November 30, 2010

Reviewing the 2010 season

As we are about to begin the final month of the year, I am already looking ahead to the 2011 running season. I do not have any more races planned in 2010, which has been an interesting year for my running.

A year ago I had planned and registered for two key races: a half marathon in mid-February and a marathon at the start of April. My coach Pat Carroll since June 2005 had given me another great training program and I was training diligently.

Then I was offered a one-month contract for the month of February to work as a reporter for the Olympic News Service at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games covering three sports: cross country skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping.

Of course I didn't say no to this opportunity, but it meant that my training was seriously curtailed for four solid weeks as I worked every day except three. On top of my working hours, commuting to the Whistler Olympic Park venue took at least three hours a day, on a good day.

I wasn't able to race that half marathon in February.The work was superb but intense. On my three days off that month I chose to do my long runs. But my speed work suffered and so did my motivation as I knew I hadn't been doing the training in my most crucial month for the marathon. 

I knew I was fit enough to do well in the Rotterdam Marathon, the first one I have run in the Netherlands where I was born and raised, but wasn't sure that I was PB-ready. In the end I finished in 3:11, a solid four minutes slower than the PB I ran in October 2008 in the Victoria Marathon.

As always I took a two-week break as I considered my plans for the second half of the year. In the past five years, my key races have been marathons of which I have been racing two a year. I planned my other races, 10kms and half marathons, to fit the buildup for the marathon.

In 2009, I'd experimented with running a second marathon very close to the first, finishing the Vancouver Marathon in 3:10 at the start of May and the North Olympic Discovery Marathon five weeks later, also in 3:10. I set a course record in the 7th annual running of this event and was very excited about winning my first marathon.

This year I'd wanted to go back to the North Olympic Discovery Marathon because I was keen to improve my time there but the early June weekend is a popular one for running and triathlon races. Tim was keen to race the 2010 Oliver Half Ironman, held on the same weekend as the NODM, in the Okanagan. And of course I went with him to cheer him on there.

(My 2009 NODM course record still stands and perhaps I'll have a chance to do this race again in 2011).

Instead, I had also found a 10km race in Summerland held that same June weekend on the day before Tim's half Ironman. It was a hilly event that started at 6pm and I crossed the line as first female in a time of nearly 42 minutes.

Next up was the Scotiabank Half Marathon at the end of June where I was pleased to finish in 88:30, not far off the 88:13 PB I ran in the 2008 Sunshine Coast Half Marathon, and won my age group.

In July I ran a 10km on flat trails as part of a women's team in the Squamish Triathlon, where our team earned second place in the women's teams division.

At the start of August I ran a 10km on the road which I finished in 41:00, fast enough for second place in the F40-44 division, though I was a little annoyed with missing out on a 40-minute time by one second. Alas.

Instead of doing my usual second marathon in the year I had opted to do something different. I had not asked for a new training program from my coach of five years. It's not that there was anything wrong with it, there was plenty of variety but I just wanted something different.

So I had registered for the 50-mile STORMY, an ultra event across the hilly trails around Squamish on the second weekend of August. My day went well and I finished in 10:15, and first in the F40-49 division. While the last three hours had been difficult, I had thoroughly enjoyed the ultra and decided to do another one, the 100km Haney to Harrison at the beginning of November.
In September and October I ran as I pleased. I did not feel like doing speedwork so I didn't. My longest run was 2:45, which I did once. My other long runs were done in split runs, typically doing 80-90 minutes in the morning on trails with my dog, and another 30-60 minutes in the afternoon, again with my dog on the trails most of the time.

On November 6 I was one of 21 solo runners who started the 100km Haney to Harrison road run. It was a tough but fantastic experience that I finished in 10:29, second female and first in the F40-49 division.

My recovery from the 100km has gone well. While I've been running again, I still have not done any speedwork which means that I have not done any for four months. I am about to change that, though.

Overall 2010 has been a good running year, with a nice change of pace. I ran my 13th marathon, which was my 9th consecutive sub-3:15 marathon finish. Perhaps the highlight was finishing the 100km earlier this month, though I loved STORMY too and was very pleased to run my second 88-minute half.

Importantly, I've met some great local, and non-local, runners who have inspired me in different ways and I cannot wait to use that refreshed motivation for the 2011 season! 

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