Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Learning How to Run

Although I had a great season in 2010, I was left with a feeling of disappointment at not having gone under ten hours at Ironman. Instead of signing up for Ironman again, I decided to focus on the Half Iron distance and work on my speed. Instead of aiming for Kona, I decided to set my sights on the Las Vegas 70.3 World Championships. I signed up with Lifesport coach Bjoern Ossenbrink and started training with his program on November 1st 2010.

In October, six weeks after Ironman Canada, I raced at the Royal Victoria Half Marathon and finished with a time of 1h 27min. My goal had been to finish in 1h 24min but I hadn't trained properly leading up to the race. After Ironman, I tried to start running again too soon and ended up with some minor injuries. Because of that, I wasn't able to train appropriately for the Half Marathon. Recovery is a really important part of training and it was something that I had never been really good at.

Working with Bjoern changed everything. I no longer had to second guess myself and wonder if I was doing the right thing. He tailored a program spefically to my needs and goals and made sure that I got enough recovery. All I had to do was follow his program and trust that it would make me stronger and faster. My first goal was to race at the Vancouver "First Half" Half Marathon and finish under 1h 20min. If I wanted to be competitive at the Half Iron distance, I needed to become a faster runner. I also needed to improve my pacing, which had been pretty bad at my previous two Half Marathons. Bjoern started to coach a weekly track workout in November. As well as being a great speed workout, it worked wonders for my pacing. The track workout has become one of the most important workouts every week. Not only did it teach me how to pace properly, I was also able to improve my running technique and form.

Sprint Finish at the Vancouver First Half
With a run focus in December and January, my running speed was really improving and I was feeling confident about the race. In order to get under 1h 20min, I needed to hold a pace of 3m 47s per km. There was no point in trying to go any faster than that and risk failure. It would be hard enough as it was since I was trying to knock off eight minutes from my PR which I had set only four months earlier. When I lined up at the start of the race, my friend, Donovan Watts, was right next to me at the start line. He had a similar goal as me so we ran together for the first few kms. It was great, I started off at exactly the pace I needed to hold, minus one or two seconds. Originally I had thought that I would start a couple of seconds slower and try to negative split but I felt so good that I just went with it. It really helped to have someone to run with at the beginning so I went with it. I felt so good that Donovan and I were even able to chat a little for the first six or seven kms. At that point though, Donovan increased his speed a little and I decided to stick with my plan and hold my pace. It gradually started to get a little harder but I was still feeling really good at the halfway point. Around the 12km point, a couple of guys passed me and then, and when a third also passed me, I decided to hang on to him and he pulled me back up to the two who had passed ahead. The guy who had helped me faded back but I held on and stuck with the other two for the next two or three kms. Around the 15 or 16km mark they picked up their speed again and I wasn't able to follow them anymore so I just held my pace. The last 5km were hard but I was able to hang in and finish with a time of 1h 19m 21s. I had a great sprint at the finish line and managed to beat one more guy to the line by a couple of meters. My splits were almost exactly even, seperated only two or three seconds between the first half and the second. I had executed my plan perfectly and finally had a great running race. I was a triathlete, but I had beaten lots of seasoned runners. It was a good confidence booster. Special mention to Donovan who helped me pace and stay comfortable at the beginning of the race, he finished around 45 secs before me and also had a new PR.

Next post: 2011 - A Breakthrough Year

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