Merry Christmas!

on Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 10:15 PM

I really gotta start posting more often...  So week 1 of marathon training which was last week was a bust cause i think i came down with a one day cold or something.  Did only one run of 6 miles which was on the Sunday which was my "long" run which i suppose is long if you haven't run at all during the week.  This week is (will be) slightly better.  Ran 6 miles on each of Tuesday and Wednesday.  Going to do 6 miles tomorrow morning and then a double digit run on Sunday. I think I'll try and build up the mileage slowly and then try for a 12 week training program for Boston. 

Merry Christmas/Festivus to you all!

The Winter Blahs

on Monday, December 14, 2009 at 10:44 PM

The past three weeks have seen me running twice, a 6 miler on the 7th and 10 miles yesterday. Both runs were relatively slow.  I'm suffering from a mild case of DOMS right now. 

An 18 week program to prep for the Boston marathon would start tomorrow with a 7 miler with some strides. Though I'm going to try and start it, I don't hold out much hope in being able to keep to the schedule.  With winter arriving soon, I'm dreading the colder weather days.  I went out in shorts and a long sleeve T yesterday.  It was just above freezing with little wind so that was bearable.  As the temperatures get colder, the wind gets nastier and the snow starts accumulating, my motivation starts to disappear and its far easier to role over in bed to sleep in, then to try to battle the elements outside for a training run.  I've been looking into signing up for a gym membership downtown so that I can fit in lunchtime or after work runs, but don't like the prices which are $80/month with a one year commitment.  From past experience, I wouldn't use the thing during the summer, so not sure I want to throw away the money.  Going to try the morning run thing for a while first though.

Whitby 5k Race Report

on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 11:50 PM

Ran this race 2 weekend's ago.  They also hold a 10k and a 10 miler.  It's a bit strange since the same location also hosts a half marathon in the the summer along with a 5k and 10k.  So i did a Whitby 5k race back in July and this race is called the same thing.  Confusing.

Long story short is I finished in 20:26 and i'm pretty sure the course was short.  It was a different route than the short 5k i ran in July, but it was still short nonetheless. Garmin measured it at 3.06 miles which is about 75m short.  Mapped it out in Google Earth and it says its even shorter than that.  As usual, i ran into HR issues.  I wore the HR monitor but put electrical tape on the readout cause I didn't want the readout bothering me during the race.  Was okay for the first 2 km which were right on pace (4:00, 3:59), started to slow down during km 3 (4:11), had a miserable 4th km (4:33) and then was able to speed up for the last km (3:40 for .58km about 3:58 pace).  Felt like crap during the 4th km.  Checking out the HR afterwards, my HR spiked just after the 2km mark and then returned to normal just before the 4th km marker which would explain the slow down in the middle of the race and the speed up at the end.  But then again, all my 5k's tend to follow this trend so i don't know if it's a result of the HR thing or not.  It would make sense though. A 5k is run at the limits of ones VO2Max and anything that can change that obviously will have a big impact on performance.  The HR monitor slid down off my chest with about 500m to go so that's what the drop in HR right at the end.

Finished 15th overall and 5th in my age group.  They gave out a nifty orange toque.  Not really nifty in the sense that I would wear it in public(maybe i'd wear it in a race), but nice to get something other than a t-shirt. They had soup and sandwiches afterwards.  They used a completely different route this year for the 10k and 10 miler.  Apparently they didn't have anyone telling people where to turn around for the 10k so a lot of the 10k'ers ran longer than they should have.  There was one woman at the finish line who was really pissed of about it and complaining to anyone that would listen.  Yikes, I just smiled, nodded my head and moved along. 

Though i didn't win any prize at the event, i received an email a few days after telling me I had won something and should send them my address.  I had signed up for Road Warrior program a while back.  It was started by the guy who organized the pace bunnies for the Scotiabnk waterfront races.  The program offers a grading system where you basically race against yourself but your improvement in times is compared to other Road Warrior participants at a given race.  They basically average your times over the past year to an equivalent 5k time and if you are able to run faster times than that you are more likely to place higher in the Road Warrior standings. In theory, this sounds great, but unfortunately it's idiots like me who intentionally run slow during a lot of races that end up screwing up the curve.  Prior to this race, the Road Warrior program had me as a 23:58 5k runner. This was due to my races at the beginning of the year when I was practicing to be a pace bunny and also due to someone who was accidentally given my bib and chip who ran a 38 minute 5k back in June. So when it comes to race day, and I'm able to put down a 20-something 5k, the program thinks I had a great improvement and ranks me high.  Very easy to game the system.  I didn't respond to the email asking for my address cause it felt like I had cheated and didn't deserve the prize which was a pair of socks. 

I was contemplating trying another 5k before years end, but I have a blood donation appointment next week which when combined with the fact I haven't run in two weeks means I'm probably not going to be in racing shape before the new year.  I guess, it'll just have to be another goal for the new year.

Still here...

Been over three weeks since last post.  Don't have much in the way of training updates as I haven't run since my 5k race on November 22.  I still have to write a race report, but there isn't much to say other than I failed again at the sub-20 attempt.  I've been finding that i don't have much to report other than training totals which i'm sure most people other than me are not interested in.  So i'll try and post a bit more about other stuff.

Before i forget, you should go congratulate Jen and Barb on their Ironman finishes last week in Arizona.  They've posted fairly detailed race reports with lots of pictures so go and read. 

As for me, the commuting thing is sucking up a lot of my free time and I had found that I was falling behind in blog reading.  I realized that I had a lot of idle time sitting on the subway and the bus and thought it would be prudent to see if i could do my blog reading while in transit.  My blackberry isn't too great for reading RSS feeds.  I had considered getting an iphone for the sole purpose of being able to read blogs but realized that it wouldn't work too well in the subway which got me thinking about offline reading for the iphone.  If there was an app for that (sorry At&T) it would also work with the ipod touch which i have.  Did a little bit of research and there were a couple of apps that synced with Google Reader and will download RSS feeds and allow you to read it offline and then upload the read count back to Google.  Tried that for a few days but one issue i had is that the readers only downloaded text and not pictures.  Since I subscribe to a lot of photography blogs, not being able to see pictures made the experience less than ideal.  There were a couple of apps that said they would cache pictures but they didn't work too well only download pictures from a few posts.  With over a hundred postings a day to read i wanted something that would download everything.

That's when i found GRiS (Google Reader iPhone Sync) that promissed to do just what i wanted but it wasn't on the Itunes apps store which meant I had to bypass the Ipod security by jailbreaking the thing.  A bit scared to do this, but it was really easy to do.  GRiS was a little bloated in size, but it did just what i wanted.  It takes a few minutes to sync in the morning, but is able to fill up over an hour worth of travel time.  I'm also finding that i'm actually reading more blogs as opposed to just skimming which is what i used to do.  Feel much more informed now.  I do have issues with trying to comment on posts since I'm offline.  If I see a post i might want to comment on , I star it in GRiS (its a google reader thing) which then gets resynced with google reader for later review and comment but that doesn't work too well as i'm always a few posts behind.  I guess that's the nature of offline reading.

Well, that's it for now.  Will try and go for a run tomorrow.  Hope i'm not too sore afterward.

Racing a short 5k?

on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Since i last updated, i've moved onto shorter stuff. Topping out at 8 miles or so during the week and then a long run in the low to mid teens on Sunday.

Last Tuesday: Did 4 miles recovery

Last Wednesday: 8 miles including 5x1000m (3:57 per repeat)

Saturday: 8 miles including 4 miles LT at 6:53 pace
Sunday: 12.5 miles averaging 9:16 pace. I bonked big time on this run. I hadn't quite recovered from the LT run on Saturday and though started this okay, i struggled to maintain 9:30 pace towards the end.
Tuesday: 8 miles including 4x1200m (4:52, 4:48, 4:48, 4:47) 20min 5k pace is 4:48 so first was slow and the others okay
Today: 6 miles recovery about 9:15 pace

So the reason for the shorter and faster stuff is to prepare for another try at breaking 20min in the 5k.  I've looking at a race on Nov. 22 which is in a little over a week. The race is in Whitby and i think the route might be the same route for a 5k race I did in the spring.  However I observed at the time that I thought the course was short.  After doing a little searching on Garmin Connect and Motionbased where other people with garmins have raced the course, i'm almost certain it's short as they all report a distance of around 3.05 miles (about 90m short) . There's another 5k on the same date close by but it's an out and back with a hill and i don't like hills so it looks like i'm going to be choosing this short one even though i'm pretty sure it's not 5k.  Maybe I'll get lucky and they measure the course accurately this time. 

On to the shorter distances

on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 10:22 PM

Last week consisted of a whole lot of rest days and then a 3 mile recovery run on Saturday and a 10 mile long run on Sunday at about 8:40 pace.

So an 18 week training plan for Boston starts sometime at the end of November/early December. Prior to then, I'm going to take another shot at breaking 20 minutes in the 5k. I've found a bit of a support group in the Runners Worlds forums. There's a bunch of people that are all aiming for sub 20 in the 5k so it's interesting to keep track of what other's are doing training wise and performance wise.

If the 20 min 5k is successful, i may also take a shot at PR'ing in the 10k before years end. It probably doesn't help that I've eaten more chocolate over the past week than I have in the past 6 months. I still have a 95 pack of mini chocolate bars left over from Halloween that hasn't been opened. I think I'll have to bring it in for my co-workers cause I have no will power.

Niagara Falls Marathon Race Report

on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 12:11 AM

(edited to correct half split time which was based on gun time not chip)
So I decided to run the Niagara marathon. It basically came down to either Niagara falls or Hamilton which is a week later. I thought that Niagara would be more influenced by weather and Hamilton had the faster net downhill course, but in the end I choose Niagara because it had more aid stations. From their website, Hamilton only had 12 whereas Niagara probably had over 20.

Signed up for the marathon on the Wednesday before the race, which was the last day one could register due to immigration reasons. Apparently they have to send a list of the participants to both Canadian and US immigration to make sure you're name doesn't set off alarm bells. I ended up staying at the Sheraton by the Falls. I had wanted to stay either there or at the Crown Plaza since these hotels were right by the bus pickup on race morning. I didn't want to be walking any distance on race morning. I ended up having to stay two nights at the Sheraton since they required a two night minimum and it was actually cheaper to stay for two nights there than to stay for one night at the Crown Plaza.

Evening before the race, i partook in the race sponsored pasta dinner which was being held at the Crown plaza. It started at 5pm, but i thought that was a bit too early. I ended up eating at around 6:30pm. Ended up sitting beside a tall lanky guy from just outside of Chicago. Made a bit of small talk and started talking about races we had done. I was trying to get a feeling for how fast the guy was and pretty much decided he wasn't a fast guy since he didn't talk about qualifying for Boston and he had done a bunch of smaller races. I asked him what his goal time was and he said: "Around 2:35". Yikes, guess i was wrong. He ended up finishing fourth overall in just under 2:40.

Two tables over from us were sitting the Smiths (Tara Quinn and Andrew), the husband and wife team that ended up winning the race. Was very tempted to try and get a picture taken with them, but decided to let them be.

Think I had about 4 plates of pasta, not full plates mind you, but I was defintely stuffed when i headed back to my room.

Was in bed by 10:30pm and set the alarm for 6:30am. Ended up waking up at 6:00am. Ate a bagel with peanut butter at about 6:45am with some water. Left my room and headed down to the bus at about 7:20. Boarded the bus for the little over hour bus ride to Buffalo. Got held up a bit at the border cause some of the people on the buses in front of us didn't have the right documents. My bus was filled with a Japanese tour group who had come to do the marathon which probably meant the US immigration guys were a bit more cautious with our bus. Arrived in Buffalo at the Art gallery at around 8:45 and had about an hour to kill before the race start. wondered around a bit seeing what passes for art these days and ended up chatting with some of the pace bunnies. As it would turn out there was no 3:15 pace bunny this year.

With about half an hour to go, I headed out to do my warm-up. For marathons, i usually just do some light jogging for 5-10 minutes. But this time, my goal was to try and get my HR to spike. I've had this problem before but I've had it happen enough times that I've realized if i can get the Hr to spike during warm-up and then allow it to come back down, it usually doesn't bother me afterwards. When I did my half a few weeks ago, i had the same problem with the HR spiking during the warmup but once it came back down, it didn't happen again. So i was able to get it to spike and then come back down which i thought was good, but i think i did the warmup too early cause i was basically standing around for 15-20 minutes afterwards and would end up with the Hr problem during the race.

So i wander to the startline and ask around a bit and find one guy who's going for 3:15 so we line up together and start the race. Decided to leave the garmin at home though i did run with my HR monitor which i've found useful for gauging effort in the past.

Race starts and the first little bit is a bit confusing in that you do a big loop that has you retracing the first little bit of the race which means you pass the 1 mile marker a few hundred metres into the race not realizing that it's only vaid once you've completed the first loop. Buffalo tends to get a bad rap as being a bit of a dump, but the area we were running in was quite nice with some nice homes. Not a lot of spectators, but wasn't really expecting them on the US side of the border.

Mile 1: 7:20
Mile 2: 7:21

Pass the first mile marker at 7:20 which is slightly faster than the 7:27 which i was hoping for. Fall into a bit of a rhythm and am clicking along. My HR is tad high at about 175 which was concerning me a bit but i figured it could be the adrenaline and the start of the race. During the 2nd mile, the one thing i had feared occured which was my HR spiked. I passed the 2 mile marker also a bit fast at 7:21. At this point, i was trying to figure out whether i should stop to let it calm down or just continue on. it was still a bit early in the race so i thought i could handle a mile or two with the HR racing.

Mile 3: 7:19
Mile 4: 7:18

During these miles, I let my 3:15 companion go. I didn't actually slow down, but he started to speed up a bit. In the end, it was for the best. I wanted to be able to stop if I wanted to and didn't want to be dragged into someone else's pace. The HR thing was starting to worry me. I was able to do 12 miles during a marathon pace run a few months ago, but i'm pretty sure that i couldn't maintain this type of HR the whole way. In fact, looking back at the marathons that have sucked, i think it may have been cause my HR was racing. I don't have the HR data to prove it, but i'm fairly certain that was the reason. So at this point, I was thinking that maybe i should stop to let it calm down. I ended up deciding to wait until after the bridge cause the effort up that might cause the HR to go racing again.

Miles 5-6: 14:34 (7:17 pace)

The peace bridge and crossing the border happens somewhere during miles 5 or 6. I had kinda feared the bridge since the elevation profile on the website has this thing as a steep hill, but it wasn't as bad as i was expecting. It was still a hill, but it's over with pretty quick and is immediately followed by a very long gradual descent which drops you to lower than where you began the hill. Though good from an elevation standpoint, there was a really strong headwind on the bridge.  I had to grab my hat a couple of times to keep it from blowing off. The wind wasn't really noticible in Buffalo, but it was clearly felt here out in the open.  So I missed the mile 5 marker which was presumably on the bridge since i was looking at the ground. After the bridge, we did an out and back in Fort Erie. At some point, i looked down at my watch and realized that the HR had returned to normal.  Yah, I wouldn't need to stop.  But in order to make sure it wouldn't spike again, i had to make sure that i maintained the proper pace.  By this point, I had caught back up to my fellow 3:15 pacee who was now running with a bit of a group.  There was a bit of a head wind in the out portion, so i tucked in behind the group and let them lead the way.  Coming back it was nice to have the wind at our back.

Mile 7-8: 14:46 (7:23 pace)

having tucked in behind a group, I missed the mile 7 marker.  Seemed to hit the paces properly.  The group I was going with was motoring right along and I was starting to settle into a groove.  I had carried a gatorade bottle with me all along drinking diligently. I've done enough marathons to realize that I can never get enough fluids from the aid stations unless there are a heck of a lot of them where i can grab two or three cups at a time (like in chicago) so it helps to bring along an extra bottle. 

Miles 9: 7:29
Miles 10: 7:17
Miles 11: 7:27
Miles 12: 7:32
Miles 13: 7:27
Mile 13.1:  1:36:42 1:36:34

Miles 9 to the half way mark went by without too much incident.  The group I was running with slowly started to pull away.  We were running into a bit of a head wind after mile 10 and though i would have liked to have stuck with them to block the wind, I was clicking on at my expected pace and had close to a minute banked so i decided just to run my own race.  The other 3:15 guy stayed with me for a while but i passed him somewhere shortly after the 12 mile mark.  Hit the half way mark at 1:36:42 1:36:34 which averaged 7:23 7:22 pace.

Mile 14: 7:25
Mile 15: 7:24
Mile 16: 7:26

So passing by the half way mark, we are running due west into a direct westerly wind.  It wasn't that strong but still noticible.  I had banked 48 seconds ahead of 3:15 pace and even more if you factor in that Boston needed 3:15:59 so i decided at this point to just run by HR and slow down if the wind dictated it. 

Mile 17-18: 14:55 (7:28 pace)
Mile 19: 7:38
Mile 20: 7:23

One thing was that the mile markers coincided with the aid stations which was a bit problematic since one had to grab a cup of water, hit the watch split and then drink This required a bit more dexterity than I was capable of and i ended up spilling lots.  Over the course pf the race, i took three gels, half a gel at a time, but i don't really remember where. . 

Mile 21-22: 14:52 (7:26 pace)
Mile 23: 7:32

Mile 26.2:  24:01 (7:30 pace)

Don't have much else to comment about the last little bit of the race.  I just sort of chugged along.  I had a couple of spasms in my calves a couple of time, but nothing really sustained.  I found that the markings for the half marathon helped since it gave me another opportunity to gauge how far ahead I was.  For example, I knew when i passed the 9 mile mark of the half, i had exactly 3.1 miles (5k) to go.  Also the 10k markers were present which helped during the last 5k (it's an out and back course from the finish line) so at that point, i stopped hitting the lap button on my watch since i was getting more feedback by using the km markers from the 10k route than the mile markers on the full route.  I should mention there is a nice downhill after the 25 mile mark.  Picked up the pace right at the end and crossed the finish line in 3:14:24 averaging 7:25 pace overall.

First Half: 1:36:42 1:36:34 (7:23 7:22 pace)
Second Half: 1:37:50 (7:28 pace)
1:08 1:16 positive split.

Closest I've come to a negative split in a marathon while racing.  Probably could have gone a bit faster in the 2nd half, but was only looking to BQ so I'm happy with it. HR (and elevation profile) looks as follows.I seemed to have averaged 171-172 during most of the race which was about 4-5 beats higher than what i had averaged during the marathon pace run last week.  This seems to be consistent when i raced back in 2008 where I average about 163 for the MP run and then ended up averaging 168 during the actual race.

Didn't have too great of race pics.  Not looking for or smiling or waving at the camera.  I guess that happens when you're racing for time.  Here's one of me near the end where i look like i'm motoring right along.

That's it.  Spent the extra day in Niagara where I couldn't have asked for better weather.  I leave you with a few pics from Niagara Falls





2 marathons, 2 coasts, 6 days...

on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 9:14 PM

Yes, I fully intend to be in Boston for the marathon next year. It's kinda funny cause guess what arrived in the mail today?

This was a training shirt for the Boston 2 Big Sur challenge being offered by the Big Sur marathon. I had always intended to do the Big Sur marathon in 2010, but at the beginning of the year i had heard that in light of it being the 25th anniversary of Big Sur in 2010 that they were going to offer a new entry in which you did Boston and then 6 days later, you did Big Sur. You get a bunch of extra things like the training shirt and a jacket. I thought it would be kinda neat to be part of a group of only 400 people able to say that they did this.  I had thought that this was only going to be a one time event, but it seems that they are going to be offering this every year now.  Oh well.  Sign up for this event took place back at the beginning of September. The problem for me was that I had not actually qualified to run Boston in 2010 as my previous qualifier was only valid for 2009 and I wasn't going to be able to wait until after I qualified cause I was sure it was going to sell out, so i took the chance and registered. I think I was probably filling out the online entry form in September, 2 minutes after it opened but even then 74 other people had been able to register before me. Not wanting to upset the running gods about boasting about running a race that I hadn't technically qualified to run yet, i was very reluctant to tell anyone. 

Well with the BQ now out of the way, I can now proudly announce my intention to do both next year.  Winter training should be fun, assuming i can find the time.

Week in Review

on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 9:12 PM

Last week went as follows.

Tuesday: 6 miles at recovery pace.

Wednesday: Little over 7 miles which included a couple of miles at marathon pace at the local track.  Was trying to get a gauge on HR vs. marathon pace.  Started the MP portion with two laps at faster than MP then slowed down to MP. HR was at about 167 for the marathon pace portion which was done at 7:23 pace.  Had the HR spike which had me a little concerned.  More details on this in another post.

Friday: Little over 5 miles recovery with 6 strides.

Saturday: 2 miles recovery

Sunday: Raced the Niagara Falls marathon in 3:14:24 and qualified for Boston 2010
(as he writes nonchalantly).  Race report to come, though it may take a few days. 

Still feeling not quite ready...

on Monday, October 19, 2009 at 10:22 PM

First off, congratulations to Yumke for running a great race and qualifying for Boston.  Go read his report, if you haven't already.

Since I last updated, I had two runs.  Friday was 5 miles with 6 strides and Sunday had a 12 miler planned.  As coincidence would have it, the start line for the Toronto marathon was a little over 6 miles away from my home.  Plan was easy.  Run there, watch the start and run back.  tried to time it so i would get there with about 10 minutes to the start line.  Course was a lot hillier than i thought it would be - at least a 50m elevation drop and then rise.  Had to maintain 9 min miles to get there and had the HR start spiking and couldn't stop to let it calm down. Got there about on schedule and ran into Kenny and wished him luck and then parked myself at the 1km mark with my cowbell and waited for the crowd to come. 5 minutes later it was done and i headed home at a slower pace. 

The is the last week of the taper, but i don't feel as good as I normally would.  This commuting thing really is starting to take a beating on me.  One thing i didn't account for is the amount of walking I do every day now.  walking to the bus stop, walking up and down the stairs to get to the subway, walking to and from the subway to work.  My legs just feel super tired all the time now.  Not sure there's much i can do about it other than maybe driving to work every day, but that would probably be mentally very frustrating having to sit in traffic for much longer than it would take me on public transit. 

Weather update for Niagara: cloudy, rain, breezy with wind from the WSW at 25km/hr. that's not too bad.  Bit of tail wind in places, bit of a cross to slightly headwind towards the end. I think I have to register tomorrow if i intend to do it since they cut off date is Wednesday..  

Getting cooler...

on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Thankfully the good thing about the taper is that my runs are shorter and there's less of them. Week so far has been 7 miles with 6 strides on Tuesday and 8 miles with 3x1600m repeats on Wednesday. I was kinda scared about yesterday's run. After being a bit too slow for the 1200m repeats two weeks ago and finding the 600m repeats last week a little on the tough side, i wasn't sure that I was going to be able to do the 1600m repeats at the right pace. managed to do them at 6:32, 6:27 and 6:23 pace. This was a tad slower than I've done these things in the past, but my HR also seemed a bit lower. Mind you the lower HR could also have been a result of it being really cold.  Had to pull out my fleece top and running pants on for this run.  The other positive thing is I was able to do this with jog recoveries. When I've done 1600m repeats in the past, I've always had to walk the recoverys.

The one good thing about working downtown is that I can attend the expo tomorrow for the Toronto marathon.  It's two blocks from where I work so I'll probably check it out at lunch time and hopefully be able to get the battery replaced in my HR watch.  Speaking of which, I think I'm going to wear the HR monitor to bed again and see if it's much different from the last time I did it.

Happy Turkey Day!

on Monday, October 12, 2009 at 1:30 PM

It's Thanksgiving day up here in Canada today and a day off both from work and training. This past week of training went fairly well as follows.

Tuesday: Little over 8 miles which include 5x600m at about 6:20 pace. Ran this with the garmin. Since the sun hadn't risen yet, i ended up running this with the garmin so i could use the backlight button to figure out my 200m splits. Kinda missing my HR data though. I have the big 3x1600m repeat session this week so i'll probably run with both to see where it's at. I'll be able to get my battery changed in my HR watch this Friday.

Wednesday: 5 miles recovery at really slow pace. Probably close to 10 min/miles.

Friday: Little over 4 miles which included 6 strides. Did this in the rain in the evening. Wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. Strides felt smooth and fluid. It seems that strides never feel fluid for me until the taper.

Saturday: Little over 8 miles done which included a little under 5 @ LT pace. Pfitz had a tune-up race planned, but there weren't any races nearby so i did some LT laps around the track. I had meant to do 5 miles or about 20 laps. Actually i wanted to do 20.5 laps cause 20 laps is only 4.97 miles and i clearly wanted to go over 5 miles. I ended up miscounting and ended up at 19.5 for 4.85 LT miles. Did the first 11 laps (2.73 miles) at about 6:56 pace and then did the last 8.5 laps (2.1 miles) at 6:49 pace. HR wasn't getting a good signal for the first 10 minutes or so of the warmup.  Liking that during the LT portion, the HR did the plateau thing which means it gets to a certain point and then plateaus which seems to imply that the effort is sustainable. First 11 laps, the HR plateaued at around 173 and the last 2 miles, it plateaued again at about 178/179 when i increased the effort.

Sunday: Longish long run of 17.5 miles at 8:01 pace. Did two loops which I know are exactly 12.1 and 5.4 miles respectively. They say you're supposed to maintain intensity while cutting back on mileage during the taper so i wanted to run this by HR trying to keep it just below 160 which would force me to maintain a good effort. i did but found that some of miles were a bit faster than i would have liked.

So you're probably all waiting to anxiously know which marathon I've decided to do and to be quite frank I'm still not completely certain.  I would say that it's about 80% chance that i'm doing the Niagara falls full and a 20% chance i'll do Hamilton the week following.  At the beginning of last week, I had given some thought to doing Toronto which is next weekend.   I wasn't sure that with all the commuting, whether I would be able to get my runs in and was afraid i would lose too much fitness, but with the runs getting a bit shorter during the taper and me getting use to the commuting thing, that idea was quickly kiboshed. Right now, the one thing that concerns me is the weather and more importantly the wind.  Niagara is a point to point course in basically a northwestern direction which means if there's a head wind, you're in for a long day.  I've been keeping an eye on the weather in Niagara this past week and it seems the wind generally comes from the southwest which isn't too bad.  There were a couple of days where the wind came from the north for a few hours which is a bit of a concern.  Right now they are predicting winds from the east for race day, but i think it's too far out for those to be dependable.    Looks like it will be a week of the marathon decision.  In any event, I'm going to reserve a cancelable (is that a word?) room in Niagara for race weekend and hope for the best.

How do people do it?

on Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 11:27 PM

So this past week marked the first week that I had to travel downtown to work. I live out in the boonies and everywhere I"ve worked has been within a 15 minute drive from home. I used to wake up at 7:30 on non-training days. Now i have to be out of the house by then to be able to make it to work before 9am. In the past, I think the earliest I had gotten up on a work day was 5am for a 15 mile run and I only did that once. I woke up at 4:45 on Thursday to get a 10 miler in before leaving. I've just found myself exhausted when I get back home. How do people do this day in and day out? So week went like follows.

Tuesday: 5 miles including 6 strides in the evening

Thursday: 10 miles including 4x1200m at 5k pace. This run started and ended in complete darkness. I ended up going to the track to try and do these. Normally, i would be able to maintain a good 6:20 min/mile pace since i can get pacing feedback every 200m and can constantly adjust. With complete darkness and my watch battery close to dying so i can't be constantly pushing the light button (i'm hoping it'll last till the Toronto marathon expo where they usually have a polar authorized jeweler to change the battery and do leak testing), i tried to run this by feel and wasn't very successful. I did the repeats with the following average paces: 6:45, 6:39, 6:34, 6:27. I ended up using the light after each repeat cause I could never get the pace right. I'm thinking I should bring a head lamp to allow me to see my watch.

Friday: 10.2 miles at 8:09 min/miles in the evening after work. Super tired afterwards.

Saturday:5.4 miles recovery at 9:19min/mile pace in the morning. Was very dehydrated afterwards. tried to drink a lot to prepare for long run on Sunday

Sunday: This was the last super long run planned for this training cycle. Did 21.4 miles and average 8:09 min/mile pace. Started out kinda slow and then by the middle I was clicking along at close to 8min/miles and then finished up with about 2 miles at slightly faster than marathon pace. It was relatively cool. I drank a bit too much the day before and during this run cause I had to stop to use a restroom on three different occasions.  Had some HR spiking problems which was right after my final restroom pitstop.  Ran with it to the next water fountain where I ate a gel and let it come back down.  Ran the waterfront route.  A little less busy.  I wonder how many of the people running are training for one of the Toronto races in two weeks?

Okay, I should probably be in bed now since it's almost 11:30pm and the work week starts tomorrow.  Good night.

Scotiabank Pacing Report

on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 9:34 PM

Did the Scotiabank waterfront half on Sunday as the 1:45 pacer. Finished 13 sec fast.  Happy with it.

Preliminary stuff for future reference. Woke up at 5am and consumed 3/4 of a bagel and some water. Left home at about 5:50 and was in the Eaton's Centre parking lot off of Shuter by 6:20. Race started at 7:30am. I think this was about perfect for prepping to race.  Allowed ample time to use the facilities, have a quick warm-up jog and get into the corrals by 7:20 or so.

I normally pace using a garmin.  Having looked at enough garmin maps of last years Scotiabank races, I was aware that garmin data was going to be useless for the first few and last few km of the race.  You're either running down the heart of Toronto's financial district with tall skyscrappers or under the Gardiner expressway which is an elevated highway across the waterfront. Either way not very good for getting satellite locks.  With my tendency to start races too fast and not wanting to do this here, I decided to use my Polar foot pod to assist for these portions of the race.  As it would turn out, the data was a bit flakey. I sometimes run into problems when running under hydro lines and I think the street car overhead cables had a similar effect. 

We ended up getting some nice swag from Asics who were sponsoring the pacers.  We got shoes, socks, shorts, the ever fashionable hat with bunny ears and a nice looking pacing t-shirt.

Front and Back

The thing is that this was way too small.  This was a medium size and was too tight on me.  For about 5 minutes, I was actually thinking of wearing this as it's not often that one gets to wear too tight lycra and say that you were forced to do it by someone else (apologies to lycra wearing cyclists, but I think you'll agree with me that there are some who shouldn't be wearing them).  However, i went for a quick 30s run outside with it on (after dark so no one would see me) and i could feel the seams rubbing up against my skin.  With the possibility of rain and the old adage of don't do anything new on race day, the thought of 21km of friction didn't appeal to me.  I ended up wearing the official race shirt (which was unbranded).

Move into the corral at 7:20 or so which wasn't a lot of time.  I had wanted to be in there by at least 7:15, but the entrance to the corrals was really crowded.  I waited for about 5 minutes in line to get into the corrals, taking the time to set up my garmin, but when the line didin't budge that much, i ended up squeezing through.

Got into the corral and answered questions about the pacing which required alternating between 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking.  Got asked a lot about 1:45 continuous pacer which wasn't being offered.  I directed these people to the 3:30 full marathon pacer who was running continuously.

Race starts and i start out at a nice comfortable effort.  Hit the first two km at 4:53 and 4:49 when they should have been at a bout 4:45.  Then started the one minute walk break and wasn't that far off by the time 3km came around so i figured the slightly slower run pace could be made up for during a slightly faster walk phase.  As it would turn out, most of pure km split times (that didn't include a walk break) were done at about 4:50 pace and this turned out to work quite well.

So during the first walk break, I surveyed the crowd and  had picked up about 25 people.  When the walk restarted, as i had feared, my HR spiked.  I just put it out of my mind and ran the next 10 minutes fine and then when i took my second walk break, the HR dropped back down and stayed that way for the rest of the race.

The rest of the race was pretty straight forward. Got a fairly solid garmin lock at about 4km and relied on it for pacing up until about 18 or 19km, when the garmin started losing signal. By this point, I think the muscle memory had sort of set in and i could seem to maintain this pace till the end without relying on technolgy.  Kinda funny during the walk break, i only had about 5 people left.  Some had dropped off and some had taken off to finish faster, but i mentioned to the remaining few that there was only 6 minutes of running left after the walk break.  One lady then asks me how much further there is to go and i respond that slightly less than 2 km and she then takes off.  She told me after the race that she had thought the half was actually 26 km long and wasn't sure she was going to make it, but when told that it was only 21, she felt relieved and was able to finish strong.  I guess it's all about mindset.  If you think you can, you will.  The last km is sorta cruel.  They moved the start/finish line further north last year and though the course was once labelled as being pancake flat, the last km is now a steady incline.  My HR basically rose during this last km, as i was trying to maintain a steady pace as i only had about 15 seconds banked at this point.

One thing that I kinda had a question with is running the tangents. It's easy enough to do when running alone, but i was very reluctant to run tangents when I had a large group following me as I had feared that the group would create chaos while cutting through a bunch of other runners.  I ended up sticking to the right side of the road meaning that i probably ended up running slightly more than I should have, which means that the people who were running with me were probably running slightly longer than they should have.  this could easily have resulted in a loss of 5 sec/km on some of the curvier parts of the course. 

Ended up finishing 13 seconds ahead of pace.  I ended up carrying the big pacing sign with me for the entire race.  Though kinda big and bulky, it was really light.  A problem I had with it was the handle part was made of a thin plastic tube that seemed fairly rigid, but when the wind would blow, the tube would bend.  Should have probably reinforced it with a piece of wood or something.  .Here's a pic after the finish that i really like.  I'm thinking I might actually buy this.

Does it look like i'm wearing a running skirt?

Had meant to do another 4 miles after, but I just didn't feel like it.Went out to check out my new office building which was at the 300m to go sign.  I had actually hoped to park there on race morning, but they closed off the side streets that led into the parking lot so no dice.

Weather was very humid as it had rained all night.  I didn't find it too bad, but a lot of people were complaining about it after the race.  Had lots of fun.  Would happily pace a half again and hopefully will be able to do it next year also. 

Week in Review

on Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 9:33 PM

This week was a bit of a cutback week in mileage. About 43 miles total.

Tuesday: About 8.5 miles which included 5x600m at about 6:20min/mile.

Wednesday: 11.2 miles at 8:48 min/mile pace.

Both the Tuesday and Wednesday runs were in the morning though it was warm at about 20C and humid. The 11 miles on Wednesday felt hard. Two weeks ago, I did the same course at 8:04 pace. It's amazing what cool weather allows us to achieve.

Friday: Did a little over 8 miles. Wanted to recalibrate my footpod again. I played around with the locations on the laces and moved it higher up on the shoe and got more accurate pace data. I also took this opportunity to practice the 10 and 1 thing which I haven't done since last October.

Saturday: Did the Friendship Run at the Running room downtown. About 2 miles total distance. This was at 9am in the morning and basically meant that i lost the entire day as I had to do a shift at the Asics booth at the race expo at 2pm and then the race pasta dinner at 5pm which i got a free ticket to. I ended up skipping the pasta dinner as I had to catch up on some other things.

Sunday: Did the half marathon as the 1:45 pacer in 1:44:47. Fairly happy with the time though the anal part of me thinks I should have been able to bleed off some of that extra 13 seconds since it was banked at around the 19km mark. Race report to come.

This upcoming week is the last training week before the taper. Well that's assuming that I do the Niagara full. If I decide to do Hamilton then i have to put an extra week in somewhere. I think I have to make a final decision sometime this week though. This should be an interesting week as starting tomorrow I have to commute downtown to get to work which means more time in transit and less time available for morning running. I'm going to try to do some really early morning runs, but that's easier said then done.

Week 13(12?) of 18 Review

on Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Still have not decided which fall marathon to do.  I've pretty much ruled out doing the Toronto one on Oct. 18 for various reasons and it'll be a choice between Niagara and Hamilton.  I'm leaning more to the Niagara one right now as my training plan is scheduled to end on that day.  To do Hamilton, I would have to add another week of training. Since I originally started training for Toronto and added one additional week, to peak for Hamilton would require an additional week to a 20 week training plan. That's 5 months of training.  Crap, that's a long time.

This past week has been according to plan and is as follows:

Tuesday: Ran 8 miles at about recovery pace. After racing a half and then doing a 19 mile long run the following day, my legs were sore and heavy.  I did pick up the pace a little towards the end when my legs started feeling a little better.

Wednesday: Did a little under 10 miles total which included 5x1000m at 6:20 min/mile pace with 2min jog recoveries. Was able to do these fairly consistently but was panting quite a bit during the last one.  I'm starting to wonder if my limit on 5k speed is due to the lack of ventilating capacity, that is, can my respiratory system take in enough oxygen to allow me to sustain a 5k effort over an entire 5k?  Maybe I'll do a little research.  

Friday:  Did 12.1 miles at 8:10min/mile pace though the last 9 miles were done at faster than 8min/miles. HR was below 160 for most of the run which is good.  I like these cool (almost) autumn days.  Feels like i have a whole extra gear for running.  I also got shoe deliveries today.  I'm pacing the half next week at the Scotiabank waterfront and have been mandated to wear only Asics shoes who are sponsoring the bunnies.  They provided us with a free pair of Asics shoes with an option of buying an additional pair at below cost, so i ordered two pairs of GT-2140's.  I already own a pair of these and  have been running in them for the past few weeks so i'll use the slightly worn ones rather then try and break in new shoes. I feel sorry for the people pacing the full who don't normally use Asics.  One week to get used to a new pair of shoes is not a lot of time especially for running a full.

Saturday: 5.4 miles recovery at about 9min/mile pace.  In one of the boxes of shoes, there was a pair of Asics socks.  I think they expect us to wear these also. Not having a pair of Asics socks, i tried these out today for the recovery run.  Nice fit.  They are specifically designed for either the left or right foot.  The colour scheme is a bit umm loud.  BTW, we're supposed to be receiving shorts and a t-shirt, presumably also from asics.  Not a bad deal for the pacers.  Probably over $200 in Asics merchandise in return for pacing the race.

Sunday: 18.1 miles done at 7:31 min/mile pace overall which consisted of a 3 mile warmup and then 14 miles at marathon pace and then an additional mile thrown in at the planned running pace for the half next week.  Plan was to do the MP portion at faster than 7:27min/mile (3:15 marathon) and ended up at 7:20 pace.  Used my typical out and back waterfront route.  There was a strong headwind on the way back and had the HR spike a couple of times, but was able to get it under control.  Though a couple of the splits were in 3:10 marathon range, I don't think that I will be able to do 3:10 this year. Run Saturday Details of run. I also took the opportunity to use the foot pod for my polar watch again.  It's been over a year since I last used it and since I will probably use this for the pacing duties next week, i thought I would try it to make sure it still works.  I didn't get a chance to calibrate it and it shows.  It measured my run as being 17.2 miles.  Even then, the fluctuations in pace were all over the place. I think I have to play with the locations of the pod on my shoe laces.

I ended up having to detour towards the end to get to 18 miles so rather then finishing up at Cherry Beach, I finished up at an area where they've recently built some soccer fields and then walked back to the beach.  The soccer fields were built in an area that used to be an industrial waste land and forest area.  It's much nicer now.  In the future, I may start and end my runs here instead or at least detour through here.  They have a nice little play area for kids that has a pirate ship.  BTW, it was talk like a pirate day yesterday.

Arrr! Shiver me timbers.

From this location you can also see the vast stores of road salt that Toronto has.  I reminder that winter is almost here.

Would you like some salt with that?

Half marathon race report

on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 10:52 PM

Pfitz' plan had a tune-up race scheduled for last Saturday. It's often difficult to find suitable tune-up races on Saturday in this area, as most races are on the Sunday. Luckily for me, there were a couple of options. There was a local 5k or 8k down by the waterfront and there was a half marathon up in P ort Perry. It's been a while since I've actually raced a half marathon. My last PR in the half was set 3 years ago at this half. Since that time, I've run the first half of 3 marathons at a faster time than my official half PR, so it needed updating.

The P ort Perry half had an interesting premise this year. They set out to be "carbon neutral" by trying to offset the carbon footprint by avoiding paper advertising, encouraging on-line registration and using renewable and recyclable race amenities. One interesting thing they did was they had hand made bib numbers made out of recycled paper with little seeds embedded in them. The point of this was that you could then bury the bib in your backyard and it would grow into something.  Not sure what the seeds are supposed to grow into, but this was a neat concept. We also got a shirt made of bamboo-blended material.  The material is a bit stretchy, not sure if it has wicking properties though.

I had meant to purchase some gels on Friday after work, but I had a fairly long day and by the time I got back home, i had completely forgotten.  When I finally realized, it was too late to visit the running stores and i ended up at the local pharmacy where they didn't have gels but they had sharkies which are like little gummy bear like things that are in the shape of sharks. So bought a couple packages of these.

Arrived at the race with about 45 minutes to go to start.  Picked up my stuff and got all set and with about 30 minutes to go, tried a couple of the sharkie things which i didn't like cause it gets stuck in between my teeth.  Knew that I wasn't going to be able to race with these things so i basically downed an entire packet, picked the stuff out of my teeth and washed it down with water. Did a little bit of a slow warm-up with a couple of accelerations. Had the HR spike during these, but was able to get it under control and thankfully, it didn't reappear during the race. With about 10 minutes to go, i downed a half bottle of gatorade and then one last pit stop and off to the start line i went. 

Now i don't have much experience with racing halfs.  3 years ago, i ran the half at about 7:15 min/mile pace which just happened to be the pace I was doing my LT runs as part of my Pfitz training plan at the time.  Since I'm now doing my LT runs at 7min/mile, I thought that this would be a good target to aim for.  The one thing I do remember about the course is that is keeps you honest because it's really hilly.  It's constantly rolling and there are some steep hills.  With that in mind, i decided to not bring garmin along since trying to maintain even splits on a hilly course is a good way to be frustrated. I did wear my HR monitor though.

They had a timing mat at the start line this year unlike in previous years which means that one can get an accurate "chip time".  I decided to start a little ways back to prevent me from going out too fast as I tend to do.  Hit the first km at 4:25 which is about where I wanted to be. After the initial crush of people near the start, I passed three people and ended up being passed by one. The markers after this were a little all over the place, so i didn't really know how far ahead or behind I was at any given point, so i just tried to maintain a steady sustained pace for the race. For the most part the race went as planned.  The roads were a mix of ashphalt, dirt roads and gravel.  Had to be a bit cautious on the gravel bits.

Weather was pretty good.  They had predicted overcast skies, but it ended up being sunny and the course doesn't have much in the way of shade.  It was a little windy at times.  Water stations were fine, though they were using plastic cups which were hard to pinch and drink out of. I ended up spilling a lot of the stuff on me.  I guess the plastic was recyclable as opposed to wax covered paper cups which presumably aren't. I found the best way to drink out of these was to slow down to a jog for a couple of steps, chug the liquid and then continue on.  The finish line can be a bit cruel for those that haven't done the race before.  The race starts and ends at a local fairground with a horse track, but the finish and start lines aren't in the same place.  So you come into the fariground and see the start line, but then you are redirected and have to run across the middle of the track and then around half of it to the finish line.  Probably an extra 400m of running required.

Some pics of me finishing. 

and shortly after the finish trying to catch my breath

Final finish time of 1:31:55 which was 7:01 min/mile pace which is what I had originally intended.  I ended up using HR to gauge a lot of the effort. I was a bit surprised early on that the HR was only just above 170 but I see now that the watch was not picking up a good signal.  It only started to register after 4km or so. In general tried to keep it between 175 and 180 which is where i usually like to run my LT runs at. At least, this somewhat confirms for me that i've been doing my tempo runs at the right pace and intensity. I tried to step it up for the last two km, cause I knew it was going to be close to going sub 1:32 but these splits were basically right at 7min/miles which means even though i felt i was going faster, i wasn't.  Don't think I could have raced this much faster.

I ended up placing 4th overall, but 3rd in my age group.  I just entered this new age group the week before and this certainly was a rude awakening.  If the race had been a week earlier, i would have come in first in my age group by over 4 minutes.  In the end, it didn't matter since the first three finishers overall ended up winning prizes and with no double dipping, I ended up winning the prize for first in my age group even though i was technically 3rd.  $10 cash and another t-shirt. This was a pleasant surprise as typically there are a lot of fast people that run this race.  Two years ago (when they last hosted this race), 16 people went under 1:30, whereas this year only one did.

Being a tune-up race for marathon training, i plugged this half time into all the race predictors and they say that 3:15 for the marathon is doable, but that 3:10 is probably not.  Now 3:10 might still be possible if I pick a nice downhill course which i'll probably end up doing, but it's looking like 3:15 will be the goal for this fall.

Week in Review

on Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 10:38 PM

Little over a week since I last posted.

Last Sunday: 20.4 miles at 8:28 min/mile. I had meant to do this faster and up until 16 miles,  I was doing fine.  But i was dehydrated towards the end and started to slow.  Was able to put down the last .4 miles at a LT type pace which give me some confidence. 

Tuesday:  8 miles with 5x600m with 90s recoverys.  Repeats were done in about 2:21 which is about 6:20min/mile pace which i'm hoping is my current 5k pace.  Still thinking about trying to go sub 20 minutes before the end of the year. I've been thinking of trying one as a tune-up race, but i'll most likely wait until November. 

Wednesday: 11 miles at 8:04 min/mile pace.

Friday: No running. I was supposed to do a short 4 mile recovery run with strides to prep for a race on Saturday, but this was the day that I went down to visit my new office.  Took public transit and had to leave home by 7:15 and arrived at the office at about 8:10.  A little too early.  Even if i leave a bit later, i'm not sure if it'll be possible to get the run in before i leave once i move downtown permanently.

Saturday: Raced a hilly half marathon in 1:31:55 (7:01 min/mile pace), a PR and finished 4th overall. Race report to come.

Sunday: Did 19.1 miles at 8:50 pace.  I had originally wanted to do about 18 miles to get to 50 for the week and with the hard race done the previous day, I wanted to run this slow. Spent most of this at recovery HR.  Started out at Edward's Garden and ran down to the beach and back.  I ended up doing 19 miles since I needed to pitstop for a water refill and the only place close by that I knew of was at the beach where I would normally start out my waterfront runs.  Splits and route.  The annual Terry Fox run was on in the park for the first half and it was nice to have lots of company. Second half of the run was harder since it was almost all uphill.  I wanted to try and do the last mile at marathon pace, but didn't realize that it was a steady uphill climb and the effort seemed too much.  Legs felt heavy.  I gave up on the marathon pace about a third of the way into the last mile.  Done.  My calves are sore right now and my abs are a bit tender. Think I need to work a bit on my core.  Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow.

Pondering marathon pace

on Saturday, September 5, 2009 at 6:48 PM

It's coming to that time where i should probably nail down what fall marathon I'll be doing.  Right now, if i continue the training plan as is, i would be doing the one in Niagara falls.  A week early is the Toronto one and a week later is Hamilton.  With several weeks left to go, it would be easy to adjust the schedule now.

There are a number of different factors that I'm considering.  I've done the Toronto one before.  Have not done either Hamilton nor Niagara.  Weather is always a factor.  During the spring, I had intended Hamilton to be the main goal, but it's on November 1 and with the weather getting cooler now, I'm starting to think that Nov 1 might be too late and too cold.  The other variable that has come into this is what goal time do i want to attempt.  3:15:59 is my BQ time for next year and i would like at a minimum to obtain that, but a part of me wants to take a shot at going sub 3:10.  A (small) part of me has always been nerved that I needed to use that extra 59 seconds that Boston gives you to qualify. Being the numbers geek that I am, always seeking precision, I've found myself  feeling a tad guilty when telling someone I've qualified for Boston by running a 3:10 marathon when in fact it was 3:10:23. I know it's only a 24 second difference but the engineer in me just is bothered. Anyways, I figured that if I went for 3:10, i would need the extra 2 weeks of training.  I had also decided i would only attempt 3:10 if I was absolutely certain that I was more fit than I was back in May of 2008 when i ran that 3:10:23, which leads me back to my training.

This past week of training looked like this.

Wednesday: 12 miles with 7@LT pace.
Thursday: 6 miles recovery
Friday: 12.1 miles
Saturday: 6 miles recovery

The Wednesday run is the big Pfitz training run that I usually dread.  Back in the first few weeks of the plan when one is struggling to put down 4 miles at an LT pace, I always look forward in the plan and wonder how the heck am I ever going to do 7 continuous miles at the same pace.  Started off with two very slow recovery miles and then started into it.  LT miles went off as 7:12, 7:04, 7:00, 6:57, 7:03, 6:56, 6:51.  First two miles felt hard.  Probably not warmed up enough. HR spiked on the 4th mile.  I had noticed that my HR was less than 170 for the first 3 miles when I usually try to keep it between 170 and 180 for LT runs.  I tried to increase the pace during mile 4, but this caused the HR to spike. With only 3 LT miles left, I ended up just running through it and the Hr dropped back to normal within a mile after me slowing down.   I'm still trying to figure out if there's anything that i can do to try and prevent this.   I've read that this can be caused by electrolyte imbalances and lack of sleep so i've been trying to make sure those are addressed by eating salt pills and going to bed relatively early.  This run has me thinking that in regards to fitness, I'm probably very close to where I was back in May 2008.  At the time, in the week leading up to that marathon, I did 3.5 miles at 7min/mile pace on a track and averaged a HR of 167-168.  Based on the info before the spike now, i think i was probably averaging about the same and this is still with about a month of training to go. 

The Thursday recovery run was done at 9:04 pace.  I'm starting to like recovery runs.  I try to work on my cadence and don't have to worry to much about tiring out.  I try to consciously run these slower than 9 min/mile and am always interested in where the HR is.  For these, it was lower than 140 for most of the run.  This i like.

The Friday run was a 12 mile General Aerobic run.   I started slow and gradually built up the pace over the course of the run. No HR spike. Towards the end, did a couple of sub 8 min miles and finished with one mile at a 3:15 marathon pace (7:26 min/mile).  Interesting thing was that the average HR during that last mile was around 160.  In the past, this would be the maximum HR that i would have during a long run.  That I might be able to hold a 3:15 marathon pace at this HR kinda has me thinking that 3:10 isn't out of the realm of possibility.  I kinda wish my HR hadn't spiked during that marathon pace, 30k race a few weeks ago cause it sure would be nice to have a little more data to support that goal.

Today my recovery run sucked.  I did 6 miles at over 10min/mile.  I weighed myself before the run and my weight was down to where it would be after a long run so i knew i was dehydrated.  Did 3 miles of a little faster than 10 min/mile, HR then spiked, walked for about a mile and then did 2 more at slower than 10min/mile.  I guess you have to have these types of runs every now and again to keep you honest.

Long run of at least 20 miles tomorrow.  Will probably try and do a tad on the fast side.

Hope everyone enjoys their long weekend!


on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 9:49 PM

Since I last updated the training has gone like this.

Friday: 6 miles recovery
Saturday: 8 miles GA with some strides
Sunday: 15 miles
Today: 6 miles recovery with some strides

The days are starting to get shorter with it being darker earlier in the evening and later in the morning.  I'm welcoming the cooler weather and have been glad that there have only been a few hot days this past summer as it made training much easier  I'm sorry to see the daylight go.  

This week is the highest mileage week of the training plan.  Got a longish tempo run tomorrow which I'm not looking forward to.  Glad it's going to be cool in the morning.

Repeats, Running/Walking and Moving

on Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 9:45 PM

Can never think of good titles for these posts.

Did 8 miles including 5x800m repeats today.  This was the first VO2Max workout for this training session. I've been following the old Pfitz plan which had 5x600m, but i've heard that this has been changed to 800m repeats in the new edition.  Did them all at a little faster than 6:25 min/mile pace which is 20min 5k pace.  Yeah I'm still eyeing that goal. It was about 12C which is nice and cool.  Hardly worked up a sweat.  Funny how back in the spring, i would think that 12C was actually quite warm. 

Did a little over 6.5 miles on Tuesday.  Did this late in the evening and it was dark.  I headed over to the local HS track and ended up doing a mix of running and walking.  Reason for this is that I'm going to be putting the bunny ears back on to pace the 1:45 half at the Scotiabank waterfront half on September 27th.  I'm supposed to do the 10min run/1min walk thing which i don't normally do. Measured my walking speed which is about 16min/miles which means in order to do 1:45 half, i would have to run about 7:40min/mile.  That pace is a bit in no man's land for me.  It's faster than my long run pace, but slower than my marathon pace so i wanted to see how well i could judge the pace by feel..  I tried 5 laps with a walk break in between each and was all over the place (6:51, 7:25, 7:24, 7:49, 7:32).  As much as i would like to use the garmin, i think the satellite reception downtown is a bit flakey for large chunks of the course so wouldn't give accurate feedback. Looks like i'll have to use the Polar foot pod. 

Which leads me to another interesting change which will affect my training.  As some of you may know, my firm was bought by another about a year ago and we will be relocating downtown and the big move day happens to be the weekend of the Scotiabank half.  We're moving downtown to the recently built Bay Adeleide Centre. The firm that bought us already moved in about two weeks ago and i think were the first tenants in there which is kinda cool.  I haven't visited yet, but i hear it's really nice.  Anyhow, i don't live downtown which means what used to be a 15-20min drive to work will probably now require over an hour worth of commuting on public transit.  Not quite sure whether the morning runs will be possible and am wondering whether running in the evening will even be possible if i get back too late. Looking forward to the move, but not looking forward to it at the same time.

30k Race Report

on Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Did the Midsummer Nights Run 30k which was held last night.  The race was at 5:30pm.  I did this race back in 2006 when it started at 8pm.  I wasn't sure how to prepare for this.  I ate some spaghetti and meatballs for breakfast at around 8am but didn't really stuff myself.  Sipped on gatorade for most of the day and then had an apple fritter with a small Tim Horton's ice capp at about 3:30pm. Probably should have had a bit more solid food, maybe a bagel or something for lunch, cause i was starving after the race.

Pfitz' plan has 15 miles planned with 12 at marathon pace. 30k is 18.6 miles, so the plan was to go out at my BQ marathon pace until the timing mat at 21k (around 13 miles) and then slow down to long run pace for the rest of the way.

Met up with Kenny ahead of the race where we decided to try and pace each other.  Also met twitter friend leehewitt before the race while waiting in line at the portapotties. I think I must have used the portapotties 4 times before the race. One of the consequences of having an all liquid diet for most of the day.

The race starts.  One thing that I've come to learn about myself is that I need a very gradual increase in pace in order to avoid my HR from spiking.  On most of my training runs, i will start out at 9:30 min/mile pace or slower and gradually increase to whatever pace I'm trying for on that day.  Even when coming to stop at a traffic light, i have to ease back into it.  If I start too fast, I think my body gets over anxious and goes into a fight or flight mode and the HR spikes. I think this is probably why i have difficulty with shorter races.  Things were going okay for the first 2km, the HR spiked shortly thereafter and would remain that way until i stopped for a breather at the 22km mark. 

Most of the first 21km went by without much fuss.  Kenny and I had the odd conversation, but not easy to do for any length of time when doing marathon pace.  One particularly interesting thing was I had a fly go up my nose.  On runs, I've had bugs fly into my mouth or get jammed in my eye, but I've never had the pleasure of having a bug fly up my nose.  This happened somewhere between the 9 and 10 mile mark.  I was trying  to figure out the best way to get it out.  I contemplated the snot rocket thing, but i've never tried that before and didn't want to risk being covered with mucous. In marathons, i will usually carry some toilet paper in a little ziploc baggie in case i need it.  I didn't  bring it today and as Murphy's law would dictate, I needed it.  So for the better part of a mile, i was forced to solely mouth breath for risk of inhaling the damn thing into my lungs.  Thankfully, there were some empty portapotties on the route shortly before the 11 mile mark where i was able to grab some toilet paper and finally blow my nose.

Hit the 21km mark at 1:35:56 which is 7:21 min/mile (4:34 min/km) and at that point let Kenny go as I slowed down.  I was hoping that the slowdown in pace would cause the HR to get back under control, but it didn't so shortly after the 22km mark I came across the a washroom and water fountain and stopped to try to get the HR under control, use the facilities and take a gel.  One way i've learned to do this is via the Valsalva maneuver.  This involves holding ones breath and bearing down.  This has worked in the past, but it can't be done on the move since the holding breath thing and tensing up the whole body is kinda difficult to do while running. Doing this, i was able to get the HR back to normal.  I lost a minute and a half for the pitsop and that included a bathroom break. From that point on, I maintained long run pace through most of the rest of the race.  I  picking up the pace in the last two km and did the final km at LT pace. Finish time of 2:22:39.

Here's the HR chart with the spiked portions. Split times and course route for the race can be seen here.

Fairly happy with this race.  Kinda wish I had warmed up a bit more prior to the race cause i think it would have prevented the HR spiking thing.

Some nice swag from this race. Long sleeve technical T-shirt.  Made sure to get the small this year, since my previous experience with the new balance shirts are that they are way too big for their size.   Huge medal.  This year they encouraged people to bring their own bottles for the race to try and save the enivornment.  I just thought this was a way to cheapen out on the provision of cups, but to their credit, they took it even further in not providing bottled water at the end of the race in plastic bottles.  Instead, they handed out stainless steel water bottles filled with water.  Nice!  And lastly, for those that have done the race before, they gave out Mortal-pins that contain the total mileage that you've done as part of the race over the years.  Having done the 30k and 15k in previous years, i got one that said 75km.

Oh yeah and one last thing I received was bug bites.  Mosquito bites on my neck and upper back. Itchy. I have to remember to wear bug repellent when I do evening races.  This is the second evening race I've done where the mosquitoes have gotten to me. 

Pace Run

on Friday, August 21, 2009 at 10:38 PM

Slight change of plan.  Didn't get a chance to do all my runs in the evening this week.  It was just too hot and humid on Monday and Tuesday to do the runs in the evenings like I had planned so I ended up doing them on the mornings of Tuesday and Wednesday. Did the Thursday and Friday runs in the evenings.

Tuesday: 6 miles recovery 9:37 min/mile

Wednesday: 14.3 miles 8:21 min/miles.

Thursday: 3.1 miles 9:41 min/mile.  This was right after a thunderstorm that brought a few tornadoes to our area. Humidity was over 90%.

Friday: 6 miles recovery with 6 strides. 

Tomorrow I have a 30k race in the evening which I will be doing a portion of at marathon pace.  What is my current marathon pace?  Good question.  At a minimum, I'd like to do at least 12 miles at 7:27 min/mile which is my current BQ pace.  Don't think I want to try and hold that pace for the entire 30k though. I may end up trying for 7:15 pace also, but in the end a lot of it will depend on the weather and how I'm feeling. 

Training Update

on Monday, August 17, 2009 at 7:42 AM

It's now 10 or 11 weeks to marathon day depending on which one i decide to do.  I've finished week 8 of an 18 week Pfitz program. 

Friday: Did 11 miles including 6 miles at an LT pace of 7:01 min/mile pace.  This has been my LT pace for a long while now.  Can't seem to speed it up any further. 

Saturday: 6 miles recovery at about 9:25 min/mile pace

Sunday: 22 miles at 8:58 min/mile pace.  This was hot. It started at 21C and was 26C by the time I finished and that's without factoring in the humidity.  Hadn't really carboloaded they day before so wasn't looking forward to this.  Headed downtown for the lake.  Plan was to start slow and see how i felt half way through, but ended up staying at this pace for the whole run.  In order to try and prevent dehydration, i drank a bottle of gatorade right before the run.  First couple of miles didn't feel so great with the liquid sloshing around in my stomach, but by 4 miles, i was feeling better.  Even so, by the time I finished I was very dehydrated even having taken extended water breaks. 

Did a different route than I did last week.  Headed east, rather than west since there's a bit more tree cover for parts of the run.  Next week, I'm doing a marathon pace run as part of a 30k race which will follow much of the same path.  The race is in the evening and is on Saturday which requires a slight tweaking of this weeks schedule.  I'll be moving all my runs up a day and trying to do them in the evening.  The temperatures for the evening for the next couple of days is looking to be warm/hot and potentially humid.  Guess we've been lucky so far this summer with relatively cool weather which is good for training so a couple of days of hot weather is probably due.

Sleepy HR

on Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 8:22 PM

Yes I know I'm weird and a nerd.  I wore my HR monitor to bed last Friday and did again last night.  I wanted to get an idea of where my resting HR is these days.  I did this a couple of years ago and it was about 45.  Based on the graphs, it seems to be at 43 today.

I only ended up wearing it for about 3 hours each time.  I wasn't sure if the 43 was right last Friday since I thought it would be lower, so I decided to do it again.  I had intended on wearing the monitor the whole night, but I woke up unexpectedly after about 3 hours and decided to just take it off to save some of the battery.  There were times the HR dropped into the lower 40 and even into the high 30's but i think 43 is the more consistent HR when it wasn't spiking on both days so that's probably what the HR is.  I'm not worried about the HR spiking parts.  The HR only jumped for very brief moments and i've been reading the HR can fluctuate during the night depending on one's breathing pattern and what stage of sleep one is in.

General Aerobic Runs

on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 8:57 PM

Tuesday: Did 6 miles of recovery which included 6 strides.

Wednesday: Did 12 miles of "General Aerobic" running in the morning and averaged about 8:45 pace. Wanted to keep this kind of slow because I have to do 6 miles of LT on Friday as part of a 11 mile run. Today was the first day in over a month that there was garbage pickup and it looks like people have been hoarding their smelly garbage for that time cause there were certainly some places that I had to hold my breath. Not nearly as bad as running by the dump drop off site a couple of weeks ago but still pretty bad.

"General Aerobic" is a term that Pfitzinger uses, but unfortunately he doesn't define very well in the first edition of his book "Advanced Marathoning". He says it can be anywhere between recovery pace and tempo pace. I was googling around and found that there are some excerpts from the second edition where he now defines them more explicitly and it appears that the proper pace for these GA runs is actually slower than long run pace. I guess the point is to just get the miles in at a relaxed pace and depend on the long runs (both normal and marathon pace) to build stamina.

Weekend Run in Review

on Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 9:38 PM

So the weekend runs break down like this.

Saturday: Did 7 miles including 8 strides. Did most of the miles slow. Was going to see if I could maintain 8 min/mile pace at HR of less than 160, but didn't feel up to it.

Sunday: 20.4 miles @8:17 min/mile pace. Drove downtown to do this. Forecast was predicting warm humid weather and I thought it would be cooler by the lake. It was fairly pleasant. It was overcast, about 20C, and there was a nice cool breeze coming off the lake. I had wanted to start really early, like at 7:00am or so, but didn't get started till about 8:30. I finished the run at just about the right time, as the thunder storm started just as i was finishing up. Barely made it back to my car before the torrential downpour of rain started. Details of the run can be seen here. I'm fairly certain from this run that i can maintain a pace of 8 min/mile at a HR of less than 160. This is of some significance since this is the type of fitness I had leading up to my PR marathon last year and I still have a good 9 weeks of training left before the taper for my fall race.

It's been about 5 weeks since I ran along this route and they've changed some things during that time. They added a new paved section to the route around Ontario Place. I followed my typical route and ignored the sign warning me to detour, only to be faced with a concrete barrier in my path a little ways down. Did my best steeplechase impersonation while vaulting the barrier. They also removed one of the water fountains that I like to use at the half way point which PO'd me a bit.

I tried out my Injinji socks again. I bought a pair a couple of years ago, but didn't like them because of blister issues. I've used them a couple of time recently during recovery runs with my nike frees and they seem to have worked okay so i tried them out again on my long run. Had a blister problem again, but it's in a weird place. I usually get blisters as a result of the shoe rubbing up against my toes, but with these socks i get a blister on the inside of my toes as a result of my big toe rubbing up against the inside of my left second toe. Never had that problem before. I think the socks I have may be too small. Maybe I'll try a larger pair.

So total for the week was 53 miles. I've been toying with the idea of trying to slowly ramp up to somewhere in the 60's, as opposed to topping out at 55 like the Pfitz plan says. It's easily doable by just running on one of the two rest days that the 55 mile plan offers in a week.