Scotiabank Waterfront Half Recap 2016

on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at 8:49 PM

Paced the 1:45 half at Scotiabank again this year.  With no marathon training to rely on, I needed to maintain some level of fitness over the summer, which totally went into the crapper during the film festival.  Normally when I have a pacing gig, I like to do an LT workout  at a pace where the equivalent race time says I should be able to do an equivalent time at the pacing distance.  So about 3 weeks ago, I did an 3 mile LT run at a pace that says that for a 3 mile time trial, I should be able to do a 1:42 half.  I extended that to a 4 mile LT run the following week which also said 1:42 half.  Still not quite convinced, two weekends ago, I did 15 miles which included 13 miles at about 7:45 pace (1:45 is 8:00 min/miles) so I was pretty confident that 1:45 would be doable.

Normally going into the last week of an important race, I am extra careful about not getting sick or injuring myself, which I completely ignored this final week and with my luck, I started to come down with something on Tuesday and a had a full blown cold on Wednesday/Thursday. Immediately, went on the Cold-F/X (not sure this works, but hey I was desperate) and Vitamin C and it seemed to have settled down by Sunday.  Still not completely recovered however, but at least I could breath through my nose.

I found that in the past, I tend to overcompensate when something goes wrong and I realize now that my drinking too much at my race back in May led to me not hydrating enough going into this race. I didn't quite drink enough on Saturday and was probably a bit dehydrated going into the race. I had left home somewhat late and arrived at about 8:00 for the 8:45 race start.  Parked at the Eaton's Centre but made the mistake of trying to cross Bay to city hall by walking south, not realizing that they weren't letting people cross Bay because the 5k race had started at 8:00am.  So after backtracking a bit, it was probably around 8:15 and so had to find bag check, take my pre-race gel and headed into corrals at about 8:30.  Didn't even get a chance for a bathroom break, but didn't need to as it would turn out.

Some general comments for future reference. As is typically, I started the race too fast even though I had made a conscious attempt to be slow.  The Polar GPS pace (left arm) was way off for the first km, but the Garmin (right) seems about right so maybe next time I will just let the Garmin dictate the pace at the start.  I made an immediate correction during the 2nd km and was basically on pace by the 2 km mark. It was very humid, including a light drizzle of rain at the start. Rain stopped after a few kms, but the ground was slick and a bit slippery.  Coming down Bathurst, I heard someone behind me take a nasty spill. Normally on this part of the route, I run down the centre of the street between the two sets of streetcar tracks.  I've done this in the past to avoid the camber of the road and get an optimum GPS signal, but I think this might be dangerous because as people crowd around, there's a risk of people stepping on the train tracks on either side of me and falling which might have happened this time.  Last year, an elite runner broke her leg on the streetcar tracks so in hindsight, probably best to stay on one side of the road. 

Generally on pace for most of the race, picking up time on the downhills (3-8km). The slow down at 7km is due to the train overpass at Bathurst-Front.  I think the slowdown at 12km was an aid station issue since both GPS's show I slowed down to slower than 9 min/mile pace for a short period of time. It might also partially be a tangent issue since this part is a bit curvy. Slowdown at 19km is due to the Lakeshore overpass at Spadina.

Developed a side stitch on right side about half way through. Probably due to lack of hydration. It was really starting to bother me late into the race to the point that I was having difficulty carrying the sign. I normally hold up the sign for the whole race, but was having difficulty doing so because of the cramping. I tried to just carry it by my side for a short while, but realized there was no point carrying it like this if no one was going to see it, so I decided to toss it at an aid station near the 18 km mark.  I still had the time goal on the bunny ears and was wearing a sign on my back so that would have to do. It was a struggle towards the end.  I tried to do the breath on the side opposite the side stitch thing to lessen the pain, but this required a 1-1 breathing pattern and a slow down in cadence which caused me to run less efficiently, which means I had to expend more effort to do so.

During the last km, I usually try to be  encouraging to people running up Bay, but I was in my own little world of hell trying to maintain the proper pace with my abdomen begging for me to slow down. Checked my watch at the 200m and 100m to go mark and saw that I was pretty close to my goal time so no room for error. In the past, I'm up by at least 15 seconds so I can take the last little bit easy. Not this year. Ended up finishing at 1:44:56.

Splits are as follows

KM Cumulative Time Split Goal Time Time Under
1 0:04:53 04:53 0:04:59 -00:06
2 0:09:58 05:05 0:09:57 00:01
3 0:14:57 04:59 0:14:56 00:01
4 0:19:51 04:54 0:19:54 -00:03
5 0:24:43 04:51 0:24:53 -00:10
6 0:29:26 04:43 0:29:51 -00:26
7 0:34:32 05:06 0:34:50 -00:18
8 0:39:28 04:56 0:39:49 -00:20
9 0:44:27 04:59 0:44:47 -00:20
10 0:49:26 04:59 0:49:46 -00:20
11 0:54:23 04:57 0:54:44 -00:21
12 0:59:30 05:07 0:59:43 -00:13
13 1:04:31 05:02 1:04:42 -00:10
14 1:09:28 04:56 1:09:40 -00:12
15 1:14:27 05:00 1:14:39 -00:11
16 1:19:27 04:59 1:19:37 -00:11
17 1:24:27 05:00 1:24:36 -00:09
18 1:29:27 05:00 1:29:34 -00:08
19 1:34:32 05:05 1:34:33 -00:01
20 1:39:29 04:57 1:39:32 -00:03
21.1 1:44:56 05:27 1:45:00 -00:04

Polar Route and Stats

HR did spike at 16km but had turned off HR display so didn't know.  My HR was also much higher prior to this hovering in the upper 170's.  I think this was a remnant of the cold and it being quite humid and relatively warm (was 19C at start). I did the 15 mile run the weekend before in the upper 160's.  

Generally, pretty good split times and even pace.  In previous years, they only had a 10km intermediate timing mat, whereas this year they added timing mats at the 5km and 15 km mark which allows me to track who actually ran the race with me. I imported the finish line results into Excel and calculated gun time splits for everyone and then sorted by gun time finish. Using the advanced filtering feature, I can generate a list of people who finished within 30 seconds of my gun time who also were within 30 seconds of me at each of the 5, 10 and 15k mats. In total there were 26 people who fit this criteria.

Engineering degree comes in handy...
 There were also 37 more people who were within 30s of me at the 5, 10 and 15k marks who finished outside of the 30 second finish window, 6 of whom finished more than 30 seconds ahead. 

So all in all, quite happy with the pacing performance this year, even despite the side stitch. Still need to work on that first km though... 

Oh Well..

on Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 8:19 PM

So I didn't get into Boston.  The cutoff was 2:09 which means I wasn't even close.  I needed to run 3:12:51.  Looking back at my BQ run in May, it didn't matter that the last 7 km was into a brutal headwind, I was already behind by the 35km mark. Relying on the BQ estimates that other people were calculating proved to be a bad choice.  The method they used was somewhat accurate last year, but not remotely accurate this year.

This has had me rethinking the Boston qualifying attempts.  The past 2 years I've just tried to squeak in by using the previous years cutoff as a guide.  This hasn't worked and the issue is that everyone is now aiming to beat their BQ time by 5 minutes to ensure that they can register for the first week.  While it would be easy to say that I should just train for 3:10, the part of me that thinks back to how hard it was 8 years ago to run a 3:10:23 on higher weekly mileage and I start to question whether it's even doable now.  But of course, I don't actually have to run a 3:10 as I just need to clear enough time to make the cutoff so a slip to 3:12 during a 3:10 attempt might be okay.  This is a lot better than initially aiming for 3:12 which doesn't leave a lot of room for error.

Another side of me says hey I can wait a few years and my BQ time increases to 3:25, but I thought it would be neat to aim to run Boston at least once in each age category which means I would need to do it within the next 2 years before I age-up into the next category.

I haven't really tried to train for a 3:10 marathon in a long while so I guess I'll have to see how it goes, if it even goes at all.  It's easy for me to say now what I intend to do over the winter, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men...

Registering for Boston

on Monday, September 12, 2016 at 7:07 PM

Boston registration started today, but with the new rolling registration system and me having less than a 5 minute buffer, I won't be able to register until next Monday.  I booked my hotel for Boston last week as I'm pretty confident I will be able to get in.  There have been a bunch of different people(here, here and here) who have been data crunching the results list of various races over the past year and they are predicting a minimal cutoff because there are a lot fewer qualifiers compared to this time last year. Most of the drop off was due to the warm conditions in Boston this year, but also a lot of other races this past summer have had crappy conditions so the pool of potential qualifiers have dropped significantly.  Actually, the whole idea is a pretty interesting data mining project.  If they had this registration system back when I was in grad school, I probably would have taken the task to do the analysis as it's fairly rich dataset that would have been easy to work with.  

Looking at peoples times is one thing, but the one wildcard in this was the number of places that Boston was going to offer next year.  All of the above analysis assume that the number of entries next year would be the same as last year which was 30,000.  Obviously, if the number dropped, with fewer place available, the competition gets more heated and the analysis would go out the window.  I was holding out on committing to Boston until I knew the number of places for next year, which they announced last week at 30,000 so that was good and the hotel was booked.

I also applied to the lottery for Tokyo and London for next year which take place in February and the week after Boston, respectively.  With my luck, after striking out over the past few years, the one year I don't want to get in will probably result in me getting into both of them!  I'll cross that bridge when I get to it though it'll be a nice problem to have. 

Run For Hutington Disease 10k Recap

on Friday, July 1, 2016 at 7:18 AM

I did a 10k race last Sunday, but I didn't actually end up racing it.  After doing a marathon, I usually like to do a few shorter races to test where the fitness is.  I had originally planned on doing the Run for Lions event which is on the Saturday that I had done last year, but I slept in.  I also had a weird twinge in my ankle on Friday.  I had switched shoes recently and I think it ended up stressing my ankles so the extra day of rest would hopefully be beneficial.  The race takes place at Sunnybrook park, and starts at the same place as the Korean Peace Marathon and Spring Into Action races that I've done before, but the route was different.  While the other two races are a 5km out and back course.  This race consisted of a 2.5 km out and back course that we would have to do twice.  While this might seem a bit boring, I actually don't mind this route as it eliminates a big hill that is present when you do the 5km out and back course.

I arrived Sunday morning and it was a bit warm and I don't like racing in warm weather.  While I had hopes of setting a PR, I quickly realized that this was going to be unlikely. I did the warm-up HR spike thing which I did get to go and reset, but as soon as I started, the HR took off right away hitting 190 in less than a minute.  I ended up running to the first water station which is just after the 2.5 km turnaround and then decided that with the HR spiking that I would shut it down.  I then proceeded to walk hoping to get the HR to reset.  I thought it did a couple of times, but as soon as I started running again, the HR would take off. In the end, I spent the next 4.5km or so trying to get the heart rate to reset. Was finally able to get the HR to come down shortly before the 7km mark for good and then proceeded to run out the rest of the race at a moderate effort.

Polar Stats and Route

So here's crazy HR.

HR at start is well over 190 and over 200 by the time I shut it down at the first turnaround, whereas at the end, the HR is at around 180 even though the pace is roughly the same.   You can also see me doing the run/walk thing in between.  Normally, when I walk, the HR is just over 100, but when it spikes it hovers at around 140 or so.  You can see when it spontaneously resets at just over 40 minutes when the HR drops suddenly and that's when I start running again to finish the race.  

Finish time was 58 minutes or so, which I guess isn't so bad when you consider that I walked for a good chunk of this. It was nice to actually enjoy the route and take in the scenery. It would have been better if I didn't have to pay a $50 entry fee to do so, but I got a tech shirt out of it and the money goes to a good cause so I suppose it's okay.

I'm finally getting the HR thing looked at again so hopefully I"ll have more information to better decide if its okay for me to actually just run through these HR episodes.


on Friday, May 20, 2016 at 10:15 PM

While talking with Kenny at the start of the Goodlife marathon a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he had considered doing the Whitby International marathon as his after Boston race which is taking place this weekend.  I had never considered doing Whitby, but it's timely placed and a relatively flat course.  I started thinking about maybe doing Whitby shortly after finishing Goodlife.  I'm not sure that a 45 second BQ cushion that I had at Goodlife would be enough. Would have liked to have at least a minute or something similar to what I had last year.  I would have had a good three weeks of rest and recovery between the two races. While I've done 2 weeks before, it wasn't ideal and I think three weeks would totally be doable. 

However, I did have to take stock of what my fitness level would be and what time I could reasonably run.  While Goodlife was a net downhill course, Whitby is a flat  course that starts and ends at the same place so no net elevation change.  I honestly think while doing Goodlife that I was more fit than I was doing Goodlife last year and if not, for the crazy headwind over the last 7 km I would have at least matched my time from last year.  The question however is how that fitness would translate onto a flat marathon course and that I'm not sure of. 

Crunching the numbers from Goodlife, the only time I was able to really bank under 3:15 was a result of the downhill drop of Goodlife.  If I eliminate the first half of Goodlife, from the 21.1k mark to the start of the wind at about 35km, I only averaged about 7:29 pace over the flat section which would have put me at a 3:16 marathon if extrapolated to the full distance. Goodlife though was a crappy day with rain weighing down my clothes and I had a side stitch issue so maybe I could knock a minute off of that in more ideal conditions.  If I look at my time in 2015, I did the last half of the race at about 7:25 pace which would put me at a 3:14:36 marathon, still slower than the time I had this year.  Could I do more? Sure, maybe if I hadn't pigged out on food in the last few weeks and put on about 2-3 pounds, so it was looking like that trying to do Whitby in the hopes of bettering my BQ time would not be in the cards, until I started doing some digging around in Garmin Connect. 

While the Whitby marathon claims that it is a certified course and a Boston qualifier, I'm not too sure.  I say this for two reasons.  Firstly, the Whitby course doesn't appear on the official list of certified courses in Canada.  While the list does have an entry for the WIN marathon, this was for the course in 2010 which is not the same route that is shown on the WIN marathon website or the same route that was used last year.  There doesn't appear to have been a measurement of the new course that was certified.  Now this isn't necessarily an issue if the course actually is the marathon distance as you can always get it certified later, if need be. 

However, there's a possibility that it's not even the right distance which leads to the second reason why I don't think the course is certified.  While scouting around on Garmin Connect to see what the actual route looks like based on previous people that have run the course, it appears that no previous Garmin has measured the course at being at least 42.2km

Less than 42.195km "marathon"?

While 5 people running is not a big sample size, the fact that none of them show a distance of at least 42.195km is a bit of a concern.  Now GPS isn't precisely accurate, but generally, based on past experience, GPS measurements of marathons are longer than the actual distance, not shorter.  While I'm not sure how actually short the course is, the longest is about 80m short while three of the routes show 200m short.  200m short would be about 55 seconds of running that I wouldn't have to do, which would be a big bonus for someone like me who's on the bubble.

Of course knowing all this could potentially taint any supposed BQ time and I'm  not sure I would be willing to benefit from this.  Would it be cheating if I intentionally ran a BQ time on a course that I knew was short?  That's a good question, and I'm not sure it's something I want to have to answer.

Goodlife Toronto Marathon Race Report 2016

on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:15 PM

I ended up doing Goodlife again. Yes, I know I said last year that I wouldn't after the terrible organization, but sometimes the weather throws you a curve which ended up being a forecast of strong winds coming from the northeast.

Forecast on Wednesday before race.
Strong winds from the east favored Goodlife as it's a net west course with only the last 7 km or so running into a headwind. Mississauga on the other hand has about double that running into the wind at the end. I little bit of wind I would have been able to handle, but this was gale force stuff so logic justified Goodlife.

Race morning was pretty much the same as it always was. Woke up at 5am for a 7:30 race start. Downed a bagel with peanut butter with a little bit of gatorade and was out the door by 6:15am on the way to the start line. Took a short detour before parking to figure out if they had correctly placed the 1km marker and yeah they had, so hopefully no F-up like last year. There was little bit of drizzly rain which wasn't too bad and of course the wind, but you could hardly feel it at the start line.  

Goal for this race was to be 3:12:20 which was about 10 seconds faster than last years Boston cutoff which was about 7:20 min/mile or about 4:33 min/km. 

Downed a gel with 30 minutes to start and was going to start warming up with about 15 minutes to go.  Bumped into Kenny who had just done Boston and was ninja running this race to try and re-BQ, which he did.  Goal for warming up was to get the HR to spike to hopefully get it to calm down before the race start, which I was able to get it to do.  

So as the race starts, my goal was to start off at the right pace and to maintain a nice steady cadence and proper breathing to avoid the HR spike. First two km were at exactly 4:33. I was kinda running with the 3:15 pace bunny for a bit at the start, but not for long because the 3:10 bunny and the 3:15 bunny were within 10 seconds of each other for at least the first 10km of the race. I think the 3:15 guy was going out too fast and the 3:10 guy was going out too slow.  I won't go into the km by km split as the tale of the tape is listed below.

Even though I was carrying a pace band, I knew the course profile and the weather were going to wreck havoc with split times so basically my strategy for the race was to be close to where I wanted to be after the Hog's Hollow hill (about 6km in), pick up some time on the downhill portion of the race (12-20km), pick up some additional time heading west (20-35km) with the tailwind and then hang-on for the last 7 km into the easternly headwind. 

Strategy didn't quite play out as planned.  By 10km in, I was only 10 seconds behind where I planned. By the half I was 26 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be (1:35:44). I didn't pick up anytime on the western portion and actually started bleeding back the time. The portion running through downtown wasn't as easy as I thought. Even though the wind was supposed to be at our backs, there was a couple of times there was strong headwinds. Also my HR spiked shortly after the half mark. At least I got through to the half way point without it spiking.  By the time  I hit 26km which was the start of the waterfront portion of the westernly route, I only had 8 seconds banked which I then proceed to give back (and then some) as I was running west.  

Even though there was a tailwind, I started to give back time because of two issues that were beginning to bother me.  Firstly, I could feel the makings of a side stitch starting to form on my right side. I was trying to do the breathing thing where you time your footstrike on the opposite side of the stitch as you exhale, but that was only working a little bit.  The second issue was that I started to feel that I needed to pee.  I had carried a gatorade bottle that I had been drinking from for most of the race, plus a cup of water at each aid station along with three cups of water to down my gel at the race start and then add that it was raining and that I wasn't really sweating because of the cool weather and it all adds up to a bladder filling up.  Now that I think of it, I think the two issues were related. The side stitch could have been caused by the extra weight. While running by the restrooms in Coronation Park, a place that I've stopped at many a time, I started to think how much time would I lose if I stopped. I didn't have nearly the amount of banked time that I would have liked and with the headwind still to come, I wasn't sure if I could afford to stop.  I continued on. Ran through Ontario Place and past the finish line on the way west. This was a route I had run many a time and I started to visualize where I could possibly stop for quick break and not lose too much time.  I thought that Marilyn Bell Park would be a good place, but decided not to when I got there because there were spectators there. I continued on and down the hill near the Legion building and then I see two portapotties up ahead on the trail. Finally! But of course, once I get there, they are both occupied. Damn! I continue on. At this point, I started thinking about just peeing on the run. My shorts were already wet and it was raining so there was going to be a good 10k for any liquid to dilute itself, and I don't think anyone would have noticed but modesty got the better of me and I held it in.  I hit 35 km and I was 50 second behind where I wanted to be.  I was still in BQ range, but only 1:49 under with 7 km of 30km/hr headwinds to come. Not so good. As it would turnout, neither the pee issue or the side stitch would bother me after 35 km, because I now had something else to worry about. The gosh darned F'in wind.
Actual weather measurements. Race was between 7-11am.

So at least the weather forecast was right. I had been mentally psyching myself up for the whole race to conquer this last 7km which I knew was going to be tough. My original pace band goal was out the window. My goal now was to just simply BQ with as much time as I could and to basically just leave it all out on the course. The first two km's of the last seven, I was trying to get a sense for what pace I could sustainably maintain running into the 35km/hr headwind and I figured on 7:40min/mile pace which was 20 seconds slower than my original goal. This was also easy math to do as it meant that if I could maintain that over the last 5km, I would lose about a minute of time. That, I considered acceptable so that's what I tried to maintain. Basically I ran the last 5km as if I was running in a a 5km race. Breathing hard in a panting one-one pattern like in a 5 k race. Trying to run the tangents and basically trying to shut out everything but getting to the finish line. The hill in front of the Legions building didn't even phase me. As I finally approach the finish line and turn south to finally get out of that wind with only about 50m to go, I was pretty much spent. Couldn't even muster up enough energy to sprint these last 15 seconds or so. Crossed the finish line and I was done.

Finish time of 3:14:15.

BQ cushion of 45 seconds.

Timing mat splits are:

2:47 Positive Split which wasn't too bad.
Comparing this to last year's race, I ran the first half 48 seconds faster this year, ran the western portion (13.9km) 7 seconds slower this year and ran the last 7.2 km 66 seconds slower this year (and remember that last year also had the extra 20m added on because of the parking lot issue). Overall I was 25 seconds slower this year, despite the fact that last year I had calf, blister and HR issues.

The only accurately placed marker prior to 37km last year was the 27km marker so if I split that up, from the half timing mat to the 27km marker (at Ontario place) which involves running in the downtown core,  I ran that leg 12 seconds slower this year and from 27km mark to the 35km turnaround which is along the waterfront, I ran that 6 seconds faster. 2:47

Overall splits are as follows

Km Marker Split Pace (min/mi) Actual Time Banked Time Relative to 3:12:20
1 04:33 07:19 0:04:33 -00:00
2 04:33 07:19 0:09:06 -00:01

4 08:52 07:08 0:17:58 -00:16
5 04:44 07:37 0:22:42 -00:05
6 05:11 08:21 0:27:53 00:32
7 04:01 06:28 0:31:54 -00:00


10 13:51 07:26 0:45:45 00:10
11 04:35 07:23 0:50:20 00:12
12 04:36 07:24 0:54:56 00:14
13 04:25 07:06 0:59:21 00:06
14 04:19 06:57 1:03:40 -00:08
15 04:29 07:13 1:08:09 -00:13
16 04:40 07:31 1:12:49 -00:06
17 04:31 07:16 1:17:20 -00:09
18 04:18 06:55 1:21:38 -00:24

20 09:10 07:23 1:30:48 -00:21
21 04:30 07:15 1:35:18 -00:25

1:35:44 -00:26


24 13:57 07:29 1:49:15 -00:08

26 09:07 07:20 1:58:22 -00:08
27 04:39 07:29 2:03:01 -00:02
28 04:42 07:34 2:07:43 00:06

30 09:16 07:27 2:16:59 00:15
31 04:34 07:21 2:21:33 00:16
32 04:33 07:19 2:26:06 00:15
33 04:38 07:27 2:30:44 00:20
34 04:34 07:21 2:35:18 00:20
35 05:04 08:09 2:40:22 00:51
36 04:44 07:37 2:45:06 01:01
37 04:44 07:37 2:49:50 01:12

39 09:16 07:27 2:59:06 01:21
40 04:52 07:50 3:03:58 01:40
41 04:33 07:19 3:08:31 01:39
42.2 05:43 07:40 3:14:14 01:54

I think I was late hitting the lap button for km 6 (which includes part of the hill) and that's why km 7 seems so fast, but I'm not sure.  Wish I had gotten split at the 8km mark.

A couple things about the course. The markers were correctly placed this year (Yeah!!) and the issue I pointed out last year with the parking lot that added about 20m onto the course was also corrected. (Yeah!). The 35km split seemed excessively long.  I measured this in google maps and that split is about 100m longer than 1km. All the other splits around it seemed about right so I'm still thinking something is up with that course. Water stations on the waterfront portion weren't well manned. I can understand that with the miserable weather, volunteers maybe don't want to come out. Those that did come out I give all the credit in the world to so I can't fault them for that. I think not stopping to pee was the right call.  A part of me thinks that if I had unloaded the extra weight, I would have been faster over the western part of the course. I fully expected that portion to be faster than last year, but it wasn't. 

Wore a sleeveless-T, shorts and dollar store gloves which I think was about right given the conditions.  Never really felt cold until after the race was over. .  

Post race was not pleasant. After running in the rain for 3 hours and then having to come to a complete standstill in the chute to get a medal and then having to shiver my way to the other side of the parking lot to pick up my checked gear which was out in the rain for two hours and then having a really small change tent that could not be used because it was packed, it was not a pleasant experience. Also, they had shut down the street car service to the Ex and not told anyone so I ended up having to walk to the streetcar loop across from Coronation Park.

So I got my BQ by 45 seconds. Will that be enough? There are some people in the Runners World Forums who are trying to crunch the numbers to guess at the cutoff and they are predicting a very low cutoff due to the warm weather in Boston this year and the fewer number of people that actually requalified at Boston. So maybe 45 seconds will be enough. I have no desire to make a fall marathon attempt as I don't really want to train hard over the summer. I tried to do just maintenance miles last year, in the hopes that I would be able to qualify just before the window closes, but it wasn't really enough and of course there's also the crapshoot of what the weather is going to be in mid-September. 
 I don't think I want to do marathon training this summer so I'm leaning towards sitting tight and hoping for the best. 

Spring Into Action 10k Race Report

on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 7:23 PM

Did a 10k on Sunday to practice marathon pace effort again. I did this last year and found it useful to help remember what marathon pace felt like the week prior to the marathon. Last year, I did the Backs in Motion 10k which ideally I would have liked to do again, but this year, that race is on the same weekend as Goodlife/Mississauga so that obviously wouldn't work.  Last year, the Spring Into Action 10k was on the same weekend as Goodlife, but this year they moved it to being a week early. I guess it all works out in the end.

Like last year, I wanted to do the race on not so fresh legs so I planned to do 6 miles beforehand. I planned to do day of race registration since reading online, it seemed it was actually slower to pick up your stuff if you were pre-registered.  The issue with this is that registration only started at 9am and the race was scheduled for 9:50am, so even if I was the first person registered, I probably wouldn't be able to squeeze in the 6 miles before race start.  I ended up splitting the initial 6 miles into two 5k segments. I did 5k upon arriving, registered and then did another 5k.

The route is the for the most part the same out and back route as the Korean Peace Run 10k which I'd run before.  There was a difference in that the turnaround for this race actually corresponded to the 5k mark whereas the Korean Peace Run makes you run a little further out to a point that has a loop in the path which makes the turnaround a little easier and less jarring, it also makes the route about 300m longer.

The course didn't really have km markers. There was a 1km marker which seemed to be accurately placed, but it was only there because there was also a 2km race so the 1km marker signified the turnaround point.  There was also a marker at the 5km mark to signify the turnaround (obviously). They weren't that many marshals, but the route is fairly simple, so they probably didn't need that many.  There was no one at the 5k mark to tell people to turnaround, but the sign was fairly obvious and they made a specific announcement about the turnaround sign before the race so I doubt there were any issue for that.

As for the actual race, I was hoping to get feedback on HR and marathon pace in a race atmosphere.  Looking through the results last year, it seemed that there were a lot of fast people in the race so I thought there would be a lot of people to run with.  Unfortunately, this was not the case as I basically had to run by myself from the 200m mark on.  Looking back, I think the course last year was very short because some 15 year old kid ran a sub-26min 10k last year(world record!) so apparently there weren't that many fast runners.

As usual, I started the race way too fast.  I hit the first km marker in 4:09 (6:41 min/mile pace) and immediately had to back off on the effort to get back on pace.  My GPS then autosplit at the 1 mile mark at 6:59. Unfortunately, my HR spiked at the 6 min mark so I didn't really get a good gauge on HR vs. pace. I think I'm starting to notice a pattern in that it will spike when I ease off the throttle as I had the same thing happen last year too.  I'm hoping if I can avoid starting out too fast, there won't be a need to ease off the throttle which will give me more of a chance of the HR not spiking.  I didn't hit the lap button at the 5km mark, but the GPS route seems to suggest I turned around at around 22:25. The only other split I have is the last km which I did in 4:25 (7:06 pace).

The GPS autosplits are
1 mile: 6:59
2 mile: 7:17
3 mile:  7:17
4 mile:  7:26
5 mile:  7:13
6 mile:  7:15
0.2 mile  1:15 (7:04 pace)

Polar  Stats and Map Route

As i said, I basically had to run the race by myself. There was one guy who pulled up to me at about the 2km mark, but I noticed that one of his shoelaces was undone and he was breathing pretty hard so I wasn't sure how long he would be around. I passed him on a hill and didn't hear from him again. I ended up catching up to another guy at about the 8km mark, but he started to speed up when he heard me coming. I contemplated racing him over the last 2km, but my goal in this was to maintain marathon pace.  The 4 mile split contained the turnaround so that's why that seems slow, but for the most part, I was aiming for 7:20 pace and was able to hit that okay.   Final finish time was 44:41 (7:11 min/mile pace) with what seems to a be an almost even split.

The results say I finished 4th overall, but I know that there's at least one guy (the 8km guy) who aren't in the results.  I think their times were  listed in the 5k race.  My time was initially in the 5k race results also so I had to get the timer to change that.

Fairly good race. Free BBQ after. I'm not sure if there were awards. I doubt it as the entry fee was cheap at $25.   The race raises money for diabetes research and offer 2k, 5k and 10k races with various team/family entries available.  I would definitely do this again if fit into my schedule. 

Non-Running Preparation for the Marathon

on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 8:56 PM

It was around this time last year that I was trying to decide which race to do, either Toronto or Mississauga.  I'm still waiting to decide and will wait until the weather and wind forecasts firm up a bit. Last year, my only concern was the weather with a little concern about the course profile.  Since that time, I've learned that I also have to be concerned about the race organization.  While deciding last year that I wouldn't do Toronto Goodlife again, I've had some time to reflect and have had a change of heart.

The big issue I had last year was the markers which I had figured out were actually placed for the 2013 course and as a result were 300m earlier than they should have been.  The length of the course being 20m longer than it should have been, I've decided I could live with as it would only add a little bit onto the time, which are easily made up for the fact that the elevation profile of Toronto offers an additional 35m elevation drop over Mississauga.

So I came to the conclusion that if this years route was the same as last years route, then I would be fine with doing Toronto again.  Even if they decide to bungle up the placement of the markers again (which I can easily see them doing again since the race maps they have on the website still refer to the 2013 course), I realize that I can compensate for this by just using the painted lines on the road rather than the signs, which is something I should have adjusted to doing last year.

The big question that still remains is whether the course this year would in fact be the same as last year. There's no indication that the route is going to be different, the course certificaiton listed on the Goodlife website is stated to be "CAN-2012-025-BDC" which if you look this up on the Athletics Canada website refers to 5k race in Strathroy. As mentioned above, the website also has a race map of the 2013 course, which is not the same route that has been run in the past two years. The website prefaces this by saying "Note that these maps are only intended to be a guide – all courses are certified and may vary slightly from this representation."  No kidding.

I think a fair assumption would be that the most recently measured course is the one that the organizers intend to use, which would be one measured in 2014 (ON-2012-029a-BDC), which is the one we ran last year.  The only reason I can see it changing is if there's some sort of construction on the route that would require them to detour the route at the last moment.  If they had to, they might add on to the course, or possibly (like in 2014) subtract from the course.  While I don't mind running a short marathon course (assuming no one finds out), I'd hate to have to run significantly more. 

To ease my fears, I decided today to drive the entire course to see if there might be any issue and I'm glad to say there doesn't appear to be any. I especially scouted out the turnaround at the Humber Bay Park east park.  It appears that someone had already gone through most of the course and painted the curb lines onto the road where the markers *should* be placed and they match up with the 2014 measured course. The line paintings are bright orange this year and should be easily discernible.  The other thing I want to be able to do if I run Toronto is to figure out early if the markers are misplaced. While I couldn't see the 1k and 2k painted lines while driving, thanks to Google's streetview, I figured out  the locations of where the 1k and 2k markers should have been based on  these pics taken in May 2015 which should correspond to last year course (and presumably this years).

1k Marker Location, Streetview Link

2k marker location. StreetView Link

So if the 1k and 2k marker signs aren't at these two locations (or relatively close since they are in the middle of intersections) then I'll know within the first 10 minutes of the race that the markers are f'ed up again.  But at least this time, I'll be ready for it!

Around the Bay Race Report 2016

on Monday, April 4, 2016 at 8:51 PM

Well that didn't go according to plan. So after posting how great training was going, I ended up getting food poisoning or something soon after. I was gassy and bloated all day Friday and my abdominals were sore and achy on Saturday. I had tried to do a short recovery run, but called it quits after about 200m. It felt like a side stitch, but at recovery pace. Started to worry how the heck was I going to do 30k on Sunday. I had thoughts about not going, but with the entry paid for and a hotel room already booked and too late to cancel, it was going to seem like a waste. So I made the drive to Hamilton.  At the very least, I figured I'd have to do a long run anyways so I might as well do it in Hamilton.

The weather forecast looked bad, but looking out on the morning of race day, it wasn't so bad. There was no snow, clear skies and it didn't seem too windy judging by the smoke stacks on the tops of buildings. I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to wear shorts or pants. If I were racing, it would have been shorts, but if I was going to treat this as a long run, I wanted to be somewhat comfortable. Still not having recovered from the food poisoning, I was pretty sure this was going to be a long run, so I ended up wearing the pants.

So left the hotel about 20 minutes to race start and jogged to the starting line.  The abs were feeling okay during this short jog so I started to reconsider whether I wanted to  just treat this as a long run. In the end, I decided that I would start with the 2:15 pace bunny and adjust on the run.

I lined up behind the pace bunny and the race starts. For the first little bit, I was running at the right pace. Unfortunately, the old nemesis, the HR spike reared it's head about 4 minutes into the race. I ended up doing 4 miles with the pace bunny, but then decided to shut it down once I got to an aid station where I could try to get the HR to calm down, which it didn't. I then spent the next 3 miles walking and running in the hopes that the HR would reset which it finally did a little after 7 miles.  With the silver medal now out of the equation, I just wanted to put in an honest effort the rest of the way.  Miles 8 to 13 were run at a steady effort at between 7:35 and 8:00 min miles. During mile 14, the HR spiked again which just luckily coincided with another aid station so I took another bathroom break, grabbed some water and started walking. The HR reset pretty quick this time and I was able to run the rest of the race without incident trying to maintain a HR of about 160 which ended up being at about 8 min/mile pace.  Increased the pace for the last km to about 7:15 pace just to get some more HR information.

Finish time of 2:28:13 chip time.  For more detailed tale of the tape, you can get more information from the Polar stats.

Here's the wacky HR. Starts out fine and then about 4 minutes jumps by over 30 beats per minute. Looks to have reset at about the 50 minute mark where it remains steady until the 1:40 mark where it spikes again and then resets pretty quickly after a brief stop and walk where it remains okay for the rest of the race.

I was glad to have worn the pants. There were occasions during the first 4 miles where I felt too warm but this was with a tailwind doing 7:15 pace. Those thoughts quickly went away when we finally hit the wind.

So I guess the silver medal will have to wait for another year. They're bringing the dreaded Valley Inn Road hill back next year so that may not be the best of things for a silver medal attempt, but I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't have been able to hold the required 7:15 pace for the whole way. Occasionally during the race, I got abdominal pains. Not quite as painful as a side stitch, but just enough to bother me and make me think about slowing down.  I've never experienced this gassy and bloated feeling before and am still trying to figure out what caused it. 

Training Update

on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 8:45 PM

So it's a little more than a month out to the marathon.  Training has gone surprisingly well this time around.  I've managed to get most of the training runs in, with the odd skipped recovery run.  Was able to do all the long and LT runs.  This past winter has been good weather wise.  Not too much snow.  Still, I did do a big chuck of the runs at the gym.  After doing the early wake up and run at the gym before work last year, I decided that my gym runs would be done after work this time which worked out okay.  Almost all of the LT runs were done on the treadmill, with the exception of the last 7 mile one which was done outside at 6:58 min/mile pace on the soccer field route.  

I also got lucky with the marathon pace runs this time around.  Temps for each were above freezing which allowed me to run in shorts outside and minimal upper body wear.  I had a bit of a decision to make this year.  Last year, the last MP run coincided with Around the Bay which is a 30k road race in Hamilton. This year, the race is taking place this weekend.  However, my MP run was scheduled for last week.  I had some thoughts to delaying the MP so I could do it at ATB, but the weather forecasts a week out for this weekend were not looking good.  Temperature wise it was to drop below freezing with sustained winds of 30km/hr and up.  Compare that to the weather last weekend which was just above freezing and low winds. 

What they say about the bird in hand applied and I figured with the good weather last weekend, to take what I had and then figure out what to do in Hamilton come race weekend.  Glad I did, as after a two mile warmup, I was able to crank out 7:15 min/mile pace for 15 miles . Over the course of the training cycle, I've been gradually increasing my MP by 5 sec/mile. I started out at 7:30 pace (end of January), then 7:25 (End of February) and this time around it was supposed to be 7:20 pace, but I tried for 7:15 pace at the start, just to gauge what the effort level was like to see if I could maintain it for any length of time and it seems I was able to maintain it for the whole thing.  I wanted to practice that pace because I was trying to figure out if I was in good enough shape to try for the silver medal at ATB. For men, those who finish under a 2:15 gun time get a silver medal, those under 2:00 get a gold and everyone else gets a bronze.  2:15 would require 7:15 pace for the 30k. 

As of right now, they are predicting -4C temps with wind from the west at 20km/hr with gusts up to 40km/hr for the morning, which is not too good.  With a circular route, it means tailwind for the first 10k or so and then for the last 3 km, but a headwind from 10k to about 27k.  I still haven't decided what I will do. On the one hand, doing marathon pace efforts on back to back weekends is probably not a good idea, but I think if I can maintain the 7:15 pace for the whole thing without getting injured, it would set me up for a really good marathon time a month from now.  I'm guessing that they will have pacing groups for the 2:15 time so I could probably use the group to block the wind.  I just have to remember to stay with them from the start, unlike what I did in Erie last fall.  Lesson learned!

As for my goal of doing weight training. That hasn't gone as well as I'd liked. It started out well, but lately I usually end up with only one weight training session a week tops with maybe one additional core work out.  Not as often as I would have liked, but still way more than I've done in the past.  I've also been stretching more.  It seems with the running in the evening thing, I get more time to stretch after the run, whereas before, I was quick to get changed and move on because I had to get to work.  I guess it's all about time management. 

So that's about all for this update. Hope you're all having a good training season. Spring weather is almost here (though technically it should be here already, damn Polar vortex...)