March 31, 2012

Ready for Sunshine Coast half marathon?

After, what I believe to have been, dehydration knocked me out on Thursday and still left me feeling off on Friday, I was much better today. Two rest days and plenty of good hydration helped for sure and I felt good enough to try the 11K recovery run that was on my schedule today.

As mentioned in my previous post, I went from feeling fine on Wednesday night to waking up dizzy and weak the next day. Without any other signs of illness, I can only conclude that my sloppy attitude towards hydration over the past few days (and months, if I am honest) caught up with me. It is amazing how quickly one can go from feeling strong to being as weak as a wet rag.

I am looking on the bright side though, taking it as a crystal-clear reminder about the importance of hydration—especially when you're running as much as I have been in the past 12 weeks. In the final five weeks leading up to my goal race, the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 6, hydration will be a priority for sure. Meanwhile, those two days of rest were also beneficial and I just hope that this unexpected 'taper' will have boosted my energy.

Sunshine Coast April Fool's 21.1K
It was very nice to be running today after two days of forced rest, and my body did well at the easy pace. I hope and expect to have recovered enough to race the BMO Sunshine Coast half marathon tomorrow, April 1, as planned.

It's a great event that draws a nice mix of runners. (Click here to read a 2012 race preview.)

I signed up for this half marathon with the intention to use it as another marathon goal race pace run; my schedule calls for 23K at 4:15/K and a total of 32K; that means my goal for the half marathon will be to cross the finish in just under 90 minutes, then to keep going for another 2K at the same pace, before a cooldown of about 5K. I am planning to warm up with about 4K.

Tim and I did the Sunshine Coast half in 2008; I was in the best shape of my life then, having just run my first 40-minute 10K four months earlier, followed by two 39-minute 10Ks (39:51 PB) in the next three months. I improved my personal record for the 21.1K distance by 63 seconds to 88:13 in that 2008 Sunshine Coast half.

There must have been mile markers then, as I took mile splits: 6:22, 6:30, 7:08, 6:36, 6:05, 6:37, (10km in 40:41), 6:45, 6:30, 7:16 (15km in 62:29), 7:44, 6:47, 6:34, last 1.1 mile in about 7:12. While the pace might look all over the place, most of it is explained by the course (see below).

I remembered being thrilled about it then, especially since it would take me four years to improve it, to 87:27 in the First Half last month. I was greedy too, writing on this blog four years ago; "While I am happy that the records keep on coming my way, and I know that bettering a previous best set in December 2006 by more than a minute is not bad at all, I was expecting more."

Greediness is both a runner's strength and weakness; without the self-belief that we can, and will, do better, we wouldn't have the drive to sustain the effort of training hard. Yet sometimes that also results in a rush that leaves us skipping over our accomplishments too quickly without savouring them.

It's something I have learned since that string of PBs in 2008; three at the 10K in as many months, lowering my best time from 41:18 to 39:51 and improving my half marathon time to 88:13, as they ended up being times that would remain my best until this year. In fact, my 10K PB from 2008 still stands, and I hope to improve it in the Vancouver Sun Run on April 15.

Since the Sunshine Coast half turned out to be such a benchmark four years ago, I am looking forward to see how the race goes tomorrow. Given my experience in the First Half last month, where I did the first 16K at marathon pace and felt so fantastic I sped up in the final 5K to run a 46-second PB, I have checked what time would put me on track for another personal record at 17.5K—this is the point in the Sunshine Coast half that marks the final downhill, more or less, to the finish.

A net downhill course, a fact easy to forget between 14.5K & 17.5K:-)
Should I find myself at 17.5K at or under 73 minutes (unlikely as it translates to an average pace of 4:10) and feeling strong, I might go for gold. Again, I don't expect this to happen, especially not given the climb between 14.5K and 17.5K, but I'd rather be prepared than realizing this afterward. PBs are special, and an opportunity to earn one should not be passed up lightly.

Yet I also don't discount the possibility that my body hasn't recovered as well from Thursday as I believe.

Having said all that, at this point I plan to run the distance at an average 4:15/K.

Tim's racing too and we're driving up with two other runners from Squamish, Volker and Zoe. We'll have to catch the 7:20am ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale.

The weather forecast for Gibsons, where the race starts, calls for isolated showers and 6 degrees C. Sounds great to me.

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