2014 Race Goals

Wow, this year has really flown by. I can’t believe it’s mid-December already! It seems like only yesterday I was running in shorts and now I’m wearing three layers and shovelling the driveway. Anyway, as we get ready to say good-bye to 2013, I’d like to look ahead and share my 2014 race goals.

Having goals to strive for is an essential part of any marathon training plan. Without clear goals it’s very difficult to define success. My ultimate goal for 2014 is to complete my first 50k (the Niagara Ultra 50k in June) and I have three other races leading up to it.

My 2014 Race Goals:

When creating a training plan, the first thing I do is get a calendar and work backwards from the end goal race date. This time around I’m actually using two different plans, each with their own purpose.

Plan #1 – Half Marathon PB

The first plan is the nine week ultimate half marathon program that I used to PB at the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon and begins on December 30th. The Chilly course is very flat compared to Scotia so I’m pretty confident that I can run a sub 1:38. This plan has a lot of speed intervals which I won’t be doing much of in the next phase of my training so it feels like a good starting point to me.

Update – February 26, 2014

I’ve followed this half marathon plan pretty closely and missed one 6km easy run and half of a 26km long run (due to falling on ice). Mile repeats at goal pace aren’t really that challenging anymore so that should be a good sign that I’ll be able to run a good race this Sunday. Once plan #2 starts next week, I’m going to increase the training paces (to VDOT 47).

I’m going to use the same race fuel that worked well for me last year (dried figs and coconut water), but only eat if I feel I really need to. Switching my pre-run meal from bagels to eggs has made so much of a difference during training that I may have enough energy stored up to run a half marathon. Unlike the 2013 Scotia Half, I’m not doing a carb load this time – just eating better all around.

The weather is calling for clear and cold temperatures but it can’t be any worse than last year. I’ve been fending off a cold all week but feel 100% today with five days left until the race. I’m really looking forward to the 2014 Chilly Half Marathon and can’t wait to see how far I’ve come since last year. If you’re running the Chilly on Sunday I hope you have fun and shatter records! See you at the finish line.

Update – March 7, 2014

I set a new half marathon PB at the Chilly with a time of 1:37:05. Read my race report for all the gripping details.

Plan #2 – Getting Ready For 50k

The second plan is basically phase III and IV of the Daniels Marathon Program A, but eight weeks for each phase instead of the usual six, and beings on March 3rd (the day after the Chilly Half). I followed the complete program last year and had great success. It’s very demanding with speed work in the middle of the long runs, but the rewards make it well worth it. Around the Bay and Mississauga are basically training runs that fit nicely into the schedule, plus I get the added bonus of helping a friend qualify for Boston.

2013 was such an incredible year for me. With a great training plan, goals, nutrition and strength, I was able to get to a point with my running that I thought was unattainable just a few years ago. This time around I’m even stronger, faster, with better nutrition and improved breathing. I really can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.

Update March 23, 2014

I set a 30k PB at Around the Bay with a time of 2:28:27. Check out my full race report

Update April 30, 2014

Goal race #3 – The Mississauga Marathon – is happening this Sunday. This isn’t really a time goal for me, but a time goal for my friend Nicole who I’m pacing for a BQ. Her qualifying time is sub 3hr 40min which I think is very doable. I’m a little nervous going in as I’ve never paced anyone before but it helps being familiar with the course. Here’s my race strategy:

Start to 14km – Run at race pace but ease up a little on the up hills at U of T and Mississauga rd. Walk through every other water station.

14km to 28km – There’s a good downhill stretch in the middle third where we can increase the pace a little bit (10sec max). Back down to race pace when the course flattens out and the full marathon splits off. Walk through every other water station.

28km to Finish – Rolling hills! Drop the pace going up, speed up a little on the way down. Try to maintain even pace once back on Lakeshore. Walk through every other water station. Once we get into Port Credit we can try to increase the pace by max 10sec. Empty the tank in the last 2km. Nicole qualifies for Boston.

I’m really trying not to look at the weather forecast as it’s not looking great for race day. It’s been grey and rainy all week so hopefully it clears up by then. I feel pretty good going into this run even though I haven’t followed the training plan as closely as I did last year. Once this run is over I have six weeks left until my ultimate goal – the Niagara Ultra 50k.

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