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1 Oct 2014

Summer round-up

Posted by divamar. No Comments

Spring and summer have absolutely whipped by! In my previous post, I talked about the races leading into my goal event in June—the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon. At the end of April, I ran 36 minutes flat at the TC10K and followed it up with events staggered a few weeks apart: an 8km, a half-marathon, and a 10km on the track that revealed my progressive fitness gains. In Vancouver, I hit a time of 1:16:50; this was the same pacing I held in the TC10K (less than half the distance) two months earlier. It’s clear great coaching and consistent training work. To me, the art of coaching is facilitating an athlete’s cumulative fitness to peak for goal races and keep injury at bay. Once again, I have Coach Trent to thank for the solid insight and planning.

Last push with Anthony Skuce

Last push with Anthony Skuce

I resumed my training after a short break, but without a fall marathon to prep for, I also managed to squeeze in some summer adventures. I spent lovely social time with friends and family, threw in some great hikes and kayaking excursions, and took up paddleboarding. With all of the stellar weather we’ve had in Victoria, there’s never been more incentive to spend time outside.

MEC on the trails in Strathcona Park

MEC on the trails in Strathcona Park

Cream Lake, Strathcona Park

Cream Lake, Strathcona Park

Bedwell Lakes Hike

Bedwell Lakes Hike

Our morning view at Bedwell lake

Our morning view at Bedwell lake

It has also meant a lot to offer additional time and guidance to the private athletes I train. I’ve really enjoyed watching this group grow and make significant progress. I learn more everyday about coaching and training and am inspired by dedicated athletes who aren’t afraid to work hard to get where they want to go.

My keen training team

My keen training team

Mindful Strides is ramping up once again. A recent visit from the CTV-Vancouver Island crew to a beginner clinic was a blast. I think the June 23 broadcast segment does a great job of describing what Mindful Strides is all about. If you missed it, check it out right here!

I hope the summer has treated everyone well. I look forward to seeing you as we head into the fall season.

'Bouquet of smiles'  last summer class for the advanced Mindful Strides participants

‘Bouquet of smiles’ last summer class for the advanced Mindful Strides participants

25 Apr 2014

Race & Recovery

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Ready…

Since the exciting build to the marathon in Toronto last fall, I’ve been focused on another phase of my long-term training and periodization. After going hard at it for the past few years and gearing for big races, I’ve been enjoying a season that has allowed me to be a bit less rigid in my training regime. I’m something of a broken record when it comes to the importance of balancing rest and recovery with periods of intense work, but I believe in the benefits of this mix and never waver on this. I’m convinced this cycle is essential to remaining injury free and mentally sharp and that it’s healthy to take a pause from reaching for hard goals—especially following big training blocks that require incredible discipline and physical effort like prepping for a marathon.

Advanced Mindful Strides class

Advanced Mindful Strides class

In the meantime, I’ve dedicated a lot of energy to Mindful Strides, regularly offering clinics, building my coaching and training practice and getting out to speak to groups of runners about healthy form.

Speaking to the Victoria Running Room TC10km/half-marathon clinic

Speaking to the Victoria Running Room TC10km/half-marathon clinic

Speaking to the Esquimalt 10km training group

Speaking to the Esquimalt 10km training group

Set…

The ‘time-off’ has been good for body and brain. There’s been more opportunity to enjoy activities like hiking, cycling and connecting with friends. I’ve continued to run and train (typically twice a day), but have resisted putting firm goals in the window; I’ve even relaxed a little and enjoyed the odd glass of vino!

Hitting the trails with good friends

Hitting the trails with good friends

Mar and Hilary

Mar and Hilary

IMG_2097

I’ve also been fortunate to draw a lot of energy and inspiration from the runners I coach. My regular Saturday morning workout group in Victoria is growing, along with the supportive atmosphere it fosters. The core members of this group are those who I coach directly, but all runners are welcome to join in on the fun.

Saturday morning training group

Saturday morning training group

Go!

With Coach Trent’s help, I’ve just firmed up a race plan that will build toward the next goal: the Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon in June. We’ve decided I’ll run the TC10K this weekend in Victoria, and possibly the BMO Vancouver 8K and Oak Bay Half-Marathon from there. I’m looking forward to the hometown racing on Sunday and to toeing the line with all of my athletes, Striders, and friends in the local running community. Wishing everyone a great day out on the course! I’ll be watching for you.

As always, I am grateful to my sponsors Mountain Equipment Co-op, Saucony Canada and Rumble for their continuous support.

11 Nov 2013

My second marathon

Posted by divamar. 4 Comments

The weather couldn’t have been better for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon—a bit of wind, but overall a cool, dry day. I felt calm at the start line, and a hint of excitement knowing it was time to execute my race plan. Three months of focused training and just one shot at nailing it.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

I ran smoothly right out of the gate. Mike Del Monte was my assigned pacer. From the moment I met him until he pulled off the course, he was brilliant.

Mar and Mike Del Monte pre-race

Mar and Mike Del Monte pre-race

We reached the half in 1:18:38 (about 2:37 pace) and things felt incredibly easy. We were about 20 seconds ahead of goal pace (2:38) and appreciated some banked time with a slower second half of the course still ahead. Trent and Hilary offered amazing support. On borrowed bikes, they rode up and down the course assuring us we were looking smooth and staying on pace. I felt fantastic.

"There's no place like this place, anyplace!" Very true when you're just 3km in!  (photo credit Pui Tam www.ptam.ca)

“There’s no place like this place, anyplace!”
Very true when you’re just 3km in! (photo credit Pui Tam www.ptam.ca)

Mike stayed with me until 32km (2km farther than expected of him) and at about that point, my calves began to twinge. Last year when this happened, I held pace until the twinges became cramps and a few kilometers on, when I refused to let up, my legs seized. This time, to avoid repeating 2012’s agonizing crawl to the line, I eased off the gas. For the next 8km, I focused on preventing comprehensive cramping. With 3km to go, I dug in hard to get back up to pace. The cramps came on strong but I had just enough to make it to the finish (this time upright) in a time of 2:40:20. The result was more than two minutes faster than my marathon debut and six minutes faster than the Canadian age group record (45-49).

At 35km (photo credit Pui Tam www.ptam.ca)

At 35km (photo credit Pui Tam www.ptam.ca)

While I didn’t reach my goal of 2:38, I’m extremely happy with my race. I was thrilled to be a part of an historic day for Canadian women’s distance running. Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene ran PBs and took down Silvia Ruegger’s national record of 2:28:36 that had survived 28 years. Add to that some impressive performances from Lioudmila Kortchaguina and Natasha Wodak (both with sub-2:36 results) and you have a breakthrough day for Canadian women on Canadian soil.

Distance running in this country is finally getting its due. Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis and Dylan Wykes have paved the way, inspiring male and female Canadian distance runners alike. They’re great role models who have shown what it takes to run a fast marathon: consistent and intelligent training and a commitment to getting the details right.

Post-race with my brother Eddie and his family

Post-race with my brother Eddie and his family

I want to thank all of my friends and family who offered encouragement and kept me motivated through this process. I’m always amazed how those closest to me—even those who have never trained for a marathon—accept my focus on a rigorous day-to-day regime; there are trade-offs to do it. I’m deeply grateful to Coach Trent who dedicated much of his limited free time to help me through some monster workouts. He’s still managing to squeeze amazing results out of this ‘middle-ager’ while keeping her healthy and motivated—testament to his sound coaching skills. I owe at least a few beers to my steadfast training partners Ian Hallam and Hilary Stellingwerff who made the work so enjoyable and encouraged me every step of the way. Thank you too, to Alicia Shay for inviting me into her Flagstaff home and for providing some lovely training company at altitude.

Clowning around with Coach Trent post-race

Clowning around with Coach Trent post-race

So far, I’ve enjoyed my post-race recovery. The first week home I did some hiking on the beautiful trails here in Victoria. I’m now running regularly again, but without a set schedule from Coach Trent (he gets a well-deserved break too). The pause from intensive training will help me to be physically and mentally ready to get back at it next month. For now, the goal is to gradually increase my volume over the next few weeks. I’ve accumulated some significant fitness gains that should transition me through to a solid spring season.

Bliss

Bliss

19 Oct 2013

The waiting game

Posted by divamar. 2 Comments

I’ve been in Ontario for a little more than a week. I loved getting in a quick visit with my family in Stratford, especially during my taper when I had more time to hang out with them. I arrived at the hotel in Toronto on Thursday, and since then, have been relaxing and preparing for race day. It’s nice getting some zip back in my legs and recovering my physical and mental energy after a few months ‘in the twilight zone.’ It’s also been great rooming with Canadian champion Krista Duchene. We have similar pre-race routines and a nice balance of yakking and quiet time.

Roomies

Roomies

Our technical meeting was held late this afternoon to go over Sunday’s schedule and to hand over our hydration/nutrition bottles.

Room full of anxious runners

Room full of anxious runners

Everyone has a personal concoction that they know works to help fuel them to the finish line. I had dinner with Trent and Hilary; a tenderloin steak with fries (yup, fries) and will have my usual pre-marathon breakfast of toast with almond butter/honey, a banana and a bar.

Breakfast en route

Breakfast en route

Trent and I went over my race plan and the good news is, it looks like we’ll have ideal conditions for Sunday; cool, dry and (hopefully) light winds)!

photo-40

So, tonight it will be early to bed. I feel pretty relaxed, prepared and fit. It’s now up to me to execute the strategy: keep my wits about me at the start, maintain my rhythm and focus through the middle, and stay tough to the finish.

I want to thank everyone for all the kind messages over the past few days. I really appreciate the support! Thank you to sponsors Saucony Canada, MEC and Rumble for helping me along the way!

Good luck to everyone running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

9 Oct 2013

Down to the wire

Posted by divamar. 4 Comments

With the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon less than two weeks away and the bulk of my race prep behind me, it’s a good time to reflect on the past 12 weeks of marathon-specific training. I completed the highest mileage to date, including a couple of 210km+ weeks (one in each of August and September). On the track, I ran 34:28 as part of the BC 10,000m Championships, setting a new Canadian record (45-49 age category) at the tail end of a massive week.

You want to stay about this close to me

You want to stay about this close to me

photo credit: Hicham El Amiri

photo credit: Hicham El Amiri

Pip-squeak cheering squad

Pip-squeak cheering squad

I returned to Flagstaff, Arizona last month to train at 7000ft. My only setback was the chest cold I was fighting while there. Despite this, I managed to hit all of my sessions over three weeks. I knew I was pushing my luck in maintaining my schedule, and likely prolonged the cold as a result, but with some minor adjustments (say, pushing harder sessions back by a day), the virus left my system in time for my return to Victoria.

Stunning - Schultz Creek trail

Stunning – Schultz Creek trail

Night out on the town with training buddy Kat

Night out on the town with training buddy Kat

Cody's cheery morning face

Cody’s cheery morning face

Workouts over the past three months have been extremely challenging; a handful stand out as some of the biggest and most successful ever, most on mileage-loaded legs. The last of these key sessions on October 2 was made tougher by a 200km+ load the previous week: 45 minutes ‘easy’ right into 27km of continuous tempo with a five-second average pace increase every 9km. The weather was wet and windy, ‘ideal’ practice for the less-than-ideal conditions I might face on race day. Coach Trent supported me on the bike and we practiced fuelling to mimic race conditions. I’ve learned a lot from Trent about training over the past couple of years, but also benefited from his sports nutrition expertise. Hilary joined in for the final 18km, her last big session ahead of her half-marathon debut in the Goodlife Fitness Victoria race. Hilary and I appreciate that Dave Scott-Thomas (Hilary’s coach) and Trent communicate regularly and do their best to coordinate our sessions so we can work together whenever possible.

Hilary and Mar

Hilary and Mar

So, I feel prepared. I’ve worked extremely hard and done all I can to support the training schedule Trent designed for me: I focused on proper nutrition and recovery and on doing my very best at every workout. Fingers crossed from here.

I know many of you are gearing up for your own goal races. Please know I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way.

20 Aug 2013

Making of a photo shoot

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About this time last year, I wrangled some of the runners from my Advanced Mindful Strides clinics and a few of my private coaching clients to play the role of amateur models for an afternoon. Joelle, Dee, Paul, Fiona, Michel and Sarah were willing subjects (aka victims) who helped me get some pics for the new website.

It was the perfect Victoria day—warm, sunny, with a soft breeze off the water. We were lucky to have a stellar photographer on board and none other than our friend and elite local runner and coach Jim Finlayson. Poor Jim! We spent most of our time howling over efforts to transform our goofy selves into something a bit more professional when the lens was pointed our way.

Thanks to Jim and my intrepid Mindful Striders who embraced the bright lights.

The 'making of'

In good hands

Pro on the job

‘Down time’ on the set

Down time

The quick-change artist

Quick change artist

The other wrangler

The other wrangler

Enough with the giggles!

Stop laughing!

Getting it right

Getting it right-1

Direction from on high

Direction from on high

Looking good (finally)

Professional

That’s a wrap!

That's a wrap! Mar, style.

21 Jul 2013

So it begins…

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It’s been an exciting few months, with a good mix of work and racing. I started a contract with the Victoria-based National Triathlon Centre as the run coach for the development team, kicked off a new set of Mindful Strides clinics, and caught up with my private coaching clients to make up for the time away.

Advanced Mindful Strides

My own races included the Vancouver Sun Run, the Montreal Scotiabank Half-Marathon, and the Oak Bay Half-Marathon here in Victoria. Results at the Sun Run and the Montreal Half didn’t reflect my fitness, but my legs finally caught up to my lungs at the Oak Bay Half. I put in a solid effort of 1:17:33— a course record. It was great to focus on a local race and to get a boost from the hometown crowd.

Vancouver Sun Run (photo credit: Will Delfino)

Vancouver Sun Run (photo credit: Will Delfino)

Montreal Half-marathon with Malcolm and Portia Rose

Montreal Half-marathon with Malcolm and Portia Rose

Syncro-running! Oak Bay Half-marathon (photo credit: Darlene Scott)

Syncro-running! Oak Bay Half-marathon (photo credit: Darlene Scott)

In the wake of a scheduled week off to rest and reboot, the volume is creeping back up and I’ve hit a couple of consecutive 170+km weeks. Now the fun begins: onto 12 weeks of marathon-specific training. I’ve decided to take another shot at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 20. It’s a good course and one that offers elite water tables and pacing help. Coach Trent and my training partner Hilary will be in Toronto that weekend, and knowing they will be out on the course will make a big difference. Ahead of that, I’ll return to Flagtaff, AZ for three weeks of altitude training. I have a wonderful set-up there. Host Alicia Shay has become a good friend over the past couple of years and is eager to do some marathon-type training with me. The endless miles of mountain trails and the homey environment make it easy to work hard and stay focused. I also get a kick out of the quirkiness of small-town Flagstaff and its awesome coffee shops and restaurants too!

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Hope everyone is getting some time to rest and enjoy the summer with friends and family.

photo-33

30 Mar 2013

Update from Flagstaff

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It’s wonderful to be back in Flagstaff! With a week under my belt, I’m loving life. The altitude training is ideal, and because I have been here twice before, I have a repertoire of amazing training spots to choose from for each type of run I do.

Comparing this visit to my first a year ago, I can see I am already adapting more quickly in terms of workout pace/effort and recovery. My training buddy Hilary arrived just a few days ago, so we are lining up our schedules for the duration of the stay. We’ll head to Sedona for a few key workouts next week where the elevation drops to 4500ft (Flagstaff is at about 7000ft). This enables us to run a bit faster, while still reaping the benefits of moderate altitude.

We are really fortunate to be staying at the home of Alicia Shay. Alicia is a talented runner and two-time NCAA champion (10,000m) who is shaking up the trail-racing scene. Watch for her to kill some world-class events this year.

I’m capturing some video footage of our time here— everything from training approaches to the more mundane aspects of daily life—all the elements that make for a successful camp. Once I put this together, I’ll post it to give you an idea of what we get up to.

After this training block, my plan is to race a fast 10km at the Vancouver Sun Run, followed by the Montreal Half-marathon. Coach Trent and I have some additional options lined up for May/June, aiming to preface marathon training with a quick half-marathon effort. I will also be running an 8km as part of the BMO Vancouver Marathon weekend— a Saucony sponsored event. I know a number of you will be racing too, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for your results and feedback.

4 Mar 2013

Amazing New Adventures!

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M&M redux

It’s been a busy and fun few weeks working with new cycles of Mindful Strides participants and watching my dedicated personal coaching clients hit PB’s in some recent races. I’ve finished up my own race series in Washington and my regular training is progressing nicely.

I’ve also managed to fit in another crazy gig, alongside friend and pro-triathlete Melanie McQuaid a team application for the upcoming Amazing Race Canada! You can have a laugh at our expense, right here. Fingers crossed!

29 Jan 2013

On the Right Track

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The New Year has kicked off with some indoor track action. This shift in training emphasis has sharpened my speed and given me a new and refreshing mental focus. The opportunity to coordinate some workouts with friend and Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff has been amazing. We enjoy training together and although our track workouts are usually very different, we are there gutting it out in tandem. Our tempo runs often pair well, so we can help each other with pacing in these sessions.

photo-16

The first race up was a 3000m at the University of Washington indoor track in Seattle. I found myself in the fastest of the four heats and, as predicted, was launched decisively from the back of the pack within a lap. I accepted that I wasn’t “in” the competition, so put my head down and ran my own race against the clock. I was happy with my 9:43— a pedestrian time compared to the women who finished ahead of me. Hilary ran a PB in a wickedly fast 9:05, only a few hours after having run an 800m race.

photo-17

Last weekend, we returned to Seattle. Hilary ran an 800m and I took on the mile for a first time. Racing on the track definitely takes some getting used to. My lack of experience made for some frustrating first laps. I didn’t get off the line quickly enough and soon found myself swallowed up and boxed in, running slower than I’d planned. I spent the next two laps trying to make my way back up to the front. With two to go, I was finally able to catch up to the leaders but a small gap remained. At the bell, the three girls ahead started a breakaway. I pushed hard to grab on, hoping to get pulled along, but the best I could do was to keep the gap from growing. Coach Trent reminded me that it can take many years of racing on the track to develop the skills required to handle tactics and pacing well. I believe him! I ran 4:56.28 to place fourth in the heat.

My final indoor meet is on February 10th. I’ll be running a 3000m and hope to better my time.

The 2013 Mindful Strides clinics are off to a great start and I’m excited about the year ahead.


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