Race report: 2012 Vancouver Marathon

Displaying the finisher's medal for the 2012 Vancouver Marathon

This year’s slogan/hashtag for the race was #runvan. I love how the medal emphasized the past tense: “RAN FULL”, with “RAN VAN” on the other side.

Yes, I’m smiling in that picture, but the elation has slightly given way to frustration and self-doubt.

It might have started when I caught the bus to get as close to the start line as possible. It detoured away, but when I realized the bus is not going to stop until a transfer point next to the Canada Line, I almost freaked out. But I briefly forgot that I can take the Canada Line one stop to King Edward, the closest stop to the start line.

Besides the new courses, the race organizers set up corrals for runners, based on predicted finish time. The thing is, I didn’t know which corral I was assigned until I got to the start area. For future races, that should be something for the organizers to include for runners picking up their bibs.

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Almost time for the marathon

2012 Vancouver Marathon promotional poster: "For those who find the bliss in blisters."

Less than 24 hours to go until the start of the Vancouver Marathon. I’m not nervous now, but I’ll probably feel it a bit more when I’m standing in the corral, waiting for the gun to go off.

The marathon is the culmination of almost six months of solid training. And that training is as much a milestone as finishing the race itself, so that mission is accomplished. It almost fulfills the “Redemption” theme I gave myself at the start of the year.

I’ll also be going into this marathon knowing I’ll be doing this all over again in six months. I somehow managed to be selected to run the New York City Marathon! I’ll detail my future plans with my next post, when I run down my experience at my hometown marathon. For now, to everyone who’ll be joining me at the starting line on Sunday, whether in the full or half marathon in Vancouver, or in the many other runs taking place around the world: have a great race!

Training update: long runs, short on time

I ran over 30 km for the first time since I last completed a marathon in 2009. Nice and easy-paced as it was, it took so long that I finished just after noon. I know this comes with the territory, but I can’t recall my 2009 marathon training stretching my free time as thin as it currently does. Maybe it’s the added volunteer hours that I’m doing on top of my nine-to-five contract work, or maybe it’s my insistence that I fit in at least three runs a week (leaving little time for other cross-training), or a combination, but I really feel time-deprived at the moment.

I know my schedule eases up slightly later in the month, as my contract winds down, then the training cycle concludes with the marathon in early May (eight weeks to go!). But I do want to control this for later in the year, as I continue to find longer-term employment and re-start training for the summer (at the moment, that’s up in the air as I wait to hear if I’m selected to run the NYC Marathon). For now, I just have to stay in control and not let things get out of hand.

Is anyone else in a similar situation, juggling marathon training with everything else in life? How do you manage it?

22 weeks to a marathon

This week marks the start of 22 weeks of training toward the Vancouver Marathon. If my attempt to train for the same event last year was any indication, I’m expecting epic long runs in ugly weather conditions (like this long run in February 2011). But the weather is not what’s worrying me. I’m planning to DIY the long runs (as opposed to joining a clinic), and that means having to generate a schedule that would gradually increase my weekly long-run distances.

Screen-grab of my proposed distances for long runs as part of marathon training, represented numerically and with a chart.

Running + spreadsheet = awesome!

The essence of this plan is that from January onward, I take every fourth week as a rest week, resume the next week at the last longest mileage, and build from there until I end up with 35 km three weeks before the marathon. It generally follows the 10% rule after the mileage goes over 26 km. I figure that I’m comfortable enough with half marathoning that I can work my way quickly up to 21 km.

My training plan involves 3-4 running sessions per week; I want to incorporate some cross-training. And if that’s not enough, I’ve bought some minimalist shoes as a birthday present for myself; I want to give those shoes some mileage as well. My early race goal is for a finish time of under 4:20, which corresponds to ~6:10/km (9:56/mi).

Is the plan workable? Are there any other tips you can provide with regard to the long-run schedule?