April 27, 2009

Pre-Marathon Week

Six days until race day!

Rest is crucial. Tim is taking care of Luka's morning walks and other activities until noon. While I love our puppy, he takes a lot of mental and physical energy which I need to preserve this week. (After the marathon, I will focus on Luka while Tim prepares for Ironman Canada held in August).

My race plan is decided. Coach Pat Carroll agreed that I can aim for a PB this Sunday: that means my goal is to finish in 3:07:09 or faster. I will target to run about 4:25 per kilometre or 7:06 per mile, which would get me across the finish line in 3:06:22.

I've only raced twice in the past four months, a 10km and a half marathon. While I had planned - and registered for - the Vancouver Sun Run 10km held a week ago, the work that came with a new puppy had both Tim and I absolutely exhausted. On race day our alarm went off at 5:15am.

I worried that racing when already exhausted might jeopardize my health - and therefore my goal race the Vancouver Marathon. While a tough call, I decided to stay in bed to get extra sleep and skip the race.

I've felt tired during my training runs over the last two weeks, in large part due to the mental and physical energy required for our new puppy. So this week I really need to focus on rest.

Tomorrow I will do the final test of my race outfit - my new sponsor New York-based SBR Multisport has sent me a race top. I've already run with it twice and it is extremely comfortable. The final thing I need to test is whether the two backpockets comfortably hold the 10 gels I plan to carry with me in the marathon.

Nutrition is absolutely crucial in the marathon. After racing nine marathons, a couple of ultras, and five Ironman triathlons, my nutrition plan has been well developed. My breakfast consists of two Powerbars, eaten two hours before the race at the latest. I will drink about 750ml of water before the race and also have my usual morning coffee.

I will take water from each aid station, and start taking my gels about 45-60 minutes into the race. From then, I will take a Powerbar gel every 15-20 minutes. Like last year, I hope to put a bottle of Red Bull at the Special Needs aid station at around 30km. It feels good knowing that it is there should I need it. Caffeine really helps me focus my tired mind during those final painful kilometres of the marathon.

Tim and our puppy Luka will be there to cheer me on.

The current weather forecast for Sunday is a 70 percent chance of rain, with temperatures between 7 and 15 degrees.

Today I will drive to North Vancouver for an Active Release Technique session with a therapist I've seen before. I'll ask her to focus on releasing my hips and if time permits my calves.

On Thursday I will drive to downtown Vancouver to pick up my race package.

Other than that, as mentioned the key is rest. I will also sharpen my mental preparation. With this marathon being my sixth since April 2006, my mind is fully focused on this distance. Even so, I really need to visualize this particular race over the next few days and get fully focused on May 3.

I will also carefully monitor my hydration and nutrition this week, especially the final four days before the race. Plenty of water and my favourite energy drink mix are important, as are foods that I know will gel with my stomach.

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