Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Speed work: 9 miles attempted, 2 miles completed: Courting injury!

Tonight, we were scheduled to do 9 1-mile repeats with a 2:30 break between each repeat. But even during the warm-up, I knew it wouldn't go well.

My first repeat I thought I'd try just hitting a 7:30 mile, which should be easy. But 7:37 was all I could manage without hurting in my left hip / IT band. The next mile was no better: 7:37. So I pulled the plug on the run. Jenny, Coach John and Brian all agreed (and were surprised) with the decision.

For the next couple of days, the plan would be lots of stretches, 15 minutes per day on the foam roller, and ibuprofen whenever there was any pain, in order to reduce the inflammation.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ragnar Adirondacks 197 Mile Relay

This weekend, our relay team -- The Geezer Guys -- ran in the Ragnar Adirondacks race. The race took us from Saratoga Springs NY to Lake Placid NY -- along the prettiest fall countryside you can imagine.

If you've never done a long distance relay race before, they are a blast. This is my third "Ragnar", but I've also done 2 Shore-to-Shore relays, and 2 Simcoe Shores relays. Relays turn what is otherwise an individual sport into a team sport. It takes good organization as well as good runners to do well.

We had a tough time trying to get a full team of twelve runners who were all 50 or over. We "rounded up" in order to get Dave Ladouceur to join (his birthday is in a month). A variety of issues -- mostly related to running injuries -- kept a number of our runners from joining us, so we ran with eleven runners:

Van Uno:

"Captain" Bob Weir
"Iron" Mike Blencowe
"Ripper" Bob Ripley
"Rotten" John Ferguson
"Gezwind" Nick Groot
"Easy" Gord Ball,

Van Doo:
"Wheezer" Arney Spivey
"Smurf" Brian Murphy
"Rambo" Dave Bico
"The Duke" Dave Ladouceur
"Stallion" Bruce Lamb

Brian Murphy wasn't sure if he'd be able to run after he pulled a muscle in his calf. We'd have to wait to know if we were running with 10 or 11 runners.

The average age of our team was 57.3 years young.

Dave Korell at New Balance was kind enough to provide the team technical shirts, which we all agreed were the best Geezer shirts yet.

Our start time was 9:30 on the Friday morning. If all went perfectly (which we weren't expecting), we'd be across the line by 11:02 AM on Saturday morning.

My first leg was to start at 4:20 PM -- but Wheezer Geezer was wheezing due to a severe asthma attack -- 1.5 miles into his run, so we pulled him from the race and, as per the rules, I took off to complete the remaining 3 miles of his leg. And then I continued on to do my 6.3 mile leg. All told, I ran 14.66 K in 1:15:28 for an average pace of 5:09/k. There weren't a ton of hills (net climb of 195 ft.) -- but this run was in the heat of the day (24 degrees and sunny -- was supposed to feel like 91 F.) -- so I was pretty happy with this pace. Captain Geezer had me in the "bible" at an 8:10/mile pace (5:04 per kilometre), so I was pretty close to what was expected. I "Geezered" (passed) 23 other runners during those two legs.

My second leg started at 1:55 AM. It was nice and cool -- about 8 degrees C., I'm guessing -- which is perfect running weather for me. But this time, there were hills. Lots of hills. I started by going downhill 150' within the first half mile, but then climbing 400' over the next two miles. And then back down 400' over the next 1.5 miles. Then up 150'. Then down. Then up. Then down. With a half mile to go, I had to walk -- my hips were sore and it was very steep -- but then I picked up a run again to finish (relatively strongly). Overall, I ran 13.31 kilometres in 1:06:58 for an average pace of 5:02/k. I passed 4 other runners (net) during this leg, and considering the hills, I was very pleased!

My last leg was back in the heat of the day (10:19 AM) and, yet again, more hills. At least it was a shorter run of 4.8 miles. But it seemed to be all uphill! In fact, though, I climbed 225' over the last 1.5 miles of the run -- and I had to walk a couple of times. There was a runner about a hundred feet ahead of me for almost the entire run and when I walked, he didn't actually get much further ahead of me. I passed two other runners (net) during this run. My time over the 7.63 kilometre course was 39.35 or 5:11/k.

For the first two legs, our van was able to provide me with excellent support, which kept me going. Because these runs were relatively short, I didn't need food until I got back to the van and just had water every mile or two. Back in the van, I was able to get something into my stomach with CLIF Bloks and CLIF protein bars.

During our time in the van, the boys chatted about "Wino" Geezer, Lawrence Trickey, who couldn't join us this time, but who had these sage words of running wisdom:

Never compromise form!
Never miss an opportunity!
Leave your blood on the road!

And this word of encouragement by email when we were getting ready to depart London:

Run 'til the blisters, blister!

The first one became our mantra. As I was tiring at the end of the run, I would repeat "Never compromise form!" and make sure I was doing all the things to get the most out of every stride.

By the end of the event, Van Doo had "Geezered" 112 other runners (net) and we finished in 27 hours and 4 minutes -- 91 minutes slower than we had projected. Our average pace overall was 8:14 per mile. The masters team that beat us did 8:10 per mile. We were 30th out of 329 registered teams, 295 of which were able to finish it.

The After Party:

After we crossed the finish line and got quite a few photos, we made our way to the beer tent. And did we ever party! Chugging contests with other teams, singing of O Canada twice, lots of boisterousness, and at the end (4 hours and several hundred dollars of beers later), doing shirt swaps with members of other teams. None of us went back to the hotel with our much coveted Geezer Guys shirts that had been gratefully donated by New Balance. (Wheezer and Ripper stayed sober so that we could get the vans back.).

By 10 PM, we were all bagged. Most of us had just an hour or two of sleep -- if that -- over the prior 40 hours. We all slept soundly.

The next day, we toured around the picturesque town of Lake Placid. We did some bobsled runs (with the sleds on wheels) at the olympic bobsled park, we went up to the top of the ski jumping tower, went to the oval skating track and hockey rinks, and sampled some local craft brews. And we were recognized by all sorts of folks who'd been in the beer tent with us. We were sort-of celebrities.

Tips for Next Ragnar:

We're getting pretty good at this. The vans were well-organized. Everyone was watching out for everyone else to make sure we kept on track. A member of each van kept touch with each other via text messages so that we knew how long each runner was taking, so that we could gauge when we'd be doing the hand-off to the next van. (There was one close call where Van Uno misjudged the time we'd be coming in. When Van Doo showed up, everyone in Van Uno was asleep! Everyone went into action quickly and we solved it and the mishap only cost us 10 seconds!). Little things like having a large container of Huggies Baby Wipes (big thick disposable cloths) to allow us to wash down afterwards were great. We had large plastic Canadian flags left over from the Canada Day run, and we hung one of those out the back of the van like a cape. It made it much easier to see our van from afar, especially at night if the lights were on in the van. On any runs where the route had several turns, the runners ran with a map so that we could refer to it if we got lost. So there were just a couple of things that I'd do differently:

1) In the case of an injured runner, don't have the fill-in runner do back-to-back runs. Even a half hour rest can make that second leg a lot faster.

2) Order double the number of shirts. We did the shirt swap, so we lost our much-coveted Geezer Guys shirts from New Balance, which were quite nice!

3) I should have brought my helmetCam -- not for the runs, but for the bobsled adventure afterwards!

4) Trying to take photos of the slap-bracelet (baton) hand-offs with my phone was useless. Video or a real instant shot camera would have been much better. (The smart phone takes a second or two to focus -- and by that time the runner is gone!)

In summary, the race was challenging, the team was awesome, and we all had tons of fun! Best. Ragnar. Ever.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Speed Work - 8 x 1 mile repeats on a cool night...

I always get nervous before the start of speed work. I have selected my target pace and I then get apprehensive about whether or not I can meet that goal over the full distance. I typically settle in by the time I'm through the first 100 m. of the run, and tonight was no different. But that didn't mean that the last two miles weren't tough. In fact, I was ready to quit after my seventh repeat, but Jen Vording kept me strong. In the car on the way down to TD Stadium, I was thinking anything better than 7 minute miles would be good. On the track as we were about to start, I said 6:56. Here are my splits:


My average was 6:54.37, so in that respect I was in the range of where I wanted to be. But after the 3 fast repeats, I was pretty sure I had to slow the pace a bit or I wouldn't be able to hold it together. I consciously targeted 6:56 and for those next two laps I ended up within a second of that goal. Surprisingly a bit faster on the 6th lap, but then after the cool-down for that lap I told coach John that I was struggling. He suggested just doing one more lap so that I didn't hurt myself, but Jen Vording suggested we just slow it down a bit so we targeted a 7 minute mile which I was able to do.

For the last and crucial lap -- where you really find out what you've got -- I was struggling the whole way, but managed a 7:00.88 even still.

So, I'll chalk this one up to being a successful night. Looking back to the year I set my personal best in the marathon, my 8 x 1 mile repeats on October 19, 2010 averaged 6:54.25 per mile -- so just 0.12 seconds per lap faster than tonight, but 4 seconds faster on that last lap. Close enough.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Excellent (cool) 24 mile long run... (5:22/k = 8:35/mile)

What a difference a week makes! Today it was cool -- starting at around 7 degrees C. and going up to maybe 13 or so, but with a slight breeze. I was sweating profusely from my head and torso, but my shorts actually stayed dry. I wore my RaceReady shorts and my black singlet. Lots of folks thought I was crazy -- but by the end of the run, not so much.

We didn't push the pace. The average over the 24 miles (38.4 km) was 5:22 per K. But it felt easy the whole way and I could have easily done another couple of miles. Here are my splits:
4:55 (for 400 m.)

I carried 3 bags of 10 dried apricots, 1 Mars bar, 3 ibuprofen and 5 eTabs. I had the Mars bar and most of the apricots. I had 1 ibuprofen after 3K because my hip/butt was talking to me still -- a bit of pain left over from the Half a week ago, but much better than Thursdays' run. It was fine after the single ibuprofen. I didn't have any cola at the water stops.

I bounded through the last few kilometres. Felt great to be cool the whole way. Very happy with this run!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Run the Runway 5K - 21:05 (unofficial) Personal Best... INJURED!

Today I ran the first annual (hopefully) Run the Runway event out at Diamond Aircraft, which took us up the runway at the London International Airport. An out-and-back route, it was as flat as you could ever hope for. And while wind can be a real issue on such a wide open surface, tonight the wind sock was hanging straight down. With a temperature of around 16 degrees C., you really couldn't have asked for better topographical or weather conditions!

But there was one minor issue: My IT band that had been bothering my left buttock and causing discomfort all the way down to my knee. I'd been treating it with stretches, exercises and ibuprofen, but I was concerned that it would cause me issues during the race.

I had a half a medium dark roast Timmy's before we warmed up. Coach John, Brian Hagemeier, Ed Soldo and I all went out for a 2K warm up. I ate a Mars bar and did one quick stride-out before getting at the start line, right near the front of the crowd.

Here are my splits according to the GPS:
Total: 21:02.6

The clock said 21:05 as I crossed, so the GPS wasn't entirely accurate, which is normal. My average pace was 4:13 per kilometre.

I was super-happy with this run. As always in a race, I felt like I wanted to walk during the last kilometre. But I grit my teeth and vowed not to walk. I concentrated on keeping the best form that I could while pushing forward with every stride. And once I rounded the last corner towards the finish, I found the energy to put on one final kick. I tried to get under 21 minutes, but couldn't do it.

Everything about the race was perfect. Even my issues with my IT band weren't a problem and I don't think affected my running in any way. I'm going to continue doing my stretches and exercises to make sure I get through Ragnar and the Columbus marathon.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tempo Run - 5 Miles easy. Definitely injured.

My left hip/buttock area has been talking to me (screaming at me) for 2 days now. I definitely have something screwed up. It is a pain in my left hip/butt area that gradually has a dull ache down to my knee. We're pretty sure it is iliotibial band syndrome or IT band syndrome for short, or ITBS for shortest. Anyhow, it is very common in runners -- better than half the runners I talked to had it.

The good news is that I likely won't make it worse by running. It will just hurt. And the better news is that as I run more, it hurts less during that run. It just hurts a lot more after the run.

Anyhow for today's tempo run -- since I'm racing tomorrow night -- I just took it easy. a 5 miler (8K) out and back. Here are my splits:


5:14 average for the run. Not bad considering I was taking it easy. I was looking for 5-minute K's on the way back, which I had no problem achieving.

We went to Runner's Choice and picked up a foam roller, which everyone recommends as a poor-man's massage therapist. It does seem to work well. Plus I found lots of articles online about stretches one can do to help strengthen the IT band area. So I'm going to work on doing those stretches 3 times a day and work with the foam roller 3 times a day as well.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Speedwork - 7 x 1 mile repeats. Could be injured...

Coach John had already warned us last Thursday that for those of us who did the Springbank Half Marathon, we'd likely want to take it easier at Speed Work this week. So my plan was to do 5 1-mile repeats at roughly a 7:15 pace, and then see if I felt good enough to step it up to a 7 minute pace for the last two miles.

But as soon as we went out for our warm-up run, I wondered if there was something a bit wonky with my left hip/buttock area. It was sore and it took a bit of running for me to be able to run without a bit of pain.

So I changed my plan. I didn't want to wimp-out, but Megan Jansen and Heather Barrett were looking to do their last speed work before their marathon and half-marathon this weekend, so Jenny offered my services as a pace bunny for their 2 x 2-mile repeats. I gladly obliged. We were aiming for 8 minute miles. Here are our splits:


So the third repeat was a bit quick, but the others were pretty even.

I was feeling sufficiently limbered up by the end of those 4 miles that I continued on with some faster repeats. I started going out for a 7:20 mile and was going to pull the plug after a total of 5 repeats, but I felt so good, I kept going. And then for my seventh, repeat, I stepped it up even further:


It is the last couple that usually tell the tale of how fit one is, so I was happy that, two days after running a tough Half, I was able to turn in this performance.

However, by the time it was all said and done, my hip/buttock was still hurting and continued to nag at me. So it is possible I have a bit of ITBS or hip bursitis. I'm going to take it easy and blast it with ibuprofen for the next couple of days. I may bail on my tempo run on Thursday, but I'm registered for a 5k race on Friday. We'll see if I'm feeling better by then.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Springbank Half Marathon - Half Decent Time (1:41:56) but walked A LOT.

By all accounts, this should have been a great half marathon. Still, I was just hoping for something close to my personal best in this race -- 1:41:23 (http://blog.brucelamb.com/2010/09/2010-springbank-half-marathon-good-race.html) back in 2010.

The route started at the cottage near Commissioners Road and took us around the loop 1.5 times before heading up the trail system into Harris Park before it turned around. http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3368072

I was ultimately hoping for a 1:40 Half in my optimistic case. Something close to my PB in this race (1:41:23) for my mid-range goal, and something faster than I did in the spring in Toledo (1:44:56) for my "holding it together" goal. Anyhow, I started out looking for a 4:44 per kilometre pace which would put me across in 1:40. And I was hoping that if I could get to the turn-around point in Harris Park, I should be able to keep the pace going downhill all the way back.

So the first part of the plan went well. I got through the first 12 kilometres to the turn around without significant problem, despite the fact that it was gradually uphill pretty much the entire way. Here are my splits until the turn-around:

4:29 (downhill)
4:32 (downhill)
4:39 (uphill)
4:33 (downhill)
4:39 (uphill)
4:38 (gradual uphill)
4:44 (gradual uphill)
4:36 (flat on average)
4:38 (gradual uphill)
4:35 (gradual uphill - Terry Fox Parkway)
4:37 (hilly up and down)
4:43 (hilly up and down)

So my time until the turn around was excellent. Aiming for 4:44 on average and I only had two kilometres in the 4:44 range -- even though I was consciously trying to keep it slow. But at the turn-around, the strategy started to unravel. My next kilometre out of Harris Park was slow -- and I was already considering that I might have to take a walk break. But instead, I toughed it out and just decided I'd slow the pace and take it easier. Here are my next splits after the turn-around:

4:55 (hilly up and down)
4:47 (gradual downhill - Terry Fox Parkway)
4:46 (gradual downhill)

And at that point I lost the mental toughness that I know I'll need to get through the marathon. I was struggling -- possibly overheating -- but my legs were telling me they needed a break. So at the water stop before the 16K mark, I actually stopped and took in some water, and then carried on.

4:53 (pace for 570 m.)
4:50 (flat on average)

So the strategy seemed to work -- a bit. I felt stronger when I took off, but was still struggling up any minor hills, like the little one around Wonderland Gardens. And after that little hill, I had to take another break -- this time just walking:

5:20 (pace for 140 m. -- 0:46)

But, again, I picked up the pace and it wasn't awful. From there on, it was walk run to get to the finish.

4:47 (gradual downhill)
5:06 (pace for 370 m.)
4:40 (pace for 800 m. up the dam hill)
4:36 (pace for 820 m.)
4:43 (for 320 m.)
4:30 (pace for 840 m.)

I was able to kick it up a notch once I saw the finish line and came across strongly in under 1:42 -- but that was about the only thing I was able to salvage from the run.

Jenny came in at just over 1:45 -- which is 3 minutes off her personal best - she found the hills tough as well. Bernie LeForte and Anne Hughes both set personal bests by a wide margin though (5 minutes!).

So it was both a disappointing run for me, and a run that gives me hope for the marathon. Certainly disappointing that I had to walk so much. But when I wasn't walking, my pace was pretty comfortable, despite the hilly course. And my time wasn't awful -- just not as good as I would have liked, especially considering how well training has been going.

Looking at all the times I stopped or walked, if I had been able to keep going, I could have taken 4:34 off my finish time -- 1:37:22. But that wasn't going to happen. What I could have done, though, is sucked it up in the last 2 kilometres. If I hadn't walked during that last 10 minutes, I would have taken 2:20 off my time giving me a personal best and hitting my goal time.

An interesting observation is that when I weighed myself in the morning when I got up, I was 186 lbs. (above my target weight of 181). When I got back from the run, I was at 186 as well -- but I'd consumed water along the course plus 6 or maybe 7 cans of soft drinks and lemonade. That is a lot of fluid that I lost. So maybe the heat was taking its toll and I didn't know it. It was only 19 degrees when we were done the race -- but I'm sure the bright sunshine made it feel more like 25 degrees or more.

A good benchmark for a full marathon is to take your Half time, double it, and add 10 minutes -- although I've never seen that math work for me. But if that match works, I'd be at 3:34 marathon, which is 6 minutes slower than I really should have if I want to qualify for Boston. So I'm going to have to figure this out. There are 6 more weeks until the marathon so I have 3 more weeks of hard training before I start to taper. I think I have to want the good finish time more. I didn't want it enough today. I have to fight the urge to walk. But it would be just so much better if I didn't get that urge to begin with.

My strategy for Columbus may be to get 2 minutes "in the bank" under a 3:30 finish time and then coast at 5 minute K's until the finish. Something worth considering.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Easy Tempo Run - 10.65K with last 2 miles at Half Marathon Pace

Because of the Springbank Half Marathon on Sunday, Coach John wanted us to just take it easy on our tempo run tonight. The goal was to go our easy on a 6 mile (total) run, and then turn it up to Half pace for the last 1.75 miles (at the tunnel). Here are my splits:

4:52 (pace for 340 m.)
4:23 (pace for 310 m.)

The average pace was exactly 5:00 per K -- and I felt comfortable the entire way. We were carrying on a conversation the way down to the turn around, and I felt good on the way back. A successful run!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mile Repeats - 6 x 1 mile at TD Stadium on a nice night...

When we did our warm-up run, my legs actually felt wobbly at the end, and I was drenched in sweat. So I really wasn't sure how the night was going to go. But when we finally got into the run, I relaxed into it and actually felt pretty good. I had the pleasure of running with Anne Frost and Gord Ball -- both excellent runners -- so we had a pretty quick gaggle of us on the track.

The temperature was about 23 degrees when we started and as the sun went down it was about 18 degrees when we ended. And the humidity that was around at the start of the day had pretty much dissipated. I was aiming for 52 second 200 m. splits -- 1:44 per 400 m. lap. or 6:56 per mile(ish). Here are my splits:


My average pace was 6:51.23 -- well below my target. And, as far as I can tell, the fastest 6 x 1 mile repeats I've ever recorded. The closest I could find was on Sept 1, 2010 -- and even then, my times (out on William Street) were 6:56.67 on average.

There was a 7 x 1 mile repeat I did a few weeks later -- October 12, 2010 -- and I smoked that one: http://blog.brucelamb.com/2010/10/possibly-my-best-speed-work-session-to.html Average pace of 6:43.14 -- so a longer run and faster pace. But I'm still happy with tonight's run!

I'm most proud, though, that I was really able to step it up on the last mile. I clearly had gas in the tank.