Sunday, May 31, 2009

Next Up....

After some deliberation I have finally made a decision on which race to run next.

The actual event, Johnny Miles, was decided a long time ago as my whole family had such a great time there last year. On the Saturday of the weekend they have kids races that are free, as well as, a great carbo loading event that is part of your registration fee and only $5 for extra sittings for family members and guests. Simply put a great deal. Actually, if you sign up for a race, you get a carbo loading meal, the race itself, breakfast and a post race meal, along with a technical shirt and a hat for $45. I have not come across a better deal anywhere.

So what was the decision on the race to run. Ultimately, I landed where I thought I would... I have registered for the 1/2 marathon. Basically, I don't feel that I am ready to ramp up to a marathon yet - more mentally than anything. At the same time, I feel that my Winter base should allow me to run a 1/2 without too many problems. I actually started training this past Monday on a 1 month training schedule for the 1/2. If you are curious about what I am doing from a training perspective, you can look at my log here.

I will try to post here from time to time with insights as to how my body is reacting to the training regimine.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Long Time, No See... Two Races

It has been quite some time since my last post. Now time for the excuses... Post Boston I was a little burnt out, busy at work and just could not summon myself to blog. So what happened since the last post... well plenty.

Boston went well. Going into it I had set 3 goals - any of which I would be satisfied with. The first goal I had was to simply PR in Boston, a second goal would have been to break 3:10 and a high water stretch goal would be to break 3:07. Based on the training I was putting in I would have thought that, up until a month out from from the race, any of them were possible. That said, starting about a month out from the race, I started to struggle a little and was actually getting slower - not sure why, but just was not feeling on top of my game. So how did things go?

First off, a big shout out to my buddy, nemesis and virtual training partner's aunt who allowed us to stay with her. Her location... about a 20 minute drive from the start line was ideal. It kept us out of the city and allowed us to focus entirely on getting ready for the race as opposed to getting caught up in all the other hoopla. Her hospitality was beyond compare and she and her husband ensured that we were well taken care of and ready for the race. From a logistics standpoint things could not have gone better.

The race itself was quite the experience. Prior to Boston, the biggest marathon I participated in had 150 people in it and the largest race I had ever been in had about 2000 people in it. Boston was quite the animal for me in that just negotiating the number of bodies on the course would prove to take much more effort than I ever could have imagined. I was also impressed by the level of organization that surrounded the race. I suppose they have had 113 years to work out the kinks, but it was still amazing how well organized it was.

As to the race itself, I arrived at the start line feeling ok, but not amazing.... strike one. Once the gun went off, however, Keith and I were discipline and ran at our pre-appointed pace and stuck with it. We started out at 7:33 min / mile pace and ran the first 20 miles varying from 7:06 - 7:33 pace. You can see the damage here.

Not much to report in the first 20... oddly enough things were going just like clockwork. The thing that really struck me was the number of people crashing and burning on Heartbreak Hill. The downhill pounding of the first 16 miles really takes a toll and by the time people reach the last of the uphill Newton Hills (Heartbreak Hill) from mile 16 - 20 , you can see it really begin to take a big chunk out of people's will. Much better runners than I, succumbed to the pain here and were relegated to walking/limping it home. I think the temptation to gain time on the downhill portion is too great for some and by the time they hit the uphill there was simply nothing left in the tank.

It was Heartbreak Hill that the course took a piece out of me as well. Just as I was about to crest it, I felt a big twinge in my left hamstring and battled it until the end. From this point on, whenever I tried to up my pace, I could feel a twinge that appeared to be a precursor to a hamstring pull. Wanting to finish as best I could I eased it in from here. At mile 24, Keith, as we had previously arranged, turned on the jets as he was feeling good. I could not answer the bell here.

In the end, Keith finished in 3:11:48 and I finished in 3:13:33. I had lost the battle against my friend, but I think you could call my battle with the course a draw. I didn't slay it, but I didn't get slayed in the process either.

How did I do against my goals. I managed to PR, so all was not lost, however, I didn't hit my other goals.... I will hold on to them for another day. All in all, it was a wonderful experience - one that I am glad to have taken part in.

The other race that I refer to was run yesterday... the Blue Nose 10K. I didn't really prepare for this one as I have been slowly been upping my training since Boston. I did put in a pretty good showing however.... 13th overall and 2nd in my age group with a time of 39:32. My placing was aided by the fact that the Blue Nose runs 4 races at the same time: a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and full marathon all go at the same time. The splitting of the better runners in the Atlantic region between these races, as well as, having many runners who were in Boston take a pass on the Blue Nose due to its proximity to Boston in terms of time allowed me to sneak in to a age group finish... Hey, I will take what I can get.

On the horizon is the Johnny Miles next month. At this stage I think I will run the 1/2 marathon. By the way, this race is the best deal in all of running in my mind. Registration, a technical shirt, a hat, carbo loading and post-race meal, finish line photo and probably other stuff I am probably forgetting for $45. As well, a children's running event is run for free the previous day. Looking forward to it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

9 Days, 7 hours, 17 minutes

Not much time left and heavily into my taper... perhaps more than I would like as I have been fighting some sort of sickness all week. I just haven't felt good and as a result skipped a couple of runs. At this point I am not going to sweat it - I figure that the work is in the bank now and it makes more sense to get too much rest and stay healthy as to try and squeak every last bit of training out of myself.

This final stretch before the big "B" is a little strange. I actually found myself getting nervous about a week ago, but that seems to have passed through me and I feel incredibly relaxed about it now. I have some times in mind in terms of how I would like to finish... but I will keep those to myself for now in case I change my mind.

AT&T have the athlete tracker thing this year. If anyone would like to receive an auto-generated email as I pass various parts of the course just drop me a line via email and I will add you to the list:

Outside of that, not much to report. I am looking forward to spending a long weekend talking trash with my competition and then having a good race. I really expect that the atmosphere, as opposed to my run, may be the highlight of the weekend.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three Weeks to Go

I have been extremely tardy in posting lately, however, it just hasn't been happening for some reason. That said, training has been going well for the most part. Yesterday, I ran my final big long run in preparation for Boston; a twenty miler.

I must say that the run was a bit of a mixed bag. For the first 9 miles I was on the verge of quitting - I just wasn't feeling good... energy wise and mentally. If it wasn't my last big run I probably would have packed it in. Then magically, something took a turn for the better around mile 10 - suddenly, I felt strong and speedy and my splits decreased by a fair bit.

Overall, I ran 7:24 / mile for the 20 miles with a huge negative split. There is a lesson to be learned there... starting slow is a strategy I need to employ in Boston. After the slow start, I actually ended up running an overall pace that was only 2 seconds per mile off of my PR for the marathon. I may be struck down for even thinking this, but I feel like I am now ready. Time to taper and let the chips fall where they may.

The 3 - 4 of you that regularly follow this blog, by the way thanks, may recall me making mention of racing Boston against a childhood friend. Truth be told, this is not the death match I have been building it up to be. Nothing would make me happier than for both of us to PR... even if that means he destroys me. Essentially, the occasional verbal jabs have been more about attempting to get the best out of both of us... that little bit of extra push that sometimes we all need. That said, if we were to both PR and I nudged him out, I wouldn't mind having the bragging rights ;-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Just finished 10 miler. 8:32 warm up mile followed by 9 miles at a 6:49 pace. Overall pace 6:59 (warm up and pace miles together). Finally feel like my speed is picking up. I must say that my mood is picking up in conjunction with this.

As an aside, my first race 12 years ago (in my early 30's) was a 10 miler that I finished at the exact same pace without a warmup. Nice to see that I am getting faster as I get older as I can now run a tempo run at my former race pace.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stiff and Sore

It has been a while since I posted. This is mostly due to things being quite hectic recently and just not having the time to sit down and put down some thoughts.

All things considered, training is going well. I did have some knee pain a couple of weeks ago that felt like a re-inflamation of my IT Band, but that seems to have disappeared after some concentrated stretching. I ran a 20 miler on Saturday at the pace I had intended and outside of some sore quadraceps I feel pretty good. As well, Spring is on the horizion which elevates the mood of any runner who has had to slog through Winter.

As of today, it is exactly 5 weeks to Boston and I am trying to finalize the rest of my training. The one thing that is forefront in my mind is a 25K  race this weekend. I am of two minds as to run it or not. Essentially, it is a risk vs. reward kind of thing. The reward would be a real good gauge of my fitness heading into Boston, the risk is the potential to injure myself. Anyone with any thoughts around running a 25K race 4 weeks out from your goal?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winter Blahs

Enough of Winter already. I have found myself lacking motivation for the past couple of weeks. I am just not that excited to get out there right now. It is a bit of a struggle to get out the door. Funny thing is, I thought training for Boston would be motivation enough. It hasn't turned out that way. It is almost as if getting to Boston was the motivating factor, that now I have qualified, what I was striving for has been attained. This is also explains the lack of posts lately... I just simply don't have as much motivation for all things running lately.... at least not at my normal level.

With that rolling about in the back of my mind, I set out for a 15 miler today - I wasn't excited to get out there, but you know there is something to be said for just getting out there.... sometimes the magic just happens and when you least expect it. I planned on running the following, 2 warm up miles, 11 miles (at what I hoped would be race pace of 7:05) and 2 cool down miles. Going into it, I had my doubts that this could be achieved today, but like I alluded to already, sometimes the magic just happens.

As soon as I took my first 10 steps I knew I was going to have a decent day as I was reining myself in as opposed to struggling to get up to speed which has been the case far too often recently. Normally my warm up miles are in the vicinity of 8:00 - 8:30 min / mile. Today, my first two miles were 7:37 and 7:42 and this was while making a conscious effort to slow down. Then came the tempo miles. I ran the 11 miles at a 6:57 clip and felt comfortable doing it. Following this, I ran a couple of cool down miles. All in all a pretty good run considering how I had felt going into it. Including warm up and cool down miles, I ran at a 7:08 pace. Going into it, if I would have ran the 11 tempo miles at that pace I would have been satisfied... to have that be result for the entire run was really encouraging.

Hopefully, the blahs will be over soon. Perhaps today's run will do something to pull me out of my doldrums - I must admit to feeling quite a bit better now than I did previously. If nothing else, maybe it is a foreshadowing of a good race on Patriot's Day with my nemesis. Heck knows, he should be providing all the inspiration I need.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"It's Just Emotion"

I had a bit of a down week running.... mentally speaking that is. I had a disaster of a run for last week's long run and I found myself fretting about it. From an intellectual standpoint I know that you shouldn't put too much weight in any single run, however, emotionally I found it taxing that it was such a disaster. 

Which leads me to yesterday's longish run. Basically, it was a long tempo run. I ran 13 miles and after a 2 mile warm up ran 9 hardish miles and cooled down for another 2 miles. The bulk of the 9 miles was run at sub 7 minute per mile with a couple of uphill sections just over the 7 minute per mile mark. I had actually planned on running more of the run at tempo pace but I set myself a 13 mile limit and the distance to the road with a cleared bike path is about 2 miles from my house and was quite slippery. So I used that slippery section as my warm up and cool down area. The exciting part about this run was how good I felt... better than I have felt in a long, long time. I didn't feel myself struggling to maintain the pace whatsoever.

Today, I ran a nice recovery jog for six and a quarter miles. Which actually leads me to the greatest benefit of my gps watch.  The greatest benefit I find is on runs like today - runs in which the focus is to recover and keep my pace down. I seem to have a much better feel for faster paced running as opposed to slower paced running. The gps serves as a nice reminder when I start to pick up my pace too much on a day I should be recovering. It was warmer today than it has been as of late, so it was nice to just get out there today and the watch kept me in check.

So the week was pretty good overall despite early feelings of dread. Emotionally, I think I am back on track. I just have to remember not to make too much of any single run. This goes for the good ones as well as the bad ones.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A New Week, A (hopefully) Smarter Runner

After last week's follies, I decided to be a little smarter about running this week. I took Sunday off to recover from Saturday's long run and ran an easy 7 miler yesterday morning at about an 8:15 min / mile pace. Nice and easy.

Today was a different matter, but hey, I was rested. Today was an interval session:

10 min warm-up at 10:00 min / mile
6 x 800 m @ 6:00 min / mile with 1:30 Resting Interval
10 min cool-down @ 9:00 min / mile

Felt pretty good during the run - speed and stamina both seem to be right about where I would like right now. If only I could shake this nagging cold as my breathing could be a little better. Both runs were on the treadmill as we had rain this past weekend followed by a flash freeze down to -15 Celsius. This has made running on sidewalks impossible and the roads are pretty dodgy in places as well. I must admit that the -15 temps with wind have had more than a small role in keeping me inside as well. Given that I find it difficult to do intervals on a road as opposed to a track this is probably just as well anyway. 

So what's up over the next couple of days. Tomorrow is a cross training day - spinning at the gym. Thursday I am considering a 8 mile tempo run (1 mile warm up, 6 miles @ 6:50 min / mile, 1 mile cool down). Friday, if I run at all, will likely be some easy slow miles and Saturday I am looking to do 13 miles at about 7:15 - 7:25 min / mile as I try and add some pace to my longer runs.

I am now trying to ensure after each hard run that I give myself an easy day or a day of rest. No sense getting older if you can't get smarter. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Tough Week

I haven't posted in a few days. I have been fighting a cold and just haven't had much energy for running. As a result, I took Wednesday and Thursday off. On Friday morning, I got back into it and ran the following:

1 mile warmup @ 10:00 min / mile
4 miles @ 6:49 min / mile
1 mile cool down @ 10:00 min / mile

This was short of the intended 2 mile warm up, followed by 7 miles at tempo pace, followed by a 1 mile cool down. However, I shouldn't complain too much considering how tired I felt. 

Which leads me to today. Sometimes, you just have to realize that you need to rest after a hard work out. Despite running tempo miles yesterday, I set out for my long run today. It was, potentially, the worst run I have had in about a year. I had intended to run 20 miles at about an 8:00 min / mile pace, however, my body was having none of that and I actually ran 19 at about a 8:26 min / mile pace. I can take some consolation that the footing was extremely poor in the last 4 miles in particular, but in many ways I don't think I ever felt good on this run. 

Running is humbling that way. Last week, I couldn't have felt better on my long run and actually found myself reining myself in. A short 7 days later I found myself struggling to hold a much slower pace. The lesson, of course, is to get the proper rest between tough workouts and not blindly try to fit things in. Sometimes you know better, but still forge on when you shouldn't. Lesson learned..... again.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A New Form of Torture

Last night I went to spin class and it was, in a word, tough. Heavy on intervals - by the end of it my thighs were burning. Which leads me to this morning's workout. I, in hindsight, probably shouldn't have scheduled an interval run the morning after having completed a spin class, but it is what it is. So this mornings workout went as follows:

10 min warm up @ 10:00 min / mile
1200 meters @ 6:19 min / mile
2 min resting interval @ 10:00 min / mile
1200 meters @ 6:19 min / mile
2 min resting interval @ 10:00 min / mile
800 meters @ 6:00 min / mile
2 min resting interval @ 10:00 min / mile
800 meters @ 6:00 min / mile
2 min resting interval @ 10:00 min / mile
800 meters @ 6:00 min / mile
2 min resting interval @ 10:00 min / mile
800 meters @ 6:00 min / mile
2 min resting interval @ 10:00 min / mile
5 min cool down @ 10:00 min / mile

My legs feel like rubber right now, however, tomorrow is a rest day at least.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Plan for This Week

Monday: Spin Class
Tuesday: 10-20 minute warm-up, 2 x 1200m (2 min. RI), 4 x 800m (2 min. RI), 10 minute cool-down
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: 7 Mile General Aerobic run (read easy)
Friday: 2 mile warm-up, 7 miles at 6:50 min / mile, 1 mile cool-down
Saturday: 10 mile Recovery Run
Sunday: 20 mile Long Steady Distance

That is the plan for now, but as always, I may change this based on how I feel and whether or not the weather cooperates.

Recovery, Recovery, Recovery

I was unsure whether or not I would run today, however, -4 Celsius with hardly a cloud in the sky and very little wind, completely convinced me to get out there. Due to the perfect conditions, footing excepted, I went for a leisurely 9 mile run at an 8:20 min / mile pace. I felt a little tenderness in my quads from yesterday's 18 mile jaunt, but outside of that felt great. I think days like today are the reason I run - perfect conditions lead to a perfect state of mind.

So, what goes on in that mind on a longish run? To be truthful, not much. And I think that is why the weather is so important. I find that running is my opportunity to clear out my head. I hear how some people are able to solve some of the most pressing problems in their lives when out on a run. Not me. I think it just provides me with the opportunity to flush my brain and the opportunity to focus on nothing but the run is the vehicle for doing just that. Having perfect weather conditions like I had today is simply a vehicle to enhance the whole experience. Some people would consider this missed opportunity, I consider it my mental and physical maintenance.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

18 Mile Long Run

In the back of my mind, I had hoped to run this one at about 8 min / mile excepting a nasty stretch of roadway called Flamingo Drive at mile 16 which is about a 1/2 - 3/4 mile stretch of uphill nastiness. So how did I do against such goals:

I actually finished at a 7:52 min / mile pace including the nasty hill and even considering the sheets of ice that have encased the sidewalks of Halifax, Nova Scotia. To be truthfull, I ran about 90% of the run on the roads which are in much better shape, but there was about 10% of the run in which running on the aforementioned sidewalks was unavoidable. I felt strong out there today, in fact, I spent much of the time reigning myself in as opposed to trying to keep up to pace. A final aspect of the run that I was especially pleased with was my recovery from the hill climb. My final mile, just after the climb, was actually the fastest split I had today at 7:26 min / mile.

For a while, I was beginning to doubt the supposed benefits of base training that I had heard about as I had  been feeling sluggish in recent days. I must say that this past week, however, has renewed my faith in a period of long and slow runs. 

Friday Recovery Run

I woke up Friday morning and was exhausted - mentally and physically. I thus made an executive decision to sit one out. Better to arrive at the start line healthy and 90%, than injured. At least that is what I am telling myself now.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday Thursday Training

I didn't post yesterday... not that I was a complete slacker. Last night I went for a spin class. The first time out last week I thought I was going to die, this time, however, things felt much better. It was if my body was now adjusted to a new sort of punishment.

Speaking of punishment, I did some intervals this morning... though not the ones I had originally set out in my plan. I had set out to do Yasso 800s, but for some reason, didn't feel like it this morning. So here is what I did do:

1 mile warm up
.5 mile @ 6:00 min / mile
.25 mile @ 9:12 min / mile
1 mile @ 6:19 min / mile
.25 mile @ 9:12 min / mile
1 mile @ 6:19 min / mile
.50 mile @ 9:12 min / mile
1 mile @ 6:19 min / mile
.50 mile @ 9:12 min / mile

I would like to be a little quicker at this point, but considering I was training last night, I will take it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recovery Run

Today's intended run: 6 miles at a recovery pace with 6 x 100 m strides thrown in.

Reality: Felt sluggish and a little stiff this morning. With this in mind, I cut it down to 5 miles at a recovery pace. Better to sense one's body than to injure oneself at this point. At least that is what I am saying for now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tempo #1 - almost according to plan

I had set out to run 9 miles today. A 2 mile warmup, followed by a 5 mile tempo run at 6:50 min / mile, followed by a 2 mile cool down. It almost went according to plan... the particulars follow here:

2 miles warm up, 5 miles at 6:54 min / mile, 2 miles cool down. The excuse I am making for myself for not hitting 6:50 on the tempo part of my run is that it was -18 degrees celsius when I ran, as well as, 4:30 am. That said, I am reasonably happy with th effort as it was my first tempo run of the year and my first serious run in terms of getting ready for Boston.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Time to Get Serious

Since my last race on October 12th, I have focused on base miles.... running at a pace to enhance my aerobic capacity with little or no concern to speed-work or hills in preparation for Boston. All that changes this week.

Here's what this week's tentative (I reserve the right to change things) schedule looks like:

Monday: 9 miles, 2 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 6:50 min / mile, 2 mile cool down
Tuesday: Recovery + speed 6 mi with 6 x 100 m strides
Wednesday: 40 - 50 min Spin Class
Thursday: Yasso 800's --> 10 x 800 meter repeats with 400 meter rest intervals (2 mile warm up, 2 mile cool down).
Friday: 5 mile recovery run.
Saturday: 18 mile long run

I will try to report how I actually do against this plan --> weather and sloth can always alter the best of intentions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Long Run - A Tough One

In a recent post the guy I will be running Boston with, Keith, referred to my use of the word partners, in terms of our running, as squishy. With that in mind, I will refer to the guy I run with, Gary, as a colleague as opposed to a partner.

Gary, my running colleague, took me on a long run Saturday on a route he has found/created. It was my first good strong long run (17 miles) as I train for Boston and I kind of just followed Gary's lead and let him take me where he saw fit. The route was sadistic in nature with a couple of extremely large hills. Tough enough that one would think it was Gary and not myself who is training for Boston. For this I am eternally grateful. While I was cursing him during the run - in particular the last 4 miles or so, I know that such a run will pay great dividends come race day.

The rest of my week wasn't bad either:

I ran a nice easy 9 miles on Monday.

I ran 8 miles on Wednesday and in anticipation of increasing the speed in my workouts in coming weeks, threw in a half dozen accelerations of 30 each in which I got up to a 5:55 per mile pace. The rest of the run was completed at an easy pace.

On Friday, I ran 7 miles and, as I am gradually increasing my pace, threw in 4 miles at about a 7:30 min / mile pace. Slower than I want to be, however, I feel that it is prudent to gradually ramp up my tempo to the 6:30 to 6:50 range. That said, seeing that my virtual colleague is already sticking in some 6:30 stuff is a little disconcerting. I just have to remember to stick to the plan... my plan.

Finally, yesterday I ran a nice recovery run of 5 miles at about 8:40 min / mile pace - nice and slow to work out any kinks Gary may have created on his sadistic route. Feel great today, so hopefully it is all working its way into shape.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Running In Winter

This is, in essence, my first time running through Winter. Last year, I attempted to do so, however, ran into a pesky IT Band problem that stifled my ability to get out. So I have definitely discovered a few things in my limited Winter exposure thus far:

1. Reduce expectations. I have really noticed that my pace has suffered running on slushy roads and snow covered trails. The loss of traction, and therefore pace, has been much greater than I had anticipated. Which leads to.....

2. Run by time as opposed to distance. My running "partner" Keith has turned me on to this. The effort expended in running in conditions that are not ideal from a traction standpoint means that the amount of distance covered is going to be less than usual, however, the effort over a given time frame will be more than normal. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to run for time. Winter is definitely not the time to focus on speed.

3. Get proper footwear. See earlier post about trail shoes.

4. Just enjoy running for the sake of running. The current weather conditions have me running to just keep an nice easy pace (think base training) and I find it refreshing to be just out there enjoying running for the sake of running again. At some point I will have to think about tempo and interval runs as I prepare for Boston, however, I think that will be a lot later than I had originally intended - which may not be a bad thing.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Year in Review - 2009 in With a Bang

Here are the totals for the year:

Total Runs: 194
Miles Run: 1493
Hours Run: 197

All in all, not bad considering I was injured for the first three months of the year and didn't run the volumes I would have liked.

As for races, I raced in 5 different events and established a PR each time out. This is not quite as good as it seems, however, as 3 of the races represented the first time I raced the distance and, therefore, had no choice but to PR. That said, I felt pretty good about most of the races, and while I didn't run as fast as I would have liked in all of them, I didn't have an unmitigated disaster either.

2008 also represented the first time I started to run with someone else. My running partner Gary and I typically run our long run together each week and I must say that I enjoy the company on these longer treks. I had always thought I would hate running with someone else - that running time was my personal time, however, the opposite is true. The opportunity to swap running stories and approaches has been refreshing.

For 2009, I don't really have any focus right now - outside of training for Boston. I think I will establish some thoughts around other races to run after Boston as right now it seems silly to think beyond it.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Halifax Weather