6 days/55 miles

on Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 11:35 PM

Finished the 6 straight days of running okay. My left knee which is the knee I've had problems with in the past was twinging a bit before and after my long run today. I'm hoping that it's due to me having not stretched after most of my runs this week and not something else. Today did 17.2 miles. Garmin says I did 17.5 miles which I know is wrong. Some of the miles were way too fast according to Garmin so manually mapping it out showed it to be a little shorter. Average pace for the whole thing was 8:30 min/mile. Today was very windy. Nice when it's at your back, not so nice when you're running into it.

Total for the week was 55.8 miles. Pfitz' schedule for this upcoming week is supposed to be another 6 days of running and 65 miles. I've decided to flip this week's schedule with next weeks since I have an 8k race this Saturday and Pfitz original schedule for next week has a tune-up race on the Saturday. Also the total mileage for the week will be 53 miles which is a little less than I did this week so I can treat it like a stepback week. The plan has some VO2Max work scheduled for this week which is good in terms of timing since it's supposed to warm up over the next few days. I'm hoping that most of the snow around the local track will melt so I don't have to do these at the gym. Plan is as follows:

Tuesday: 9 miles including 6x600m @5k race pace
Wednesday: 11 miles GA
Thursday: 6 miles recovery w/ 6 strides
Friday: 5 miles recovery
Saturday: 8km race
Sunday: 17 miles long

Nice LT run.

on Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 11:37 PM

Thursday: Did really slow 4 mile recovery run outside. First mile was over 10min/mile. Miles 2-4 were about 9:40 or so.

Friday: Did 9 miles with 5 at LT pace. Considering the hard time I had with 3 miles at 6:48 pace last week at the gym, I decided to aim for 6:58 pace (8.6mi/hr). The temperature outside is still hovering around freezing which means icy sidewalks so no outside LT work yet. I also usually set the treadmill at level 3 of the random hills which causes the grade to fluctuate between 0 and 2.9%, but decided to cut back to level 2 which only goes up to about a 2.2% grade I think. First 2 miles were recovery at 9:13 pace. Really low HR. Didn't get to above 140. When looking back to this recovery run back in February where the first two miles were done at the same pace but I was already over 140 half way through the first mile should mean that my fitness is improving. After the recovery portion, I started into the LT miles, but noticed that the HR wasn't getting high enough. First two miles were done at a HR of less than 170 and the peak during mile 3 was only 172 or so. I bumped up the pace for mile 4 to 6:53 pace and then to 6:48 pace for mile 5. Finished off with 2 miles@ 8:00 pace. I think all the running outside lately is making the treadmill running seem easier. In hidsight, I would have liked to see if I could have handled 6:48 pace for the whole run.

Today: Did 5 mile recovery with 6 strides. Didn't wear a watch or the garmin so not sure of pace. I'm going to try and not worry so much about pace on recovery runs, but rather to just run comfortably slow. With the six days of running a week now, it'll be more important to treat these runs as true recovery runs rather than days to slip in more GA work.

Day two of six...

on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 11:26 PM

Did 8.5 miles including 8 strides on Tuesday. I averaged about 8 min/mile for the first 7 or so miles than did 8 strides. Garmin still says I averaged about 8:30 pace for the strides which included the slow recovery jogs.

Did 12.1 miles today at an 8:30 pace. I thought of maybe trying to speed these up a bit but I ended up doing this at my regular long run pace since I'm on day two of six consecutive days of running which includes a 5 mile LT run on Friday and a 17 mile long run on Sunday. Speed I can worry about later. I have to make sure that that my body can handle the ramp up in mileage which should be easier if I stay in my comfort zone.

Entering uncharted territory...

on Monday, March 24, 2008 at 10:25 PM

Did 9 miles at a moderate pace including some strides on Friday. I think I"m going to try and do these runs at a brisker pace. I've been generally doing them at a slow pace but think it might be helpful if I bump it up a bit.

Did 5 mile recovery run on Saturday and13 miles yesterday.

Total for last week was about 43 miles.
So this upcoming week is a bit different. I'm supposed to do 55 miles which I've done before but it marks the beginning of 6 days of running a week which is new. Next week is even tougher since it requires a 65 mile week which might be a bit much. I may cut that back to 60 or so.

So i signed up for an 8k race in two weeks time. I've never done one before. 5k races I don't like, 10 k races are bearable. An 8k race, I'm not too sure of yet.

Back into a tempo kinda feeling

on Friday, March 21, 2008 at 5:45 PM

Did 5 miles recovery at the gym on Tuesday

Did 9 miles General Aerobic at the gym on Wednesday. Looking ahead to the training plan, I'm supposed to do a 5mile LT run next week. I haven't done a real LT run in 4 weeks so I decided I would try and do 3 miles at 6:48 pace to see how it would feel. The warmup of three miles at recovery went well and then the first 2 miles @ lt pace were okay. The last LT mile was kinda tough though. HR was getting super high. Finished it with 3 miles at recovery pace.

I'm going to try and do 9 miles later this evening with some strides.

So the "Spirit of the Marathon" has finally gotten around to being shown in Canada. One day, one time showing, April 9 and the tickets go on sale today! One of the theaters is about a 5 minute drive from where I work, so I'll definitely be checking it out.

Also, I finally got my notebook computer fixed which means I was finally able to get my pictures from Napa off of it. Here's one of the Bale Grist Mill.

Old Bale Grist Mill

Winter time tan

on Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 5:35 PM

Did 10.2 miles today. 9:24 min/mile overall pace. Woke up this morning a bit dehydrated, but thought that 10 miles wouldn't be too bad. Very tough run. HR was hovering around 160 for most of the run. Post run weigh-in of 139 pounds which means I was very dehydrated. It probably didn't help that this was the third straight day I've run.

Temperature today was just below freezing which meant that most of the puddles of water had a thin crust of ice on them. I like running though them and cracking the ice. I ran today with a winter touque and sun glasses. When I got home and removed them, I noticed quite pronounced tan lines on my face. One clear tan line across my forehead and one around my eyes. I had hoped that maybe it was just dirt that would wash off, but a shower later, it was definitely a tan line. Crap. I had to mail letter so rather than just dump it in the nearest mailbox, I walked to the post office in a nearby shopping mall to spend some additional time out in the sun and it seems to have evened out the tan. Just a word of warning to you all. wear sun screen.


on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:39 PM

Did 7 miles with 8 strides on Friday and did 5 miles recovery today. I've been running much of these runs without the HR monitor and just going by feel, but I'm starting to suffer withdrawl symptoms from my little graphs. Based on my past experience, the first two weeks after a marathon are pretty much a write off in terms of getting any useful data so I haven't been recording them. I'll probably wear it tomorrow for my 10 mile long run though.

So the mass of snow that has fallen and piled up over the past few weeks has started to melt which means that spring is almost here. This also means that there are huge puddles of water everywhere. Stomping through puddles, fun stuff. It was warm enough today that I went out in knee length shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt for today's run. Had a kid yell at me that I should put some pants on. Kids say the darndest things.

Recovery runs.

on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 10:59 PM

Did 9 mile recovery run on Sunday, 5 miles of recovery yesterday at the gym and 5.4 miles outside today also recovery. I've moved into the Pfitz 10 week between marathon program. Actually I skipped the first week so it's actually a 9 week program. I'm not going to try another marathon in 10 weeks, but rather, I'm aiming for a half marathon in 10 weeks. After that, it's 2 weeks of recovery or so and than 18 weeks to an end of September marathon. It sounds all nice and easy now in the planning but I'm sure things will change. Anyhow the 10 weeks between marathon program of Pfitz is interesting since it ramps up quite quickly to 6 days of running a week and 67 miles a week which is new territory for me. I'm just hoping that all this snow that's around melts soon before the mileage gets too high.

Napa Marathon Report

on Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 2:34 PM

Sorry for the delay. I have a lot of things that I wanted to document so sorry for the length. Much of this is really for my own benefit as I did a couple of things which I want to try and recall for later.

Just some background info about the expo. Fairly small. Only seemed to have local vendors from around the napa region. I ended up buying a pair of Asics 2130's for $80. These shoes are about $50 more expensive in Canada and that's before taxes. I had a flexibility test done. My hip flexors and IT Band are tight, which I already knew. I also had a lung test. My lung age is 30. Race kits were a nice heavy duty gym type bag in a choice of two colours. Had a few samples and a water bottle in there. Also got a long sleeve technical T-shirt. Pretty good swag for the fee that was paid. Pasta dinner was fairly standard fair. Salads, bread, pasta. They also had wine and beer . It's the first time I've attended a race organized pasta dinner so I'm not sure if the presence of alcohol is standard fair or not. Here's a pic of that steve had taken of me and him at the Expo.

Night before the marathon, I found myself at Target buying a few things for the following day. Bought some garbage bags, some bottles of gatorade, some masking tape and some multi coloured labels. The garbage bags were for warmth on race morning which I could toss if need be. I would only need one, but they obviously don't sell garbage bags in one-packs. The remaining items were for the gatorade. The Napa marathon has a unique feature in that they will place bottles that you give them at special tables every 3 miles or so. Usually you would only see this for elites at most marathons. I decided that I would carry a full bottle of gatorade with me at the start and have another full bottle waiting for me at the half way mark. I was able to handle this last fall so I decided I would carry a bottle for the whole race. Back in 2006 in Chicago, they seemed to have aid stations every mile and each aid station was long enough that I could get two cups if I needed. I wanted to try and simulate that liquid intake that occured in Chicago but since Napa only had aid stations every 2 miles, it would be necessary for me to carry my own. In any event, I wasn't sure how many people were going to be using the "bring your own drink" table so I bought a bunch of things to make a little pink flag for my gatorade bottle so I would be able to pick it up without searching too much. Just before heading to bed, I used my foam roller and The Stick to give my legs a good working over. Focused on the hamstrings and the quads. Retired at about 10:00pm

So race morning I got up at about 4:00 and started munching on a bagel with peanut butter and jam. I also downed one gel and some water. One benefit to staying at the host hotel is that they would bus us directly to the start line. In practice you didn't really need to stay at the host hotel since they didn't check to see if you were allowed to get on the bus or not. My bus was one of the first to arrive which meant we got first crack at the portapoties.

I packed 7 gels which as it would turn out was way too many. One of them was for comsuing just before the race. Of the remaining 6, I think I only ended up comsuming 3 of them. I also brought along some salt pills. I had carried 6 of them in a little plastic pill box. I've been reading that loss of electrolyes can cause cramping and so I wanted to try and avoid any cramping issues by taking these salt pills.

Standing around at the start, I found myself being quite cold. It was probably around 7 or 8C but the wind was really whipping around. I had stripped out of my warm up gear and put on the garbage bag and was wandering around trying to keep warm. I used the facilities one last time about 5 minutes before the race start.

The Start
The Napa marathon isn't chip timed, so in order to get a good time, you need to actually be close to the front which would seem to be a bit of a drawback but when you consider that no timing mat at the start also means you don't actually have to cross the start line, it evens out in the end. By the time I had finished my business, the start line was packed so I ended up starting to the left of the start line with a whole bunch of others. I didn't actually hear a gun or anything go off, but I jsut saw everyone start running so I started also. First mile I try to take it nice and easy. Didn't want to start out too fast. I was carrying too much crap in my shorts and it felt like they were going to fall down. I grabbed the draw string on the shorts and yanked on them. I would end up having to do this throughout the first half of the race. Goal for the race was 7:27 mile splits. I notice while I running that the wind which was really blowing around at the start is almost directly at our backs. Pass the first mile at 7:27. Exactly on pace.

Mile 1: 7:27

I decided to take a swig of gatorade after every mile since this is what I tend to do on my long runs. I was using a Poweraid bottle since it had a nice flip top on it. I had some trouble closing it at first and started to worry about wasting energy. Nerves I guess. Sometime during mile number 2, I start to pull off the garbage bag which I had started the race with. I had warmed up sufficiently and figured I would no longer need it. Since the first aid station was just after the two mile mark, I could toss it then. It was a bit tougher than I thought since the garbage bag was really stretchy. Got to remember to buy cheaper garbage bags next time. When I had finally got the garbage bag off, I realized that I had forgotten to take off my neck warmer and put it in my warm up bag. I really didn't want to toss it since it's the only one I have. I thought of maybe wrapping it around my leg or my arm or shoving it down my shorts or something, but I ended up deciding to just leave it on my neck since that's where it's designed to be. Here's a pic of me in the early part of the race. You can see the neck warmer. I like this picture cause both my feet are in the air and it looks like I'm motoring right along. Do mile two in 7:18.

Mile 2: 7:18

During mile 3 is when I really start to notice how much the wind at our backs is really helping us. This wasn't some sissy breeze but a really strong wind at our backs. There were a couple of gradual hills and I could swear that the wind was actually pushing me up the hill. Someone close by remarks about this and it was at this point that I started rethinking my goal. Hit the mile 3 marker in 7:25.

Mile 3: 7:25

So it was at this point that I decided that I would try for 3:10. Since the course is pretty much a point to point course in basically one direction, the wind was going to be at our backs for most of the race. I was already a bit behind pace due to the slower first few miles, but with the downhills coming up, I was sure that I could make up the time. I also started to notice that there is a severe camber to the road. On the straightaways, it wasn't so bad since you could run down the centre of the road, but the camber around the turns was quite severe and you couldn't compensate for it by running down the centre cause the whole road was sloped. Kinda like a turn in a nascar oval. Not quite as severe, but definitely noticiable Do miles 4 and 5 in 7:05 and 7:06 respectively.

Mile 4: 7:05
Mile 5: 7:06

After mile 5, the mental math indicated that I had basically caught up to where I wanted to be. I would now try and focus on running 7:15 splits the rest of the way. By this point, I had gotten a feel for the people running around me. Some had gone out too fast who were breathing hard. I knew they would fade. Others seemed to be moving right along. Next three splits were pretty much on pace. I took my first gel during mile number 7 to coincide with the aid station. Next 3 splits are pretty much on pace.

Mile 6 : 7:14
Mile 7: 7:09
Mile 8: 7:09

Even though the course as a whole is a net downhill course, the first half rolls up and down. There was a woman (who ended up winning the masters category) who would pass me on the uphills and then I would pass here on the downhills. You can see here in the background of the picture. We would flip back and forth throughout the race and would end up finishing withn 10 seconds of each other. During mile 10 is when I took my first salt pill, again to try and coincide with the aid station. It was kinda awkward since I had to tuck the waterbottle into my arm pit and pry open the pill box and then try and extract one pill from the very small box while I was wearing gloves without spilling the rest, all while doing 7:15 pace. I took my second gel shortly before the 12 mile mark. The next couple of miles through to the half are a bit on the slow side, but I'm still on Boston pace. I pass the half mark at 1:35:18.

Mile 9: 7:15
Mile 10: 7:20
Mile 11: 7:20
Mile 12: 7:25
Mile 13: 7:16
Half mark 1:35:18

Shortly before the 14 miles mark, I run through the aid station and pick up my gatorade bottle with the little pink flag on it. I turn down the offer of fluids since I had the gatorade bottle, but in hindsight I think I should have taken some water. It was shortly after this that I started to encounter the feeling of a side stitch. I don't think it was a true side stich as much as a stomach problem. I had really been overloading on the electrolytes and I don't think the stomach contents were quite dilute enough with the salt pills, gels and gatorade I had been taking. It was at this point that I decided that Boston wasn't in the cards. I could still run, but there was a small feeling of stomach unwellness. I continued on to the 16 mile aid station and comsumed only water at that aid station. Upon reconsidering my goals, I figurered I would try for the orignal goal of 3:15 or at the very least to try for a PR. I knew that my PR pace was 7:31 and since I had run the first half at 7:15 pace that I would try and maintain at a minimum 7:45 pace the rest of the way to average out to 7:30.

Mile 14: 7:19
Mile 15: 7:15
Mile 16: 7:47

I had a 3:15 pace band on so I knew what times I needed to stay ahead of that. I ended up slowing down a bit for the next few miles, partially to account for the few small hills and to partially try and recover from the stomach cramps. It was also during this time that the sun started bearing down on me and i was getting a bit warm. The first half of the course had some shade, whereas this portion is all out in the open. I think I took my second salt pill somewhere during these miles.

Mile 17: 7:57
Mile 18: 7:32
Mile 19: 7:56

Passing by mile 19, I was still 70 seconds ahead of 3:15 pace. Mile 20 had the longest hill of the marathon which consisted of a one mile gradual hill. This mile was done in 8:18. Mile 21 contains the remaining bit of a hill and then is followed by a downhill. Mile 21 was done in 7:45. I passed the 21 mile mark at 2:36:18 which is exactly the time I needed to be on 3:15 pace.

Mile 20: 8:18
Mile 21: 7:45

The next couple of miles though would be my undoing. During mile 22, i felt something in my left foot. It felt like a small stone or something had gotten in there and was rubbing up against the underside of my big toe. It was really starting to bother me. I tried kicking the foot against the ground to maybe try and dislodge it but it was staying fast. I considered stopping to try and remove it, but that would be a waste of time. I continued on. I dumped my half filled gatorade bottle at the 22 mile aid station. Mile 22 was done in 7:47.

Mile 22: 7:47

I had slowed down during mile 23 cause my foot my bothering me. I found that if i turned my foot a certain way, I could reduce the pressure on the big toe, but I was running very inefficiently. Most of the marathon had been run on the Silverado Trail in a southeasten direction. Mile 23 turns right off the trail in a southwesternly direction. Unfortunately, since the wind was coming from the NW, this now meant that for the first time in the race, I would now face a headwind. That first little bit into the wind was hard. Not feeling it at all during the race and then suddenly encoutnering it caused me to slow down significantly. Mile 23 was done in 8:22 which was the slowest mile in the race.

Mile 23: 8:22

By this point, I was pretty sure that 3:15 was not going to be doable and that the PR was looking to be a bit suspect also. Mile 24 continued onto into the wind and then turns southwest again making the tailwind present again. I had mentally decided that once I passed the 24 mile mark, I would try and turn it on to the finish line since it would only be about 15 minutes of suffering to the finish line and the possibility of still PRing. Mile 24 was done 7:56.

Passing by the 24 mile marked, i just couldn't get the will to turn the speed back on. My mind had settled into a comfortable pace with the wind at my back. Mile 25 was done in 7:48.

Mile 24: 7:56
Mile 25: 7:48

Mile 26 then turns back in a southwestern direction which means directly into the wind again. The course then winds through a neighbourhood and then finished at a high school. I thought about sprinting right at the end to pass a guy that was just ahead of me, but I decided not to since I had been using him to block the wind for me in the past mile and I figured he deserved to finish ahead of me.

Mile 26: 8:07
Mile 26.2 1:36 (8:00 pace)

So that's it. My calfs didn't cramp up like they did previously and I didn't have to stop to pee and I ran the whole way so I'm happy with that. I think I handled the on-the-fly change of game plan fairly well. The thing in my shoe turned out to be a bit of lint in my sock that had bunched up at the wrong spot at the wrong time. I'm sure that the PR would have been possible if I hadn't encoutered that at the 22 mile mark. I've got to look out for that stuff in the future.The post race party was okay. They served hot soup with bread and had massages available.

Hmm, looking back, I wished I had appreciated the scenery a bit more. When I took the opportunity to look around, I really think this has to be one of the most scnenic marathons around. I think I spent most of the time worrying about pace and turnover to really look around. If I ever do this again, I would take a camera along and take pictures everywhere.

Spent a couple of days in Napa. Did a couple of wine tastings and went on a hot air balloon ride. Then spent a day in san francisco. I have pictures, but unforunately i tried to upgrade the BIOS on my notebook computer yesterday and the damn thing wont start now. :( I think I'm going to have to pull the hard drive out to get at the pictures.

So I landed Wednesday morning to be greeted by a snow storm. I'm sitting at home right now with about 10 inches of snow that had fallen overnight with more to come. I hate winter.

[edited to replace water marked pics]

Napa Marathon Done

on Sunday, March 2, 2008 at 4:16 PM

3:17:54 finish time. A little slower than I wanted, but I'm happy with the time. Race report to come.

Today is a new day.

on Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 2:45 PM

Friday was a pretty bad day in terms of travel. Let's see. I arrived at the airport at 7:30am to check in and was told my original flight to Chicago had been delayed. This would of cause me to miss my connecting flght to SF given that I only had 35 minutes to make it. They rebooked the flight to san franciso. Passed through security and immigration and checked the status only to find that they decided to cancel the previously delayed flight to Chicago. Stood in line at the United counter to get both flights rebooked.

The new itin had about 1.5 hour layover which was okay. However, the flight to Chicago was then subsequently delayed. Did some mental math and it seemed to be okay if the flight actually left on the new time so I boarded the plane and then proceeded to sit on the tarmac for 30 minutes and then go through deicing. By the time we lifted off, I was pretty sure I was going to miss the connecting flight. Here's a crappy cell phone pic of the shore of lake michigan.

The only possibility I had was that the flight out of Chicago had also been delayed. As we were taxiing on the runway, I checked the status of the other flight on google and and found that it was running late. By the time I had gotten off the plance, they had closed the boarding gates for the other flight so I was going to miss the flight, BUT, a repreive occured in the form of a non-functioning plane. They ended up having to take everyone off the plane and putting them on another one which means I could now board the other plane, but in all likelihood, I wasn't going to get my luggage to come with me. This was pretty much the only option I had since the next two flights to SF were full and I didn't want to have to land in SF at some ungodly hour and then have to drvive 1.5 hours to the hotel. So landed in SF and as expected, my checked luggage didn't make it.

If I didn't have my luggage, it was still okay since I had all my running gear in my carryon with the exception of socks which I could buy anyways. THe only problem was I had no idea how to get to the hotel. I had brought along my automotive GPS and programed it with the address of the hotel, but it was in my checked bag. Doh! So I used the crappy rental highway map I had and drove along the highways hoping that Iwould eventually see a sign that said "Napa", whcih worked for most of the trip. I got into Napa and then had to cave and use the GPS navigation feature on my blackberry to actually get me to the hotel. I'm sure I'm going to get a lecture from the accounting department where I work about racking up a ridiculous amount of roaming data transfer charges, but I didn't have much other choice. ANyways I got here at just before 11pm (2 am Toronto time remember) and then conked out. Only got about 5 hours of sleep. Thankfully they delivered my checked bag to the hotel this morning and it's now sitting in my room. Apparently, it was sent back to Canada after the little mixup in chicago.

Had lunch with Steve today who drove out to Napa to meet me. Learned a bit more about his condition which I find very facinating. Slowly adding more bloggers to the list of people that I've actually met. Steve's doing a marathon in a few weeks in walking style so wish him well.

So I'm heading down to the pasta feeed in about half an hour, watch a little tv and then turn in for the night. I've decided I"m going to try for 3:15 tomorrow. I think 3:10 is a little unrealistic for me and since I can't register for boston this year anyways, there really isn't any pressure to try and meet that goal. Running a 3:15 now would accomplish two goals. If I can meet 3:15 now, it sets up as a minimum the potential of qualifying for the 2010 boston marathon since that will be my qualifying time then so at least I know that come fall I should be able to run it and also it would represent a 2 minute or so PR which I think is quite achievable considering the paces I've been doing in training.

The weather for tomorrow is looking okay. Starts out at 7C and finished at around 13C for a 3 or so hour marathon. Looks like it's going to be a sunny day though which may cause the temps to be a little warmer. It's going to be a bit warmer than i'm used to but I"m hoping that all the treadmill running as of late in the warmness of the gym will have acclimitized me to it.

Thanks all for the comments. I appreciate them all. I'll be thinking of you all as I run tomorrow.