Sunday, 16 February 2014

Marathon training starts

Here begineth the odyssey to the June 1 marathon. I might have to be a little cautious to start off with because of the half marathon just gone. 
Wednesdays will be speed work - 5k pace intervals - for February and March. For April and May, "strength runs" take over. These are one long continuous run at between half and full marathon pace, around 4:20/ km in my case. The plans for the speed runs are tough to remember in your head (1.5 minutes with 2 minute recovery for example), so I bring a note with me.
Friday was my first ever marathon pace training run. Amazing to think that all this time, with 3 marathons behind me, I'd never done one till last week.
Saturday called for a 10k easy run. On that day I usually do core work at the gym. I didn't want a run to replace weights and balance training, so I took the bus to the gym and did my strength work, then ran home. When it's extra cold weather, this could mean carrying quite a bit with me, although running with a backpack does generate extra heat. 
By now I have quite a range of clothing options to make it all doable no matter what the weather. After 2 hours of squats, lunges, single leg dead lifts, etc. my legs felt rather lifeless on the run. I felt them stiffen a bit, so dialling back the pace to what I reckon was mostly fat burning, they started to recover. I reckon more glycogen had cycled into them by the end, as I ended up running more comfortably at a faster pace.
I was greatful for the butter chicken, quinoa salad and Turkish bread once I got home. 
Sunday was windy, with gusts up to 60 kph. At times I could only exhale looking over my shoulder. The last k (of 16) was straight into the wind, and walking was just as good a workout. 
Hamstrings felt tight, and I wondered if I'd be ok for family day's 10 k easy run. Nice and gently does it, I told myself. Legs gradually loosened, and felt slightly better even for Tuesday's identical 10k. That is normally a weights day, so I did that in my basement at home. Another first. Now that I've changed my weight routine, all I need is a mat, a kettlebell and a pair of dumbbells. 
Wednesday was speed work, into a strong wind for part of it. Experience counts here, knowing what effort to put in when a gale stops you from reaching target pace. 
So there it is, my first ever 6 days in a row of running. Every week until June 1 is going to be like this. Good posture, smooth technique, being mindful of what condition I'm in and visits to the chiropractor every 3 weeks ("State of the Legs address") are the order of the day every day for the 100 or so days. Onward with my most focused training ever.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Hypothermic Half in all its glory

Last year's St Patrick's race took place in almost blizzard weather. That however was a 5k. 22 minutes and I was done, and I won a beer glass for getting top 3 in my age group.
This is a half marathon. -16, and a breeze that in places made for a windchill of below -20. Mostly though it was the overnight thin layer of snow that would slow everyone down. No good purchase on the pathways. 
My first Hypothermic Half, it starts at Fort Calgary, the very origin of the city. It started off slower than I expected, and within a minute my toes felt frozen. Well ventilated shoes really let that air in. 
Distracting from that was the sight of a guy doing push-ups next to the river. He didn't even clear the snow off first. 
At Prince's Island, a very tall guy surged in front of everyone. I went with him, and soon saw my watch reading 4:08/ km. Let him disappear at this unsustainable pace, I thought. Once over the river, the gradient is a bit steeper, the snow a little deeper and the wind faster as well as more head-on. 
The leader had turned around to confirm he was going in the right direction. I gave a big thumbs-up, easily visible with black mittens on (gloves underneath). Up to the turnaround 2k later, I coughed almost continuously. I lost count of the number of times I had to spit.
The turnaround was at 9 k, with the way back following the path north of the river. The lead guy stopped for a drink there too. I had my own, and kept the bottles in my pockets to prevent freezing.
I found myself now in the lead. It meant a lot of encouragement from other runners coming the other way. High fives, and even a honking freight train on the opposite river bank got me a little carried away on pace. I might have even extended my lead for a couple of k. 
Even a lady waving to a friend who nearly clothelined me was exhilarating. 
By 13k, I'd slowed myself down enough to be joined by the tall guy, Nick. 1:28 pace was not going to end well, so restraint was best. Nick wanted to break 1:30 he said. "Not today" we agreed. 
When would he overtake? I mentioned that a win would be good, but I had nothing left. It was my hint that he'd get no contest for 1st when he sped up, which he did at 17k. 
Thinking about this race's place in my marathon training, I was on a gradual controlled slowdown into the finish.
The bridge near the zoo is a nice scenic spot with some stretches of solid ice.
I noticed another guy catching me, and actually gave myself the aim of being overtaken. Without that I would have engaged in an over-the-top finishing splurge. Not today, with half of a half marathon training program behind me, and on my way to a marathon aim that has eluded me for 2 years.
I spotted my wife before finishing in 1 hour 35 minutes for 3rd place. I skidded to a stop before saluting the guy handing out the medals.
The brunch at the Fort (what a great movie title that would make) was just what a runner needs.
A fairly good performance overall. A sub-90 if the paths had been clear. Overcoming tough conditions has its own reward, similar but distinct from getting a PB. Onto the marathon project. 
Here's the link to my race vid: