Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Blog #18 Fall Races Recap

As I began building mileage during the summer months after Ottawa Marathon, I decided to focus my training for another fall marathon. Although my plan would change later on, my original plan was to run Philadelphia marathon, since it is a race in which the typical winning time is something similar to my goal time. The 'A' goal time would be 2:18, with a 'B' goal being any kind of improvement from my Ottawa time. (I think there is plenty of room for improvement from the 2:22 this spring) If I am going to put in the effort of traveling to a marathon, I want to be fairly confident in my ability to at least improve on my PB. As I progressed into July and August, I tried to pick up the intensity of my training, and get in some of those key hard paced long runs, fartleks, tempo sessions that are important for marathon training. Perhaps due to some lingering hip issues, I found it difficult to get into a rhythm. I was able to find a chiropractic college (CMCC)  nearby where I am living in Markham. A fellow runner, Garret DeJong, is an intern there, and he has been very helpful at dealing with some of my hip and lower back issues at an affordable cost. This seemed treatment really helped me out as I entered into the racing part of my schedule in the fall.  
 My first race was the Toronto ZooRun 10k. Unfortunately, this was probably one of my worst races in recent memory. I was unable to manage the conservative pace of the leaders for more than a few km's. By the end I was barely able to manage 3:20/km. I'm not sure what caused this, but I was quite disappointed the following week, and felt a lack of energy. I was quite disappointed, and even contemplated quitting running. For that week, I decided to just run easy workouts. Perhaps I was just fatigued and needed to take it easy for a bit.  It seemed to work, because my next long run, I was nearly running the same pace as I did for that race, for the last 5k, and that was without even pushing much of an effort. Things can really change in one week! Moral of the story... If you are in the middle of a marathon build-up and are feeling a lack of energy and unable to get in a rhythm of hitting your goal paces in workouts, try an easy week of base mileage to get some energy back. It might just save your season, and at the very least, it's not like you will lose a great deal of fitness by replacing a few workouts with easy mileage. Willingness to be flexible and read your body as opposed to be a strict and religious about following your training schedule is an important quality of long distance training.  
3 weeks later, I headed into Run for the Toad 25k, with a sense of confidence, because I knew my workouts of the past two weeks indicated that although my 5k/10k speed may not be there, I have the ability to do very well in a 25k trail race. My goal was to break the course record, set by Josephat Ongeri, a solid runner who I have raced many times, and beaten a few times, including edging him by 6 seconds in Around the Bay 2013. So the record would be achievable, but a difficult challenge. I was on pace for this record at the half-way mark, but unfortunately, there were some high winds, and the extra effort required to overcome this may have been what cost me some time in that second lap. I finished about 1 minute away from the record, but over-all it was a solid solo effort. I was happy with this. My former teammate from Campbell, Verrelle Wyatt, won the 50k for the second time in three years, so it was great to catch up with him at this event. 
2 weeks after the Run for the Toad, I offered to be a pacer for the Canadian women at Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. This being a race where many Canadians are trying to hit Olympic qualifying times, I thought it would be a neat opportunity to try to help some Canadian women attempt a shot at the Olympic dream. Not to mention, it is a great training run for me. I was assigned to pace Natasha Lebaud (PB of 2:34) and Tara Korir, making her marathon debut, also went after the Olympic qualifying pace.  Natasha would need over 4 minute PB to qualify, and with Tara not having run one before, both were longshots to make the standard of 2:29:50,  but not out of the realm of possibility, so I admire their courage to get out and go for it, and I am glad to help them by running at 3:31-32 km a few strides ahead of them, in order to help them out. Natasha lasted about 17k, and Tara lasted about 20k at the goal pace, but after the halfway mark, I  had to slow down and pace whoever was leading between the two of them. I paced Tara for until about 25k, and at that time, she started to fade, which is understandable for the aggressive opening pace, this being her first marathon. Natasha passed Tara at 25k, so I would pace her through to the end of the race. I enjoyed pacing duty. Even though my assigned athletes didn't reach their goals, it was a good experience, and I'd love to do it again. It would be pretty cool to be a part in helping someone to achieve their Olympic dream.  
Around this same time, I also had a change in plans in my focus race of the season. Instead of running Philadelphia marathon, I found out from the elite coordinator of Run for the Toad, that I am qualified for 50k world championships, based on my result in the 50k last year. This takes place in Doha, Qatar! This is an experience that I cannot pass up on. I also feel as though based on how my training is going, a 50k is a better option for me. My hard long runs at 3:20-3:35/km efforts are feeling a lot smoother than my tempo run efforts at marathon goal pace. The elite field at 50k is not nearly the same caliber of talent as world championship events of marathon or lower. This is most likely due to lack of significant prize money that is offered in events longer than the marathon.  Most elite distance runners would rather focus their training for a marathon with an attractive prize purse and travel/accommodations provided than pursue a 50k world championship event that is relatively new and unknown event. That being said, I might just possibly have a shot at the podium for this thing!  
My most recent race was the Road2hope Marathon in Hamilton this past weekend. My plan was to run this one at 50k effort. It would be a solo effort from the start, with no other runners in my pace range entering the race.  km's 0-9 had a nice tail wind to help us out, but the stretch from 9-20km would be battling a tough headwind. The tailwind km's I cruised at 3:20's and it felt easy. The headwind km's were more in the 3:25ish range, and it started to get to me. Thankfully, km 20-30 is almost completely downhill, so during this stretch I was able to relax and get some energy back, while at the same time cruising at 3:20/km down the redhill valley parkway. As one might expect for a solo effort marathon those last 12k were a bit of a challenge, but seeing that this was not a full out effort, it wasn't like I was hurting as bad as I normally would in a full out effort. Regardless, I was still struggling about 3:30/km during the final flat portion of the race, which is fine with me. At 30k, the possibility of running a PB was still there, but the motivation to maintain my pace on a solo effort wasn't there. I am more concerned about getting a solid effort in, and being able to recover so that I can run my best race for the 50k on December 4.  I was not planning to go run a PB in this race, but I ended up pretty close, running just under 2:24, so I was pretty happy with that. My plan was to negative split and go 2:24 by doing 72:30/71:30. In reality I went closer to 71:30/72:30,  but hey, that's close enough. For the next few weeks, I'll probably try to get one or two key long progression run to teach my body to run fast on those last 10-15k that will be so tough in the 50k. Other than that, I feel as though my training has gone quite smoothly over the last month or so.  The race is coming up on Dec.4, so I have one month to go yet. It should be a cool experience! I am so thankful for God's provision and keeping me healthy so that I can have these opportunities. There are always going to be tough times when you feel like giving up (in running...and in life) but God is faithful and he does provide you with what you need, and some times, graciously more! 

And now for my non-running portion of the blog,I thought I would voice my two cents on the recent happenings in the Toronto sports world. It was pretty exciting to see the Blue Jays have a playoff run this year. Bautista's bat-flip home run would end a long drought of over 11 years of Toronto sports teams winning as much as a single playoff series in the three major sports leagues they are a part of (mlb,nhlnba). Back when I was in Grade 9, the Leafs beat the Senators in the first round, only to lose in the second round (of course). So that Bautista home-run really represented a change in a losing culture for an entire city, pretty exciting stuff!  This team definitely had the talent to win the world series, however in the Kansas City series, game 6, Moustakas hits a ball that should have went off the wall for a double, but because a fan reached out and caught the ball, it was ruled a home-run. If this event had not happened, it is very possible that the Blue Jays could have won that game. It's pretty crazy how a fan can have an influence on determining a potential series clinching game for a team, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I do find it ironic that the Blue Jays lost this way... because, you see, they had a chance to wrap up home-field advantage in the last week of the regular season, however, as soon as they clinched the division title, they brought out the champagne bottles, and let their minor league team play the next couple of they would need to win if they would guarantee home advantage throughout the playoffs. They instead decided to party it up. Shameful for a professional sports organization!  It would be like celebrating winning a marathon at mile 23. There's still 3 crucial miles to go! Don't let up! But that's what they chose to do, and it cost them home advantage in the ALCS. If they had home advantage om game 6, perhaps a fan wouldn't have caused a critical run that could have cost them the game. Maybe they still would have lost... or maybe the Toronto version of Steve Bartman would've been in attendance (if you don't know who he is, ask a Chicago cubs fan) But the point is... not having home advantage COULD have cost them a world series. So UNTIL you win the whole thing, don't whip out the champagne and act like drunken idiots. Maybe after you win the world series, then you can do that. Partying before the race is over is something you may see in a Usain Bolt parody youtube video, but should not be for a professional sports organization. It's great they ended a 22 year playoff drought, but it could have been a lot more.  
Speaking about Toronto sports teams that  make poor decisions, let's talk about Toronto Maple Leafs hockey...just kidding... but perhaps for my next blog, stay tuned!

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