The Houston marathon and half-marathon are this weekend, and lots of Canadians are making the trip down south to take a crack at an early year personal best. 

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Natasha Wodak is the top Canadian entered in the half-marathon, with a personal best of 1:11:20, which is just a minute off the current Canadian record. Wodak is coming off a win on Sunday at the Pioneer 8K in Victoria, B.C. That race was where she had a huge breakthrough in 2013, setting the Canadian 8K record. 

Wodak is followed by Dayna Pidhoresky, 2018 Canadian Marathon Champion Kinsey Middleton, Canadian W40 marathon record holder Lyndsay Tessier and Canadian W45 marathon record holder Catherine Watkins. Both Tessier and Watkins ran huge personal bests at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. 

RELATED: The impending Canadian men’s showdown at Houston Marathon Weekend

Wodak will head south on Friday, but before she takes off, she took some time to tell us about how she preps for a half-marathon. “There’s a few workouts that if I nail, I know I’m ready to run fast. I usually do 3K, 1K, 2K, 1K, mile, 1K around 10 to 12 days out. If I can nail that workout, I know I’m good to go. With that workout, I’m trying to start at half-marathon pace and work my way down to 10K or 5K pace.”

Another benchmark workout Wodak does is 8 x 1K. “I’ll do this workout about three weeks out from a half, and this gives a really good sense of fitness. If I’m training for a half I’ll usually hover around 3:10 per kilometre and if I’m getting ready for the track season I’ll run a little quicker, between 3:00 and 3:05 per kilometre.”

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For her pre-race meals, Wodak will have a pretty simple dinner. “I’m not too specific on dinner, but obviously no new foods. I’ll stick with something basic like chicken or salmon with rice and vegetables.” For breakfast it’s a Clif bar and a banana with a coffee. 

IAAF World Track & Field Championships Beijing 2015. Day Three PM,August 24, 2015. Photo: Claus Andersen

Wodak’s looking to run a PB on Sunday and she’s approaching the race differently than usual. “Usually I start off conservatively, but this weekend I want to be a little more aggressive. I’ve gone out too hard before and that can be really difficult, but Houston is a fast course and I want to go for it.”

The runner has big goals for 2019. She’s hoping to stay healthy first and foremost, but provided her body allows, she’s hoping to qualify for the 10,000m at the World Championships in Doha this fall. If Wodak can place in the top 15 at the upcoming World Cross-Country Championships, she’ll get an auto-qual for worlds on the track. 

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