Tuesday, 31 July 2012

#77 A Beginning

NYC training has 'officially' begun and every few weeks I plan to write about how it's going (as much for my own benefit as it is for yours). Yup, I'm writing a training blog but I'm hoping it will be less offensive than some of my past topics/posts. While I do enjoy stirring the pot and offending those so easily offended, I figure it's time to simply concentrate on what I know and what I do best, and that's to train hard and hopefully run fast... which of course like many things in life is relative.

Last week (Mon 23 - Sun 29 July) was the first week of the 'Marathon Build' and so far so good. There are 15 total weeks of training which end on Sun 04 November in Central Park, New York City at mile 26.2 (kilometre 42.2) of the ING New York City Marathon. My goal: To run sub 2:34. 1 week down, only 14 to go...

Although last week was technically week 1 of the marathon build, it was not exactly the start of our training program. Way back in late May and the day after Cabot, we began a 4 week 'Alpha' phase in which we gradually began building mileage and aerobic (endurance) capacity mostly through steady state runs and ~100k weeks. That was followed by the 4 week 'SWEP' (Speed With Endurance Process) phase which involved less mileage but several tough speed interval and hill workouts. It concluded with the Lindsay 10k which I review further down. Then (ie Now) we begin the 'Marathon Build.'

My first MB week totalled 121k including some easy 10-milers (16.1k), some shorter recovery/taper runs, a Sunday long run of 30k and for me, a 5k race (MEC Summer Classic 5/10k) on Saturday which resulted in a major PB and personal breakthrough of 16:03 (3:13/k). Although I was wearing my watch, I opted to run by feel and thus didn't look down to see just how close I had come to going sub 16. A lesson to be learned for any distance to glance at the Garmin with 400m or so to go in order to dig deep when necessary and scrape a few seconds off the clock if you're near a milestone time. Despite feeling very blah in the hours leading up to the race, I was able to put together something special and take a full 45sec off my previous best (16:50 at the Pride 5k in 2011). Clearly the 4 weeks of SWEP that Rob C had us do made a major impact and I have to thank him as well as my entire training crew (which continues to grow) for getting me to where I am now. 

Running 5k fast is definitely among the hardest things one can do in this sport (I'm sure shorter distances are even worse!) and it doesn't even compare to the pain and agony that is faced in the last k's of a marathon. It's a whole different world of hurt and a different kind of discomfort. Never before can I recall wanting to quit so badly in a race and having to negotiate in my mind staying in the game and not slowing down during those last 2k's. It was excruciatingly brutal and yet, as soon as I was done, I was frustrated at not having gone 4 seconds faster (sub 16) and wanted to do it all again.

Myself and Michelle Clarke, M & F winners of the MEC Summer Classic 5k
The other race to mention was a week earlier (Sun 22 July) in Lindsay, ON. The Lindsay Milk Run was a 10k that I somehow managed to convince 16 other LBRs to drive the ~1.5hrs from Toronto at 5am on a Sunday to race. I was up at 4am and in the car at 5 as we departed into the near dawn and headed north-east to Lindsay. We all arrived in plenty of time, got our race kits, geared up and then went for a 5ish k warm-up along the route which left only 5min to spare before the start. The race started just after 8am which seemed infinitely better than the year before when it started at 9 and was almost 30 degrees. This time around it was a fair bit cooler, albeit still warm, and made for faster running. The gun went off and we were on our way. Dave C got ahead of me almost immediately and not wanting a repeat of Pride having to follow him for the majority of the race, I picked it up and put myself in front of him. A kilometre in, I found myself in 4th place well behind the lead pack and there I would stay for the remainder of the race. I ran entirely alone and as I've made habit, only checked the watch at 1k (3:21/k) to ensure I wasn't over extending myself (too much). I hit the 5k mark in ~16:45 (I know this because some nice lady in a lawn-chair was yelling out splits), which would have been a PB, and then struggled slightly between 6 and 7k (a 3:34 and my slowest k of the day) where the course followed an old rail path which was ever so slightly uphill. I regained my composure around 8k at which point the route goes continuously and gradually downhill toward the finish and put together a final k of 3:15. I finished fourth in a PB of 34:16 (3:25/k average) but was unfortunately 3rd in my age category (M20-29). And no, the 33:16 I did at Yonge St doesn't count! All in all, it was a great day.
17 LBRs dominate the field at the Lindsay Milk Run
Even more impressive than my personal effort was the collective effort of the 17 guys and gals that ran on the day and saw 14 guys in the top 25 as well as us claiming the top 4 spots in the team category. Team Longboat narrowly edged out Shortplane, Tallship and Yellowsubmarine, the latter who were at a slight disadvantage since their average time incorporated all 5 runners, rather than the top 4. In addition to lifting the team trophy as well as picking up a number of individual awards, we also got to eat way more ice cream and chocolate milk than could be justified for running 10k. Well done everyone for stellar  individual and team efforts. You guys make this all worthwhile.

The week (Marathon Build 2) saw the end of July (where has the summer gone?!) in which I ran a total of 515km. This Friday is the infamous 'Hour on the Track' organized by the club which I may or may not fully participate in depending on the weather. There's also 122km to be run including our first (of 11) 32k/20m long run of the program, a double day and a bunch of fast miles to be run during a hard workout.

Next on the racing schedule is a Canadian Running Series event, the 'Toronto 10-miler & 5k' (formerly known as the Nissan and Acura 10-miler) to take place on the morning of Sun 12 August, the same day as the Men's Olympic Marathon. Since I won't be able to watch it live (it starts at 6am EST) and the results will be in just before the start of the race (8:30am), I'm hoping to avoid all social interaction that morning and watch the event a few hours late but still have the results as a surprise. Best of luck to Reid, Eric and Dylan (Team RED), our Canadian contingent for London 2012. I was amazed to see that there are 109 runners entered in the event so cracking the top 20 would certainly be an amazing result for any of the guys. Breaking Drayton's CND record (of 2:10:09) may be a bit of a stretch but we'll have to just wait and see...

Team RED: Reid (Coolsaet), Eric (Gillis) and Dylan (Wykes) set to roll in London 

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