Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ragnar Tennessee 2015 - Team Best - 26:47:33

Another epic adventure with the Geezer Guys at the Ragnar Tennessee 198 mile relay race this weekend. Our finish time was 26:47:33.4 (approximately) which placed us 2nd out of 6 teams in the Men's Masters division, and would have placed us 4th out of 29 in the Men's Open division. Overall we were 18th out of 295 teams.

Team members this year were:
(Capt'n) Bob Weir
(Rocky) Kevin Garlick
(Ripper) Bob Ripley
(Easy) Gord Ball
(Geswin) Nick Groot
(Rotten) John Ferguson
(Sir) Eric Martin
(Iron) Mike Blencowe
(Stallion) Bruce Lamb
(La Duke) Dave LaDouceur
(G-Man) Gerald Macdougall
(Wheezer) Arnie Spivey

... although Wheezer Geezer was only able to join us after the actual race was done due to work commitments.

There were some very tough legs -- one so tough the La Duke got a medal just for completing it -- 10.2 miles with an elevation gain of 1079 ft and elevation loss of 1161 feet!  I had the second-toughest (1303 ft of elevation gain, 171 feet of elevation loss), and no question the toughest 10 K I've ever done.  I walked-ran about two-thirds of it.

Comparing to other Ragnars, this was our team best:

Chicago (2011): 28:34-ish, estimated by Arnie (3rd Mens Masters, 192.5 miles-ish)
Las Vegas (2012): 27:43:13.3 (3rd Mens Masters, 20th out of 230 teams, 196 miles)
Colorado (2013): 28:26:42.7 (2nd Mens Masters, 23rd out of 194 finishers, 192 miles)
Adirondacks (2014): 27:04 (2nd Mens Masters, 30th out of 295 finishers, 197 miles)
Tennessee (2015): 26:47:33 (2nd Mens Masters, 18th out of 292 teams, 194.8 miles)

Everyone gave it their best on every run and, most importantly, no runners went off course!

Another awesome weekend with the Geezers.  So looking forward to the next one!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Erie Marathon: 3:24:37 PB. BQ. Going to Boston!!!

This blog has been very silent over the summer training session for two reasons:

1.  I've been spending so much time running, I haven't had a lot of time to keep the blog up-to-date, and
2.  There wasn't really a lot to talk about anyway.  We did the 50-70 mile program from Advanced Marathoning and while the miles were long, they weren't particularly hard.  Really, the average post would be the distance and average pace.  Not very exciting.

So I'll chat about the paces we did from the program.

Ultimate Goal Time: 3:28 or better in order to qualify for Boston
Race Goal Time: 3:25
Training Goal Time: 3:23

So we were going to train as if we were targeting a 3:23, run the race as if we were going for a 3:25 finish, and if everything fell apart, we'd hope to hold onto a 3:28 finish time.

I say "we" because Bernie LeForte agreed to pace me for the training and the race itself.  It was a real bonus having him join me for those long runs because they would have been pretty boring running solo.

Within the Advanced Marathoning program, there were several types of pace:

Long Run (10% slower than marathon pace) 5:19  per kilometre
General Aerobic (15% slower than marathon pace): 5:31  per kilometre
Recovery Pace: 5:31  per kilometre
Half-Marathon Race Pace: 4:44  per kilometre
5K Race Pace: 4:12  per kilometre

For the race itself, we were looking for a 4:51 or 4:52 pace per kilometre to meet the 3:25 goal.

On race day, the conditions were near-perfect.  The weather was overcast with a temperature of between 14 and 16 degrees C.  There was a strong wind from the north, but it was really only a factor for about 2 kilometres of the 21.1 km (two loop) course.  The sand dunes and trees provided excellent cover from the elements on race day.  And the course was as flat as you could ever ask for.

Here are my splits:

Split Time
1 04:51.9
2 04:50.0
3 04:49.0
4 04:49.7
5 04:48.8
6 04:49.1
7 04:52.1
8 04:51.4
9 04:49.7
10 04:51.6
11 04:49.1
12 04:46.6
13 04:52.4
14 04:51.2
15 04:50.3
16 04:50.1
17 04:54.2
18 04:50.3
19 04:50.2
20 04:50.5
21 04:51.3
22 04:47.7
23 04:49.7
24 04:51.9
25 04:50.9
26 04:51.3
27 04:58.4
28 04:48.6
29 04:51.2
30 04:48.4
31 04:51.3
32 04:50.9
33 04:51.3
34 04:55.8
35 04:54.7
36 04:50.3
37 04:51.5
38 04:53.8
39 04:47.0
40 04:50.8
41 04:42.0
42 04:46.7
43 01:15.4

Remarkably consistent, and during the last 4 km, I decided I could ramp up the pace a bit.  That last time -- 1:15.4 -- was for the last 300 m. of the course and was at a pace of 4:11/k (5K race pace)!

Bernie developed groin cramps at around 17 miles so he told me to go on ahead and keep the steady pace, which I did.  He finished about 3 minutes behind me.

For hydration, I took Gatorade (or whatever it was) at almost ever hydration station (every mile).  For carbs, I made up several tubes of my potato, honey and salt concoction and had one tube (half a large "Mr. Freezee" tube) every 4 miles, other than at Mile 20 where Jenny had handed me a baggie with orange slices and pineapple which got me through the rest of the race.

My challenge in my previous marathons was leg cramps -- particularly my left hamstring -- starting at between 15 and 16 miles (24-25k).  In this race, though, my training allowed me to get through those kilometres unscathed.  There was a bit of a slow patch at km 27 (I just wasn't paying attention to the pace) and then at kms 34 and 35 (headwind).  I decided with 2 km to go, I could pick up the pace but with 800 m. to go, my left hamstring threw a cramp at me and I had to ease up a bit.  But when I saw Jenny at the finish and Coach John jumped out of the crowd to run me in, I picked up the pace a lot and finished strongly.

In summary, the training we did make this the easiest marathon I've ever done.  It was mind-boggling, really, how at 22 miles (when I'm normally just trying to hold the race together), I was thinking how steady and easy the race was going.  I didn't want to pick up the pace at all, lest I risk having hamstring cramps again, so I just followed the target pace that Bernie and I set out at the beginning.

And here are the overall results:

Thank Yous

Obviously, the biggest thanks has to go to Bernie LeForte, who got me onto the Advanced Marathoning program after his successful results, and who ran with me for almost all of the training runs and almost all of the marathon.  A huge commitment, and something only a true friend could do for another person.

Jenny was awesome and so supportive -- both physically on marathon day with supplies for the run, not to mention driving to and from Erie -- but also emotionally, supporting my 18 long weeks of training.  Knowing that the end goal was to be able to run Boston with her in 2016 gave me the motivation to get out there every day to work hard to reach the goal.

Coach John Ferguson was also there for us with advice and support to allow us to execute our Advanced Marathoning program within his regular marathon training program.  As he said at the start of this season's session, in the ideal world he'd have a custom program for each one of us depending on our abilities and goals.  Allowing us to be the renegades of the group by doing different speed work and slightly different tempo runs was great.

Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Walker wrote Advanced Marathoning and deserve thanks as well -- even though they have no idea that I even exist.  But I'm sure they wrote the book with people like me in mind -- who needed a plan to take them to the next level in their marathon running.  It worked.

And finally, many thanks to the whole Runners' Choice Marathon Training Group.  The emotional support of that group allows one to get through the tough runs, and the willingness of members to step up to keep me company on some of the (otherwise) solitary runs (Brian Watson, Dave LaDouceur, Brian Kilburn, Gord Ball) was a real benefit.


I'm going to have the smile on my face for days or weeks to come.  It was a long program and a lot of work, but the results were 100% worth it.

In April 2016, Jenny and I will be running the Boston Marathon together for the second time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First "Advanced Marathoning" Speed Work - 8 mile warmup, 10 x 100 m. strides...

Today was my first "speed work" session as per the Advanced Marathoning book. The schedule called for 13 km (8 miles) of warm-up (!) at a relaxed pace (5:31/k. was what I was aiming for), followed by 10 repeats of 100 m. sprint/stride-outs.  Here are my splits:

My 100 m. stride-outs were each about 18 or 19 seconds, with a break of between 1:20 and 1:30 seconds.

The total distance, including stride-outs and jog-backs was 15.3 kilometres.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Excellent Speed Work at Gibbons Park - 6.5 miles with 3 miles at sub-7 minute miles

Tonight I met the group at Gibbons park for our speed work session.  This session marked week one of the 18 weeks leading up to the Erie Marathon on September 13.

Without a dedicated plan in place, Coach John suggested 3 miles at "repeat" pace.  Bernie and I wanted a bit more than that, so we compromised with 2 miles at "marathon" pace and then 3 miles at "repeat" pace of 7:10 or better.

Here are  my mile splits:

7:21.81 (targeting 7:56) No break.
7:34.99 (still targeting 7:56) 3 minute break
6:56.06 (targeting 7:10)
6;53.56 (targeting 7:10)
6:49.51 (targeting 7:00)

My legs were feeling it for the last two, but we got through it.  It was great having Bernie next to me keeping the pace.  So my average pace for all 5 miles was 7:06.99 and my average pace for the 3 "repeat" miles was 6:52.71.

I'm pretty happy with this result.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

16 mile long run at 4:59 average pace...

Today the group was doing a 12 mile long run, so I added the "Erie Breakfast Club" 4 miles prior to the groups run to get in a total of 16 miles.  Brian Kilburn and I ran together at a comfortable pace -- probably around 5;15 per kilometre.

When the group started to run, I found myself running with Paul Arnold who is an excellent (younger!) runner, but I was able to keep up easily.  We were doing about a 4:48 pace for much of that run and I was still able to chat in short sentences.  He was barely breathing hard though!  About 3/4 of the way through that run, he wanted to step it up a bit for the run back to the club, so I joined with Billal, Marc Labreche and Gord Ball for the last segment from the pump house back to Goodlife.  Eventually it was just Gord and me and while that last 500 m. from the King Street bridge was tough, we got through it okay.

All told, I was at a 4:59 pace -- so just a hair slower than marathon pace.  Apparently, though, I'm going to have to get used to running super-easy for these long runs if I'm to follow the Advanced Marathoning schedule.  I need to save energy and leg muscle for the tempo runs.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Toronto Goodlife Fitness Marathon - 3:39.43 with Walk/Run for Last Half Due to Hamstring Cramps... Personal Best Half, Though!

Well, I have to say that I really like that course. The first half is super fast, despite a few uphill segments. I was barely working and still pounded out a personal best Half time of 1:39:23. But at 23 k, my left hamstring started cramping on me. It got worse and worse as the run went on, so my rule was that if I had two cramps in a row, I'd walk for 10 seconds and then pick up a trot again. Pretty much the last 12K was walk/run.

Still, I managed a 3:39:43 which is about 7 minutes faster than when I went through the same scenario in Columbus last fall, and my fastest marathon since I ripped my right hamstring a few years back.

Here are my splits:

06:08.1 (kilometre 23 - first hamstring cramp)
04:17.7 (downtown Toronto -- GPS was wonky)
06:32.3 (kilometre 31 - average pace so far: 4:56)
02:04.3 (for 400 m. at 5:15 pace)

Here is an elevation and pace chart from :

While I was getting tired and beat up otherwise, clearly the cramps were the big problem causing me to need to walk. I could get through a single cramp, but when I'd hit two in a row, I'd walk for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds and try to stretch it out.

Jenny and I did lots of research on cramps after the run. This site does a very good job of explaining the symptoms and issues in trying to find the solution:

Jenny also found this:
and then click on the See Also links at the bottom for more

Same info in a much shorter version:

"Researchers are now considering the possibility that cramps are a phenomenon related to “altered neuromuscular control”, stemming from multiple factors including fatigue, muscle damage and genetic make-up. The new theory doesn’t offer any quick fixes, but it suggests that proper training and pacing could help minimise your risk.

Research comparing cramp-prone Ironman athletes to their non-cramp-prone peers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa found that hydration and electrolyte levels in the two groups were almost identical. And a forthcoming study from the Brigham Young group found no change in volunteers’ susceptibility to cramps after they lost three per cent of their body mass through sweat. The neuromuscular cramp theory was first proposed in 1997 by UCT sports physician Dr Martin Schwellnus, who asks: “If it’s a systemic problem like dehydration, then why doesn’t the whole body cramp?”

Your muscles are always held in a delicate balance between an excitatory input that encourages them to contract, and an inhibitory input that encourages them to relax. If this balance is upset, Schwellnus says, “the muscle gets twitchy”, and if the imbalance persists, it leads to a full-blown cramp.

Interestingly, Schwellnus’s study of triathletes found that those who developed cramps had set higher pre-race goals and started at faster-than-usual paces. And in a further study he found that crampers tended to have trained more in the final week before the race. So the lesson is to taper for your races, train adequately and pace yourself. "
- From, Sept 2013, by Alex Hutchinson
(who writes for Runners' World a la Dr. Mirkin)

Schwellnus' study abstracts are here:

So the answer is simple: train "properly" and "adequately", and get "appropriate" rest. Oh, and don't be genetically disposed to cramps. :-)

We're meeting with Bernie LeForte tomorrow night to discuss his (high mileage) training regimen that allowed him to take 10 minutes off his already-fast PB, getting a 3:14 in Toledo.

Training for Erie in September starts Tuesday.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Toledo Marathon -- Pulled the Plug at 16 miles...

The run was going quite well up until about 16 miles... AGAIN (just like Columbus). At that point, I could see the wheels were falling off and that I wouldn't make my BQ time, so I decided to pull the plug and get a ride back to the start. Hamstring muscles were tight although they weren't cramping. But my times were waning and I figured it would be better to try my luck at Toronto Goodlife Fitness Marathon next weekend.

Here are my splits:

02:20.0 (330 m., 7:10 pace)

Over this 26.33 km. my pace was right on track at 4:54 per km... but you can see that the last 2.33 kilometres it was starting to fall apart. Better to pull the plug while I had a chance to still run next weekend.

So, put me down as a DNF on this one!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

10 Mile "Long" run -- 1 week before Toledo Marathon

We did a 16+ kilometre route around north London and then through a bit of the trail system. I ran with Brian Groot and Dave Spencer for most of the run and we were carrying on a conversation for the majority of the run. I wasn't pushing the pace at all. Here are my splits:

4:38 (pace for 280 m.)

Average pace was 5:02.

I'm cautiously optimistic about Toledo.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

8K (5 Mile) Pace Run a week before the marathon...

I changed my pace run to Saturday from Friday because I wanted to run with Jenny and Kelly yesterday, so that is when I did my easy run. Here are my splits today (aiming for 4:56 per kilometre):


Despite the apparent consistency of these times, it wasn't an easy run. There was a 22 km/h wind from the north (which also seemed to come from the east and west). So the first and the last kilometres were relatively easy, but I seemed to be fighting the wind for the other ones.

Overall, my average was 4:50 per kilometre -- which, if I kept it up for another 34.2 kilometres, would put me in at a 3:24 marathon time. That ain't gonna happen though!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Good 8 Mile Tempo Run from Goodlife to the Pump House and Back

With just 10 days until the Toledo marathon, I had a good 8 mile tempo run.

13.43 kilometres at an average pace of 4:46 per kilometre (including the slow part), so definitely a good pace. Here are my splits:

4:57 pace for 700 m.
4:03 pace for 730 m. (2:57.6)

Average pace was 4:30.95 -- 1 second slower per kilometre than last week's run. Still, I'm super happy with the result.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

7 x 1 mile repeats in Gibbons Park...

The weather was very good -- a breeze from the north, but otherwise about 15 degrees C. I was aiming for 7:07 or better per mile, but really wanted to do well on my last couple of splits. Here are my times:


Average time: 7:02.03 I'm quite pleased with that performance. Less than 2 weeks until Toledo!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

16 Mile Long Run Around Forest City Road Race Half Marathon Course (+ 3 more miles)...

Today we did the "practice marathon" or "practice Half", running the FCRR course plus a bit if we needed it. Coach John suggested anyone doing the Toledo Marathon do just 14 to 16 miles, so I was happy to limit it as such.

By any measure, I had a good run. 25.44 KM (= 15.8 miles) in 2:09:39 = 5:06 per kilometre. Here are my splits:

4:44 (for 440 m.)

I slowed down in the last 1/3 of the run on purpose. I joined up with Meredith McQuade and ran with her for about 4 km. Then Nick Groot and I went out for an additional 5-ish kilometres and we chatted most of the way out. The way back was mostly uphill and I wasn't in any real hurry -- but I pumped up the pace for the last 1/2 kilometre so that I would know that I still had gas in the tank.

It was cool -- just the way I like it -- between 3 degrees at the start and about 9 degrees at the end, and sunny the whole time. I wore my Under Armour blue shirt, which Jenny says I need to replace. I'll likely wear my UA muscle shirt for the race, then, since I like the way the UA gear wicks the sweat.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with that run. 10 seconds faster per kilometre and 10 more miles and I've got my BQ! :-)

Friday, April 10, 2015

6 Mile Pace Run on a Windy Day...

It was really windy today, but I ventured out from the office on my 6 mile pace run anyhow. Here are my splits:

4:46 (for 610 m. into the wind)

Overall average: 4:53 per kilometre. Target pace for the marathon is 4:56. It was a tough run, but I got through it okay.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Excellent 8 mile tempo run from Goodlife to the Pump House and Back...

With two and a half weeks until the Toledo Marathon, Coach John had us doing an 8 mile tempo run tonight. The weather was warm -- 13 degrees C. -- but very humid, with a little big of very light rain on our way out of downtown. The total run was 13.22 KM -- just over 8 miles. Here are my splits:

5:17 (pace for 510 m.)
4:39 (up hill after tunnel)
4:13 (pace for 710 m.) 2:59.37

The average pace for the 13.22 km was 4:45 -- much faster than marathon pace (4:56). My pace for the "tempo" portion of the run was 4:29.95 per km or 7:15 per mile. I was struggling up the hill after the tunnel, and was very happy for every red light we hit in that last 710 metres. But overall, this was an excellent tempo run.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

6 x 1 mile repeats: Very good speed work session 2 days after 38 km long run...

Tonight it was a cool and windy night - about 6 degree C. and winds gusting to over 30 km/h. But it wasn't quite as bad in Gibbons park -- but still breezy enough that it can affect things.

I was originally expecting to do 8 mile repeats -- which is a lot considering I hadn't been to the last two speed work sessions. John suggested a maximum of 6, which I wasn't about to argue with.

My original thought was to go out looking for 7:20 per mile. But I figured I'd step it up a bit to no slower than 7:15 per mile if I was only doing 6 of them. And we'd see how much I could put out there for the last one. Here are my splits:

7:03 (from memory)
7:04 (from memory)

7:04.35 average. I'm pretty happy with that considering I did a 38 kilometre run just two days prior!

So not fantastic, but certainly not bad. The wind was a factor, and it seemed to come at us from both directions. But it was cool enough that overheating certainly wasn't a problem. I felt fairly strong the whole run, but really had nothing left on that last lap.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

38 kilometre long run (23.6 mile) at 5:17 average pace...

Today was my longest run of the spring training session. It went really well. I started with a 11 kilometre run from Goodlife Fitness up around the university and back. Then I did the RC Marathon Training Group's 16 mile run up over the swaybacks, and back on Wickerson to Baseline, Boler and the park system. Total distance 38 kilometres in 3:20:58 for an average pace of 5:17. I ran with Coach John, Pipes, and Gord Ball for the last little bit, but stepped it up for the last kilometre. Here are my splits:


I was able to pick up the pace for the last kilometre without any trouble. Overall, I'm very happy this run. Now it's TAPER TIME! :-)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Downtown 5K - Personal Best: 20:59

Pretty happy with today's race: 20:59 = 4:12 per kilometre, a personal best by 6 seconds (as compared to last summer). Course was flat and fast, and the temperature was about 7 degrees C. and overcast. Jenny was second in her age group and Josh was in the 24 minute range. Full results here:

Friday, March 20, 2015

8k (5 mile) Pace Run in Lucan...

It has been a while since I've done a pace run outside, but it was a gorgeous day: 8 degrees C. and sunny, with no wind. So I ran from the office down to Clarke's Variety, and then up Saintsbury, retracing my route after going 4K. Here are my splits:


Overall, my pace was 4:54 per kilometre which, if I kept up that pace for a full marathon, would put me across in 3:26:47. I just went out easy for the first kilometre, so if you take the pace for my last 7K, it would work out to a 3:25:30 marathon, which is faster than my 2010 Road2Hope personal best of 3:25:41.

It was a reasonably tough run since I'd done a hard tempo run less than 24 hours prior. But it felt good to get it in the books!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Excellent 10 mile tempo run to the dam and back...

The temperature was around the freezing point, and there was no wind to speak of. The trails through Springbank Park were bare, but a bit sandy. You had to watch your footing in order to get the most out of every stride. Here are my splits:


4:53 was my average pace, and my average tempo pace was 4:40.3875 (7:31.4 per mile). We only stopped for the traffic lights on King Street at the end of the route on the way back. Still, it was by no means the best tempo run in the past year. I had an excellent run back in August of last year on a 9 mile run ( where I was hitting 7:19 per mile.

Anyhow, there is room for improvement -- but it was a good run overall.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

33.18K (20.6) Mile Long Run in 3:03:58 (5:33/k)

Average pace was 5:33 per kilometre -- and I took it really easy on the way back. We did the park, swaybacks, back to Byron, up to STA, and back through the parks. A bit of hills! So I was happy with the run. I'd only had about 4 hours sleep after the St. Pats events, so just the fact that I was out there was a good thing.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ladder from 1600 m. to 800 m. at Thompson Arena...

Tonight, we did speed work at Thompson Arena where we did a 1600 m. run, lowering the distance by 200 m. every repeat, until we were down to 800 m. Here are my splits:

1600 m.: 6:48.13 (51.01 per lap)
1400 m.: 6:00.35 (51.48 per lap)
1200 m.: 5:10.10 (51.69 per lap)
1000 m.: 4:15.95 (51.01 per lap)
800 m.: 3:21.64 (50.41 per lap)

Overall, my average pace was 51.17 per 200 m. lap. The average pace on March 12 2013 was 50.5 seconds per lap. So I wasn't quite that fast this time -- but I was close!

Great 18 kilometre tempo run in Springbank Park...

Tonight was a 11 mile (18 K) tempo run through Springbank Park and back to Goodlife downtown. I went out at an 'easy' pace -- but we had to keep slowing down because we were too fast. I was aiming for about 5:20 per km going out. Coming back, I wanted to hit 4:45/k (7:39/mile) for the 5.5 km. Here are my splits:

5:22 (pace for 710 m. -- going up hill at the west end of Springbank Park).
4:32 (pace for 800 m.)

Overall, my average time was 4:59/k. My pace for the "fast" part was 4:42.11 or 7:34 per mile, which is quite acceptable. I was pushing hard all the way back, and was concentrating on keeping my pace to something that felt like the 180 beats per minute that is said to be optimum.

Looking at previous long tempo runs, my run back was at the slow end of normal. But I'm quite happy with it. Still 6 and a half weeks until my marathon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Crappy 1000 m. (1K) Repeats at Thompson Arena...

I felt like my legs might be lead even during the warm up, but when I started my first lap of the actual speed work I felt okay. It wasn't to last.

I was going out for 4:10 per km -- 50 second laps -- which I had done previously. Actually, back in August 2010, I did an average of 4:05 per kilometre. But my math was wonky and I somehow figured I should do 52 second laps. I figured out my error fairly quickly after the first repeat.

John wanted us to do 4, 5 or 6 repeats of 1000 m. (5 laps). I went out looking for 6, but it was falling apart so I capped it at 5. Here are my splits:


In each of the last two repeats, I was able to do my last lap in 50 seconds and 47 seconds -- so if I needed to dig deep, I could. But I was 'done' at the end.

Chatting with other runners, lots of folks who did the 22 miler 2 days ago also didn't have great runs. Gillian, Chris, Blair, Clive -- everyone was slower than they wanted to be. Also, I played hockey on the prior Friday, Saturday and Monday (last night) so it is very possible that my legs were just beat.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

35.31 km (22 mile) long run in 3:14:26 (5:30/km pace)

It's been a hell of a February. The coldest February ever recorded in London. So it was actually nice when the forecast "high" temperature today looked like it would hit a balmy -4 C. I did my "Boston Breakfast Club" 4 mile run with Deidre Caskenette, who is training for Boston, and Brian Kilburn who isn't training for anything. Deidre had to listen to Brian and me drone on about politics and hockey for a full 36 minutes. Lucky her!

We then went out to do the Springbank Park loop (12 miles) plus an additional 6 mile out-and-back within the park to get us our total of 22 miles. I ran most of it with Dave Prentice, although he pulled away for the last 6 km or so.

The path was slippy at the start of the run but better near the end of the run. It was still tough, though, and I found my pace slowing significantly as the run went on. But when we are on the final kick coming up King Street, I was able to get up to something nearing in on marathon pace.

My average pace was 5:30 per km -- but the initial 4 miles was at a slow 6 minute K pace, and the last 5 kilometres were at around a 5:35 pace -- so both those skewed the average pace down by a fair bit. Most of the time when I looked at my watch, we were at 5:20 or faster, which is where I wanted to be (8:30/mile).

All-in-all, I'll take it. Given dry (i.e. not snow covered) roads, my pace throughout the run would have been much better.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Long run - 36.12K / 22.43 miles...

This is the longest run thus far in this Winter's training session. I did my normal 4 mile "Boston Breakfast Club" run before meeting the rest of the group at Goodlife. Blair, Gord and I ran together. Then we went out for an 18 mile run. Here is the route:

The roads were better than previous long runs, but still mostly snow-covered, which made for tough running. Still, when possible and safe, we'd get onto some of the bare roads.

Despite the less-than-optimal road conditions, I managed an average pace of 5:31 per kilometre which I'm quite happy with. And at the end of the run, I still had energy to pick up the pace a bit.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Speed work at Thompson Arena: 600 m. (100 rest) 400 m. (400 rest)

Tonight we did sets of "broken" kilometre repeats: 600 m. sprint with a short 100 m. rest, 400 m. sprint with a 400 m. rest. Erin Visser, Lisa ___ and I ran together and had a great workout. Here are our splits:

600 m.: 2:29.3 (49.77 per lap)
400 m.: 1:37.8 (48.88)
600 m.: 2:29.4 (49.78)
400 m.: 1:35.7 (47.84)
600 m.: 2:28.3 (49.43)
400 m.: 1:38.6 (49.3)
600 m.: 2:28.6 (49.55)
400 m.: 1:36.5 (48.26)
600 m.: 2:29.2 (49.75)
400 m.: 1:33.5 (46.77)

My average per lap was 49.0796 seconds, which is almost a full second faster than 2013 and certainly the fastest I've done it at the track. It was a good workout!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Long Run - 32.75 km (20.34 miles)

I did the Boston Breakfast Club 4 mile pre-run, and then the 16 mile run out to Clarke Road and Sunningdale and back. Footing was good. Cold and breezy though. Ran with Melinda, Meagan and Heather most of the way.

average pace was 5:26 per km.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

5 mile easy run

I just ran north and south on Neil Rd since it was relatively dry and not super cold (-3). But it was more work than I thought it would be, likely due to the prior two days' runs.

Average pace: 5:34

Friday, February 6, 2015

Very good 7.1 mile "Pace Run"

Today I was to do between 6 and 8 miles -- 1 warmup mile and the rest at marathon pace. The route I picked was 7.1 miles (11.4 km).

I sort of screwed up my GPS, so I didn't know exactly where my first mile was done, but I guessed and then did 10 kilometres (6.125 miles) at pace. Here are my kilometre splits:


Average of 4:57.4

I'm supposed to do 4:55.7 per km to reach my goal of 3:28 -- so these times are definitely in range. Just have to do it for 4.2 times as long! :-)

10 Mile Tempo Run in the Snow...

The "in the Snow" part of the title tells you how well it went. Hard to get traction. Lots of it on snow and slush covered sidewalks. -12 degrees when we started. -17 when I got out to my truck after rehydrating.

I dressed warmly, though. Longjohns underneath my tights, 2 running shirts plus a cotton shirt underneath my black Boston jacket. Snowmobile mitts over my string gloves. Headlight cap covered with balaclava. I wasn't too warm and I wasn't too cold -- but I wasn't able to run very fast.

Here are my splits:
(Start "tempo")
4:56 (510 m.)

So the "tempo" wasn't a helluva lot faster than the "easy" part of the run. I was working to keep my cadence fast, which is something that Brian Hagemeier brought up at the running form clinic on Tuesday night. 180 steps per minute is the "ideal", apparently. I didn't have my metronome with me, but I just tried to keep the cadence quick.

Once we hit a bit of good traction at the end, I was able to pick up the pace. I was happy with how I finished the run.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Easy Run - 5 miles...

Did it on the treadmill. 42.5 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Speed Work - Ladder from 400 m. to 1000 m. and back to 400 m.

200 m. (2 minute) break in between repeats. Here are my splits:

400 m.: 1:36.45 (48.22 sec/lap)
600 m.: 2:30.13 (50.04 sec/lap)
800 m.: 3:19.01 (49.67 sec/lap)
1000 m.: 4:10.99 (50.2 sec/lap)
800 m.: 3:25.00 (51.25 sec/lap)
600 m.: 2:37.87 (52.62 sec/lap)
400 m.: 1:36.96 (48:48 sec/lap)

I ran most of it with Erin Visser before I told her to go ahead on the second 800 and 600 m. repeats -- I couldn't keep up. And I wanted to stop so many times on those two repeats. I'd put it all out there on the 1000 m. repeat and just didn't have anything left in the tank. But by the time I got to the second 400 m. repeat, my legs had recovered a bit and I could get a respectable time.

My average pace was 50.27 per 200 m. lap. Considering I was looking for 50 second laps, I'll take it!

As a comparison, in 2014, I fell apart in the 1000 m. repeat -- and the rest were about 51 seconds. In 2013, my average pace was 50.41. In 2012 (12 weeks after my hamstring injury) I was a hair under 53 second laps. In June 24 2014 on the outdoor track, I was at 49.39 seconds, and I did 49.28 in July 2010 on the outdoor track.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

33.19 km (20.6 mile) Long run in wind and snow...

There is only one way to describe this run: Tough. I took it easy the whole way, although "easy" got tougher and tougher as we ran. I did the first 4 miles with the Boston Breakfast Club, leaving Goodlife Fitness at 7:20ish. Then I did another 16.6 miles through the park, up to Boler and Southdale, over the swaybacks to Wickerson and then back to Goodlife again. So a few hills. It was snowing lightly the whole time, and the temperature actually got cooler over the course of the run. But I got through it and actually felt reasonably good at the end -- especially when we hit some pavement with something resembling traction at the end!

It took me 3:11:39 to complete the 33.19 km run (5:46 per km). So, way slower that it would be in dry weather, but not bad considering the conditions.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

13.56 km (8+ miles) Tempo Run on Snowy Sidewalks...

My average pace was 5:32 per kilometre -- which tells you that "tempo" may not have been the most accurate description of the run. There was between 1 and 2 inches of snow on the roads and sidewalks (which were no worse than the roads), so the fact that we were able to get in the run at a decent (?) speed was somewhat amazing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

5 x 800 m. Repeats

The schedule called for up to 6 repeats of 800 m. But when I started the warm up I was pretty sure I'd be lucky to get two repeats in. I had been bundled up all afternoon with my parka in the office and felt congested. During the warmup, my feet felt like lead. But I figured I'd go out looking for 3:20 per repeat (50 second laps) and see how it went. Here are my splits:


So, I suck. But I got through it. It was all I had in me. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2 hours 33 minutes on the treadmill...

Today I was supposed to be up to 18 miles. I had a horse show at Highland Green in the morning so I wasn't going to be able to do the run with the group. So instead, I watched the end of "The Rocket" about Rocket Richard and the first half of War Horse. I assumed my paces ("5" on the treadmill) would be an easy pace similar to an 8:30/mile pace on the roads. So I got in 18 miles worth I think.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

5 Mile (8.39 km) Easy Run Around the Block...

Tori's boyfriend, Josh, and I ran around the block. The longest distance he's every done. Just took it easy, but stepped it up a bit at the end. He did great, and we solved all the world's problems while we were chatting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

7 mile "pace run" on the treadmill...

I did 8:30 at an easy pace to start and then set the setting to "6" on the treadmill for my pace run. I did 48 minutes at that pace.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tempo Run - 8 Miles (12.9 km) up Windermere Road...

It was a good night to run -- about -7 and with clear roads. The second (tempo) half was hard, particularly up the hills, but I was happy with my pace. I tried carrying my helmetCam with me, but it didn't go well. Super bouncy, and couldn't make out details at night.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

6 mile (51 minute) easy run on the treadmill...

Tonight I was scheduled to do a 6 mile easy run, so I did 51 minutes on the treadmill (assuming 8:30 per mile). I set the treadmill to 5.5 and ran without any break.

I watched Pink Floyd The Wall on the television while running. Just a little bit dark! :-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Speed work on the treadmill... 7 x 600 m. with 2 minute break...

Tonight we were scheduled to do speed work at Thompson arena, but I had a hockey game that conflicted with the time, so I did my speed work on the treadmill in the morning instead. John wanted us to do 600 m. repeats at the track, so instead I did 2:40 fast with a 2:00 break and repeat. Because the treadmill took some time to ramp up the speed, it actually worked out to an extra 20 seconds of getting up to speed, so it totalled 5:00 per repeat-break-rampup.

I set the speed to "7" for the speed sessions, but put it up to "7.5" for the last one. I was working hard for the speed sessions, which is what matters most.

I did 7 of these repeats, plus 8 minutes of easy warm-up before and 4 minutes of cool-down after.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Those damn runners think they own the road. I'll show them!"

I can practically hear the thoughts of a few of London's drivers. "Look at those runners running on the streets instead of the sidewalks where they belong. I'll show them."

And with that, we see the vehicle approaching us either give us practically zero room at the side of the road, or in some cases (twice in the past week) will actually edge over and force runners to climb up onto the snow banks lining the road. This morning, a driver in a Dodge truck license [333 5WM] forced a bunch of us off the road while we were running south on Wonderland Road.

To be fair, the vast majority of London's drivers are great. They'll slow down when they see a runner approaching them at the edge of the road and, if available, they'll change into the centre lane to give us lots of room. I'd guess that over 99% of the drivers in London fall into this camp. I go out of my way to wave 'Thanks!' at drivers who drive in the centre lane to give us room, and I know that many other runners wave at these respectful drivers as well.

But the 1% that chooses to make a point by running us off the road is not only creating a dangerous situation, but they are also breaking the law. The law allows us to be on the left-most edge of the road, running facing traffic. Drivers, by law, must share the road with bicycles and pedestrians, or they could be charged with "Failing to Yield". And, of course, a lot worse could happen if a runner slips as a non-yielding car goes by. The civil liability if someone gets hurt or killed would be substantial, not to mention the emotional impact of the driver knowing they killed or hurt someone with a family depending on them.

I'm going to start carrying a body-mounted video camera for my long runs on London's streets. And the next time a driver decides to not share the road, as they are obligated to do by law, I will be pressing charges. Maybe after a couple of London drivers find themselves in front of a judge with irrefutable evidence, the word will spread that we all need to share the road, and that roads are not the exclusive domain of cars and trucks.

Training for a long distance race is a lot of work, and it is simply impractical to do this training anywhere other than the roads -- especially during the winter, when the sidewalks are treacherous most of the time.

Please share this post with drivers you think may not know the law with respect to yielding to runners. It could save a life.

16.7 Mile (27 km) Long Run

Today we did a 12.7 mile long run around the core of London. Here was our route:

It was an early start for me, though, as I got up at 5:30 AM to drive from Lucan to GoodLife downtown for the 7 AM "Boston Breakfast Club" where I joined about a dozen runners training for the 2015 Boston Marathon in April. We got an extra 4 miles (and change) before the rest of the group started with about 100 runners total.

It was not fun running. While the temperature was great (+1 C.), there it was snowing lightly mixed with a bit of rain, so it was pretty hard to avoid hitting puddles on the streets. Sidewalks were pretty much impassible -- roads were the only option to make anything like an acceptable pace without rolling an ankle.

My average pace for this run was slowwwww at 5:47 per kilometre. Just about every step forward included about a 2 inch slide backwards. Not fun. But we got through it.

One of the challenges with this run was with rude and dangerous drivers who didn't feel they needed to share the road. 99% of the drivers were fine and would slow down or move to the centre lane when available. But all it takes is that 1% to be rude and/or dangerous to make the run not a lot of fun. The good drivers would move over into the centre lane. But the occasional driver would not give us any room nor slow down. One guy (who had two wide open lanes) actually stopped his truck with about a foot of space between the truck and the snow banks. I got him to roll down his passenger window and asked him whether he knew what the law is. He said he didn't care what the law is -- so I'll be reporting Mr. 333 5MW to London's finest.

Next time, I'm going to carry my Contour GPS helmetCam and clip it on when traffic is approaching -- or maybe find some way to secure it to my body so that it can record the entire run. The good thing about the Contour is that it shows the time and exact location, so if we ever need to go to court, there is no question about the car, the driver and the exact situation. I'm getting just a bit fed up with that 1% who don't know the rules of the road.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

5 mile (42:30 minute) easy run on the treadmill

3.97 on the treadmill mile counter. Generally ran at 6.0 -- but that equates (calibrated) to roughly 8:50s and I definitely felt like I was running harder than that. Watched the last half of Wild Hogs, which kept me amused.

Friday, January 16, 2015

7 Mile Tempo Run with the Group...

We started from Goodlife in downtown London, ran out Riverside to Wonderland. Up Wonderland to Beaverbrook, down to Oxford. Oxford to Waterloo, and then back to Goodlife. Roads were snow covered for a lot of the way. I screwed up my GPS for 1.5K of the fast part of the run, but here are my splits:

5:37 (640 m.)

Felt really strong at the end! 5:29 pace overall.

Easy Run on the treadmill - 6 miles (51 minutes)

The subject of this post says it all! Watched the first half of Wild Hogs while running.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Speed Work at Thompson Arena - 7 x 400 m. + 2 x 200 m. Repeats

Tonight was the first night of the 2015 Spring Marathon Training Program with the Legendary John Ferguson putting us through our paces -- literally.

Tonight we did 7 repeats of 400 m. with a 200 m. rest break, followed by 2 repeats of 200 m. I went out looking for 1:35 per 400 m. repeat. Here are my splits:

41.81 (200 m.)
40.21 (200 m.)

My average 400 m. lap was 1:33.78, and my average 200 m. lap was 41.01. Those last 4 repeats I pretty much left it all out there -- and got faster right up to the last repeat!

Looking back to 2 years ago ( and my average time was much faster tonight, and my 200 m. laps about 1.5 seconds faster. And compared to last year (, I'm much faster tonight. Last year my average 400 m. lap was 1:37.14 (so 3.36 seconds faster tonight) and my 200 m. laps were 44.5 (so 3.5 seconds faster tonight). There are no more comparable workouts in my blog.

So, I'll put this into the books as being a good workout!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

26.24 km = 16.3 mile long run at 5:19 average pace

We got in our long run today and the weather co-operated! It was -7 C. when I was leaving the house and -6 C by the time I got downtown London. On my way home in the afternoon, it was -1 C. I wore my Maple Leafs headband, Boston white gloves covered with snowmobile gloves, my Under Armour muscle shirt with a long sleeve running shirt and my black Boston running jacket, my Boston long tights, regular Champion socks and my Brooks shoes. I nailed the layers -- I wasn't too cold or too warm the entire run. There was very little wind.

I took some beef jerky for the salt and a bunch of dried apricots for the energy. Both baggies were pretty much gone by the time I got back to Goodlife.

I showed up for the Boston Breakfast Club 4 miles before the 12 miles that the rest of the group was doing. But my GPS didn't click in until about a kilometre into the run. That first K was pretty easy pace, though.

I met up with Dave Prentice across the King Street bridge and we ran the entire distance down through the park, up to Boler at Baseline and back again.

My legs were feeling the stress on the way back -- particularly the last couple of miles. But I battled on and got through it.

Here are my splits:

{No time for 1st kilometre}
5:44 Up snow covered street after tunnel -- couldn't get traction!
3:33 (for 0.24 K -- doesn't appear accurate)

Certainly running with Dave was a good match. His personal bests that I could find online (3:19 marathon) were a bit faster than mine (3:25) and his 2013 Around the Bay time of 2:20:14 blows away my 2:30 personal best. So if I can link up with him in future runs, we're a good pace match -- which makes a huge difference on a long run.

All in all, it was a good run today.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

44 minute (= 5 miles-ish) on Treadmill

I hopped on the treadmill for 44 minutes today which, if I were doing 8:30 miles, would work out to roughly 5 miles. If I go by the calibrated 13.1% adjustment, I ran at a treadmill setting of 6, which equates to 10 minute miles uncalibrated, or 8:51 calibrated. 5 miles at 8:51 = 44:15 minutes -- close enough. The odometer said I ran 4.25 miles.

Friday, January 9, 2015

6 Mile (49 minute) Pace Run on the Treadmill

I was to do a 6 mile "pace run" today -- 1 mile of warm-up and then 5 miles at marathon pace. Because the treadmill speed doesn't accurately reflect effort, in my view, I just made it 9 minutes at an easy pace for warm-up and then 5 x 8 minutes at a steady/hard pace... 49 minutes in total. I started with the treadmill set to 5.5 for the first 9 minutes. Then I ramped it up to 6.5 for the next 35 minute and finally 7.0 for the last 5 minutes. I felt like I was really truckin' for that last 5 minutes -- much faster than marathon pace.

Actually, when I look at it, my "feel" pace probably wasn't far off. The last time I calibrated the treadmill, I found it was off by 13.1%. So 6.5 miles per hour equals 8.16 minutes per miles. Setting it to 6.6 or 6.7 would get me a couple of seconds on either side of an 8 minute mile. And a 7.0 x 113.1% equals 7:35 minutes per mile, which feels about right. I'll know for next time!

My total "treadmill" distance was 4.81 "miles". Close enough.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

54 Minute Temp Run on the Treadmill...

We were supposed to do a 7 mile tempo run today. A bit slower going out, a bit faster coming back. Based on the fact that most of my tempo runs average to roughly 8 minutes per mile, I figured if I did a 56 minute run, that would work fine. Running at an even pace would mean 28 minutes "out" and 28 minutes "back". SO instead I ran 29 minutes "out" (roughly 5.5 on the treadmill speed selector) and then put it to 6.5 on the way back. As it turned out, though, I was considerably faster on the way "back" and was through the run in about 54 minutes. I believe the total distance was around 5.14 "miles" on the treadmill (which we know is not accurate).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Easy run - 30 minutes on the treadmill

The Legendary John Ferguson's training plan called for a 4 to 5 mile easy run. Because I was running on the treadmill, I just selected a 36 minute run -- assuming an "easy pace" for me would be about 8:30 per mile. 4 miles at that pace is 36 minutes. I'm getting better settling in on the treadmill!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First day of the Spring Marathon Training Clinic, 2015!

Today we had our first session of the Spring marathon training clinic. Just a little 8K run, but we had several new runners out:

Laura ran Boston in 2008 and is going to be training with a friend who would also like to run it.

Tammy is training for a Half. (She runs with music, so I wasn't able to carry on a conversation)

Holly is at Western working on her degree in speech pathology. She is from Winnipeg and would like to run the London Half. She was a real trooper and ran the full 8K route with us, despite not having done a lot of running recently.

Summer is Richard's niece who came out to one of the speed work sessions and who has stepped up to do the clinic this Spring now.

Catherine was in the learn-to-run group in 2014. She does Sprint Triathlons and wants to do better in the running portion. Currently around a 7 minute per kilometre pace.

Allison is doing her second Pelee Island Half in May and wants to better her time from the first one.

It was great to see some new faces, and great to get together with the amazing group of people who make up the running group.

I've been working up my miles after a short break in November. I'm now up to 16 miles on my long run, and I try to get at least 20 minutes of running per day, or play hockey.