Monday marked the start of the race preparation phase, which is four weeks. There are VO2-max workouts, tune-up races—and the final marathon race pace run this Sunday.
In the previous week I had covered a record 141K. I was tired on Monday and considered taking a rest day instead of the usual double recovery runs with 10K in the morning and 6K in the afternoon.
But I enjoy those easy runs, so at midday I ran an easy 10K. While my legs felt good and light, I also noticed a tightness in my calves that pulled on my Achilles. I decided to skip my second run of the day. Since the start of the year, in 2-1/2 months, I have only missed two (easy) sessions including that 6K.
The following day I was ready for a 14K run with 5 X 600m at 5K race pace. I ran the repeats on the road, instead of the track. My target was 2:15. According to the Garmin, I ran 2:19 (602m), 2:20 (605m), 2:13 (608m), 2:14 (612m) and 2:09 (610m). A solid session.
Next I went to see my new sponsor Chief Chiro in Squamish where Dr Leah Stadelmann did a superb job releasing the muscles in my glutes, calves and lower back. Tight calves put tension on the Achilles.
Wednesday, I ran 24K at an average of 5:05 per K. My body felt so much better after Leah's treatment. I took it easy, especially in the first half of the run, as I do tend to be more tired for a day or two after a treatment as my body adjusts to the released muscles. I had a nap afterward. "Tired, tired. Weeks fly by and I am tired," I wrote in my diary.
However, I know that the level of fatigue is only normal for the training that I am doing. And I was reminded of that by emails with Dutch marathon masters champion Vanessa Gosselink, who has been feeling the same way in her preparations for the Jaarbeurs Utrecht Marathon in the Netherlands on April 9. She has begun her taper now, and with two weeks to go until her race day, she is having a week with lots of rest.
On Thursday I had 11K at recovery pace; the session also included 6 X 100m striders. And on Friday, I had another 10K recovery. What a luxury! It felt like an easy week and I kept doing the math as I couldn't believe that this would add up to more than 100K in 7 days. It's amazing how the mind and body adjust.
My easy Thursday and Friday sessions were a mini-taper aimed at a tune-up race on Saturday. This was meant to be a hard effort, i.e. I was supposed to give it all I had.
"Tune-up races are important benchmarks for your fitness and prepare you mentally for the rigors of racing. Because less is at stake, even the toughest workout isn't as mentally demanding as a race. .. The all-out aspect of racing provides a mental hardening that's necessary to run a good marathon," according to Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas in Advanced Marathoning.
After a bit of Googling earlier in the week, I had managed to find a 10K starting at 10am at Jericho Beach in Vancouver. Tim, who is very supportive, agreed to come. It's a beautiful spot, and Tim knows it well, as the 10K course followed part of that of the Vancouver Half Ironman which he is set to do for the fourth time this year. He and Luka went for a two-hour wander along the beach, following the 10K course to the turnaround point.
Meanwhile, I signed up for the race, $40, and then went for a warm-up jog along the straight section of the course. It's mostly dirt/gravel paths. Since it was a gorgeous spring day, every man and his dog were out for a run, ride, or walk, so I'd have to be careful as the path wouldn't be closed off for the small race. There was a light headwind on the way out, which was perfect as that meant a light tailwind on the return.
After running for 25 minutes, with 4 strides at the end, it was 10 to 10am. Almost time to start. I had considered wearing the Garmin but decided against it as I haven't done a race with it yet; there's too much information to get distracted by. I prefer to let my body find its own pace in races and do simple checks on a Polar watch if possible by taking splits.
My plan was to go hard, as that was the goal, and that's what I did.
We immediately had a couple of turns in the first K, as there was a loop before we got to the out-and-back part. Volunteers did a superb job of showing us the way at each corner. A group of guys were out in front, and there were a couple near me for the entire way. Since I pushed myself into high gear immediately, I was committed to sticking with the challenging pace.
A stitch began bothering me just before 5K and I tried to hard to prevent it from getting worse by changing my breathing pattern and focusing on maintaining my rhythm. It took a couple of K to subside. Towards the end of the race, what I think was just before 9K, the guy who had been running ahead of me for most of the way turned left, and I followed, and I believe someone else behind me did as well.
It didn't seem right. We went over a little bridge, and could see the finish on the right, about 200 metres away, and the people at the finish could see us. We were in the right area but were we on the right course? We passed a volunteer at the next corner, who seemed taking aback by our passing her. The guy ahead of me turned right, and I asked, "Which way?" Left, she said, unconvincingly, looking just as confused as I felt.
The guy ahead kept going, so did I as turning left did not make sense either. Taking a wrong turn at 9K into a 10K race hurts. At the next corner, we turned left, away from the finish, and ran out again, before two volunteers turned us around the same way back. Argh. Oh well.
I sprinted across the line in 39:55, according to the big clock at the finish. At least I knew the time I had spent running as hard as I could, even if I didn't know the distance. It was a great hard effort, exactly what I needed to do. I asked the volunteer who was writing down our times if we had gone the right way. She'd check. The guy ahead of me said he believed that if anything, we had run long. I believe we ran short, by 200 to 250 metres, but I could be wrong.
It was a great event and I am glad I did it, as I could never have pushed myself as hard in training.
On Sunday I had 29K. Given Saturday's hard effort, my body didn't need much convincing to take it a little easier, running an average 5:11/K on an absolutely glorious spring morning at an average heart rate of 128 beats per minute.
For the week, I ran 112K. The coming week is another biggie, my second-largest at 137K. I am hoping to run a 5K time trial on Tuesday evening with the Squamish Titans. And on Sunday I am doing the Sunshine Coast Half Marathon, though my session calls for 23K at marathon goal race pace as part of a total 32K that day. That means my goal will be to cross the finish in just under 90 mins and keep going for another 2K at the same pace.