Tuesday, October 14, 2008

RVM 2008 Race Report

To say it right up-front: I finished in 3:45:48. About 10 min slower than my goal time and 8 min slower than my personal best. And I am super happy with the results! Really!

Now anyone that really knows me - and listened to me whine and moan after my abysmal race in May - must think now that there is an impostor writing this blog! Clearly the Klaus we know is now obsessing over everything leading up to the race and during the race; comparing charts of weight gains and losses and last long run mileages; looking at food and cross-training logs and cursing the idea of having had spelt flour pancakes on Saturday morning instead of white flour pancakes...

Well my friends, this was the old Klaus! We are now dealing with a new and much improved Klaus -- Racing Klaus 2.0 so to speak. Yea, right!

OK, so to make the above make sense then I do have to go back a few weeks and perhaps also ask for your forgiveness when I obsess a tiny bit.

In early September I came down with a bit of a stomach flu or maybe it was food poisoning or whatnot. This took me out from running for about a week. One of the first runs I did when I started feeling better was a hill repeat I did early morning Friday, September 12 at the Spanish Banks hill near UBC. With me feeling better, brand new shoes, and the most glorious weather that morning I really hammered that hill. OMG! It was so much fun!

Then on my next long run the following Sunday, still full of stored up energy and exuberance, I ran the first 2:15 much faster than I should have. And I was still running in my old shoes that I really should have retired a week sooner.

I also like to do some Yasso 800's coming up to a race. Just to see where I am... So off I go to badger my coach Lara who I know is not a huge fan of them. She replies: "Yes, but not 10!!! Do 6 on your goal time, so 3:30 right?" On Friday, September 19 I get up early in the morning, drive to the Brockton Oval and do my 6 sets of Yasso's. Only I ended up doing them on more like a 3:20-ish than a 3:30 pace. I found it hard to really notice my exact pace.

Following the Yasso's I went to play a round of Texas Scramble with the nice folks from WPCG at their annual client charity event. I hardly ever play golf and being on my feet most of the afternoon at this point in the training with only 22 days before the race was probably not a super fantastic idea.

The very next day I was running some errands when all of a sudden I feel a sharp pain in my right knee. Typical runner's knee kind of pain. Dang! I got a 3:30 run coming up the next day. Alright, don't panic now! Massage around the knee cap, stretch quads, hamstrings, and glutes thoroughly and generally try not to think of this too much.

For the 3:30 run on Sunday Lara had planned a real treat for us: leave no hill south of False Creek untouched! Well, the Victoria course is quite undulating. The knee pain did flare up every now and so often and even to a point where I had to hobble a bit instead of casually jogging along. But I managed to get through it and at the end I was just glad that we were done with those hills. After the run I did everything right: I refuelled with a PowerBar Recovery Shake, stretched well, took an ice bath, had a healthy lunch, and rested. After about an hour of lazying around I got up and could not stand - or walk - on my right foot. It was as if it just does not want to properly bend they way it should. And it hurt. I chalked it up to those damn hills and that in a matter of hours it'll be fine again.

The next day I rested hoping that the foot would repair itself somehow. On Tuesday it felt a little bit better and I took the bike to work as the running group would meet at 16th & Sasamat for a trail run in the evening. Running hard in the trails smarted at first but got quickly better and did not feel all that bad. Until we were done and I was back on the bike that is. Now it really hurt!

That was Tuesday, September 23 and the last time I really ran before the race not quite 3 weeks later. On the following Sunday we had an in-clinic 10k that I attempted but had to bail on after 2.5k. I then completely cut out all my mid-week runs and even the last 1-hour run on Sunday, October 5 and instead did some cycling, swimming, and water running.

I saw Steve Wong from Treloar Physio six times in the last two weeks and also checked in with Dr. Aaron Case of Fast Track Chiro twice in the last week. Their combined efforts along with lots of icing and general active rest got my foot to the point where I thought I could attempt the race.

While I had to contemplate the possibility that I may not be able to run Victoria, in my mind this was not really an option! I had a piss-poor performance in May and this was my Redemption Run. I trained hard, did a lot of cross-training with the triathlon training and lost 20 pounds to boot. I was fit. I was in shape. And dammit, I was not only going to run Victoria, I was going to kick ass doing it!

The first test was the Thursday before race day where I ran some easy - very easy! - 20 minutes in the morning. The foot felt by far not 100% but manageable. Most importantly I did not have any residual pain during the stretching after the run. I made that out to be a quite good sign. I was going to Victoria for sure!!

On Saturday I felt quite pain free for most of the day on the trip over to Victoria. We arrived just in time so that we got to see Simon Whitfield being interviewed by legendary race announcer Steve King at the Race Expo. Very inspiring indeed!! Steve asked Simon about a quote by Shakespeare on Simon's blog: "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." I decided then that I will not doubt my ability to put a good race on any longer and go all-out the next day.

Another story Simon told was about a race early on in his career where he just fooled around and didn't really try hard. After the race his dad got angry with him -- not for not winning the race, but for not giving it all he got. It is not about winning every race - or, in my case, not even about making the goal time - but about knowing that you gave it all you had!

We had to leave the interview with Simon at 3:00 PM to meet with the group for a quick 30 minutes shake-out-the-legs run. Having already decided to not doubt my ability to run, I tried to not pay too much attention to the pain discomfort of my foot. All was well after the run. And after an early dinner at Luciano's with the gang I watched a little of the Canucks-Flames game while icing the foot one last time.

On race day the weather could not have been more perfect! Nice and cool and sunny later in the morning. After a nice and relaxed breakfast I packed my stuff together and checked out of the James Bay Inn. I would be back well after the 12:00 PM check-out time but they are nice enough to store your gear and offer a shower room for after the race. Serge who stayed at the JBI as well with Carmen (who was gone already for the earlier Half Marathon start) met me at 6:30 AM and we headed down to the gear check area near the start to meet up with Ken for our warm-up. This time around it was only the three of us from our group who did the Full Marathon.

The race start was strangely anti-climactic this time. But nonetheless, off we were! My paceband was set for 3:35 and my goal was to stick slavishly to that pacing -- especially in the beginning as I have gone out too fast too often in the past and did not want to make that mistake again. For a while I was bang-on or a few seconds behind. That is good! My thinking went that I want to be on pace or slightly behind until the turn-around point at the (roughly) 23k mark. Then I would pick it up some and try for a nice negative split.

At the 15k mark I was a little over a minute behind and at the half-way point I was almost 3 minutes behind -- 1:49:55 instead of 1:47:10. And forget about negative splitting. I managed to roughly keep the pace at that time for the next 10-ish km and it felt still OK. I even had the idea that I would not worry too much now and basically stopped looking at my watch and paceband. With 10k to go I would then really put the hammer down and put on a good 10k time to finish. Yeah!!

Dang! I forgot that right at the 20 mile mark you turn the corner and go uphill for a block. OK, we'll put the hammer down after the uphill then! And I did! At least for the block-and-a-half downhill that followed the uphill. And that was all she wrote... I realized that I have barely enough to keep the pace.

All through the race I tried to not pay any attention to the signals from my right foot. And I fared pretty well overall putting this out of my mind. Now with less than 10k to go I pushed as hard as I could, as best as I could, when I could. But with about 6k left all I could feel was the pain in my entire right leg and how my left quad is on fire. So now it takes all my mental energy to just keep telling myself to keep running. The last 3k seemed almost insurmountable!

When I finally rounded the seven corners leading into the straight-away to the finish I was so done! There were all our friends from The Right Shoe Run Clinic shouting encouragements -- at least I think that is what they did... for all I know they could have been hurling insults as I really did not hear them and certainly did not have the energy to look up. So now finally I am in the last stretch! Time to sprint it in... Yea, no; not going to happen. I tried picking it up but there was no way. When I finally reached the pre-finish timing mat I think I picked it up for the last 15-or-so meters to cross the finish line in 3:45:48.

I am happy! Because I gave it all I got!!

I finished the race with a foot that was far from 100% and I know that I can achieve the 3:35 and even 3:30 if I can abstain from stupidities that get me injured just before a race.

The morale of the story: if you run too little (almost nothing) within 3 weeks of a race you may not lose your fitness -- but your muscles are in for quite the surprise! :-)

I Love Running!


  1. Congratulations on not performing nearly as badly as in May!

  2. Nice work Klaus! Giving it your all is all you can do :) The fact you could not sprint near the end is great sign you left nothing on the table.

  3. Well done Klaus! This speaks volumes to your tenacity and determination. Now take a rest!

  4. Great race report, Klaus. Congrats, I love your attitude for the run. Brings back fond memories for me. I love the Victoria course.

  5. Great commentary about your experience, Klaus. And thanks for not referring to me as "cut-in-the-line-up" Serge

    Serge C.

  6. Thanks for sharing this Klaus. Proof that a marathon is just not just 'another day'. Congratulations!

  7. you must be so proud of yourself - i know i am! way to go!!!

  8. Hope your body recovers quickly and lets you get back at it.

  9. Great story Klaus, you persisted when you easily could have quit. I think the problem is that we love running too much!