Damn Calf

on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 11:11 PM

So my calf is definitely injured. I ended up doing the 1:45 pacing gig at the Scotiabank half marathon which I've done for the previous 4 years.  Whether that was a good decision or not is still up in the air.  It's a nice gig to have since they give you a bunch of free stuff including shoes. Though I had thought about droping out, the problem is that if you pull out, they expect you to pay for the stuff.  I can kinda understand why. In previous years, they would get a bunch of people signing up to be pacers, who would receive the stuff and then pull out.  Since they started the "pay if you drop out" policy, the drop out rate has been extremely low. 

I ended up finishing in 1:44:59.3 which is really just a stroke of luck.  Since they started showing video of the finish line as part of the race pictures, it's hard to "cheat" at pacing since the obvious signs of slowing down and staring at your watch as you approach the finish line can be easily seen. I could run the last 100m, 1000 times and probably not come that close ever again.  They give out a prize to the pacer that came closest to their time.  Though you'd think I would be a shoe in, nope.  One of the other bunnies came in 0.6s over their goal time.  Even though it's the closest I've ever come to my goal time, I would probably rate this performance as subpar. One of the important roles in being a pacer is not running too fast at any point in the race.  One of the km I ran was 4:33 which should have been around 4:45 based on the 10/1 pacing I was doing.  That km was on a downhill, but still it was probably too fast. I hit the 10k mark at 48:59 which should have been 49:37 for a walk adjusted split. In previous years, I hit this mark at around 49:20 or later which is about 20 seconds of banked time which is about right considering that the 10k mark is downhill from the start. An extra 20s on top of that over 10k doesn't seem like much, but as someone who's doing the run/walk thing, the pace during the run phase is faster than if the person was doing it continuously and I'm already pushing people to run at a pace that is uncomfortable for them, to run just that little bit faster can really mess things up.  Well thankfully this was the last year they are doing the 10/1 1:45 pacer.  They are going to change it to a continuous one next year. 

As for the race itself, my left calf was hurting through the whole thing. The calf was okay (ie, no pain) before the race, but I knew that something didn't feel right as it still seemed tight. I ended up wearing a compression sock on just the one leg to provide some additional support.  Never run in the thing before, but I was more worried about the calf failing then about chaffing issues. Plus, I'd been wearing the sock for most of the week without any undue rubbing so I thought I'd be okay. It was definitely the right call.  Though I got through the race with a the calf hurting through much of it, I could barely walk after the race.

Since then, I've decided to rest for the remainder of the week and will try a short run this weekend.  The calf is getting better but is still sore when I walk down stairs. I'm trying to stretch and foam roll and stick it to helpfully get it healed before NY. Not sure how much fitness I will lose.  3:15 is definitely not possible and I think 3:20 may be slipping away also.  Well whatever. At this point, if I can run it without having to hobble, I will be happy. 

Taper Time

on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 10:34 PM

I originally thought I was heading into the taper in pretty good shape.  Most mileage I've ever done in a training cycle and no injuries to speak of. Alas, not quite so.  Last Friday, two days before my last scheduled 20 miler, headed out for 11 miles and my calf got really sore about half way through.  Did a short run on Saturday, took Sunday off and then tried to do the 20 miler on Thanksgiving Monday, but had to stop after 7 miles. Took the last two days off. I'm supposed to pace the 1:45 half marathon on Sunday at a local race and part of me has been thinking maybe I should bow out now.  I'd hate to drop out at the last minute and leave the organizer in a lurch. Will try a short recovery run tomorrow and then make the call.

I guess neglecting with the posting in this blog also caused me to not bother to review what I've written previously which is one of the whole reasons for starting this thing.  If I had bothered to look back (here and here), I would have read that in previous marathon training, I had a tendency to develop trigger points in my calves during the taper.  This time it happened a bit earlier, but all the warning signs were there and I just ignored them.  Tight calves at the beginning of run, plantar fasciitis pain.  All things I had dealt with and supposed learnedly from before, but I guess that feeling of invincibility I had while getting through some of the longer mileage and faster mileage weeks left me feeling a bit cocky.  Now I'm paying for it.  I've been kneeding my calves every hour for the past couple of days, even bringing my Stick into work. 

I usually pick a marathon goal about a month before the race.  As I previously posted, 3:20 was a reasonable goal with 3:15 as an outside possibility.  My recent 15k race made me a little more confident that 3:15 was doable if the stars aligned.  Also, did a 19 mile long run with 14 at MP with 7 at 3:15 pace so was feeling pretty good about that. But since I last posted about goals, the BQ times have come out for next year. Last year, when they implemented the new BQ times, everyone that ran their time got in, this year you had to beat your BQ time by 1:38 to get in.

Now it could just be that there is an intense interest in doing Boston now due to the bombings this year or it could just be that it took a year for marathoners to step up their game to adjust to the new times. 

Whatever the reason, it's looking like 3:15 may not be enough. While I thought I had an outside shot at 3:15, to run a 3:13 marathon would require a 7:22 min/mile pace which I haven't trained for and am probably ill prepared to attempt.  Though it may not seem like much of a difference, as someone that tried numerous times for 3:10 and failed, getting into that sub 3:15 range is a little dicey for me.

A 3:15 that doesn't get me into Boston might as well be a 3:20 or 3:30 for that matter.  At this point, I haven't run a marathon in 3 years so any time better than a DNF would be welcome.  I still haven't made a final decision yet, but I'm leaning towards the original goal of 3:20.  This may get slower or faster depending on the outcome of this calf issue.

15K Race Report

on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 10:48 PM

I ran the Running Maniacs 15k race this past Saturday. The timing of the race fit in well with the Pfitzinger training plan I'm on that wanted an 8-15k race done on that day.  I did this race 7 years ago when it was only a 5 and a 10k and run for the first time.  Didn't care much for the organization at the time, but hey they've had a few years to work out the kinks, right?

Situated in the little town of Newcastle, about a 45 minute drive east of Toronto, the race is really more of a fall festival for a local running group in the area, but a race is still a race.

Decided to sign up for the 15k. Though I had thoughts of doing the 10k after my miserable 10k performance 2 weeks ago, I realized that the main goal is to race a marathon this fall so longer tune-up races were preferable.  I went into this race with a slightly different mindset.  Rather than pick a pace to try and hold or try to run on perceived effort, I decided to return to my training roots and run this by HR by keeping the HR just under 180.  If I encountered a HR spike, I was going to stop until it returned to normal.  With this mindset, I think the tension of the race went away and I just perceived it as another training run.

Wasn;t too sure about the organization so prior to the race, I started asking around about the water stations, and no one seemed to have any clue if there were any or where they would be.  One volunteer did try and be helpful by saying he was sure that there was one at 12k mark, but that seems quite late. Not taking any chances, ended up running with a water bottle, an actual water bottle with a screw cap, not a squeeze bottle, as it was the only thing I had available. Didn't really get a good chance to warm up, which essentially consisted of about 200m of slight running right before the start.

To keep from going out too fast, I started at the very back of the pack.  There were only about 80 people in the race, so there wasn't going to be a lot of jostling. Hit the first mile marker at 7:00 min even which I thought was fairly good and controlled. Only real drama was during the 2nd mile when I could hear a train in the distance and I turned a corner to see a set of train tracks up ahead and started to wonder if they train was going to coincide with me passing the tracks, but it didn't, but it did pass by about 2 minutes after I crossed so it probably did effect some people.  The race is a mix of roads and paved trails and is a bit hilly in places. I would have to cross over train tracks twice more during the race, but no sound of horns in the distance so no train worries. Not a lot of volunteers or course marshals. I eventually figured out that they had spray painted arrows on the roads when one is supposed to turn which would have been nice if they had told us ahead of time. 

Rest of the race went without incident. HR didn't spike and HR was kept just under 180 with it going above it only on the hills. Remaing splits would be 6:53, 6:52, 7:06, 7:11, 7:05,6:49, 7:00,7:14.  The slower splits are a result of uphills and the faster splits are from downhills so things looked okay. Data from my race is here. Total race distance was around 14.7 km according to the GPS so a bit short.  Average pace for the whole race was 7:00 min/mile pace even for a finish time of around 1:04.  I say around because I had to go with my watch time which I didn't stop exactly at the finish line, maybe 5 to 10 seconds after.  My "official" finishing time has me at 1:41:23 which I don't understand at all.  Maybe I was just going so fast that relativistic effects started taking place and time for everyone else started to slow down or maybe the timing guys just messed up. I'm leaning towards the latter.

I emailed the timing guys about double checking, but its been a few days and haven't heard back from them. It probably won't help much as it appears from the race results that despite the start and finish lines being at the same place and using chip tracking, they only offered gun times. Since I started at the back of the pack, I think my watch time will actually be closer to my actual time then the gun time. 

My first thought when I saw the time mess up was that I had been stiffed yet again for an award  which had happened the last time I did this race, but lucky for me, I wouldn't have placed either overall or in my age group so it didn't really matter. I would have finished 10th overall, 5th in my gender and 4th in my age group.

There was some screw up with the chips though. In fact, we had to wait over an hour for them to announce the winners and they never actually did post the times at the event. I had to wait until Sunday night to find out my time online. In fact, I don't even think they had a clock at the finish line so one could have run this race without a watch and left the race having no idea what your finish time was. Apparently, some people had taken chips that weren't assigned to their bib numbers  which ended up messing up the results.  I know I received the right chip so that couldn't have been the issue for me, but who knows. 

I'm fairly happy with the race.  The 7:00 min/mile average pace for about an hour is approximately what my LT pace should be according to Daniels which means I've been doing my LT runs at the proper pace and intensity this training cycle. This has me still considering what marathon pace I should aim for in New York, but I'll get to that in another post.

That's it for tune-up races for me. Pfitz technically has one more scheduled for two weeks from now on a Saturday, but I'm supposed to be a pacer at a local half marathon on the Sunday which probably means an all out race the day before is pretty much out of the question. 

Overall, an okay event, if you don't mind the short course, and the timing fiasco.  The timing company was one I had never heard of before in this area.  There are basically two big timing companies in the area and a bunch of smaller ones.  The one that was used (splitstiming.com) seems to be relatively new.  They don't use the Championship chip system and they don't appear to have mats. Instead they have little antennas on the sides that pick up signals. Not sure how well they work; they obviously didn't work for me. Presumably they were used because they were cheaper, but sometimes you get what you pay for. As for swag, we got a tech shirt (not a fan of the colour) and a Tim Horton's coffee mug. Not bad for a $54 last minute 15k registration fee