Sunday, May 27, 2012

Abbotsford Run for Water Marathon 2012

Getting my stuff together the night before.
Erik and I drove 3 1/2 hours to Abbotsford on Saturday morning to race my first marathon!  We checked into the hotel then picked up my race packet, bought a cowbell and a hat, finally got to meet Daily Miler and fellow grade 3 teacher, Duane M. , and then drove the course to check it out. I'm REALLY glad we drove it.  It made a huge difference always having a fairly good idea of where I was and what I still had to do while I was running today.  We grabbed a very late lunch then went back to the hotel to relax for the evening. Early to bed at 9:30.

I decided on the early start (6 am) because I really didn't know what my back was gonna do and if I had a tough race, I'd be dead last (since all the other slow pokes like me started an hour earlier). So - it was a good decision.

We got up at 4:30am, left the hotel about 5:20, parked, porta-pottied, and chatted with fellow racers.  There were about 25-30 people at the early start, including my facebook and daily mile friend Gary J., and world record holder, Ginny Turner. She has raced a marathon on all 7 continents, in the fewest number of days. Wow. She doesn't run them any more, now she power walks them, so she was out for the early start as well.

The early start crew.
My race plan was simple, and based on my previous long runs. I planned to run the first downhill 5k straight through at a relatively fast pace (6:20/km),  then settle into a comfortable running pace (6:25-6:55/km) and take walk breaks every 14 minutes for the next 32km.  For the final uphill 5km, it was anybody's guess but I was hoping to be no slower than an 8:00/km average pace due to slower running and extra extra walk breaks. If I ended up at the slowest run pace for the 32km, I'd hit a 5:00:00 marathon.

And We're Off!
It seemed like no time at all before the horn went and we were off in the morning sun.  Air temp was about 12C (54F) with predicted high of about 18C, so I wore my tri shorts and Sugoi tank top, with my Versa vest overtop for the first bit, until I warmed up. I had my Nathan Fuel vest and my hand held water bottle, 2 gel flasks with 6 gels and water, 4 Nuun tablets, and one extra gel packet. Erik had his cyclo-cross bike and planned to ride the course and stop every now and again to cheer me on and take some pictures.

As luck would have it, as soon as my legs started moving, everything in my body started moving and so 1.5 km into the race, I had to stop at the porta-potty again. Argh.  I was not alone however, two others were doing the same thing. Back on the road two minutes later, took off my vest and gave it to Erik, and hit the road.
I kept my pace steady but by the time I hit the 5k mark, I was two minutes behind my goal time due to the bathroom break. No worries, I didn't really care if I didn't make my goal time, but I thought it might be possible to make up the time later if I was feeling good. Time would tell.

(Although you may think I look lonely out there, I prefer that actually.  I always knew Erik was close by and I enjoyed the peace and chance for introspection.)

Over the next 10km, I was playing leap frog with a couple of Marathon Maniacs who were doing 5/1 run walk so we kept passing each other and chatting. Eventually I left them at a water stop and never saw them again. from then on, I ran alone. Not many of the early starters were ahead of me. The country side in this section was absolutely gorgeous, pastoral, green, with pretty farms and farm animals. In the early morning, it looked very pretty. 

From then on, I was passed quite frequently by the fast 7am marathoners. Ah well. :)
The fastest male marathoner caught and passed me around the 19km mark - I love the look on my face as he flew by me!

A little while later, the lead bike came by and said "Hey, you're ahead of the lead woman!"

"Not for long", I replied.

Whooo hooo Ryder!!!!!
Around the 20km mark, we got the news that Ryder Hesjedal had won the Giro D'Italia and I was so stoked, I ran one of my fastest kms. Nobody on the course seemed to know who he was - well I think they will soon know his name over the next few days.  Thanks to a couple of twitter friends for DMing me the results. :)

I stopped and tweeted my progress at the 10k, 20k, and 30k mark, but that was easy enough to do during my walk breaks. :)  The walk breaks became a little sporadic, not always following the 14/1 exactly. In fact, between 10-30k, I felt really strong, picked up the pace a little, and skipped a few of my walk breaks.

The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up at the 20k mark and although I wasn't cold, I wasn't warm either. I considered putting my vest back on but decided against.  The head wind in some directions was hateful.

As I hit the 30k mark, I was starting to tire. I stopped for a quick pee break, adding another minute to putting me over the 5 hour mark.  My legs were beginning to rebel so I started to use some of the mental tricks to ignore the pain and continue on. Most of it was fatigue and sore muscles, so I wasn't worried.  I stopped to stretch my calves a couple of times when they started the first tinglings of a cramp, and I stopped to stretch my back out a few times as well, but other than that, I keep on trudging along. Erik was a great support, encouraging me, and letting me know that I still looked strong and had good form.  It made an incredible difference knowing he was always going to be around the next corner.

Digging Deep - a determined look on my face.
Everything past 34km was uncharted territory and it FELT like it too. I was tired, my legs didn't want to keep on moving, and everything was starting to hurt. The closer to the last 5k hill I got, the harder it became to put one foot in front of another.  I had kept to my fuel and water strategy and so I don't think I ever bonked per se, but I sure was wishing it was all over. At this point, I just dug deep and told myself I could do it, don't worry about the time, and just finish the race. 

The toughest part was knowing I was pretty darn close to being under 5 hours if I had a good finish and pushed a little harder from 30k on, but I just didn't have the mental or physical stamina to run faster at that point.

About km 40.  Up another hill?
I had a few darker moments at the 37-38 km mark, and then rallied a bit and got up the worst of the hills.  I think I ran them all actually, surprise surprise, although I was taking more frequent, but short walk breaks from time to time.

When I hit the 41 km mark, I knew I was almost there and somehow I managed to speed up and run a very fast-for-me 5:30-5:45/km for about 500m, then I slowed to 6min/km and finished the race strong.  My daughter was there videotaping me cross the line and Erik had the camera.  And suddenly, it was over!

About to throw my arms up, as I cross the finish line. I did it!!

5:04:54.  Good enough!  I was happy and tired and glad to be done.

Bling was a medal AND a little plaque!  Coolest part was being called a "marathoner" by the race guys. :)  Yahoooo!!!

Additional Stats:  I was 152/175 overall, 51/62 women, 9/13 in my age group.  I think I did fairly well as far as the early starter group.  I was near the front of the pack, although I don't know if many passed me when I was in the bathroom.

As for what's next?  I'd totally do another marathon. Just don't know when. Maybe next year. I have the Apple Triathlon in August, and Victoria Half Marathon in October. Not sure what else I'll do this summer. Lots to think about. The hardest part of marathon training is giving up my tri training. Ah well....

I found this race easier than my first half iron, and about the same as my 2nd half iron. I think it's because I'm not a really strong runner. Your miles may vary.  However, the day after - I have never hurt so much as I do this morning. Every fiber of my body hurts (except my low back!).  I think I'll use the elevator at school today. :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Packed up and ready to go!

Well I'm  packing up all my gear and heading to Abbotsford this morning. To be honest, packing for a marathon is one hell of a lot easier than packing for a triathlon.  Shoes? Check!  Go!

OK, really, I'm a bit more anal than that, but there's still a lot less gear. As always, I'm totally undecided on what to wear tomorrow, despite having kept careful records of the temperature and what I wore on every run since December. Trouble is - I have a very narrow range of 'comfortable' and I don't want to be stuck with too little, or too much, clothing.

The forecast for tomorrow is great - mostly sunny, with an overnight low of 12C (54F), and a high of 19C (64F) although it likely won't hit that high before I'm done.  The part I can't decide is whether to wear my Sugoi Versa vest (with pockets) or a t-shirt and my Nathan fuel vest. Both are tested, both work well, both are very comfortable. But if I get too warm, the t-shirt is easier to shed (I'll toss it to Erik at some point).  If I shed my vest, I'm left with no pockets.  So - I'm thinking I'll go with the t-shirt (over my tank top) and the Nathan vest now that I know it's going to be warmer.

I've decided to do the early (6am) start for anyone who thinks they will run longer than 5 hours. I figure if I am able to run under 5 hours (not really likely given my back issues this past 2 weeks), then it will be nice to be in before noon.  Plus if I'm slower, I won't be alone.  There are about 20 people doing the early start, and only about 200 people doing the marathon, so it'll be funny running with such a small group. I imagine I'll be alone for much of the race, with faster runners eventually catching and passing me, but I'm ok with that. :)

As for water and fuel, I have 6 Hammer gels mixed with water in two gel flasks (2 chocolate and 1 espresso in each bottle) and I'll grab one Gu at the race site to keep in my pocket. I have 4 Nuun tablets for my hand held water bottle which I will refill about every 12km or so. Other than that, I'm good to go!

The course is more or less flat but the first 4 km is a gradual downhill (1-3% grade) and the race ends with that same 5km uphill. Obviously, that will be the toughest part. I've mentally divided the race into a 5km, three 10k's, and a 5k.  Because the first 5k is downhill and I'll be feeling good, I'm planning to run it straight through and at a decent pace (about 6:15/km) and then take my first one minute walk break at the 5k mark.  I hope to do 14/1 run walk for next flat 32 km with a goal to average from 6:40-7:05/km depending on how I feel. That means I need to try to run 6:27-6:55/km plus the walk breaks.  The last 5km is anyone's guess. I am HOPING I'll be able to run enough to average about a 40 minute 5k but who knows, I'm prepared to talk the entire last 5k if needed. We'll see. :)

At any rate, this is only a plan, based on a best case scenario.  I suspect I likely won't be able to follow it, but I need to have some kind of plan to keep my brain focussed. But this is one race that no matter HOW I do, I'll just be happy to finish.

I signed up for race tracking on facebook so it's supposed to auto-post updates. I have no idea if it posts splits, or just the final time though, we'll see.  I'll have my phone so I may tweet a couple times when I'm walking (can't resist ;)

Thank you for all of your support over the past 6 months - especially Gordon Harvey who has given me tons of info and help over the past 6 months - I will feel your good vibes when I'm out on the course tomorrow. Watch for the mini-race report tomorrow night, and a full report when I get home!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

Daily Mile exerpt Test Run  

Kelownagurl ran 4.3 km in 30 minutes.  06:58/km pace
Hurrah! My back was feeling a lot better last night, and it felt almost normal this morning so Erik and I went for a short easy run on the greenway to see what would happen. I was fully prepared to stop or do a walk/run if anything started to tighten up but I felt more or less fine the entire time. I started with a 2 minute walk, and I took one short walk break at the 1k mark, but I ran the rest of it. Even my running pace was half decent.

Despite feeling like I could have gone further, I stopped after 30 minutes and came home to foam roll, stretch, and ice. Tomorrow I'm going to bike easy to keep my legs loose and I will do an easy 5k on Wednesday.

Time to make a packing list for the race!

13C overcast, light rain. Tri shorts, tech tshirt, Versa jacket. Took sleeves off after 10 minutes - I was too warm. Gives me an idea of what to wear next weekend. Right now, the forecast is for 10C-15C, and 40% chance of showers.