Monday, July 30, 2007

A Marathon Distance Personal Best!

Well, we did it. Yesterday we ran from London to Port Stanley (26.25 miles according to my GPS), in a total time of 4:09:19 -- and that included a 4:14 delay right at the end while the lift bridge in Port Stanley was up letting some boats through. So, we'll call it 4:05:04. And at the end, it was hot out -- 27 degrees c. (81 degrees f.).

We took it easy, targeting 9:00 minute miles, and stopping at all hydration stops which, after the first 5 miles were spaced about 2.5 miles apart. The stops were longer than we had planned, ranging from about 1.5 minutes to 2.5 minutes, while we were counting on 1 minutes stops.

Less than halfway through the run, Jenny, Karen and Tori showed up to augment the water stops that John Ferguson at Runners Choice in London had arranged. They had a bucket filled with cold water and sponges. But they weren't counting on the sheer number of runners that Runners Choice had lined up for this run. While John, Jed and I were the only ones who did the full 26 miles, Brian joined it to do his 23 mile run, and others joined in at various other spots along the route. By the time we were at the end, there was over 100 runners that were taking part -- and many of them really appreciated the sponges.

The topology of the run was nice for a training run, with a total drop of 248 feet from start to finish. But it wasn't quite that simple: We started at an elevation of 812 feet, climbed to 947 feet within the first 20 minutes, and then finished at 564 feet. There were a couple of valleys and overpasses in between, so we got to do our share of hills during the run. But the drop in the last half-hour of the run was almost 200 feet, so it was nice to finish on a downhill grade, especially in the heat.

Looking through our running paces, we did pretty well keeping within range of our target. These paces include the times we spent stopping at stop lights and at the girls' sponge stops, but don't include the time at the Runners Choice hydration stops:

Lap 1: 1 mile, 9:09 pace
Lap 2: 1 mile, 9:04 pace
Lap 3: 1 mile, 8:38 pace
Lap 4: 1 mile, 9:03 pace
Lap 5: 0.42 mi., 9:00 pace
Lap 6: Hydration Stop: 1:53
Lap 7: 1 mile, 8:57 pace
Lap 8: 0.68 mi, 8:59 pace
Lap 9: Hydration Stop: 1:28
Lap 10: 1 mile, 8:58 pace
Lap 11: 1 mile, 8:55 pace
Lap 12: 0.55 mi, 9:00 pace
Lap 13: Hydration Stop: 2:03
Lap 14: 1 mile, 8:53 pace
Lap 15: 1 mile, 8:49 pace
Lap 16: 0.42 mi, 8:46 pace
Lap 17: Hydration Stop: 1:30
Lap 18: 1 mile, 8:52 pace
Lap 19: 1 mile, 9:04 pace
Lap 20: 0.63 mi, 8:56 pace
Lap 21: Hydration Stop: 1:52
Lap 22: 1 mile, 9:08 pace
Lap 23: 1 mile, 8:33 pace
Lap 24: 0.33 mi, 8:42 pace
Lap 25: Hydration Stop: 1:20
Lap 26: 1 mile, 9:06 pace
Lap 27: 1 mile, 8:52 pace
Lap 28: 0.15 mi, 8:49 pace
Lap 29: Hydration Stop: 2:17
Lap 30: 1 mile, 8:41 pace
Lap 31: 1 mile, 8:58 pace
Lap 32: 0.86 mi, 8:33 pace
Lap 33: Hydration Stop: 0:54
Lap 33: Hydration Stop: 0:33 (must have pressed the button twice)
Lap 34: 1 mile, 9:04 pace
Lap 35: 1 mile, 8:49 pace
Lap 36: 0.57 mi, 8:22 pace
Lap 37: Hydration Stop: 2:23
Lap 38: 1 mile, 9:11 pace
Lap 39: 0.52 mi, 8:38 pace
Lap 40: Lift Bridge Up: 4:14
Lap 41: 0.52 mi, 7:51 pace

(Sorry about the overabundance of detail here!)

A couple of things I learned along this route included the fact that despite the fact that its really not polite to pass gas in public, it really helps the run so if one feels the need, let 'er rip. Only try to do it without your running partner directly behind you (Sorry Jed!). There was a good crosswind, though.

Despite the fact that Jed and I each had the same GPS model, our pace times were markedly different. It could be due to settings in the GPS itself -- perhaps mine was set to 'lap pace' while Jeds was 'instant pace' - but it was definitely good to have a running buddy there to confirm the pace. Next time, I'll wear my GPS on the south-most wrist (the left wrist, in this case), as wearing it on the north-facing wrist could have impacted the ability of the GPS to find the satellites.

Another thing was that you really can work through the pain. I developed a blister on my insole of my right foot at around the 8 mile mark. But as I kept running, the pain went away. When I got home, I had a big honking blister there, but it hadn't burst so it obviously was doing its job.

I discovered that the chaffing on very long run is different (and hurts more) than on a medium run. My inner thighs, right beside my -- um -- private parts -- were very chaffed by the end of the run. I didn't feel it until I started walking towards GT's where we had lunch and a few beers after the run. So while my legs were stiff after the run, most of the reason I was walking funny was because of the chaffing. Next time, I'm getting some Vaseline or body-glide stuff!

Around the 22 mile mark, I was getting hunger pangs. But I'd take just a swig of sport drink, and the pang would subside for another mile or so.

On the last stretch of the race, I could feel my hamstring about to cramp up, so I slowed up a bit. That's one of the dangers, I guess, of running such a long distance during training -- that you'll end up injuring yourself. Thus, the reason for keep it slower than Marathon target pace.

After the race, while waiting for our drinks and lunch at the restaurant, I think I may have been starting to crash. This happened to me once previously, after my last marathon. I was very cold, despite the heat outside, and I felt the urge to cry -- very weird -- almost like I was having a stroke or something and couldn't control my emotions. What's weirder is that as soon as my beer arrived and I took a swig, I felt considerably better. And after a fruit smoothie and another beer, I was back to 100%. I think next time I'll carry more sport drink with me for after the race -- and keep the carbs and electrolytes coming!

Some of the things that we confirmed were that running with a partner is really helpful -- not just for the GPS pace mentioned above. In chatting after the run, both Jed and I confirmed that near the end of the run we had each -- unknowingly -- kept the other running, and on pace. We kept each other in check -- slowing down when our pace was too fast, and speeding on the odd occasion where we were too slow. Thanks Jed!

Also, the ice bath when I got home had amazing results. I was able to walk semi-normally after the bath and today, a day after the run, I'm feeling pretty close to 100%.

For running apparel, I had my Running Room shorts, 1 pair of socks (I thought perhaps I should have double-socked for this one), my Filo running shoes (my Asics aren't quite broken in yet), my Shore-to-Shore running vest (worked great!), and my Running Room hat. I'll have to go shopping at Runners Choice soon, if for no other reason then to thank them for organizing such a great run!

For breakfast, I had 2 peanut butter and jam sandwiches and a glass of milk -- about 1.25 hours before the run. And I had a medium black Tim Hortons coffee about a half hour before the run. That seemed to work well.

In summary, while initially I was a bit disappointed that we weren't closer to the 4-hour mark for our run, Jenny reminded me that we were running in 27-degree heat at the end -- and I don't run well in heat. Combine that with the fact that we had 20 minutes and 27 seconds of hydration and bridge breaks for a total running of 3:48:52 (an 8:43 pace), I should be very pleased. And I am!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Change of Plans

Not a change of plans with respect to my overriding goal. Definitely training for Corning. Definitely looking to do a BQ time. But Jed and I were chatting last night and the group he is running with in London has a run scheduled for this Sunday from London to Port Stanley -- 25.79 miles, just shy of a full marathon. Jed was planning to do it at a 9:00 minute pace with 1 minute rests at the 8 waterstops along the route. That would put him across the line in exactly 4 hours.

'Hmmmmmm...', I thought to myself. So I chatted with Coach Brian about doing it and he is going to do it as well, since he's scheduled for a long run this weekend as well. He won't be doing the full distance, though, since his pace will be better than 8 minute miles and he doesn't want to overdo it.

From my perspective, doing this run in roughly 4 hours -- particularly if we're taking it easy -- will do a whole lot for my confidence. Pacing with Jed will help us both keep on track. And it should (if all goes well) get me past that 30k mental wall that I'm worried about hitting.

The only downside is that it is a total departure from the training plan we downloaded from Runners World. But, hey, what's one more change! This week was supposed to be an easy week -- 4 x 7 and 8 mile runs. So, I'll just swap out this week for an easy week next week, when I was supposed to do an 18 miler on the Sunday.

As for the actual running part of this post, I ran with Jody and Paula today. 7 miles -- although Paula did a bit less since she's resting for a half marathon this Sunday.

Our average pace today was roughly 9:30 miles -- about 6 minute kilometres, so nice and easy. Despite the pace, though, we were all drenched when we got back. There was quite a bit of fog, so the air (again) was thick with moisture.

So, now my mind is on the Sunday long run. I absolutely want this to go well. I just have to remember not to stress about it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lots of Interesting News...

Well, okay, if you're a non-runner, you might not find it that interesting.

The first news is that I received my Garmin Forerunner 205 yesterday and wore it for the first time in today's run. The Training Center software is very cool -- allowing you to see your run in a map format and with elevations, pace, etc. -- basically every bit of minute detail a techie geek like me would want to see. But the things I like the best about it are that (a) it automatically logs my 1 mile 'laps', so I don't have keep a close eye on the distance travelled so that I can press the Lap button at the exact right time anymore, and (b) it gets recharged by hooking it up to my computer, so I dont' have to carry a supply of AAA batteries when I run "just in case".

This is my 'easy' week -- just four 7 and 8 mile easy runs this week. Brian met me at 8:30 to go for my easy run and his Speed Work runs. He had to do 3 x 6:22 miles separated by 800 m. of jogging. I just had to run my 8 miles at somewhere around an 8:30 pace. I just ran at an easy pace for the first half of my run, and was knocking off 8:00/miles. But at about the 4 mile mark, I started to slow down -- I think more because I was then running slightly up hill and into the wind than anything else -- but even then did an 8:16 mile. I don't know if the 'easy' runs are getting any easier, but certainly the psychological effect these days is that an 8 mile run (almost 1/3 of a marathon) is a short run.

As we were returning to the house, I was still a mile short of my 8 mile target, so I took Brian on a tour of the trails that we'd built in the woods along the riverbank behind the house. Its about 2/3 of a mile back, so by the time we were done, we'd logged and extra 1.3 miles. It definitely pays to watch your step running through the woods, though. A couple of times I got tripped up by roots or stumps. It might be fine for horses, but when you're running, there is a lot that could ruin a marathon training plan! {Mental note: Take the lawn tractor through and clear up the crap thats along the trail}.

So, for me anyways, there were three interesting things: The new GPS, the realization that my running psychology is evolving as I run more, and the trail run at the end. Another good day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's So Nice Running with Friends...

I went out for this week's long run yesterday and I had some company along the way. Brian was away visiting family north of Toronto, but Kelly emailed me on Friday asking about my route. So I put together a 26k route (just over my 16 mile target) that started and ended at the Tim Horton's in Lucan but also passed by it two more times in the middle so other runners could join in. Here's the route:

The weather was perfect, considering it is the middle of summer. There was a slight cool breeze, and the temperature was around 18 degrees C. (65 degrees F.) and sunny. So one couldn't ask for much better.

When I passed through after my first 10.3k leg, Kelly and Jody were both there, along with Jenny and Tori. I knew that Jenny and Tori weren't planning on keep up to my 5:20/k pace (8:30/mile), and I knew that Kelly could do that pace not problem, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Jody out.

The thing about having company during a run is that the other runners help keep your pace without having to constantly check your GPS, and you're able to chat about stuff along the way to keep your mind off the effort that you're putting into the run. So the next 8.5k went by extremely quickly. Jody did fantastic -- keeping up our 5:15 pace for over 6k of the run before he had to bail. And by the end of that leg, Kelly and I were chugging along at a 5:10/k pace without even thinking about it -- just chatting about this and that and philosophising about life in general. Oh, and after that Kelly had to go off to do her cardio kickboxing north of town -- because you can never be in too good shape! :-)

Then I went off on my own for the last 7k leg of my journey and it was back to just the sound of me huffing and puffing. All I could do was just concentrate on my stride and try to keep my pace consistent, whether I was on a slight uphill or downhill grade. The one weird thing that I'll have to address is that I started to get hungry at around the 23k mark. I had only been having my jelly beans during the first 10k, so I'll have to make sure that I continue to get calories and bulk into me throughout the run.

Once I got onto Highway 4 heading back into Lucan, I stepped it up to marathon pace for the last 2k. Jenny and Tori were there to greet me!

The support from everyone is so much appreciated. And that afternoon, we were wondering through the TSC store in Hyde Park and Jenny found a cowbell, which I'd been looking for as a cheering device since before the Shore to Shore run on June 1.

Overall, my pace was 5:15/k (8:24/mile), and my last two kilometres were at 4:55/k -- just under my marathon goal pace. Pretty close to my 8:30 target pace for the run, so I was quite happy.

Today, I bailed on my sheduled six mile easy run, and insteady took part in a 5k race in Ailsa Craig. My fastest 5k prior to today had been the Jordon 5k over two years ago when I did it in 21:52. I felt that I was faster than that, based on some recent races, but I wasn't sure how much faster. So I set my target on a 4:15/k pace.

I knew I'd try to go out fast, so I consciously tried to rein myself in. I was only somewhat successful, doing my first kilometre in 3:58. The next k I was right on at a 4:15 pace, and the third kilometre I'd even picked up a bit at 4:10. Then things started to fall apart. Even though we were now on a very slight downhill grade, I could only manage a 4:19/pace for kilometre number 4. But then I heard the wonderful sound of a cowbell! Jenny and Tori were there cheering me on about 500 m. from the finish. Perfect positioning! I stepped it up again and pulled off a 4:14/k pace for the last stretch -- good enough for a personal best 21:10 'official' time. And Paula and I think that the actual course was about 50 metres too long as our GPSs had us at 5:05 km. So it is possible that I actually beat a 21 minute 5k. Wow, do I ever feel great!

Ian Trotter came out for this race as well. He's been training for triathalons and said just prior to the race that it was his running that had been slowing him down. Well he knocked off a 23:20-ish time for this 5k! And Paula was right on track with her goal pace of a 27-ish minute 5k (5:26 pace).

Beckie Wright was out coaching/pacing another runner, so she wasn't able to scream past everyone as I'm sure she would have been able to otherwise. And two new additions to the Shamrocks were out -- Jessica and Carrie Vanhie. I haven't actually met them before, but Jessica was the overall female winner in this race, and I'm pretty sure that Carrie was just a few seconds in front of me (couldn't catch her!) coming across the finish line.

All in all, another very good day -- and a perfect day to share with friends!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finally... the secret to an 'easy' run!

Jody Durand and I joined Paula Muxlow for her tempo run today in Ailsa Craig. Paula's training for the Scotiabank Marathon in Toronto which is the same weekend as the Wine Glass Marathon in Corning, New York -- September 30. It worked out really well: Paula was targeting a 5:30/k pace (8:48/mile) and my Runners World chart said I should be doing a 9:02 'easy run' pace. Paula needed to do 12K and I needed to do 11.2k (7 miles).

We all met at Paula's place at 7:00 am and took off for our run. The air was literally 'thick' -- you could see the fog in many areas. There were hills and valleys in this run, so it had its mini challenges. Paula wanted a few walk breaks to rehydrate, which was also good. In the end, we finished an 11.3k run in 1:06:24, for a 5:52/k (9:23/mile) pace, including walk breaks.

Finally I was able to do a run slower than my target pace -- and with Paula's and Jody's company, it was very pleasant. Speaking of Jody, he did very well and finished strong. But we were all drenched with sweat because of the humidity.

Another good day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tempo run: On track!

Well, not 'on track' physically -- just figuratively. Coach (Brian) came by the house today and we went on my tempo run. He had to do similar miles and pace as me (7 miles with 5 miles at a 7:42 pace) so it worked well and he paced me all the way. My Garmin Forerunner 101 lost its power part way through the run, so it was good that he was also tracking our pace on his Garmin Forerunner 205 (which I've just ordered for myself on Ebay, now).

It was a good, strong run the whole way. We did an 8:30 warm up pace, and then stepped it up to an average of 7:30/mile for 4 miles (we were targeting between 7:30 and 7:42).

When we made the turn to do the last 'fast' mile, Brian stepped it up a bit. "I'll be your pace bunny for a 7:15 pace", he said. Kewl. So we stepped it up and at about 1/3 of a mile into it he told me we were doing about a 6:36 pace! But I felt strong, so we kept it up and finished that last mile in a 6:34 -- which is equivalent to a 4:06/k pace. Felt pretty good!

We finished up with a mile and a half jog back at around an 8:30/mile pace and after downing the majority of my Gatorade, Brian went back home for a swim and I hit the showers and hosed my legs and hips with as cold water as I could get out of the tap.

A very good day today!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Long Run...

Yesterday was an 'easy run' day according to the chart. I was to do 7 miles at a 9:02 pace, but again, I found that 9:02 was just too slow, so I did a pace ranging from 8:15 to 8:31 -- but then I stepped it up again on the last mile to my marathon goal pace, and completed that mile in a 7:52 pace. All-in-all, the run went fine. We were at a corporate retreat for our company, so we'd been up indulging in a bit too much wine the night before at the bed-and-breakfast we stayed in St. Joseph, Ontario. A couple of ibuprophen in the middle of the night seemed to do the trick, though, and I was out on the street at 7:00 am to start my run. I was fortunate in that the weather was a touch on the cool side -- about 16 degrees c. (60 degrees f.) -- pretty good for a summer run.

Today was a bit warmer and the sun was shining, so my long run was more challenging. Today I was to do 14 miles and because of the corporate retreat obligations, I wasn't able to start it until the late afternoon. My route was from our house past the town of Ailsa Craig, Ontario and then back again. Everything started fine -- too fine, in fact. I was targeting between 8:20 and 8:30 pace, but my first mile was 7:59 and the second was 8:13. Finally by the third mile I was able to settle into a 8:23 pace and I was consistently between 8:18 and 8:30 throughout the rest of the run -- until, that is, the last full mile at which point I stepped it up again to my marathon goal pace and completed the 14th mile in 7:52. But, I was dragging near the end. For the first time, I'm having doubts that I can go 26 miles at my goal pace. My right knee was starting to hurt a bit in the middle of the run, and the arch in my left foot was hurting at the end of the run. Now I understand why we do the run up in long run miles slowwwwwwly.

One item of note was that Jenny and my daughters Tori and Karen drove out and met me at mile 11, which was a very welcome sight. I was starting to overheat a bit and they were able to swap out my warm and depleted Gatorade for a full, cold one. I poured some on my back periodically to help cool me down and I'm sure it helped. They were heading into Lucan to do a 10k run in preparation for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January.

This run I had two jellybeans every 2 miles up until mile 10, at which point I didn't figure they'd do me much good over the last four miles, so I stopped eating them.

Anyhow, now that I'm home, clean and I've had my ice bath, I'm fairly happy with the run. Its the longest I've run in a long time. I kept to my target pace range (although not that of the Runner's World chart) and I finished with the last mile at my marathon goal pace. My miles over the past week were just shy of 35 total. And while I've now entertained thoughts that I may not be able to reach my goal pace for a full marathon, I've re-evaluated those thoughts and realize that my training is only 2/13ths complete. This is a long run in more ways than just today's.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

First Speed Work Day...

Yesterday was our first Speed Work day. Brian was scheduled to do 6 miles of tempo runs at better than a 7:00/mile pace, so he met me at the end of my driveway and we ran down to the speed work area together, about a mile away.

The chart said I was to do 6 miles of runs including 2 miles at a 7:08 pace, separated by a 1/2 mile of jogging. After about 2 miles of warm up, I started into the speed work. This is the first time thus far that I've actually felt like I'm pushing -- at least by the end of the second mile. I ended up doing the miles in 7:00 each, so just a bit faster than expected. But looking down the chart to Week 10, I'm expected to do 4 miles at a 6:51/mile pace. I can tell already that this pace is going to be pushing me close to my limits. Brian did his 6 mile tempo run at a 6:45 pace or better, so I guess I better just grit my teeth and do it!

Another thing that happened today that was interesting (to me, at least). I came back from the run and I was actually about a half pound lighter than my target weight -- the first time that has happened in about 9 months. Chatting with Jed and Brian after our long run last weekend and they both said that as we get into the higher mileage weeks, the weight will start to fall off. I don't know about that for me, since I have an incredible ability to pack away the groceries, as it were, but if I can keep myself to my goal weight (183 lbs) or lower, I'll be pretty happy. I guess it would be good to be a bit lighter for Marathon Day -- maybe 175 -- but I'm not do anything different to get there. It wouldn't be good to go into a marathon after starving myself to get down to some theoretical goal weight.

Today was an 'easy run' day -- the chart called for 7 miles at a 9:02 pace. I ended up doing 7.16 miles, targeting an 8:30 pace and ending up doing an 8:19 pace. My pace was pretty consistent, though, ranging from 8:17 to 8:25 for the first 6 miles, and then I ran at just what I felt was comfortably 'easy' and did the 7th mile in 8:14. Much faster than I should be, according to the chart, but I feel better about my run when I step it up a bit, without breathing hard at the end.

All in all, a good couple of running days!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Long Run - 12 miles

It was a pretty good day for a run, actually. A bit on the warm side -- roughly 23 degrees Celcius -- but there was a bit of a breeze from the west that helped to keep things cooler.

Brian was to run past our driveway at 7:20 am (he was scheduled for a 16 miler) but when I looked for him at the assigned time, there were two heads bobbing in the distance, not one. Jed DeJong, who is also training to hit a Boston Qualifier time in Corning, was running with Brian. So the three of us headed off towards Lucan, which is about 4.5 miles from my home.

Jed's target rate was anywhere from 8:30 to 9:00 per mile. Mine was 9:02 per mile and Brian's was 8:15 per mile. So we had already decided that 8:30 per mile was a good compromise and that Brian would head off with five miles to go to get in some faster miles in.

The idea was to meet another member of our running group, Kelly Vivian, in Lucan, and do some running on the rural roads surrounding the town, and then she could finish up by running back into town while we headed off in the direction of my house. But she also had an additional passenger -- Jody Durand, who has been steadily improving his distances and times and is now rumoured to be looking at doing a half marathon in the fall. Kelly is non-committal at this point on her marathon or half-marathon intentions. My guess is, though, that there is a 'half' in her future this fall -- perhaps two.

Kelly and Jody headed out a bit earlier from the assigned meeting spot and the plan was that, at our assigned pace, we'd catch up with them. But they ran very well and it wasn't until the last leg of our run with them that we actually caught up. During that final 'sprint' to catch them, I did about 5 minutes of 7:30/mi pace -- and felt good that I could actually do so after 8 miles. I'd been getting concerned that I'd be teaching my body to run at a slow pace -- but it certainly appears that I can kick it into gear if I need to.

I did the same thing during the last three-quarters of a mile. Brian was well ahead of me, and Jed had taken a detour to get to Brian's house, so I was running alone. I kicked up the pace to about a 7:30/mile pace again -- sometimes even a bit faster -- and was able to do so no problem.

Overall, I did roughly 8:36 per mile. Faster than my charted target, but still acceptably 'slow'.

When I got back home, I headed straight for the tub to do my latest ritual after a long run. Yes, the dreaded ice bath. I never would have believed it would make a difference, but even just hosing my legs with cold water after a short run helped relieve stiffness, so on a long run, now, I have a bag our two of ice waiting in the freezer to add to the cold water into which I immerse the lower half of my body.

After a couple of beers at Brian's place and then a couple of hours of sleep, I went out for some "cross training" -- polo. And while I could feel my muscles were a bit sore, I certainly wasn't stiff. Even getting on and off the horse was no challenge.

So, thus ends Week 1. Pretty low stress, thus far. Makes me think that pain may be lurking in the future weeks for me. Stay tuned... :-)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Easy run day...

One of the toughest things I'm finding is to actually take it easy on my 'easy run' days. So for today, I paced with my daughter Tori for the 10k (6 mile) route we did. Tori is training for the Disney World Half Marathon in January 2008 and it working on building up both her distance and her speed.

My target pace according to my Runners World chart is 9:02/mile (5:39/k) but Tori isn't quite there yet -- so we just did what she could manage which was 7:00/k for the first 4k, closer to 8:00/k for the next 4, and then back to 7:00/k for the last 2k. And for the last 300 m., she kicked it up a notch to 6:40/k pace. So while I wasn't doing the pace that the chart required, the run did teach me to run slowly, and I got more minutes of running at the slow pace than if I had done the required pace. Hopefully it all evens out from a training perspective.

Tomorrow is the first long run of the chart -- 12 miles (19k) -- and I'm supposed to do it at that same easy pace of 9:02/mile. But, once again, I'm going to go off the chart -- this time on the faster end. Brian needs to do 16 miles (roughly 26k) at a pace of 8:15/mile, so he is going to run past my house and then while we're running together, we'll do 8:30/mile. He'll be able to get in 4k on either end of my 19k at a faster pace, so it should all even out.

The weird thing is that I ran the Lucan-Exeter Half Marathon last weekend which was a longer run and at a faster pace (7:44/mile) than I'm doing this weekend. Seems odd that I'm actually running less fast while training for the marathon. The other weird thing is that my long run pace never actually comes close to that of my marathon target during the training. Only during my tempo runs do I get to run faster.

As a test, Brian suggested that I put my goal finish time into the Runners World SmartCoach tool as the time that I had actually completed as my last race, and at a moderate intensity training pace to see what it came back with. One would suspect that this would provide a training plan that would allow you to run that same goal finish time. Surprisingly, the numbers were almost identical to the plan I'm on now -- perhaps even just a tad weaker.

So, I'll continue to 'believe' -- that the tempo runs for speed combined with lots and lots of easy miles are going to do the trick.

We'll see how I feel after running tomorrow. Its supposed to be warm (26 degrees) and 20 kph winds, so we'll get a bit of 'weather training' in.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Day one: Tempo Runs...

Well, this is actually sort of like 'Day two', since I did a 6 mile 'easy run' yesterday. The toughest part about easy runs, I find, is actually taking it easy. But I didn't do too badly yesterday as I targetted 5 minute kilometers (8 minute miles) and in fact did the 10 kilometers in 49:31 -- just under that pace.

But this is the first day that we actually had a plan that my coach (Brian) and I had agreed upon, so we'll go with today as 'Day One'.

The first challenge was to convert my mind to start thinking in miles, rather than kilometers. I've always liked kilometers because they are shorter and I'm able to get faster feedback on my pace during a race. But now that I have a GPS that Gwyn sold me, I can track my pace any time I want, so since the Corning course will be laid-out in miles, 'miles' it is.

Tonight we met at the 'speed work area' -- William Street, just west of Denfield Road -- to work on my tempo pace. My plan called for 6 miles of tempo runs, including 1 mile of warm up and 1 mile of cool-down at a much slower pace. And my 4 miles of actual tempo pace were to be at a 7:38/mile pace. When I started off, I thought that this was going to be too easy. But by the time I was into the third mile, I was comfortable with the decision to follow the plan. All of my miles were 7:38 or better, although I must admit that I turned it up a notch in the last mile, doing it in 7:30.

Brian, who is working towards a 3 hour marathon, was doing 5 miles of 7:00/mile pace. To put that in perspective, it is like doing a run 60% farther than my fastest 5k -- at better than my fastest 5k pace! But he did it -- kudos to him. Just 12 more weeks to go!

Perhaps one of the reasons why I like Brian as a coach, though, is his common sense approach to all of this. Its not like we're training for the Olympics. We're going through this in order to improve our personal best marathon times -- and it had better be fun, or its going to be a long 13 weeks. So, as we were cooling down, Brian mentioned that he had a few beers at his car. We pulled the lawn chairs from Jenny's Jeep, cracked open a couple of brewskis and sat at the side of the road watching Jenny and Tori do their speed work for the next twenty minutes or so. Now this is how to train for a marathon!

After Jenny and Tori were done, we went back to the house and I did my ritual of hosing my legs and hips with cold water in the shower. Not exactly an ice bath, but I definitely find that it helps relieve the stiffness from my legs. If you find yourself stiff after a run, I highly recommend it -- but after a long run, an ice bath is definitely the way to go. It sounds worse than it actually is -- particularly if you get into cool but comfortable water up to your waist and then put the ice into the tub -- but it is definitely worthwhile to reduce or eliminate stiffness after a run.

Anyhow, a very good first day!

First steps...

Brian, Jenny and I had lunch at Greg's Place -- a diner in Lucan. I like Greg's Place for a number of reasons -- but the fact that Greg had sponsored a leg of the Shore to Shore Relay from Port Stanley Ontario to Grand Bend Ontario this year certainly made it an appropriate spot to develop our plan of attack in qualifying for Boston. Besides, Jenny likes their poutine!

So I brought the June issue of Runner's World, and Brian brought several charts that he printed off from from their SmartCoach area (,7148,s6-238-277-278-0-0-0-0,00.html?starf=&lrdy=0&slen=16&trainstart=ds1184031556609&startf=checkforward&hour=0&mins=0&secs=0&rlen=fivk&rdst=fivk&mpwe=11&diff=mod)

We decided that my copy of Runner's World was a bit too drastic for me. And the version that Brian had printed off was a bit too easy. So we settled on a version that had me training 'very hard' and had me already doing '30-35 miles per week' (when, in fact, I'm probably just doing 20 - 25).

We'll see how this one goes. It has me peaking at 51 miles in the toughest week -- including a long run of 20 miles -- in the 3rd week before our target marathon.

And speaking of target marathon, we've decided to do the Wine Glass Marathon in Corning, New York on September 30, 2007. See for details. We like this one because it is relatively close (5.5 hours drive), its small (under 1000 runners), and it is on a slight downhill grade almost all the way (a drop of roughly 200 feet over the course of 26.2 miles). Beside, both Brian and another runner in our group, Jed deJong, have already decided to do this one, so we may as well make it a party! Jed is also trying to qualify for Boston, so this should work out well.

Another bonus is that if I don't make my goal time of 3:30 in Corning, I may try to do the Niagara marathon a month later -- if I've recovered in time. Or perhaps we can find one in November. We'll see. Anyhow, for now I'm focused on Corning -- less than 13 weeks away!

The long road to Boston (Marathon)...

I've been running for a few years now. I started running simply to get in shape for hockey, which in my mind is the best sport in the world. But my running has taken on a life of its own, in a sense, and now my whole family has taken it up: Jenny, my wonderful wife, has done a half-marathon in under 2 hours. And Karen (b. 1990) and Tori (b. 1992) each did a 14 k run last year and are now training for a half marathon at Disney World in January 2008.

A couple of the people that I run with qualified for and ran in the Boston Marathon this year, so Jenny and I made the trek to Boston to watch them. It was simply amazing the number of people -- a sea of people -- running in this race. And I knew that all of them had qualified one way or another and were, therefore, all better runners than me.

I've done two marathons. My first was in 2003 at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Marathon which runs from Buffalo N.Y. to Niagara Falls, Ontario. I did it in roughly 4 hours 45 minutes -- and since my only goal was to finish, I was quite pleased with the result. My second was the Forest City Road Race in London Ontario in 2004, which I completed in 4 hours 31 minutes. Better -- but I just barely dragged my sorry butt across the finish line -- and thereafter swore off marathons as they were just too hard on my body.

But having seen my two friends and co-runners Brian Watson and Gwyn Hayman compete in Boston has put the bug back in me. I want to be realistic, though. For me to qualify for Boston, I have to complete a Boston Qualifier marathon in 3 hours 30 minutes or less. That's an hour off my best previous marathon time! But things are different for me now. For one thing, I have a really good running group to support me -- especially my mentor, Brian, who is currently working to do a sub 3 hour marathon. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is that since I have been running fairly regularly over the past few years, I know I've gotten faster. So I said to myself, my running group and my family (who could see me starting to think crazy marathon thoughts again) that I'd only consider trying for a Boston Qualifier (BQ) if I could do a half-marathon in half the time I'd need in my BQ -- or 1 hour 45 minutes.

Now, there wasn't a convenient race nearby to do this test -- so we made one up! On July 1, 2007, 9 of us ran in the first annual Canada Day Lucan -Exeter Half Marathon. Not very fancy -- no running shirts, no finishers medal, no chip timing -- just plain and simple running, with a group of excellent support crews in 5 vehicles to support the runners. We started at 7:00 with a rendition of Oh, Canada, and at 7:05 we took off from Lucan to the Conservation Area just east of Exeter Ontario. Brian paced me (reined me in and had me pick up the pace, as required) and we finished in 1 hour 41 minutes and 51 seconds -- upright, smiling and not out-of-breath. Amazing!

So, the good news was that I had taken the first step towards qualifying for Boston -- at least in my mind. The bad news was that this was the easy part. The work would now begin.