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!

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