as hard as I could and finished with a chip time of 39:51!

January 05, 2008

Dream 10km time

Having arrived in the Netherlands about 24 hours earlier from Vancouver, Canada, I am not quite sure what to expect at the start of the Houtwijkkerstloop 10km on December 15, 2007. It is cold, sunny with little wind. The course is a certified 10km and as flat as they come. My starting position is not ideal but luckily the road is wide so I power through the slower runners in front of me.

My parents are watching the race at about the 1-km mark, and I decide to quickly pull off my long-sleeve top with hoody and hand it to my mum. I keep my gloves on, and race in a sleeveless top with long tights. As long as I keep running fast, I am warm enough. My first kilometre goes by in just under 4 minutes. I slow down a touch but not much as I feel good.

I have had my heart set on 40 minutes for a long time and today I feel ready to give it another good go. My best time is 41:18 run in August 2007. Today, I keep churning out kilometres that are just over 4 minutes so I am on target to finally break 41 mins. I tell myself that I deserve it and focus.

I cross the finish in 40:24 and am so happy! I have just smashed my previous 10km time and I know I can go faster. I get very cold after the race and go home with my parents after having watched a few others finish. My mum finds the results online which show I was second female. I guess I missed out on a prize. Oh well, there's no better reward than my time!