Thursday, March 24, 2011

Half Marathon Race Plan

Well, my first race of the season is coming up this Sunday and I sure hope I'm ready.  I ended up missing a whole week of training because of a bad cold and it always takes my legs a few runs to feel like they are back on track.  I went for an easy 45 min run on Tuesday and I'm hoping to do an hour today.  Then I'll rest my legs Friday and Saturday and hope for the best.

The Plan

So my plan is to basically repeat the run I did two weeks ago. I have been testing a different fueling/water plan for the past few months and I think I have that dialed in now too.  For my half iron last June, and my half marathon last October, I used my hydration pack and carried my own fuel/water mix with Nuun and Carbo-Pro.

However, because it is cooler right now, I don't need as much water so I'm planning to carry my hand held bottle only and refill it at the half way point.  I don't think this will take me more than a minute to do (and has taken me considerably less in practice).

I went to a few places to buy some more Nuun (Orange Ginger) but couldn't find any.  Then I noticed Kelowna Cycle is now carrying Hammer Endurolytes Fizz. I've never tried them before but they look very similar to Nuun except they have a lower salt content. I bought a tube of the grapefruit flavour and tried them on my last run.  They tasted fine and seemed to be pretty much the same as Nuun.  I will have one in my bottle when I start and I will carry another tablet to drop in my bottle when I refill.

Because I don't want to bother with Carbo-Pro during the refill, I decided to test Espresso Hammer Gel in a gel flask. I know I like it and it doesn't bother my stomach but I've never been able to figure out how and where to carry the flask when I'm running and found Carbo-Pro in the hydration pack so much easier. I definitely don't like taking gels straight from the pack - they are too thick and hard to eat when I'm running and breathing hard.  I much prefer it mixed with 2/1 gel/water. 

On Tuesday, I found a way to strap my gel flask to my hand held bottle and it didn't bother me at all.  I was even able to drink from the flask without taking it off my bottle so I think that's going to work just fine.  To attach it, I used one of my reflective velcro arm straps to wrap around the bottle and the flask.  It held fairly well on its own but because there's the possibility of it sliding down a little on a long run, I also attached a small piece of sticky-back velcro to the bottle and the flask so it won't accidentally slide out. 

I will take one gel right before I start the race (mainly because I don't eat much breakfast on race day), and then I will take one at the 45 min and one at the 90 minute mark. This coincides nicely with the big hill climb and the end of the race.

I'm expecting it to be fairly cold at race start, probably between 3-5C (37-40F) and not likely going to warm up more than a few degrees by the end. Therefore, I plan to wear tights, a base layer, Sugoi mid-zero jersey and my vest. There are showers in the forecast so if it looks like it might rain, I'll probably wear my jacket instead of my vest.  I will wear my Oliver Half Iron cap and a headband to cover my ears. I won't take gloves but I can pull my sleeves down over my hands for awhile if I need to.  I plan to take my ipod and I have 2:15 worth of motivational music and Podrunner 180 bpm ready to go.

The race course is mostly flat but has one longish hill between 9-11km mark. At that point, the elevation climbs about 45 m (150'), most of it in the first km.  Here's the elevation profile.

If all goes well and my legs are feeling good, here's how I plan to run it.  My goal is to stay in HR Zone 2 for most of the race with the exception of the hill at km's 9/10 and the last 2-3 km.  I want to start off conservatively and run the first 2 km at a 6:30/km pace (10:25 mile).  Then I want to speed up a little to about a 6:15/km (10 min mile) for the rest of the race.  I expect to slow down to 6:30-7:00 km for the hill, and then hopefully speed up to 5:45/km (9:15 min mile) for the last few km's. My goal time is around 2:15.

That's the plan.  The reality may be something completely different.  Ultimately I will listen to my body and do whatever speed feels good, and keeps my HR in Zone 2.  I want to feel good after the run and not need a week off to recover.

Keeping my fingers crossed. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Belated Merry Christmas to me!

Well, I finally got around to hitting the local stores to look for a late-season deal on a pair of skate skis, boots, and bindings. Turned out most places had already put away their winter gear and pulled out the summer stuff! Luckily, the skis I did find were at Fresh Air Experience, where I had $210 in gift certificates given to me by my wonderful students. Erik gave me credit towards skate skis for Christmas so that, combined with slashed prices meant I was able to get set up for a little over $200.  Not bad for a package that would have cost me $1200 last fall!

I came home with a nice pair of  Madshus Hypersonic skate skis.  They are a mid-quality skate ski, 170 cm, medium camber for a newbie like myself.  The skis I've been learning on are much stiffer and longer (181 cm) so it'll be nice to try out a pair that are more my size.

For boots, I decided to go with the Rossignol X-9.  The men's boot fit better (size 39), probably because I have wide feet, and they were much more comfortable than the serviceable boots I had borrowed.  Plus I think I'll have room to tuck a hot pocket into the toes if needed. I liked the colour better than the women's version anyway. :)

I went with the Rottefella NIS R4 race binding (not that means much to me ;).  Erik has Pilot bindings but I didn't like the Salomon or Atomic boots so stayed with NIS. They seemed easiest to unclip.

There aren't many skate ski days left, but I'd be smart to wait until after my half marathon next weekend before I try them out. The only downside about these skis is that the ones I borrowed had super expensive race wax on them and I'm sure anything less will feel inferior now.  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

KG's ABC's...

I stole this from Petra - check out her great blog!  Feel free to cut and paste and join in! 

A~Age: 50, for a couple more weeks.

B~ Bed Size: King - bought it a few months ago - I <3 my bed.

C~Chore you hate: Doing dishes. And pretty much all the rest of the household chores as well.

D~Dogs: Two. Gabe - a Chocolate Lab, and Angel - a Golden Retriever. (And Zoe, the cat)

E~Essential Start your Day Item: Coffee with cream and sugar. Only Erik's will do.

F~Favourite Color: Not just one - red, blue, green

G~Gold or Silver: Silver or white gold

H~Height: 5'3"

I~Instruments you play: piano and guitar, a little banjo and Djembe. Can hack at a few others.

J~Job Title: Elementary School Teacher - Primary - currently Grade 3 (7-8 year olds)

K~Kids: Carly - 27, Angie - 25 (and son in law, Mark), Jesse - 13.  Step daughter Jenn - 29.

L~Live: Kelowna, BC, Canada.  The only place to live.

M~Mom’s name: Donna.

N~Nicknames: Barb (and don't call me Barbie :)

O~Overnight Hospital Stays: 3 kids, and one bunion surgery back in '79. 

P~Pet Peeve(s): Negative people, "entitlement", lack of empathy, and people with no sense of personal responsibility.  Oh yeah, and TV, I hate TV.

Q~Quote from a Movie: "Wilson!!!!!!!!!!""

R~Right or Left Handed: Right

S~Siblings: 2 brothers, and one sister. All younger.

T~Time you wake up: 7am most mornings. 6:30 if I have to.

U~Underwear: I wear it.  Except under my bike shorts. :) 

V~Vegetable you Dislike: Hmmmm, none really.

W~What Makes You Late: fooling around on the internet. (Stole that from Petra)

X~X-rays You’ve had Done: finger, hip, low back, dental... (weird question)

Y~Yummy Food you Make: Check out my recipe blog >

Z~Zoo Animal Favorite: Too sad to think about animals stuck in a zoo.....

Monday, March 14, 2011


Anyone in here?  Sounds kind of quiet...

...OK, I really fell off the blogging habit - no particular reason, except I've been hesitant to post about my running in case I jinxed it.  Seriously, I'm kind of paranoid and superstitious sometimes - go figure..

Plus I know how depressed you all get when it seems like everything's going well with my running and I go and re-injure myself...  ;)

Anyway, I have my report cards done and a few minutes free so here's my training update.

So I last left off on Feb 20 after a successful weekend that included back to back workouts of a 2 hour 17 km long run with a big hill climb, and my first brick of the season.
Feb 20 - 26
I had two more decent mid week runs and then the following weekend, I did another brick and another long run, this time running 18km in 2 hours.  I ran up the hill faster this time, and had a faster pace over all, while still staying in zone 2.

Feb 27 - March 5
For a few days after, my shins were a little sore but not painful - in other words, they didn't feel injured.  That first week of March was really hectic and I wasn't able to get my Tuesday run in, which was just as well. I think my legs needed the rest. Thursday, I barely had any time to run and I only managed a quick 30 min run after work.  It was a rest week so I wasn't too worried about it.  My plan for the weekend was an easy run of 60-75 minutes but my legs were tired again and I think I was improperly fueled.  I ran 9km in one hour and then walked the last km back to the car. 

During this these two weeks, I actually hit the pool once and swam about 1200m in just under 35 minutes.  I felt good and comfortable, like I hadn't really been away from the pool since last August. I know I could go out and swim the 750m for the sprint right now without any trouble.  However, I won't push my luck and I'll start swimming on a regular basis at Spring Break.

I've also been cycling riding the trainer.  I've usually managed to fit in a 60-90 min workout during the week, as well as a 90 min brick ride on the weekends.

I've also been trying to do at least one, and preferably two, strength workouts each week.  One is usually done on Monday, my rest day, and the other, if I can fit it in, is done on Friday.

And this brings us to this past week, March 7-13

I've now jumped up into Base 3 training and it is significantly more difficult than Base 1 and 2. 

Up until now, I've been focussing on building aerobic base, with most of my workouts in zone 2 HR with a focus on drills and good form.

In Base 3, I'm now bringing in Muscular Endurance and Force workouts into the mix.  For the most part, that means hills with HR going into Zone 3-5.

Now you may remember that in the past, I have been forced to avoid speed work and hills when running. However, with my recent running successes, I decided it was time to try adding in a little bit of work to the run.

In fact, I've already found my running fitness has improved greatly. I've been running further and faster while still staying in Zone 2.  That in itself, is an accomplishment.

So this week called for 60-75 min run on Tuesday with 2X5 min hill repeats on a 4-5% grade, with walk/jog downhill recovery.  I did the hill behind my house which is closer to 8-9% (and similar to the one in the race) because it was just the right length to run in 5 minutes. My HR was jacked way up there but my legs felt ok.  I finished off the run in zone 1-2 and had time for 55 min in total. Not bad for my first attempt.

On Wednesday, I rode the trainer for 90 minutes. My legs were tired from the run on Tuesday but I forced myself to do it. After a good warm up, I did 2X5 min hard, in a big gear, HR Zone 4 with 2 min recovery. Then I finished with zone 2 to finish up the 90 min. Cadence was 88-90 rpm.

On Thursday, I was to run 60-75 min AE (zone 2). I ran the flats and finished up 10km in about 1:04, which is my fastest 10km ever.  Now, I've never raced a 10km and I'm pretty sure I could come close to, or beat an hour, in a 10km race, but I was very happy to have this pace for a training run.

Friday should have been a spin and/or strength workout but it was a hectic evening and by the time I got home, it was late, and I was tired and hungry so I rested instead. Since I had a big weekend ahead, I think it was a good decision.

Saturday - brick again.  90 minutes bike and 15 min run.  This time, my bike was strong, and my run was too. 15 minutes, 2.6 km - 5:45 km pace (9:15 min mile).

Sunday - another long run - this time 2:15-2:30 was the plan.  I decided to more or less run the whole half marathon route. This is the route I'll be running in two weeks as a training race.

This would be a good time to test fuel, water, and pacing for the race.  I parked the car near the 7/12 km point of the race and ran the flats out and back to the 7km mark, then did the actual route with the big hill, then finished on the flats. This simulated the course elevation and allowed me to refill my water bottle at the half way point.  I carried one electrolyte tablet that I popped into my bottle when I did the refill, and I carried a gel flask with two servings of Hammer Espresso gel which I took at 45 and 90 min mars.  That worked out really well because I started climbing the hill about 10 minutes after taking the gel and I felt really strong.  The second shot at the 1:30 mark, gave me the power to end the run strong.

My goal was to start cautiously around the 6:30/km mark until the hill, try to stay under 7:00/km up the hill, and then keep it steady until the last 3-5 km when I would try to pick up the pace.  I think I was more than successful.

Here are my splits, more or less:

6:19, 6:17, 6:21, 6:29, 6:28, 6:29, 6:37
6:32, 6:41, 6:28, 6:34, 6:34, 6:36, 6:39,
6:40, 6:29, 6:28, 6:15, 5:45, 5:49, 5:51

As you can see, I started off faster than I wanted and was finally able to rein it in after a couple of km.  I hit the hill hard at 8-9 km mark and my avg pace was great.  I think I went a bit too hard though, because from km 13-15, I slowed down a bit too much.  After I took the 2nd gel, I felt strong again and I was really able to kick ass for the last 3 km.

I was in HR zone 2 for the entire run except that last 3 km when I bumped it up to Zone 3.

Overall, I did about 2:15 for 21.1 km.  That is almost a 10 minute PR from my October half marathon in Victoria and I think it means I can set a realistic goal of 2:15 for the Okanagan College Half Marathon on March 27.  This only difference then will be that I have to use race time to refill my water bottle and I could lose a minute doing that. (For my training run, my Garmin shut off when I was stopped at the car.)

My goal for the half is to do 6:30's for the first 2-3 km, then speed up to 6:20-6:25.  I will try to stay at 6:30 up the hill, not faster, so I don't lose too much on the downhill and recovery kms after. Then I will push hard (5:45's) for the last 3 kms like I did in my training run.

This coming weekend, I am supposed to do another 2:00-2:30 run but I will play that by ear. If my legs are still really tired, I may cut it back 1:30-2:00 and I will definitely run easy - no hard push at the end.

I am really finding this is one big experiment and I'm having lots of fun.  My legs are pretty trashed this morning (Monday) and my ankle (PTT) was sore last night and today. I don't think it's a big issue - it seems to hurt after all my long runs but it only lasts a day or two.  We shall see. I have an ART appt with the chiro on Thursday so I plan to ask her about that. In the meantime I have it taped up with KT Tape.

Bye for now...  :)