Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 20 - Tempo Run - 9 Miles

The Legendary John Ferguson's training plan called for a 9 mile tempo run tonight for the group training for Traverse City at the end of May. But my target marathon is Boston 6 weeks prior. And 3 weeks out from Traverse City, the group is scheduled to run 7 miles. So what should I run today? Well, not knowing any better, I chose the 9 mile run. Johnny's chart called for the tempo run "out" pace to be between 8:31 and 9:01, and the tempo run "back" pace to be 7:17 to 7:36 if you are targeting a 3:30 marathon. Here are my splits:

8:24 (1/2 mile)
Break - had a half a 12 oz. Coke
7:23 (long downhill)
7:23 (included valley on William St.)
7:28 (1/2 mile into the wind)

Looking back, this the best tempo run I've had since October 25, 2011 when I pulled of "tempo pace" of 4:31. Tonight was 4:36, and its possible I could have stepped it up earlier. That's 98% of October 25 2011 pace -- so I'm definitely encouraged! And if I were to keep it up for 6 miles instead of 4.5K, that would be a 46 minute 10k.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 19 - Easy Run (4 miles)

Brian and I went out for an easy run today. No particular pace, and with the idea that we could carry on a conversation while we ran. Here are our splits:

8:37/mile pace (1 km)
8:25/mile pace (1 km)
8:21/mile pace (1 km)
8:34/mile pace (1 km)
9:06/mile pace (1 km)
8:27/mile pace (1 km)
8:00/mile pace (0.44 km)

So, 6.44 km = 4 miles -- total time, 34:16 (8:33/mile pace).

It wasn't a particularly pleasant day -- a brisk wind from the north -- so we rewarded our heartiness with a couple of fine beers from Brian's fridge!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 19 - Speed Work (7 miles)

Because we ran Around the Bay 30K just a couple of days prior, John had us do a different (but no less effective) speed work session tonight. He wanted 20 minutes at an easy pace, 15 minutes at a medium pace (turning back home after 10 minutes), 10 minutes at a fast pace, and then 15 minutes at an easy pace to cool down. Because we'd just run Around the Bay, my GPS was still set to kilometeres, so here are my K splits:

4:35 (135 m.)
6:23 (653 m.)

I wasn't looking at my GPS for paces -- I was just going by how I felt, only using the GPS to track my progress later and to tell the time at which I should switch gears. So it was interesting that my "medium" pace was actually my marathon pace.

It was a really good workout. Jenny and Tori each took part as well and did the full hour-long workout. So we went back to the Honest Lawyer and quaffed a few ales (okay, I did) to celebrate the good workout!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 19 - Around The Bay Road Race - 30K

I did the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton today. I really had no idea what I could do, so I targeted my (former) marathon pace of 5 minutes per kilometer which would take me into the end of a marathon at 3:30 and the end of the 30K race at 2 hours 30 minutes. But I knew that my time was unlikely to hold up into the hills in Burlington, so I would be very pleased with a 2:35 finish and happy with anything under 2:40. Here are my kilometre splits:

4:50 10k (49:13 on GPS, 49:27 on the timing mat)
5:03 15k (1:14:12 on GPS, 1:14:32 on the timing mat)
5:17 20k (1:40:08 on GPS, 1:40:35 on the timing mat)
3:33 pace (227 m.) (2:38:40 on the timing mat)

As you can see, I was on a pretty good pace for the first 20 kilometres. But, as predicted, once I hit the hills in Burlington, I ran into significant problems. A lot of the issues stemmed from the heat -- yes, that's right, the HEAT in March. It was getting into 14 or 15 degrees by 11 am, and after 20K I was starting to get pretty warm. The other issue, of course, was my right hamstring, which had very little strength as compared to the left hamstring, and make hills painful and slow. One bright note was that I discovered that if I pushed off with my left (good) leg up the hills, I could make better time than if I looked for a consistent stride between both legs. So while it looked like I was hobbling, I was in fact making half-decent time in comparison.

Note that my pace picked up after the hills so it actually wasn't terrible for the last 2.2 kilometres.

Note for future reference: One issue I had during training was lack of food energy, so Jenny and I made it ia missue to literally stuff myself before this race. It worked out pretty well. I had a large half-decaf coffee, a plain bagel with salmon cream cheese, a butter tart, a small bowl of mini-wheats, a half container of yogurt and granola from Loblaws, and a banana a half hour before gun time. On the course, Jenny gave me a small bottle of Coke at 18K, which really helped, plus a baggie full of fruit (pineapple was the best!).

So now the question is, 'What to do in Boston?' Well, I think we're going to try a similar strategy. Boston starts with significant downhill and flat for the first half of the course. So if I can hold my target marathon pace up until the Newton Hills -- but then hobbling up each of them and stretching out after each -- I may be able to pull off a respectible time. At this point, I'm thinking 3:45 may be do-able.

There are still 3 weeks of training to go, though -- so anything can happen. And if it is a warm day, all bets are off. I'll be just running to finish!

PS: While all sorts of Runners Choice runners had incredible times today, my buddy, vet and personal coach Brian Watson ran Around the Bay in less than 2 hours (1:59:09 to be exact), thereby qualifying for the gold medal. He had a well-deserved perma-smile on his face all day and when I saw him on Wednesday, it hadn't faded!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 19 - Easy Run - 6 miles...

Tonight was the 18th Annual Johnny Gaskin run, leaving from Under the Volcano in London. Jenny and I did the 6 mile (roughly) route at a pleasant "conversational" pace. Here are our splits:


for an average pace of 8:51.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 18 - Easy Run - 5 miles...

Jenny and Brian and I went out for an easy run today. It was warm -- 22-ish degrees -- but just a bit of a headwind from the south. Here are our splits:


Because it was so warm, we made sure to re-carb generously after the run!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 18 - Speed work - First 1 mile repeats x 4

Well, I'm back in the saddle again, as it were. Taking 4 days off of running was exactly what I needed. Tonight, Johnny had us doing mile repeats at the indoor track at Thompson Arena, with a 2 loop (400 m.) rest break in between. His chart had us at between 7:07 and 7:17 per mile to be in the range for a 3:30 marathon. Here are my splits:

3:04 (rest)
3:17 (rest)
3:16 (rest)

I ran with Glen Keogan and it worked well. I'd set the pace for the first 5 laps of each repeat, and he'd take over for the last 3, allowing him to stretch it out a bit -- so his times were a couple of seconds ahead of mine.

Looking back at the speed work last summer, I was banging off better-than-7 minute miles x 7+ repetitions, so (again), there is no question I'm not recovered. But, I'm getting closer. On Sept 13, 2011, I averaged 6:55 per mile. Tonight I averaged 7:09 per mile. That 96.7% of my September speed. So we're getting there.

I know that I'm only as fast as my weakest hamstring.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 18 - Tempo Run - Pulled the Plug Halfway

I was to do a 12 mile tempo run today -- 6 miles out at long run pace, and 6 miles back at tempo (faster than marathon) pace. I only got the first part.

It was hot out -- for March or any time. It was about 22 degrees in the shade, but with the sun it was likely around 26 or 27 degrees. By the time I made it 6 miles, I was overheating in a serious way. I called Jenny from Clarke's to come pick me up. Here are my splits for the 6 miles I actually completed (I was looking for 8:30/mile):


Overall, I took 50:34 to run 6 miles -- an average pace of 5:15/kilometre (8:25/mile). I was supposed to step it up to 7:31/mile on the way back, but there was no way that was going to happen. I could really feel my right hamstring after that first mile into the wind, so pulling the plug at 6 miles wasn't a terrible decision.

I decided there that I would not run this weekend -- no easy Friday run, no long run on Sunday. It was time to give my body a break.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 17 - Easy Run

Today was just an easy 5 miler around the block at our house. Jenny joined Brian and me and kept us to a civil pace. There was a brisk wind from the southeast, but we battled through it. Here are our splits:

5:15/k pace for 374 m.

We all felt good after the run and celbrated our feeling good-ness with beer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 17 - Speedwork ladder down (6 miles)

Tonight we did speed work at Thompson Arena in London, starting with 8 laps (1 mile) and then lowering each repetition by 1 lap (200 m.) until down to 4 laps (1/2 mile). 200 m. (roughly 2 minutes) rest in between repeats. Here are my splits:

8 laps: 7:01 (53 seconds per lap)
7 laps: 6:11 (53 seconds per lap)
6 laps: 5:28 (55 seconds per lap)
5 laps: 4:33 (55 seconds per lap)
4 laps: 3:37 (54 seconds per lap)

Surprisingly consistent. But I was just barely holding it together at the finish. A good workout!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 17 - 26.3 Mile Long Run...

Today was to be the longest long run of the training session, so I was anxious to get it over with. But as it turned out, it wasn't to go particularly smoothly.

It started out great. We did our "Boston Breakfast Club" 4 miler shortly after 7 AM and we all chatted easily about various runs, Boston, etc. Here were our splits:


We went back, and because the weather was forecast to warm up over the course of the day, I switched out of my long running tights and into some shorts. Definitely a good move. While the temp started at roughly 1 degree C, by the end of the run it was up to 8 degrees or so -- definitely shorts weather. I also had on a long sleeved running shirt with a pinney over top, and my orange "Boston" jacket.

My goal for this run was simply to get through it, ideally within the range that the legendary John Ferguson had laid out in his pace plan for a 3:30 marathon: 8:31 to 9:31. I'd be fine with anything in that range. Here were my splits for the next 18 miles:


But then the wheels fell off my run. With 3.5 miles to go, we stopped at a water stop, and I started puking. Except there was nothing to puke. It definitely wasn't pleasant. I told the others to go ahead -- I'd either catch a ride back with the water-stop folks, or I'd walk-run back to Goodlife Fitness. Christine Dirks asked what I would do with a horse if it was looking like I did -- would I make it run/walk back? No, I guess not. So I hung tight with the water-stop boys.

But then I realized that my heart was racing. I've had a condition since I was about 7 years old called Wolfe-Parkinson-White syndrome -- a catch-all syndrome category that describes a heart that starts to race for no apparent reason. Now, I had just run 22.5 miles, so that might be a good reason for a heart to go fast. But after 5 minutes or so, it should be down to a much lower rate -- and mine wasn't slowing at all.

After 20 minutes or so, I was back at Goodlife and they had one of those blood pressure monitor workstations, so I stuck my arm in there and pressed the button. The results (and this is at least 20 minutes after I'd stopped running): pulse 136, blood pressure 90 over 70. The "70" was no problem, but the other number is typically around 113 to 120. And by now, my pulse should have been in the 80s, max.

I got cleaned up at Goodlife -- and all the while my heart was still racing. I made my way to the Ale House -- a restaurant on Dundas Street where a bunch of us runners would typically meet for breakfast after our long run. I explained to the boys there what my heart was doing -- and I think they were genuinely a bit concerned that I was going to keel over. But here's the weird thing: Once I got some Guinness and food into me, my heart stopped racing -- within about 5 minutes of getting my meal. And it didn't start racing again for the rest of the day.

I made my way home and had a good 2 hour nap. Refreshed, Jenny and I went for a short run so that I could get my full 26 miles in -- 26.3, actually. But this time I wore the heartrate monitor for my Garmin 405CX: Here are our splits:

10:14 (included a walk to see if the heartrate monitor would go down -- it did).

Overall, my average pace was 9:07 -- so well within the range that Johnny had set out for us. And my pulse was in the low 140s for those last 4 miles. Quite acceptable.

What caused me to puke and for my heart to race for roughly an hour? I'm not sure. Could have been a number of things: I've been battling a cold for about 4 weeks -- although, other than a mildly sore throat, a bit of coughing at night, and continual drainage from my sinuses, I was feeling fine. I'm quite sure I didn't get enough food during the run. While I had a large bowl of Mini-Wheats for breakfast and a Mars bar and coffee on the way to London, there was nothing left in my stomache by 11 AM. I'd eaten some Pringles potato chips during the run in order to get some salt, but clearly not enough. Or its possible that the racing heart was occuring while I was running and that I just didn't notice -- but then that set off a chain reaction where I didn't get enough oxygen and started puking. Or maybe a combination of everything.

Anyhow, I'm going to have to re-evaluate everything -- from my race pace, to my carb intake, to whether I should have the racing heart "ablated" (which deadens the nerve that causes the heart to race).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 17 - 6 Mile Pace Run into Lucan

Today, the wind was howling from the west at roughly 35 km/h. So an out-and-back "pace" run (at marathon pace) wasn't going to work. Plus it was really cold -- -1 degrees C., but it felt much colder if you were getting any part of the wind in your face.

The chart said to do an 8 mile pace run with a mile of warmup and cooldown included -- so 6 miles at pace. I decided, because of the less-than-hospitible weather, to just do the 6 pace miles. And I'd leave from home and go East with the wind at my back. Here are my splits (targeting 8 min/mile, but with the wind at my back for the first 3.5 miles:


The average pace was 7:54 and the total time was 47:27.

So I was reasonably pleased with these times. A couple of the first miles were generally uphill (a 200 ft. overall increase in elevation) so despite having the wind behind me, it was no cakewalk.

But because I didn't do a long run (hockey tournament), I just had 26 miles in the books for this week.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 17 - 10 Mile Tempo Run

17 weeks since the hamstring rupture -- almost 1/3 of a year. I'm getting stronger -- but still have a ways to go. Today the goal was another 10 mile tempo run, but this time with an 8:31 pace out, and a 7:31 pace back. But there was a stiff wind from the northwest, so I knew the run back would be challenging (and I was right). Here are my splits:

7:46 (pace 1/2 mile)
9:11 (pace 1/2 mile)

There was no way I could keep the fast pace into the wind for that last mile and a half. My right hamstring was feeling the pressure just after the 2nd mile.

Overall, my pace was 8:20 per mile. My 'tempo' pace was 7:40/mile (assuming that last half mile was a full mile) -- so a bit better than 6 miles x 7:44 on March 1. And if the wind hadn't been such a factor, I'm sure I could have done even better than that -- and for the full 5 miles.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 16 - Easy Run - 5 Miles...

Tonight I just did a 5 mile easy run. The wind was howling from the south, so I ran north and had Jenny come and pick me up. Here are my splits:


My average pace was 8:13. It felt good. A very easy pace. And although the wind was at my back, the terrain was rolling hills.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 16 - Speed work: 5 x 1 km Repeats

Tonight, Johnny had us doing 1 km repeats around the indoor track at Western. So 5 x 200 m. laps, then a 200 m. break, repeat. He wanted us to do up to 6 repeats -- and as I started, that was definitely my goal. But between taking some medication for (yet another) chest cold and being worn-out from 5 hockey games over the previous 3 days, I don't think it was meant to be. Here are my splits:


I took a 2-lap break between the 4th and 5th repeat -- I was tempted to quit a 4, but Johnny encouraged me to get that extra lap in. My average was 4:20.4 per kilometre, and I had nothing left.

Looking back to Tuesday, August 16, 2011 repeats, I averaged 4:09 for 7 x 1 KM runs in Gibbons Park -- and a bunch of them were at a 4 minute to 4:06 pace (average 4:05 for the first 5 repeats). So, clearly, I'm still not back to 100% But as I started to fade during that run, my times were similar to my "fade" times tonight (4:21, 4:18).

Taking those first 5 kilometres of August 16 and comparing them to tonight, I'm at 94% of my 2011 speed. So, not bad, but still not there.

I'll just keep plugging away!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 16 - 8 Mile Pace Run...

For the second Friday in a row, I tried to get in a "pace" run. And for the second Friday in a row, the winds were howling. Today, they were from the southeast -- 30 km/h gusting to 41 km/h. So my last couple of miles into the wind were very tough (and very slow). Here are my splits:


You can tell how tough the wind was by the fact that my last "pace" mile into the wind was 9:30, but when I turned the corner and headed north with the wind (somewhat) at my back, my pace improved to 8:51 -- and that was my "cool-down" pace!

Total miles for this week: 48.5.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hamstring Treatment - Week 16 - 12 Mile Tempo Run...

Today, the schedule called for a 12 mile tempo run. I really didn't want to do it. It has been a long week, I've done something physical -- running, hockey, riding -- at least once per day (usually both running and riding) -- and its starting to wear me down. But I knew I'd be grumpy with myself if I bailed on this run, so I sucked it up and headed out. My initial goal was to do 8:45's for the first 6 miles, have a break at Clarke's Variety in Lucan, and then do 7:55's or better for the 6 miles home. But once I got out on the road, I stepped up my goal to 8:30s and 7:50s. Here are my splits:

Break - had a half a 12 oz. Coke

I really pushed it for that last mile. It was getting dark, so I couldn't see my time very easily. But I wanted to make sure I got the most out of the run -- and my hamstring still felt good.

So, my "tempo" average was 7:44. The overall average was 8:07 -- so I guess that's my new "marathon" pace (at least for now).

Looking at John Ferguson, the Legend's marathon training pace chart, my tempo run pace should be 8:31 to 9:01 for the run out (so far, so good) and 7:17 to 7:36 for the run back. So, I'm just on the edge of where I need to be for the run back. But I think next week I can go for it and aim for a 7:30 pace.

In summary, though, again its been an excellent week!