Sunday, May 7, 2006

Race Day!

Disclaimer: after having denied myself any alcohol for 30 days prior to today's race, I just got back from dinner: a big honking slab of ribs and 3 pints!! So what ever ramblings follow, please keep in mind that after 30 days of abstinence and 26.2 miles of running, 3 pints pretty much do me in. Oh yea, I am sipping a merlot now...

Today was race day! The Vancouver International Marathon - May 7, 2006 start time 7:30 AM. The event that I have been training towards to for some four months now.

This is was my third full marathon. My first was last years' Vancouver Marathon and my second was the Royal Victoria Marathon last Fall. The training started first thing in the new year. Well, technically the first "Sunday Long Run" was January 8, but for me it was as soon as the holidays were over: Tuesday, January 3rd. After all the holiday pig-outs, that was the day I decided to step back onto the scale. Not a pretty picture I tell you: 217 pounds! URGH! Thankfully I knew that a lot of this weight was of the kind that results from all the holiday over eating (and drinking) comes off easier.

I am training with the run groups that Lara Penno puts on with the Right Shoe here in Vancouver. Lara's very personal coaching style really works for me. Generally we meet every Tuesday evening for a group run of about 45-60 minutes and of course the Sunday long run. The first one was 1:30 and this time we did 2 weeks of build and one week of "rest". Where rest is defined as a 1:30 run with some drills/speed work/etc at the end. For the remainder of the week Lara hands out a very detailed training plan that has a total of five days running. Mondays and Saturdays are off.

My personal training plan at first evolved into Mondays being off-off - i.e. that is no work - and Saturdays doing something else cross training. With this training regime and some basic eating discipline (which is brutally hard for me as I love to eat -- lots!) I started to drop some pounds.

Oh, maybe I ought to mention why I wanted to drop the pounds... besides the obvious vanity reasons I don't want to get into. My finish time in Victory in October was 3:54 and I have my heart set on a new goal time of 3:45 and I figured with running training alone I can not do it. So my action plan to reach this goal (SMART goals and all) was to:
  • lose weight
  • stick to strict heart rate training as per Lara's plan
  • do proper cross training (weights, swimming, etc)
There we have it. So on the Sunday run on February 12 I mentioned to my good running buddy Karmen that I have stagnated with my weight-loss and was not so happy. She mentioned that she was in the same dilemma. Now Karmen being the ultra competitive girl that she is (x-time Ironman competitor and that like) she proposed a competition: 4 weeks - 6 pounds. Whoever does not make it has to buy the other person a nice gift.

That spurned me on and I sacrificed my Mondays "off-off" for at least a 30-min swim in the morning. I also added weight training with Lara to my program. Every Thursday morning 1 hour of weights in addition to the run. Every Tuesday I did the weights on my own. BTW... Lara is not just a great running coach - she is also phenomenal personal trainer with just the right amount of continues pressure without seeming too much.

In any case, long story short (too late you say?), I kept this routine until the taper and today my average weight was 190 pounds. I really wanted to be 187 - 30 pounds down from Jan 03 - but I settle for 190 even.

The last week was totally weird! On Sunday we had the last group run -- just a quick 1-hour run -- and I felt fantastic! In the evening, out of nowhere, I got a massive toothache (see "Not Now!!" post). Then on Monday I went to get a massage as I really strained my muscles in the previous' week Vancouver Sun Run (44:25 PB). Maybe the RMT was not quite I gentle as I asked her to be, or maybe there was something else, but the day after the massage my left leg around the knee was in quite a bit of discomfort. Anyway the pain went away after a few days, and with the help of the Worlds Best Dentist -- Dr. Michelle Jeffery -- I was pain free in the mouth as well.

So... today was race day... FINALLY!
I got up at 5:15, showered and has breakfast. At 6:15 we left the house. The Worlds Best Wife, Esthi, drove me to the race. We parked some 5 minutes away and as we were walking down, Esthi asks "are you sure you are going to be warm enough?" Just as I was questioning my wisdom as well. For the race I wore a sleeve-less shirt and shorts. For the warm-up I had a sweater and long pants over it as well. And it was not that warm in the drizzle! All in all I did not feel all that fast, warm, or ready this morning.

Anyway, once I warmed up I felt much more confident and also... well... warm. So I give Esthi my sweater, pants, and a big kiss, and am on my way into the starting line up. About one mile into the race I was not bothered by cold or rain. Actually, I was super comfortable and the rain was off and on anyways.

As my goal was less than 3:45, I had my three-part paceband set to: miles 1-3 @ 8:45; miles 4-20 @ 8:25; and miles 21-26.2 @ 8:50; for a and average of 8:33 and a total time of 3:44:06. See paceband

Right off the first mile I was too fast: 8:00/mile. I tried to pull back a bit but somehow sped up again. Soon I was tracking about 4 minutes ahead of my set pace. This really worried my as I did not want to blow out in the second half -- or worse, after the 20 mile marker. Nonetheless, I felt strong and kept a challenging but relaxed pace.

This year they put the first name on the bib in pretty large letters. It was pretty cool to hear "Go Klaus! You can do it!!" and all kinds of variations thereof from perfect strangers. But then there were the real pick-me-ups along the course as well:
  • @ 1.5 miles: Zerlina and Taz. Thanks a lot guys - you totally rock!
  • @ 7 miles: Brent form The Right Shoe. Unexpected and super welcome on the first notable uphill of the course.
  • @ 17 miles: Lara, shortly followed by the Zerlina and Taz once again (or was it the other way around?)
  • @ 18.5 miles: Monica. Thanks MB!! Your really did help me through a super tough stretch and I was so happy to see you there.
  • @ 22.5 miles: Monica again -- and just as welcome!
  • @ 25 miles: Lara and Tim. I got a real boost out of your encouragement there. Thanks!
  • @ 26 miles (un-noticed) and after 26.2 miles: Esther!!
  • And not too forget Erin, Karmen, and Lisa who also ran and gave me encouragement on Cornwall!
After about 17 miles I had to rely on my mantra's a lot. The pain was creeping in and things started to get really tough. I did a lot of "tic-toc-tic-toc-tic-..." and "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-1-2-3-..." among all the others, but I also had to keep telling myself that the pain and nausea (which is my minds favorite technique to slow me down) is just that: my mind trying to fuck with me.

Here is the best part: on the last stretch I really pushed it in and crossed the finish line with a net time of 3:39:14!! Whoohoo! I am ultra-happy! 5 minutes faster than my goal time. 15 minutes faster than my previous personal best time (Victoria 3:54), and a full 30 minutes faster than my first marathon a year ago here in at the Vancouver International as well.

Rest in the afternoon and I mentioned dinner already.

1 comment:

  1. Esther SchönwandtMay 8, 2006 at 5:00 PM

    Yes, I was at the finish line, not expecting him for another 5 minutes or so...