Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Ran 5K (3 miles) in 26:38 for average pace of 5:18 a K. Heart rate is still up and it feels like more work than it should. I'm going to take it easy, take tomorrow off, and resume running on Thursday. Want to try to save for a 8 to 10 miler on the weekend.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Here is what is on my watch list.
Winter season: Keep base mileage at around 30 miles a week. Look ahead to two possible races in the winter, and not really run them to get PRs, but to stay in race shape and have fun running. The two races are the Tom Hortons Chilly Half Marathon on March 5. It will be freezing and the bright side is that they'll serve Chilli at the end.. Yum.. Chilli. The second race is the Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, also known as Steeltown for the industry. The Bay is billed as the oldest road race on the continent (113th edition is on March 25) and it draws good numbers.
Spring season: This is one of my favourite periods as the weather in Toronto changes, it starts getting in the plus 5 degree (mid to high 40F) and it's time to start racing! I love the 8K Spring Runoff on April 7, which is run in beautiful and very hilly High Park and it's the site where I think I can do a major PR for that distance. Then, a month later on May 6, comes Toronto's biggest race (for a single distance), the 10K Sporting Life, which is downhill and is a fast course. As for half marathons, I have the choice of the Mississauga (half) Marathon, which is badly enough only a week after the 10K. Or, I can choose the half at the National Captial Marathon in our nation's capital in late May.
Summer season: Oh, there are a few races in June and July and I may do one or two... In any case, I won't be racing that much except for tune ups, because...
Fall season: I'll most likely be training for a fall marathon! Toronto's two dueling marathons are stupidly only two weeks apart (Sept. 30 and Oct. 14) and I seriously think that something has to give. i'm sorry to say it, but unless one of them switches to the Spring, they will forever be 'small marathons'. The other possibilities are Chicago, which I really want to do again. It falls on Oct. 7 and is right before Canadian Thanksgiving. Yikes. Then again, I can put in for the lottery at the New York Marathon. Tell you what, all things being equal, Chicago looks very very tempting...
Today, went back out there and did a 10K (6 miler). I obviously need to do my runs at recovery as my heart rate was way too high.. I should also pick flat ground...
Thursday, October 26, 2006
My left calf is a bit sore, but otherwise, my legs were operating fine. I did a 2 mile run (3.2K). It was chilly, the sun was setting and it felt good to be there alone, on my trail. It's a cold autumn breeze we get in late October, and it pushes away most runners, so all that's left is us crazier folk.
Then something funny happened. I wore my Nike Chicago06 (RunChi) cap today, and in the lobby of my condo, some guy eyed my hat and said: 'Did you run Chicago?' Turns out, so did he... We enjoyed a quick discussion about how he did New York a year ago, about the weather, how he didn't train and how I said 'with that weather, it's good we finished.' We traded our times and as the elevator door closed, we wished each other well. One marathoner to the other.. Small world, this running community.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The first 5K
We were off, and we started that little jog as all runners do in big races, when we probably could just speed walk. But then we hit the starting line, a minute after the opening siren. The first three miles were euphoric. I was just soaking it in. I couldn't believe my eyes.
There were spectators everywhere. Cameras everywhere. Funny signs and screaming fans. I have never experienced a feeling like this and I guess now I know what it's like to be a rock star. (This pic of the elites was by R.)
But focus was the order of the day, and I was struggling to find my way to the 3:20 pacers. It was an odd feeling, being so excited, yet so aware that it was time to go to work right away. Unlike other races, this was the first time I had anyone to pace me, and it kept me honest.
As I hit the 5K point and the first chip stop, I distinctly remembering three thoughts. 1) This is amazing, I can't believe i'm here 2) Wow, i'm on pace, but I gots a long way to go and 3) Um, I have to pee. I guess all you runners know what it's like to be in a race and thinking nothing more than, 'damn, what am I going to do.'
5K mark: 23:28
My next 5K (3.1 miles) were pretty uneventful. I was still trying to conserve energy. I felt okay, not too cold. We were running up LaSalle, and I was at this point catching up to one of the pacers. With that taken care of, I shifted my attention to the crowd and found myself running on the right-hand side of the course, something I would stick to for most of the race. The water stations were not that bad for me, and I was taking water so I was skipping the Gatorade guys at the front. Another advantage of the Preferred I start is that you don't have crowded stations. We turned into the park area where we joined Stockton, and then the funniest thing happened: runners starting jumping off course, headed directly for the portapotties. At this point, I was desperate. Damned my pace, I had to go to the washroom or I would have a mid race accident. I joined the guys running out, found a big tree, faced the park, and ... I finished up, sprinted up the grassy hill and rejoined the runners. For some reason, at this point, there were a lot of 3:20s and I found that I was slightly ahead of the pace bunnies. I fell into line, took my gel, took water, and then we were off.
When we hit the six mile mark, I looked at my watch and thought 'okay, about a quarter done, not even an hour is out of the way.' We ran alongside the water but my focus was on the pace runner. I was admiring the fact that they could keep the pace while holding the sign. I had no trouble at all keeping up the pace. A woman in her 40s ran alongside me and asked 'are we at pace', and I answered 'I think so, i'm just following him'. We smiled and continued to pound it out.
Then we turned into Wrigleyville. At this point, I was just enjoying the crowds. I had this flamboyant runner who'd gesture to the crowd to get them going and they would cheer even louder than usual. I hit the 15K mark and it was starting to get a little drizzly. I could see the downtown area so my mind was going forward to the halfway mark.
15K to 21.1K
Around the 10 mile mark, a few runners beside me were commenting that it was 10 down, 16 to go. I wasn't thinking much about how much to go. I was just focusing on not losing the pacer and keeping attention to the people who were around me. They helped me focus... I remember a turn and I think the Elvis impersonator was finishing up My Way, which is a song I love.. I got to hear all 5 seconds of it.As the downtown neared, I had this funny thought. It was something like this. "Hey, my hotel is nearby, wouldn't it be nice to stop right now" I have no idea why this was the case.
At this point, running down Franklin toward the halfway mark, we were in the city and the crowd was again very loud. I was running in the right side hoping to pick out R. Suddenly, I hear "Kenny!" and I look back to my left (the other side) and I see R. waving. I would have loved to gone to her but I couldn't, so I waved, said 'Hi"! and smiled. I was very happy to see her and it turns out that I wouldn't see her again until after the race. (Note: the picture here is one she took right before she saw me. You can see the 3:20 pacer) We hit the half marathon mark at 1:39:37, which is a full 5 minutes slower than my half marathon racing time. This was perfect, I thought, I'm going at a slower pace and I can hold it for a lot longer
21.1K to 25K
This was not a favourite part of the course. We were not sheltered and the wind was hitting me. I felt like I needed more liquids and I couldn't decide on when I needed to take the gel. Worse part, was the crowd thinned. I was still able to go on. I was very happy to hit the turnaround and head back on Jackson. At this point, my hands were overheating, so I took off my gloves and tucked them into my shorts. But within minutes, my hands were getting cold. The weather was really starting to get to me, but I was holding my pace.
25K to 30K
This was my last 'strong' 3 miles. We turned into Little Italy and I was feeling it. I was getting tired and my legs were starting to get sore. I took my first real walk break, just to catch my breath. I was able to power through, and I knew my splits were off. A crucial thing happened here. I lost track of the 3:20 pace leaders. At this point, I had slowed to 8 minute miles or a 3:30 pace.
30K to 35K
Yep, we made it past the 20 mile mark and the wall appraoched. I was starting to feel a bit weaker and was losing focus. At this point, I could feel two muscles getting tight and uncomfortable. My left lower hamstring and my right calf. Every time I tried to pick it up, I could feel them seizing up. This was worrying me. By the end of the 35K, I think the lack of experience of racing at this distance caught up to me. You can read as much you can about the marathon distance, you can run slow-paced long runs of 22 miles, but until you pick a challenging running pace, I don't think you are ready to face the mental toughness to stick it out. I don't want to blame the weather, but the cold was really really getting to me. The next 5K were so tough.
35K to 40K
At this point, when every big gust of wind, I could feel the cold bone chilling wind go right through you. And because I was taking a walk break here and there, I was not generating as much heat. I was putting my hand to my chest for fear that something would go wrong. I actually felt dehydrated at this point, and as it turns out, I also forgot to take a gel. Bad idea. Past the 23 mile mark, I could feel it almost over. It was just a 5K run after that point. 5K, I said to myself, that's a freaking walk in the park. But at that same point, the 3:30 pacer came running by. I was getting passed big time. I tried to pick it up, but my muscles were not cooperating. In the last three miles, I decided that my ambitious time goals were out the door and there were two major things to accomplish 1) just get this marathon done and 2) try to do it running, not limping.
The sweet finish
I knew that even at a fresh state, I could not chase 2.2K in less than 9 minutes, so I resigned myself to running it the best I could. Other people were walking too. The crowds were getting bigger and that helped. When I hit the mile remaining, I got a bit of a burst of energy, and started to run a bit harder. The last hill was tough that I slowed to a jog at some points. But final sign were there. I decided to enjoy this last bit of hte race. The last 10K were so difficult, but I would go into the last stretch happy, content that all my training had brought me to this moment. So I ran, smiled, lifted my arms at the cameras and crossed...
As I grabbed a space blanket and proceeded to get my chip taken off and the greatest moment, that medal, I bumped into the woman who asked me if we were on pace. She finished about a minute ahead of me. "It was too hard to keep up with him," she said of the pacer. I nodded and agreed.
Well, that's my first marathon. I've learned a lot of lessons but I'll leave that for another day. Chicago is an amazing city and its citizens should be blessed for coming out on a cold race day like Sunday to come out and cheer us. They were loud, they were proud and I was happy to run in their company. I still can't believe how amazing the fan support was.
As I was doing last-minute shopping on Michigan Ave. on Monday morning, I was smiling all the time when I spotted the marathoners with their distinctive limp. I joined them, my limp diminished by a smart ice bath, but there nonetheless. I limped up the street, into the book store, up the escalator and purchased a book. A running book, for my next marathon.
Training mileage update
Marathon training: 1,125.5K (700 miles)
Year to date: 2,219.5K (1,379 miles)
Monday, October 23, 2006
We had a nice group dinner with me, R., Jelly and Cman, Frankie and his father and brother who flew into Chicago just to see him run. We picked the Rosebud in the theatre district and it was packed to the point that they set up seating in the lobby. Us three runners all picked pasta dishes and ordered water with our dishes. It was a funny crowd, roughly two-thirds of them were runners, in their windbreakers and sneakers, the other half the pre-theatre dinner crowd. Frankie's family was very generous and picked up the tab. After dinner, we exchanged hugs just in case we didn't meet up at the Trophy Tent (more on that later), we went our separate ways.
Now, the big debate was the weather. I was ready to go with short sleeves, but after monitoring the forecasts, I changed my mind. It would be about 3 degrees C (40ish F).
The night before was all ritual. I decided to go with my Saucony long sleeve, a technical shirt that's fairly form fitting but a pretty thin one at that. Pinned my bib, attached the chip, laid out the runners, the shorts, the top, and packed my gear tote bag.
I slept relatively well overnight and got up early morning to eat a bagel with peanut butter, but didn't really feel like a banana.
At 5:30, I was up and in the shower. 40 minutes later, said goodbye to R. with a kiss and a hug, and headed out there with my winter jacket on and my throw-away tech layer.
In the lobby of my hotel, there were about two dozen runners getting ready to depart. I hit the streets alone, but about 10 minutes later, as I was approaching Michigan (the main street alongside the starting line), I saw an amazing sight. A long, long line of runners, slowly walking down the street. It was dark out, and there we were. Hundreds, and later, thousands.
I checked into the Trophy Tent, for which Frankie, Jelly and I paid $25 each. It was bliss. A private check-in area, breakkie (I wasn't hungry), our own line of portapotties and, most importantly, it was heated. I didn't bump into Frankie and Jelly.
And at 7:10, I walked out there, and joined the massive crowds, heading to the start line. I followed the green balloons, and was wondering how I would keep warm for the next 50 minutes, let alone the four hours after that.
I entered the area at 7:30 and started to eye the other runners. They were definately serious folk. A lot were focused, some were warming up, others were just conserving energy by sitting on the roadside curb, bunching up for warmth. I joined the sideline for about 10 minutes.
Then the pacers arrived, the 3:10, the 3:20 and 3:30.
This was my final time to decide. Should I go with the 3:20s, or stick back. I stationed myself with the 3:20s, and we just stood there. The crowd grew, and we started to be packed in there, which was a good windshield.
Then they played the national anthem, and with 5 minutes to go, since my hat was off, I took off the technical warmup shirt, tied it into a ball, and threw it to the side, successfully. Unfortunately, other people didn't have the throwing range and people were getting hit.
The siren went off, we cheered, and the biggest race of my life was under way...
Next: The race
(Pics by R.)
Sunday, October 22, 2006
My time was 3:35:15. Tell you what, it wasn't my target, but I am happy. I finished it.
Full report later!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I walked to Rudolph St. which overlooks Columbus and the first few hundred metres of the race (the picture here is looking back at the start line).
Going for a run with Jelly and Frankie in a bit... Today, resting and carboloading...
Friday, October 20, 2006
This picture is from the starting area of the Chicago marathon on Friday afternoon.
The weather is beautiful, at 55 degrees and sunny. I wish this was race-day weather.
The day went like this: Picked up at 5 a.m. by Frankie, and off to the airport. We had separate flights. Was in the air by 8 a.m., and in Chicago by 8:45 central time. Was downtown by 10 a.m. and, through the beauty of text messaging, Jelly, CMan and Frankie and I caught up for a big breakfast.
We went off to the expo and proceeded to be inspired and excited by the big crowds. We went several times, picking up swag and samples. I signed up for the 3:20 pace team, but asked for the 3:30 pace band, just in case.
We saw the Penguin, and Hal Higdon, who signed Jelly's book, but wrote Gelly. Then we hit the New Balance merchandise store, let me tell you, they are raking in the cash with their wares. I bought a running jacket/windbreaker and a cap. Might as well.
Then we went back downtown and Frankie went to his hotel, but then Jelly, CMan and I took a tour through the park, where we snapped a few pics.
In my hotel room, resting. We go out for dinner tonight. I dunno about the weather. Rain may be forecast and it will be cooler than today. Best not to get too worried about thar right now.
More pictures here.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The packing has commenced! I'm flying out to Chicago tomorrow morning at an ungodly hour, but the bright side is I'll be in town by midmorning.
Anyways, the subject of this post. As Running Jayhawk and the others put so eloquently, we couldn't have done this alone. I know this to my core.
I am a solitary runner. Believe me, it's not necessarily by choice, but by circumstance. When i'm out there, I can concentrate on my running or my daily worries. But when I pass groups that are doing their runs, there is a little jealousy.
Of the 700 miles of this training program, I've probably run 685 of them by myself. But when I plop myself in front of my computer after every run, I debrief all my running buddies.
You keep me sane. You keep me honest to my goals. I share in your triumphs and understand your pains. I've peered into your running lives (and often, your real ones) day in, day out. These 18 weeks would have been much harder to do without this community.
So here's to all the Chicago Marathon bloggers that I stalk (and sometimes surface on). To Bob, Running Jayhawk, Ugly Toes, Ryan, Out of Shape Guy, Leah and Jason, Mike, Arcaner, Dave, Jods, Running Rabbit, Garou, Nicole, and Josh. Also, to those who bowed out, like Tara and runnergirl, who stayed with us and will be cheering us on. Thanks for that. Also, and thanks to Sonia, who's now a marathoner (last week), who's constantly been in touch.
Of course, there are people who've had to hear me rant and rave about my marathon training. They are family members (actually, my brother) and other friends are are pretty much family. And, of course, R. Thanks for sticking with me -- I appreciate all the support.
Finally, there's the two friends who are doing Chicago with me. To Jellypepper and Frankie, (pictured here flanking me, the guy in the centre). Thanks for pushing me almost a year ago to do this marathon. And thanks for following me online.
Oh, one more housekeeping thing for all of you if you want to track me. On race day, on chicagomarathon.com, you'll be able to track my times. The bib number is 6371 and my name is Kenny Yum. Now you know why the name's Yumke. Nice to meet you all. Until Chicago.
2 days, 13 hours, 40 minutes!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
My three goals are as follows.
Goal 1: Finish this damned sucker that I started. I will finish this marathon
Goal 2: Finish under a time I'm capable of (3:30)
Goal 3: Finish under or around the time I believe I'm capable of (3:20)
From the outset, I've been training for a 3:20. My half marathon times of 1:34-1:36 suggest that I'm physically capable of doing that time. Of course, you can only know so much for race day. For me, the pace between the 3:20 and 3:30 are much different. The faster time will push me to my limit, I believe. The other time will also be challenging.
The things i've learned from all your blogs, from listening to running veterans are this. Trust your training. Keep to an even pace. Keep a disciplined mind.
And it helps that you get to run with you 40,000 new friends.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I figured I've played the risks too much and today, I bought Cold-FX, which is the wonder drug up here in the Great White North (see Macleans article). So many people I know swear by it. Forget orange juice or Vitamin C pills, this stuff supposedly works for "prevention and relief of colds and flu".. We'll see.
The drug, made with ginsing extracts works by "targeting the immune system to activate viral fighting Natural killer cells..."
In other words, take two a day and hope it gets you to Chicago without any sniffles or respiratory symptoms.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
For me, it was a chance to cheer in a race I'd probably run if I wasn't doing Chicago. And it was also a chance to give back -- i've always appreciated the small but dedicated crowds who cheer us on in Toronto. I know in Chicago, there wouldn't be a shortage of spectators, but every single one counts.. I'll remember that next week.
Here's a picture of the guy who was leading at the 39K mark. Took a lot more.
Oh yes, here's a link to Running Jayhawk's fabulous ode to the Chicago bloggers. She couldn't have said it better. I don't think I could have done all this training if I didn't have the chance to read about the ups and downs of preparing for this race. I've trained alone, but it never really felt like that when I sat down at my computer.
Weekly total: 33K (20.5 miles)
Time run this week: 2:43:46
Year to date: 2,167.5K (1,347 miles)
Marathon training to date: 1,115.5K (693 miles)
Friday, October 13, 2006
And thanks to all those in the blogosphere who posted the link to this marathon trailer. Shivers indeed.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Did 4.2 miles or 6.8K in 32:23, for a bang-on marathon pace run of 4:46 kilometres or 7:41 miles.
And for the Chicago folks, yep, on the weather, we feel your pain..
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
So, I'm in the preferred I starting area. Yikes.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
In the meantime, while us Canadians wait an extra few days for our brochures, I have a few questions for those who've done Chicago or live there... You know, emergency preparedness type questions
1) Stupid question: When does the sun usually rise? I usually wear sunglasses to races and seeing as i'll be out of the hotel early, it'll be bad (they're prescription shades).
2) Will my Garmin work in the city? (I may bring it anyways to use as an expensive stopwatch)
3) Do they mark kilometres? If so, how often. And speaking of miles, do they mark them every mile?
4) Where can a group of people get carbs (pasta) on Saturday night if they are staying sorta near the starting area. Should we reserve?
5) Any suggestions as to what combination of temperature/sky conditions/wind produces the need to wear long sleeved tops? That will be a big debate.
That's it.. I think I have more questions, but don't want to make myself look that stupid..
Monday, October 09, 2006
Here's another picture by my brother from our trip to the Windy City a few years ago... 12 days!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Today I was visiting my folks. I spent a few hours helping my brother prep a few side dishes for dinner, and then while the turkey was doing the slow roast, I went out to run that same cross country training course. It was barely 20 degrees, with clear blue skies and leaves on the street. I ran it fast. I ran it hard. And I ran up the final uphill, which goes on for a good kilometre with a rise of 30 metres (90 feet), with small smart steps, a straight posture, full momentum and a thought in my head: 'I am strong now.' Recovering, resting, healing, tapering, but strong. I ran to my parents' driveway, cooled down, went in and got ready for some Thanksgiving eating. Life is good.
Weekly total: 56K (35 miles)
Time run this week: 4:45:46
Year to date: 2,134.5K (1,326.5 miles)
Marathon training to date: 1,082.5K (673 miles)
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Ran to the Beaches and back for a total of 19.5K (12 miles). Decided to keep it at an easy pace. Oh yeah, I ran 8K yesterday (5 miles).
Like all of you, i'm getting excited. I'm also a bit nervous. Friends are starting to ask me about the marathon, which means it's really gettin close. I can't wait till we get our brochures in the mail.
Tomorrow is my family's Thanksgiving dinner, so i'm heading back to the homestead (okay, it's a suburb) and we'll do turkey with all the fixins. And i'll bring the shoes for tomorrow's 4 miler at marathon pace.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I woke up at 6 a.m. only to see a massive thundershower. The sky was flashing, like it was lit by a strobe light. And it was raining hard. Too bad for an early morning runner who was sticking it out.
Me, no way. I finished work and headed out for a run. I don't often take two days off running, but today, my legs felt fresh, rested and relatively pain free. I set out on my 13K (8 miler) with the intentions of doing the whole run in about 1:10. I ended up doing 12K in 59:51 and the full 13K in 1:04:69 for an average pace of 4:54. My mile splits are here.
Will take it easy, but will run two 5 milers in the next two days... Rest up, legs, rest up.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
And add to the problem of race day when you're trying to hold things like gels. I've always resorted to a short that has one back pocket with a zipper. It's not my most comfortble short but at least it can carry one or two gels.
Well, Frankie heard about the LD Shorts (long distance) that have an amazing amount of mesh pockets. As you can see from my picture, my pair is carrying three gels, but it can carry four, plus there are two other pockets with velcro pockets and a large pocket right at the back. I used them in my last two runs and I forgot I even had gels.
Check out raceready.com if you want to get a pair before marathon day.
Now I have to figure another thing out: what kind of running tops should I bring to Chicago. Decisions decisions.
Total runs: 24
Total distance: 328K / 204 miles
Highest weekly mileage: 92.5K / 57.5 miles
Total time run: 28:50:22
Average pace: 5:16K / 8:28 miles
Total runs: 20
Total distance: 300K / 187 miles
Highest weekly mileage: 87K / 54 miles
Total time run: 25:56:12
Average pace: 5:10K / 8:19 miles
This was the last big week, my fifth week that I've logged more than 50 miles! From now till marathon day, the mileage will drop dramatically. Tell ya what, right now, I'm relishing the rest.
Weekly total: 80.5K (50 miles)
Time run this week: 7:26:42
Year to date: 2,078.5K (1,291.5 miles)
Marathon training to date: 1026.5K (638 miles)