Edmonton 2012 was my last full marathon. I was worried that if I stopped racing, that I would stop running, but that hasn't happened. In fact, I run more often than I did when I was training for the big races. Back then, I would adhere to a strict training schedule, but now I just go out and run every day!
This was my second time running the Fool's on the Sunshine Coast. It is a challenging run, with several steep downhill stretches that turn one's legs into jelly. I finished in 1:25:59 which is almost identical to three years ago (1:26:03). Lots of great runners in this race, the top masters (Kevin O'Connor) ran it in 1:09:12, which they said was a national masters record. This was also an opportunity to enjoy some good grub with the family, who live around these parts.
Another half-marathon, this one in 1:25:16. Pace was 4:02 per km, I must be slipping! This is the first half where I didn't get a personal best. It was a great race overall, though, I placed 7th compared to two years ago when I placed eighth on this same course.
I ran a successful half today at the Calgary Marathon. Official time 1:23:56. It's quite the thing to look at your watch after an event like this and notice that it isn't even 8:30am yet. The best thing about my performance is that I had a great split… the 2nd half of the race took only 60s longer than the first half.
I'm almost done training for the Calgary Marathon next week… for the half marathon, that is. For a half-marathon I train up to 25 km, but for a full, I train up to 50 km. There's a world of difference between these two distances. After a 25 km run, I can shower and get on with my day as if it was any other day. But anything over 30 km requires recovery time, and 50 km is way, way past 30 km. But these long, stamina-building runs are the key to getting a good finishing time and enjoying yourself on race day.
Here's the conundrum. I want to run full marathons, not halfs. During a full you always find one or two folks that match your pace and you get to know them a bit, but a half is too fast and too short for any chit-chat. Compared to a full marathon, a half is boring and not particularly challenging. Unfortunately, training for a full is decidedly less fun and takes a much greater toll on the body.
So should I cut back to just halfs? Hmm… I can always do another full marathon and then decide…
Wow, it's already March! The Calgary Marathon is just 3 months away, so I don't have time to train for a full marathon, but it might be nice to do a half. Hard to believe that I ran six consecutive marathons between May 2011 and Aug 2012… six marathons in 16 months. And all those four-hour training runs, I can't even count the number of times that I've run back and forth across this city. Yeah, a half-marathon will be a nice change.
Also, about the toenail that I lost after the Edmonton Marathon, it grew back after about three months. I did take before and after photos, but honestly, is that something that anyone really wants to see?
After the Edmonton Marathon, my baby toenail was floating on top of a blister. So I guess that I shouldn’t be too surprised that the whole toenail came loose. I was wiggling it around and it fell right off… oops! So now I'm recording the toe and the date, so that I'll know exactly how long it took to grow back. Left baby toe, September 6th. Expect another post on this matter in a few months.
Last year Edmonton was my most enjoyable marathon (even with the extreme heat), and I was looking forward to running it again this year. And I did run it… but it wasn't quite as much fun.
So what went wrong? Well, I usually fuel up before a race with a bowl of oatmeal, which I had prepared just the way I like it the day before. Unfortunately, the hotel microwave was, well, too dirty to use. I ate my oatmeal cold and my stomach was very slow to digest it. Then, horror of horrors, I didn't make it to the start line on time (the train schedule is pretty sparse on Sundays, and finding stations in a strange city ain't the easiest thing even if you have a map). But just four minutes late, which isn't the end of the world.
The race itself was just a bit slow (even though I was passing tons of people thanks to my late start), but at the halfway point I found myself next to another experienced runner named Budd who encouraged me and helped to keep me from losing speed. Well, it helped for a while… but at 34k I hit the wall hard and just shuffled along for the final few kilometres. My final time was just under 3:30.
Food and tardiness were factors in my underwhelming performance, but the main issue was training. Because this was my third marathon of the year, I'd been training since November, around 9 months in total. My training regime has become stagnant, all I do is run. No core training, no weights, and even my "sprints" are just fast runs. So I'm taking a break (if you can call 50k a week a "break") and will resume serious training in January, in preparation for the next Calgary marathon.
The Vancouver Marathon has been on my list for a long time, and it did not disappoint. The scenery is beautiful (and also very familiar, I lived in Vancouver from 1990 to 1995). My favorite part, undoubtedly, was running through the University of British Columbia and Pacific Spirit Park. I love the cedar forests that surround the university.
All of the ups and downs on the route were a bit of a surprise to me… I didn't remember Vancouver having so many hills! My watch was only a rough guide to my progress, because each kilometre was so different. Eventually I fell in beside a runner who had done the marathon several times before, and he was glad to provide me with a few tips. Unfortunately, though, I started falling behind after we reached Stanley Park.
My final time was 2:58:15. Not quite a personal best, but a good time nonetheless.
Sedona is a very pretty city, in the middle of Arizona's Coconino National Forest and surrounded by red mesas covered in desert vegetation. It is also the site of the most challenging marathon that I have ever run.
Before this marathon, my only experience with Arizona was Phoenix, which is flat, flat, flat. The Sedona landscape is more akin to the Grand Canyon. Not only did the marathon have plenty of hills, but most of it was on dirt roads covered in slippery red dust and fair-sized pebbles. It was very much like the kind surface I would imagine on Mars, but at full gravity (and, thankfully, with plenty of oxygen). As a souvenir, I brought a few grams of red dust back with me in my socks. My finish time was 3:22, a fair bit above my personal best, but all the runners faced the same challenges, and in the end I was third in my age category and sixth overall!
Finish time notwithstanding, it was a wonderful trip. I had the opportunity to visit with my sister and two nieces and to spend plenty of time hiking up the mountains that surround the city on all sides.