Sunday, April 27, 2008

Biking, Biking, and More Biking

It was a great weekend hanging out with my best friend AD. We're still trying to recover from the marathon so we decided that taking a break from running would be a good idea. The entire week we were both limping around until Wednesday and it was obvious that the downhill part of the race really destroyed our legs. It was not fun travelling home with A LOT of luggage when your legs are extremely sore.

We felt better by Thursday, did a little spin in the basement and by Saturday we were ready to head outside for a ride. It was really windy yesterday so the ride out was incredibly fast but the ride back home was a long tough slog. Ended up completing 92km in 2:48.

Today the wind was gone but both Amber and I were so tired from yesterday that it was another tough day. It is a 50km gentle rolling ride out to a little hamlet called 'La Glace' the ride out felt great but the ride back really hurt. I struggled with a knee issue and I felt like I was seriously calorie depleted. I stopped at a gas station about 20km from home and regrouped with AD, her strength inspired me to suck-it-up and was ready to head home. The last 20km felt a lot better, 102km in 3:02.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Race That had a Little Bit of Everything!

Apprehension, doubt, fear, misery, suffering, joy, elation, ecstasy, and pain, just a few of the many emotions I went through this past weekend racing my first Boston marathon. I was so excited to arrive after a long day of travelling to Edmonton the night before, flying to Toronto and then connecting to Boston. Amber and I found our rented apartment which was about 300 sq. ft. and very quaint in a terrific part of town. It wasn't far from the race expo and a lot of great places to visit and sight see. We had a bite to eat and an early night on Friday and at about 12am that night my worst nightmare came to life. My stomach was severely cramping that evening and that night I started throwing up from apparent food poisoning! I had Ahi Tuna for dinner and unfortunately that was the wrong choice! I was up every hour on the hour all night throwing up until 8am and thinking my race was done at that point.

I felt terrible Saturday and could not eat a thing, I tried to go out with Amber for a little while but I was so tired and irritable that I could not handle the crowds and went home to bed. After sleeping as much as possible I felt better on Sunday and was able to see the Women's Olympic marathon trials, which were incredible and Dena Kastor won it easily.

Sunday I woke up very early, 5am, to do as much as possible to prepare for what I was determined was going to be a good race. I hadn't done the "carbo loading" I was hoping to do but I did get a lot of pre-race rest! The bus ride out to Hopkinton was very, very long and Amber and I were anxious to get off the bus and hit a washroom. The atmosphere at the start was great and the sight of over 21,000 people preparing for one of the biggest races in the world is incredible. Everyone was nervous and excited, anxious and afraid, but also highly motivated and ready, including myself and Amber. I lost touch with Amber about 30 minutes before the race but I new we both had to prepare ourselves for our own races at that point.

I made my way nervously to the start line and not realizing it was so far away I made it just in time, 3 minutes before the gun went off. I was in the first corral of 13 in the first wave, did I mention there were over 21,000 runners. I looked around for Lance Armstrong but I guess he was on the other side of the corral and I didn't see him. The gun went off I was immediately surprised by the pace, the first couple miles are downhill and running at a fast pace downhill will ruin your legs later in the race. I new this was going to be the case here too but it was the moment to throw everything I could into it, all the hard training I had done was going to pay off today!

At about the 3 mile mark I could hear someone behind me say, "good luck Lance" and I was surprised he was so close to me. I picked up my pace a little and still felt okay but was definitely pushing my limits for a marathon. The atmosphere running through the towns leading into Boston is incredible, the crowds are amazing and thousands and thousands of people are cheering and screaming for you the entire time.

At the hour mark (16 kms) I was having a tough time and needed to stop for a bathroom break. I found a port-a-poti at an aid station and continued on a little disappointed at having to stop but I only lost a minute. Another 45 minutes went by and I needed to stop again! I lost another minute but thankfully had no more issues.

The half way mark (21 kms; 1:19.52) I was feeling pretty good and surprised at how fast I was moving. The sun was extremely hot and I was in the early stages of dehydration but I kept moving as quickly as possible. When I hit 30 kms (1:55.19) things really started to go downhill for me physically; my legs were cramping and extremely tired, couldn't hear or see anything but what was right in front of me, and I couldn't eat the gels I was planning on taking so my energy was next to nothing!

I shuffled along drinking as much as possible at the aid stations and as one banner in the marathon said, "my legs were screaming but the crowd was screaming louder." I kept moving but the pain I felt in the last three miles was something that I have never felt before and it took everything in me to keep going! I had the thought that Lance was closing in on me, which he was, and that kept me moving for a little while. Then I thought about all those tough, tough training runs in Grande Prairie Amber and I went through in March and April and in Calgary in January and February. The cold, icy, windy weather was a lot tougher than the moderate climate in Boston in April.

I turned on to the final stretch and gave it everything I had, the crowd was yelling at me, pushing me to the finish and it worked. I made it in 2:46.47, a new personal best time and meeting all of my goals. I learned a lot about my level of determination and perseverance, I had every reason to give up, I was sick two days before and no one would have blamed me for pulling out or not starting. However, I new I could come up with a great race and not giving it everything I had would have meant I was cheating myself. I'm very happy with the result and I'm looking forward to the upcoming racing season, Amber and I have been training very hard this year and we are both going to have some unbelievable results! Amber had a terrific race too, finishing in 3:32.29 and setting a personal best herself, I'm very happy and proud, she definitely earned it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taper Week

I'm doing my best to hold myself back from any type of hard training, only 6 days left to Boston and I need to go in rested and fully fueled. I'm feeling really excited and anxious to get going but I'm actually enjoying the fact that my legs are not fatigued from training.

I had a rare opportunity to swim with Amber this afternoon and it was nice to have my swimming partner back. I felt strong in the water today and pulled out 3km fairly easy in about 52mins. I really want to focus on improving my swim over the next couple weeks, we only have 2 weeks after we get back from Boston to prepare for the first tri of the season, U of A. After a long year of spinning in the basement, running in crap weather, and swimming consistently in the pool I want to see that all the hard work has paid off.

Good news, Amber found an interview with Lance where he stated that his training has been inconsistent and not ideal for Boston. I hope he does well, but it would be incredible to finish in front of him.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Last of the Long Runs

Today was a great day even though the weather wasn't ideal. It was the last long run before Boston and nice way to sharpen up with a "race pace" run. It was surprisingly easy to run 22km, even with the strong wind and blowing snow (near the end). My intention was to run 4mins/km and I held it for most of the way. Not bad considering AD and I did a 87km bike yesterday. I'm pretty sure I should be able to hold 4mins/km in Boston and if I have anything left in the last 5km, I'm going to go for it! That is where all the hard training runs are going to pay off. My (A) goal is to finish under 3hrs, my (B) goal is to break my PR of 2:48, and my (C) goal is to beat Lance! Whatever happens I'm going to throughly enjoy the experience of being in Boston among some of the best athletes in the world and watching Amber cross the finish line, fulfilling one of her life's goals.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thinking About The Marathon

Well I'm sure every athlete in Canada went out to see "Spirit of the Marathon" last night, Amber and I were no exception. It was great to see the journey's of a lot of different people from the very elite to the average Joe's out there. The movie focused on the Chicago Marathon and it obviously wasn't last year because that was one of the hottest races on record. I found it interesting that everyone has their own reasons for doing a marathon but all of them seemed to be stronger, well rounded, disciplined people because of the dedication it takes to prepare for a race.

What I like about preparing for a race is that I can feel completely drained and exhausted from a day of work but if I go home and force myself to go for a run, I immediately feel better. I also love the competition and excitement of getting ready to race, and I'm a very goal oriented person so the process of setting a goal and reaching it is very satisfying and keeps me motivated to train harder. I'm feeling really ready for Boston and I'm excited to see how I'll feel on the 21st. I've been a little apprehensive lately because some of my training runs have not been as fast as I'm hoping to go in the race but I know I'll be able to pull it together. I'm coming out in the best shape for a marathon that I've ever been in. It's going to be a race of a lifetime and I know it won't be the last, I'm hoping AD and I can do at least one international race every year.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Sufferfest Part 3

Today was supposed to be a nice, easy 2:15 run but after an incredibly difficult spin yesterday there was nothing easy about it. It started out okay, I was moving well but I knew it was going to be a tough day, my legs were weak and I was still dehydrated from yesterday. The really nice thing about today's run was there was no more ice on the pathway anymore! Yeah we've officially entered spring! I had an extreme appreciation for being outside today and even though it was quite chilly I felt a lot faster and smoother than previous weeks. I could see the beauty of the park in this town, now finally without snow covering it, and was in awe of how I am really lucky. These are the moments I really look forward to and they give me the strength to get through the next hour.

The second hour is where the "suffering" part comes in. I saw Amber just after the turn around and she was looking strong as usual which gave me the motivation to suck it up and keep pushing. I continued to shuffle along and I could tell that mentally I am prepared to push myself to the limit in the marathon. I was hitting my limit today but I kept looking ahead and giving myself little goals to reach throughout. It's going to come down to how I feel physically that day, you never know what to expect but I'll be in top running form and my weight is now down to it's lowest level since high school (159.2lbs). I'm going to push through every mile and take in the experience for everything it's worth, it's going to be incredible! Only two more weeks!

Run 32km; 2:15

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time Trialing Outside, Finally!

Yesterday was a great day for AD and I, the weather was finally nice enough to go for a ride outside. It was definitely worth it, we were both a little concerned and anxious to know if all the hard work we've done in bike class and in the basement has paid off. The answer was a resounding YES! There is a great secondary highway right near our place and it was a perfect day with no wind. The way out felt flat and fast and I was averaging about 37km/hr. After 20k I turned around and was surprised to see Amber so close to me, she was obviously having a great ride as well. I expected the way back to be a lot slower but to my surprise, my legs held up pretty well. I finished the 40km in 1:06, one of my best times in training and it was really gratifing to know all the hard work has paid off. Amber had a really strong ride too and she is going to be SMOKING FAST on the bike this year, we both are!

Today we did our usual 2hr spin in the basement and it was one of the hardest rides I've had in a very long time. The hard effort on Friday obviously killed my legs and I was in survival mode all morning. I was spinning at 25km/hr and was sweating like I was in a steam room. I made it to the end of the two hours thanks to AD, she kept me going even though I wanted to quit a couple of times. Thanks babe, you're the best training partner I could ever have.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Back Out On The Open Road

Today was a struggle to train, I had a tough day at work and I've been spinning really hard for the last two days. I didn't get up early to swim so I knew I had to do something. I got home and I noticed Amber wasn't home which meant she was out training so I sucked it up, put on my gear and went out for a run. The first couple kms were really tough and my legs felt heavy from this weekend's 40km effort but after about 10mins I started to get into a rythmn and was moving fairly well. I still haven't had the speed I've been searching for in my workouts but that will be the focus over the next three weeks. Speed, Speed, and more Speed! I need to average about 15 to 15.5km/hr and I've been about 14.5 to 15km/hr.

Run 15km- 1:02