Over the weekend, our ambassador Dayna Pidhoresky ran a 1:12:59 half marathon at the Houston Marathon weekend. Canada had a large contingent of fast women running and Dayna, an elite distance runner who represented Canada in the marathon at the 2017 World Championships, ran about 20 seconds off her personal best. We caught up with her post race to hear about what kind of preparation goes into running that fast — it’s just shy of 3:30 minutes per kilometre — and what she has coming up next.
FEC: What was your build up like for this race?
DP: We've been doing a lot of base work to prepare for the spring marathon build. It has consisted of moderate fartleks, some road interval workouts (8x1K OR 4x2K), and some shorter speedier sessions on the track or at a hill (10x400, 10x600, OR 10x300m uphill). I felt quite unprepared going into this race because my workouts were not very half marathon specific and my training was a bit sporadic over the holidays (Mexican vacation, travelling, desserts!) We had also recently shifted my spring goal race to later in the season so our training wasn't ramping up as quickly as we had initially planned. Because of all this I knew I wouldn't be targeting a personal best and instead we adjusted our expectations and decided to use this race as a benchmark of fitness. Once I wrapped my head around that, the process of racing a half marathon that I did not feel prepared for felt a lot more fun!
FEC: How did the race unfold for you?
DP: I went out relatively hard and keyed off of a few women who I thought I could hang with for at least some of the race. Around 5K I was able to settle in with a UK athlete who seemed to be running evenly. We ran side by side for much of the middle section of the race and this was incredible helpful. I was primarily running on feel due to a watch malfunction, but I was able to see the clocks along the course to get a general sense that I wasn't running slow -- and that was a nice feeling to have. The wind really became an issue for me around the 14K mark but so I just tried to maintain my hard effort and not worry about the time I knew it was costing me. I worked hard all the way to the finish and ended up running 1:12:59, my 4th fastest time at the distance.
FEC: What does this result mean to you at this point in your season?
DP: I'm very pleased. Of course I wish I could have been in shape to run a personal best but that just wasn't going to happen with the training that I had under my belt. Aerobically I felt really good during the race. I could tell my legs need to be hardened up more and I know that longer workouts will do that. From 10K onwards I felt that I didn't quite have the strength that I usually have so it's exciting to me that we'll be tackling that piece of the puzzle. Right now it's comforting to know that without the usual training and off of a very short build I was able to accomplish much more than I anticipated.
FEC: You were just shy of your fastest ever half time. As a competitive athlete is that motivating or disappointing?
Very motivating, though I still need to remind myself to not compare my time against that of some of the other women. We're all in different phases of our training with different goals. I would have loved to walk away with a personal best but that wasn't how we approached the race. I can't be too disappointed in what I put forth and for me it was a great result for the work that we've done thus far.
FEC: What kind of mileage goes into prepping for a race like this at your level?
DP: Over the winter we've averaged about 140K/week. Race week we dropped it down to 120K due to travel days and me wanting to feel a bit fresher toeing the line.
FEC: What race is next for you?
DP: Next is Around the Bay 30K at the end of March in Hamilton, ON. Lots of time to put in more work and harden the legs:)