Mississauga races...

on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 11:46 PM

I had hoped to jump back into the final pre-taper week of Pfitz' 18 week program today, but the plan called for 10 miles with 4x1200m at VO2Max pace. I skipped the VO2Max sessions from each of the two past weeks and wasn't too sure I would be able to do the one today. Instead I ended up doing the 10 miles with 3 at an LT pace at just under 7min/mile. I don't really see the point in doing the hispeed track work at this point cause i think my VO2Max is more than adequete to handle a 3:50 marathon. Right now I've got to work on getting comfortable with the 3:50 marathon pace.

So the rest of the week is 10 miles on Friday, 4 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday to get to a total of 49 for the week. Then the taper starts. I've been thinking of racing the Mississauga 10k on May 9 since the Pfitz plan has a tune-up race on that day, though I've been thinking that I should sign up for the half to practise my expected marathon pace. Maybe I can do both?

Boston Marathon Race Report

on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Just some preliminary things to document. I arrived and picked up my race kit on the Friday which is by far the least crowded day. I waited about 15 minutes to purchase my jacket. By Sunday, it was chaos at the expo with waits of over an hour. Also all the good free stuff gets handed out on Friday. They either run out or are hoarding the stuff come Sunday. They were offering cheap gatorade (endurance, energy, recovery) drinks on Sunday for 2 for $1. Not sure if this was being offered on the Friday, but it was a good deal on the Sunday. They hand out an addidas poster with every participants name in the background.

Pasta dinner is included with the entry fee and is pretty good. Pasta and tomato sauce, mac and cheese, pasta salad and green salad and all the beer and water/juice you can drink. Line-up seemed very long to get in, but it moved fairly quickly. Ate once at about 6:30 and then again at about 7:30 due to a meeting mix-up. Retired for the night at 10:00pm.

Woke up at about 5:00 and ate a bagel. Was at Boston Common to board the buses at 7:00am and had to wait. Quite the long line-up.

Ahead and Behind Me

Eventually made it to the front of the line and boarded the bus at about 7:30. The buses were very well organized. The police would stop traffic to let the buses through. Felt like we were VIP's or as VIP as one could feel like while sitting in a yellow school bus. The trip to Hopkinton took a little over an hour. Arrived at Hopkinton and just kinda followed everyone. I was in awe at everything.

At the Athelete's Village, they were serving bagels, water and coffee. I had lugged along some water and realized i didn't have to. I downed a bottle of gatorade energy about an hour before race start. It's not your standard gatorade It packs quite the calorie punch with over 300 calories in a 12 oz bottle.Wish they sold the stuff in Canada. Headed over to the start line at about 9:45 which requires a fairly long walk. Made my way to the back of wave one and found Alex who had indicated that he would try and run with me for the first few miles, but who would end up staying with me for the entire race.

Back of the first wave. No one behind me.
So the race starts and since there are over 10000 people in front of us, it takes a while to reach the start line. My quest to be the last person to cross the start line in the first wave didn't pan out. I was technically the last person in the wave when the race started, but as i proceeded forward, people who were late kept jumping in behind me. At first, we let them pass, but by the time we reached the start line and were walking really slow, there were still people coming in from behind us. I didn't want to wait too long because we had to keep some distance between us and the wave 2 people. So we crossed the start line and the race begins.
I had picked up one of those Nike pace bands at the expo. This one is similar to the one I've used in the past that I got from the Chicago marathon but is a bit wider. The pace band is course adjusted so it accounts for elevations. I knew that we had to average 9:30 min/mile. The first mile was very slow at about 10 min/mile. This included the stop to get a picture in front of the mile marker. During mile two, i stopped for the first of two bathroom breaks which were unavoidable. It was actually pretty neat running the first little bit because we had the crowd support all to ourselves. I think we spent most of the first couple of miles high-fiving all the kids that were around. Here's a pic during the first few miles. There's no one around except for us and a couple of bandits running. I think most of the people around us at the start were bandits. It's really easy to jump onto the course early on.
So i don't really have split times for each of the markers. Well, I do, but with all the hassles of trying to get my camera phone out and have the picture taken and making sure i put it back in its holdser, I kept forgetting to hit the lap button or i hit it very late. Just going to rely on the timing splits. So hit the first 5k marker at 29:47 which is 9:35 min/mile pace which is pretty good considering the largest elevation drop takes place in the first three miles.
Next 5k is also on target at 29:04 which is at 9:28 pace. The following 5k was fast at 27:47 which was 9:18 pace. I remember commenting that we had almost three minutes banked and that we should probably slow down a bit (or a lot). Between 15km and 20km, we ended up averaging 9:28 pace but this included a lot of walking and another bathroom break. Shortly before the half, we went through the Wellesley scream tunnel. I, being a complete rookie, just ran through it hi-fiving everyone. Alex on the other hand decided to partake in some of the offerings from the Wellesley girls and I ended up having to wait for him a bit at the end. In hindsight, I probably should have taken some time here cause I needed to bleed off the 2 or so minutes of banked time that we had. Oh well, next time. So after Wellesley is the half mark. With the goal of running a personal worse and a negative split, we knew that if I crossed the half mark before a certain time, it would be only possible to do one, but not both. So we ended up walking the last little bit before the timing mat. Between 20k and 21.1, we averaged 11.5 min/mile pace. Crossed the half at 2:05:32.

Between the half and about 35k, we proceeded to ever so slightly increase our pace. Not consciously, but it was tough with all the people passing us not to want to at least keep up them. Our increase in pace included going up through the Newton Hills, including heartbreak. In fact, the mile with heartbreak hill was done at 9:25 pace and this included the time needed to get this picture at the mile 21 marker. Heartbreak wasn't as bad as i had imagined. Mind you, I wasn't really pushing the effort.

So down into Boston we go.

Pass the Citgo sign and with 1 mile to go, I needed to average over an 11 minute mile to get my personal worst time. Very hard to do with people screaming at you to keep going every time you try to stop to walk. I ended up taking pictures as that seemed like a legitimate excuse to slow down or stop.

So shortly before the finish line, I hear my name being yelled and look around to see my dad so i stop to pose for a picture.

Now at this point, we had realized that there was no 26 mile marker and so Alex had taken off to finish strong and he ended up finishing about 1 minute ahead of me. I on the other hand ended up doing a very slow jog from here to the finish line cause I needed to bleed off the remaining banked time I had. This included me standing at the finish line for a brief moment, just before the timing mat. If you want to see the video, you can see it here. Just fast forward to 2:00 and you can see me at the far left of the screen doing a very slow jog, then a walk and then standing around and checking my watch and then finally crossing the finish line. I think the announcer may have said something about me waiting there, but I can't make out what he actually said. I actually thought I had a personal worst time by two seconds or so, but my official time actually matched my personal worst.

So first half done in 2:05:32, second half in 2:04:23 for a little over a minute negative split. Granted, I had to cheat to get the negative split by walking/stopping before the half, but I'll take it.
Had a great time. Never thought I would ever want to do Boston again, nor did i feel like I ever wanted to try and qualify again but I have to admit, it was the best race I've ever done and I want to go back! The crowd support is awesome! The volunteers are awesome! The participants are awesome! Every thing is just really awesome! Only downer for the trip is that I didn't get to see the Red Sox play as the game was rained out and couldn't make the make-up game the following day. I got some pretty good seats at face value only 4 rows from the field, but i guess not everything can be perfect. At least I got in to see Fenway. Maybe next year...

So the question is how do I get back. My qualifying time slows down by 5 minutes next year. While 3:10 took way too much effort and training and I never want to do that again, i think 3:15 is probably acheivable with a moderate level of training. So the goal is to try and qualify in the fall. Next decision though is what race to try at??

The Human Spirit

on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 11:27 PM


And send healing vibes to Steve who finished the Boston marathon in just over 7.5 hours and found himself in the hospital. He seems to be doing okay. You can read more about it here.

Still thinking about what I want to say about Boston. Maybe this weekend.

Boston Marathon Done.

on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 9:28 AM

Just a quick update.  Mission accomplished.

  1. Run a personal worse time... Check (Actually tied it)
  2. Run a negative split... Check (little over a minute neg. split)
  3. Take a picture at every mile marker... Almost Check (they didn't have a 26 mile marker)

Final time of 4:09:55.  Thanks to Alex who decided to run with me and be my own personal photographer.  Had a blast.  Will post more detailed commentary later.

Boston so far...

on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 7:10 AM

Did a short 3-4k run yesterday.  Will probably go out for a 2 mile run sometime soon.  Pics and story so far.

At airport
Bib Number pickup.
Blurry pic of me picking up
They have a wall where you can post a pick of yourself with your bib number.  All the prime spots were filled (start, finish, heartbreak).  I picked near Wellesley.
Me and Steve 
Dick and Rick Hoyt
Ryan Hall (Had to wait almost and hour but I got his autograph)
Watched Josh Cox give presentation.  Good to know that even elites have crappy days and throw up during races.

Captive audience on a video of the marathon course

Expo wasn't so bad on Friday, it was a major zoo yesterday.
Had dinner with Alex
the "jacket"

Prepping for a personal worse...

on Friday, April 17, 2009 at 8:46 AM

Firstly, thank you all for the well wishes. I'm in phili waiting for my next flight to Boston. Didn't get much sleep last night as I had a 6:45 flight this morning. There's a guy next to me wearing a 2003 Boston shirt. I wonder how many people on this flight are doing the marathon. So I'll probably post a few more times before the race as this I'd all fairly new to me. I don't think I'll be blogging during the race but I will be twittering the odd pic or statement so you can keep track of that by following my twitter account in the sidebar.

So prior to each marathon, I usually set some goals for the race. This race is a bit different since this is the first time I'm not going in with a certain agressive time goal in mind. So my goals for Boston are as follows:

1) to run a personal worse time. My slowest marathon to date is 4:10 and come hell or high water I will be slower than that. This dates back to a time when a bq was just a far off goal. I would tell anyone who would listsen that my goal was always to qualify. It was about the journey to get there that was important and not so much the final destination. So in keeping with that, slower than 4:10 is my goal.

2) run a negative split. Though this might contradict goal number 1, it's entirely possible to do both. In the 8 marathons I've done, I've never run a negative split so I think now would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Also considering that Boston is known to be difficult to run a negative split on, it would be a noteworthy accomplishment, even if it might be a bit artificial in nature.

3) get a picture of myself in front of every mile marker. I saw a guy do this in my first marathon and I thought it was a great way to memorialize the race. This has always been something that I wanted to do and here is my chance.

So in order to accomplish all of the above I've decided to start at the very back of the first wave. I'm in corral 5, but I'll be moving to coral 13. I'm hoping to be the last person in the first wave to cross the start line. This will give me about a 10 to 15 minute head start on those in wave 2, but means I won't be in anyones way in the first wave.

For those interested in tracking me, I'm bib 5505. Next post will be from Boston!

Getting prepped...

on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 8:37 PM

Did 9.5 miles this morning at 8:52 pace.  It's still dark when I got out, but that should hopefully change tomorrow since I have a relatively short run which means i can actually leave after sunrise and get back in time to prep for work.  My leg muscles are a bit tight I'm been foam rolling and "Stick"ing them.  I probably should have booked a massage appointment for this week.  

So there are a couple of things I have to do before leaving for Boston.  I obviouslly have to pack, which is a bit troublesome since the weather seems to be forecasting rain.  I'd like to bring my running gear in my carry-on but with wide ranging weather forecasts I don't think i can cram everything I want in there. 

There's supposed to be a Runners World Forum Event on Saturday in which a gift exchange occurs. They guy I'm buying for a fellow Canadian in Sarnia.  I ended up buying the new edition of "Once a Runner"  (Thanks Audrey) which just came out last week.  The book which has been out of print usually sells for ridiculour prices second hand, so it was perfect timing.  I ordered it online on Friday and I'm still waiting for it to be delivered. I'm hoping that it gets here before I leave cause otherwise I'm going to have to find something else or buy the book  at a brick and mortar store. 

8 days and counting (again)...

on Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 5:43 PM

Well I guess it's actually 8 days today till race day (i.e., a week tomorrow).  yesterday I was going by the countdown timer which today says 7 days and a bit.  Did 17.3 miles today at 8:49 pace.  It was very blustery and the temperature was probably just above freezing.  It was sunny though.  Did an initial short 4 mile loop and then did 13 miles.  I was hoping to do the last mile or two at a marathon pace effort, but just didn't have it in me.  Probably for the best. 

So the original plan for this upcoming week goes out the window since I have to work in a bit of a taper and a marathon distance on the following Monday.   The way I see it, I will probably do as follows:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 9 miles GA
Wednesday: 4 miles Recovery
Thursday: 8 Miles including 2@ LT pace.
Friday:  Rest (travel day)
Saturday:  5 Miles Recovery/Some strides
Sunday: 2 Miles Recovery
Monday:  26.2 miles

8 days and counting...

on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Did a little over 9 miles on Friday with 5x600m at VO2Max pace.  Pace wise these were all over the place.


I did the first one at about the right pace and then did a 90 second recovery as is customary with Pfitz's 600m VO2Max recovery.  Did the second one also at the right pace with the 90 second recovery but when I launched into the third one I was sucking wind pretty bad and ended up having to slow down.  Then proceeded to take a 4.5 minute break cause I was pretty pooped.  Then did the last two with more extended recovery periods. 

Today I did a 4 mile recovery run at about 9:40 pace. 

So a little under a week from now, I will be in Boston.  I booked my flight, but I'm not to happy with it. My flight leaves at 6:30 in the morning on Friday and has a stopover in Philadelphia. At the time I booked it, it was almost double the cost to do anything else.  If I had waited a few more days, I could have picked up a direct flight leaving at a reasonable time for only about a hundred dollars more which I would have more than happily have accepted.

I found myself shopping for a running outfit today for race day.  I'm not normally fashion conscious when it comes to races but thought i should probably look to see if anything caught my eye.  Nope.  I also picked up a copy of the May issue of Runner's World today cause I noticed there are a few articles on Boston related things.

So I"ve been trying to see if it might be possible to blog during the actual race.  I'm not entirely sure if it would be worthwhile to suffer the aggrevation that I would get from work about the roaming charges for data if I did.  I set up a twitter account based on Yumke's recommendation and i'm still trying to figure out how it works but that may be an option.  I may end up giving that to people I know but I'm still trying to keep the blog away from people from work so I'll have to see if i can keep my worlds from colliding! It can be found here.

Unexpected Taper

on Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Well I commented last weekend that I thought I was coming down with something and by Monday my nose was runny and I was a bit lightheaded. Took the afternoon off. Guess the 30 miles in two days thing on the weekend probably wasn't too great of an idea. Add to that, we had snow Monday morning.  Old man winter is getting his last kick at the can. I was able to survive the entire winter without getting sick and it hits me now in the first week of April. Go figure. In any event, i think it started after my 7 mile LT run last week at the gym. Come to think of it, the last time I got sick was also shortly after a 7 mile LT run at the gym over a year ago.  Coincidence? Nasty gym germs....

Anyhow, I haven't run since Sunday and I may try and go out for a short run later tonight and again tomorrow.  This next upcoming week is a bit of a mystery as to how it'll go.  This weekend was supposed to be a tuneup race and a 17 mile long run and next week is supposed to be week 13 of 18 of a training plan  that includes a 17 mile long run with 14 at marathon pace next weekend.  Obviously I won't be doing that cause I will actually be running a marathon the following Monday...

Angus Glen 10 Miler Race Report

on Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 8:33 PM

So things went according to plan.  Got to the race fairly early to stash my stuff.  They had lockers for everyone and not just crummy lockers that you would find at the gym.  These were nice and spacious.  This golf course hosted the Canadian Open back in 2007 and they have little name tags on top of each locker, presumably because this is the locker that the individual used.  My locker was used by Tag Ridings.  Ever heard of him?  I haven't either.  I ended up googling him and you can find information on him here. Weird thing is that he was born one day after i was.  Uncanny eh?

Vijay Singh locker was also just across from mine.  I thought that he won the tournament that year but apparently he came in second.  I did a little searching for Tiger Woods, but couldn't find it.  Apparently he didn't play that year.

So the plan was to do 10 miles first and then get back to do the 10 mile race for a total of 20 for the day.  I decided to head out for 5 miles and then turn around and come back.  First 10 mile route is here.  A couple of things I wanted to try.  The first was to to try and run with the camera phone in a holdster.  Ended up putting it in my waistband so that it fit into the small of back.  Here are a couple of pics from the first 10 miles.  The neighbourhood and houses are great looking.   If you're looking to buy a house, this one is for sale.  Close to a really nice park.

I wanted to time the first 10 mile run so that I would get back just as the race was starting.   I ended up getting back about 5 minutes before the race started which was good since I wouldn't cool down.  Another thing I wanted to try was to not have to use the restroom for the 20 mile run today.  I have only one fear in being the pace bunny in Ottawa and that is that I would have to stop to use the restroom at some point.  With my two pee break performance last week, i wanted to see if i could survive a 20 mile run with limited liquids and no requirement of a restroom break so I did not carboload or water load the day before. 

So the race starts.  Actually they had waves of starters which worked a lot better than I thought it would.  They had waves based on 10k times and everyone seemed to seed themselves correctly.  Being ever so meticulous, last night I had punched in a 8:45 pace for 10 miles into McMillan and got a 10k time of just over 52 minutes so I decided to start in the 49-52 minutes wave since i guessed everyone in that wave would be doing round 8:45 pace. 

The rest of the race went without incident.  I was trying to maintain an 8:45 pace, but most of the splits were slightly fast.  The course was really hilly.  The hills were short, but they were really steep.  I thought I had read somewhere that there would be a 5 mile timing mat, but there wasn't.  My plan was to run a negative split which I think I did, but I'm not entirely sure how much of a negative split cause the garmin didn't follow the course exactly and it read the course as being a bit short.  I tried to do an LT km right at the end, but there was a killer hill.  It was still my fastest km, but it was more like marathon pace.  Final time of 1:24:41 for an average pace of 8:28.  The course route is here.  They had a pretty good BBQ lunch afterwards. Angus Glen puts on a half marathon and 10k in the fall and they put out a good spread of food there also.

I didn't need to use the restroom during the race, but I was pretty dehydrated afterwards.  I drank one bottle of gatorade over the first 15 miles of todays run with the occasionaly extra cup of water handed out at the aid station.  My HR was higher than it normally would be for a long run.  This could have been do to a lot of things though as i ran 10 miles yesterday and didn't drink or eat a lot.  I got a whole bunch of pictures from the race today.  Some of them are below.

Race pics

on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 8:19 PM

Was supposed to due 12 miles on Friday but it rained the entire day and I still wasn't in the mood to run in the rain.  I also think I may be coming down with something so I skipped the run yesterday and did 10 miles this morning at the gym a little faster than recovery pace cause it was really windy this morning.  I picked up my race kit for the Angus Glen 10 miler tomorrow.  I'm supposed to do 20 miles and what I think I'll do is get there early and squeeze in 10 miles before and then run the race as a long run.  I don't think it's going to be a really fast course cause it's on golf course paths.  People are supposed to seed themselves based on their 10k time, but in my experience self seeding doesn't work that well and when you throw in that the paths are only a bit wider than the average sidewalk, i think there's going to be a lot of difficulty in running it unless you're right at the front.

Race pics for ATB came out.

This is me doing my superman impression.  I ran with a jacket over my bib number and realized that I wasn't going to get any pics if I didn't show it.  I never did get the bib number showing and instead flashed my napa marathon shirt from last year.  I had to browse through the lost and found to find this. They may have been more of me, but I lost interest after browsing through over 1000 pics.
This is the finish line pic with the jacket fully unzippered.

In the midst of the 55 mile week

on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 10:36 PM

Did 6 miles at recovery pace on Tuesday with 6 strides. Strides felt surprisingly smooth. They've felt very unnatural these past few weeks and with last week being a recovery week and just having done a relatively slow 30k, i was surprised how well they went.

I'm in the midst of the peak week for the 55 miles/18 week training plan for Pfitz. Yesterday was the training run that scares off most people from Pfitz' training plans. The dreaded 12 miles with 7@LT pace. I woke up in the morning but it was raining outside and having spent most of the 30k race on Sunday running in the rain, I was not in the mood to repeat it, so i waited until after work. Problem was that after work, the wind was blowing around like crazy and I wasn't in the mood to run laps around a track with the wind, so i decided to head to the gym. I think this has been the latest in the winter training season that I've been to the gym. I still have to cancel my membership at some point cause I know i won't go back there until next winter.

So the run went better than I thought it would. I warmed up with 3 miles @9:40 pace and then started in at 7:13 pace which is what I've been able to handle in the buildup over the past few months and is consistent with my MP run two weeks ago. HR was barely squeaking over 160 for the these first three miles so I started to ramp up the speed with each subsequent mile to 7:08, 7:03, 6:58 and finally 6:53. Even at the end of it, my HR maxed out at 174 when it normally would be closer to 180. Then finished off with two miles or so at 8:00 min/mile and the HR was below 160. I know the treadmill can sometimes make you think you are faster than you actually are, but this was encouraging and I'd like at some point to see if I can maintain this pace outside.

BTW, my Boston marathon mail kit showed up a few days ago. Only 17 days to go!!