Race Recap: Comox Half-Marathon

I arrive at the Florence Filberg Centre just over half an hour before the start time. The room is buzzing with runners. I grab my bib, listen patiently to the instructions I am given about not folding it and ruining the chip, and attach it to my shirt. I begin looking for a place to leave my bag of clothes for after the race, people are putting theirs on chairs, reserving places for the awards. I find a spot in the corner, I am not expecting any awards today. I stow my gels away in pockets, and overhear a conversation about applying more vaseline before the race, old-school.

I head outside to do my warm-up, only 10 minutes today, lots of other runners are doing the same near the beginning of the course. The course is totally new to me, I have heard rumours of rolling hills, and downhill, but overall a “fast” course, great for Boston training. We line up and someone says, “5 minutes to the start”. I take a gel while we wait. There is no gun or horn, and after 5-minutes we here a quiet “GO!” I love the start of a race, everyone is excited, very high-energy and take off like it’s a 100-m event regardless of the actual distance.

I settle into my pace and observe who is around me, I can stay with them to keep me on pace and from going faster than I should. At the 2km marker a volunteer says, “great job, see you on the way back!” A guy turns to me and says, “that’s not very encouraging, when we’re just starting!” I say “she just means see you soon”. 21km is hardly daunting when your goal race is double the distance. Shortly thereafter, I notice a figure standing on the side in cycling gear, waving and cheering, a teammate who lives in the area. He congratulates everyone, snaps a few photos and hops back on his bike. I move in behind two girls in matching outfits, I-Pods strapped to their arms. This is 3km in and I feel like I’m walking, the pace is so comfortable. Every so often one will say to the other something like “we could be drinking wine right now” or “mimosas at brunch!” Unfortunately, our paces don’t match and I can’t hang out to hear the rest of this.

I begin to wonder where these rumoured hills are because, from what we’ve seen so far it’s pretty flat, making the finish the same. I am holding marathon pace easily and pleased with it. Then I notice the upcoming hills, nothing too steep, but enough to feel the lactic acid. I focus on effort each time rather than pace, knowing I will naturally increase speed on the downhill. This is around the point where I notice everyone I started with is gone, oh well, time to find a new group. This works for a while, but before long they are gone too, hills are hard. At the top of one of the hills, lays a pig and cow farm, the smell is so bad it makes my stomach turn. I can tell everyone around me agrees by their faces and sounds they make. I feel like speeding up just to get to fresh air faster.

Around km 8 I start to feel tired, which worries me. I have not been going faster than my pace, but suddenly feel tired. Some of my km show as being slower than I planned. It is hilly and also I notice my Garmin’s km are not matching the courses km. I try not to think about it and instead look ahead. Fortunately this doesn’t last long, and before I know it we are at the half-way turnaround point. As we turn around I begin to feel more energized, we are already half-way done! Since we just have to retrace our steps I know the course, and that the uphills are mostly over. I embrace the downhill and when I see 4:29, and 4:35 km’s flash across my screen, I know I have made up for those slower uphills. I focus in on 2 women in the distance and wonder if I’ll end up running with them. The downhill allows for this and I am excited when I catch up with them. However, once we get to the flat one of them falls behind. With 2-3 km to go, so does the other. I am feeling strong at this point. The finish is fast and flat and my final km is 4:29, sprint to the finish at a sub 4:00 pace. I’ve said it before, I can’t not sprint to the finish, it’s too much fun.

I finish in 1:41:44, right on track. I grab a cup of water, remove my bib and head back out on the course for my cool-down, 45 minutes easy. I see a woman I ran with at the beginning walking towards the finish, when suddenly, a friend runs up to her, puts her arm around her and helps her run to the finish. As I pass the 2km, a volunteer smiles at me, and says, “aren’t you already done!?”I respond with something like, “just a bit extra”, and carry on. Further down the road, another volunteer says, “you’re back!”, “round two”, I say. Around the 3km mark, I see the final runner and support cyclist, I am trying to encourage her, but somehow trip, maybe over a pylon. That feeling when you know you are going to fall, and hurt yourself flashes through my head and how awkward this would be in front of other people. Somehow, I stumble instead, double over, and recover without ever actually falling. This is still awkward, but far less so than actually falling to the ground. I give them a thumbs up and carry on.

After 4km out, it’s time to turn back. The course is being torn down, I get asked if I missed the race. Everyone is friendly and encouraging though. I finish up my cool-down for a total of 31.5 km for the day. I head inside to grab my stuff, and quickly check the results, realizing I have come in 3rd in my AG. That means I get a medal, not bad for a training run.

Training Recap March 12-18, 2018

This week was pretty BIG. In spite of it finishing with a half-marathon, I had no taper leading up to it. This is marathon training after all! The final push of this training cycle in fact, I feel like it flew by!

This is what I did last week:

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: Double run, AM: 30′ easy, PM: 50′ easy, this covered my commute to AND from work.

Wednesday: WO for 1, headed down to this park by the ocean where there is a 1 mile loop. My WO was: 20′ easy, 3km@4:34, 2x1km@4:21/4:19, 2km@4:29, 40′ easy. I also did core.

Thursday: 50′ easy, met up with my running buddy before work to get ‘er done early. I did strength training and core in the afternoon.

Friday: Double run, AM: 40′ easy, PM: 40′ easy, I ran to and from work again.

Saturday: 40′ easy + strides, headed out on Lochside, where I normally run on Saturdays, no WO though, but a beautiful day. I also did core.

Sunday: My WU was 10′ easy, I did a few strides and then ran the Comox Half-Marathon as a marathon pace training run, it was a great course for Boston training and it went well, I finished it off with 45′ easy for a total of 31.5km.

Total Weekly Mileage: 94.1

I’ll be posting a race recap early this week!

Training Recap March 5-11, 2018

This week was a bit smaller than the previous one, though it didn’t feel much smaller, and my legs are telling me they are working hard. With only 5 more weeks until Boston, it’s starting to get more real. At the same time, I cannot believe how fast it is coming up! Here is what I did this week:

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 40′ easy, I ran home from work. I also did core.

Wednesday: Double run day, I did 40′ in the morning, and my WO was: 20′ easy, 2 sets of: 10′ alternating between 1’@4:50, and 1’@4;40, 20′ easy.

Thursday: 40′ easy, I ran to work. In the afternoon, I did core and strength training.

Friday: 40′ easy, I did an out and back before work.

Saturday: WO, 20′ easy, 4x4km, sets 1&3: 4:35/4:50/4:25/4:50, sets 2/4: @MP, 20′ easy.

Sunday: 120′ easy, ran to my friends house and we a mix of trail and road and HILLS, I added on more hills at the end too. My legs are feeling this one!

Total Weekly Mileage: 86km

Happy rest day!

Training Recap Feb 26-Mar 4

The notes for this week were, “Big week, buckle up”. With that in mind, and the 3 double run days on my schedule, I knew I was in for some hard work. Seeing 3 double run days might seem daunting, but I enjoyed them. The morning run wakes you up before work and I swear it leads to a better day. Normally, I run in the afternoon/early evening, so the second run was around the regular time.

Monday: OFF. Did some upper body stuff and core.

Tuesday: Double run, AM: 30, PM: 60, I also did core work.

Wednesday: Double run, AM: 30, PM: Group WO: 20′ easy, 5’@tempo, and then alternating between 5km and 3km pace with 30 seconds rest between, the 5km bouts started at 2 minutes and went up to 5, and the 3km bouts were always 1 minute, 20′ easy. After this we had a team dinner to celebrate our coach’s birthday.

Thursday: Double run, AM: 30, PM: 45. I also did strength training and core.

Friday: 40′ easy, ran this one in the morning before work as I had a massage in the afternoon.

Saturday: WO, 30′ easy, 6km@5:01/km, 3km@4:48/km, 4km@4:42/km, 1km@4:50, 4km@4:59/km, 20′ easy. The route for this was chosen to incorporate some rolling hills, and while the majority of it was done alone, I “ran into” my coach after the 3km bout, and she paced me for the 4km and 1km, and then waited for me during the final 4km. This was very helpful because she gave me tips about how to approach the hills at Boston, and how to run to conserve energy and preserve my legs.

Sunday: 2:30 easy, after the longer workout the day before, I was worried my legs would be shot. I had spent the remainder of Saturday recovering and eating well. I even had a hot bath (which I do not enjoy, but know is good to do), wore compression socks and slept in them. It seems all that helped a lot because my Sunday run felt great, and it was a rolling course. I met up with some friends in the middle portion, which was great, and a different route is always awesome, this was along the water.

Total Weekly Mileage: 107.8 km

I am happy with how this week went, and feeling great about how training is going during this marathon training cycle!

Training Recap Feb 19-25 2018

This week was a bigger one, but the upcoming week is even bigger! With only 7 weeks until Boston, that is to be expected. It has been cold on the island lately, which is fine. However, when the snow starts to come down and stay on the ground, it’s a different story. Fortunately, it is gone now, and fingers crossed that’s it for the year.

Here is what I did this week:

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 60′ easy, I did an out and back route along the ocean. I also did core.

Wednesday: Typically a group WO, but the snow started falling in the early afternoon and it didn’t stop. So no WO, but two of us ran 75′ easy instead.

Thursday: 75′ easy, ran big loop around the neighbourhood with my running buddy. It was great to try a new route. I also did strength-training.

Friday: 30′ easy, I did a little out and back on my lunch.

Saturday: Group WO, I was on my own for this one, but the others were doing some short faster stuff nearby. It was 40′ easy, 4km @marathon pace, 3km @marathon-half pace, 2km @half pace, 1km @10km pace, 10′ easy. During the 3km bit, there were some rolling hills (intentional) which made it challenging, but hopefully this will make me strong for Boston. I also did core.

Sunday: 2:20 easy for a 25km long-run. We ran out to Elk Lake, did a loop around the lake and then came back. This was a really enjoyable route offering a variety of trails and road, with some hills as well. I also did strength-training because it won’t fit into my day today.

Total Weekly Mileage: 88.8km

Training Recap February 12-18

This intention of this week was to recover from the First Half (marathon) and prepare for a larger week. I definitely feel like I accomplished that.

Monday: OFF. I flew back from Vancouver, and spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Tuesday: 45′ easy, I did an out and back along the ocean. I also did an arm and core workout.

Wednesday: Group WO for 2, since we were recovering, we got a more relaxed workout. It is a route I have mentioned before called the 7 Sisters, a series of hills. This is hard no matter what pace you run it at, and we were supposed to “take it easy”. We ended up talking the whole way and I even lost track of what hill we were on! I also did core.

Thursday: 60′ easy, headed out with a team-member for an out and back, so we could meet up with her other running friend and continue on. This run felt good, even after the 7 Sisters, which definitely makes your legs feel weighed down!

Friday: OFF.

Saturday: Group wo for 2, since I am the only one marathon training in the group, my workout was different, but I was lucky this time because one of my team-members came along and we ran together. The WO was: 20′ easy, 3 x 12′ @ MP, 20′ easy, this was meant to be done on rolling terrain, which made it challenging, we chose a loop with rolling hills.

Sunday: 120′ easy, I was instructed to find a hilly route for this (see the theme here), so we headed out with that in mind, and climbed a lot of hills. Our legs were burning for sure. I was feeling pretty tired in the last 15′ which I ran alone, and climbed a final hill. As tired as I thought I was, it seemed that the wind was behind me for the final 2km and suddenly my speed increased to 5:00/km for the second last km and 4:45 for the last one. I am a big believer in keeping easy runs easy, but my legs felt good doing this, and it felt easy. I also did core.

Total Weekly Mileage: 67.3 km

This week goes back up to 6 days of running and a big Saturday workout! Since I had such a great time at the half last weekend, I decided to register for another one in a month. This will be my last race before Boston.

1st Half (marathon) Race Recap

This was my second time running the 1st Half in Vancouver. It would have been my third, but last year the race got cancelled due to inclement weather! Vancouver got a shocking amount of snow last year, normally not an issue. I kept my eye on the weather all week because this race is notorious for having crazy weather. The first time I did it, in 2016, it was a full-on monsoon. I remember a guy saying to me, “theres water in my shoes” around the 18km mark last time and thinking yeah man everyone’s in the same position.

In spite of all of this, we were very lucky with the weather this year. It was a crisp day for sure, but the sun was out, and the views were spectacular as ever. When it’s good it’s good. The race started at 8:30am, and our hotel was under 1km from the start, so we planned to run over at 8am. Breakfast was coffee, water and oats from Starbucks. The oats were very dry, so Jo and I poured an Endurance Tap on them, this made them so good!

Our warm-up was only 10 minutes, so we ran around Yaletown, ending up by the start to do our strides and then line-up in the corrals and take our pre-race gel. My focus was to stay on pace and in control to avoid burn-out later on in the race. The start of a race always feels amazing, especially when you have a full taper. The sun was shining, I was running alongside 1500 others in Vancouver and I never felt better. This was definitely reflected on my first 2 km, my pace was showing me running slow, I knew I wasn’t, but, I didn’t feel like I was going too fast.

The first 2km were 4:25 and 4:22, 10-13 seconds faster than my target pace. Km 3 and 4 were 4:50 and 4:30, there was an incline on km 3. Km 5 and 6 were both 4:38. My 5km split was 23:13 according to the race timing, a 4:38 average (this is 32 seconds faster than the sum of the 5km according to my watch). At some point early on the mileage on my watch stopped matching the km markers, and my current pace was never accurate for the duration of the race. I was essentially running on feel. Not what I wanted to do, but the only option. I knew there was a signal issue when I looked at my pace on the first km and it never got better.

Km 7 and 8 were both 4:45. I took my second gel at km 7. Km 9 and 10 were 4:43 and 4:29. My 10km split was 46:29, still a 4:38 pace. I was feeling great at this point. 11 and 12 were 4:40 and 4:32. 13 and 14 were 4:37 and 4:40 as per my Garmin. I knew the last few km of the race were hilly so I was mentally preparing for that.

At the 15km mark I was planning to take my final gel. That was around the time a wave of fatigue hit. I decided not to focus on it and power through. Having a wave of fatigue in a half with only 6km left is preferable to having it happen in a marathon because there is often double the distance left when the pain starts. Km 15 was 5:00! My 15km split was 1:09:56, average pace 4:39.

Km 16 and 17 were 4:41. 18 and 19 were apparently 5:20 and 5:17. This is the hilly portion. Just before the last climb between 19-20km, and as we began to climb a guy yelled, “I’m so excited!” As he picked up the pace, another guy beside me said, “wow, he’s got some pep”. I responded with, “yeah, let’s catch him”. He said, “you go for it”, so I began chasing him. Km 20 was the last bit of hill and 5:23? The last km is flat and then turns into downhill. I zeroed I’m on the peppy guy and caught him just before the finish. Due to the watch error km 21 shows up as only 560m and 2:48. My average pace for the last 6.1km was 4:32, so not quite the splits my watch said!

My finish time was 1:37:45, average pace 4:37.8/km. I was the 85th woman out of 777, and 21/80 for my category. I was happy with how this went, but I know I have more to give, sub 1:35 I’m coming for you!

Training Recap Feb 5-11

This week was pretty relaxed since I was preparing to race. That meant cutting down from running 6 days to 5, and my Saturday run was only 20 minutes long. I also cut down my strength training from 2 days to 1. I take the week before a race pretty seriously, so if I’m cutting mileage, I cut strength as well to really let my body recover in order to race well.

Here is how the week went:

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 45′ easy, I ran home from work.

Wednesday: Group WO, 15′ easy, 2km@HMP, 4×90”@10km pace, 15′ easy. I hit the HMP about 12 seconds faster than my goal pace, but I knew in the race, I would have to make sure to stick to the true pace or risk burnout. I also did core.

Thursday: 40′ easy, snuck this run in before work with my buddy. It was nice to see the sun rising earlier for a change, spring is coming! I also did an arm and core workout.

Friday: OFF. Really, I didn’t do anything.

Saturday: 20′ easy, and strides. Did this pretty early as we had planned to catch the 9am ferry to Van.

Sunday: 10′ easy, Van 1st Half, 20′ easy, for a total of 26km, haven’t seen that number in a while.

Total Weekly Mileage: 54.2 km

Stayed tuned for a race recap later this week!

Training Recap Jan 29-Feb 4, 2018

In 1 word, this week was: SOAKED. I swear my clothes were soaking wet after almost every run, and not from sweat. It has been pouring rain. I don’t mind necessarily, I will run no matter what, but when your shoes are wet for days on end, you kind of notice the rain. I had 2 quality workouts this week and that was great!

Monday: OFF. I did absolutely nothing. Nothing active that is, I watched Molly’s Game.

Tuesday: 50′ easy, met up with my running buddy, Binder, we did an out and back on our regular route. I also did a core and arm workout.

Wednesday: Group WO, back to the track after some time away! 20′ easy, 4×2’@tempo, 200m, 600m, 400m, 1000m, 800m, 200m, 30′ easy. The track was fun, but we got booted to lane 4 just before our 1000m, aside from that it was great, though it rained and we were all soaked.

Thursday: 45′ easy, I ran home from work in the rain. I felt extra tired for some reason, so I rested for a bit and then did strength training. My plan was to shower and then relax for the rest of the evening, but when I got out of the shower, my running buddy Joanne texted me and convince (read: coerced) me to come to yoga with her. I thought okay, a nice, chill class, that will be good. It was fast-paced and challenging on account of being tired, but, still I was happy to have gone.

Friday: 30′ easy, ran to work and got completely soaked, happy Friday!

Saturday: Group WO, 15′ easy, 20’@HMP (4:33), 3×3’@10km (4:20, 4:21, 4:32), 15’@HMP (4:37), 3×90”@10km (4:10), 20′ easy. This was a relatively large workout. It went well though, some parts were slightly fast, some were a teenie bit slow, so it all evens out. I also did an arm and core workout.

Sunday: 50-60′ easy, I ran 10 and then decided to quit. I missed the rain by about 1 minute, I call that a win. I also did a core workout.

Total Weekly Mileage: 63.7km

Next up…First Half next Sunday in Vancouver! Can’t wait for a fun weekend in Vancouver. Oh and racing a half, it’s been a while. Should be interesting.

Training Recap January 22-28, 2018

This week started out well and was supposed to be a larger week. Unfortunately that didn’t happen because I ended up with a wicked cold that prevented me from doing my Saturday workout. That being said, I am happy I got this cold out of the way now before training really ramps up.

Monday: OFF. I did strength training and core.

Tuesday: 50′ easy, got up early to get this done before work, it was very dark and raining, but I had company so that made it better. I also did core work.

Wednesday: Group WO, 7 Sisters (7 hills), this is always a solid workout and I was happy to do it.

Thursday: I did my strength training in the morning before work. I ran 75′ easy, along the ocean after work before heading over to Frontrunners to help out with the Saucony Winter Warrior event.

Friday: 40′ easy, woke up with a sore throat and thought it was just dry, but as the day progressed it became evident that it was in fact a cold.

Saturday: OFF. Sick, so no running for me. Instead I ran a Netflix marathon.

Sunday: 20km easy

Total Weekly Mileage: 60.5 km