Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Going forward in 2012

Hi There,
As you may know by now I've run my first race of 2012 and came out of it in two mindsets. First was I wasn't very happy with myself as I didn't do as well as I would've liked and swore that I was done with marathons for good. The second was within a couple of hours of finishing I knew that wasn't the case anymore, I just need to correct a couple of things in training and I know that I'll start running the times I know I'm capable of. 

It’s not about proving anything to anyone. It’s about running the best race that I have in me, which I don't believe I have done yet and definitely didn't happen in Phoenix. I've gotten close a few times - Dublin 2009 was the first race I felt I was in control of the entire distance, Calgary 2010 was the second race where I had this feeling only it was better than Dublin and then the half marathon at the Edmonton marathon weekend in 2010 was the last time where I felt I was finally running around what I'm capable of.

When I go to a race I plan on finishing no matter how badly it goes. No one likes either a DNS or DNF beside their name. Finishing in one piece is one of the lowest expectation I have of myself when I'm on the start line, the lowest is finishing injured. The other thing I have in my mind that would make a race finish acceptable to me is finishing better than my last race. These goals were achieved in Phoenix. The best outcome is that I finish with a new PB.

I do however have to be smart in how I train from now on. I can't just run mile after mile because A) I have family to spent time with and B) my history of injuries are forcing me to think of ways to supplement my lack of running mileage with other ways to train. I'm still going to run as much as I can but I won't a high mileage guy, I believe that my best training comes in around 100 - 115K per week. Anything after that and I tend to break down if it’s sustained over a period of time, such as in a build up to a marathon and C) I do have a job that I love and sometimes requires me to work late or on weekends.

So how do you supplement running mileage? For me it’s going to be adding more time on the bike commuting to work and back and spending time in the pool. Of course more running is really the only thing that will give you the running fitness required to run fast times. But for me that is not going to work. If I cut back on my car usage I could easily rack up 200K a week on the bike by just commuting and then add a day or two in the pool for recovery and I should still be able to maintain 100K a week running. That is why I've signed up for a half Ironman.

I’m going to try this approach this season and see how it works out. If I find that I’m breaking down I’ll cut back on cycling and swimming.

So what happened?

So what happened? How come you didn't run as well as you wanted at the marathon? To answer that I could go in one or two directions, with either a super technical BS reason or a super simple reason that would cut right through the BS and give you the bottom line. If you know me you’ll know that I'm not much of a bull shitter and so by keeping it simple and direct is most often the best way. What happened was I wasn't fit enough to run at the speed that I wanted - that's the bottom line!! I wanted to run a sub a 2:40 marathon but truth be told I never got into that kind of pace. I think at most I was around 2:43 - 245 pace which I would've been happy with but it didn't happen.

Yes I could blame the weather on the day as it was probably 20'C hotter than the weather I was training in but other people from Alberta ran faster than me and they also trained in the same conditions I did so that's not an excuse.

Yes I could say that I hit the wall around the 20 mile mark but then everyone hits the wall around that time, only what separates those that have prepared properly for the race and the rest of us are the degrees to which they slow down. For example I was trailing a runner (no names...Marc) by between 10  - 30 seconds until approx. mile 21 and then all hell broke loose (for me) I started to slowly get slower and slower. The 5k Split from 35K to 40K was the slowest split in the race by a good two minutes. The last 2K was pretty much a sloggfest for me as could hardly put my feet on the ground due to the pain I was experiencing in my left foot.

Yes I could blame the hydration stations for giving out water/Gatorade that tasted like they just got the water from swimming pools but that was the case for everyone. But that was the worst drinking water I’ve ever had.

Yes I could blame the gels I took on board but I won’t as I had used them previously.

Yes I could blame the fact that the start was delayed 30 minutes and so by the time we got going I was cold, but I won’t as it was the same for everyone.

I want to say I hit the wall but I don’t think that is what happened entirely. I most likely hit the wall somewhere in the last 4 – 5 miles and then I gave up mentally and allowed the pain that I was feeling creep into my head and subconsciously sabotaged my race. Yes my left foot hurt really bad, so bad in fact that it was painful to put weight on it. At the end of the race I had a blister going from the base of my toes all the way back to the ball of my foot and about a finger width across. The worst part about this is the blister was causing me to change my gait a little bit with each stride and that was enough to start my Achilles hurting. In the last mile I got a side stitch...a mile to go and I’ve got a stitch!! Funnily enough my Plantar Fasciitis didn’t really bother me that much in the race or in the days after.

Why I don’t think it was the wall that got me entirely. Within an hour of finishing I was feeling pretty normal again. I’ve hit the wall before and each time it resulted in eating everything I could put my hands on. That didn’t happen this time. My legs didn’t have that beat up feeling that I’ve come to expect after a hard race. In 2008 I ran Boston and my legs felt like they had gone through a meat grinder, I could hardly walk properly for days afterward there was none of that in Phoenix. Now that may be due to spending time in the pool afterwards. But the next day I was walking properly, a little slower than normal but properly.

Why I believe it was fitness or the lack of that was my undoing – I remember certain sections of the race pretty clearly, at a turn around the 19 mile marker the road dripped slightly down hill – I didn’t make any time on Marc. I did pass one or two guys but I also got passed. Somewhere around the 23 mile marker there was a couple of hills, one down and then one up. The up section felt like I was going up the side of a mountain. With about a mile or two to go there was an on ramp just before the bridge that take you back into Tempe this felt like the side of Everest, it took me all I had not to start walking there.

Once you understand what went wrong you can correct it for the next race. It’s taken me just over a week to get it right in my head as to what actually happened. But I believe that it was a combination of not doing enough long runs (35K+) and not enough time spent at the paces I needed to be hitting. I don’t have any marathons planned for the moment as it’s a little too soon to commit to another one.