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.