In 2002 I decide it was time to train for a half marathon to prove to myself that my knees were strong and I had recovered from a decade of persistent knee pain. Thankfully the pain didn’t prevent from cross country skiing or competing in biathlon while in university.
The Vancouver Half was what I chose as my destination and as my greatest endurance challenge post retiring from competitive biathlon. Rain started to fall just after crossing the finish line in 1:50 at the Plaza of Nations. A year later after training for the half and unable to register due it being sold out I signed up for the full marathon. My stubbornness dictated that I couldn’t run/walk despite my better judgement. The goal of finishing under 4 hours slipped away gradually. Instead my body stumbled through the last 10 km to completed the full in just under 4:09.
A sub four hour marathon and a sub 1:45 hr half marathon are still eluding me.
Regaining Fitness After 10 Years
Several years later in 2012 it was time to challenge myself again on a new course for the Vancouver Half. Kudos to whomever designed the BMO Vancouver Half marathon course because it showcases our beautiful city very nicely. Knowing that my fitness wasn’t great I still wanted to see if I was at least as fit as I was in 2002.
This half marathon was grueling. and after finishing in 1:55 I cramped up so much that I had a difficulty walking for the next week. While happy to finish in under two hours the sub 1:45 was still out there for me to grab!
Finishing a Half Marathon with Grace
The Scotia Half Marathon has been on my list of events since 2006! Since it was week after Seek the Peak which I had started to train for in February all I wanted to was finish in a decent time while being able to walk reasonably well the next day.
A last week registration was necessary because I wasn’t certain how my energy and legs would recover from Seek the Peak. We often hear of or see people finishing endurance events with nothing left in the tank and being proud of the post run hobble. This was not going be me this year.
As a non-elite runner who also has zero chance of being an age group medalist it wasn’t necessary to run myself into the ground.
The Scotia Half was an opportunity to execute a race plan that would test my current limits and keep me walking the next day. The first 10km was a steady 5:00 min/km. Many people passed me, I kept repeating the mantra
Run Your Own Race
, a mantra that led me to three gold and one silver at the BC Winter Games for biathlon.
It was more humid than warm. I made sure to take sips of my drink electrolyte/carb drink every 15 min and one GU gel at 45 min.
The water stations couldn’t come soon enough. Splashing water on my head and arms was the only way to stop from becoming dizzy. The pace held up to about 14 km which is the furthest I ran in training.
From there it was a matter of holding on and preserving energy for the last 8km. Each kilometer was clearly marked with big red signs. Eventhough 13 miles and 22 kilometers are almost the same distance there’s a big pyschological difference with the smaller number!
While the course is a net downhill climbing the Burrard Street bridge was a bit tedious and longer than anticipated. The earlier pace was not to be kept. I was unable to keep a pace where my heart rate was at my threshold of 172 bpm and it dropped to 160-165 bpm. A hard left at the end of the bridge brought us onto Beach Avenue and the finishing kick.
At this point it was a matter of adding a little more push to each stride to boost the pace. When the finish line was in sight I kicked into high gear to drop a few precious seconds and come in 1:52:39.
This race was finished in a respectable time that I am happy with. It was an opportunity to learn where some of my fitness limiters are. Walking was a bit of problem after but resolved a few days later.
Fitness limiters are components of fitness that are limiting or preventing a goal from being achieved. During my training the focus was too much on a high aerobic fitness. Discovering fitness limiters helps runners fine tune their training.
Areas of Focus
- Build aerobic endurance up to 22 km or 14 miles
- Complete more supra threshold runs that are also longer than with longer intervals
- Train for longer uphills of 2-3 minutes
Train foot and ankle
- Strategy – figure out a new pacing strategy
- Review the course elevations and break the down into pace sections before
Retirement from biathlon left me feeling as though there was more potential left in me as an endurance athlete. In two years I will officially be Masters (40 years old +) level athlete. This is a category that I want be in the top 25% of at the very least; to do so leaves me with five intermediary goals yet to accomplish
- 3:45 marathon
- 1:44 half marathon
- 44 min 10 km
- Seek the Peak 1:55 hr