May 4, 2015

Testing times

Having got the green light from my surgeon a few weeks ago I asked myself the question, 'Can I train for Comrades 87k in seven weeks?'  Well, and lets' be honest there those seven weeks included any sort of taper so in realty, I had far less than seven weeks to put in a solid bunch of hard, but sensible, graft.  It was time to start ramping up the miles, but also time to be mindful that if I leapt back into too much too soon then I might end up injured or just plain over worked.

First focus - just go out and run.  A few days after getting the 'ok' to run I did a 33k road run, usually this would be nothing to write home about but man oh man, I ended that run feeling beat like after my first marathon some 13 years ago.  Hmm, this was no boding well.  But it seemed that with each and every run my body very quickly remembered the usual paces that I put it through and I soon was ramping up the miles, adding quality and recovering much quicker.  Muscle memory and rested legs are two very wonderful things!

I was also very keen to race BMO Vancouver Marathon, which was this past weekend, afterall it was four weeks pre-Comrades so why on earth would I go for a long solo training run when I could join in race fun with many friends, all of which knew I had been injured and thus possibly not in the best shape of my life?  Everyone said I would be fine, but I went into 'race' day with 110kms in my legs from the 5 days prior - not exactly the usual taper.  Those 110kms included my first attempt at a tempo and a speed workout, so they weren't all easy miles.  But I had to remember that BMO was a stepping stone and not a goal race in itself, there wasn't the luxury of time to taper for this, and afterall - it was destined to be a hard training effort, not a race.

All in all BMO Vancouver Marathon yesterday was a huge success on many fronts:

- I had talked myself into the belief that a 3:00:00 finish might be realistic.  But I have the benefit of more than 50 marathons/ ultras so when I opened in a 3:55/km rather than the planned 4:15/km I ran on feel, and ended up with a 3:56/km average - pretty good pacing.

With Helen, Anne-Marie and Kristin, just some of my super VFAC team mates.  Photo: Guy Smith

- 2:47:23 finishing time, with a negative split to boot (I passed half way in 1:24 something - still not sure of the official split).

Cruising at the half way mark.  Photo: Dave Burroughs

- Whilst I not surprisingly lacked that extra gear (no taper, heavy legs) I didn't slow at the end - yes, there was no sprint finish but in my final 5kms I maintained my steady pace, good enough.

Focused in the closing kms.  Photo: Rita Ivanauskas

- I'd arranged to have a friend meet me at the finish line to go for a 10k cool down, after a quick awards ceremony (I placed 3rd female overall), off we trotted for a blissful, easy 50 minute run in the hilly Stanley Park trails.  Were my legs fresh?  No.  Could I easily run that 10k?  Yes.

So I now have one more week of really solid training and then it will be gradually reduced volume to prep for Comrades.  I am so excited to be heading to South Africa again, and whilst I might not be in tip top shape and perfectly prepared, BMO was an excellent benchmark of fitness that shows that I should be able to post a respectable showing at The Ultimate Human Race on May 31st :)  I'm excited, motivated and keen to just race as best as I can.

Pumped with my time, how good I felt, and that whilst my hand is still in need of much therapy - at least I am back running.  Photo: Salomon Store West Vancouver