Today was a fairly decent day for me. After running four consecutive weeks of 160 km per week in this crazy Canadian winter, and a one week 120 km taper, I was able to put my fitness to the test at a distance more reflective of my strengths. Getting those 8, 10 & 16 km races out of the way and settling in to a half marathon was going to be more comfortable, and a good indicator about the depth of my fitness, exactly six weeks before my spring marathon. I knew I was in decent shape; my mileage and tempo workouts were similar to my build before racing my last marathon in 2:28:32, the October 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Race day weather was a pleasant surprise with a very mild -7 C with little wind and good footing. I didn’t have any women around me to drive a competitive pace but was glad to always have a few guys alongside to keep a decent rhythm. I was hoping to run around 73 minutes and ended up with a final time of 74:01. The last third of the race was my slowest with the wind off the lake but my final km was my second fastest at 3:26. I felt solid and in control for the entire race. A good sign, all things considered.
And just what do I mean by “all things considered”?
I’ve said before that I believe that the major factors for a great race include: weather, training, health, competition, pacing, and passion. Some you can control. Others you can not.
Mainly, in comparing my training to previous years, my intervals are slower and my weekly average pace is much slower. I’ve been careful to keep my treadmill running at about 40%, which has included my weekly tempo runs. The great thing about the treadmill is the consistency. But my outdoor running has not been so consistent. This winter it has either been very cold with decent footing, or mild with poor footing. Take your pick! So my weekly outdoor intervals and long runs have been slow. Very slow. I’ve been running my intervals around the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre because my 3 yr old is in the childcare and I can’t leave the grounds. The roads are usually clear and one lap is nearly 1 km so we make it work as best as we can, while dodging the odd car or two.
I’m so glad that we decided to plan a short training period in a warmer climate. I can’t wait to see normal pacing with the same effort while running outside in shorts while in Texas and Florida! And I am really looking forward to training with my good friend and fellow marathon mom, Mary Davies.
My last, “all things considered” is the dreaded female monthly issue. There have been a lot of articles circulating on this topic lately. It’s nice to see women speaking out about this subject. Even Paula Radcliffe spoke about achieving her world record with menstrual cramps while in mid cycle! Imagine how fast she may have been had she raced a week before or after! It seems that like many things, everyone experiences it differently. Some women get terrible cramps or feel off (tired, irritable, bloated) while others are not affected. Because I’ve had very few cycles within the past 10 years due to 3 pregnancies, 3 babies breastfeeding 12+ months each, and high level training, I didn’t really know how I would be affected. But because it has been a factor in my last two races, I think I can say that I haven’t been terrible burdened by it but have certainly retained a few extra pounds, which has slowed me down a bit. It stinks when you work hard to be light and lean to race and then handed a 2 lb weight to carry for the race! I am really hoping that the timing is right for April12. I sure will feel lighter, especially without all the crazy layers of winter running gear!
Regardless, we work with it, ignoring the things we can’t change while focusing on those we can.
I am all set to continue doing what it takes to finish this training to execute a great race in April. One more week of winter, nearly 3 weeks of warm weather, and then a bit more than 2 weeks of tapering to go! Almost there.
I’ll finish with some numbers and comparisons, just because we runners like that.
Here are my race paces from this season:
November 8 km, 3:31
December 10 km, 3:29
December 16 km, 3:35
January 8 km, 3:28.5
March 21.1 km, 3:30
I am feeling confident that I can keep progressing in my fitness and peak when it matters most.
And here is a really good comparison, thanks to my coach, which shows one can keep gaining momentum with just 6 weeks to go before a major race:
In 2012, I ran the Chilly in 1:15:42 (3:35.3/km) and a spring marathon 6 weeks later in 2:32:06 (3:36.3/km).
In 2015, I ran the Chilly in 1:14:01 (3:30.5/km) and am running the same spring marathon 6 weeks later. Should be a good one!