Recovery week.

on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 10:14 PM

This past week was a recovery week. The purpose of these things according to Pfitz is to allow the body to recover somewhat from the increasing amounts of mileage. Mileage was scheduled to be cutback to 37 miles a week. I skipped one recovery run so I ended up at 33 miles this week. Though describing it only as skipping a recovery run seems okay, I had to move the schedule around. The first two runs on Tuesday and Wednesday went according to plan, but Thursday morning which had a scheduled modest 8 miles, I ended up skipping in the morning and it was just too warm in the evening. Friday came and went without a run and forced myself to do it on Saturday. Sunday is long run day of 12 miles and the plan originally had a recovery run the day before, but since I already did 8 miles the previous day, I skipped it.

Sunday's long run was a bit different. The Scotiabank waterfront marathon had a "tune-up" run. These are scheduled runs set up by the race to get people to run together. I don't think I mentioned this before, but I'm going to be a pacer again for the 1:45 half at the race. Being a pacer gives free entry and free gear which is a nice gig if you can get it. One of the conditions is that you have to attend one of these tune-up runs so people can get a chance to meet you and to allow the race to advertise the pacing program and the sponsor who this year is Brooks. I haven't run in Brooks shoes since 2008. Last year Asics sponsored the pacers and I think the year before that Addidas was the sponsor. Whomever is willing to pay the bills I suppose.

So the tune-up run had three options. a 20k, 10k and a 5k distance. The 20k distance would have been perfect for me since I was supposed to do 12 miles, but when I inquired about it, the organizers had other plans. Only the marathon pacers would be doing the 20k distance, whereas the half pacers would be doing the 10k. The pacers were supposed to run their race pace as part of the tune-up run. I'm not sure that this was wise. If you think about it, someone that was going to follow a pacer that they would follow in September was being asked to run 6 miles at their half marathon pace today. This is basically a 6 mile LT run on a day when they should probably be doing a long run.

With only 6 miles on tap as part of the run, I had to make up an additional 6 miles. They had staggered the start time of the three races so that we would all basically arrive at the finish line at about the same time. Since I had arrived really early to beat the rush and because I had intended on doing the 20k, i had some time to get the 6 miles in before my race. I basically just ran the 10k route which was already marked out. It felt weird passing the km markings and aid stations knowing that I was going to run this same thing again in about an hour.

As for the actual tune-up run itself, there really wasn't much to tell. I ran for the first 10 minutes and had a group around me but when I stopped for the walk break (I was doing 10 and 1's), all but one of the group kept going. I continued with one woman doing 10 and 1's, but she said the pace was faster than she was used to. I lost her at the turnaround point, though she did say after that she ended up with a faster time than she was expecting so i guess it was a good day. I finished in 50:20 which would have put me on pace for a 1:46:12 half. Close enough.

Acura 5k report

on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 11:19 PM

The 5k race from two weekends ago. Signed up for this at the last minute. Was intending to use this to get some experience. Based on past experience, the first 5k of my racing season tends to be a disaster (see 2009 and 2008 and 2007). I was expecting this race to be no different. Prepared for this slightly differently. Day before, I did a very short, very slow recovery run with 6 strides towards the end. One thing I did differently was I did it at the end of the day about 12 hours before the actual race. I think this may have helped.

Arrived with plenty of time. Wanted to do a proper warm up so with 20 minutes to start did a slow 1-1.5 mile jog with 3 short strides. Moved into the starting corrals with 5 minutes to go and bumped into Kenny and Lee. Goal was to try and go for 20 minutes, though realistically I thought that breaking 21 minutes was going to be a challenge.

So the gun goes off and I start out at a fairly controlled pace. Usually, I'm in a panic during the first km trying to weave around people, but this time, if I got stuck behind someone, I just hung back a bit until an opening appeared. I was trying to use my garmin to ensure that I was pacing properly and though it looked like I was right on pace, I ended up being a bit too slow in the first km hitting it in 4:07. The first little bit is under the elevated freeway so it's possible the GPS signal wasn't too great. The other thing was that the HR spiked during the first km which is usually a sign of tougher things to come.

I had thought of slowing down after the HR spike and doing the 10 miler instead, but thought I'd try to see how far I could go with the elevated HR before I started to feel like crap. Motor along and hit the 2nd km marker at 4:14 though I think I pushed the lap button a bit late since I was running through an aid station and tried to get some water in my mouth (which didn't work too well). It was probably around 4:10 or so. Hit the turnaround and head for home. 3rd km is in 4:05, but this was actual short due to my previous error so it's probably more like 4:09. So to this point, I've been fairly consistent with the pacing and the HR is still spiking. 4th km is usually where I start to fade and this was no exception, though it wasn't as bad of a fade as it normally is. I usually get this feeling of just wanting to give up during the 4th km, but I didn't get that feeling this time. Sure it was tough, but a sustainable type of tough. There were a couple people ahead of me and I just sort of tried to catch them and passed 3 or 4 people during the stretch. Even so this was my slowest km at 4:14. Last km, try to pick up the effort a bit, and end up with my fastest split of 4:06.

Total: 20:46 (6:41 min/mile)

So fairly consistent splits and all this with the HR spiking.  I should probably mention that I still haven't gotten back my heart stress test results yet and won't know till the beginning of August.  At least with this, race, I  now have a gauge of a 5k pace I can hold with the HR going crazy. This was also with almost no VO2Max training.  I did 4x800m 6:20 pace five days before the race and that was it.  I'm keen on trying another 5k since I'm pretty sure that if the HR didn't spike, I could maybe break 20 minutes or at the very least try and set a new PR (20:21 PR),but 5k races take a little too much out of me and end up messing up the marathon training.  Only time I would consider it would be on a Saturday since it still allows me to get a long run in on Sunday.  There was a 5k race this Saturday I was thinking of doing, but it's a first time event on a new course. It starts with a hill at the start and then it's all downhill.  I'd rather race on a certified course, but they are hard to find in this area.  One of these days, I may just try and do a 12.5 lap time trial at the track and see what happens.


Let's see. Since I last posted I've gotten most of my mileage in according to Pfitz.

Thursday (July 8): 10.2 miles (8:41 min/mile pace)

Saturday: 4.1 miles recovery which included 6 strides.

Sunday: 5 k race in the morning in 20:46. 14 miles in the afternoon (9:21 pace)
Bonked pretty bad doing the 14 miles. Including the warmup for the 5k. Ended up doing 18-19 miles for the day. Race report for the 5k to come.

Tuesday: 9 miles including 5 miles at tempo pace. Bonked pretty bad on this run too. Didn't recover that well from the Sunday run and struggled to put down the 5 tempo miles at 7:38 pace.

Wednesday: 5.4 miles @ 9:24 pace

Thursday: 10 miles @ 8:47 pace

Saturday: 5.4 miles recovery

Sunday: 16.2 miles which included between 9 and 10 miles at marathon pace effort. I thought I was pretty recovered for this and thought it wouldn't be too hard since I did 11 miles of marathon pace two weeks ago. Drove downtown to do it by the lake but since the Honda Indy car race was on ended up going onto the Leslie spit where it was a little too warm. Ran into some HR spiking problems on the spit and towards the end. Had intended to do 10 miles at marathon pace, but probably only ended up with 9 and a little bit. The Marathon pace speed was a little faster than it was two weeks ago at around 7:35 to 7:40 pace.

Today: 7 miles. Supposed to do 8 miles with strides, but tried to do some 800 repeats instead. Not too good. Did 3 miles warm up and then did one 800m repeat and then proceeded to bonk during the second one and ended up switching it into 200m repeats.

I had a few good runs a few weeks ago in really warm weather, so I had thought that maybe I had adjusted okay to the higher temps and humidity, but I think that was just an anomaly cause all my runs in the warmer weather have just been terrible or rather any runs out in the sun during the warmer temperatures have been terrible. Ones done when the sun goes down, even if it's still warm outside have gone okay. Maybe it's an anti-Superman thing. The yellow sun is my kyrptonite.

Warming Up

on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 10:22 PM

It's gotten very hot as of late. It's funny how you go back and read about the winter training days where one prays for the warm days of summer and now I'm wishing for the cooler training days of winter.

This past week of training has gone according to plan. I did 42 miles last week which included a 16 mile long run on Sunday with about 11 miles at a marathon pace effort which came out to about 7:35-7:50 min/mile pace. Ended up driving down to the lake to do it. I'm trying to avoid driving down to the lake to do long runs this year with the exception of marathon pace runs. I like to be able to get a continuous route down by the lake where I don't have to stop for traffic lights.

I've been using the Pfitz-first edition training plan, but remembered that the 2nd edition plan (which is presumably better) is slightly different. The 2nd edition plan had an early 13 mile run with 8 at marathon pace which I was supposed to do 2 weeks ago, but since I was following the 1st edition plan I didn't. I thought I'd try the 8 marathon pace miles this past weekend though. I ended up feeling pretty good after 8 miles so I just kept going to 11.

Yesterday had me supposedly doing 8 miles with 10 strides but I wanted to try an interval workout. Up in the morning and it was very warm and humid. Did 4x800m in 3:12, 3:10, 3:09 and 3:11 with a one lap jog recovery of 2:50 in between. There's a 5k race this weekend which I was thinking of doing in my quest to break the 20 minute barrier, but based on how I was feeling on this workout, I don't think I'm ready. It could just have been the warm temperatures, so one never knows. I may end up signing up anyways just to get the experience. There's also a 10 mile race which I was considering doing instead though since there's a $10 coupon available on the website for that. Still fairly pricey though, $70 for the 10 miler and $52 for the 5k. Tough call.

Changing it up

on Monday, June 28, 2010 at 10:46 PM

Did 15 miles yesterday for a long run. Averaged a little slower than 9 min/miles. Course was sort of hilly. Much hillier than my normal route. I've decided to do a bit of exploring as of late. I was looking at a google earth satellite view of my area and I noticed that there are a lot of little parks in the area. In the past, I've done various loops that end up taking me back to my place so I can refill my water bottle. I wanted to try and find out how many of these parks had water fountains so I set off to search. I've found two parks with them and I'm hoping there are more. My hope is to find a 20 mile route that doesn't overlap, is not an out and back and has enough water fountains along the way to keep me hydrated.

On another note, I bought a new flavour of gatorade powder. I'm a creature of habit and have always used the orange one, but the grocery store didn't have any so I'm trying lemon-lime. I'm a rebel.

First official tempo run tomorrow morning. Gotta get to sleep for the 5am wake-up call.

Stress Test

on Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 7:05 AM

Went for a cardiac stress test yesterday.  I also had an echocardiogram done while there.  I have to wait 2 weeks for the official report.  I tried to garner some information from the people doing the tests, but all they said was that everything looked okay. Not sure if that's what the tell everyone so as to not scare you.

My family doctor suggested the stress test after I mentioned the weird symptom that I sometimes see while running.  Here's an example from when I ran a marathon last fall. 

I started the race out fine, but at about the 2mile mark, the HR spiked for 4 miles and then returned to normal. It doesn't happen on every run and I'm not sure if there's anything that triggers it. It's a weird symptom.  I can sometimes sense when it starts since it feels like a skipped heart beat, but other than that I don't really know that it's happening unless I look down at my watch.  As far as I can tell, it impacts my performance only during shorter faster races where VO2Max becomes a limiting factor.  I think that's why I have problems with 5k races.  The harder intensity means that the HR is more likely to spike which causes a worse performance when it does. Anyhow the main objective of a stress test is to stress the heart to try and get it to do something abnormal and then analyse what the abnormal part is.

I had my echocardiogram done first.  This is where they use an ultrasound to take various pictures to get an idea of what the heart looks like and the blood flow through it.  The tech said that everything looked fine, but I'm not sure if she was the one doing the analysing or if a doctor is supposed to look at the pictures and issue a final report.

Then had the fitness test done.  They hook you up to a bunch of electrodes to get an EKG and then put you through a treadmill test at every increasing intensity while monitoring your blood pressure. The doctor asked some general questions about my HR issues and wanted to know a bit about my running. I said that I ran marathons and she then mentioned that she was a runner too and was doing her first marathon this fall in NY.  She then said that we might be here a while since the test builds up only gradually and most people will bail at some point during the test once the effort level increases.

So the test starts at a slow walking pace and flat incline.  Every couple of minutes the pace and incline of the treadmill increases and they measure your blood pressure.  I kinda figured early on that my HR was not going to spike during this test since from experience I know that if i build up the effort gradually enough, the HR will not spike and since this test was doing just that, it probably wouldn't reproduce the conditions that cause it to occur. I think I got a lot farther into the test then most people would because the treadmill started to make some strange noises at the higher speeds and the tech and doctor began to comment on it like it was a weird occurrence. The HR never did spike and the test shut down after what I'm assuming is the maximum effort level that the treadmill can induce. It could also have been that they thought i was working too hard since by the end of the test, i was dripping lots of sweat.  I'm not sure of the speed but by the end, it felt like around 8min/mile.  The incline was somewhat steep though.  My legs were starting to fatigue at the end and I was breathing somewhat hard, but not like interval hard. Afterward, they said my HR peaked at around 180 which for me is a good tempo effort when I know from past experience my max is at around 190.  In total, I think the test lasted a max of 15 minutes.

I'm somewhat disappointed by the test since I don't think the test really "stressed" me. But I can understand the reasoning for the treadmill test.  Most people that come in for stress testing have heart issues and are not involved in exercise and are usually of older age. Most of the people in the waiting room were seniors and the people who were younger seemed to be people who had brought their parents/grandparents to the office.  The test should induce cardiac stress in most people, but just not me on this particular test. 

I have to wait for the official results, but assuming that they don't report anything wrong, I will have to examine some other options as I'm still concerned about the increase in HR.  Another option which I'll have  to talk to my doctor about is a Holter test which is where you are hooked up to a portable EKG unit that you wear for 1 to 2 days.  I was actually hoping that my doctor would initially prescribe this instead of the treadmill stress test .  I think the main purpose of having the stress test done in a doctor's office is that you would have medical personal there in case anything bad happens.  The downside is that you are somewhat limited by the artificial test conditions present whereas if I used a holter device, I'm fairly certain that I could get my HR to spike under conditions of my choosing. 

Anyhow, I'll report on the results when they come in which should be in about 2 weeks.

Getting Faster and Fitter

on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Did 14 miles on Sunday at about 8:20 min/mile pace.  This was a recent bump in pace for me.  All my long runs to date including the ones leading up the spring marathons were at about 9 min/miles.  I was way over my target long run heart rate for this run so I'll probably have to return to the slower long runs the next couple of weeks until I can build some mileage and get the HR back down. 

In past training cycles, all I've done is run.  No cross training, no weights, no anything else.  Though I've tried the 100 pushup challenge and the occasional core workout, I never really stuck with anything to the point of seeing change.  I never really saw the need for it since I'd been able to accomplish most of my goals without it.  I feel though that I've hit a bit of a wall in terms of training effect.  Most people can get faster by building some endurance or losing weight.  I think I've already hit that ceiling in terms of weight loss and VO2Max with very little in the way of future room for improvement. I think this training cycle, I will try and do a little more total body fitness. Hopefully this will assist in getting me to a point where I can gun for some PRs without having to add a ton of extra mileage.  Who knows, maybe a 3:10 marathon attempt for the fall is in the cards.

I did 8 miles outside today with some strides and had the HR spike a couple of times which I suppose is good timing since I'm going for my cardiac stress test tomorrow.  I haven't had any issues with HR as of late, but I think that's because I've been running at a lower intensity level. I'm just hoping that I can reproduce the symptom tomorrow. I'd hate to go through the whole exercise of getting tested without being able to reproduce the effect. 

It begins...

on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 2:21 PM

And so begins the first week of training for an October 17 marathon.  Doing the old reliable Pfitzinger 18 week/55 mile plan that has gotten me through many a marathon.  You should hopefully see a bit more posting, but it just seems that everything that I've wanted to say over the years has already been said.  Having said that I will try and post a bit more.

Week so far has gone okay.  Did 7 miles with 10 strides on Tuesday. Did 9 miles which included 3 miles at around 7:10 min/mile pace and then did 2x800m at about 3:17/800m.  Did 5.4 miles today at a recovery pace and will try and do 14 miles tomorrow for a long run. 

I was planning on doing an after work 5 mile race next week, but have decided against it.  There were a couple of reasons for it.  The G20 meeting is next weekend and everyone is being advised to work from home in the week leading up to it.  Our building isn't in the security perimeter, but everyone is on high alert about protests downtown. I don't have to be told twice to stay home since I generally hate the commute to begin with so I'm staying home.  Second reason is that my LT run this past Thursday just sucked.  I was hoping I would be able to handle 3 miles at 7 min/mile comfortably, but this just wasn't so.  I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be able to maintain that pace for 5 continuous miles.  Maybe if I had another month i could make it so, but I have less than a week.  Lastly, I've finally decided to get a stress test done for my heart which I'm having done next week.  Those of you have been following for a while and can remember my graphs know that on occasion I have had issues with my heart rate spiking while running.  It happens during training and in races, but doesn't happen all the time and I don't really know what causes it or if it's a cause for concern.  This should hopefully shed some light on it.

I've been reading up on it and what I've been able to discern (thank you wikipedia) it's  a treadmill test where they hook you to an EKG and walk/run on a treadmill and they try and detect changes in your heart rhythm as the work load increases.  I'll post more about the experience after it happens. I just hope they don't expect me to run a 5k pace on a treadmill indoors attached to a bunch of wires. I get flustered trying to do runs with my headphones plugged into the treadmill; I can't imagine what it would be like with an umpteen number of wires attached to my chest.

Updating the blog

on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 11:05 PM

Guess it's time for my once a month post. This past month has been fairly slow on the running front. The odd run here or there. I got up to 25 miles last week and was hoping to get up over 30 this week. Most of this was done at a recovery pace.

I've been pretty good at my new year's resolution of not entering races unless I actually intend to race them which basically means I haven't entered any so far this year. Probably won't for a while since I feel so slow. The plan right now is to do the Toronto marathon this fall on October 17 which means an 18 week program would start at the end of June so I still have about a month to build up some endurance and try and find some speed.

I'm not sure if I want to do Boston next year and I haven't decided if I want to try for a BQ time in October yet. I'm technically already qualified for next year. However, I used to be of the camp where one qualifier should entitle you to run only one Boston, but now that I'm put into the position of actually having to adhere to that, I'm not so sure. Right now, the plan is to leave it to fate. I'm going to see if I can get a comp entry as a pacer for the race. If so, then I just take it nice and easy. If I don't get in as a pacer, then I'll probably try for the BQ.  Either way, I'll decide on Boston when it opens which just so happens to be the day after the race (October 18).

I'm still having problems getting up early in the mornings.  It's just way difficult.  Even with the sun coming up and the bird chirping and the temperatures being fairly nice, I just have problems getting up at 5 to 5:30 for a short 6 mile run.  I've been doing them in the evening, but that's been tough as of late cause it's been really warm in the evening.  Like today, did a 6 miler in the evening and it was 26C outside. 

As for races during the summer.  There are a couple here or there that I'll probably try to race.  One race that I think I'll try is the Night Crawler 5 mile. It's on a week day downtown and it's always a race I've wanted to do, but couldn't cause I worked way up north.  I'm just sort of hoping I can find some speed before I take it on.  I'd hate to race it and end up with an average pace slower than my half marathon PR pace.

More scenes from Big Sur...

on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 7:49 PM

I realize that I forgot to put up the slideshow of the remaining pics from the Big Sur marathon so here you go.

Picasa Link

And as promised here are some quick video clips from the race.

Youtube Link

2010 Big Sur Marathon Report

on Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 10:21 PM

Short story is I finished the Big Sur Marathon in 4:51:44. Had a great time. Perfect weather.I'm not sure I will have a lot to say.  This is one of those cases where pictures are worth a thousand words.

I arrived in San Francisco the Friday afternoon and drove to Carmel-by-the Sea. The weather wasn't so great and it was raining. Saturday things had cleared up and was looking to be quite the weekend. Steve who had the distinction of being the last official finisher of the 2010 Boston marathon came down from San Francisco and we caught up. Steve also introduced me to Hansi who is a 60-something runner who was also doing the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. She's actually quite fast and finished 4th in her age group at Boston and would end up finishing 1st in her age group at Big Sur.  Thanks to Steve for the picture.

Steve, Hansi and Me

 Went down to the expo to pick up my bib and bought some stuff at the expo.  I purchased some salt pills cause I thought they would help to try and avoid cramps.  I had bought a salt shaker while in Vegas hoping to increase my salt intake over the days leading up to Big Sur but when I tried, I just couldn't eat salt straight or even mixed with gatorade. Tasted too salty!  Ha. I suppose that was the point. Much better to just swallow it whole.

Went to the race sponsored pasta dinner and headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night. The buses to the start line would start leaving at 3:30am, with the last bus leaving at 4:15am and therefore required a very early wake-up call.  I had been trying to stay on eastern time so this wasn't too difficult.

Rode the bus to the start line staging area.  Still really dark outside.  Wandered around a bit, used the facilities and ate a bagel. Sat down and tried to collect myself.  Then headed to the start line.

Start Line

My original pie in the sky goal was to beat my time in Boston so I had a 4 hour pace band and positioned myself near the 4 hour pacer.  When the race started however, I had to immediately reconsider my goal.  The first little bit of the race is on a downhill.  I hadn't run at all since Boston and though I was feeling fine walking around the day before, it became immediately clear as soon as I starting running that my quads had not fully recovered.  They were achy.  Not painful mind you, but achy.  This was a new experience for me.  Realizing that I was about to run 26.2 miles on a hilly course with achy legs, I turned to plan B which was simply to finish.  I decided to run as slow as I could and then walk for a minute after every mile marker. 


There goes 4 hour pacer

Rather than stick to a fixed schedule, I ended up just walking whenever I felt like it.  This would happen for pretty much the whole race.  My achy legs never quite got better, but they never got worse so i suppose in the end it worked out well.  The mile markers in the race were quite humorous at times. Some with interesting sayings or jokes.

It's funny cause it's true!

At each mile marker, they would have volunteers calling out split times, average pace and expected finish times.  I got a picture of every mile marker except for the first one so rather than post all 25 of them, you can see them as part of the picture slide show below. The finish times being yelled out started out at 4 hours but would slowly start to increase.

There were a lot of musicians at the race, playing all types of different music. I've got some short videos of some of the musicians which I'll post later after I get them uploaded to Youtube.

Harp player

 The first little bit of the race is actually through a forest area so the view though scenic for a forest isn't that great.  The view however does slowly get better over the course of the marathon.

First scenic view of the ocean

So the race continues on. I had worn my Boston 2 Big Sur shirt and it was pretty amazing getting lots of cheers from fellow runners yelling "Go B2B".  Two girls who were doing the B2B had worn their Boston bib on their backs.  During one of my walk breaks, i encountered one Korean fellow wearing a B2B shirt (you can see him below), he was stretching out his back.  We would play leapfrog for most of the race.  The last I encountered of him he was really hurting.  I sure hope he was able to finish.

 There aren't a lot of spectators on the course, other than the musicians and at the aid stations, but with the scenery, there sure is a lot to look at. 

Blue Girl- Body paint or special type of sun screen?

So there's a first hill right during mile 9.  Mile marker is sorta funny.

That Pinocchio!

It's funny cause the hill to end all hills begins soon after this.  The hills leads up to a point called hurricane point which is quite far up.  The grade isn't so bad. I've run steeper.  It's just that the hill is so darned long.  You can get a sense of the hill from this picture.

Those little specs are people

At the base of the hill, they have people beating rhythmic drums to try and get you to charge up the hill.  

Photo op!

You then proceed to spend the next 2 to 3 miles climbing up to Hurricane Point.  They put a nice sign at almost the top of the hill for you to get you picture taken.  If you're racing up the hill, this certainly is the correct description.

It's funny cause it's true!

After you crest Hurricane Point, there's a slight downhill to the next interesting point which is the half way mark and Bixby Bridge which is famous for having the Grand Piano and a pianist playing.

I gotta run over there?

Once you get to the bridge, you encounter the wonderful sounds of a piano playing all sorts of different types of music.  You can see my previous post for a video of the piano player.

Getting closer...
I'm here!

 I'm not sure when i crossed the half mark.  They had a timing mat there, but they don't seem to have published split times.  I seem to remember it being between 2:20 and 2:30 which seems to coincide with the drop in heart rate on my monitor when I stopped for 5 minutes or so to record the video and enjoy the piano a bit. At this point, I remember thinking that beating 5 hours would be a doable goal.

Some more scenery.

Those Kenyans
More scenery.
More piano playing.  Not quite the same, but he was quite good!

Up until this point, I had been doing the walk and run thing and it had worked out quite well.  Somewhere during this time, I encountered Jeff Galloway and his group.  Galloway was doing a run walk thing and was aiming for a 5 hour marathon.  I would leap frog with him for a little while but I realized that my legs weren't getting worse so I thought it might be possible to bump up the pace a bit.  I would still do the walk breaks but would be a little faster on the run portion.

hmmm, strawberries.

Continued on and as I pass the 26 mile marker, I decide to bump up the pace a bit trying to pass some people so that I can position myself so I can get a nice finish line picture. All of a sudden, I guy I had passed decides he doesn't like being passed and starts to run faster to pass me. I suppose the testosterone got the better of me and I turned the jets on. When he realized that he couldn't stick with me, he just yelled "screw it" and slowed down.  My finish line pic looks like I'm grimicing in pain, but I'm actually laughing at the whole situation. 

So final finish time of 4:51.  Got my medals, my bib and the jacket which I quite like.  Ended up wearing it around for the next few days even though it was clearly too warm to be wearing. I bumped into a few others wearing the jacket in the days following and we would nod our heads acknowledging each others achievement.


Went to the post race party and met up with Loves2Run.

I really had a fun time.  Not quite sure that it's better than Boston.  Sure it's more scenic and more interesting than Boston, but the fans are what makes Boston great.  I do however agree with Bart Yasso in that if you could only do one marathon in your lifetime, it should probably be Big Sur.  Would I do it again?  For sure!  I just don't think I'd do the Boston 2 Big Sur thing again.  In fact, almost all the B2B participants I talked to afterward said they would never do it again. Mind you, this was mere hours after having completed it so understandably people have no interest in subjecting themselves to the feeling again.  Given time, they (including me) might change their minds.

As you can tell from the pictures, it was almost perfect weather.  Not a cloud in the sky.  The sun was beating down on us for most of the race, but the breeze coming of the ocean helped to keep us cool  I ran the race with a white long sleeve t-shirt and think that was the right call.

Very challenging course. Couldn't imagine trying to race on this course. 

Well that's about it.  Spent a couple of extra days in Carmel, Monterey and then San Francisco.  You can see more pics from the days follow below.

Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon

on Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 8:58 PM

I don't have much to report about Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon. I would have liked to spend more time in the Grand Canyon. I didn't realize that there's a lot stuff to do there other than look at the Canyon. I'll just leave you with a slide show of some pictures I took.

Picasa Link

On to San Franciso and Big Sur!

2010 Boston Marathon Report

How do I start?  It seems I have so much to say regarding the two marathons.  Boston marathon finish time was a 3:57:58.

Arrived on Saturday. If I had to do this again, I would have arrived earlier in the day. By the time, I had checked into the hotel, the expo was close to closing for the day. Though I probably would have been able to pick up my bib, I would have ended up going back on Sunday anyways to check out the expo which is fairly large. Saturday night, had dinner with Lee and Yumke and their significant others.

Come Sunday morning, the BAA 5k is run which I went out to watch last year, but decided not to this year. I had a number of things to do starting Sunday which included picking up my bib, checking out the expo, going to the RedSox game, eating the pasta dinner and attending a church service.

Last year, on my way to the Hynes convention centre through the Prudential Center which is an indoor shopping mall, I stumbled across a little catholic chapel that's located right in the Prudential Center. It’s literally right beside where you enter the Hynes centre to pick up your bib. It looks out of place. Guess what the name of it was?

St. Francis Chapel

Last year, I took this as a sign from above that I should probably attend a service at my namesake chapel prior to my first Boston marathon where I would attempt to run a negative split personal worse time.
Considering that it seemed to work last year and that my training this year hadn’t gone as well as I would have liked, I thought I would head back for some heavenly intervention.

During the service, I noticed a woman across the aisle wearing a Boston 2 Big Sur(B2B) T-shirt. The Big Sur people had bribed the B2B participants by promising us a free Runner’s World book if we wore our training shirt to the expo. I'm all for free stuff so I wore it. Talking to the race director at the Big Sur booth, he said he was tired of hearing people at the Boston expo say they couldn’t do Big Sur because it interfered with Boston. It was his intent to try and get a bunch of people walking around the expo with B2B shirts so that he could point us out whenever someone complained. Seems like a good marketing strategy. I ended up chatting with my fellow B2Ber after the service as we made our way to pick up our bibs.  As it turns out, she was not only running Boston and Big Sur, but she's doing a third marathon the week after Big Sur as part of a marathon maniac meet-up.  That's hard core!

So picked up my race packet and checked out the expo. I ended up buying a race jacket. Though the one from last year will always be special since it’s my first, I really don’t like the colour and don’t like wearing it in public unless it’s at a race. My plan was originally to not buy a jacket in Boston since Big Sur is giving us a special jacket for doing the two races so I thought that could be my official 2010 race jacket. However, the Big Sur race director was telling us that the jacket was navy blue fleece. I wanted something a little more water proof so I ended up buying a black one that can convert to a vest. I think it’ll get much more use.
Went to the official pasta dinner on Sunday night. Sat with some nurses from California all doing their first Boston. Though I’m no Boston veteran by any stretch of the imagination, I did my best to explain the Boston experience to them. Headed back to the hotel and went to sleep at around 11pm.

Sunday morning, met up with Lee, Yumke and Soran and headed down to the buses.

Waiting for the buses

Though we had qualified with much faster times, Kenny and I were trying for a 3:40. I had thought this would be a relatively easy pace. We had decided to start at the back of the first wave which seemed like the best option since everyone in the first wave would have qualified with a 3:35 or better.

Back of the first wave

So the jets flyover and the race starts.  Before we actually cross the start line, there's a lot of walking.  It takes us about 10 minutes to cross the start line and then we are off.

Looking behind at race start

Yumke, my running compatriot

So we were motoring right along at the start and clicking off the miles, feeling generally good.  Though we had both decided to bring our cameras along, Kenny had gone the extra step and was actually tweeting during the race, including a pic of me downing a beer.  I had grabbed it with the hopes of sipping on it for a while, but all I could hear were the college kids yelling "Chug, Chug, Chug" and so I obliged.  Some other sights from early in the race.

Bandit in a suit
Taking a quick break

There must be an interesting story behind this sign
Chicken on a bike

Santa and a slightly overgrown elf
Steve (far right, almost out of pic) and Mike who pulls an oxygen cart behind him

Wonder where it leads?

So right before the half is Wellesley College which as you may or may not know is famous for its female spectators offering kisses to all-comers.  I commented last year of making the mistake of tearing through this without stopping.  This year I stopped and managed to get a video of the experience, so here you go.  Be warned though, you may get some motion sickness with all the bobbing. 

Youtube Link

Even with the two stops, I still sped through and got through the whole thing in about 2 minutes.  Ended up having to wait for Kenny at the end.  Oh well, I'll get it right eventually. 

We end up hitting the half at 1:48:55 which is about a minute faster than we were expecting.  We continue clicking along for a while.  More pictures.

Entering Newton (and the hills)

By the time we started into the Newton hills, my quads were starting to tighten up.  They were starting to get achy. Usually, I don't feel this way until after mile 20 and then it's usually after I've been doing full on marathon pace.  Considering I was running slower and was starting to ache at mile 17 or so, I was starting to get concerned.  I knew at this point, I was going to have to back off a little bit and so the pace slowed down.  My goal at this point was to get through heartbreak without having to stop and then figure out what to do from there.

More Canadians!
More bands!

So we made it up the Newton hills and up heart break and at around the 22 mile point, we took a walk break. I had thought I could do a 10/1 run/walk thing and tried to start up again soon thereafter, but my quads were close to cramping at this point and with all the downhill running ahead of me, I thought it would be a bad idea, so i started walking again.  I told Kenny he could go on ahead and so we said our goodbyes and he took off.  I ended up walking most of the last 4 miles with the occasionally slow jog just to keep the muscles moving.  During one of my attempts at jogging, my quads seized up and I had to grab the spectator barrier to stretch it out. I continued to walk. At this point, I was eating anything that was given to me: Orange slices, little candies and a Recess Peanut Butter cup. I remember thinking that was the best piece of chocolate I had ever eaten. I had hoped to run the last mile in, but I continued to walk.  I did mange to run the last half mile including the turns from Commonwealth onto Boylston, including the last little bit at a quicker pace.  So happy with that.


Here are some other pictures from Boston.

Picasa Link

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I had a miserable last few miles, because I didn't. I had a grand old time. If I didn't have to do another marathon in 6 days, I probably would have been able to just run through any difficulties, but with another hilly marathon looming, I thought it best to err on the side of caution. I did cross the finish line with my arms raised and a slight victory smile.

So looking back now, I realize that I had done a lot of things differently this time around.  My training wasn't close to where it should have been.  I did a 12 week plan with a maximum of 55 miles, but a lot of the weeks were in the mileage of low 40's.  I also didn't take any salt pills.  I had learned this lesson the hard way back in 2007 and for every marathon since that day, I have consumed salt pills in the days leading up to my marathon.  I didn't do that this time around and I'm fairly certain that is what led to the quads cramping. Also, I've also not been sticking or foam rolling my legs as much lately. I tried to foam roll my legs in the days leading up to the race and it hurt like hell. Gotta work on that.  

One thing I learned is that I think I ended up staying at the hotel (the Back Bay Hotel) with the perfect location for wave 1'ers. I was pleasantly surprised after picking up my gear and hoping to find an alley where I could change when i found myself standing outside my hotel.  Even though the hotel is quite a ways from the finish line, since they force you to walk down the street to get your medal, food and gear, the actual exit of the finish line staging area for the wave 1'ers just happened to be right where my hotel was. It also has the benefit of being across the street from the massages.  I skipped the massages and rather headed back to the hotel for an ice bath.  On to recovery. 

Next stop, Las Vegas.