Monday, 30 April 2012

The Vancouver Marathon 2012 Race Plan: Sub 3 Hours

With 5 days to go before the marathon, I have started to develop my plan to execute on race day. It is going to have me digging deep, over-reaching what is suggested that I am capable of achieving based on the race/pace predictors and calculators. In spite of those computer generated, formulaic algorhythms that burp out my race finish times (and I might add, that I have found one that is nearly bang on based on my previous race finishes at a variety of distances), I still believe that I am capable of running a sub 3 hour marathon. Maybe I am being foolish, maybe I am realistic, maybe I have a tonne of heart and determination.

I have the fitness and the form, no injuries to speak of right now, and the course looks great. By the time I hit the Burrard Bridge, I will be feeling great, and the Seawall in Stanley park will be old hat, running that familiar route in reverse of the First Half-Half Marathon that I have done for so many years.

I think this is my year. Not only to shave--no--scalp last years time, but to obliterate it. The last few blog posts have been focussing so much on the time of the marathon, the preparation, and the obsession of the run for me. I am obsessed about this run. It kinda feels like Christmas as a kid for me. The same anticipation of that day, the same childlike excitement of Christmas morning, these are the feelings that I have before big events like this. The Test of Metal, Chucknut 50, Whistler Gran Fondo, the 2011 Vancouver Marathon, ANY cyclocross event, all of these events that get me charged up and feeling alive. This one is no different.

Here is the plan in miles:

Here is the prediction based on my previous results. This prediction is nealy bang on in all distances, which probably makes it more realistic. But to hell with it. I am going to find something within me to buck the prediction:

In my back pocket is a 6 hour, 11 minute 50k run that I did a month and a half ago. I know pain. I know suffering. I know where to go to get something extra to help myself along. This race course is less hilly than last year's. It is flatter, which means I have to be on the gas the whole time, just not full gas.

5 days away.

Sub 3.

That is the goal.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

10 days to go--The Vancouver Marathon

10 days to go, and tomorrow I tackle the last track workout of 10 Yasso 800m intervals. I started these intervals about 4 weeks ago, and will continue to do them after the marathon to get my speed up. During these intervals, the workout looks like the following:

1. -10 minute warmup
2. -2 laps of 400m track, the pace is usually 1:30s per lap, 3:00 for 2 laps
3. -Recover with a full 3:00 lap, getting my heart rate down to 110-120 bpm
4. -Repeat number 2 as many times as I am doing in that workout.

I started the Yasso's late in my training for the marathon. I began with 5 on Good Friday, bumped to 7, last week to 8, and now I am heading for 10 intervals. The training is hard running between 3:30k and 3:45k, as I tend to go out  a bit too hard and have to scale back, sometimes running a 3:02k pace. I think I have managed to figure out the pace, and running 30 seconds slower at a 4:15k pace is much easier only after 3 of these track sessions. Hopefully this is a predictor of my marathon finish time as some of the things I have read suggest.

Lately I have been running in my New Balance MT110s. This is a minimalist transition shoe, but I am getting used to it as my go-to trail running shoe. At first I kinda liked the shoe but was not sold on it. Now, after a couple of months of use, I love them. The feel of the trail underfoot, the eyes that my feet have developed for the ground, the change in my running gait and footfall--moving from a heel strike to a mid foot landing, all of these combine for a great minimal trail runner. My feet have been adapting to them quite nicely, and I am looking at getting into some of the minimal road shoes as well. I even tried the right shoe out barefoot on the last long run before the BMO Marathon, due to an unexpected stop in the wood to hide something in the trees. Even without a sock on my right foot, the shoe felt almost better than the left foot.

I can forsee a time in the future where my big, bulky shoes are going to be dinosaurs in my closet (Namely my NB MT910s.I think those are now strictly for winter duty now), and much of what I run in will be minimal, lightweight runners. I may have bought my last set of Asics 21** series shoes that I have been faithful to for the last many years, dating back to 2004. That said, with meet your maker coming up, I am thinking of getting into some Salomon Speedcross 3s. Those look like killer trail shoes, and the MYM course would be great to tackle those with.

My back has been out for the last 2 weeks due to some stage fighting, and dancing with a 4 year old on my shoulders. I attended the chiropractor, and today was my first massage therapy session ever. I can say this: The massage therapy was great. I will be back, and in fact, I added a massage to my BMO Marathon registration. I hope that this will help me rebound after the marathon quicker than normal. Today, the massage was painful, and I left the clinic feeling a bit in shock. And stunned. There is a first time for everything.

Tonight feels pretty good though. Boston just got bounced out of the first round. Go Caps!! Joel Ward rocks. A few more runs and then we are a go.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Injuries, spring water, and running.

Last week I managed to put my mid back and neck out. This was due in two parts: I was dancing with my son on my shoulders, and the next day in class while teaching stage fighting, I held a position too long being headlocked, that my back went "Doing!" It stiffened up really quickly, and I could not move my head without moving my shoulders. I still managed to rattle off 7 Yasso intervals running up to the track from KG Nissan, and back down to pick up my car. A great workout even if my body was in pain.

This went on for a couple of days until I made it to the chiropractor Friday afternoon. This is the first time in my life that I have ever made a visit to the chiro, and I was naive to what happens. He popped my neck, popped my back and sent me on my way after 45 minutes or so. The stiffness miraculously gone, the muscle pain has lingered over the last 4 days...

I have had trouble trying to get a massage therapy appointment that fits my schedule. Also, my ankle has seemed to pack up, so getting that un-frozen is a priority. Chiro appointment is set up for Friday afternoon.

The Yasso's have been hard but great. Trying to maintain 3:00 minute 800m gets tough on the back end of the intervals, and this week I am taking on 8 intervals. Sean and I managed 28kms yesterday, and we are on the downward taper of marathon training. I am getting excited for the big day. A sub 3 hour marathon is the lofty goal, but I believe that I can make that happen.

One disturbing discovery on our run yesterday morning was the changes made to the artesian springs in the Watershed. The Corporation of Delta has unilaterally restricted access to the springs by engineering rocks with rebar drilled through them and cemented to each other. These changes to the springs we not made public at the park, and are quite concerning. I have been in contact with the Corporation of Delta trying to get and explanation about the springs, and will continue to push for open and free access to the water. I managed to jam out a letter to the Corporation of Delta Mayor and Council, and hopefully there will be some action to allow access to the artesian springs.

My letter to the Corporation of Delta:

Dear Mayor and Council
As a recreational user of the Watershed park, it is disturbing to me that the springs have been capped. This seems to be a knee jerk reaction to other users accessing the springs from Highway 91, and to the potential liability issue of the safety of the water from the spring. These reasons were suggested to me by Arvind Sharma of the Corporation's engineering department.
I myself do not access the park from highway 91 and cross over the BNSF rail line, entering the park at the proper entry points. I do use the springs as I have for the last 13 years, to fill my water bottle while exercising in the park. The water tastes amazing, flows freely, and my family and I have had no health concerns whatsoever regarding the consumption of this water. The last two winters have been wonderful for refilling my bottles while training for the Vancouver Marathon, and another 50km race. Spending 5 hours in the park in training, it is amazing to have access to such clean drinkable water. During the summer, the springs can be a godsend as the weather heats up.
The heavy handed limiting of park user's access to the spring is disturbing for a couple of reasons: First, there was no notice at any of the park entries of this action taking place. It appears that the public was not consulted about this action taken by the Corporation of Delta, Mayor, and Council. This is plain wrong.
Secondly, this is natural, beautifully free flowing water. I'm stunned that the elected officials at the Corporation would choose to prohibit or prevent people's access to water. this is something that makes the Watershed a unique park south of the Fraser. This is water that people have accessed for decades.
There are some ways to remedy the situation.
One, remove the caps. Immediately. These caps decided upon unilaterally, appear to be an attack on the Watershed Park. If safety is a concern, test the water. Have staff from the engineering department test the water daily, weekly, or whenever deemed necessary.
Two: Allow access to the water via Highway 91. There is a demand for this water. Many people access the park to cart water out. This is not a bad thing. It encourages people to use and explore the Watershed Park. Perhaps allowing for a safe crossing over the railway is a way to satisfy BNSF. A bridge over or tunnel under the rail line may be a way to erase the liability issue of crossing the railway. Or install an over the tracks pedestrian crossing with signage  at the crossing on the highway 91 side, providing limited access to the park.
Three: Do not allow access via Highway 91( as you already have done), but have users walk into the park to get their own water. If they want it that badly, make them work for it.
Four: Allow for users access to the spigot by the pumphouse, and to the other two springs along the lower trail, enough space within the boulder caps to fill their water containers, rather than completely covering the springs with boulders, rebar, and cement.
With the potential twinning of the train tracks that run alongside the Delta Watershed, I hope that the natural springs will be left alone, rather than capped permanently.
The capping of the springs is disturbing. It is an attack on the crown jewel of North Delta. Please reconsider your actions, and direct the engineering department to remove the caps on the springs.

I feel quite strongly about this issue, and it does not seem like it will go away easily. The online petition is here. The facebook group is here. 

If you feel strongly about this issue of spring water access in the Shed, please sign the petition and visit the Facebook page.