Part 2: What I Did Differently for My 3rd Marathon @VAN BMO 2014

 

BMO 2014

My 1st and 2nd Marathon Experience: 

 This is my third full marathon in my total 4 years of running career.  Yes, I did my first marathon in my second year after merely completing two half marathons.  Honestly, I bonked the first two quite badly.  The first one wasn’t too bad.  I did it at the Vancouver BMO marathon when they had completely changed to a new course.  Everything was going well (with a half split at approx. 1:31:00….I sort of fantasized may be I was running a sub-3 marathon for my debut) but by the time I got to about 32-35KM things started to go downhill.  I found myself running with a terrible cramp alternating between both legs.  I panicked and stopped.  I was hoping some stretching would stop the cramp but it did not.  There was a minute I thought of giving up but I persisted by half running and half limping to finish off the race.  It was a devastating experience.  My 1st marathon time was 3:12:22.

Nonetheless, I was quite adamant about qualifying for Boston.  I quickly searched for another marathon in the Fall of the same year.  Aha! I saw the Boundary Bay Full Marathon.  As it turned out, it was another complete nightmare.  In brief, I cramped up the minute I crossed the half way point and persisted running with cramps all over my legs for the remainder.  Surprisingly, I ended up running faster (10seconds) than my first one.  It was a PB at the time but no BQ! It certainly took me some hard lessons to realize the saying “hit the wall”.  For training wise, I don’t think I had done anything too different between my 1st and 2nd full.  The only thing I didn’t do in my 2nd one was stopping to stretch but just toughed it out all the way.  Good choice? In retrospective, I think so.  I am sure there are physiologists out there that would argue about the detrimental effects on the muscles by running through a cramp.

Please read my Vancouver BMO 2014 Full Marathon Race Report if you haven’t already.

I will highlight things I have done differently for this marathon below.

 

My 3rd Marathon Experience: 

Marathon Start

BMO volunteersLearning from my past experience of running in different organized races, I realize I do much better in the ones where there were more participants.  The atmosphere and the runners really motivated me to persist.  I hate to run in a  marathon where there was no spectators, no volunteers or any similar-pace runners.  It’s definitely tough on the mind to push through all those tough miles alone.

 

 

course_elevation_full_I also find that I perform much better if the course isn’t completely flat.  I find that rolling hills work pretty well for my body.  This sort of course allows all leg muscle groups to work quite evenly without stressing the same group over and over as in running on some flat courses.  The Vancouver BMO Marathon is definitely on the top of my list.  It’s rated by Forbes as the Top 10 Destination Marathon in North America.  It’s not cheap, though.  However, I must say it was very well organized with over 4000 volunteers throughout the course.  The bands were awesome as well.  This year was also a record breaking year of garnering the most full marathon participants.  The early bird entry I got was about $140 after all sorts of fees and taxes.  Ouch!

 

So…What did I do differently for my 3rd marathon?  

 

A Running Coach 

Coach DThe BIGGEST change is finding myself a coach.  Not just a coach but the BEST coach I could possibly find in Canada. Coach Dylan Wykes is awesome! If any of you readers out there are serious enough to get some coaching from Coach D, please don’t hesitate to contact me through iwillrun2011@gmail.com.   If you don’t know who Dylan Wykes is, you are probably not serious enough for some formal training just yet!!! Just Kidding =P!  So who is Dylan Wykes?  Well…Google his name? I am sure you will get a plethora of info/background about him.

Before meeting Coach D, I had never really received any formal  training.  I had always trained from those cookie-cutter internet training plans.  I am not saying they are bad but they are just not great to make good progress.  I met Coach D last year in the Fall.  He started me easy with some basic training to build a good foundation before moving onto some advanced stuffs.  He was really great at monitoring my progress and really helped me to reach many of my running goals.

 

 

A New Diet

 Because of Coach D, I have learned a whole new different perspective about diet.  I used to be a low/no carb guy.  No rice, no pasta, no bread, no sugar….and the list goes on.  I like to stay fit and by following a low/no carb diet really helped me to achieve  and maintain this goal.  Being a long distance runner, however, I did not realize that a low carb diet is a big no no.  A great book recommended to me by Coach D that I wish to recommend to you all readers out there is “The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition: A Cutting-Edge Plan to Fuel Your Body Beyond “the Wall”” by Matt Fitzgerald.  Basically, the book tells you that a long distance must eat good carbs to maintain optimal performance.  Of course, the book talks about a lot of other important things about diet and nutrition but I am not going to list them all here.  The book got me to start eating brown rice and other healthy carbs in my daily meals about 4 months prior to race day.

 

Gel Belt

 

Another thing I did differently this time was that I bought myself a Fuel Belt to carry all the gels with me.  As silly as I looked on race day, I liken myself to Rambo carrying all my ammos with me.  I had 7 gels on me.  The strategy really helped me to push through all the hard miles.

In summary, a good course with some awesome runners, spectators as well as volunteers, an awesome coach, proper diet/fuelling and training, all these helped me to reach my marathon goal.

I ran about 14mins faster than my 2nd marathon.

 

Again, please see my race report @ Vancouver BMO 2014 Full Marathon Race Report if you haven’t already.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Vancouver BMO Full Marathon 2014 Race Report (Part 1)

RUNVAN-PictureRace Day Morning 

The night before race day I decided to watch a movie that would put me to sleep.  The strategy worked and perhaps a little too well.  I passed out at about 1030pm. I’d normally require only 4-5hours of sleep, so I woke up at  3am, 330am, and finally really got up at 430am which was about 45mins earlier than my alarm would go off.  Anyhow, I was feeling great and a little nervous.  I had a good night sleep.  I did some reading while enjoying a heavy carb loaded breakfast that consisted of three whole-grain toasts with Nutella and peanut butter spread (Over 100g of carb), a cup of coffee with honey (29g of carb), two pieces of cookies (50 g of carb) and a banana (20g of carb).  I was fulfilled!  This was of course followed by my pre-race bathroom routine that would last about 30-45mins to ensure everything was emptied out.  A quick peek out the window, man oh man, it was raining cats and dogs.  I was kinda feeling sorry for the half marathoners who were already getting ready in their corrals for their race at 7am.

It was probably the most crowded morning on the sky train I had ever witnessed during such early hour.  I’d say everyone boarding the train was full marathon runners. What a great scene!  It was quite a “long” walk from the station to race site.  It probably took me a little over 20mins to get there.  The rain did not subside.  People were ducking under trees, under entrances of buildings, and I chose to lay low in the baseball player box.  It was muddy everywhere.  I took extra caution with every step I made.  I didn’t want to get my socks all soaked up before the race.  I slowly changed into my racing gear, put on a disposable poncho, and was ready to get out for an easy 10min warm up.

BMO Course MapRace

Start – 5km 

At about 15mins before the race, I slowly found my way into first corral behind the elite group.  It was quite packed and crowded. I swallowed up my first gel.  The rain at that time came down much harder than before.  Most runners were shivering a bit.  I kept my poncho on until the very last few minutes before tossing it.  I was just jumping up and down to get my muscle to stay awake. We sang the national anthem and  when it was 5mins before the race the volunteers lowered the rope. I slowly moved up close to the start line.  I was probably in the third row now.  Then there came the final count down…10, 9, 8…3,2,1.  People dashed out right off the bat.  I was immediately behind because so many had gone pass me.  As discussed with Coach D, I kept my pace anywhere between 4min/k and 4:30min/k to stay conservative initially because I knew it would be a long grind.   The first 5km were all a slight incline.

5-10KM

I was feeling quite comfortable running at 4:10-15min/K during this time.  This stretch was a slight decline.  As I passed one of the most busiest intersection (West 49th Ave and Granville St.), I heard the traffic ladies were saying something like “We can’t let the cars hold up like this for too long, we gotta stop these runners.”   I was thinking “What the Heck” were they talking about?  How ridiculous!  I made my move and picked up the pace to get through the intersection.  The traffic light probably turned red after I had passed.  A group of four runners ran up to my side and were saying how ridiculous it was for those traffic ladies to be stopping runners in the middle of a marathon.  I mean, come on, at that pace we were going I am sure everyone was aiming for Boston.  It would have cost at least 30s or even up to a minute if any had stopped there.  Anyhow, I knew my first 5KM would come up soon, so I took out my first gel and got ready for water station.  I checked my split at 5km and it looked great at under 21:10.  I was at a good pace!

6-10KM

This stretch was going to be one of the toughest part of the entire run.  Camosun St is a nasty hill.  It was probably over 1km of climb.  I drafted behind a tall guy for most of the hill.  I didn’t dare to look at my pace on my Garmin.  I just felt this guy was going quick enough, so I figure I would stick with him.  It was funny that at about 3/4 of the hill he turned back and kinda smiled at me saying, “Good draft, eh?”.  I said, “Yeah, it’s great. Thanks.”  I mean being a short guy like myself standing at 5’6 and the guy at over 6 is definitely a good draft!  I’d only find out later on Garmin Connect that I did most of the hill at 4:25min/K.  I am glad I didn’t check my watch at the time; otherwise, I’d have gotten antsy and started to push.

10-15km

Man oh Man, my legs were tired after climbing that tough hill.  The road didn’t get any easier.  It was rolling hills inside Imperial Drive.  Once out of the forest, the highway heading into UBC wasn’t easy either.  It was a lengthy gradual incline.  I saw so many runners (probably like two or three) that had to run into the forest to find relief.  It was funny but not for long.  I started finding myself in trouble as well.  I was feeling my left calve was twitching a bit.  It was the same feeling that I had in my last two marathons.  Oh man, I was scared.  It was only 15K in.  All the tough trainings in the past few months and drastic change in diets, I mean how could this be happening to me?!?  I changed my gait and stride a little bit and really hoped that the feeling would subside.  Thank God, it did go away after 1-2KM.

15-20KM

Nothing too interesting happened at this stretch.  At this point, the runners were quite spread out.  The best part coming up at the end of 20K was the long steep hill down to Spanish banks.  So many runners just sprinted down it.  I took it easy and actually rested a bit by running at around a 4:15min/K pace.  I just didn’t want to add on any more pounding on my legs. I mean I wasn’t even half way yet.

20-25KM

I took another gel at half way.  I probably ran too easy while coming down the long hill.  My pace had slowed down to about 4:20-4:25min/K.  I thought I was going fast as the other runners around seemed to be running quite hard.  I sped up a little until I see my pace was under 4:15min/K again.  I didn’t like this stretch. I have trained here too many times.  Today I didn’t get lucky as this part of the road is often windy.  Today, however, I was running against the wind.  On some good days, I would run effortlessly at a sub 6min/mile pace if the wind was with me.  Nope, not today!  I sucked it up and ran faster.  Another nasty part along this stretch was to climb up that short but extremely sharp hill onto 4th ave.  There was absolutely no runners in front of me.  It was tough on the mind.  I ran hard up the hill and knew it would be a breeze running down on 4th.  I felt great once I reached the top of the hill and began cruising along 4th ave.  The crowd on the corner of 4th and Alma was big and loud so that was definitely a great motivator for me to carry on.

25-30KM

I finally latched onto two runners.  The first dude really amazed me by the way he dressed. There was no way that he looked like a marathoner.  I mean he was wearing a long baggy Adidas sweat pants with the zippers wide opened along his ankles, he had a white t-shirt on just like the ones I used to wear in PE class in high school and he was holding a gigantic bottle probably one would use for a hiking trip.  I guess I should never judge a runner by his/her appearance.  He was going at a 4:08min/K pace at that time. The other guy looked much younger than the three of us.  I later found out he is still in his late 20’s.  We began running side by side and started some short conversations.  There were something wrong with my ears probably some pressured built up so I didn’t quite hear what they were saying.  I just kept giving a thumb up to them when it seemed all they needed were some acknowledgment.  My left thigh started to act up again and I was about to pass through Kits beach.  In my mind, I was telling myself…not now!  There was a huge crowd along Kits Beach cheering for us.  The crowd was absolutely fanatic.  It would be extremely bad for me to stop and start cramping there.  I sped up and kept my pace at 4:05min/K.  The younger guy kept pace with me, while the other dude slowly disappeared.

30-35km

The scary part here was the Burrard bridge.  I was actually feeling good running with this young fellow.  I even had the energy to make some funny faces to the photographers stationed at the top of the bridge. People say, including Coach D, that the half way point for a full marathon really is after the 32KM mark.  I totally concur with that.  The last little stretch was all flat around the seawall in Stanley Park.  I have trained  so many times here for my weekend long runs.  It was absolutely a mind game.  I was glad this young guy (later found out his name is Owen) was running with me.  We were good teammates.  We paced each other through most of the park.  I ran hard at almost 10s faster than race pace.

35-40KM

I knew I couldn’t slow down because my left thigh would act up any minute.  I could see the convention centre (where the finish line would be) was close in sight.  I would only continue to push through the last 7km or so.  I took in my last gel at 36KM mark and also saw the elite Kenyan female had to stop there and started to walk.  In fact, I saw so many runners were walking at that point.  I was one of them couple years ago but thank God not today!  I think I also lost Owen somewhere.  I later found out he finished about a minute slower than I did but he sure did BQ that day!

40-42.2KM

2014-05-07 15.17.57After I passed a big group of runners at about 39KM,  I continued to excel through the very last stretch of the marathon.  I saw a female runner in front of me.  I think she was doing it for her dad as she wrote something like “For you Dad” on her lower back.  My eyes just fixated on those words as I continue to follow her.  The last bit was a little twisty.  Once past the last turn, for some reason I felt I was almost there for the finish line and so I sprinted.  I ran so fast and realized that I just past the 41km mark.  I was like darn, crap…I still got another K to go.  Once I got to the last marker, I was like all out.  I ran the last two KM at sub 4pace and was just ready to yell at the finish line.  I could see the timer from afar.  It was like 2:56:XX and I was probably about less than a 1km away.  I ran like crazy going that slight uphill.  I think I probably roared a few times thinking I would spend the last little bit of juice in me.  At that point, I was very confident to meet my goal that day.  I finished nice and strong with my hands raised up high while crossing the finish line.  It was 2:58:06.  Thank God!  PB! BQ!  Boston here I come in 2015!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Coach Dylan Wykes for all the awesome training/coaching, Skechers Canada Performance Division for their sponsorship and the incredible GoRun Ride 3, thank God for protecting throughout training and on race day!

Please continue to read part 2 (What I did differently for this marathon) and part 3 (Skechers Go Run Ride 3).   

Cheers,

Vicar

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SKECHERS GO MEB SPEED 2 REVIEW

2014-01-20 16.41.39 wpid-2014-02-16-10.19.19.jpg.jpeg Hot Chocolate Run 10.4K

 

 

 

 

 

Hello All,

It’s been awhile since I wrote a shoe review.  I wish to write a comprehensive one for the Go Meb Speed 2 after I have had some good mileage on them to provide a fair one.  In total, I did a 5k (Vancouver Chilly Chase), Half Marathon (Vancouver First Half), and a 10.4KM (Vancouver Hot Chocolate Race), as well as many long weekend runs.  I believe I have had about 200K on them now.  Before reading about my experience , let’s take a quick look at some manufacture data as listed below.

Details:

  • The signature shoe of top US Marathon runner Meb Keflezghi
  • High performance marathon racing design
  • Dupont Hytrel™ stability plate in midsole
  • Extremely responsive ride
  • Resalyte™ cushioned midsole
  • M-Strike midfoot strike design
  • 4mm heel drop
  • Special New York City Marathon color edition

Construction:

  • Mesh fabric and synthetic upper
  • Printed mesh pattern with contrast detail
  • TPU toe cap and heel overlay
  • Weight: 6.8 oz in a men’s size 9

Comparison with Go Meb Speed 1 

I received the Speed 1 in Fall, 2013.  I liken the ride on them to be very raw.  It was sort of like driving a sport car without any added-on luxury accessories.  It was definitely not easy to adapt to the stiffness initially.  However, once I got used to the feel I slowly got attached to them and really enjoyed the responsiveness from them.  I have really put on some good mileage (over 600K) on the Speed 1.

I received the Speed 2 in early 2014 from the courtesy of Skechers Canada Performance Division.  The moment I took them out of the box I immediately noticed some obvious differences between the 1st and 2nd version.  First, I love the design and colour on the 2nd one.  The shoes simply look sleek and beautiful.  The colors are great!  The color I received for my first version was a little too bright and colourful.

The second thing I noticed was the weight difference.  The first version was much heavier than the second.  To be objective, there is actually only a 0.7oz difference between the two.  However, my experience somehow continues to tell me that the 2nd one feels so much lighter.

Thirdly, the 2nd version is much thinner and sleeker in design.  It certainly looked more narrower on the toe box; however, I felt both shoes were about the same.  I do have a slightly wider toe box so I wouldn’t consider either of these shoes to be too narrow.  They are definitely leaning towards the narrow side when compared to the GoRun Ride.  Another thing I notice is the change of material for the 2nd version.  The upper lip is much thinner and the mesh that was used on the 1st version was completely replaced by a much durable material on the 2nd version.  The material used for the sole appears to be different too.  The first one had a stiffer kind of foam, whereas the 2nd version used a more flexible, snappier foam material.  The heel-toe differential remains to be 4mm for both versions.

My Experience with the Go Meb Speed 2

I came in 2nd place overall at the Vancouver Chilly Chase 5K and 1st overall in the inaugural Vancouver Hot Chocolate 10.4 K Race.  As you can see in the picture, I was oddly standing alone on the podium.  It was my bad utterly as I had missed the actual award ceremony.  Coach D had me to do a 27K run that morning so the only way to make it was to run a 6KM in the morning before the race, 10.4KM for the race, and immediately after another 11KM.  My apologies to Try Event for missing the award ceremony twice in a row.  I promise to be up there next time *on time* if I ever got luck again!

I have put on the Go Meb Speed 2 in all three races ranging from 5K to a half marathon.  The Go Meb Speed 2 really helped me to achieve great results!  I ran few of my splits for the 5K race under 3:30min/K and I was able to maintain an average of sub 4k/min for my half marathon.  The shoes do feel very light and snug but extremely comfortable. I have not had any blisters or chaffing problems because of the shoes. Though the shoes are slightly lighter than the first version, surprisingly, I find them to be much more supportive and yet remaining to be very responsive.  If I may, I liken the shoes to the New Balance 1600.  The price difference between the two, however, is huge if bought locally in Vancouver.  Skechers is somewhere around $130 and NB at close to $190, both estimated at after tax.  In my opinion, Skechers is definitely the biggest bang on the buck!

Conclusion:

The Go Meb Speed 2, in my humble opinion, is by far the best racing flats I have tried thus far.  They are light, responsive, comfortable, sturdy, supportive and awesome in design.  I’d happily use them for any races ranging from a 5k up to a half marathon.  I’m by no means any where close to our great Meb who wore it at the New York Marathon.  If you ask, the GoRun Ride 3 are my full marathon shoes!  In fact, as I am writing this article, I am getting prepared for my Vancouver BMO full marathon the following morning!  Perhaps, I will write a race report on it as well as another shoe review on the GoRun Ride 3.

Cheers,

Vicar

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