Since I am not going to be “racing” for the remainder of 2014, I figured now was time to write my 2014 race season review! I might run the Resolution Run (offered at various locations in Canada near New Year’s Eve), but that will probably be for fun – and to get the jacket. If you are interested, I would definitely sign up! The race costs $50 and you get a sweet Running Room jacket. I ran the race in Port Credit two years ago and it was not a fast race (it also is not chip timed or anything fancy like that) but it was tons of fun!
I am going to break my review up into three main chunks: winter running, spring/before injury training and then marathon training. Really the key idea behind most of this year’s racing was to gear up for the marathon. As most of you know, I registered for the marathon on December 2nd, so I had exactly 11 months to plan for it and really – it totally decided my 2014 racing plans. It will be different for the 2015 NYC marathon hopefuls, as they are not even opening the lottery application until January this year. Much less time to panic over marathon training 🙂
Looking back at my Garmin Connect activity log – I barely ran in the winter last year. I was fairly active up until the end of January with my phys ed class that I had every day. I do remember being on the treadmills a bit and playing tons of dodgeball! I ran my first race of the season with MEC and their “Cold One” 5K race. It was -23C with a -35C windchill that day. It was really cold! But, I did have lots of fun at the race. Because of the snow that fell the night before, the race had to be shortened by 500m, we were told the trail was just too dangerous for us to be on. I ran at about a 5:30 pace, which was pretty good for not really running before. I also finished 5th overall female. Unfortunately that was my only MEC race in 2014 – next year, hopefully some more!
After that race, I only ran a handful more times. Basically, my commute was what really made running hard. At the time, I was a minimum of 30 minutes away from home – but most of the time it was more like an hour. Because I did not get home until 4:30, which is exactly when I have to pick up Max, after school running barely happened. Part of the main reason I will not be signing up for a Spring marathon/half is because of the unpredictability of where I will be in February. I ran the Around the Bay 5K at the end of March. I over-dressed for the race and the lack of real running definitely made me feel like death during that race. I ran the race in just under 27:00 and was beaten by the Premier of Ontario (boo). I learned to not over dress for races even again! It was fun to drive to Toronto with Kristi and to run with my friends!
Spring Running – before injury
The next race I participated in was the Manotick Miler. But rather than racing, I was pacing! I paced the 5 miler at 6 minutes per KM and did a pretty good job at it – at least I think so! I think that this race was probably one of my stronger races. This was one of the first races where I negative split the race. I was holding back on a few KM because I was aiming for a specific time. The race felt really, really good. At this time I also discovered that sorbitol was not a friend of mine. I felt ‘off’ in the GI system during this race and eventually figured out that is was because I chewed gum before the race!
In the middle of all this was half marathon training. My training was definitely better than my first half but still not great. I only made it to 16K in long runs and just didn’t run as often as I should. I also ran a bit too much in the indoor track as it was really easy for me to get speed workouts in. A hard lesson learned, as the too much too soon and breaking the 10% gain run meant that I developed a stress fracture in my left leg. Less than two weeks before the half marathon, I barely made it 1K before I started limping. Of course, in complete denial, I took 10 days off, and ran the half marathon (with little pain – thanks adrenaline!).The Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon went well – I PB’d but the weather was so hot that I definitely did not feel great while running. By June, my leg was throbbing during the day and just annoying me. It never really *hurt* and I could hop on it.
After the Ottawa Race Weekend, I ran one more 5K while I was away at a track meet, the Bread and Honey 5K. This was a last minute registration and definitely a fun race. I felt awful during the race because of the amount of sun/heat I got the day before at OFSAA. It was my slowest 5K of the year. After that race, I took the next 6 weeks off all running. I went to the doctor’s at the end of June and started the month long process of figuring out that I had a stress fracture. I could barely demo anything at track practice without feeling a tinge of pain – so I stopped all running.
I was given the green light to resume training from the doctor – unless my leg started hurting again. The bone never hurt – but sometimes I aggravated my lower leg muscles which would make me panic. BUT, everything was feeling pretty good. I resumed training very slowly. I switched my marathon training plan from an 18 week plan to a 16 week plan. I focused on running drills for the first few weeks and very light running. At the end of July, I saw a physio therapist who specialized in running and got a running assessment done. It was really informative! I started implementing most of her suggestions and it seemed to work.
Soon it was marathon training! I had to make some adjustments to my training during certain weeks, but overall I had a really good training cycle. Actually, it was probably the only training cycle that I’ve been through properly and the results showed. Other than some IT band issues, I stayed pretty much injury free. The IT band issue will go away with some hip strengthening – and I was warned about my weak hips by the PT.
My first race back after a three month absence was the Yorkville Run. Definitely a fun 5K! I ran the race without my Garmin, which I would instantly regret as I was only 3 seconds off my PB. I thought I had actually been under 26:)), but I came in just over it. Darn! However, the race felt really strong for me and way easier than all my other 5K’s in the past year. Progress!
Next race was the Army Run Half Marathon – a rain soaked event! I have encountered rain like that before! I also had a really bad cold the week before and honestly felt like I was going to die in the race. But, after 2K, I felt fine and went on to not only PB the half marathon, but technically PB the 10K too. I also had a pretty significant negative split in the race as well. I definitely felt more like I was racing the half marathon rather than just running one. It made me think that I actually like the half marathon distance now.
Getting deeper into marathon training – I had one more race lined up. But it was more like a fun run than a race – The Ottawa Beer Run. I had so much fun during this event, even though it was super hot out! I was a “Beer Bunny” and helped lead the group to the various breweries. Definitely signing up for next year’s Beer Run – and hope that many of you sign up as well! I learned that I could definitely handle Beer + Running.
After the Beer Run – it was all business. I had My last three super long runs before the big day – with the longest training run (20 miles/32K) being over Thanksgiving weekend. I finished the first two of those long runs on hot days in the middle of the afternoon. I completed those two runs on Fridays after I finished work. I broke up my long runs into 5k sections to help get over the fact that I would be running for 3+ hours. I remember that it took awhile to get to 20K in my training plan. I felt that the 18K run was just awful. But for the 16/29/32k – I actually felt good! Surprising! The 32K run was very, very long – but probably my best training run of the entire cycle. It definitely makes like running the 16-20K long run for a half marathon a piece of cake.
BUT – as soon as I finished that run and started the taper process – my IT band let me know that it existed in the form of some tightness and some knee pain. Nothing that really bugged me too much when I was running, but did contribute to some major taper-madness. I kept reading race report after race report of running friends who had major IT band problems on the day of the marathon. Since you all know that I totally completed the marathon without any major discomforts, the IT band issue isn’t a full fledged injury – but something I need to work on during ‘off season’ (it bugged me just yesterday during a 4K run).
Finally – marathon day! Although I had a bad day in terms of GI and ‘female’ issues – I had a great marathon experience. Funny enough, all that hot weather training was pointless because it was pretty cold and windy on marathon day! I actually ran the race in 5 hours (yup, 40 minutes of potty breaks) and finished strong. I did negative split the two halves. My goal was to have fun and to negative split – so goal achieved! I swear the next time I run a marathon, I will eat a bagel!
The 2014 season was all about longer distances. I ran two half marathons and a marathon after running only 5K races in 2013. Naturally, the 5K and 10K took a back seat to making sure I could be strong for the marathon. I did learn that spring half marathons/marathons are definitely not my thing. There are just too many factors that have an effect on my training: winter running, unexpected heat waves and the fact that the entire training cycle would be when I am working. Part of the huge draw for Fall half and full marathons is that I can get a bulk of my training done in the summer when my schedule is way more flexible.
I tried many new races this year. Only the Army Run Half marathon was a repeat race for me. Everything else was brand new experiences. I had never run on the Ottawa Race Weekend Sunday before and it was a different experience for sure. I am looking forward to returning to the 10K next year though! I discovered that longer distances are not so bad and that with proper training, I can run strong. After five years of running, I finally got the hang of negative splits and did not crash and burn during a half marathon.