Here we go again...

on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 at 11:38 PM

Okay so the 16 week training program started today and I set the alarm for 6am, but couldn't roll out of bed this morning and ended up doing it in the evening. Right now, I think I'm going to try the Runner's World Smart Coach Plan since I like that they give me paces to aim for. I also like that the first week training paces match sort of what I was doing toward the end of the last Pfitz plan. 8:09 for general aerobic and 6:50 for LT's and 6:20 for 1600m intervals. The paces get progressively faster over the 16 weeks so I'm hoping that I can keep up with it. The suggested LT's are a bit faster than what I was doing, but I think that's where my LT should be based on my 15k race that I did a few months ago and my 30km split time in the marathon that I did a month ago.

So the plan today called for 9 miles @ 8:09 pace. I think I ended up at the right pace overall but that included a 9:30 first mile and a 7:00 LT mile at the end. The plan calls for 6:50 LT miles on Thursday which will be interesting to see how I do.

I've ordered a couple of books last week including two running books. Daniels Running Formula is a lot more detailed than Pfitz and gives a lot of good advice. I've only really skimmed through it, so will have to spend some more time with it. I also ordered a book put out by Runners World about the FIRST plan. Haven't gotten that one yet, but I way end up switching to that plan as i like the idea of only having to run three days a week.

Congratulations all around!

on Monday, October 29, 2007 at 8:53 PM

Wow a bunch of interesting things happened this weekend. Yumke finished his second marathon with a PR. Lisa set a PR in her marathon, three weeks after the Chicago "incident". Speaking of Chicago, Perry the joggler set a new 50 mile joggling record and Barb finished her 50km race in Chicago, both of whom also did Chicago 3 weeks ago. In non-running related news, Dave became a father for the first time and Ryan announced he and his wife are also now expecting. Congratulations to them all!

Me, I did a 12 mile long run this weekend. Yeah, whatever.

Back to the Gym

on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 11:17 PM

Went off to the gym after work to run. I wanted to get some feedback on where my fitness is and I like using the treadmill for doing this as I don't have to worry about pace. Ran with the footpod tracking thing to see how accurate it was.

Lap 1: 6.6 mi/hr Lap 6: 7.2 mi/hr
Lap 2: 6.7 mi/hr Lap 7: 7.4 mi/hr
Lap 3: 6.8 mi/hr Lap 8: 8.6 mi/hr
Lap 4: 6.9 mi/hr
Lap 5: 7.0 mi/hr

I started out at just over 9 min/mile pace and bumped up the speed every so often. I try to do my long runs at a HR of 160 Max which I'm guessing right now is at about 7.25 miles/hour based on this graph. I bumped up the speed for the last 10 minutes to what I think is my LT pace of about 7min/mile which in my experience gives me a HR of just under 180 which seems about right. I'm going to try and do this every couple of weeks so I can hopefully see some improvement.

What's next?

on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 8:15 PM

I know I've been MIA for a little bit. I was actually on vacation last week though didn't do anything. I have four weeks of vacation I have to use before years end and thought I should take a week off now to get it out of the way. I've run a couple of times since the last marathon including a 12 mile long run last Sunday. I'll probably continue some shorter runs this week.

So I've been thinking long and hard about what to do next. I had mentioned before about trying to do a marathon on December 2 in either California or Arizona but don't think it will be that productive. I never really was too happy with my LT runs this training cycle and didn't see the improvements that I was hoping to see. I don't think my LT is where it should be for a 3:10 marathon and don't want to fly to the other side of the continent to subsequently have that confirmed. Though I will admit that the prospects of an 1800 foot elevation drop from start to finish at the Tucson marathon does sound appealing.

One thing that is bothering me is that I haven't set a PR in the marathon this year. I've unofficially set PR's in the 5k, 10k and half while running races of longer distances, but the Boston or Bust attitude has preventing me from reaching the modest goal of improving over my time of last year which I'm confident I could do if I ran another one. There is another marathon in this area in two weeks time and I contemplated doing that just for the sake of aiming for a PR, but think I"m probably risking injury by attempting another one so soon.

So the plan is no longer to BQ in 2007, but I'm still hoping to qualify for Boston 2008 early next year. The Last Chance for Boston marathon is on February 17. The race consists of 26 laps of a 1 mile course. Completely flat and well marked, it basically only serves one purpose of getting people a BQ time. I'm not saying that I'm going to do that one as there are a number of other ones on that date, but it sounds more dramatic if I imply that's the one I'm aiming for.

In terms of the training plan, I don't think I'm going to do Pfitz this time as I don't think his plan has enough LT work in it which is what I need to improve upon. I've looked at the Smart Coach plan on the Runner's World website which generates a nice plan with a good mix of different things. I've also ordered the Daniels Running Formula book to hopefully give me some further options.

16 weeks to Feburary 17 begins this Sunday so here's to running in the snow and frozen water bottles!!

Marathon Race Report

on Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 8:21 PM

So I headed out to do a marathon this morning. Well short story is I finished in 3:23:55. Long story is as follows...

As I mentioned in my post this morning, my right calf was really sore this morning. There was this tender point that really hurt if I put any pressure on it or tried to stretch it. Wasn't looking good. I arrived at the start area just as the half marathoners were starting. This year they started an hour before the full marathoners did which I didn't quite understand the reason for, but as it turned out, this was great because by the time I arrived at the finish line, most of the halfers had left and I was able to get a massage without having to wait in line. Cool.

As this was going to most likely be a training run, I did a whole bunch of new things which I haven't done before on marathon day. I ran with my HR monitor. I carried a bunch of salt pills that I was going to try in a race setting for the first time and I carried a bottle of gatorade for the first half of the race. Normally i carry a bottle of water that is a quarter filled just so that I can bypass the first water stop but wanted to see if I could carry a bottle of gatorade with me. I drank about half of the bottle about 5 minutes before the race started and would take a mouthful of gatorade anytime my mouth started to feel dry. I also bought a couple of caffeine laced PowerGels at the expo. I had read somewhere that caffeine helps the body burn fat a higher rate so I thought if I caffeined up during the race, it would help avoid the wall.

So plan was to go out at Boston pace or 7:15 /mile or 4:30 /km. I looked around for a 3:10 pace bunny but couldn't find any. I noticed one girl who I recognized from Scotiabank who had lined up near Yumke and I with the 3:10 pace bunny at Scotiabank. She ended up blowing by me at around the 38 km mark last time. I thought of maybe trying to follow her, but I didn't know what time she was going for, so I ended up pacing myself. Race starts and a miss the first km marker. They were calling out splits at the 1 mile mark and I passed that at 6:45. Crap, too fast. I slow down a bit and pass the 2km mark at 8:28 for a 4:14 average.

1km ??
2km 8:28 (6:49 mile pace)

3km 4:13 (6:47)
4km 4:48 (4:48)
5km 4:25 (7:07)

So km 3 through 5 look all crazy, but there's a good reason. the 3rd km is downhill and the fourth km is a big uphill. Km 5 is slightly downhill. You can see from the elevation profile in my HR monitor graph below. I'd say these splits are about right.

KM Lap Time Pace
6 04:25.0 07:06.5
7 04:32.9 07:19.2
8 04:25.7 07:07.6
9 04:31.4 07:16.8
10 04:38.3 07:27.9
11 04:31.6 07:17.1

I'd also say that kms 7 through 10 are perfect for pace. km 8 was slightly downhill and km 10 was slightly uphill. I hit the 10km mark at 44:19 which was about 35 s slower than I did last time. I'm feeling pretty good. Calf is feeling fine.

KM Lap Time Pace
12 04:22.7 07:02.8
13 04:07.3 06:38.0
14 04:29.3 07:13.4
15 04:17.4 06:54.2
16 04:21.2 07:00.4
17 04:28.6 07:12.3

Km 12 through 17 are now the decent through hell with an 80 to 90m elevation drop over 6 km. I was worried about this part of the course trashing my quads since I haven't done any hill work at all other than the long run I did last week. As expected all of these km were faster than the target pace. I was able to glide down these hills and pick up some pace. Km 14 was on a bit of a flat portion so that split was actually right on target. Quads felt fine afterwards.

KM Lap Time Pace
18 04:32.3 07:18.2
19 04:32.1 07:17.9
20 04:34.2 07:21.3
21 04:38.9 07:28.8
22 04:28.3 07:11.8

Km 18 through 22 were basically on target. Km 21 is a bit of an uphill so that km was a bit slow. I hit the half marathon point at 1:33:36 which is 16 seconds slower than I did 2 weeks ago, but considering that this was mostly a result of the elevation drop rather than me going out too fast, I was pretty happy with the time.

KM Lap Time Pace
23 04:33.4 07:20.0
24 04:35.1 07:22.7
25 04:43.3 07:35.9
26 04:49.9 07:46.5
27 04:49.7 07:46.2
28 04:41.3 07:32.7
29 04:44.3 07:37.5
30 04:52.9 07:51.4

Starting at about the 22km mark. The course then joined the waterfront trail for an out and back portion. This is the exact same trial that I did most of my long runs on and I was quite familiar with. At around the 23km mark, I passed by Yumke who was out cheering. I almost didn't recognize him. I've only seen him with running gear on so he looked different when dressed normally. Km 23 through 30 were running west into a bit of a head wind. With my 2 minutes or so of banked time, I thought it might be best to give some of that time back now in the hopes that coming back the wind would be at my back and it would leave me with a bit more in the tank at the end to avoid the dreaded "wall". I tried to keep my HR below 170 for these km so that I wouldn't be entering into lactate threshold territory. All these km were slower than the desired pace. By the time I hit the 30km mark, I only had 18 seconds of banked time left. There would be no margin for error. The course then does a small loop and then heads back.

KM Lap Time Pace
31 04:55.3 07:55.2
32 04:49.8 07:46.4
33 04:54.5 07:54.0
34 05:14.3 08:25.8
36 10:59.2 08:50.4
37 06:08.5 09:53.0

Part of km 31 was on a bit of a gravel trail, and when I rejoined the paved trail, the wind was still in my face! I fought through a couple of km, hoping that at some point the wind would die down. I then passed the 20 mile marker and then the 33km mark. At this point I checked my pace band and saw that I was now 51 seconds behind where I should be for a BQ time. I considered dropping out at this point, but decided to just to do long run and recovery pace to the finish line. I missed the 35 km marker. I lost about 30-40s stopping to pee during km 37 so that's why that's a bit slow.

KM Lap Time Pace
38 05:30.6 08:52.0
39 05:24.6 08:42.4
41 13:08.3 10:34.3
42 06:26.7 10:22.3
42.2 00:51 06:48.0

So km 38 and 39 continues at recovery pace. I passed by Yumke again and he took a couple of pictures of me. Thanks!

Originals by Yumke.
It was also at this point where that same girl who I had seen at the start and who blew by me 2 weeks ago, proceeded to blow by me again. I had thoughts of giving chase since I had a little left in the tank, but in the end decided it was a bad idea.

I missed the 40 km marker but it was at some point shortly before where the 40km marker would be that I walked through a water station. A woman just in front of me started walking and rather than plow into the back of her, I did so also. It worked out good though cause I ended up drinking thee cups of gatorade and 2 cups of water. I then started to run again but ended up walking a bit more cause I could sense my quads were going to start cramping, plus this part of the course is a slight uphill (who designs these courses with uphills right at the end??). I started running again shortly after the 41 km mark and then turned on the jets for the final 200m. Finish time of 3:23:55.

I was able to get a massage right after I finished since the finish area was quite empty with the halfers all pretty much gone. Boy that felt good. I ate some food and hung around a bit to wait for a co-worker of mine to finish who was also doing the full. I had to take the subway back to the start line to get my car and walking down all those damned stairs to get to the subway sucked big time.

Anyhow, I like the new course and prefer it to the Scotiabank one I did 2 weeks ago. Even though the other one is called the "waterfront" marathon. This course is just as much a "waterfront" marathon now and in fact is probably more of a "waterfront" one since you run on a trail right by the lake as opposed to on a road that is some distance away from the water.

I kinda liked running with my HR monitor. If I had bothered to heed the HR monitor at the start, I probably could have avoided the fast start. It also allows me to track the elevation changes and cross-reference it to pace. It was actually a pretty good idea for me to carry the gatorade during the first half. Most of the water stations were handing out water in these little dixie cups. I didn't get a chance to try out the salt pills, mostly because of the water issues. The directions say you're supposed to take 12-16 oz of water for each pill you take. There was no way I could get that amount of water from those puny dixie cups they were using unless I stopped and grabbed 3 or 4 of them.

Here's my HR graph with the nasty elevation drop. Also notice the hill at the end.

It does kinda match the one on their website.

So I wouldn't recommend the 2 marathon in 2 weeks thing. Interesting to do once just for the sake of saying that I did it, but I probably won't do it ever again. Though the calf held up okay, I was definitely not fully recovered. I guess it also didn't help that I've been doing nothing but short recovery runs for most of these past 2 weeks.

So that's it for now. Will reflect a bit more before deciding what to do next. Thanks for reading.

Tight Calf

I just finished having my morning bagel and am starting to get ready to go down to the marathon race start. I really didn't set out my stuff the night before like I should have and am scrambling a bit right now.

There's a 95% chance that this is going to be a training run. I noticed last night before I went to bed that I had a really tight right calf . I tried to stretch it and massage it but it's still pretty tight right now and I'm pretty sure it's going to start cramping during the race. I'm also pretty sure this is going to be a DNF too since I don't really want to do 26.2 miles as a training run. I haven't quite figured out where I'm going to drop out of the course though. Ideally I'd like to do 20 miles, but I still have to get back to the finish line to return my chip and there really isn't a short cut way to get to the finish after the 20 mile mark without actually completing the whole distance. Oh well.

Umm, so I signed up for a marathon tomorrow...

on Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 4:29 PM

Okay so I probably did a stupid thing. I've been diligently checking the weather forecast for tomorrow morning in the hopes that it would be blistering hot, or freezing cold with gale force winds and hail. I had hoped the bad weather would be a good excuse for me to honestly say there was no way I would be able to run a good race and so there would be no need for me to sign up. Alas, no dice. The weather forecast for race time tomorrow is almost perfect. Starting at about 9C and moving up to about 12C by noon.

This whole idea for this started at the beginning of the week when I thought I would be doing the half marathon as a training run. When I checked the registration prices, it was a whopping $80 for the half, with the full being $95. I only had to pay an additional $15, and I would get to run double the distance! What a bargain!! Kinda like buying in bulk at Costco.

I did some short runs during the week and my legs weren't too sore. I also went to see the chiropractor yesterday who did some A.R.T. on my legs and they feel pretty good now, though I still don't feel quite as good prior to last time. The plan simply is to go out at BQ pace and see how long I can hold it. If I can, great. If I can't, then I'll probably back off to long run or recovery pace or maybe even drop out. At least I won't have to second guess myself on what could have been if I skipped it. A lot can happen between now and December 2 and who knows what the weather might be in California or Arizona on that date, so I'll take my chances at an event now with pretty good conditions and hope for the best.

Back to the grind

on Monday, October 8, 2007 at 5:45 PM

Did a 6 mile slow run on Saturday and did 12 miles yesterday. I wanted to test out my hill climbing and descending qualities yesterday so I took a route with lots of hills.

Lap Lap Time
Lap Lap Time
1 08:53.7
7 08:28.5
2 08:35.4
8 08:08.3
3 08:20.0
9 09:01.4
4 08:57.5
10 08:19.9
5 08:44.1
11 08:16.9
6 07:44.3
12 07:48.7

I think this was about right in terms of pace considering the elevation changes. Parts with up hills were slower, parts with downhills were faster. I bumped up the pace for a portion of the last mile, just to catalogue what parts would hurt doing marathon pace. I'm pretty sure the marathon next Sunday is not going to be doable. I was achy after this run and my calf is still tight. I definitely didn't feel as nice as I was the week before the marathon last time. I'll still probably partake in at least the half marathon if only as part of a training run.

I've been reading the various race reports that are coming out of Chicago and it seems that a good chunk of people either didn't start or weren't given the opportunity to finish. I'm not sure what to think about them closing the course early. With all the people dropping like flies, I think it was the right decision to make, but can understand the disappointment for those either doing their first or who traveled from out of town to be there. There is no excuse for running out of water though. Congratulations to those that had the courage to even start. Well done!

Oh yeah, with the horrible weather, I almost forgot to mention the marathon itself. Did you see the finish for both the mens and womens marathons? Classic finishes that will be remember for a long time to come.

Race pics!

on Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 8:24 PM

First off, Good Luck to anyone running Chicago tomorrow! It looks like it's going to be a hot one so take it easy.

They posted the race pics from my marathon last weekend. Thankfully no pics of me walking.

Here's me flying along (and going too fast) at around the 17km mark.
Notice both feet are in the air!

Here's me at around the 32km mark, trying to maintain pace and breathing pretty hard.

This is me on the final stretch home. I kinda like this one with the blurred background and the fact that it looks like I have a determined look yet at the same time not too much strain on my face.

Here's me a few steps from the finish line showing some strain on my face.

Finish line pic.


on Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 8:50 PM

Well my quads have recovered okay, but my left Achilles tendon and calf is still kinda tight and painful. I headed off to the gym on Tuesday to sit in the hot tub to get some blood flowing to the area and to do some self massage. I arrived there only to find that both the swimming pool and the hottub had been filled in. Reading some of the info, I found out they're apparently removing the pool and hot tub to make room for more cardio equipment. This was all news to me since I haven't been there since April. I think I'm going to have to cancel my membership there since the only reason I really signed up originally was for the pool and the occasional treadmill run. I'll have to see what the new facilities look like once they've done the renovations before I decide for sure.

I haven't yet decided on the marathon in two weeks thing yet. The weather is looking to be almost perfect with a high of 8C. With that and considering that the big hill is gone and it's on the exact same trail that I've done most of my long runs on, I'd really like to do it, but am not sure if this achilles thing will heal in time.

Anyhow I did some searching and actually found a training plan for two weeks between marathons. It's not so much a training plan as it is direction to rest and have a run every couple of days to make sure that the legs still work. But at least I know someone else has contemplated it. Having said that I followed the plan and did a 2 mile run yesterday and a 3 mile run today. Both were very slow.

The Aftermath

on Monday, October 1, 2007 at 8:14 PM

I hope I didn't bum too many people out with crappy experience yesterday. Especially considering that a number of you have your own marathon to run in 6 days. I'll just outline things that I have come to my mind over the past 24 hours and hopefully that'll be the end of that and I'll move on.

Going out too fast. I know I already mentioned it, but it can't be emphasized enough. One should not go out too fast as one will pay for it in the end. I learned this lesson last year in a spring marathon, which prepped me for Chicago last year. I guess I needed a gentle reminder of this fact.

Salt intake. The going out too fast thing aside. One potential issue that I may have is salt intake. The cramping sensation was new to me and having followed Steve's trials and tribulations with his cramping issues, I think that I didn't take enough in the days leading up to the race or during. Last year in Chicago, they were using Gatorade Endurance which apparently has twice the sodium and three times the potassium content of the regular stuff which probably contributed to me having a good race. This year, I had lots of salt on my face after the race yesterday so I must have lost a lot and didn't replenish nearly enough since they use the regular stuff up here. I will have to look into getting some salt sticks or something to take during the race.

Didn't drink enough. I had a concern with having to stop to pee towards the later part of the race so I probably didn't hydrate properly the morning of or even during the race and I think that dehyration had a definite part in me bonking. It's better for me to overdrink and have to pee than to underdrink and hit the wall. It's much easier to take a one minute break to pee than it is to do the death walk which will cost much more than one minute in time.

Caroloading. I don't think I carboloaded properly this year. I had basically pigged out on carbs on Friday and come Saturday, I only had some energy bars for breakfast and a light pasta dinner. I did this last year out of necessity and thought I would try to repeat the experience. I had forgotten though that last year, I also probably ate about 10 gel packs the day before which added both carbs and electrolytes to my diet. I didn't eat any this year.

I've seriously giving thoughts to doing the race in two weeks, provided I have a decent recovery. I know it's highly not recommended and to quote from Pfitz book.

"If you have less than 4 weeks between marathons, you're on your own. Your main concern should be recovery, recovery, and more recovery not only from your first marathon but also from the lobotomy that led you to come up with this plan."

But hear me out, there's a reason to my madness. The December marathons that I'm considering are all net downhill courses which as Quinto Sol has pointed out can be quad busting. I want to try and get a feel for how the quads would react to extended periods of downhill running and the Toronto course is pretty much mostly downhill. After that race, I'll have 7 weeks to a December 2 marathon. Even if I do sign up, I'm fully prepared to DNF if I have to.

Speaking of the Toronto course, I noticed today that the course profile pic I posted yesterday is different from the one they posted in the spring time. This past spring while deciding which Toronto marathon I was going to do, I had commented that one of the marathons (ie, the one in two weeks time) had changed courses. At the time, I actually would have preferred to do that one instead since it was later in the year (and thus cooler) and was a net downhill course. The one wrinkle to the new course however was that it was to run through a park area at about the 30km mark which had a fairly steep hill. I figured that any benefits to the net downhill course would be lost trying to run up a hill at the 30 km mark (like in Boston) so I ended up deciding to do the flatter and earlier Scotiabank one. Looking at the elevation profile today, I noticed that there no longer is the big bump at 30km. I investigated a bit more and looking at the route, the course doesn't even run through the park anymore. When the hell did they make this change? If I had known about this before, I would definitely have pushed my training back two weeks and retargeted that marathon instead since the one concern I had was now gone.

Well that's it for my bitching and griping, I'll be all happy and cheery at least until Sunday night when all of the Chicago runners will have finished. For those that are doing Chicago, I just want to wish all of you a great last week of the taper!