Monday, August 30, 2010

Long Run in the Heat (again)...

It has definitely been a fairly warm summer, which has made those long runs somewhat challenging, considering my propensity to collapse during hot weather runs. Since I was so busy with horsey stuff this past weekend, I did my long run this morning (Monday).

Coach Brian wanted me to do 18 to 19 miles (28.8-30.4 kilometres), with the last 2 to 5 miles at marathon pace (4:52/k or 7:50/mile).

I got up a 6 AM and was out on the roads by 6:45. I kept pretty consistently to 5:11/k (8:20/mile) or better for the first 24 kilometres. I did those 24 kilometres in 8k loops of the block on which we live, so every pass around I'd stop for a quick break. "Quick", of course, is all relative. At the start it was just enough to gobble down a peach and take a schlurp of water. But during the 2nd break, I took about 5 minutes to cool down. The sun was up and beating down on me, and I could feel the heat. By the time I was done the 24 kilometres -- and gearing up for the last push at marathon pace -- I felt like I was about 1000 degrees (and at that point, it doesn't really matter if it is Farenheit or Celcius -- it's just friggin' hot!).

So my plan was simply to cool down -- and take as long as I needed to cool down -- before heading back out onto the road. Jenny got me ice in a towel to put over the back of my neck and on my back. I sat in the shade and just dripped. But after about 10-20 minutes (felt longer), I headed back out. No shirt. Just needed to get the remaining run in.

No question, it was still tough. It took a bit for my legs to get moving fast enough to make marathon pace, but once it happened, I was able to keep going without a huge amount of trouble. The last 2 kilometers were tough, but I still had the energy and actually did the last kilometre at a pace of about 4:39/k (7:29/mile). Here are the splits for the last 5k (targeting 4:52):


So, it was a tough run. It wasn't an ideal run, considering the rest breaks. But I definitely did the mileage and I definitely did it when I was tired. I just didn't do it when I had a core temperature that would fry an egg (and my brain).

I'm going to chalk this up as a tough but successful run.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tempo Run - 8 miles (4 at tempo pace)... much better this week!

This week went _much_ better. Coach wanted me to do 3.5 miles out at long-run pace and then run back at between 20 and 30 seconds faster than target marathon pace on the way back (7:20/mile or 4:33 per km. to between 7:30/mile or 4:40 per km).

I was feeling pretty good at the 3.5 mile mark, so I kept going to a full 4 miles out. And when I turned around to come back at the tempo pace, I knew it was going to be a better night.

I ended up doing the 4 miles back at a pace of 7:13/mile (4:29/km) according to the GPS. The hills beat me up in the last couple of km. Here is how the kms looked for the return 6.4km:

4:37 (hills at end beat me up)
4:30 (600 m.)

So, it was a 100% change from 2 weeks ago. Definitely feel better!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

5 x 1 mile repeat speed work

Coach Brian ran with me this morning. We did the same as last week: 5 repeats of 1 mile, with 2.5 minutes of rest between each repeat. It went very well. While the temperature wasn't as cool as last week, it wasn't terrible. We knocked off 4 x 1 mile repeats at roughly 7:00 per mile and the stepped it up to a 6:47/mile (4:13/km) pace for the last repeat.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Simcoe Shores - Day 2

Day 2 of Simcoe Shores started shortly after midnight. At 12:05 am, I took off on an 8.6km run through trails outside of Penetanguishine. It was a tough run: The trail on which I was running was quite uneven -- and since it was unlit (other than my not-bright-enough headlamp), I was continually having to watch my step or I'd be eating some stone dust. I muddled through the rest of the trail and with about 2 km to go, I hit the roadway and was able to pickup the pace a bit. Overall, I was pretty much right on track: 4:46 per kilometre.

My final run started at 8:14 am, right after Jenny battled her way halfway up Blue Mountain. And when I say halfway up, what I mean is that I had to go the other halfway up. This was a 12.1 km run and the first 3 km were basically uphill. The 4th km was hilly, but better. And after that, it was generally downhill, but my legs were shot. I walked every km and my support crew of Jody, Tori and Graham did a great job of keeping me hydrated and lucid! The average pace sucked -- 5:23 per km -- but that was as good as I could do. And considering the terrain, I'll take it!

Overall, we had a great time and finished 3rd out of 5 in our Mixed 35-45 division (average age, at least half the legs were run by females). And after roughly 24 hours of running we were 15 minutes off the 2nd place team.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Simcoe Shores - Day 1

I skipped the tempo run this week to 'taper' for the Simcoe Shores 244 km run from Barrie to Collingwood, via Coldwater, Midland, Penetanguishene and Wasaga. My first run was this morning at 9:00. I was the lead runner and my first leg of 24 in the race was 10.6 km. Jenny organized the times and had me down for 4:45 per kilometer, based on my last 10k run at the Hog Jog in June. Not a bad benchmark, actually, because that was a tough, hilly run.

Anyhow, I knocked off that first 10.6 km run with an average pace of 4:40 per km. But it was a very straightforward, relatively flat so there was little to upset the pace that I established fairly early on.

The second run was also about 10.6 km, and the terrain was a bit more hilly. But I was able to knock it off with an average pace of 4:39/km. I came across drained, but felt good to hit the pace.

That run finished at about 7:30 pm -- so when I was done, I tried whatever I could to get some shut-eye. I had lots of 'rest' but no actual sleep. And the next run was coming up soon...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Speed Work, 1 Mile Repeats: Cooler weather = better run

Coach is away this week camping, so I was on my own for speed work. The Legendary John Ferguson's Marathon Training plan called for 5 or 6 repeats of a mile, separated by a 2 and a half minute rest.

As I headed out the door, I instantly noticed that it was cooler than usual -- probably 16 or 17 degrees C. Felt good!

It's been a while since I've done mile repeats, so I figured I'd start with 5 reps for this time around. And for a pace, I wanted to keep it a bit slower than the 1 km repeats I was doing before, so I targeted 7:00 per mile (4:21 per kilometer).

The first two repeats were pretty close to the 7:00/mile target. But on the third, I found myself running considerably faster than target pace -- so I decided to step up the target pace to 6:50/mile (4:15/km). There was a light wind coming from the east, so on those eastward repeats I was working considerably harder than when I was heading west with the wind at my back. But I was able to knock off times between 6:45 and 6:50/mile for the last 3 repeats.

Here are my times for each of the speed work miles:

6:59 (heading east)
6:50 (heading east)
6:37 (1 km west, 610m east)

My breathing felt good and I felt like I recovered relatively quickly. The cooler weather definitely made a difference. It was really nice to have a successful run under my belt again!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tough Long Run

Definitely not a week for the record books.

I was in the Newmarket-Aurora Ontario area this weekend for Polo for the Cure, in which my daughter Tori was participating. Since her team's Friday win got them a ticket to the Sunday final game, I figured I'd run on Saturday. But the forecast all weekend was 'hot and humid', so I figured I'd be best to head out as early as possible.

Coach Brian wanted me to do 18 miles, with the last 5 miles at race pace.

I went out at 6:30 am. Our hotel is on Yonge Street, and as I left I knew I want to be doing as much as possible of the race-pace section of my run on flat or downhill grade. Flat was out of the question. In the Newmarket-Aurora area, there is no such thing. Everything is rolling hills, and lots of 'em. So I headed south from the top of Newmarket, through Aurora to the top of Richmond Hill before turning around.

I kept my pace slow for the 'long run pace' section of the run -- targeting 5:30/km (8:51/mile) and had no problem knocking of the kilometers. I had to work hard on the uphill sections, but could take a breather on the downhill sections. Again, there was nothing that resembled 'flat'.

Here are my pace times per kilometre, according to the GPS:

With 8 kilometres to go, I felt pretty good and I stepped up the pace. Again, targeting race pace of 4:52/kilometre (7:50 per mile):


As you can see, the wheels fell off of my plan. The problem was a combination of the heat and the hills -- probably in equal proportions.

You can see the elevation chart here:

The last 8km was a net 50 m uphill, but with lots of ups and downs in between. Pretty good Boston-type training terrain, if you ask me!

Oh, and I forgot to mention. I took a break with 4 km to go in a shady spot for about 2 minutes. And then with 2 km to go, I took about a 5 minute break -- maybe longer (I had to try to puke, which took a bit of time). I just got to the bottom of the last long hill and couldn't face it at that pace.

So, two crappy runs in a row this week! One saving grace is that when I was training during the summer back in 2007, I was running into the same heat related issues. I can't wait until the nicer (read:cooler) weather arrives!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tough Tempo Run

I did my tempo run this evening again with the Runner's Choice Marathon Training Group in London. Coach Brian suggested a 9 mile (14.4 km) tempo run -- just like last week -- with the second half of the run at better-than-race pace. We targeted an 8:15/mile (5:07/km) pace going out, and then we were looking for a 7:30/mile (4:40/km) pace coming back. Coach Brian would pace me and fellow runner Berne Leforte was going to join us for as long as he could. Well, that's how it started.

It was a warm night and it is well documented in text and video that I don't react well in the heat. The run out to the turnaround point was fine. But when we stated back, the internal temperature started to rise and with about 1.5 miles to go (i.e. only 3 miles into the fast part of the run), I had to walk. Bernie had lots of energy though, and kept on truckin'. Brian and I eventually picked up a jog, and then for the last mile back, we picked it back up to something resembling tempo pace.

About the only saving grace was that lots of other runners were having similar issues. And, as Brian said, if you hit all of your goal times, you probably didn't set the goal high enough. Well, clearly the 3:25 marathon goal time is high enough!

Here were my times going out (target 5:07/km) according to my GPS:

5:12 (400 m.)

And here are the times coming back (target 4:40/km):

5:59 (walked)
5:02 (jogging)
4:29 (400 m., back running again)

The average time was 5:00 per km. -- the same pace as I did in Boston last year. This was just 1/3 the distance, but between the heat and the hills on the way back, I simply couldn't do it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Steeper ladder...

Tonight I joined the Runners Choice's Marathon Training program at TD Waterhouse Stadium at the UWO. The legendary John Ferguson was running a 'ladder' -- speed work repeats at distances of 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800 and 400 metres with a 2 minute jog/rest break in between repeats. The goal is to pick a pace that you can achieve at all of these distances. Coach Brian and I chatted about it and figured a 7:20/mile pace (1:50/400m) would be a good starting point.

But I quickly figured out that our target pace was a bit too slow. So I ramped it up just a bit to a 7:00/mile pace or 1:45/400m. My repeats were as follows:

400m: 1:37
800m: 3:27
1200m: 5:12
1600m: 7:00
1200m: 5:16
800m: 3:30
400m: 1:26

So as you can see, my 400m laps were rather fast, but my target pace of 1:45/400m was pretty much bang-on for the other repeats. And it felt good to leave it all out there on that last lap!

For the next ladder, though, I think I'll target around 1:40/400m which will stress me a bit more.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Exeter Trail Run - 8k Race...

We did the annual 8k trail run in Exeter today, as part of the legendary John Ferguson's marathon training program.

I've done this race several times before, logging finish times of 38:31 (2006), 35:59 (2007) and 36:24 (2009). So my goal going into this one was to beat 36 minutes again (4:30/k). I confess, though, that as I started into the run I had my doubts. I could still feel the effect on my legs from my 9 mile tempo run 2 days prior -- or perhaps it was the horse trials in which I participated yesterday.

Anyhow, I 'went for it' and my split times were respectible:


My finish time was 36:54 -- so not bad, but not great.

Not sure what to make of it. Coach Brian said we were both about a minute off our ideal times to predict a marathon finish where we'd like it to be -- and one could definitely attribute that difference to the fact that the trail was quite hilly.

So, we'll leave it as 'It is what it is'. Next year I hope to be working harder on my short distance times, so maybe that will be the year I set a new PR on this course!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tempo Run - 9 miles (14k) including 4.5 miles at tempo pace

Coach Brian suggested an 8 to 9 mile tempo run this week so I picked something close to 9 miles -- 14 kilometres (about 400 m. short of 9 miles). As usual, I did the first half at 'long run' pace (5:20/k or 8:35/mile) and then stepped it up to something better than race pace for the second half. I was targeting 4:40/k or 7:30/mile.

Race pace for me is 7:30/mile or 4:52 per kilometre, which would have me travel 26.2 miles in 3:25:14.

It was first thing in the morning when I took off from the house -- roughly 6:25 am -- and the sun was just coming up. The temperature was comfortable -- about 20 degrees C. -- and there was just a light breeze.

My first 7 kilometres went like this:

(Average 5:15/k , 8:27/mile)

Then the tempo pace klicks went like this:
(Average 4:40/k, 7:30/mile)

As you can see, I had trouble getting the pace at the start, despite the fact that I was running on a slight downhill grade. And I wanted to walk a gazillion times. But as I got closer to the finish, I focused on my form and 'getting through it'. The last kilometer was on a slight uphill grade on a gravel road, so hitting a 4:31 pace (7:17/mile) wasn't bad.

Total time was 1:09:25

I weighed myself this morning after the run and I was just under 180 lbs. for the first time in the training. So if I can keep this weight or better, I should be in fine form for November!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Speed Work - 5 x 1000 m

Deja vu all over again? Yes I did five 1 kilometre repeats 2 weeks ago as our first speed work session. The original plan was to do six repeats, but the weather is really muggy today so Coach Brian emailed me to tell me to tone it down to just 5 repeats at 4:15-ish per k, with a 2 minute rest between laps.

After the first repeat, I thought 'Hey, this is going to be a breeze.' but by the time I was done the third repeat, I was starting to wish I was dead. The air was positively thick.

One thing I learned though is that if I concentrate on keeping head high to keep my airway as open as possible, I seemed to get a bit more oxygen into the system and I didn't seem to fatigue as quickly. Maybe its all in my head, but it seemed to make a difference.

Because I was only doing 5 repeats, I decided to step it up for the last one. Here were my times this morning:

Kilometre 1: 4:15
Kilometre 2: 4:15
Kilometre 3: 4:11
Kilometre 4: 4:12
Kilometre 5: 4:01

for an average of 4:11 per kilometre. And while I was definitely tired after each lap, I felt strong -- certainly much stronger than 2 weeks ago. And my average pace was 2 seconds faster than 2 weeks ago, so it is possible that I'm already gaining endurance and muscle.

My weight was right around 182 lbs after the run. Its been stable within a range of about 181 at the low end to 187 at the high end.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Long Run - 14 miles...

Okay, 14 miles isn't _that_ long in the grand scheme of things. But we did 19 miles last week, so this was a step back a bit in terms of mileage -- but not in effort. Brian wanted me to put in 6 miles at marathon pace (4:52/k, 7:50/mile) -- but I thought it was supposed to be 4:50/k so I was a tad fast in my goal pace.

A couple of kilometres into the 'long run pace' part of the run, Rishi Kumar caught up with me and we ran together to the 7 mile turn around point, and then he joined me for the first 2.5 miles back towards downtown London. Rishi is training for the Chicago Marathon and is hoping to do a 3:44. Based on his pace today, he'll have no problem!

After I left Rishi, I was on my own for a couple of miles, but Brian caught me with just shy of 2 miles to go. That was very helpful, since I was starting to lose focus. Overall, my 6 miles (9.6 k) of 'tempo pace' times were:


with an average of 4:47.3 per kilometre (7:42/mile) -- enough to get me across the finish in 3:22 if I were to keep it up for 26.2 miles.

So, it was a good run. Brian, Arnie and I went to Ritchies Family Restaurant at Fanshawe Park Road and Richmond Street for breakfast to celebrate. Wonderful having Eggs Benedict with a Coors Light after a successful run!