Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Post-Marathon Week 2: What the Plan Is

So, 2 weeks post-marathon and time for a bit of an update. I am still recovering from the Victoria Marathon (which I ran on Oct.12th) and haven't been doing any hard running lately. I don't have any injuries to worry about, which is great, but my knees and ankles are not 100% back to normal yet. My rule of thumb is generally a month of very easy running after a marathon, so I am on track. So what's this map of Whistler Mountain doing up here you may ask? Well, my friends, you see last winter I braved ice & snow, polar winds, snowploughs, blizzards, incessant rain, and perpetual darkness to get in my long runs while marathon training.... ...After that splendid experience I decided there was no way in hell I would train for a spring marathon again unless I qualified for Boston. So, this winter I've got a season's pass to Whistler & I plan to ski my ass off through the months of December, January, February, March, and April.
You can expect to see a lot more pictures like this one (above) in the coming months....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Post-Marathon Week 1: Why I Hate the Gym

I used to enjoy going to the gym. Long before I became a runner I spent years doing a combination of cardio and strength training. I had upper body strength. Now I'm built like a frog - all my power is concentrated in my legs and my arms have become darn near obsolete. So I decided to start working out a couple of days a week and see if I can't regain the use of the top half of my body. I've made two visits to a fitness center a block away from my apartment and am not impressed so far.

There are a lot of 20-something men walking around like peacocks. That, combined with the constant thumping hip-hop music gives the place a cheesy nightclub feeling. Maybe I'm too demanding, but I like to control what I'm listening to. In this day and age when almost everyone has a personal music device why can't the gym be quiet? I guess I've gotten spoiled by the peace and solitude of road running.

Last time I was there I even gave the receptionist/personal trainer/male model and his little punk sidekick a piece of my mind. I'm pretty sure it just amused them...

Anyway, whatever - their loss. I'm revising my plan. I think I'll join the yoga studio instead of the gym and use that for cross-training. Might not have the same effect on my upper body strength, but any increased flexibility will probably help my running. And its good for anger management...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Race Report - Royal Victoria Marathon

Sunday October 12th started very cool, crisp, and dark. The weatherman predicted a temperature of around 10C (50F) with a sun and cloud mix. Perfect! At 7 am, sporting my new $12 dollar green and black thrift-store fleece I headed out for a 15 minute walk to the race. When I arrived I was lucky enough to watch the start of the Half-Marathon, and saw the leaders run by, preceded by a motorcade - lights flashing. That got my heart pumping.

Pretty soon it was time to line up behind the start line and I spent the last few seconds before the gun listening to Cypress Hill's "Rock Superstar" - which made me feel really tough. The gun fired, off came the ugly warm-up clothes...and we were underway.

video

(I'm in the red top and black tights - don't blink!) video

The first few miles took us on a meandering tour through downtown Victoria. The twists, turns, and gentle hills kept my interest. We passed the Empress Hotel, the harbour, and the stately legislative buildings.

At mile 5, I passed Ian and my Dad and found myself in the green and gold foliage of Beacon Hill Park. The clouds parted and warm, golden light spread out across the sky.
The next phase took us into the established residential streets of Oak Bay. Quite a few local neighbourhood folks were encamped on the ends of their driveways and in their front yards with noisemakers, signs, and refreshments. What the crowds lacked in numbers they certainly made up for in sincerity.
After we left the residential section we settled in for a long march along the Pacific on Dallas Road from mile 11 to 16 and back. Here, as well as throughout the rest of the race, there were evenly spaced gentle hills to keep things interesting. The spectators thinned out even more and for the most part it was just the runners, the road, and the shore. It was a very peaceful atmosphere with the wide expanse of the ocean spreading out on one side and a winding road unfolding beneath our feet.

After all that solitude I was very happy to find my friend Stephanie and her Mom enthusiastically waving and cheering as I went by mile 17 and then again at 29.

Throughout the journey I did have a lot of work to do. I phoned Ian every 5 or 6 miles and filed a report. I walked and drank at all of the water stops and ate 3 cliff shot bloks every hour. I kept scanning the sidewalks for Ian and my Dad, who might appear at any moment from behind a large tree or parked car. Finally, and most importantly I had to remember my mission: Make it to mile 20 feeling great and ready to start the marathon!

(Here I am at mile 20 getting a last drink from Ian)

It's safe to say my strategy worked. I ended up seeing Ian and my Dad at least 5 times and I think each time they were surprised to see a smile on my face. Aside from one episode of aching toes (which was quickly remedied with Advil) and a couple of breaks to stretch stiff legs - I did arrive at Mile 20 feeling pretty great. Around mile 21 I accepted a tiny cup of beer from one of the Oak Bay folks and dug in.

In the end I did feel pretty crappy the last 3 or 4 miles but I kept reminding myself that this was going to be my last really long run for a loooong time, and that helped keep my pace up.

I crossed the finish with a chip time of 4:10:41, beating my previous record by 10 minutes and blowing my "best case sceneario" goal of 4:15 out of the water. Thanks to all my supporters and I'll keep you posted on the recovery...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Victoria Marathon Training - Week 17 - GUEST BLOG by Ian A.

Running Bébé is busy winding down her training this week and thought it may be a good idea for a guest blog. This is my second guest blog entry – I wrote one a few months ago about a run we did together that didn’t go so well. Anyways, I thought I'd recap some of the highlights and lowlights of RB’s training for the Victoria marathon on Oct. 12.

Highlights:

1. The Lands End Half Marathon – This was a training run in early September. It was run in a rural part of Victoria and although RB didn’t have a great time, I had a fun time watching the race with RB’s dad and his dog. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and John, Reilly and I bombed around the countryside in his Jeep following the course. We probably stopped on the roadside 7 or 8 times to take pictures. The runners started to recognize us after a couple of stops which was fun.

2. Last 20 Mile Training Run – RB and I went on her last 20 mile run a couple of weeks ago in Pemberton. I was on my bike for 20 miles and she ran. We saw all of the sights – the mountains, streams and had a very nice day. My butt was sore from close to four hours on the saddle but I’d definitely do that again.

3. Podcasts – I am not sure if all runners are into podcasts but RB certainly is. Most weekends we drive from Vancouver up to Pemberton and our main forms of entertainment are listening to running podcasts and singing along to RB’s bad selection of songs on her iPod. She is the only person I know that only keeps 15-20 songs on her iPod so there is never much selection – I tried explaining that most people keep all of their songs on the ipod but I think she is very storage conscious. In any case, I am probably one of the only non-runners who listen to the likes of 4 Feet Running, Pheddipidations and Another Runner. I have been enjoying all of them and look forward to new episodes each week.

4. Longest Day 5K – I am not sure if this was during the actual training period but this was my first race ever and we had a nice time. Fun race followed by free BBQ – what could be better than that?

5. Blog Comments – The comments that readers have left are great motivation. Its nice to know others are in the same boat and have experienced the same things. Don’t be shy, leave comments!

Lowlights:

1. Pre-Marathon Nervousness – After RB had finished all of her long runs she had a bout of anxiety about the marathon. Its funny that it seems to happen after all of the hard work is done.

2. Land End Half Marathon – While this was a highlight of mine, it was a bit rough for RB. She had a bit of an asthma attack during the last 3 kms of the race. We couldn’t see her during this time and waited at the finish for her. She was on pace for a great time to that point so it was a little bit disappointing for her.

3. Running in Rain – we live in Vancouver, if you don’t run in the rain you will never run.

Its been a fun few months of training. It looks like RB is not planning to run a spring marathon so she will be doing other activities this winter (bring on the snow!!). I am looking forward to the marathon this Sunday and will try to update her Twitter if I can figure it out. Be sure to send her your best wishes for the race this Sunday!