Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Running Therapist.: Envision Financial Run For Water Marathon

The Running Therapist.: Envision Financial Run For Water Marathon: Hello and welcome back Readers, So glad to be writing this blog today on my first day off from what I could likely call my big day.  This ...

Envision Financial Run For Water Marathon

Hello and welcome back Readers,

So glad to be writing this blog today on my first day off from what I could likely call my big day.  This whole week winding down from the marathon has been awesome.  I just love the Vancouver Running community.  Actually I love the whole running community but feel much love close to home.  I really enjoy sifting through the online media and reminiscing over a successful event.  For those who don't know, I was invited to partake in the elite field at this years Run for Water Marathon.  Unfortunately at the time I had already committed to the BMO Vancouver Marathon.  After not completing Vancouver, I had plans already to have a second go at the marathon distance in Abbotsford.  Before I could even email the elite coordinator, I already had a message asking if I'd like to join the event.  David Jackson was the gent in charge of organizing all of the elites and is an elite runner himself.  He also happened to win and has the course record for the Half marathon here.  He did a great job of organizing the Day and making sure it was smooth for all runners.  It's this kind of care and attention which makes me want to be a part of a great event.  An event is only as good as it's volunteers and organization.

The hardest part of coming to this event was trying to stay mentally focused after a tough and deflating Vancouver.  I wanted to relax and felt ready for a break after my lengthy training block leading into BMO.  I had some nutritional issues which were leading to low energy levels.  I actually think I was suffering from this in the BMO Marathon as well.  I felt as though my efforts were there but the performance was not.  As if I was an 6 cylinder engine running on 5.  I went to YVS (Your Vitamin Store on West 4th Ave and Burrard St.)  He has been in the biz for years and really knows his stuff.  I suspected I was low on Iron as I do not eat red meat very often so Randy hooked me up with a two week supply of samples for free.  After talking to my coach John Hill he thought Vitamin B12 would be a good idea as well.  I picked up a natural concoction for the iron and some tabs which dissolve under the tongue.  After only a couple of days I was feeling charged and energy levels had climbed above where they had been for a while.

Saturday was a crazy busy day on the sales floor at Dizzy Cycles.  The conclusion of the West 4th Ave construction was celebrated by a street long sale here in Kitsilano.  I was running the whole day trying to help three people at once all day.  I was glad to be able to leave early at 4:30 but it was so busy at the time I felt horrible to leave my sales team a man down in the trenches as we were already short handed. Sally and I made it to the Greyhound station on time and made our way out to Abbotsford to settle in for the night.  My team mate Bryan Andrews who was also running the Marathon was kind enough to pick us up from the depot and we all had dinner at Moxies before returning to the Sandman hotel.  Thanks to the hotel and race director for putting us up in a lovely room.  Unfortunately I was hot and cold all night and suffered from convoluted dreams which were stressful and made no sense at all.  I basically woke every hour on the hour until my last restful hour between 4am and 5am where I was dreaming about missing my ride to the start and being late.  Needless to say I was glad to be awake and starting the race.

We met at the elite tent and dropped off our bottles and gels for the course.  It was rainy and cool which meant hydration wouldn't be a hard thing to maintain, but fuelling is still crucial in a marathon.  I didnt have time after work and before the race to get bottles for the feed station and was glad that Happy Water was able to hook me up with 5 bottles for the race.  I pour out half the water and put in my CytoMax mix.  I tape a Vega Gel to the outside.  This is a formula I won't mess around with as I know it works well every time.  The Cyto Max gives me the energy and electrolytes I need and the gels keep me fuelled up and sustained for the long haul.  Pre race routine for fuelling: Oatmeal, Banana, coffee.  Never fails and sticks to the ribs.  I will also consume 200mg of Caffeine 15 mins before the start as well as a gel and a bottle of Cytomax.  The Caffeine helps with mental strength and I can fool myself into feeling good for a long way.

The gun went off and I was in the lead immediately.  There was Jason Loutit a certain contender, and last year's winner Ryan Prachnau who were close around me and we travelled as a small pack through the first 2kms.  There was a taller less graceful runner who pushed past and started to push the pace.  I knew he wouldnt be able to continue this for long and was likely running his first marathon.  I said to him "42 to go bud." As I looked to my right and shared a smile and glance with Jason.  We both knew.  After that it was game time.  The first few kilometres are downhill and thus the last few are up. The course comes back to itself around the 34km mark.  I was able to settle in and found myself comfortably running my goal pace of around 3:33/km.  As I went through the ten Km mark I glanced over my shoulder expecting to see a pack hot on my heels.  There was one man behind me in a blue jersey about 200 Meters back.  "Ok," I thought, "We have a real race on our hands."  In my head I knew it was still early and also felt as though I was the fastest most capable runner on the course.  I knew if I continued this I could grow the gap.

At Half way I had only grown the gap to about 400 Meters and was a bit worried that this guy may try to push in the later parts to shrink my lead.  The first half of this race had a ton of head winds to battle and at times I was really struggling to keep my pace.  The wind wasn't horrible, but it was persistent and along those 2-5km straight roads it was constant.  I knew the competition was facing the exact conditions as I was and would likely be suffering equally.  This was comforting.  Here's something you don't or won't hear everyday, But I know a lot of you have had to think about or make decisions about going pee during a race.  I have had to pee in three or four other events during the race.  I have at times tried to do it while running and other times just tried hard to ignore it.  I have only experienced this in shorter races like a half or 10k.  Seeing as how it was raining and I had worked so hard to grow and maintain my current lead, stopping was out of the question.  Peeing my pants however, still very much in question.  The only problem about this potential reality is that no matter how hard I tried, I could not for the life of me get my plumbing to work.  When the only thing on your mind is going pee and trying doesn't work, well you have to keep trying.  I honestly spent over three kilometres trying and finally I was able to relieve myself.  I have never felt so good or proud about soiling my running shorts.  To make this situation even more difficult, I had a wonderful man named Rick who was the lead cyclist cycling right beside me.  He heard me making some strange noises and asked if I was ok.  After a few grunts and sighs I replied "I am now!"  Immediately after I felt lighter and my pace magically resumed.  I ran through a large puddle which cleaned my legs and shoes and at the next water station poured two cups all over myself.  "All clean!" I said "Now back to the race."

The two lead cyclist were amazing and very helpful.  They kept me safe from traffic, prepared the feed station volunteers to have either water or sports drink for me as I passed through.  At the elite feed stations, the bottles were on the ground unattended.  Rick was kind enough to ride ahead and take my lid off and hand my bottle to me like the other feed stations so I didn't have to stop and pick them up.  It was also great Having them there as for the most part, this course was in the middle of nowhere.   My super awesome support crew Sally and Zahida were driving the course and were sure to be at all the check points cheering and ringing cow bells.  I felt so happy to hear them and see them along the way. They did a fantastic job of keeping my spirits high.

At the 24-34km mark I Constantly focused on form and technique in order to keep my pace strong.  I was running a little slower than I had hoped for but maintaining 3:37/km avg.  I knew at this point that if I could keep my legs moving I would win this race for sure.  By the time I had 7kms left to run my legs were starting to feel the pain.  My mental strength was the only thing which could force my legs to keep pressing on.  I was suffering quite a lot when we merged with the half marathoners.  I was so relieved to be surrounded by other runners at this point and knew the race would soon be over.  By the time we blended into the 10k runners their energy was infectious.  The cheers and number of people made me ignore the pain.  The uphill finish made my legs feel like lead and when I checked my pace I felt as if I was barely moving.  The only reason I could guarantee I was still in fact moving was everyone saying you look great!  In my mind I was saying "Hmmm that's funny, I feel like shit." I felt like my goal time had been lost long ago but when I saw the yellow finish line banner I for the first time in a marathon was able to find another gear to grind into the finish.  The clock came into view and I could see I was under the 2:35:00 mark.  I was so excited that my time was fairly decent.  Could I do this??? I pushed as hard as I could possibly push toward the line and sadly watched the PBon the clock trickle away.  I finished in 2:35:08.  Extremely happy with the outcome and time for a lonely race, I absorbed the reality of the accomplishment.  I wobbled my way through to collect my medal and hurried to fill myself with Muscle Mlk for some quick and easy to absorb protein.  I made my way from there quickly to the medical tent for a relieving ice bath and got into some dry clothes.

The trophy, medal and plaque were stunning and the $1200 cheque completed my day successfully.  I have never received a payout this large and it will help me drastically pay off some much needed depts and bills.  Its such a relief!  It's not like winning the lotto but it really does help alleviate the many costs of life.  All in all, I loved the course, the event was perfectly organized and on time.  I will recommend the Envision Financial Abbotsford Run For Water Marathon to anyone looking to set a fast time and have a great run for an awesome cause.  By the way, as well as I set the course record, there was a record breaking $358 000 for clean drinking water in Ethiopia.  I have run out of time for today but will return tomorrow to add photos and more links from the event.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more sports fantastic action soon.  Next race will be the Sandcastle 10k in White Rock on June 9th.  Stay fit and have fun!!  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.

Hello sports fans,

As you all know, the last few months of training for many people have been devoted to the BMO Vancouver Marathon.  It was a long and strenuous journey for many to fight injury and illness and toe the line in May for this big spring marathon.  I had been focussing all of my training and races specifically for this race and for the most part, things were going very much to plan.

I had recently had the confidence booster I needed coming into this race by setting a new PB at the Vancouver Sun Run.  On race morning I felt great and my pre race routine was shaping up very nicely.  I was able to consume all my fuel at the early hour and keep myself relaxed and happy.  I made it to the Fairmont Waterfront hotel by 6am to catch the elite shuttle.  It was great being in the lobby basking in the sun as it rose up over the east of the North Shore mountains.  Kenyans so relaxed and graceful even as they eat their pre race fuel.   It feels so calming being around such greats as I know in their minds they are approaching this race with a familiar feeling.  We are all going out on course to push the limits of our bodies and minds.  I find a spot on the bus next to fellow VFAC teammate Alex Lea who was pleased to have earned her way up the ranks to elite status.  Her and I both shared our feelings and goals on the way to the start area.

The elite warm up gym was great for pre race dynamic movements.  It was an acrobatic gym so the floor was bouncy and very soft under foot.  Had I not had a race to do I would be tempted to try some acrobatics on the floor and trampoline.  With my luck I'd brake a leg for sure.   The sun shone in through the windows and the Kenyan runners stretched and applied their Icy Hot rub as I listened to my music and did my routine.  I left to go out and do a warm up run.  The Pearl Izumi Road N1's felt great under foot for my warm up and have treated me well during training.  They really do promote an efficient running style and cater perfectly to my mid foot strike.

As the gun went off and we made our way down the road I noticed a very relaxed and lazy pace.  My goal in a marathon is to run the same pace from start to finish with some tolerance on downhills and uphills.  It worries me to be shoulder to shoulder with a 2:15 Kenyan Marathoner for any length of time in a race but I knew based on effort I was running the right speed.   A familiar sight was talented Nic Browne race up to the lead as he is quite religious with pacing as well.  I know the marathon is a run your own race kind of deal so I plugged on at my given pace.  We were closing in on the second mile and I was in a very familiar place. I was all by myself feeling good and relaxed and running the correct pace.  There was no group around me as I was planning on and Nic was pushing it just out of reach up ahead.  I was passed by Jason Loutit going down the last bit of hill at 8km.  I knew I was running fast enough and kept my pace.  He's a strong runner but we were super early in the race.  As we climbed Camosun hill I caught up to and passed Jason.  There was a great cheering squad at the top of the hill and a very enjoyable water hose which sprayed us as we ran by.  It was hot at 10km and I was still comfortable with the heat.

The next few kilometres were uneventful.  I cruised through the out and back and was able to get a look at the leaders as well as my competition.  I was comfortable with my effort and placing, but my pace was not as consistent as it should have been.  The course for the next few kms would be flat and also a great place to see how pacing would be.  I was not happy and my pace was between 5-10 seconds per kilometre slower than projected.  I knew I could maintain this effort and placing but would never be able to achieve my goal time at this rate.  With the heat and slow speed, it would likely be a disastrous time.  My coach and I had agreed that if for some reason on race day things were not going to plan to pull out early enough to save my legs and body for the Abbotsford Run For Water Marathon in three weeks.  I was passed again at the bottom of Spanish banks hill by Jason once again by his uncommon surge pacing.  I knew I would likely be able to catch him if not keep the gap.  I kept the effort on as I had yet to make up my mind weather or not to race to the finish and keep my second place Canadian Finish and a pay day but also a slow time which I would not be happy with.  I went through Half way in 1:15:30 about a minute slower that I had hoped.  After seeing my coach on the sidelines, I told him I was out.  I kept my effort at tempo pace for the next few mms until the 25km mark.  I pulled the plug and sheepishly walked off course.
Just before making the crucial decision.

The decision was more difficult than finishing the race would have been but I really wanted my fast Marathon time.  It was not the day for it.  I know how many people had expectations of my performance and will likely consider this as a failed attempt.  Some of Canada's best Marathoners including Dylan Wykes (2nd fasted Canadian Marathon of all time) have had to pul out of a race in a desperate attempt to save the body for another attempt.  In a way, his Olympic qualifying race in Rotterdam meant nothing in regards to his overall placing, but everything in regards to his time.  He not only qualified and beat the olympic standard, But set the 2nd fastest Canadian marathon time ever.  Sometimes you have to look outside the box to the bigger picture and know when to hold em and when to fold em.  I am continuing to train and stepping up my mileage to prepare to crush my best marathon time.
If I failed you, do not worry, I have not given up and nor will I.  No matter what happens in the Run For Water     I will cross the line and meet all three of my goals. First is my time goal of between 2:32 and 2:29. Second, I want to win the race, but will accept top three if the day goes poorly. Third, Bring home the cheddar! Even if I had finished second Canadian in the BMO Marathon, my payout would be less than finishing 2nd in this race.  I know I don't make lots of money with running and that I run for greater reasons, but when there is cash, it always helps out.  For now I am tired of writing but still hungry to train and build strength and speed.  Stay tuned for the next entry in a few weeks and come out to Run For Water to cheer or compete. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

2013 Vancouver Sun Run Race report

Hello Readers and Runners,

Another year of training is symbolized by another very exciting Vancouver Sun Run.  As the second largest 10km road race in the world and the largest in North America, it's quite an honour and a thrill to be a part of the front lines.  I used to not like the event as it was very stressful and challenging due to the depth of the talent that shows up every year.  This year I knew my training was going well with very few hiccups to get in my way.  Physically I felt strong coming into this event but I wasn't as mentally focused as I have been in some of my better races.  I realized I had been getting myself down mentally a couple of days before this event and made a conscious decision to change that.  I worked a long hard week right up to the Saturday.  I had been so caught up in work and trying to be positive and found myself home at just after 8pm.  I had forgotten to pick up my race packet!  As I frantically emailed Maurice and called Thelma,  I started to panic.  Thelma returned my call quickly and assured me that all was well.  Sincere thanks to Maurice, Thelma and Jenn for their outstanding job in Keeping us all organized and well taken care of.

Race morning came and the weather looked and felt calm.  I woke up early and started my coffee machine.  Rode my bike to the Hyatt to pick up my race packet at the elite hospitality suite.  Jenn was there with big smiles on and I also bumped into Erin Burrett who's energy was high.  Back home for fuel and race prep and it was game time!  I enjoyed being able to go for a light spin on the bike, it made my legs feel loose and the fresh air is great.  I left the house a little later than planned. (As per usual) It was the first year I have ever been close enough to run to the start line from home.  I live on the one mile mark of this course.  The roads were already closed to traffic when I set off and for the first time ever I got to run down Denman and up Georgia.  It was beautiful getting to warm up on the empty course in safety.  Climbing to the start I could see the masses.  I entered the warm up area already warm.  I love the start line of this race as it's like a giant running party!  Everyone has the best energy and emotion and there are superstars everywhere!  The anxious countdown and we are off.  Helicopter over head and people swarming all around as we jockey for position.  The start is always risky as it is downhill and the fast competition can lead to an overdone first mile.  I was feeling very relaxed and strong and starting to file in amongst runners who I hoped to be near.  The first two kilometres were very comfortable and I wanted to push more as I knew I had to in order to reach my goal.  My team mate Nic Browne came past me at this point at a crispy pace.  I was glad to see that as it gave me the boost I needed to push through.  for the next two kms I tried hard to keep Nic and Craig Odermatt right in front of me as they are both in great shape and could very well pull me to my needed quick time.
It was the next 500-600 meters where they put a gap between me and I was unable to respond.

Final push to the finish across Cambie Bridge
I knew that Burrard bridge has made me suffer dearly in years passed so I let them continue and kept my effort.  We climbed the hill and bridge and I gained a couple positions.  My coach yelled my 5k split which was 16:00 even.  I was on point for a successful race if I could keep this up.  I have run the bridge a lot recently as well as this side of it, so I was feeling strong still as we crested and started the descent.  I knew I couldn't relax as those long leggers I had passed on the way up would be opening up their stride to chase me down.  As we cleared the 7km mark, I was hot on the heels of Ed McCarthy.  He had beaten me here last year and at the BMO Vancouver Marathon.  I had to get him.  I was very closely chased by Mark Wilkie from the Point Grey Track Club.  I had taken him on the bridge and he was back for vengeance.  I tagged onto Mark as he came by me and we turned onto the Cambie Street bridge.  We passed Ed and battled each other until the top of the bridge. (Which is actually the end of the bridge too) the downhill was not kind to me and I could not match the kick of Mark's "track kick".  I was running scared at this point because I knew I was running on fumes and there were sprints and battles going on just behind me.  I dare not look as I had my tunnel vision locked onto the finish line. My coach yelled my time and I knew I was slow but very close to a best.  I had one last ounce of energy which I poured on until I could hear announcer Steve King announce that Natasha Fraser was seconds from the line.  I had one last boost of fear which got me across the in 32:31 a 4 second personal best.

I had put it all out there and the confidence booster I needed was there.  I wanted to be up with Nick but my fitness was just not up to his standard.  I feel as though for the next marathon I train for I will incorporate more mileage to be more solid. To do so this time I have felt a bit stressed for time and energy in single workouts and may adopt a dual workout day to spread out the workload.

After the race we gathered for the awards in BC Place which is always a grand spectacle with the live band and big screen in the huge open space of the stadium.  Usually we look down upon the playing field but in this instance we were on the field and able to watch the remaining masses cross the line.  We were chauffeured from the stadium to the hotel in the coach bus and arrived to a massive feast.  I cannot say how well Hyatt puts on a brunch buffet in words. My taste buds and ferocious desire might be able to explain how good it was if it weren't for the fact that my eyes are bigger than my belly.  I'd love to eat a bit of everything, but my body just wont allow at this one.            
Post race celebrations with 2nd place Canadian Rejean Chaisson