Tuesday, 18 February 2014

#119 The one where I almost won

As of yesterday, which was also the Family Day holiday here in Ontario, there are now nine weeks until the Boston Marathon...

Training update time!

This is now (okay, almost) the critical period where there is no longer time to get injured or experience significant setbacks (ok, when is there ever?). The race start is slowly coming into sight and all training is now being tailored specifically to the goal race (i.e. It's all about endurance). However, nine weeks is still a long time. There is still plenty (too much?) time and pressure to keep building fitness, adding mileage and progressing towards the eventual finish line. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of this period!

Luckily, there are a few tune-up races and rest weeks planned which strategically provide a much needed physical and mental break from the seemingly un-ending training and (in Ontario anyway) the relentless winter we've been forced to deal with this year.

This is one of such weeks where I'll be racing the Peterborough Half on Sunday (And yes, that means missing the Gold medal hockey game at the Olympics. So far however, I've seen nothing from Team Canada to suggest our place in the game is secure and so perhaps I won't be missing much). In case you're wondering my goal for the race is to run a sub 1:14. Last year I finished second running 1:14:20 in near ideal conditions. And although I won't be close to my PB for the distance (1:12:58), I do hope (and expect) to run slightly faster this year on the same challenging out-and-back course.

And so in order to have what I hope is a great race and result, and to prove that all the time training in the snow, slush, ice and wind has been worth it, I'm planning to take this week as a significant "down" week and scale back considerably on the training mileage and intensity. This means running 'only' about 100K, including the 21.1K race on Sunday. This aims to provide the necessary rest and recovery that my body (as well as my mind) rightly requires (and deserves) after three progressive weeks in which I ran 144, 147 and 158 K's. 

Last week, I had originally planned to run 100 miles (161K) but opted out of my 5K cool-down after the Winterman Half Marathon (and thus fell 3.4K short...the OCD in me was thoroughly tested). Being in Ottawa for the long weekend to visit friends and experience some of Winterlude, I was all-too-happy to pace my BLT buddy Chappers to a sub 1:19 result and what turned out to be 1st overall! We ran together (pretty much side by side although not hand in hand) for the whole thing and after moving into the overall lead around the half-way point, we ran a smart negative split and finished as comfortably as we could. This was all the more impressive considering the temperature on race morning was a mean minus 20 (and that was BEFORE the windchill). 

It was a great event overall with the only drawback being the rather hilly out-and-back loop course which we needed to complete a full four times and also meant weaving and dodging around dozens of fellow participants and having to squeeze on the sidewalk for short sections. The event was held in the impressive Canadian War Museum which provided warm and comfortable race amenities and the organizers did an excellent job overall. We also won some great prizes including an amazing event blanket, New Balance product and gold, silver and bronze medal lanyards.

Two happy, and still slightly frozen, Black Lungs at the end of the Winterman Half.

With my sights specifically set on Peterborough and doing all the little things right this week, I'll put off looking/thinking forward past Sunday but be sure to post a subsequent update shortly. The weather still isn't getting any better here in Toronto (we got a fresh 5cm of snow last night and are expecting rain later this week) so "surviving" this training cycle is still very much the goal. 

I'm also 'working' on an exciting new opportunity to support and be supported by an excellent organization which I hope to announce shortly.

Until then, keep training, running and aiming to always be better!

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