What’s Inside My Head?
“This may be your last opportunity to run a marathon.” This is the first statement I make in my upcoming episode of the CBC Gem Original Series, “Inside an Athlete’s Head”, which I described here. Season 2 premieres on Wed. April 10 on the free CBC Gem streaming service and you can go to Inside an Athlete’s Head to learn more about it and the other athletes who will be featured: DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs (NBA), Erica Wiebe – Olympic gold medallist in wrestling, Jelena Mrdjenovich – World Champion Boxer, Melissa Humana-Paredes – Commonwealth Games gold medallist in beach volleyball, Nathan Shepherd – New York Jets (NFL), Nazem Kadri – Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), and Olivia Apps – Rugby Canada player. You can watch Season 1 here. Many athletes are often asked what they think about, which I find difficult to answer. We can record and share numbers and details about our training, apparel, schedules and everything else but it’s difficult to articulate the millions of thoughts that go through our heads. Director Michael Hamilton has done an excellent job of capturing my thoughts, as well as many others’ in this series, which was quite enjoyable to film. Another link.
A few weeks ago I posted an update on social media, “Saturday, March 23, 2019. 8th week of 180+ km/wk (in 6 days, 1 rest day) in this build for my 17th marathon. On my way out to get groceries after my morning long run. It’s never gotten easier but I know what to expect and how to pace myself, using my time and energy wisely. It’s my normal. Sometimes I feel like I’m just hanging on, training and competing at this level (and age). But I am. And I will.” While it didn’t seem like a big deal to me, it seemed to generate a lot of interest with many supportive comments. Aging gracefully is very important to me at this point in my career. And I will continue to be grateful for every opportunity to run what may be my last marathon.
Another Boston Marathon
This Boston Marathon build was very similar to last year’s. I was healthy, consistent with my workouts, rolled a lot of hills, and took one complete rest day each week. The one change with this build was the increase in mileage that my body positively responded to. I spoke at the Longboat Roadrunners brunch in Toronto about it on the weekend and created a chart as they requested I speak about my Boston experience.
|Avg workout – speed, tempo
Peak workout (1)
Race* pace/km 8k,21.1k,30k
|Avg mileage wks (14)||151 km/wk (or ~25k/d)||165 km/wk (or ~27.5k/d)|
|Avg highest mileage wks (5)||173 km/wk (or ~29k/d)||187 km/wk (or ~31k/d)|
|Peak mileage week (1)
~7-8 in 6 days
~7-8 in 6 days
*Races included Robbie Burns 8 km, Chilly Half Marathon, Around the Bay (ATB) 30 km.
Around the Bay 30 km – North America’s Oldest Road Race
Yesterday’s ATB concluded my training as I now begin my taper for Boston. This year it was only 2 weeks from marathon race day so I was conservative with my pace and did not taper but gave a consistent effort and benefited from the course layout, which is very similar to Boston. Since I’m including a lot of numbers in this post, here’s a look at my 10 ATB races in the last 16 years:
2019 1:56 5th
2018 1:51 3rd
2016 1:47 2nd
2014 1:47 1st
2013 1:51 2nd
2012 1:47 1st
2010 1:53 3rd
2009 2:06 6th
2005 2:07 12th
2003 2:12 18th
Missed years: 2004 – injured, 2006 – seven week old infant, 2007 – minimal racing between two babies, 2008 – one day old infant, 2011 – three week old infant, 2015 – too close to Rotterdam Marathon, 2017 – training in Kenya.
Keeping It Real
For those of you not so interested in the numbers, rather wanting to hear more about how “I’m just hanging on” and keeping it real, here’s how I survived training for my 17th marathon in as many years:
- creating to-do lists for my kids on the multiple snow days they had this year – because they are capable and we’re a team
- keeping a pair of pyjamas on the main and bedroom floors of the house – because there’s nothing wrong with putting pyjamas back on after an early run
- relying on the slow cooker and sous vide for dinners – because as long as the meat is cooked, the rest of the meal is easy to throw together
- assigning a child to a meal when I’d be away from the kitchen – because being hangry isn’t fun for anyone
- putting a few more items in the dishwasher instead of hand washing them – to save time on my feet
- sitting to fold laundry – to recover from a run or save my legs for the next workout
- picking up my teenager past my bedtime, in my pyjamas – because I can stay in the van and no one sees me
- tucking myself into bed right after my daughter – because I can’t do one more flight of stairs
- putting the clothes my family needs on top of the clean pile – because we can wait another day to fold
- hitting the couch before anything else after a workout or long run – because my body says so
- asking my younger assistant coaches to demonstrate the hockey drills at practice – because my body has had enough for one day
- making 9:00 pm my daily whereabouts time for anti-doping testing – to ensure that I’m home and getting to bed
- setting out our breakfast and prepping the coffee maker the night before – because we know coffee and food are top priority for marathon runners in the morning
- getting milk after school pick-up – because each kid can carry a bag to the van and into the house
- getting through one more day with the food we have in the house – because they can survive on crunchy peanut butter when the smooth runs out, and I refuse to go to the grocery store more than once per week
- reminding myself that I’ve been here before – when I’m up in the night with a vomiting child the night before a race
- silencing my phone when I need to rest – because there’s always something
- and lastly…appreciating every single day I can get out the door and run – because it may be my last opportunity to run a marathon
Off to Boston! All the best to everyone preparing for a spring marathon. Race it like it may be your last!