Today was my latest scheduled race. Like the St Patrick’s Day 10 km I did a few weeks ago this is also a race I have done for four consecutive years now as part of my training for the Ottawa Marathon.
Prior to today my half-marathon pb was set in this race two years ago. The pb I set two years ago was 1:29:31. The goal going into the race today was to improve on that time and set a new pb.
Unfortunately for me my day did not get started as planned as I slept in. For any Seinfeld fans out there my first thought when I woke up was of Jean-Paul Jean-Paul, although in my case the problem was not the volume of the alarm it was an AM/PM issue since I set my alarm for this afternoon instead of this morning.
For those of you not as familiar with the Seinfeld reference here is a sample…
As mentioned above, my alarm did not go off as planned and I slept in. I actually woke up about 30 minutes before I had to leave my house. That I had time for a banana and a handful of walnuts instead of my usual pre-race breakfast before I got dressed and headed out the door.
Up until yesterday the forecast for today was for showers all day. When I left the house it was cool and raining lightly. The 2.5 km easy jog to the start line gave me a bit of a warm up for the race.
Once the race started I quickly settled into a group of 3-4 runners that was going out at a pace of 4:10-4:20/km which is exactly what I was aiming for. For those who have not done this race before it is 2 laps of an out and back course along the Rideau Canal.
I felt good t the 10 km point where we turned around for the second lap. Over the course of the second lap I pulled to the front of the group I was running with although they stayed very close behind. I think this helped me over the course of the final lap because it forced me to maintain the steady pace.
As we headed into the final couple of km of the race I felt strong enough to increase the pace. In fact, the final km of the race ended up being my fastest of the race at 3:54/km. I crossed the line in 1:27:52 and set a new pb.
I am very pleased with the result for a few reasons – it is a new pb, I saved my fastest km for the final one and I did this on a full week of training. All in all today was a very positive day with just over a month to go until the Ottawa Marathon.
Another week of training is nearly complete. This week was the second week out of the current four week block I am working on. It is going to end up being one of my biggest weeks of training in terms of mileage so far this week.
Following a 31.5 km run last Sunday I took a needed day of rest on Monday. Following that the two key workouts of the week were marathon pace runs on Tuesday and Thursday. This week I added 2 km to each of those runs to bring them up to 10 km.
These race pace runs are key because the goal is to get me running at my goal marathon pace. The one thing I had to keep reminding myself during these runs was that the goal was just to run at marathon pace. I occasionally found myself going faster than I wanted and pushing closer to my 10 km pace.
Other than that my other two workouts this week were easy pace 12 km runs. Once again 2 km was added to these runs to increase my overall mileage. Given the fact that I ran 31.5 km last Sunday and that my marathon pace efforts were longer this week I paid closer attention to my easy runs and tried to keep them at an even slow and easy pace.
I know have two runs left to go this weekend. First a very easy 8 km planned for tomorrow. Sunday will bring another challenge with me racing a half-marathon.
How was your week?
My next scheduled race is coming up on Sunday morning. As with the St-Patrick’s Day 10 km race I did a few weeks ago this will also be my fourth consecutive year doing the Run for Reach Half-Marathon.
With a little over a month to go before the Ottawa Marathon I find this race is well timed to give me an indication of where I am at with my training for the marathon. It also tends to mark the end of my early season races before I focus my attention solely on the marathon.
While the course might not be the most exciting one, two laps of an out and back course along the Rideau Canal, the fact that the course is relatively flat means that it is conducive to a fast time.
Personally, my two quickest half-marathon times have come on this course, 1:29:34 two years ago and 1:30:48 last year. Once again my plan is to race and see how well I can do since my coach feels there is plenty of time for recovery afterward.
One factor I won’t be able to control Sunday is the weather. It is hard to predict what we will get at this time of year. Two years ago I ran in shorts and short sleeves. Last year it snowed and I had to wear gloves and a hat. Hopefully the weather this year will be more like it was two years ago.
I’ve discussed my approach to the Ottawa Marathon with my coach and this year I am taking a similar approach to the one I used the past couple of years in order to get ready for the marathon. That is, including a couple of shorter distance races before the marathon. This year the plan will involve running the St Patrick’s Day 10 km race and the Run for Reach half-marathon. Both of these races are ones that have been included in my preparation for the Ottawa Marathon for the past three years.
After discussing with my coach, my plan for both of these races will likely be to run them as hard as I can because there is plenty of time for recovery after each of them. I’ve never gone looking for a personal best on St Patrick’s day because it is generally the first race of the season I do and there is still snow on the ground at that time of year.
On the other hand, Run for Reach is one where I have had some success with my two fastest half-marathon times the last two years. Being a month later it generally offers better weather on race day, although it was cool last year and there were a few flakes of snow falling as we ran. Although it does not offer the most ecpxciting course, it is a flat one which offers a good opportunity to push the pace. This year I will be aiming to beat the 1:29 I ran two years ago.
Of course the best part of adding both of these races to my calendar is the fact that the start and finish lines are a short run from my house so I get a little warm up on the way there and I get home quickly following the finish.
What races do you have lined up for the first half of 2014?
As previously mentioned, I participated in the Army Run as a pace bunny this morning. It was my fourth time participating in the race and third time running it as a pace bunny.
The plan for this year was for me to pace the 1:35 group in the half-marathon. The significance of this being that a 1:35 half is my goal marathon pace. You may recall that I had the same plan last year as I trained for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon until I sprained my ankle a week before.
After it rained for most of yesterday this morning we actually ended up with decent weather for running. In previous years I have done this race it ended up being warm for the time of year. This morning it was cool. The only downside was the wind when we were running into it. There were a few occasions when I thought it was going to snap the stick holding the 1:35 sign I was carrying.
In terms of the race, as soon as I took my place in the corral I met runners who planned to follow me or hoped to stay in front of me. For most of the race I had a decent sized group of runners around me. Many of the runners who started out with me seemed to stick close to me for most of the race.
My plan going in was to aim for even splits and maintain a 4:30 pace as much as possible. Yesterday when picking up my race kit I forgot to grab one of the free pace bands they always have at race expos so before leaving the house is morning I quickly wrote my goal 5, 10, 15 and 19 km splits on my hand with a permanent marker so I would be able to judge whether I was on pace.
Thanks to the splits on my hand I knew I was close to being on pace throughout the race. In the end I crossed the finish line in 1:35:48. Of course I hoped to be a little closer to 1:35 but still a good result and judging by the reaction from other runners in finish chute I am pleased with how the race went.
Pacing presents a different challenge that makes it worthwhile. Having other runners following you does add a degree of pressure but at the same time it is fun and rewarding to see other runners meet their goals. In particular today I had a couple runners close to me over the last 2 km and I could see they were pushing hard to keep up with me. They managed to stick with me over that distance and get a 1:35 finish. If the opportunity is there again next year I will definitely look to pace this race again.
Today was the last of the three warm-up races for May’s Ottawa Marathon. This time it was the Minto Run for Reach half-marathon, a race that I also did the previous two years as I was training for the marathon.
The plan for today was the same as last year, aim for a finishing time of around 1:30. Last year I finished the race in 1:29, a personal best in the half-marathon for me. The thought surrounding this plan is that race equivalency calculators predict a 1:30 half-marathon would work out to a 3:10 marathon.
After more snow yesterday it was a cool morning. In fact the temperature actually dropped after I woke up with the temperature sitting at 2 when I woke up and dropping to 0 before I left the house. Fortunately I live close to the start line for this one so I could leave at the last minute.
I felt good as soon as the race started, feeling like I had a good race in me. I hit the halfway point on pace as I head out for the second loop of the course. In the end I hit the finish line in just over 1:30. Slightly slower than last year’s result but still on target for what I was aiming for this morning.
That’s it for the warm-up races I had planned this year. I managed to achieve what I was hoping for in each of them. Now I have five more weeks of training before I see if the strategy will pay off on race day.
My next race is coming up this Sunday. For the third year in a row I will be running the Run for Reach half-marathon. I used this race as a tune-up for the Ottawa Marathon the past two years. This year the plan is the same. Use the race to help me get ready for the marathon.
This is yet another course I am very familiar with since it is close to home. Given the proximity of the course to my house I often run parts of this course multiple times each week. The half-marathon involves two laps of an out and back along the Rideau Canal.
Since my overall goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, a 3:10 qualifying time at my age, I plan to aim for a 1:30 half on Sunday. The same plan I had going into the race last year. Using a race equivalency calculator a 1:30 finish Sunday would give me a predicted marathon time in the range I am aiming for.
Last year I was successful in meeting my goal for the race with a 1:29 finish. I think it certainly was beneficial to my marathon training and hopefully once again this year I can benefit from this strategy.
The best thing about this race is that as with the St. Patrick’s day race I did in March the start/finish line is close to home for. Like last year I will jog over there at a casual pace for a warm-up before the race starts.
It is time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week. As always, if you came across anything you feel is worthy of mention here feel free to post a link below.
Here are this week’s stories…
Five runners break 60 minutes in the half.
As a father of two girls the girls on the run initiative is a great idea.
I was planning to get in a run today while my daughter had her afternoon nap. I hadn’t figured out how far I was going to run or ahead of time. However, while surfing Twitter before I left home I came across the following website. I quickly registered and was off to run an unexpected half-marathon.
This is not the first time I have participated in such a virtual run. I previously participated in runs for Christchurch New Zealand and Japan following powerful earthquakes last year. From what I recall both of those efforts were in their efforts to encourage runners to run and donate to relief efforts.
Hopefully this initiative will be as successful because much assistance is still very much needed in the areas that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. For runners it is an easy way to contribute while doing something you enjoy.
As for my run, since my wife is due to give birth any day now I decided on two loops that would keep me fairly close to home. I also made sure to bring my phone with me in case I had to return home quickly.
Not having run more than 11 km since the Toronto Waterfront Marathon three weeks ago I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel. I felt fine once I got going and was able to maintain my marathon pace for the full 21 km, finishing in 1:35.
As for runners who made their way to New York for the marathon, it sounds like many of them volunteered and donated to the relief efforts. You can read about some of those efforts here and here. With all of the negativity surrounding whether the marathon should go ahead or get cancelled and whether the decision to cancel the marathon came too late it was great to read these stories detailing the contributions of runners to relief efforts today.
As for the Run 4 NYC effort I joined today, they are accepting registrations until the 11th of November. Heard here to register, donate and run!
For the third year in a row I will be pacing the Army Run in September. For the second year in a row I will be pacing the half-marathon. The first year I paced I ran the 5 km race.
I enjoy getting the opportunity to pace for a couple of reasons. First, agreeing to pace a specific time presents a challenge in itself. Instead of pushing yourself to the limit you have to maintain a consistent pace that others are depending on.
The second reason I enjoy it is the sense of satisfaction I get out of hitting the finish line close to the time I agreed to run. Seeing others meet the goal they have been training for makes it all worthwhile.
This tear’s pacing opportunity will present me with a new challenge. Since I have agreed to be the 1:35 pace bunny in the half marathon I will not only be trying to help others meet their goal time I will be running a marathon pace half-marathon a few weeks before the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Not only will I be pacing others I will also be getting in a good training run that will help with my marathon preparations.