May 22, 2009

Marathon experiment

Sometimes it takes a good friend to make a suggestion that seems crazy at first, before you realize she's absolutely right.

As I have mentioned on this blog, I was determined to celebrate my result at the 2009 Vancouver Marathon - no matter the statistical outcome. My race went very well, and I felt great. While my time was at least three minutes short of my goal, I placed in a marathon top 10 for the first time which made me pretty happy.

Even so, I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. I first ran 3:08:48 in the Canberra marathon in April 2007, claiming a PB of more than 4 minutes. It's now two years later and I've only managed to improve my marathon time by 1 minute and 29 seconds.

It's all about the journey - BUT I had expected to be a sub 3:05 marathoner by now. My good friend is a professional triathlete now. We first met in a triathlon group we were both training with. Back then she had just gotten into triathlon as a hobby, and I had yet to run my first sub-4 marathon.

She's an amazing athlete, who has grown from an age group into one of the fastest distance triathletes racing today in just a few years. Her dedication to the sport and improving her performance are second to none and inspiring to say the least.

When I told her about my Vancouver Marathon, and that I was wondering whether I had the time and energy to train for the Victoria Marathon in October, she suggested I should run another marathon SOON, and she meant real soon because I felt I had fallen short of my goal.

After my initial reaction which was that her idea seemed crazy, I gave it more thought. After she is someone who not only talks the talk but has definitely walked the walk. The idea started to grow on me - enough to start trawling through North American race calendars for a marathon within driving distance and within the next two months.

I found two options, one on June 7, and one on July 4. And after asking her husband, a certified coach and an elite amateur athlete, for advice he suggested I take the June 7 option and also offered to guide my preparations for the race.

So here I am, with a great 2 1/2 week training program focused on quality workouts (the quantity has been taking care of for sure in the past five months) and a commitment to racing the June 7 marathon.

While I have checked all the practicalities about getting to the race (a cross-border drive and a ferry trip), entering the race, the course, and accommodation for potentially two people and a dog (Tim's not sure he will come) I haven't yet signed up for the race or reserved accommodation - mostly because I don't want to commit the money yet.

After all, running a marathon only five weeks after the previous one to improve on a pretty decent performance is not in line with conventional running wisdom. But keeping in mind that I didn't go completely all out in my previous marathon, the fact that I seemed to have had a quick recovery (the first time I had zero issues going down stairs in the days following a marathon) and that I've felt pretty perky in my five training runs so far since this race all bode well.

It is an experiment - and should be fun!

Happy sponsor

New York-based SBR Multisports has provided my race gear for the 2009 season, including race top, number belt and visor - very comfortable and high-quality stuff!

May 16, 2009

What's next?

That's the big question. It's been 14 days since the marathon and I have not touched my running shoes since. Yet my recovery has been the most active ever, with a five-month-old energetic puppy that needs to be walked three times a day.

I've been hesitant about deciding on my races for the next six months for a few reasons, and they have little to do with running.

A. The puppy requires a lot of attention which is simply a priority at the moment and requires a time and energy commitment

B. A partner who is training for Ironman Canada, scheduled for late August, on top of working full-time

C. My commitments as a volunteer for VISUALS, a group of visual artists in Squamish, which consists of coordinating publicity and marketing as well as coordinating two exhibitions, both held in the June/July/August period; time to paint as I am participating in three exhibitions this summer, and one in winter.

D. The arrival of two great friends from Australia - one arrives on July 1 and will live with us for two months while training for numerous triathlons, and his partner joins us in mid-August. Tim and our friends will race Ironman Canada, while Luka and I will be cheering them on

E. On top of that, and this should actually be listed as my No. 1 goal, is my work on completing a book that I have been writing and rewriting for 18 months now.

So, while I can and will make the time to train for races, I am wondering if I am able to make the mental and physical commitment required to run a marathon PB this year. The one I'd most like to do because I loved the race last year is the Victoria Marathon.

However that race is held on the same day as the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii which if all goes according to plan Tim will qualify for. That would mean we would be in Hawaii instead of Vancouver Island on the weekend of the Victoria Marathon. But we won't know for sure until the end of August.

Perhaps the answer is to pick another marathon earlier or later this year, or to simply focus on racing 10k's and half marathons in the next six months. I am hoping the answer will come to me soon. I'll definitely go for my first run in two weeks tomorrow - nice and easy.

May 15, 2009

Article in the local newspaper

The Chief, the Squamish weekly newspaper, ran an article on some of the local runners in the Vancouver Marathon including me.

To read the online version, click here

The print version also ran the picture, as taken by Tim, that is on this blog.

May 11, 2009

Turns out I was 9th in Vancouver Marathon

My certificate says I was 9th female in the Vancouver marathon, instead of 10th as it seemed. Don't ask me why or how, but see here

As you can also see I was second in my age group, which would have given me a prize package and trophy. Unfortunately I didn't think about any awards after the race and wasn't able to stay anyway because our puppy had had more than enough excitement for the day.

May 04, 2009

Top 10 in Vancouver Marathon

Sometimes the hardest thing after a race is to be happy and satisfied. I ran the BMO Vancouver Marathon yesterday, it was my 10th marathon and my sixth marathon that I finished in 3:15 or faster. I’ve run 3:13 (Gold Coast in July 2006), 3:08 (Canberra in April 2007), 3:15 (Gold Coast in July 2007), 3:12 (Vancouver in May 2008), 3:07 (Victoria in October 2008) and 3:10 (Vancouver in May 2009).

While that is a record I am really happy with, it’s also something I’d really like to improve upon. I simply want to run a marathon faster than I already have and I am convinced that I can. How much faster, I am not sure. My ultimate goal is to finish a marathon in less than three hours. That’s a stretch but unless I try, I’d always wonder if I could have.

My goal yesterday was to make every step the best it could possibly be. During the race I felt that I achieved that. My coach Pat Carroll had sent me a good luck message the day before the race, reminding to “Run smart/Run tough”. During the first 30km I repeated the Run smart often to myself, by allowing myself to settle into the first 5km and by holding back slightly on every uphill before using the free speed on the downhill.

Many people start their marathon too fast- and I'd made a point of starting this one slow and easy. I had missed the 1km-marker along the course but heard the 3:15-pacer ask his runners if anyone had got that split. A woman responded 4:37 - whoops that was 12 seconds slower than my target pace - but it was also a really nice and relaxed start to the race. I sped up slightly – and ended up at 5km in a time of 22:31, about 26 seconds slower than planned but I was OK with that.

I felt relaxed and very comfortable. And that sums up the rest of my race for the largest part - relaxed and comfortably uncomfortable. My time was 3:10:19, good for a top 10 spot, my first in a marathon and fitting for my 10th marathon run 10 years after my first.

While I have to be happy with such a solid result, I also want more, better, and faster. But first I am going to relax for a couple of weeks - our puppy Luka will guarantee that my recovery will be very active.