October 27, 2009

A PB by 19 seconds

At the James Cunningham Seawall 9.5km this past Sunday I finished in 38:15, placing second in my age group and 8th female. This race attracts some swift runners.

The course around Stanley Park is - naturally - stunning. It's also flat.

My finish time is a 19-second improvement on my performance there in 2007, which is promising - especially because that 2007 race was followed by a couple of major 10km PBs including breaking the 40-minute barrier twice.

The organisation of this race is fantastic. As I crossed the finishline, the MC told the crowd that I was in the top 10 for the third year in a row. Pretty impressive that they are so prepared to have this information at their fingertips. There are much bigger races who could learn a thing or two from these guys.

As I hung on to a fence just across the finish to catch my breath the organiser came over to me and thanked me for supporting the race. You can bet I'll be back there to race again next year!

October 22, 2009

Planning Race Season

I love race planning. Usually I plan four to six months ahead. In the past four years my goal events have been marathons. While I never stop training, aside from about a two-week break after a marathon (typically I do two of those per year), I make sure that I allow for unstructured training if my mind needs a break.

As mentioned in previous posts that is what I did this summer. After racing two marathons close together, finishing both in 3hrs 10mins, I needed a physical and mental rest from my training routine.

With a book and articles to write, starting a new part-time job, a puppy to train, two art shows to coordinate and a few more to participate in, overseas visitors for three months straight and a partner who was training for Ironman on top of working full time, I knew I didn't have enough time in my schedule to prepare for a fall marathon.

Instead, I just ran as I pleased for two months before setting this Sunday's 9.5km race as my goal event and asking my coach Pat Carroll for a training program focused on this.

I really enjoyed having a program again, as much as I enjoyed not having one for a few weeks too. I want to know that my training is focused, that I am training as efficiently as I can and that I am not overtraining and risking injury (never any guarantees).

The best thing about having a training program designed for me specifically by someone I respect and trust completely is that it takes all the guess work and thinking out of it. All I need to do every day is to open up my spreadsheet to see what session he wants me to do - then I do it.

If he wants me to run as hard as I can I do. If he wants me to take a rest day I do so too. If there is only an easy run then I do that. I have wondered whether it is time to change coaches, just for variety and because I have been with Pat for 4 1/2 years. But so far I haven't.

He always manages to put enough variety in my training programs - I love them. He challenges me but also provides enough recovery so that I do not feel stressed, mentally or physically. While training for a marathon is tiring, I have been able to cope with his sessions and been able to stay healthy - that is the most important thing of all.

All the above means that I trust my coach completely. And each time I wonder if I should check if the grass is greener on the other side, I realize that my side is probably as green as it gets.

With my goal race only a few days away Pat doesn't like me to think about the day, let alone weeks and months after. And I will not think about anything else in the next few days. But in the last few weeks the thought of running another marathon kept crossing my mind.

To have a solid and focused marathon preparation I like to start at least five months out. With the Vancouver Marathon, my logical `home-town' race, on the first weekend of May it was time to consider my options.

For the past couple of years I have toyed with the idea of running a marathon in The Netherlands where I was born and raised. While I have raced everything from 5k's to half marathons as well as triathlons ranging from Olympic distance to 3/4 Ironman distances in The Netherlands, I have yet to race my first marathon there.

Perhaps I could combine a family visit with a marathon. I found a great flight, direct, in early April - perfect timing for the Rotterdam Marathon, which bills itself as the second-fast marathon in the world.

Having lived in Rotterdam for a while in the early 90s, I would love to revisit this city and see it in a different way. Registration only starts at the end of the month. I haven't been able to find any details on their site, such as what time the race starts or how much it costs. But if all goes well I think the Rotterdam Marathon 2010 will be my next goal race.

That will determine my training from next week until the end of April (including recovery). I will probably try to find a 10km and half marathon in between - in consultation with Pat of course.

For now, I need to focus on Sunday. Today's session is a speed session, alternating two minutes of hard running with 30 seconds easy (six repeats).

October 21, 2009

Long Time No Blog...

It has been a while since I posted on this blog. That doesn't mean I stopped writing, running or painting. On the contrary, it's because I have been very busy with those and a few other things that I haven't made the time to write new posts.

Today is Wednesday - a few days to go until my next race, the 9.5km in Stanley Park. This is a special race to me. It was the first race I did when Tim and I arrived back in Canada two years ago with the intention to stay. After an exciting tussle with a final sprint to the line, I just finished third female in a time that I was quite happy with.

This result also handed me my first invitation to race in the event the following year. That I did, but after finishing the Victoria Marathon in a PB two weeks prior I had to take it easy. This year I am back to race hard and I am looking forward to it!