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.