Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas runs...

I've continued my regular runs -- typically 8 to 9 kilometres, with an occasional 12k thrown in for good measure. But any time we've gone to do a 16k run, the weather has been absolutely crappy. One day it was so bad that the OPP closed the main road in and out of Lucan (we didn't know and drove in on a side road). Another day, the wind was howling around us. But kudos to my wife, Jenny, and my youngest daughter, Tori, for running on both these days for 8.5k.

On some Saturdays, I'm the only Shamrock running so I use the opportunity to go for some speed. My last speed run 'around the block' to the southwest of Tim Hortons was done in 40:14, for an average pace of 4:46/k (7:40/mile). I'm going to need to do slightly better than that pace if I want to beat a 1:40 half marathon in Disney on January 12.

So, for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to need to concentrate on losing a few of the lbs. I've gained over Christmas, and then working to get my pace time down a few more seconds and for a bit longer distance.

Tough to do, though, when you're wearing four layers of clothing!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back in training mode again...

We're looking at the Shamrock Marathon in Virgina Beach on March 16, 2008. Its a Boston Qualifier -- for 2009 -- with an average high of 58 degrees F. and an average low of 40 degrees F. -- similar to the Niagara race last October.

Brian is considering it as well -- as our pace bunny, I believe -- and Jed is training hard although he hasn't committed to it yet.

So, this past week I got into training mode again. While I'd continued to run on the weekends and occasional weekday since Niagara, the runs were typically short - around 8 to 10 K. I did one 16k run with Tori and then another when she ran her 20k in preparation for the Disney Half Marathon coming up in January -- but other than that, they've been short and easy.

Last weekend I was alone running on the Saturday so I did an 8.4k loop and pushed reasonably hard, finishing in 42:29:50 -- a half second under my goal time. That put my pace at 8:05 which is a bit slower than marathon pace, but not bad considering I wasn't in marathon shape yet.

This weekend, I again found myself alone on the Saturday run, so I stepped it up again. This time I had my GPS with me so I was able to track my progress. While the wind seemed to be in my face for 3 of the 4 legs of my run (don't know how that's possible), I finished the run in 40:14 -- for an average pace of 7:40/mile. We'll call that my tempo run for the week!

Today, the weather was, well, crappy. The wind was brutal again, but this time there was snow to contend with. Jenny and Tori joined me as Tori was scheduled for a 16k run. We made the decision, though, to just do the 8.4k loop again as the weather really was crappy. Not so much for me, but Tori was definitely not having fun, and I don't think Jenny was either. In addition to the snow and wind in the face, one had to contend with the snow drifts on the road -- sort of like little hurdles throughout the run -- plus the joy of running through snow that felt like one was running through sand. Certainly a much more significant workout than running on dry roads.

So instead of a 40 minute run as it was yesterday, today it was a 61:38 run with an average pace of 7:16 per k. To put that into perspective, the last time Tori and I ran (her 16k run), we did it in an average pace of 6:20 per k. including walk breaks. So this was simply a tougher run.

The posts will now come more regularly again. Between the Disney Half -- where I'm going to try to set a personal best --, the Shamrock Marathon and the Shore to Shore Relay Race in late May, I have my races for the first half of 2008 already mapped out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

3:34:20 - A personal best! (but no BQ)...

I'm extremely pleased with the run. As I had feared, the wind ended up coming straight up the Niagara River at us, so for many parts of the run, it felt like we were pushing a car!

Everybody's marathon time was slower than we were looking for. I found the results from last year, and the 6th place finisher then came in 2nd this year -- but was 4 minutes and 22 seconds slower! So even the elite runners were feeling the effects.

The race started off surprisingly nice. While the forecast was pretty consistent with what I had seen on Friday -- winds out of the north-northwest at 12 knots, gusting 22 knots -- when we got up in the morning, there was only a very slight breeze. We got to the starting area at the Buffalo Art Gallery and the sun was shining, and I was actually a bit worried it would heat up a bit too much for us. While we were able to go inside the gallery to look at the art and keep warm, most of us stayed outside to prepare for the start and chat. And when the starting gun went, there was still only a very slight breeze.

We picked up another runner who was shooting for a 3:30 marathon -- Helene Lamothe of St. Basile near Montreal. So there were now four of us in the group to hit this target -- Jed, Helene, me and our pacer, Brian.

My lower right leg was still giving me a bit of discomfort, so I had an ibuprophen before the starting gun.

We ran through the streets of Buffalo and kept a very good pace. The goal was to actually start out a bit slower than our average pace overall, and the net effect was that we didn't go out too strong. In fact, it appeared that we were at just a second or two over our race pace of 8:00 per mile after four miles of running through Buffalo.

As we ran over the Peace Bridge to Fort Erie, our time naturally slowed on the up-hill leg, but picked up accordingly on the downhill portion, giving us an 8:01 pace for that mile.

As we came around the loop to get onto the Niagara Parkway for a 1 mile run south before heading to the long run north, I saw a flag that was oriented such that wind was coming from the south! Perfect, I thought, and I wondered if I had somehow misinterpreted the aviation weather forecast on which I was basing my wind direction. If the wind was coming from the south, that meant that it would be at our backs the whole way!

Jenny, Karen and Tori were at this point in the race to cheer us on -- cowbell in hand and replacement eLoad sport drink and a bag of jellybeans and eLoad tablets as well. We swapped out my depleted bottle and bag for a fresh set, which we had prepared the day before.

My joy about the flag direction was short-lived. By the time we had started the run to the north, I could feel the winds starting to come at us. However, we kept plugging away and continued to knock off surprisingly consistent miles, ranging from 7:52 to 8:04 up until the halfway point of the race. When I hit my watch's lap counter at the halfway point, my time was 1:45:29 -- exactly to the second what I needed to qualify for Boston if I could keep it up. I had another ibuprophen, as I could feel my muscles starting to feel like they would seize up and I wanted to be able to work through the pain.

But by now the winds were picking up even further. It was just before noon and there were several miles where I simply had to put my head down and concentrate on treating the road as my treadmill, pushing the road back behind me with every stride -- just to keep pace.

Jed was starting to have some issues keeping up at this point and was about 30 seconds behind us at the halfway point. Brian dropped back to help him out, and Helene and I kept running.

Jenny and the girls were there to cheer us on at around the 12 mile marker and 16 mile mark, which was great. And at the 16 mile mark, Tori had some orange slices and grapes for us. While I didn't partake in the grapes, I had an orange slice which was perfect. It was past my lunchtime and I was getting a tad peckish!

Before long, Helene wasn't beside me any more -- but I looked behind me and she was right on my tail -- drafting! No probs. I was happy to help, and it didn't cost me anything. But it was clear that the wind was having an effect on everyone. We kept running together until about mile 18, where she told me not to wait for her -- to keep going at my pace, which as it happens, was pretty much right on track, ranging from 7:56 to 8:05 for the five miles since the half.

But I was starting to have problems -- particularly on the windy segments where the course would shift such that the winds could come right up the river at us. My next four miles were 8:24, 8:14, 8:36 and 8:40 -- so I had pretty much given up on a Boston Qualifier time.

Right about here, Brian caught up to me and with 4 miles to go, he said, "Okay, buddy, you've got the finish in the bag, you've got a personal best in the bag -- now lets go for Boston." Shortly after that at about the 23.5 mile point in the race we came up to Jenny and the girls. Another orange slice and Jenny shouted at me, "You can do this. Get mad. Get going!" She could see that end-of-marathon look in my face where I was getting to the stage where I had nothing left in the tank. And with just under 3 miles left, we kept plugging ahead.

Again, I pulled out all of the visual imagery I could to keep me motivated. "3 miles left -- that's just an easy 5k -- like running from the bridge on Maguire Road to the house. That's nothing!". "2 miles left - that's like from the corner of Maguire and Clandeboye Roads to the house. Piece of cake!".

Brian kept pushing me hard as well. "You've got to keep working through the pain, buddy. Just 15 more minutes of pain -- keep pushing hard". He also tried giving me incentives to get to close targets. "Just around this bend and we'll be out of the wind. Keep working!". Of course, he was right -- until we went around the next bend and were right in the middle of the wind again! But it worked and I kept pushing. I hadn't looked at my GPS once Brian had joined me. And when the winds would get tough, I'd just put my head down, look for his feet ahead of me, and keep pushing, treating the road as my treadmill, pushing the road behind me with every step.

With about a half mile to go, my youngest daughter, Tori, appeared seemingly out of nowhere to run with me and she kept a good pace. Brian was encouraging me to pass other people who were also turning it on for the last push to the finish and at one point said, "Okay, buddy, time to leave it all out there. No conserving." I could feel myself pick up the pace.

Finally we could see the finish. Tori peeled off as we hit the shute and I turned it on for the end. My goal was to finish "upright and smiling" so I pasted a smile on my face for the last 50 meters. But I was done.

I came across in 3:34:20 -- just 3 minutes and 21 seconds off my Boston Qualifier time. -- but a personal best by almost a full hour!

I wandered around the corral where the food and Gatorade was being distributed for about a half hour -- both to wait for Jed to come across, and to make sure that if I crashed, I wouldn't be far from the medical tent. But I didn't crash. I felt close, mind you, but once I started eating an apple from the food bag, I started to feel better. I had a second one, and it was exactly what I needed.

Helen came across shortly behind me at 3:38:38, although I didn't see her, unfortunately. Jed came across in 3:46:14 -- an excellent time considering the winds, but not what he needed for a BQ. He said he felt like bailing about 20 times, but kept perservering. Certainly, 3:46 is a time in which he can be proud.

All-in-all, I was very pleased. While the temperature was exactly what I needed -- about 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) -- the winds definitely made it a challenge. And so I'm not only happy about setting a personal best, I'm also very confident that given the right conditions, I can make my BQ target time. I had a big smile of my face on the walk back to the hotel.

We aren't planning another marathon for this fall. We're done at least until the spring. But we'll continue to train for shorter distances and perhaps try to fit in a couple of half-marathons. So the long road to Boston is going to be longer than I'd hoped. But it will make the event all that much more special when I finally do make it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

No short run this week... too busy!

I've been up to my ears in work this week and there is no way I can fit in the 3 miler (or 6 mile bike ride) that Brian had suggested. I emailed Brian to find out how crucial this run was and he said that since he had just done a 6 mile run, he'd make it 3 for him and 3 for me. But I owed him a Guinness! (Deal!)

Bad news, though, about the weather forecast. While the temperature looks perfect, they're calling for winds out of the north-northwest -- which will put the wind right in our face. for 75% of the run. The only saving grace is that if it can shift a bit more to the west, there is a fair bit of shelter from houses and trees along the route. Otherwise, it will be coming right up the Niagara river at us. And they aren't talking about a slight breeze here -- they're saying 12 knots, gusting to 22 knots. Oh, well -- we'll see!

Jenny and I have our room booked at the Niagara Falls Courtyard Marriott Hotel ( for the Saturday night before the marathon, so I'm really, really doing this thing!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Last tempo run before Niagara...

Brian met my at our house at 9:00 to go out for the last tempo run before the Niagara Marathon this weekend. Our goal was somewhere around 7:40/mile. The winds were strong -- generally coming from the west, which made the route actually fairly consistent, since there is about a 50 foot elevation drop at the west end of our route as compared to the east end. Still, battling the winds certainly made your muscles work -- somewhat akin to pushing a car when the winds were coming right at you.

Nonetheless, we were able to bang out very consistent times of between 7:35 and 7:38 per mile, which was great.

I felt strong, despite some pain in my lower right leg at the start -- but which seemed to go away after a mile or so of running.

Brian suggested either a 3 mile run later in the week or perhaps a 6 mile, just to get the jitters out of my system more than anything else.

4 more sleeps until Niagara! (Starting to get excited, again!)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Last Long Run before Niagara Marathon!

I guess the first thing to get out of the way is that we've confirmed that I'm doing the Niagara Falls International Marathon next weekend, which runs from Buffalo, NY to Niagara Falls, Ontario primarily along the Niagara Parkway which runs beside the Niagara River. Coach Brian Watson is going to pace me.

The next exciting news is that we have a whole crew of people from the Shamrock Running Club joining us: Paula Muxlow and Gwyn Hayman have been training for this run for quite a few months, now, and are both doing the marathon. Kelly Vivian, Jody Durand and Mary Ondrejicka are doing the half marathon. Rita Lewis is going to cheer on Mary and the others halfers. And one of the newer members of our group, Heather Mutter, is doing the 5K.

But the really exciting news is that Jed de Jong has decided to give it a shot a the Niagara Falls International Marathon! He's feeling very good and ran an excellent 16 miler with Brian and me today. He won't be targeting a 3:30 finish, though. He needs 3:35 to qualify for Boston, so that's what he's shooting for, which makes 100% sense.

Today's run was excellent. The weather was cool to start with (about 14 degrees C - 57 degrees F) and by the time I started from my house, Jed had already run from his place in Lucan -- about a 5 mile run on its own -- to meet us. Brian showed up about a minute and a half later and off we went.

As with my Friday run, the wind was right in our face for the first kilometer -- but for the rest of the run into Lucan, the wind was at our side which helped to keep us cool.

We then did a 6 mile loop to the southwest of Lucan and escorted Jed home, he having done his 16 mile run with no problems.

Brian and I made our way back to our place but by now the wind appeared to have shifted slightly so that our westward run had us hitting the wind at about a 45 degree angle -- certainly enough that it was making us work. With 2 miles to go, I happened to mention that I had a couple of cold Coronas in my fridge and, apparently subconsciously, we both picked up the pace a bit. :-)

Overall, we had targeted 8:30 per mile and, in fact, did 8:29 per mile according to my GPS. Can't get much closer than that!

We celebrated our excellent run with a couple of beers out on porch outside our living room, which was quite pleasant. The beer certainly tasted good, especially considering that within an hour or so, it was getting unseasonably warm.

So, one week go to. The weather is still going to be a question mark, but all signs so far are that it should be back to seasonable. The Weather Channel's long range forecast has us at a low of 5C (41 F) to a high of 12C (54 F), partly cloudy (good!) with a 10% percent chance of precipitation. Should be ideal.

7 more sleeps!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Detroit Marathon - Helping Shore to Shore in the Race Expo

No running today. I played hockey last night, and ran 9 miles yesterday morning, so I thought I might want to rest up before my long run tomorrow.

Jenny and I volunteered to help out at the race expo for the Detroit Marathon which runs tomorrow. It took us over 4 hours to get down there, primarily due to construction-induced traffic congestion on I-94 from Sarnia as we entered Detroit.

Jenny drove, so on the way down there I did up a video compilation of the Shore to Shore Relay Race with photos and videos from last year. To have a look at it, click here. Going through the shots and videos reminded me of how much fun we had doing it. It was our first relay and we had no idea what to expect. Everybody had so much fun, though, that we're going to try to field two teams this year. Not bad for a small community!

The Expo was very interesting. Jenny and I could talk about the experience of the first Shore-to-Shore more than Chris Veillon, the gentleman who runs the London Ontario marketing company who was manning the booth. We'd see people looking quizzically at the sandwich board that describes the race ("a 300 K journey") and then go out chat with them about the experience. Quite a few people had run other relays before and were happy to hear that there was another one close to them -- and without a lottery requirement to get in!

Anyhow, it was a very pleasant day and we felt we did some good in being there. Jenny and I both felt that we'd influenced at least 5 potential sign-ups, with at least a couple of for-sures.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hoping for no headwind!

Today's run was definitely interesting. I was doing an easy 9-miler -- but 'easy' is a relative thing. I was targeting 8:30/mile -- which should be easy. But the first 3 miles were anything but. My first mile as at 8:40 and I was working. I was eventually able to get it down to 8:27 and 8:26 for the next two miles, but it was like I was pushing a small car in front of me with every step.

As soon as I turned on my route so that I was perpendicular to the wind, it was like someone had turned off the hurricane. My pace picked up sufficiently that I had to rein myself in again. The next two miles were at 8:21 and 8:29.

Now I started heading home with the wind at my back and banged of 8:26s for the next three miles, and then finished strongly with an 8:35 mile -- which included about 20 seconds of chatting with Jenny and Tori who passed me on their way to Ilderton. So, really, I was doing more like an 8:15 mile.

The 'lesson' from this run is that if I am faced with a headwind, I'm sunk before I start -- at least as far as hitting my BQ. Here's hoping for no headwind!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Easy 5 miler again...

Tonight, Jenny, Karen, Tori and I went out for a run from Tim Horton's in Lucan. The girls were only to do a 4 mile run, but I was looking for 5 or 6 miles. I joined them for the first 2 miles, which we did in 9:31 and 10:10, respectively. Then I went off on my own and did between 8:42 and 8:59 for another 3 miles -- still keeping the run easy.

Unfortunately, it was starting to get dark so when the girls drove by at my 5 mile mark, I jumped at the opportunity to get a ride home. Not that I needed any assistance getting home -- I was feeling strong and cool.

Interestingly, when I started the run my right calf was still sore -- particularly after the speedwork and then hockey last night. But after about 2 miles, I could hardly distinguish any pain and now, writing this post, it feels about 98%. I'll have to remember that when the hypocondriac phase appears as we approach the marathon date!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Speed Work - 7 miles at 7:30 target...

I was scheduled to do 7 miles of tempo runs at a 7:30-ish pace, and Jed was to do 7 1-mile repeats, so we decided to run together.

The wind was fairly strong out of the east, making the run from the west part of the speed-work area to the east particularly difficult. On the other hand, the run from east to west was litterally a breeze!

Our warm-up mile was done in 8:51 -- quite respectable for an easy warm-up.

We then knocked off the 1-mile repeats in: 7:28, 7:35, 7:23, 7:43, 7:17, 7:37 and 7:24. Notice how the 2nd, 4th and 6th repeats were considerably slower than the others. That was due to the wind in our face as wel as the fact that the route is clearly uphill from west to east.

I felt strong the entire evening -- even when running into the wind. Jed found the wind a bit more difficult to deal with, but still pushed to complete the repeats in the times above. Best of all, though, was that his hamstring in his right leg was no problem whatsoever!

In summary, I felt strong. The cool weather continues to help, as I didn't feel overheated in any way, although I certainly put on a sweat. And Jed certainly ran well, so there may be hope that he'll join us in Niagara!

Just 12 more sleeps until the Niagara marathon!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Half Marathon Distance at an Easy Pace...

A bunch of us did a run out to Granton and back from Lucan. It worked out to about six miles out and six miles back, but there were some extra distances that we put in to build things up for what must have ended up being about 13 miles total.

Tori and Jenny joined us for the first couple of miles and then headed back to Lucan.

Jed was there -- doing part of his 20 miler with us. Paula had recovered from her ankle pull the week before and was doing the run at a steady pace. Gwyn was working at keeping her target marathon pace of 9:09 per mile, and Kelly Vivian was just out for a run because it was a nice day! Kelly had no particular pace in mind, but could basically do any pace we through at her, within reason.

It was a good running day. The wind was at our backs on the way out to Granton, and it was in our face on the way back, making most of the last half of the run seem like it was uphill. In fact, the GPS elevation indicates that it was pretty flat (net) overall -- some ups, some downs.

Jed looked healthy, and had no problem keeping to the 9:09 pace, which is great. We're starting to think he may be ready in time for Niagara, but he's not committing yet.

Gwyn had a great run, turning it up a notch for her last mile to, I'm guessing, about an 8:15 pace. I say 'I'm guessing' because Kelly and I really had no desire to try to keep up!

The cool weather certainly allowed me to run easily without finishing overheated whatsoever. I made sure I hydrated regularly. I certainly felt strong at the end of the run as Kelly and I turned it up a notch to approaching marathon pace.

Another good run -- and it was a pleasure, as always, have other running nuts to share it!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Easy 5 miler...

My daughter, Karen, and I went out for an 8k run tonight. It worked out well since my easy pace would be her tough pace. While she is not interested in speed, she's training for the half marathon at Disney World in January, so she knows she has to work on endurance. Speed is just one of those things that comes along with the endurance training.

We're not quite sure, but we think that the pace could be a personal best for her for an 8k run. We were able to converse easily throughout the whole run, and I 'encouraged' her as the pace started to wane. But when we got to the last kilometre, she still had tons of energy in reserve and ended up doing a sprint at the end -- certainly at a pace that was faster than I was interested in doing.

Her pace for the 8.0 kilometres was 6:11/k or 9:57 per mile. But the fact that she has so much energy left at the end leads us to believe she could easily step it up to 6 minute ks for 8 to 10 k. At least I believe she could do it.

So, it worked out well, at least from my perspective. I kept to an easy pace, and Karen stepped it up to a pace faster than she would have otherwise attempted. Another very good run!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

First Post-Corning Tempo Run...

Brian and I went out for a tempo run today. We just wanted to do something short 4 miles or so, plus one or two on either end for warmup and cool-down.

It was, well, a crappy day by most peoples' standards. Very cool with a slight drizzle at times, and a bit of a wind as well. But for me, it was almost ideal running weather as there was no way I was going to overheat.

We went out and at the 1.5 mile mark, we ramped it up, aiming for 7:40/mile. In fact, we did it in 7:43 so we were well within range. From there, we ramped up further to 7:31 -- then 7:33 and finished strongly (and into the wind) in 7:27. On our way back for the cool-down, we had to rein ourselves in for the pace as we kept ramping it up to close to marathon pace!

My right calf muscle was hurting a tiny bit during the first mile, but it worked its way out. Other than that, no issues from a health perspective.

I remembered to drink a good-sized gulp of e-load after every mile, despite the fact that I wasn't hot or thirsty. This is now part of my training -- training myself to hydrate!

In summary, it was very good to feel strong just 10 days after crashing in the marathon!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Arrrggghhh -- the heat!

Once again (for the second time in just over a week) I had to battle the heat during my run. I just went out for an easy 5 miler. But the temperature was 29 degrees C. (85 degrees F) and it was muggy. For the first 3 miles, my run was good. But as soon as I headed east with the wind at my back, I could feel myself overheating and I felt just like I did when I was at the 22 mile mark in Corning. I had a flashback and everything!

I finished the run in the desired time and at the desired pace, which was great. But I really, really know now that I just wasn't meant to run when I'm hot.

So the weather on the day of that Niagara Casino Marathon better bloody-well be cool!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday Easy Run...

There was a bunch of runners out for the Shamrock Running Club's weekend run. I think everyone wanted to chat face-to-face with how each of us did in our respective marathons, and since everyone was taking it easy there were lots who could keep the pace of the majority of runners.

Last weekend Rita Lewis qualified for Boston at the Toronto Waterfront marathon, and Heather Marr ran it in 3:52 -- not quite BQ time for her, but definitely a very good time. Gwyn Hayman and Paula Muxlow ran the half marathon in Toronto and both had very respectible times. So it was good to get together and share war stories, as it were.

Terry Sullivan who ran with us in the Shore to Shore running relay race came out as well -- a bit of a trek from his home in Orangeville! Heather Martin, the daughter of close friends of ours who were visiting for the weekend, joined us and had no trouble matching (or exceeding!) our pace. Add Ian Trotter, Jed De Jong, Jody Durand, Brian Watson, Jenny, Karen, Tori and me to this list and we had a total of 13 runners for our little 8.3k run.

Paula showed up in her truck after we had finished and were in our chat mode -- and she had just twisted her ankle on a crabapple, of all things, this morning. Thus explaining why she wasn't able to join us for the run -- and also putting her BQ marathon (Niagara) in jeopardy at the end of October.

As far as the run itself was concerned, it was at an easy pace, but it was very warm and muggy out. Jed had already done 20+ kilometers by the time he met up with us and so he got a very long run in. While the heat was weighing heavily on everyone, Jed was keeping up his pace at between 8:30 and 9:00/mile, which was exactly where he needed to be. I paced with him for the last kilometre and then paced with Heather Martin for the last few hundred metres as we did a fast run to the finish.

All-in-all, it was a good run. I felt excellent -- no stiffness anywhere. Brian and I chatted and Niagara is looking more-and-more like the one. We'll make a final decision at the end of this week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

First Run after Race...

Brian and I went out today. It was just a 5k and we didn't wear our watches just so that we could run easily and chat about strategy for the next chapter in "Me against the Marathon". Basically, Marathon has me mad, so now its personal!

We're still tossing around whether to do Niagara (too soon?) or Philly (too far?). But I'm feeling sufficiently good already that I don't think being physically ready for Niagara will be an issue, so that is where I'm leaning.

Today's run went well -- I was just a tiny bit stiff in my thighs still -- so my recovery appears to be going far better than the marathons I did three and four years ago.

I've been continually going back in my memory to race-day to analyze what I did wrong -- and I found one more really big thing that led to my demise in the race. I was tracing the graph that the Garmin GPS gave me. It looks like I was going along at a nice steady pace and then for some reason slowed down so that my instant pace was 8:41 and 9:15 at around 21.2 miles. I must have panicked because I increased my pace to 7:00 and then even lower to 6:15 and at one point 5:53 at 22.4 miles.

Now, bear in mind how inaccurate these instant GPS paces are. But, it looks like I was really pushing it. Then I took my rest break and tried running again. But I was done. My pace was all over the place.

This is where a pace bunny would have really helped (i.e. its all Jed's fault :-) ). I must not have been seeing straight -- but it makes a lot of sense now. Of course I crashed: I was sprinting at the 21 mile mark! Arrrggghhh!

As I said above, now its personal. I'm more dedicated than ever to hitting a BQ. May not be next marathon. May not even be this year -- but its going to happen!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brian: 2:59:47, Me: DNF. Looking forward to Niagara Falls or Philly!

Brian had a great race and despite the heat, was able to hold it together in the last three miles and come across 13 seconds ahead of his goal time! As a bonus, he finished 2nd in the Master's Division -- just about 12 seconds behind the first-place finisher. But as he said, that 12 seconds may as well have been 12 miles as there was no way Brian was going to catch him.

Oh, did I mention the heat? It wasn't terrible -- about 75 degrees (24 C.) but it happened to hit its 'high' right about the 20 mile mark for me. Ultimately, the consensus of Jenny, Brian, Brian's wife, Bridget, and a few other runners that we chatted with afterwards was that it was certainly warmer than one would have liked, and lots of people were having troubles with the heat.

So, how did I do? Great, up until mile 23. Here is how my miles stacked up:

Mile 1: 7:47
Mile 2: 7:47
Mile 3: 7:41
Mile 4: 7:53
Mile 5: 8:05
Mile 6: 8:00
Mile 7: 7:45
Mile 8: 7:48
Mile 9: 7:46
Mile 10: 7:50
Mile 11: 7:50
Mile 12: 7:54
Mile 13: 7:51
Mile 14: 7:52
Mile 15: 8:01
Mile 16: 7:56
Mile 17: 7:54
Mile 18: 7:56
Mile 19: 8:02
Mile 20: 7:57
Mile 21: 8:07
Mile 22: 7:58
Mile 23: 8:12
Mile 23.8: Was hitting 9:00+ and couldn't get the speed faster. Started walking.

Now it was probably close to 23.5 miles when I crashed as the Garmin was a bit off the actual course distances. So with less than 3 miles to go, I simply ran out of steam -- and even if I'd have been able to do 8:30 miles, I'd have made the mark. But I had absolutely nothing.

I started walking, but even then, I was staggering and by the time I came up to Jenny, I apparently wasn't looking very good. And the ambulance people were keeping an eye on me, just in case.

Here is the pace and elevation from my GPS -- at least the first 24 miles!:
There were two other issues. There was a headwind pretty much the whole way -- but it was relatively light and it had a cooling effect. The other was that it doesn't look like I was consuming enough eLoad sport drink. I'd only felt the need to consume about a 750 ml of sport drink -- but I should have done 2 litres over the entire 26 miles.

Anyhow, I'm feeling fine now and I'm getting ready for one or the other (maybe both?) of the Niagara marathon or Philadelphia.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm Ready. Goal: 3:30:00 or better

What more can I say. I did my 3 mile easy run today and I felt great. I ramped it up to marathon pace during the last mile and felt fine. No aches, pains or anything.

I feel I've trained well. If the weather is cool and the wind isn't in my face during the run, I should be okay. Both conditions seem likely based on the forecast today.

With the Runners Choice long runs to Port Stanley, I feel confident I can do this run in Boston Qualifier time. I'm mentally prepared. I feel physically prepared.

Nothing more to say, really. You'll know whether it is a happy ending based on my next post!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Last tempo run before the Corning Wineglass Marathon...

Today the plan was to do 6 miles, with 4 at tempo pace of 7:38/mile. I met Brian out at the speed work area and by the time we were into the fast parts of our run, we had a good sized group of other runners as well: Paula, Gwyn (both of whom are running the half-marathon in Toronto this weekend), Jenny, Tori, Karen and Jody Durand, who had just finished his first half-marathon the previous weekend. Congrats, Jody!

Brian was doing a pace of about a minute per mile faster than me, so he was gone like a shot when we started into the tempo part of the run. I continued to 'conserve, conserve', and banged out a pace of between 7:31 and 7:37 for my four tempo laps, finishing at the faster end of that range.

The weather was about 70 degrees C., but the air was still thick with moisture from rains that we had earlier today. If I had to do a whole marathon in this weather, it might be an issue. But just six miles wasn't a problem.

After the run, we all went back to our place and Paula and Gwyn had brought a ton of food for us to re-carb with. It was really good -- and the best part was that they left some leftovers! Brian brought some Guinness (which he knows is my favourite) and I had an ample supply of Corona. We had the makings of a pretty good party, actually! My mother came over to join us and it was great to see her involved in the conversation -- which can get a bit difficult with a bunch of runners gabbing on about this race or that pace or how best to take 30 seconds off your half-marathon time!

Anyhow, it was a very good time and a great way for the group to send Gwyn and Paula to their half-marathon, and Brian and me to our marathon destiny in Corning!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hypochondria sets in...

Today's run was just 3 miles at a very easy pace -- 9:02/mile according to the Runners World chart.

"Hardly worth getting my running gear on", I said to myself as I started down the road with my daughter, Tori, who was to do an easy run of 2 miles.

But for the last couple of days, I've been turning into a bit of a hypochondriac. My throat hurts -- maybe I'm getting a cold. My hip hurts when I stand a certain way -- could be a problem. When I started running, my left knee hurt a bit, and my right calf was a bit tight. By the time I was done my run, my left knee was fine, but my right knee was starting to hurt. And my calf was still tight. Arrrgghhh.

I hosed my calf with a bit of cold water and it feels better now. But these next 4 days until race day are going to drive me nuts.

And, even worse than my stupid aches and pains -- Jed called today and he has to bail (again) on the marathon. He was running last night and after a couple of 9:00/miles he stepped it up a bit and eventually was doing 8:20/mile -- and it still felt easy. But all of a sudden, his hamstring felt like someone clamped a site of Vice-Grips on it, and he had to quit. So, he's going to take it easy for a month and target the Philadelphia marathon on November 17.

Anyhow, as for the run, I did a bit slower than 9 minute miles and, again, concentrated on form and my mantra of 'Conserve, conserve, conserve" -- plus Tori's mantra of "Don't get hurt!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

7 More Sleeps Until Race Day!

Yes, I'm starting (already) to get a bit nervous. My legs are twitching when I go to bed at night. I'm dreaming of the race and previous races. I'm dreaming of running in Boston. Very weird.

Today I just had to do another 6 mile run, targeting an 8:40/mile pace according to the Runners World chart. But this time I tried something I had yet to do in all of my training: actually stick to the chart's target easy run pace!

It wasn't easy, but as I got a feel for the speed of doing between 8:30 and 8:40 per mile I settled into a rhythm. I worked on my running style -- shoulders low, arms pumping forwards and back (not side-to-side), breathing easy, leaning forward from the ankles, and pretending the ground was a treadmill that I needed to push backwards. I repeated my mantras of "Conserve, conserve, conserve" -- and I added a new one that Tori gave me for my last full week of training: "Don't get hurt!"

The run went quite well and I stayed within my range of 8:30 to 8:40 the whole way. At just 27 miles of training, this has been my shortest mileage week of my training thus far. I must say that I have a love-hate relationship with it. My body feels like I should be doing more, but my mind is saying, "Take a Valium, dude". Relax -- enjoy the rest, and prepare mentally for the big day. So far, everything looks good.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Take it easy...

...was the operative phrase today. Jenny, Tori and I headed out of the house at around 7:45 am, down to William Street to meet Paula and Gwyn, who were making their way on Paula's long run (20 miles!) from Ailsa Craig to Lucan and back.

Our timing was excellent as we were at the designated meeting spot about 2 minutes ahead of them. Tori and Jenny started immediately towards Lucan while I went in the opposite direction to meet Paula and Gwyn.

Running with Paula and Gwyn was exactly what the doctor ordered, so to speak. They were targeting 10:30/mile which, while slower than my Runners World chart (8:40/mile) was exactly where I need to be mentally -- not pushing the pace! I ran with Paula and Gwyn just to the outskirts of Lucan before turning around and running the rest of the way back with Tori and Jenny.

Tori was definitely not having a good day and to keep the pace to her level was challenging to say the least. While she is definitely capable of doing 10 minute miles, we were doing more like 12 minute miles (7:30/k.). She carried on, though, and we made it back having done just shy of 8 miles (12.8 k). So Tori is 2/3 of the way to hitting her 1/2 marathon distance.

All-in-all, it was a good run for me. I was forced to relax and I was able to come back without being drenched in sweat and ready to go back to bed for four hours. Can't say the same for Tori, though! :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Runs are Getting Shorter...

Today was just a 6 miler at an easy pace -- targeting 8:40, according to my chart.

Well, there was no way that was going to happen. 6 miles just seems so short, now. So knocking off times at what felt to be an easy pace still put me at better than 8:00/mile. Times ranged from 7:51 per mile to 7:59 per mile, with the last mile being at 7:45 -- still feeling strong.

I'm going to have to do something to rein myself in for that last week. I know that the concept is that I just let my muscles relax and repair -- and the target times on the chart are getting slower, not faster. Yet I keep pushing to marathon pace.

Paula said she's doing a fifteen-miler on Saturday and her pace should be just about right for what I need to do, so with a bit of luck I'll be able to pace with her a bit.

One way or another, I have to figure it out. Tapering should mean tapering!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Second-last Tempo Run

I love this whole tapering thing. Today's run was to be a seven mile run, including 5 miles at a 7:23 pace or better.

There was a whole bunch of us out, including Karen and Tori, Brian, Kelly Finlayson and two new runners to the group, Peter and Heather Mutter. Both Kelly and Heather had been running with Kelly Vivian over the spring and summer and were ready to take on some speed work, which was great! Brian and I added a few nutrients to the seed that Kelly Vivian had planted for them to work towards the Shore-to-Shore run in 2008.

While the 7:23 target pace (4:37/k) was quick, I knew it was achievable because it was actually slower than my 8k pace of 4:30/k during the South Huron Trail Run, which was also a much hillier route.

I knocked off the miles with pretty good consistency, repeating my mantra to myself of "Conserve, conserve, conserve..." for the first four miles, and then kicking it up a notch for the last mile.

My tempo mile times were 7:20, 7:23, 7:17, 7:22 and 7:00, which I was quite pleased with. That was good enough for an average of 7:16/mile (4:33/k) -- just shy of my 8K race mark for the race earlier this year. And I know I could have gone faster.

On another note, Jed came by the house after the run to sign some things for the Lions club. He had informed me on Monday that he's doing Corning! Apparently the London physiotherapist(Scott DeLuca of Highbury North Physiotherapy - 519-659-2748) to whom Paula had referred him has worked wonders! So he is going to do some light runs and take a stab at the marathon in Corning. He figures he'll know within the first three miles whether he'll be able to carry on marathon pace for the full distance. Brian and I both agree that it shouldn't be a problem. He was ready to go a month ago when we did the last Port Stanley run -- his taper was just a bit more abrupt than ours!

Anyhow, we're back to all three of us running it -- and I couldn't be happier to have my pace buddy back in the run.

11 more sleeps to race day!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Terry Fox Run

Today I did the Terry Fox run in Springbank Park in London Ontario. Jenny is on a vacation in the Caribbean with her longtime friend, Leslie, but Karen and Tori joined me for the run and we made a healthy donation to, what I believe is, one of the best-run charitable organizations in Canada, and certainly providing funds for cancer research is a very worthy cause.

The standard Terry Fox run in London was a 2.2k loop that runners were to do 5 times for a total of 11k. I joined Paula Muxlow and her London Pacers friends, Nancy Johnston, Donna Kraft, and one other, the name of whom I didn't catch. And we caught up to Gwyn Hayman as well, who had arrived a few minutes after the official start of the run. I was, as Paula said, the 'token male' in the group.

The run was quite pleasant and at a very easy pace. I did a 6th lap on my own at a quick pace (around 7:00/mile) -- and I should have done an extra 3 miles but we were all going to go out for lunch, so I got changed into some non-smelly clothes instead.

There were two other pleasant parts of this run. First, Springbank Park is a very nice place to run, although it certainly isn't flat. My GPS said a difference of 125 feet between the lowest and highest spots on the 2.2k loop -- and there were multiple sections of rolling hills within the loop. But as far as having a pretty run, it sure beats the long straight roads of the Lucan area! The other very nice part of the run was that it was right across the river from my boyhood home, so I could see my old house multiple times throughout the run. Unfortunately, it looked to be in a significant state of disrepair -- certainly in need of a paint job at the very least. But it was still nice to be around my old stomping grounds!

After the run, we went to Kelsey's restaurant in London to "replenish the carbs", as I like to call it. I had a couple of Guiness beers (high in iron, I understand) and an excellent meal with Tori, Karen, Gwyn, Paula and Paula's coach, Sherri Watts. A very pleasant cap to a very pleasant run!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Easy runs are getting even easier!

There is no doubt that the training over the past 11 weeks has helped me -- both physically and mentally. Today was an easy run -- 10 miles with my Runners World chart having me target 8:40 per mile. Naturally, I took a few seconds off this target and was looking for 8:20's.

The weather was cool today, which was great, but it was also quite windy. Heading south with the wind at my back was no sweat -- really. I kept to paces of between 8:13 and 8:23 per mile for the first five miles. Then I started heading north, with the wind in my face -- and I started to really work. Even still, my pace was actually better than in the first five miles, ranging from a tough 8:21 down to 8:07 on the last mile -- again, heading north.

The run felt really good -- but I know that if we have similar strong headwinds in Corning, there is no way I'll be able to keep up a marathon pace for three-and-a-half hours.

Again, my feeling is that if it isn't too warm and if I don't have a headwind, hitting my BQ target in Corning is definitely do-able.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

11-Mile "Easy" Run

Well, at least it was supposed to be "easy". I was targeting 8:20/mile. But as soon as I got out onto the road, I saw the rest of my family about a kilometre away on their 6-miler. "Maybe I can catch them and run with them for a bit", I thought to myself so I picked up the pace a bit.

Two-and-a-half miles later, I'd caught them -- having done about 7:40/mile to catch them. So much for "easy" so far. I ran with my wife, Jenny, and my daughters, Karen and Tori, for about three-quarters of a mile at about a 10:00/mile pace -- but then our routes diverged.

So I picked up the pace a bit -- first to an 8:30/mile pace, then to a 8:06 pace. By the end of the eighth mile, I noticed that -- between my original fast pace on this run and my better-than-target pace for the past couple of miles -- I was only a minute off marathon pace overall -- running 8:10's on average. So I pushed it a bit more for the last 3 miles, hitting 7:57, 7:59 and 7:26. The first two of those miles were both slightly uphill and on loose gravel. Every step I took I was being careful not to roll an ankle or do something stupid that would prevent me from running Corning.

Overall, I was 8:03/mile for the run. I felt very strong at the end and while I was tired and sweaty, it wasn't nearly as bad as several of the runs I had done during July and August -- mostly due to the cooler weather.

This weekend a bunch of us from the Shamrock Running Club are doing the Terry Fox Run in London, Ontario. Both "coach" Brian Watson and I are doing 12 miles, and I think others are doing longer runs there as well. This won't be a race -- just a long run -- but I suspect our pace will be something close to marathon pace. No sweat! :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cool Evening = Strong Run

I had another really strong run tonight. This time it was a tempo run -- the same sort of run I bailed on two weeks ago. 2 miles of warm-up, 7 miles at 7:31/mile or better, and 1 mile of cool-down.

The temperature was excellent -- about 63 degrees F. (17 C.) and the wind was steady from the west. The wind direction actually helped a lot since it was in my face on the slight-downhill leg, and behind me when running in the direction that was slightly uphill.

After my warm-up, my 7 one-mile 'laps' were 7:27, 7:42, 7:26, 7:37, 7:32, 7:32 and 7:20 for an average of 7:31/mile. I felt strong the whole way, although I was definitely thinking "Conserve, conserve, conserve" throughout the first six miles.

Another nice element to the evening run is that I had company out there. Brian was doing his speed work tonight -- knocking off sub-6 minute miles x 4. Gwyn Hayman was out doing tempo runs, as was Paula Muxlow and Jenny. Paula's husband, John, came out to take Paula home (she ran out to the speed work area with her dogs, Cleo and Emma) -- but not before we all went back to our place for water and/or beer.

So, another good run and another few days closer to corning!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I'm Going to Book our Hotel Room in Boston!!!

Well, okay, maybe I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. But, hey, if I don't make it, I can always cancel the room. The point is that today's half marathon in Wasaga Beach was really strong. The best part was the cool weather -- 60 degrees F (15 C.) at the start.

I was wearing my standard race attire -- mesh shore-to-shore reflective vest, black shorts with reflective stripe, Asics 2120 shoes, some new (and comfy) Champion socks from Costco, and my New Balance running hat from Runner's Choice. I had my Garmin Forerunner 205 (fully charged and ready to go), a bag of 10 jellybeans and 7 Eload tablets in the little pocket in my shorts and another that I carried with my Gatorade bottle filled with Eload mixed at standard strength.

For breakfast I had a bagel with peanut butter and jam, a glass or orange juice and a couple of swigs of my Eload mix.

Today's run was to be 20 miles, so about 25 minutes before the run, I did 2 miles of very easy warm up -- and I mean very easy (9:35/mile average pace). While I was warming up, I ran with my Mars bar and a medium black Tim Horton's coffee which were fully consumed by the time the race started. Then we got into the run.

"Conserve, conserve", I kept saying to myself. So while lots of runners were taking off ahead of me, I kept to my target pace of something better than 8:00/mile. I was chatting with other runners and pacing with some for a while -- but never letting another runner's pace (faster or slower) interfere with my target range.

This was a really flat out-and-back course, generally following a roadway just slightly removed from the beach. I could tell that it was flat because both on the way out and on the way back it looked to me like we were running slightly downhill. Obviously that wasn't the case, but it had a good psychological effect on my run.

My first 7 miles of the run ranged from 7:51 to 8:00 per mile -- a perfect pace. On the way back, I tracked my time but definitely knew that I'd be able to complete the race at marathon pace at least, so when I found myself going a bit faster, I didn't rein it in dramatically. The second half of the race ranged in pace from 7:56 down to 7:24 in the last mile. Overall, my time was a very respectible 1:42:50 which is a pace of 7:51/mile or 4:54/k -- and just 1 minute off the personal best time I set on July 1.But the best part was that I wasn't pushing hard. I could have certainly done a personal best, but I knew I still had 5 miles of running to do after the race to get in my full 20 miles so I didn't push it. I had proven to myself that doing my target pace was not going to be an issue. And while it was only a half marathon, I'm quite confident that if the weather in Corning is cool and we aren't facing a headwind, I'll be able to do the whole thing in my target of 3:30. At least that is how I feel today!

Karen and Tori each ran the 5K today -- but it turned into an 8-ish kilometre run due to some apparently confusing directions on course. The people at Multi Sport Canada, the organizers, were very understanding and gave medals to the top finishers in this 8K, in addition to those who competed in the 5K -- so both Tori and Karen got medals for 1st and 2nd in the under 20 women's age group, respectively. And Jenny did the half marathon and set a personal best at 1:57:50 -- taking more than a minute off her previous personal best. I ran with her for the last kilometre and she ran strongly right up to the end! Jenny's parents, Bruce and BJ Chadwick, were there to watch all the fun at the start and finish!

One thing that has definitely changed for Corning is my choice of sport drink. Yesterday, while I was reading up on the eLoad web site about the eLoad Tablets that I'd purchased at Runner's Choice, I could tell that these people had researched sweat to the nth degree. Now I was on a mission to pick up some eLoad for today's run, and we found some at a running store in Collingwood near where we were staying. Perhaps it was the cooler weather, but I found that I could drink lots of eLoad without getting 'dry mouth' or getting sick of the taste. In fact, I went through 1.5 litres of eLoad and could have drank more if I had more available. I had 4 eLoad tablets during the run to ensure I didn't cramp up and the combination seemed to work quite well. The only time I felt a cramp was after I'd been standing for about 10 minutes and then went to run some of my extra 5 miles. But I worked through that cramp in my left calf quite easily.

So my toughest week is now officially out of the way, and I firmly believe I'm ready for Corning. 21 more sleeps until race day!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Conserve, Conserve, Then Conserve Some More...

Today was my third day in a row of 10+ miles -- and the third day in a row of humid weather. Not a great combination for me. The temperature when I started was 21 degrees C (70 F.) but you could practically cut the air with a knife. My schedule said I was to do 8:40/mile and while I've pushed that number before, this time I intended to only do a tiny bit faster -- 8:30/mile.

This was one of those runs where I felt like there was no way I could ever do a marathon -- and this was only 10 miles! From the very start, my strategy was to conserve as much energy for the end -- and its a good thing. By mile 8, the sweat was dripping off my hat at a rate of about 1 drop for every 6 strides. I felt like walking about 20 times during the run, starting as early as 3 miles into it. But I kept running.

In the end, my average pace was 8:17/mile with a range of between 8:10 and 8:29 -- pretty good, in retrospect. But, man, I was totally spent at the end of it all. I soaked in our outdoor shower for about 20 minutes with as cold water as I could get. And then I had an ice bath to ensure I wouldn't be stiff for this weekend's 20 miler. I just hope that the weather cooperates because if it is like it was today, I'm toast!

One thing that I did differently this run was I carried water with me instead of sport drink. To replenish the electolytes, etc., I tried Eload Zone Caps that I'd picked up from Runners Choice on the advice of Jackie Windsor who had taken part in the last Port Stanley run, had read this blog and emailed me with the tip. Thanks, Jackie! I had 1 capsule before the run, and 3 during the run. The advantage to them, in theory, is that you won't get sick of the taste because there is none. As runs go, this was fairly short -- but I didn't have the issues with hamstring, calf and shin pain/tenderness as I'd had on prior runs. I think it will take some tweaking with this strategy to get it right in a long run. This weekend's run will likely tell me more.

I'm now over 60% done this week's mileage. And the 20 miler on Sunday will cap it off. We're doing a half marathon in Wasaga Beach, so my plan is to do 2 miles of warm-up, the 13.1 mile half, and then 5 miles of cool-down. I'm going to target marathon pace (8:00/mile) for the race portion, so I'm counting on the warm-up and cool-down being considerably slower. My schedule calls for 8:40/mile, so I'm sure that I'll be faster than that on average.

Hopefully the weather gets cooler -- quickly!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Last Speed Work before the Marathon!!!

Woo-hoo! It actually kept me motivated this morning knowing that it was the last time I'd have to work so hard on speed work.

This was the run I was supposed to do yesterday evening, but it was simply too warm to do it. This morning was better heat-wise (16 to 19 degrees C), but it was still muggy.

The deal this morning was that I was to do a total of 10 miles including a warm-up run (2 miles) and then 4 runs at a 6:51/mile pace (4:17/k), each one separated by a half mile of jogging.

I definitely noticed the elevation difference on this run. According to the GPS, there is about a 75 foot difference in elevation from one end to the other of the speed-work area. So heading west was consistently easier and faster than heading east. You can see it in my times:

Lap 1 (heading east): 6:52
Lap 2 (heading west): 6:41
Lap 3 (heading east): 7:05
Lap 4 (heading west): 6:38

Overall, my pace during the speed work parts of the run averaged 6:49, so my run worked out quite well. And considering that my fastest mile during the speed work a month ago was 6:48, I'm pretty happy with these results!

It was interesting how the various comments and advice one gets while training come into play. The primary one today and yesterday was something my step-sister, Susan, passed along from advice from her brother, Len Gushe, who does Ironman races. When Susan was training for her first marathon, Len told her to "Conserve, conserve, conserve -- and when you think you've conserved enough, conserve some more." I took that into account last night while working to keep enough energy both to finish last night's run within the target pace, and also to have enough energy to do today's speed work.

Injuries are also top-of-mind for me now. Jed emailed me the other day to say that the sixteen-miler he was running when we saw him on Sunday ended up being a six-miler. His hamstring was really bothering him and (gulp) he may not be able to do the marathon in Corning. Arrrrrggghhhh! So all of a sudden, I'm looking at these pains I'm getting in my long runs and I'm being very careful not to over-stress things. But, of course, I'm now feeling every single pain and wondering if could be something serious. Today it was a pain in my left shin after my run. Checking into it on, it doesn't appear to be 'shin splints', so I'm just going to take it easy for the next couple of days.

I have an 11 mile run tomorrow on which I'm going to target 8:30/mile (Conserve, conserve, conserve). Sunday I'm doing a half marathon in Wasaga Beach -- but have to extend this by 7 miles somehow to get my target 20 miler in. This is the toughest training week in my schedule, but it is half over so that part feels good. Ask me how I feel after Sunday's run!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The heat is back...

I was going to do my speed work tonight, but the temperature was still 30 degrees C. (86 F.) by the time I was ready to start, so I went with 'plan B' -- to do the 12 mile easy run I had scheduled for tomorrow.

My run went well, especially considering the heat. I conserved my energy and tracked at between 8:15 and 8:30 per mile.

Its starting to get dark earlier, now -- around 7:55 -- so it means I'm starting my runs right after supper. Tonight, 'supper' consisted of a peanut-butter and jam sandwich. But I did have a couple of beers after the run!

Tomorrow morning -- less than 12 hours after my 12 miler -- is when the fun begins. Speed work. Woo-hoo... looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Beautiful Day for a Run

Today I went out for an easy run -- really. Jenny and Tori needed to do 7 miles (11k) for their schedule and I needed to do 9 miles. Kelly joined us which worked very well as Kelly and I were able to do a nice easy pace which was still faster than Jenny and Tori -- but then we doubled back to rejoin them at each corner in our route around Lucan. This process not only kept my running pace in check, but the doubling-back at the corners allowed me to get my extra 2 miles in while doing the same route.

It was a gorgeous day for a run -- cool (around 18 degrees C./64F.) and sunny with a very slight breeze. Possibly the nicest day this summer!

Our pace varied from between 8:30/mile to 9:30/mile with an average pace of 9:01/mile -- perfect!

We ran into Jed during one of our legs. He was doing a 16 mile easy run. He had pulled a hamstring during speed work earlier in the week but was running without pain when we saw him. Looks like we're both flirting with injuries between his hammy and my fall earlier this week. These next 4 weeks are going to be torture trying to train well, but keep away from last-minute injuries!

On a totally different topic, this past week Jenny and I went to a meeting in preparation for the 2008 Shore to Shore running relay. For anyone who hasn't done a long distance relay race, this one is a blast. It turns what is otherwise an individual sport into a team sport. For 24 to 30 hours, you and your team are cheering each other on, exchanging stories about each others' runs and occasionally trying to get a few hours of shut-eye. We're going to try ramp our group up to 18-20 runners and field two teams of 9 or 10 runners each. Apparent Runners Choice's John Ferguson the legend helped to field eight teams from his group last year, so we should be able to put two together.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

And now for something completely different...

Well, okay, not that different. Those who know me know that I'm a bit of a techno-geek when it comes to running gadgets, timing myself on runs, calculating pace based on windspeed, grade, etc.

Today, I did my 8-miler without a watch or GPS!

My concept was to just go out and run. Steady, strong but without checking my GPS every 15 seconds to see if I needed to lower my stride by 1%.

So thats what I did. The weather was cool again and it was sunny. So it was another great day for a run. Did the same route as yesterday, only in the reverse direction.

The run went very well. No muscle strains. No potential Charlie horses. No cramps in my calves. My thighs felt like they were working, but not overworking. My breathing was even and, while I was running alone, I felt like I could carry on a conversation with someone if I needed to.

The result? 1:02:28 or 7:49 per mile. That's 8 seconds below marathon pace, so it felt pretty good.

Tomorrow I really, really, really need to take it easy! :-)

Friday, August 31, 2007

One step forward again...

This morning I was back on track. Today's run and the next two are to be easy runs -- I think to compensate for a fairly heavy week last week (just shy of 53 miles). So today I set out to do 8 miles. The chart said 8:40/mile, so I figured 8:20/mile would be do-able. My first mile I was able to keep it to 8:11 -- but that was as slow as I was able to do. Like some previous 'easy' runs, I had a very hard time keeping it over 8 minutes per mile, particularly on the slight downhill grades. The temperature was cool and the air was crisp -- perfect for running. It felt really good to be outside.

By the time I was into my third mile, I was resigned to the fact that I was now going to try to do something in marathon pace. As before, the slight-downhill grade stretches were a bit easier, and the slight uphill grade stretches were a bit more difficult. And, again, I had to concentrate on keeping my stride and legs loose during the run, especially on the slight-uphill stretches.

Everything was going along perfectly with 200 metres to go -- until I did a 180 degree turn on the gravel road to head back to the house, and fell on the road like a sack of potatoes. My foot just gave right out from under me on the loose gravel. A few scratches -- and maybe tomorrow a few bruises -- but nothing serious. I was more concerned with disrupting a pretty good 'easy' run. It reminds me, though, that I need to be careful as I approach marathon day. Just a little slip like that can ruin months of training.

Even with the mishap at the end, I did the 8 miler in 1:03:08 -- 7:53/mile. That's four seconds faster than my target marathon pace. I felt good and strong throughout, even during the uphill runs. So, as compared to Wednesday's 'one step back', today was one big step forward again!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two steps forward, one step back...

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the fact that I had run 26 miles three days prior and my body hadn't yet recovered. Maybe I went out too fast. Nah... probably the heat.

Tonight I was doing tempo runs. My chart said 1 mile of warm-up, 8 miles at 7:36 pace, and 1 mile of cool-down. I'd been working inside a nice air conditioned home all day, so when I laced up my shoes outside tonight I felt the heat. "Hmmmm... this may not be a great night for tempo runs." I was right!

It was about 27 degrees C. (81 F.) and the air was thick with humidity. Definitely not an ideal running night. But, what the heck, lets see what happens...

Naturally, my warm up run went well. 1.16 miles at an 8:02/mile pace... and I was just taking it easy. Then we get into the hard part of the run: I was going to target 7:20 per mile (4:35 per k) x 8 miles. The first mile was fine -- maybe too fine -- at 7:12 (4:30/k). Next mile was a bit more reasonable -- 7:16. The third mile was uphill a tiny bit, so my 7:33 was reasonable. But I was dying out there. I passed Paula Muxlow, who was doing her tempo runs in the William Street speed work zone and we both commented on the heat. And she poixnted out that my feet were slapping the ground -- which meant that I was losing it. She was right -- I was barely holding it together and my next mile was slower than marathon pace, let alone tempo run pace: 8:04.

Time to regroup. I took a break. Okay -- I bailed. No way I'm hitting tempo pace tonight. Jenny and Karen had come out to join a bunch of other Shamrocks including Rita Mcleod, Ian Trotter, Caleb Trotter, Paula Muxlow, Kelly Vivian, and a new Shamrock -- Kelly Finlayson. Anyhow, they had left the Jeep at the start of the speed work area, so I took a quick drive home for a "bio break" and then back to the speed zone again. Probably no more than 15 minutes, but by the time I got back, I felt ready to run again.

I headed out for the next 4 miles -- this time targeting marathon pace (7:57/mile) or better. First mile: 7:52. So far, so good. Next mile: 7:51. There's something to be said for consistency. Next mile: 7:38. 7:38?!! Where the hell did that come from? Final tempo mile: 7:36. Go figure -- the chart's target. I was pushing -- but not too strong. Maybe the extra half hour that had elapsed since I took a break made it cool enough that I could do it without overheating. I don't know.

Overall, my 8 tempo miles (with a 15 minute break at the half-way point) were done at a 7:38 pace. Considering the heat, I'll take it. But it just goes to show that I can't take Corning for granted because of one good run to Port Stanley. The training must continue.

It was great running with the group again. We all met at the vehicles and then went back to our place for a beer or two, which tasted great on such a warm night. (Gotta replenish those carbs!). As we get into September and my training isn't so nuts, we'll probably see a lot more of each other.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Personal Best, and Best Run Ever!

Jed De Jong and I did the London to Port Stanley run again today, which was put on by Runner's Choice, a London, Ontario running store that sponsors a lot of local races and running clinics. John Ferguson, the legend, organized this run for Runner's Choice, and apparently its the 74th time he's run this route.

Jed, me and John Ferguson 100 metres from the finish

My pre-run preparations were those that have been refined throughout these past weeks. To eat, I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast, along with a bit of orange juice. I had a Mars bar in the car on the way to the start as well as a medium black Tim Horton's coffee. I think I'm going to take a thermos of Tim Horton's coffee to Corning so that I can replicate my winning formula!

I wore my black shorts with the thin reflective band on the front, one pair of Champion socks (I'll have to get more from Costco before the race), my (relatively new) Asics shoes, my Westover Shore to Shore reflective vest (which is more like a thin tank top), and my New Balance running hat that I purchased from Runners Choice last week. I had my Garmin Forerunner 205 on my left wrist -- fully charged and ready to go -- and my Timex watch on my right wrist, just as a backup. Oh, and I can't forget the BodyGlide that I purchased at Runners Choice last week to stop the chaffing on my inner thighs.

I carried my Gatorade bottle, as per usual, but only with a quarter of it filled as I was able to refill it with Powerade at the hydration stops. I also carried 25 jelly beans -- one after every mile except the last -- 13 in a baggie in my hand, and 12 in the little pocket in my shorts. I never actually got to the ones in my pocket.

As you can see, by the time John, Jed and I did our Lucan cheer (John is now an honorary Lucanite -- at least to Jed and me) and headed on our run, I had every detail covered.

We left the park in London at 7:09 am -- a bit later than the last run in July. That was fine -- we were going to be running a bit faster, targeting 8:30/mile (5:19/k). It was also a bit cooler to start with -- 57 degrees F. (14 C.) but once the sun was up, it warmed up quickly. I think by the time we were done it was about 71 degrees F. (22 C.) so it was plenty warm enough for a long run.

We got an abbreviated tour of John's old stomping ground on the way up Wharncliffe -- and Jed and I were able to point out the home that John showed us last month where he lost his virginity many moons ago. He was a bit surprised that we could point it out -- and, quite frankly, so were we!

By the time we made it to the first water stop, the other runners who were doing the full distance had pretty much caught up. They were tracking at a pretty good clip -- and we were holding our own, doing a 8:21 pace in the first 4.45 miles, just slightly ahead of our target pace.

Our pace continued to be measured but strong through the rest of the first-half of the run. By the time we hit the fifth hydration stop, we had done 13.8 miles with a running time of 1:54:35 -- good enough for an 8:18/mile pace. Now, adding in the water stops took us up to a total time of 2:05:38 (9:06/mile) but that was still quite acceptable.

Another member of Lucan's Shamrock Running Club, Kelly Vivian, joined us at this point -- as did our Sponge Girls. Jenny and my daughters, Karen and Tori, had made custom t-shirts for their self-appointed duties to keep the runners cool by providing cold-water-soaked sponges between hydration stops. The sponge stops only took a few seconds but were certainly welcome by many of the runners -- particularly as we got near the end. Jenny's t-shirt said "Are you sponge-worthy?" on the front, and the girls' shirts said "Sponge Girl". [Jenny got a sort of weird/disgusted look from a woman in the Tim Horton's on the way back from Port Stanley later that day.]

The next 6.2 miles we went through St. Thomas and, thus, had a few hills to contend with. We did a 8:29 per mile through this stretch, though, so we were still on our goal pace. I started to deal with some potential issues during this stretch. Around the 14 mile mark, I started getting some pain in my left hamstring. Getting close to the 19 mile mark, I had pain in my right calf muscle and left thigh. In all cases, I just concentrated on running more loosely -- more relaxed -- so that I could work through the pain. It took a couple of miles in each case, but relaxing my legs worked. Reading up later, the cramps may be due to lack of salt in my system. On my next long run, I may take along packets of salt with my jellybeans so that if I feel myself cramping up, I'll have a bit of salt and sport drink.

It was really the last six miles where we were looking to do our best times -- so around this point, both Jed and I (without saying a word to each other) started to step it up a notch. We did the last six miles at a 7:59 pace -- basically marathon pace -- and our last two miles were at a 7:29 pace.

We both had energy in the tank at the end. We hit the finish upright and smiling. There was no crashing (a beer at the finish from my mother's boyfriend, Tom, helped!) nor even a potential sign of me crashing during or after the run.

So, the final stats were:

Total time including hydration, sponge and lift-bridge stops: 3:57:35
Total time running: 3:33:37
Average running pace over 26.2 miles: 8:09 per mile (5:06 per kilometer)

This was just slightly slower than are target marathon pace. 10 seconds per mile faster and with no stopping at water stations and we're going to Boston!

But, of course, the training isn't over when you cross the finish line. We took the time to go for a soak in Lake Erie which was incredibly refreshing. And after a shower and a change of clothes, we had a very good lunch at GT's in Port Stanley. I was hungrier than I was after the last long run, but still only managed to consume one large hamburger -- at least for the solid-food portion of my meal. Karen and I split a jug of strawberry smoothies, which helped to get carbs into me quickly. And the three Sol beers (like Corona) did the rest of the job.

When we got home, I had an ice bath -- with what little ice was left in the house after being used for the sponge cooler. Now, several hours after the run, I'm walking relatively normally.

Even with the frequent stops for hydration and sponges, this was a personal best run for me. But more than the finish time was the way that Jed and I finished that made this the best run I've ever done -- at least for the next month or so! Corning (and Boston?), here we come!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A long 8 days...

I looked back at my mileage chart and over the last 8 days, I ran over 71 miles on 7 of those days. That's a lot for me -- and for most people, I suppose. Anyhow, I get 3 days rest before doing 26 miles from London to Port Stanley.

Today's run was 9.5 miles. Brian and Jody met me at the end of my driveway and we did a circuit that allowed Jody to get a 10k run in, and Brian to get his 12 miler. He had run to our starting point from his house (2.5 miles), so he already had the difference made up.

Jody has been steadily improving his speed. He was able to carry on a conversation for the first half of the run, but was clearly feeling the stress for the second half -- until the last kilometre when he poured on the effort and finished with a pace that I wasn't going to even attempt! Anyhow, his 10k run was done in under 1 hour -- about 58 minutes, I believe -- so that was an excellent pace for him.

Brian and I continued on to the corner of Neil Road and McGillivray where he took off towards his home and then I doubled back to our place. We did my marathon pace up until he took off, and I did a just a tiny bit slower than that on the way home. Overall a good run.

I'd purchased a New Balance running hat at Runners Choice in London yesterday. Normally, I wouldn't have thought much about it -- but as I was heading home during today's run, I noticed that the sweat was actually dripping off the bill of the hat. So, in addition to pulling the sweat away from my forehead, it was actually getting rid of it totally from my head. I'd never seen that before, but I was very impressed with the design. The hat wasn't cheap -- $25 -- but it certainly does the trick!

I had an ice bath after this run, even though it was on the short end of what I've done previously. Now I get to rest. I want my muscles to be rejuvenated to the greatest extent possible by Sunday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Easy does it...

My third of four easy runs in a row was today. This time I was looking for around 7.5 miles and I decided to step it up a bit from yesterday to 8:25/mile. But, aside from walking the route, I couldn't seem to get it that slow. My first mile was at 8:21 and that was as close as I got. The second last mile was into a 15 MPH wind, so that slowed me down a bit -- but just to 8:18 for that mile. Overall, I was at 1:00:16 for the 7.34 miles "around the block" for an average pace of 8:12 per mile.

I did this run without any water, Gatorade or jelly beans. Not for any particular reason, other than it was going to take me an extra five minutes to get that organized and I wanted to get on the road. I was thirsty when I got back, but it certainly didn't affect my speed. It was cool out today -- about 61 degrees F (16 C.) -- so the heat wasn't a factor.

One more run -- 9+ miles, tomorrow -- until I get three days off. I'm looking forward to the break!

Monday, August 20, 2007

May the wind be at our back...

...when we race in Corning.

I did another easy run today -- this time, a 9.5 miler, targeting 8:30/mile. But this time, I really, really tried to keep it slow. I guess that is the good news -- that I have to try to keep it slow.

I forced myself to stay on track, consciously slowing down if I was seeing a pace faster than 8:20. It seemed to work. My miles tracked between 8:17 (the first one) and 8:27 (mile #8 -- against the wind). The last 1.5 miles, I just ran easy and did it in 8:13. So my average was 8:21 for the entire run.

My legs were still tired from the previous couple of runs. So I could feel that it was time to be serious about taking it easy. I used the run to try to loosen up my stride and concentrate on form.

So, another successful run. I have two more similar ones tomorrow and the next day before I'm going to give myself a three day break leading up to a 26 miler (again) from London to Port Stanley.

Easy run and sleep...

I did an easy run yesterday afternoon of 9.3 miles or thereabouts. My GPS died 1 mile from the end so my distance is probably accurate within 1/10th of a mile.

I started off trying to keep within an 8:20/mile pace but kept knocking off 8:01s -- three in a row for the first three miles. I couldn't have been that accurate if I tried, so I decided that maybe this was a run for me to try to keep to marathon pace. From there, my times reduced gradually to 7:51s and still I felt strong. Overall, I did the run in 7:56 according to the 8.45 miles on my GPS, and an even 8:00/mile according to my spreadsheet if I did, in fact, run 9.2 miles.

That gave me a total of just under 45 miles for the week which I believe is the most I've ever done in my life! Still, it wasn't too onerous, so I'm quite sure I can do more.

On that note, though, my legs were still a bit tight from the run on Saturday, so I could feel charlie-horses coming on in both upper thighs. Again, I worked on running loosely and that seemed to have the desired effect.

One other side effect of all this running is that I'm sleeping a lot more. I was asleep before 10 pm last night and I didn't get up this morning until 7:30 -- 9.5 hours sleep! But, if I want to be able to function during the day and get my runs in, I'm going to need the zzzz's!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cooler weather has arrived!

Most people in Canada wouldn't be cheering about cooler weather -- but I certainly am!

Brian and I did our long runs yesterday -- 16 miles. I was targeting 8:20/mile or better, and Brian was looking for something in the 7:00/mile range. We compromised and ended up doing 8:10s for the first 11 miles, and then Brian shot ahead for the last 5 miles, so it worked well.

The biggest change from previous runs is that this was the first morning since I've started seriously training for the marathon that it was cold -- 48 F. (9 degrees C). What a difference! 10 miles into the run and I was just starting to put on a sweat -- but I also could feel a charlie-horse coming on in my left thigh.

Brian took off at about the 11 mile mark and, surprisingly, my pace didn't wane. In fact, it even picked up a bit -- hitting 8:06 for mile 12. While I could still feel the charlie-horse potential in my thigh, I was working it out by concentrating on keeping my legs 'loose' with each stride. Easier said than done when trying to keep a healthy pace, but it seemed to work.

Jenny came to check up on us at about 12.5 miles into the run -- and she came bearing grapes, water and a towel. I didn't need the water, but the towel was nice and the grapes were a pleasant surprise! I've had orange slices in a run before, but never grapes. They worked well and we may want to work some orange slices and grapes into my next 26 miler to Port Stanley and on the Corning run.

For my last two miles, I made the conscious decision to ramp it up to marathon pace. For mile 15, which incorporated a 50 foot increase in elevation, I was right on marathon pace. The last mile was relatively stable in elevation, and I was able to pull off a 7:44 pace.

Overall, I did 16 miles in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 23 seconds -- good enough for an 8:08/mile pace. 10 seconds per mile faster and 10 miles longer, and I'm going to Boston. Yesterday, I felt like I could do it!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Easy" is all relative...

Today's easy run of 10 miles was supposed to be at 8:41/mile pace -- but, as per usual, I shaved a bit off the target, looking for 8:20/mile.

The air was thick when I started and you could see the fog off in the distance. The temperature started at around 13 C. (58 degrees F.) but warmed up quickly to 18 C. (65 F.), and because it was so humid, it seemed much warmer.

Despite the uncomfortable weather, I was able to knock off sub-8:20 miles -- ranging from 8:02 to 8:20 -- and my last mile was at marathon pace (7:57), even though that wasn't my intent. I just wanted it to be done! My average over the 10 miles was 8:11/mile (5:07/k).

One thing I noticed was that I was feeling the effects of yesterday's tempo run. My muscles were definitely sore. So after this run, I did the ice-bath thing. My hope is that I'll have the full attention of my muscles for my scheduled 16 mile run two days from now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Increasing the Tempo

Today I was scheduled to do a tempo run -- 7 miles at a 7:41 pace, with a 1 mile warm up and cool-down on either side. I set my goal pace to be 7:30/mile (4:41/k). Brian met me at our house at 6:30 am and we took off down to the speed work area on William Street. He was to do four 1-mile repeats and although I don't remember his target pace, he mentioned that one of his miles he did in under 6 minutes, which was a personal best for him.

For my miles, though, I was going to be happy if they were all faster than 7:30 -- and they were: 7:13, 7:25, 7:28, 7:27, 7:17, 7:23 and 7:13. I was particularly pleased that my last mile was as quick as my first at 7:13/mile (4:31/k) and I felt strong the whole way! My average pace over the 7 tempo miles (11.2 km) was 7:21 (4:36/k) -- so if I was doing a 10k race, I'd have completed it in 46 minutes -- a personal best time by over a minute!

Beyond that it was an uneventful run. We saw the white squirrel again -- and now I have a witness! The weather is starting to get a bit cooler -- around 64 degrees F. (18 C.) made it quite comfortable for a short run.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Easy Run or 8K Race? Hmmmmm...

Guess which one I did! There was never any doubt, actually. Despite the 20-miler yesterday, I was pretty sure I'd be recovered by today (thanks to the ice bath and beer), so Jenny, Karen, Tori and I all took part in the South Huron Trail Run -- an 8K race in Exeter Ontario. A bunch of other Shamrock Running Club runners were there as well.

The run went very well. I hit my secondary target of 36:00 bang on -- 4:30/k (7:12/mile) -- so I was pretty happy. The other Shamrocks did very well too, including: Coach Brian Watson (32:32), Jed De Jong (37:30), Jenny (43:51), Brad Cannom (47:31), Tori (51:01) and Karen (57:07). A bunch of personal bests, I'm sure. In fact, its possible that everyone's run was a personal best! My run last year was at 38:30, so I shaved about 19 seconds/k off that time.

Paula Muxlow and Emma (one of her running-buddy Border Collies) came to watch, as did Bonnie Martin with her son and daughter. Bonnie was our videographer. (Thanks, Bonnie!)

You can see a video of the race start and various finishes here.

While I felt like I was going to puke right afterwards (the sign of an excellent run), I recovered fairly quickly and now, 4 hours after the run, feel pretty close to 100%.

A very good day for all involved!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Long Run... Part Deux

Today, I was scheduled to do a 20 mile run at an easy pace -- 8:51/mile, according to my chart. I used to chart out my home to Lucan and back route and then sent out the call to other runners to see who wanted to join me. I wasn't counting on much reply because a lot of us are doing the Exeter Trail Run 8k race tomorrow -- but Bonnie Martin replied that she could do 10k with me and Coach Brian said he needed to do a 20 miler as well, so he would catch up to us along the route.

I started about 6:50 in the morning and the pace was quite acceptable. My first 9 miles ranged in pace from 8:11/mile to 8:22/mile, while I was targeting 8:30/mile. That got me from home to Tim Horton's in Lucan through the senic route, which was required to add about 4 miles to the route.

Bonnie was ready and waiting by the time I showed up at 8:05 and so I didn't even have to slow down. She just joined on in and we headed off to the south-east down Highway #4 towards the Roman Line. Brian caught up with us at about the 12.5 mile mark in the run. He'd been working to catch up to us for the previous 25 minutes or so! We kept an excellent pace, ranging from 8:22 to 8:56/mile, and finishing at 8:31/mile -- right in the range of Personal Best time for Bonnie. She even turned it on at the end, to a point where I had no desire to try to keep pace lest I screw up the rest of the run. So she did a 10k run in the range of about 54 minutes, I'm guessing, as compared to a personal best time of 52 minutes-ish in a 10k race. Well done, Bonnie. Thanks for keeping us company!

We made it back to Tim Horton's in Lucan, and Brian and I headed of towards home. 4.5 miles to go -- and the effects of the run were starting to take their toll -- and the temperature was starting to heat up as well.

Jenny and Tori showed up on their bicycles before we got out of Lucan to support us for those crucial last miles. What life-savers! Cold water, cold Gatorade, dry towels, orange slices, other snacks -- they were definitely prepared.

We kept plugging away, and fortunately a lot of this stretch was on a downhill grade. In fact, from Lucan to our house was almost a 200 foot drop overall. From Lucan to the Denfield Road, where Brian took off towards home, we did between 8:23 and 8:35/mile -- which was right on target. But I was starting to suffer.

Tori and Jenny kept pacing me with their bikes and offering supplies to keep me going. Interestingly, one of the things that had the most impact was the towel just to dry my face. It seemed to allow the wind to cool me down better. Or maybe it was just the fact that I felt dryer than I'd been in the prior two and a half hours -- but it made an impact.

For those last two miles, I clawed out an 8:28/mile pace and 8:19/mile pace respectively. I had nothing in the tank for that last stretch towards home.

Overall, my average pace was 8:26 over the full 20 miles. Pretty good considering I was targeting 8:30's. Still a ways to go before I'll be able to keep that up for 26.2 -- but as Brian said, we'll just have to hope it is cooler in Corning and that the stars align with our training and that for that one day I can do a super-human effort.

A couple of other notes:

I saw the white squirrel again on Neil Road -- twice actually. I saw him at the start of my run in a yard on the east side of Neil, and again up a tree on the west side of Neil at the end of the run. I just pointed at him during that last sighting -- I didn't have the energy to speak -- but Jenny and Tori weren't able to see him. They said that I must be hallucinating. While I have been known to be slightly "out of it" at the end of the run, though, I definitely saw him. Really!

My standard operating procedure is starting to solidify. I had a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast plus some chocolate and a half cup of coffee (didn't have time for more) before my run. I had 1 jelly bean per mile, washed down with Gatorade which I carried with me. I wore my Shore-to-Shore reflective vest, which is more like a tank top, plus some loose black shorts, one pair of socks and my new Asics shoes, which are now sufficiently broken-in, plus my blue Running Room hat. I used Udderly Smooth body cream to address the chafing on my inner thighs and it seemed to work well. My GPS was on my left wrist and my regular watch on my right. When I felt hungry at mile 18, I had some more Gatorade and it did the trick. When I got back, I had three orange slices, lots of cold water (from the shower, actually), a bit of Gatorade and then a beer. No signs of crashing after the run! And then I had my ice bath after my cold shower so that now, three-and-a-half hours after the run, I can walk semi-normally.

The only thing that was non-standard was that after I got cleaned up, I went over to Brian and Bridget's place for a swim, which was quite nice. The swimming got me to move my legs without stressing them, which I'm sure will help me limber up. And the couple of beers and water afterwards whilst chatting with Brian and Bridget was quite pleasant.

Also, when I weighed myself after my ice bath, I was below 180 lbs for the first time in a very long time. Now, I'm sure I'll rebound from that, but even after the 26.2 miler two weeks ago I wasn't that light. According to the GPS, I burned off close to 3000 calories on this run. So I'm treating myself to a Tim Horton's Iced Cappuccino in order that I don't waste away! :-)

All in all, a pretty good run. Its still going to be a challenge for me on race day, at least the way I felt at the end of this run. But with some luck, continued hard work and a bit of magic, I'm reasonably confident I can make the Boston Qualifier time I need. Just six more weeks until race day!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nothing to Report

Today I did a 7 mile 'easy run'. I targetted 8:30/mi. but ended up doing about 8:15's. I felt strong the whole way. My last mile was at sub-marathon pace. Same ol stuff. Didn't even see any white squirrels which I had seen a couple of times previously on Neil Road. The heat wasn't too bad since it was overcast and I left at around 7:10 am. Sorry -- nothing even remotely interesting to report today!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I LOVE speed work! I HATE speed work!

Yes, I definitely have a love-hate relationship with my speed-work sessions. The ‘hate’ part is when I’m pushing as hard as I can to keep up my target speed, yet my GPS saying that I’m not going any faster. The ‘love’ part is when I’m done a 1 mile lap and I’m ahead of goal pace – and getting faster as do more laps.

That is pretty much how it worked today. Brian came by the house at 6:00 am to go for our run. We started early because I had meetings today in Toronto, and because we both wanted to beat the heat and humidity that had been forecast today.

Well, getting the run complete in time for me to get to my meetings worked well. But we were unsuccessful in beating the heat and humidity, as we were both drenched in sweat by the time we were done.

I started with a 2-mile warm-up run and then launched into my 3 miles of speed work, with each mile separated by a half-mile jog. My target pace for the speed work, according to my chart, was 7:01/mile. In fact, I was able to do the paces in 6:57, 6:53 and 6:48 – so I was getting faster as I got closer to the end of my run and knew I had the energy to complete in a more aggressive pace.

Interestingly, the net difference in elevation over the mile that I did was 50 feet down when running to the west, which I did on the 1st and 3rd laps. The wind was facing me during that westward run, which slowed me down, but also cooled me off. Net effect: probably zero. So grade differences and wind can make a difference -- but in some cases they just serve to even out the effort.

Brian had to do 8 miles at a 7 minute pace, with a 1 mile run on either end for a total of 10 miles today. He was definitely feeling the heat and humidity at the end as well, but finished his goal strongly. I can only dream about someday being able to keep up that sort of pace for that long!

One thing that Brian mentioned is that you train and train and follow the plan, and then you taper – and then for one day, you’re able to be super-human while running the marathon. So the fact that during your training, you may feel like you can’t possibly pull it all together to run 26.2 miles in your goal time, everything should come together come race day.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Pendulum Swings Again...

...this time to the side that says, "I don't know if I can do a BQ pace for a full 26.2 miles!" Today I just ran on my own. Looking to do 9 miles or so, I set off on my run late in the morning. And while my first mile felt good, by the time I was into miles 7 and 8, the heat was starting to take its toll.

The good news is that I was able to set my pace (8:30/mile) and stick pretty close to it. In fact, my overall pace for the entire 9.27 mile run was 8:29/mile. Now, that included two stops where Jenny and Tori checked on me at the 6 mile mark and had a towel with which I could dry my face, and then another stop where Jenny showed up on her bike with some cold water and cold Gatorade with about a mile to go. But even excluding those two stops, the GPS had me between 8:20 and 8:30 for most of the miles I did.

One thing for sure, though: I hope it is cold out the day of the marathon. While the temperature today started at around 70 degrees F. (21 C.) it must have climbed to 80 F (27 C.) by the time I finished. It certainly seemed that way, anyhow. And the air was humid, which didn't help.

I was drenched in sweat when I was done, and I spent about a half hour in the shower afterwards pouring as cold water as I could get all over me. Oh, and the cold beer helped to cool down my insides as well.

A 180 degree reversal from yesterday's run.

This coming week has me doing speed work on Wednesday, a long run (20 miles) on Saturday and then we're going in a local race (8k) on Sunday. Hmmmmm... should be interesting!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Too fast... again.

Not that I'm complaining. I mean, I'm a big boy. I can choose to not succumb to peer pressure and run my own pace. When Coach (Brian), Heather Marr and I took off this morning from Tim Horton's in Lucan, my goal was 8 miles (12.5k) at an 8:30/mile pace. Brian was to do 16 miles today, so he joined us for the first 8 miles along the Coursey North route and then went off on his own to do another 8.

Brian's target overall was 8:00/mile or slightly better. Heather just wanted to run! No GPS -- I don't even think she was wearing a watch. So as we're in the middle of our first mile, I'm saying "Oops, we're a bit fast." At the end of the first mile, my GPS says we did it in 7:52. Okay, our typical fast start. Now we have to slow down a bit. Next mile, my GPS says 7:26. Well, but that was on a downhill grade. We're starting to head uphill a bit, so our pace will slow a bit. Which it did on the next mile -- to a 7:40 pace!

At this point, I gave up trying to slow down. We were all feeling strong and the weather was a perfect summer running temperature -- about 64 degrees F. (17 degrees C.). Besides, I was running with my coach, and he wasn't telling me to slow down so what the heck. We'll just enjoy the run.

Then came the Fallon Road hill. Mile 6 started with a 1/6 of a mile downhill run with a net elevation drop of 50 feet (seems like more). But then at the bottom, we immediately start climbing and over the next 1/4 mile we climb a net 90 foot elevation increase (seems like a lot more). I could certainly feel the burning in my thighs as we hit the crest of the hill -- all the while saying to myself, "I love hills, I love hills". Even still, our pace for that mile was 8:16 -- but at least it was closer to the 8:30 I had set as the goal at the start of the run.

For mile 7, we passed by Biddulph Public School at the corner of Fallon and Saintsbury and our pace as we approached Lucan still hadn't recovered to our pre-Fallon hill level -- 8:03. But now Heather could taste the end of the run and we all quickened the pace. We finished the last leg in a pace of 7:27 -- good enough for an average pace for the entire run of 7:47/mile (4:52/k).

Brian continue off to do the same loop again since he enjoyed that loop so much!

A good pace -- perhaps too good -- but we all felt good. And it was great running with Brian and Heather to make the effort all the more enjoyable.

The cool weather helped today, I'm sure. Just need to be able to hold that pace for a bit more than 3 times today's distance and I'll be heading to Boston. No sweat. :-)