Jeremy Hopwood

Jeremy Hopwood

Monday, November 17, 2014

MEC Steveston Marathon - 2:52:57 and 1st Overall

Raced the MEC Marathon in Steveston this past weekend and came in 1st with a 2:52:57. The short version of this race report was stayed relaxed, tried not to run to fast early, said hi to people going the other way and had a nice long run keeping an even tempo and effort level.

Having said that have a bit more detail below. I am a big believer in racing as part of a training program and not needing to be 100% focussed on a specific race in terms of peak fitness. This one is in this category for me and really enjoy getting out there experiencing the energy of a race environment.

Was great to see a lot of people I knew out there and thanks to those who called
d out my name, apologies if I didn't yell back in time. Hope everyone had a great day and hope to see you out on a race course again soon.

Thanks to Powered By Chocolate Milk, Speed Theory Vancouver and Forerunners North Vancouver for the continued support.

Powered by Chocolate Milk 
 Speed Theory Vancouver   

Forerunners North Vancovuer

A specific shout out to my good friend to my Jerry Ziak who is co-owner of Forerunners North Vancouver and has been helping me out with the run aspect of my training, If you can get out to the clinics at the store they are definitely worth the time.

Neck Beards add Warmth on Cold Days!
Photo Credit: MEC

Why a Marathon?

The last few months I have been taking training in 6 weeks blocks or so. About 6 weeks ago looking ahead I decided that  it was a good time to do a marathon and with the opportunity to do one the doorstop with a start and finish in Steveston the fit was perfect.

Having a target to train for as winter starts to envelop Vancouver is always nice as the Fall to Winter season change is one I always struggle with.

Racing close means it can be a family event as well. Les ran the 5km and had a PR!!!! Adelaide and Victoria came out watch and do some cheering with Grandma and Grandpa while Mommy and Daddy ran.

Ada post Cheering Duties
Photo Credit MEC

The Build Up

I talked about my leadup to the event last week -

In terms of long runs and mileage haven't been cranking out crazy mileage and have been averaging about 80 to 90km a week over 5-6 runs. My longest session in the build up was 32km which involved 28km alternating above and below Marathon Pace.

So coming into racing had a few questions about how I would feel in the last 10km and took that account into race planning.

Race Day - Executing the Plan

The "tables" which you can enter other race performances to give potential results at other distances based on your calculated vDot ( indicated I was in around 2:45 shape.

However knowing that

  • I hadn't had a huge base of mileage
  • wasn't totally tapered 
  • race was predominately on gravel (is a couple seconds a km slower than the road)
  • I didn't want to bury myself for the next month (or blow up) 

Went with a plan to start out at around 4:10 per km pace (approx 2:55) then adjust as required throughout the day with the aim to have a good solid run.

4 Sections

With the race being 2 out and backs I broke it down into four sections each 10.55km long.

Section 1 (0k to 10.55km) - Garry Point to Turnaround 43:13 (4:06 pace)

Start of the race - just tried to run smooth and relaxed. Had the runner who ended up coming in 4th with me for most of this section but ran at the front so could focus on my own tempo. It all felt pretty relaxed but hopefully that should be the case early on in a race!

Looking at splits was a little bit faster than planned but effort felt fine so was not to worried as had aimed to be through this first section between 43 and 44 minutes.

Section 2 (10.55km to 21.1km) - Turnaround to Garry Point - 42:48 (4:03 pace)

What wind there was slightly behind me at this point. Was pretty solo for this and had to negotiate the other races going outbound. Was good to see lots of people I knew doing the 5,10 or Half marathon. Started getting in some nutrition at this point through a couple Gels in this section.

Action Shot thanks to @runcandicerun who raced the day before doing a full marathon!
Fluro Capri Tights came out with the -4 starting temperature. 
Section 3 (21.1km to 31.15km) Garry Point to Turnaround 43:24 (4:07 pace)

A little slower going out but I think I can put this down to drinking some electrolyte at the turn (you could leave bottles at halfway) and not being able to run perfect tangents as needed to run through some of the other races that started after the marathon. The effort felt consistent and just focussed on running smooth through this part.

Section 4 (31.15km top 42.2km) - Turnaround to Garry Point  43:32 (4:08 pace)

Time to run home.At the turnaround I had 4+ minutes on the next runners so from a race perspective knew just had to run steady. From a body perspective hadn't run past this distance in the lead up and was scared of a brick wall being erected at km 35 on the dyke!

At 32km would have had to drop a sub 39 min 10km to go sub 2:50 and although i was tempted to give it a shot I decided to stick to the plan a run solid home. Legs got a little tight with about 5km to go a splits slipped a little but decided to just keep effort steady vs pushing harder. Asides from making sure I ate my last Gel and staying relaxed it was pretty uneventful run home.

Getting the W

So in the end finished in 2:52:57 and got the Win. The win wasn't as big a factor for me as having a good solid run. If I had had company in the last half I am pretty sure I could have stepped it up a little but getting a good solid consistent paced run was the key achievement as it is knowledge and confidence I can take into my 2015 training and racing.

Podium Shot - Subbing in for 2nd Place Ada decided raising hands up was a little too much!
Photo Credit MEC

Other Notes


For those interested in nutrition for this race I kept it pretty simple with;

  • a GU every 40 minutes (approx 90 cal - Gu's are a 100 cal packet but you never get it all) for a total of 360 Cals
  • A splash of water at most opportunities (every 4km or so)
  • A swig of electrolyte (200ml max at halfway)

4 below Celsius is cold for someone who grew up in the heat. As a result I went with some capri tights (fluro yellow for some early am brightness) and gloves  for the first 10 miles or so. The main thing I have learned about racing and training in the cold is you still need to eat even though you may not feel like it. That is why my nutrition above was pretty structured.

Why Wear a Puprle Headband?

I like to run with headbands as keeps the sweat out of my eyes and Ada likes purple. So chose that color so are a little easier to spot out on course.

Mistakes I Made

Forgot to set my watch to autolap before racing which meant going through the menu settings while after 1km to turn it on

Key Learnings

  • Have a few more pounds to lose for sure. No rush on this but there are simple things I can form habits on as I move into 2015.
  • Consistency is king. The last few months have been nothing special in terms of training but consistency has been pretty good even though there is still room for improvement. If I can move that to all aspects training life will be good.
  • Core strength is a big opportunity for me to make sure I run well when fatigued.

The Fast Guys are Really Fast

Always humbling to know that the fast marathoners are running 1 min a km (25%) faster than your pace.

What is Next

So next up is a pretty easy week then some planning for the first part of 2015. I have soem fun racing coming up with the Gunner Shaw Cross Country at Jericho Beach on Dec 6th and a couple Time Trial (Mile and 5km) events with Forerunners North Vancovuer.

In 2015 the Tentative Plan is Pioneer 8km on the Island, Steveston Icebreaker 8km followed up by the PRR First Half - Half Marathon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Race Week and a Open 26.2

So firstly what is an Open 26.2. For those who are crazy enough on occasion to Swim and Bike before running a marathon a Open 26.2 is a Straight Marathon.

Coming into this my mental approach is that this is no easier than ironman, just likely going to be a different type of hurt especially in the last 10km as trying to maintain pace.

This Sunday - MEC Marathon in Steveston

Race day is Sunday and it is a pretty low key event I have chosen being the MEC Marathon. The start is about 700m from my front door and the course goes along the dyke trail that a lot of my runs take place on. Familiarity with a race course isn't always a good thing but will be nice to race local. Having said that I sense for the rest of the year my runs will not take me along the race course!

I have only done one open 26.2 before and that was when i was you and stupid and working way too much. If you have ever wondered how doing a marathon with zero training feels I have that memory from 2006 when I went 4:49 at the Vancouver Marathon. So my full 26.2 history goes like this;

2006 - 4:49 (Vancouver Marathon)
2008 - 4:02 (Ironman Canada)
2009 - 3:47 (Ironman Canada)
2010 - 3:11 (Ironman Couer 'd Alene)
2010 - 3:23 (Ironman Hawaii)
2012 - 3:25 (Challenge Penticton)

So Sunday will be race no.7. I definitely haven't peaked specifically for this, vs more just trying to get fitter every week. So instead of going for a absolute best case scenario time my plan is to have a good solid run to use as a base for the start of 2015.

Still working on the plan but the chances of running with someone going for the same pace is pretty low so are focussed on a good solid solo long run. It is definitely not going to be warm on race day and the wind may be up so adapting to the conditions will be key. Another factor is that although it is flat it is on gravel so can be slower vs running on the roads form that perspective.

At the moment I am going to look to start out at between 4:05 and 4:10 per/km pace and look to re-evaluate at every turn around (10.55, 21.1, 31.65) and look to slowly build if all systems are go. That should put  me around the 2:50 mark following a 42.2km progression run give or take if all things go well.

Racing in Race Week - Hershey Harriers Remembrance Day XC

Racing the week of a race is not something everyone does but with the XC race in Stanley Park on Tuesday providing the opportunity for a solid hit out on an important day I decided to lace up shoes and have a solid hit out. I have not been doing xc specific work and with a lot of my running being in Steveston hills have not often been on my agenda!

It was beautiful even if chilly day in Vancouver in Tuesday and the wind was definitely up. Started out trying to hold with the main lead pack as we looped around the grass fields. After about a mile or so was had dropped back a little and spent the rest of the run pretty solo with the back of the main group in sight about 300m or so further ahead.

Running Past Brockton Oval Clubhouse with Mountains in the Background
Photo Credit: Greg White

Felt a bit flat coming flat coming in having had a strong tempo two days prior. however it was good to have a strong hit out. Not sure of exact place but somewhere in the top 10 (had to head straight to work after) and is always fun to race cross country

600m of solo suffering  to go
Photo Credit: Greg White

After this weekend

Some recovery then a few fun races to round out the year including Gunner Shaw 10km, A mile race, a staggered start 5km and a festive half marathon with unconventional aid stations.