Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Back to basics

First of all, thanks to my fellow bloggers and runners who left comments on my race report. I've learned a lot following you and will continue to do so.

I have lots of thinking and planning to do and I'll do a post about my thoughts about the race and how my training can be tweaked for the next time. But for now, a little bit of back to the basics.

My recovery has been surprisingly good. I took an ice bath, the first once since the Chicago marathon, and the inflammation went down, though I was still hobbling. My left calf and quads took a beating during the race. Also, the muscle on top of my right knee (to the inside of the leg) was cramping a little during the race. But in the past two days, the soreness was confined to my calves, knee and quads were still sore.

Today, after work, I felt my muscles were okay so I went out for a 4 mile run. It was a recovery run but I think I ran it a bit faster. I did it sans-Garmin.

I'm following the post-marathon recovery program that will get me from 16 miles this week to about 32 in the next four weeks. I want to be back up to decent mileage by December so I can be in the position to end off the year with good mileage and also have a base for next year's training.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Race report: Marine Corps Marathon

It's long, it's painful, but here it is. My race report for marathon No. 2.

The start: Mile 1 to 5 through Rosslyn and into Georgetown

By the time we got under way, we were lined up really close to the front. I think we crossed the starting line about 30 seconds after 8 a.m. As a result, we quickly got into pace and did not have a lot of runners to dodge or weave ourselves around. There were surprisingly a lot of people watching the start near the Arlington Cemetery. I knew that R. was making her way near the start so I kept an eye on her while trying to maintain close contact with the pacer. In this, as all races, the first part is just a mass start, big crowds of varying paces. You get a hard time figuring out if you're going out too fast or if some are just pushing you too fast.

At the very end of the first mile, in Rossyln, Virginia, we encountered a hill. Not a small one but a fairly steep incline. It was the first of several. Just as I nearing, I saw a girl with a fluorescent jacket. It was R. and I waved at her and saw her try to take a picture. I was happy to have seen her and was hoping I'd see her at a few other spots we'd preplanned.

I hit the first mile in 7:19, faster than the 7:37 pace we should have been doing for a 3:20 marathon. We ran the second in 7:22 (incline followed by a decline) and the next on pace. I quite enjoyed this part of the run as it was through very nice neighbourhoods and hilly areas that were kinda fun to run through. It's always a good test to throw hills at runners, but to throw it at the beginning of a mostly flat marathon was really odd. The fourth mile had a fantastic downhill in which we all coasted. Jack, our pacer, who we later nicknamed "Captain Jack", told us to take care of our quads and did some mentions of Boston hills. By this time, we had hit the first water station which I did not hit because I had my 10 ounce Gatorade bottle with me. I drank from it throughout the first two miles.

I was feeling good. The running was smooth. This was easy and time to get into relaxed running, which I was managing despite the altering terrain.

5 mile split: 37:45 (3:20 pace was 38:08.43)

5 mile to 10 miles: From Georgetown to the District.

The end of the 5 miles saw us climb a hill and cross a bridge into Georgetown, where we had massive crowds of college kids and other supporters yelling their brains out. It was so much fun at this and other points during the race. This area had lots of hills again, but I was killing time keeping up with the pacers. I was starting to familiarize myself with the runners who were keeping up with him. It turns out there were about 12 of us consistently following him, so our little group of 3:20 pacers formed a tight little pack among the bigger group of runners we were passing or being passed. I was keeping to the right of the group because I like to keep to the right and I also told R. I'd be on the right hand so she could spot me.

We hit mile 6 at 7:38, on pace, and mile 7 at 7:07, really fast but assisted by the hills. Mile 8 was done in 7:21 and I already knew that this pacer was going to push it throughout the race. No one in my group really asked him why he was going fast, only that we were doing different pacing because of the hills. This is my one complaint about pacers. They are runners who pace runs that are slower than their personal bests so obviously they have better LTs. We, on the other hand, have a narrower band. And so while they push the pace by 10 or 15 seconds, we don't have that type of fitness.

I knew this but also knew that I had created a buffer for myself. That my fitness and my races told me I should be able to handle a 3:20 or even faster. Plus, I knew the benefits of running with groups and I'll tell you that's one major area of anxiety that I'd like to do away with during a race.

By mile 9, we were on the way back to complete Georgetown and head toward the Kennedy Center and the Mall. We were now running alongside marathoners who were 3 miles behind us and it was a massive crowd. We saw the other pace groups and it felt good to be with the 3:20 group -- we were running strong. There were no pretenders in our group. We were running hard, smooth and with purpose (which meant little conversation).

I had by this time ditched my bottled and had made sure to grab Powerade at all the stops. I'd grab cups, pinch, take a good sip, and keep on running until I drained most of it. It was something I did smartly until the end. The water stations at these big marathons are chaos. Runners didn't really take the water then sway into the middle.. Instead, we were like drunkened dancers, bouncing and weaving out of each others' way, no partners, just trying to avoid each other. Meanwhile, our pacer stayed in the middle, grabbed a drink and powered on. We always managed to catch up to Captain Jack but it took a little effort.

10 mile split: 1:14:56 (3:20 pace was 1:16:16)

10 miles to 15 miles: And into the Mall we go

Oranges. I think I read about it in another blog last year that they have oranges. I was happy to see them so I grabbed two slices and stuffed one into my mouth. I thought about chewing them to get the juice, then spitting them, but I decided that food is good to get into the system. I had taken a gel at the hour mark and I had two more in store. I also had some beans, and six shot blox that I was saving for the end.

I saw R. soon after on a curve near the Lincoln memorial. We traded a nice high-five and I caught up to the group. I would have to say that miles 11 to 13 were the most fun of the marathon. The crowd was loud and having fun and I was soaking it up. I didn't do any high fives but I was enjoying the moment. And it was nice to hear the "go 3:20 pace group!" cheers throughout the race. We did mile 11 in 7:21, mile 12 in 7:17 and mile 13 in 7:24. Clearly, our pacer had no intention of slowing down to pace even in these flat miles. I wasn't complaining but I also wasn't heartened by people who said "we just did a 7:30 mile". Yikes. So much for 7:37s.

We hit the half marathon mark in 1:38:02 which was almost two minutes faster than the planned 1:40. Time in the bank, the pacer would say later. Time that I would pay for later, I thought at one point.

Mile 13 and 14 were still in the Mall and heading toward the Tidal Basin. I was expecting R. at some point and I finally spotted her a lot farther into the race than I'd expected.

We said hi, I smiled, and she snapped the only picture she was able to get of me. It also turned to to be the last time I saw her until after the race. Mile 15 was done in a fast 7:21 (and they followed miles of 7:24 and 7:31). We were simply putting a lot of banked time away. This would be the pace I'd go for if I were aiming for a 3:15 but our pacer showed no intention of wanting to hit his splits. I'd hear him say from time to time "we've got two minutes in the bank!"

15 miles: 1:52:17 (1:54:25.30)

15 miles to 18 miles: The Park and back

I really wasn't looking forward to miles 16 to 19 as they were to be run in the East Potomac Park. I had been there twice, the first time accompanying R. to the swimming pool on a super hot day in July. The second time on my last 20 miler three weeks ago. It was a super humid and warm day (the day before the Chicago marathon's heat wave). But this time, it was sunny, it was cool and I had a group to run with so it went smooth. Our group had thinned at this point and there were fewer runners in general within sight. In fact, our group was now running like a pack, devouring people in our sights. It was quite the experience to be part of a strong formation of runners. We were tightly together in the windy bits and although we spread out during the water breaks, we stayed together.

18 miles: 2:14:43 (3:20 pace: 02:17:18)

18 miles to 22 miles: The Wall, the Bridge and a Crystal City

We hit the 18 mile mark with almost 2 minutes, 30 seconds of banked time. On the way back out of Haines point at mile 18, Captain Jack relayed some funny story that I really didn't catch. Others did and they laughed. I just concentrated on the other runners' forms. We got some jelly beans and continued to chug along.

I remember the bridge leading towards the final six miles. People were starting to walk. We'd run as a pack and start really passing people. I really made an effort to keep with the group. We reached the 20 mile mark and I didn't feel like I hit the wall yet. Jack said "It's just a 50 minute 10K to go, a nice lazy Sunday run". We laughed but we all knew it was the farthest thing from a lazy weekend run. It was about to get tough.

There were no water stations for the bridge so I started to chew on the Clif shot blox. I had one set out per mile and I chewed and let it sit in my mouth while I sucked on the sugar. I think I should have just ingested it. I had also taken my second gel at the 17 mile mark. As it turns out, I "forgot" to take the third. Not a good idea, I don't think.

Still, the miles were going well: I did 18 in 7:27, 19 in 7:29, 20 in 7:25, 21 in 7:21 and 22 in 7:26. I was now two miles past the unofficial start of The Wall and I had not hit it yet. It was a good sign but I also felt myself really tiring and losing a bit of concentration.

I hate out and backs because it really makes you feel like you have a long distance to go. At the Crystal City out and back (miles 21 to 23) I could see the sub 3 hour marathoners and the 3:10s running. It wasn't a massive group. The wind started to really pick up and it was a chilly one. I grabbed a sponge they were handing out and it only managed to make my hand a bit colder.

22 miles: 2:44:54 (3:20 pace 2:47:49)

22 miles to 26.2 miles: The long trek home

We hit the 22 mile mark a full three minutes ahead of schedule. This was good to have banked time but I had run the majority of this race faster than planned pace. When I look back at the first 22 miles, only one was at pace and one was 1 second slower. All 20 others were faster, some by 10 to 20 seconds faster.

Mile 23 was another decent one at 7:28. At this point, I was just trying to picture another 5K run but the wind and cold temperatures were (again, like last year) getting to me. Mile 24 saw two things happen. First, I lost my pace group. They were just going a little bit faster and I didn't make the effort to catch up and match their pace. I didn't totally slow down, but it wasn't looking good. I did mile 24 in about 7:48, which isn't totally bad as it was only the second mile slower than planned pace.

Then it happened. I hit a wall. Not a massive one at first, but I was hitting it. Mile 25 saw me run by the Pentagon and it's a very lonely stretch. It's also the area of the start of the race so it's kinda disheartening to see it while you are cold, tired and all alone. I took my first walk break of the entire marathon at mile 25. Just like in the last marathon, a walk break broke me, but not entirely. My Garmin is kinda off for the total distance, but it shows mile 25 at 8:47, which is a minute off my pace. It's actually not a bad pace at all but given I was training for a consistent 7:37 mile pace, it felt very slow.

The last mile was tough tough tough. I had to walk once in a while. I felt what I felt a year ago: my heart seemed to be racing, my legs were cramping (a lot of it due to my taking walk breaks) and I was a little dizzy and even a bit disorientated at one point or the other. My mind told my body to go. My head said, "you've run 770 miles in this training, you can go one mile more" but my body could only give me a slow run followed by a few steps of walking. I hit the turnaround in the last bit and I accidentally hit the curb and found myself staggering a step to the left. I must have looked like I was drunk. A Marine asked if I needed assistance. I said I was okay, just a little bit thirsty.

I was checking my watch throughout the last mile. I saw the time ticking away and my biggest fear was totally blitzing my time. I really wanted to improve from last year's time. I had to. I was reassured that I could make a strong showing but my mind wasn't really doing good math for me so I had no real clue of what to expect for a final time.

Runners going past me were very encouraging, running strong while telling me I could do it, that I can pick it up. Trust me, it helps, every last encouragement. I did a slow jog and tried my hardest not to walk. The final hill is a test of strength of any runner in the middle of a race. At the end of a marathon, it's a cruel cruel thing. But you see the finish arches and by god, any runner worth his or her salt would find nothing but speed. So after one 5 second walk break, and getting the encouragement from the sidelines, I ran and picked it up.

It was not the shuffle of a humiliating end to a strong strong marathon, but one of a proud runner who had worked as hard as he could, trained as hard as he could and as I neared the finish, I put up both arms. I had deserved this moment and I was going to cherish it.

Post marathon march
I got my medal and was a little unsteady because of my legs and was dehydrated and weak. A Marine kindly walked with me for about 50 metres. Another two or three asked me ("Sir," they said) if I was okay. I nodded them and thanked them. They did a truely fantastic job in organizing this and I was grateful. They handed me a bag, I filled it up with goodies, I slow walked up a hill, cramped one leg, then walked slowly to the UPS truck to grab my bag. A Marine saw my hat and said "where are you from?!" I said "Toronto". He said, "I'm from North Bay, and I'm going home soon" All I could say was "It's good to see you."

At this point, I was close to tears. It all hit home. I had trained for so long and I didn't have my emotional moment until 15 minutes after the finish. I collected my finisher's coin, walked a little more and decided to plop myself down and phoned R. to come get me. I also phone blogged some thoughts. You can hear the pain/joy/exhaustion in my voice.

After reflecting, today, I picked up the Washington Post and saw two pages, one for top men, the other for top women. I was surprised to see that they printed first first thousand or so for both genders, which meant I got to see my name in print.

You have no idea what little spark of joy that it caused in me and it brought me to this. I'm no elite athlete, nor am I the fastest runner. But I worked hard and through that training, I've achieved far more than I ever thought I ever could. I set a personal best yesterday of more than 10 minutes (last year's 3:35:15 v. Sunday's 3:24:23). Nothing to be disappointed with. I'm very happy with the result.

I've learned so much this marathon and the training cycle. It showed me that the proper training can get you very far. Being prepared for the unprepared takes a tough outlook and I've yet to steel my nerves and head for this distance. Last year, the Wall hit me at mile 20. This year, I smashed through 20 but it got me at mile 25. Next time, perhaps, I be prepared to scale it, and keep on running. Yes, there will be a next time. I'm in this marathoning business for good.

Chip time: 3:24:23
Place overall: 895/20667 (96.5 percentile)
Place gender: 787/12610 (93.7 percentile)
Place division: 137/1900 (92.7 percentile)
Pace: 7:47 miles

Next, more analysis and post race thoughts

Pre-race: Marine Corps Marathon

A very low-key day on Saturday. I picked up my race kit on Friday just so I wouldn't have to spend Saturday on my feet. We got up late, hung around the house, then found ourselves at a local pizza restaurant where I ordered spaghetti and a side of pizza (ha!). We rented movies, did a little shopping but was back at home for the early night. We watched a few movies and then I went on my way to prepping for the race: pinning the bib on, getting my gels (three), jelly beans and Clif Shot Bloks.

I was pretty pumped but was able to fall asleep while watching a movie, so I dragged myself into bed by 10 p.m. and woke up a around 3 for my first breakfast of a bagel and peanut butter. I had a short nap afterwards, ate some yoghurt and packed another half of a bagel to go.

The race start was a 8 a.m. so I knew I'd want to get there before 7 a.m. The Army 10 miler I ran earlier this month was around the Pentagon so I decided I'd err on the side of caution and found myself walking out of R's condo in Penn quarter (listen) for the 15 minute or so ride to the Pentagon. By 6:40, I found myself walking with hundreds of other runners towards the bag check area. It was still dark and it was really quiet (listen) but we were soon checking in our bags. I visited the porta potty then hung around until I saw a group of runners head toward the start line. I had no idea where that was since it was dark and I put on my prescription sun glasses.

We made our way to the start line and I found the 3:20 to 3:29 area in the corral. It was pretty close to the start and I sat with other runners on the ground to conserve energy. Over the next 40 minutes, more runners arrived along with some of the wheelchair athletes. I visited the woods nearby for my last pee break, ate a half bag of jelly beans, stood for the prayer and national anthem.

The pacers then arrived. I only saw the 3:10 and the 3:30 and was confused. I asked the 3:30 guy where the 3:20 pacer was. He's coming, the pacer said. So I wandered closer to the 3:10. A few minutes later, Jack arrived and we all huddled around him. He planted himself around the 3:10 area (and there were remarkably few people using the 3:10 and 3:20 pacers.) I overheard some of his instructions and about the hills in the first miles. I sized up the runners I would be pacing with today. They were fit, looking confident and loose. I realized how different it was for me last year when I ran with the 3:20 pacer. I headed into this marathon a lot more humbled, a better idea of what to expect and a lot more prepared.

Soon before the start, after the anthem and around the time two planes flew by, a flock of Canadian geese flapped by the start line. I almost felt they were there for me and I smiled a little. I tossed my shirt, breathed deeply a few times, heard the horn and the second marathon of my life was under way.

Next, the race.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon photos

R. took a bunch of photos from the Marine Corps Marathon today. You can see my back in one of them (I'm wearing a blue top and white hat and you can see the pacer with the balloons)

Marine Corps Marathon: results

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2007 08:32:39 -0700 (PDT)

KENNY YUM, 03:24:21 @ Finish, Pace 7:47.
MCM presented by EDS - EDS Supporting The Marathon!

Searchable results are here


The Marine Corps Marathon done in under 3:25. It was tough. It was hard. And I'm proud. Race report later... much later... food beckons.

Audio: Oh my god that was hard

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Audio: Before the start

At the Marine Corps Marathon start. Instant Jott listen

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Audio: Hello, I am walking...

Hello, I am walking to the [...], there are probably hundreds and thousands of people walking here on [...], making [] dark to someone I guess, it's 6:30 and I am [...]. I am doing good that's great. If I don't blog another [..] then I will catch you guys. listen

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Audio: Leaving home for the Marine Corps Marathon

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

The night before the Marine Corps Marathon

18 weeks ago, I began this training cycle in the first days of summer and 770 miles (1230K) later, I come to today. Today was a light day, and for the second day in a row, I ran without my GPS watch. It felt pretty good but I was a little sluggish. A little bout of soreness in some areas and my right calf muscle is a little on the tight side, and I hope it won't be a huge worry tomorrow.

I talked to the pacers at the expo and they advised I should arrive there early in order to line up with them. Jack, I believe, will be the 3:20 pacer and will run with balloons. So he'll be visible. I recall Chicago had three pacers per time slot so I hope I can see this pacer. If not, i'll really have to rely on my watch/time sheet to avoid starting out too fast. The first bit has lots of hills and I have to ensure it doesn't break me early so the key is to run it smartly, even if it's a little off pace, looking to get more time back on the downhill portions.

So that's my goal: 3:20. Same goal as last year but I'm better trained this year.

I plan to do a few new things on this blog in the next 24 hours. First, I'm playing with a mobile phone blogging tool that I'll use pre-race and post-race to get some thoughts down. Second, I believe I hooked up things so the alert system will post my times on this blog during the run in 5K intervals. Third, I'll do a photo blog before and after the race.

That's it. Blogging from a laptop is done for now. Next time, I'll be on the road. Time to rest up, eat pasta, sleep, visualize the race and kick some marathon ass.... (well, a little, anyways).

Friday, October 26, 2007

Swag and other yummy things

mcmstuff, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

What a long day. Went to the Marine Corps Marathon expo, where we wandered for about an hour and picked up all the gear (plus R. bought me a Brooks hat and a fleece. Then we went for a big Italian lunch (salad, spaghetti with meatballs and dessert). Then went shopping and finally at home where we watched a movie. I'm staying in tonight to rest up, then get a few things in order.


Pumpkin spiced beer... best freebie at an expo!

Live from the expo

Just left the expo where I picked up my bib, chip, shirt and tonnes of freebies including pumpkin spiced beer. Yum

It was exciting to be there and R. bought me an MCM hat and fleece.

On way to shopping and Italian food. Also trying mobile blogging.

Settling in...

Arrived in town yesterday afternoon and R. was still working so found a Starbucks and had a cup of coffee (a minor miscommunication problem when I asked for a grande bold... do you use that terminology down here?).

Anyways, I'm here. It was dizzily yesterday but nice. In fact, when I left the airport for the metro station, I was so pleased to see how cool it was. It's supposed to rain the next two days but they are still calling for a cool and partly sunny Sunday.

Before I get to more business, a few have been asking (thanks!) and here's how to track me on Sunday. Marine Corps Marathon has a tracking service that you can use to track me at 5K intervals. Here's the link. Bib: 13931, Kenny Yum. I've also think I've set the alert system to post updates on this blog while I'm running. That would be cool if it worked.

Thanks everyone for the good wishes and I heed the main advice from all marathoners: 'Don't go out too fast'. You bet I'm going to be very vigilant.

Going for a short run today with strides, then we're off to the expo to pick up the bib, chip and other merchandise. I'll have lots of time on my hand so I'm going to think up strategy so more posts before Sunday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good weather for Marine Corps Marathon? Guaranteed!

Think this embedded player is live to the day (so you'll miss what is showing on Thursday if you check later), but this forecaster is hilarious! He personally guarantees cool, sunny weather for Sunday, marathon day.

You better be right, buddy (fingers crossed).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Off to DC ... soon

... I leave tomorrow so tonight I'm getting all my running gear ready for the trip. I think I got everything I need -- now just looking for a windbreaker.

Also undecided whether I'll use my training shoes or use the pair I have in DC and have done about half a dozen runs in, including a 20 miler.

I've done two runs so far this week, a six miler yesterday night and my dress rehearsal, a seven miler with two miles at pace. I warmed up with two miles and tried to do a 7:37 mile but did that in 8 minutes. I just wasn't awake enough and it felt harder than usual. I picked it up and hit the next mile in 7:36 and then decided to do another mile at pace. I did that in 7:40.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I purchased a hat today so that R. can spot me in the crowd during the Marine Corps Marathon. Also cause I want to represent the country, ya know what I'm saying.

White hat with the beautiful Canadian flag emblazoned. I hope it'll help her spot me.

No running today but plan to get a 6 miler tomorrow then the dress rehearsal on Wednesday. Starting to think about packing, which includes throwing all my favourite running clothes into a pile and sorting things out. I know the socks (Nike) and shorts (Race Ready) that I'll be bringing. I'll bring a few sleeveless singlets and a long sleeve. And some windbreakers in case of rain.

Oh yeah, and i'll bring more than one hat, just in case.

Just remembered... ran the Chicago Marathon a year ago today. I think right about now a year ago we were tucking into Uno's pizza.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon: 1 week to go

Sesame ice cream, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

What do runners do during the taper? Well, they reconnect with friends and do things like eat tonnes of sushi and top it off with sesame ice cream. Amazingly yummy.

Well, this is it. I did my 12 miler this morning - probably the last warmish weekend of this year. Took it easy then decided to turn it on and ended up with a moderate effort, doing 8:11 miles in 1:38:34.

Four more runs until marathon morning and I'm trying to keep things low key -- catching up on sleep, resting my legs. It's funny, but all they say about the taper is true. All the little aches and pains in my legs are coming to the surface this week. It's all good. The body's healing and resting... all the best for race day.

I leave for DC Thursday after work so time to think about what I'm packing. For now, it' looks like it'll be perfect conditions.. starting cool and up to 17C or 63F.

A few things on my mind. First is the course, much of which I'm familiar with but there are certain parts near the start and in the last six miles that are a big unknown to me. The biggest worry, however, is the massive crowd. Last year in Chicago, I was able to line up at the front with my preferred placement. This year, its a free for all, which means I have to get there early to line up with my pace group. I also have to face the reality that there could be major dodging in the early miles. Is it good conditions for an optimal race? I don't know, but I think i'll have the advantage of having a large group to pace off of compared to the smaller packs in smaller marathons.

Anyways, more time to think about race prep later this week.

Here's this week's schedule.

Monday: Rest; begin carboloading and hydration
Tuesday: 6 miles; Start assembling running clothes, gear
Wednesday: 7 mile dress rehersal with 2 miles at pace; finish packing
Thursday: Rest; fly out to DC after work; eat out at Italian joint as it's all carbs after this point
Friday: 5 miles with 6x100; pick up race kit; watch movies
Saturday: 4 miles; stay off feet, final prep, eat lots of pasta and in bed by 10 pm.
Sunday: RACE 26.2 miles

Weekly mileage: 33 miles (53K)
Year to date: 1388 miles (2233K)

Friday, October 19, 2007

500th post, and we're in single digits!

Nine days until the marathon. Actually, it'll be eight in a few hours. I ran 5 miles today with 6x100 strides. Windy as hell -- 39 km/h. Averaged around 5 minute kilometres. I have a 12 miler on Sunday, then I'm down to five runs.

It's my 500th post since December, 2005.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Did I mention I love carbo loading? Love it

Za. with carbs, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

I guess the big carbo loading happens next week, but who could resist after a hard run. Too tired to cook, and decided to treat myself. Potato Pizza from Mamma's.

Spinach, Black Olives, Roasted Potatoes, Olive Oil, Pesto Sauce, a mixture of Cheddar and Mild Cheeses.

Yum! Lots of leftovers...

Last hard workout

Marine Corps Marathon is now 11 days away and today, I did my final V02 Max workout. It warmed up a bit today, enough so I could wear a singlet again. Today's run called for 8 miles with 3x1600, a tough run.

I warmed up by running up to the track, much of it is on a slight incline, so arrived with an elevated heart rate. The usual suspects (I can say that now having seen them every week) and running groups were gathering for their workouts so I went right to work. Four laps. The pace I set was 6:24 1,600 metres, or a 4 minute kilometre pace. It's a pace I've aimed at in my shorter repeats and in my past two races, there was every indication I can hold that type of pace. (The half marathon was done at 4:22 pace and the 10K was 4:09 pace).

Off I went, focusing on the middle two laps then bringing it home with a strong final kick. I was more or less hitting my splits. One thing that was a factor was that I was running at times on the third lane having to pass runners. I would say it cost me a second or two in some laps, but it's not an excuse.

I took two minute recovery jogs between sets.

1. 6:21 184 max heart rate (176 average)
2. 6:27 188 max heart rate (182 average)
3. 6:28 187 max heart rate (182 average)

So within four seconds on either side of goal pace of 6:24. I'm happy with the effort. It was tough but I was not dying at the end of each repeat, which means one day after the marathon, I will go for an all-out mile. That would be fun to pace.

I check the weather once a day. Today, another change. High of 12C and low of 5C. I think that's about perfect. It'll likely change in the coming days. Two more runs in the next four days, a 5 miler and a 12 miler . Wow, totally taper time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chilly here, but watching weather elsewhere

And when I thought I'd finished my early morning runs, I go out and do another one. Out there at an ungodly 5 a.m. Pitch black, nothing like those warm mornings a few months ago. Did a 7 mile recovery pace run with 8x100 which were nice for generating enough heat. Completed in an hour. Tomorrow, if I can fit it in, the last V02Max at the track. 3x1600.

Meanwhile, the weather watch continues...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

'Thank you for cheering us'

DSC05145, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

Here's a shot of Fran running by me at the 38K mark. He was doing great, his second marathon in two weeks and I believe he was cruising in for a strong marathon time.

I knew today was the 'other' Toronto marathon. We have two in two weeks, which is insane. I still believe these two events should find a way to combine but I think that's not going to happen. One is going to build steam while other stagnates.

I'm not blogging about marathon politics, I'm blogging about supporting my fellow runners. I saw this marathon had be rerouted this year so that there is an out-and-back portion that runs by my condo's front door at the 23K and 38K marks.

So I got in my 16 mile run early, showered, had breakfast and was ready at 10 a.m. for the first runners to come through. It was me, a few cops, and the stray pedestrian on the sidelines. I saw the first runners who were moving at a great clip. I saw the first women, the sub-3s and the early 3 hour marathoners. Fran came by a little faster than pace and we exchanged a few words. I was too busy cheering him that I didn't grab a picture. (I took the pic of him coming back).

I continued to clap in and cheer in every single runner I could. If you were in a pack of four, I'd say 'Great job runners'. If it was just one or two, I'd clap and say "good job, nice work, good pace, looking good runners.'

People who live in run-crazy cities and big marathons have it great. They had thousands, hundreds of thousand and even millions of fans. I swear I was the only vocal spectator over at least the distance of a kilometre, there was barely anyone out there to watch the runners. To put it into context, my street has dozens of condos where thousands of people live.

I got to speaking to a police officer and we talked about running (I explained about the wall, about shoes, about running form, about how amazing these runners were for tackling the distance.) We broke from our conversation every few seconds to both cheer for runners or for her to shout at cyclists and drivers who wanted to get into the lane. One driver asked the cop 'what charity are they running for' (no charity, you moron). One cyclist was pissed off and asked why he couldn't run in the mayor's neighbourhood: 'who's stopping you,' shouted the cop. She was hilarious and great at encouraging the runners.

Over the 3.5 hours I stood cheering for all the runners -- during which I saw most of them twice on the out and back -- I received so many smiles, so many acknowledgements like a simple wave or a nod or a thumbs up. So many times, runners looked up and grinned (and you know how hard it is to smile at mile 24). Many said thanks but I was more thankful for them cause they make this running thing possible.

'Thanks,' they said, one by one. I remember one group that I cheered on the way out were coming back into the final few miles of their marathon, and I was clapping again: 'Thank you for cheering us,' said one of the women in the group to me. 'You're welcome,' I said, smiled, then cheered on some more.

That, my friends, is huge inspiration for me as I count down to marathon day.

Here are more pictures as a nifty slideshow.. My full set is here.

Marine Corps Marathon: 2 weeks to go

Yeah, 14 days. It's so close. The taper is going well. I was looking at last year's third week out and there are a few key differences.

2006: Third week before marathon (Hidgon Advanced I program): Total: 35 miles / average 8:10 pace
Wednesday: 8.2 miles at 7:45 pace
Thursday: 5.7 miles at 7:47 pace (marathonish pace)
Friday: 5.6 miles at 7:28 pace (hard)
Saturday: 12 miles at 8:53 pace
Sunday: 3 miles at 8 minute pace

2007: Third week before marathon (Pfitzinger 55 mile program) Total: 40 miles / 7:55 pace
Tuesday: 8.2 miles at 7:42 pace (5x600)
Wednesday: 5 miles at 9:03 pace (recovery)
Thursday: 4 miles at 8:02 pace
Saturday: 6.3 miles at 6:36 pace (4:09Ks) 10K race
Sunday: 16 miles at 8:11 pace

The difference in distance is 5 miles but this this year, I had three quality hard workouts -- the track V02 Max session, the 10K race and the 16 mile run. Last year, I did a short pace run, a hard-ish not quite tempo run and the long run wasn't, well, that long.

This upcoming week the mileage continues to drop and for the first time since the week of July 2, I have three rest days in the schedule. Woo hoo!

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 7 miles with 8x100
Wednesday: 8 miles with 3x1600 (last V02 Max)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5 miles with 6x100
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 12 miles

Notice that I have strides on two days, I guess to give my body a reminder of what it is to run fast.

Weekly mileage: 40 miles (64 K)
Year to date: 1355 (2180K)

Final thing, I'm so close to the marathon now I can look now at the highly inaccurate weather forecast.

Here is it.... A little on the warm side but it's a comfortable temperature

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Race report: ZooRun 10K

A great day for racing and even if the conditions and the course weren't perfect for a fast 10K, I ran my heart out and smashed my personal best. Yay for marathon training and a big cheer to the Pfitzinger program.

I was pretty tired going into today's race. My brother and I stood through the Van Halen reunion concert -- tonnes of fun, we had 23rd row tickets and had a great view of the stage (Yes, they placed Running with the Devil to my delight). But with that and making the trek back to my parents' home on public transit meant I was on my feet all night. I took an old bed at the homestead, and was in bed by a late 2 a.m.

I opted for extra sleep instead of eating an early breakfast. Out of bed at 7:20 a.m., changed into shorts, singlet and ate half a bagel with peanut butter while hydrating on Gatorade. JellyP and her sister arrived at my place after 8 a.m. and we headed north to pick up their cousin. They are doing a family run, which is a cool idea. We made our way to the zoo and I saw that everyone was wearing late fall outfits -- long sleeves, jackets, etc. I quickly decided that the wind -- and lack of sun -- made it too chilly for me to wear a singlet so I quickly changed into Saucony long sleeve zip-top.

We got our chips, checked our bags and proceeded to line up with hundreds of others for a lot of portapotties, but with 12 minutes left to the start, I decided to find, er, wilderness to help relieve last minute duties.

I lined up right at the front, calmed myself, and went over my mental checklist: 1. Don't run the first kilometre too fast. 2. Remember to hang tough in the middle miles/kilometres 3. Save some energy for the final kick.

I also flashed back to my personal best time in the 10K distance, set two years ago in a net downhill course called Canada's fastest 10K. There are so many downhill segments that I think it boosts your 10K time by about a minute if not more. The time was 42:01.

My goal was to do what I thought I was capable of. I managed a 4:22 k/pace for the half marathon two weeks ago, I have done 4 to 4:15 paced lactic threshold runs and my track work is aimed at a 4-minute K (5K pace). So my target was to try for 4:10s and faster if I could but not too fast. If anything, I wanted to be sub 43 minutes.

The course winds its way through the zoo, and I counted about 14 turns that were more than just little curves. A lot of them were hairpin turns (you know, the kind that makes you run around a pylon.) It also has a lot of hills -- downhills, uphils -- and it's slightly net up hill. And when I mean uphill, I mean there are some major ones.

Note, my splits are kinda off cause the Garmin registered the run as 10.15K. I did note the time at the 5K mark though.

I took off with the lead pack and made sure that I held myself back a bit. I didn't want the heart rate and the breathing to get too out of hand. It took a little bit of discipline to do so and I clocked past the 1K mark at about 3:56.

1K: 3:56 (net uphill - 4 metres)

The next few kilometres were actually some of my slower ones. I did 2K in 4:15 (it included hills, net 1.5 metres uphill) and the 3rd kilomere in 4:15. Part of this was that in the group I was running with, I was pacing with two runners, both of whom seemed to be going a little bit faster than they wanted to -- you can hear it in their laboured breathing. I made my move and dropped both of the and targetted runners ahead to pace off of.

2K: 4:15 (net uphill - a few metres)
3K: 4:15 (net flat)

Kilometre four was more of the run of the mill ones -- just get through it, I thought, these are the middle miles. I grabbed a cup of Powerade and practiced drinking at race pace and it worked quite well, actually running alongside others who didn't grab fliuds.

4K 4:07 (net uphill 1 metre)

The fifth kilometre was a nice one, I was really fighting to maintain my pace and I knew that I'd have to push up the effort to make sure I can finish this race strong. I wasn't really memorizing my splits so I knew that the 5K mark would be the easiest way to gauge how I was doing. I remember running strong but just right up to the limit that would make running too hard so that my heart rate gets too high. This section had a nice downhill, so I coasted off it and make sure I ran down fast and relaxed without as much effort so my heart rate could ease off a bit. I hit the 5K time in 20:51 which to my memory is one of the faster 5Ks I've done within a 10K race. I also knew that I was on track for a sub 43, but it would mean a harder final half than the first 5K

5K: 20:51 (net big uphill - 15 metres)

I could be corrected, but I believe the 5K to 6K mark is where we had our major hill. My Garmin says I climbed 15 metres in that time. I do remember a few things. That it was long and winding. That it was also on these sections that separated the trained from the well trained. Other runners were losing steam and it was the hills that broke them. I took them smart and accelerated through them. We had actual stairs at one point (about 6 steps) that I took by twos. What an odd thing to have in a race. Despite the climb, I did this kilometre in about 4:14

6K 4:14 (slight downhill - 4 metres)

The next three kilometres were just pure guts to hang on. I was running among strong runners (those who go out too fast usually are out of the picture by 5K). We were pacing each other and pushing each other. There was a small out-and-back so you could see who was about 200 metres ahead of you which was motivating. I saw one or two people who I caught up to and passed in the final kilometre in this stretch. My Garmin problems aside, it looks like kilometres 7-9 were strong ones.

7K: 4:03 (net flat)
8K: 4:02 (slight downhill - 6 metres)
9K: 4:02 (slight downhill - 2 metres)

When I hit the one mile mark to go (about 8.4K), I pictured four laps of a track. I knew I had to pour it on and my legs responded. I had another boost of energy in the last 500 metres. Final kilometre done in about 3:59 pace and the last 150 metres was done in a 3:38 pace (the speed I usually reach during my strides. I hit the final few metres, saw 41:xx on the board, and pumped my fists as I passed.

Final time was 41:21 a 40-second personal best on a challenging hilly course compared to the downhill and straight course where I previously PRed. One amazing thing (if the 5K marker was in the correct place) is that I ran the first half in 20:51 and the second half in 20:30, a negative split in a race. The hills definately were a factor, but both in slowing and speeding myself.

Here's the race elevation in green.

I finished and waited for JellyP and family. Snapped picture of JellyP and her sister with about 400 metres to go. We were cold and tired so we decided to leave the zoo and grab some food -- congee, smoky noodles, lo pak go and fried dough. The best comfort meal ever.

I'm extremely happy with this effort and it's another signal that I'm doing the right training. Does this mean I'm prepared for a 3:20 marathon? I don't think it's the only indicator of success, but I have set two personal bests in the past two weeks and they are both big breakthroughs, so I'm going to take it as a positive sign. If anything, my running season has been a great success already.

Final chip time: 41:21.6
Pace: 4:09 Ks

Place overall: 47/1847 (94.4 percentile)
Place in men: 37/731 (94.9 percentile)
Place in age group: 9/154 (94.1 percentile)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Running with the devil

I found the simple life ain't so simple
When I jumped out, on that road
I got no love, no love you'd call real
Ain't got nobody, waitin' at home
(Ah, yeah-ah!)
Runnin' with the devil

So, I'm running the ZooRun 10K tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. It's going to be cold. It's going to be windy. And it may rain. This is the last prescribed tuneup race by Pfitzinger so I'm aiming to make it an all-out effort. Time to read up on race strategies on the 10K :).

Jelly will be there with her family running team.

My family (or brother, rather) is taking me out to see Van Halen with -- woo hoo! -- David Lee Roth. I love the Lee Roth cheese era and had a nice little debate the other day on which album is better, the self-titled debut or 1984. I go with Van Halen's Van Halen.

Anyways, we watch the concert, stay on our feet then I go to the homestead to sleep overnight. The race is in my hood!

In the meantime, hope Van Halen plays this song:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Notes from Chicago

A year ago, I remember reading all the inspiring race reports from Chicago marathoners. This year, it's like reading reports from the war front. It's gripping. It's pure emotion and inspiring.

Just read Out of Shape Guy's post. It ends with this line: "Time or the metal really didn’t matter, just finishing was reward enough for me. I’m glad I didn’t give up, because now I know I can pretty much do anything." The report that precedes that ending is well worth the time.

Or Ryan's note that the heat was actually something good for running and marathoning. "If nothing else, there is a huge amount of interest marathon running now. And I see this as a good thing."

Leah's "Death March" is inspirational: "Making the big turn onto Columbus and seeing the finish line and knowing that I was going to complete a marathon in one of the worst conditions ever made me very happy."

Lisa already has set her eyes on another marathon.

And Jason Warick, a top-notch Canadian runner who blogs for a sister paper of my employer, files a race report that shows toughness and smart racing. By the way, he finished 11st. Overall. Wow.

Oh, there are tonnes more on the net. Just type Chicago Marathon Race Report in Google Search. And lots on YouTube. Some good, some ranty, but some gems.

Okay, back to focusing on the Marine Corps Marathon...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Wave: Army Ten-Miler

All race pictures I have gotten from the race photogs usually show me in pain, or in intense relief after a hard effort. My pictures from the Army Ten-Miler came in today and they're great! I was having so much fun that every time I saw a camera, I waved at it. I was rewarded with a fun photo. (Also note I held the water bottle right to the end).

Here's a pic of me smiling, the other with R. at the finish.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Final hard workouts

Ah the taper.. time for rest.. and.. wait, an 8-mile run with track work? I guess I shouldn't complain. The mileage is dipping.

Yesterday, I landed back in Toronto to 30C weather. Today, it cooled off so I made it to the track for my 5x600. The goal was 2:24 repeats with 90 seconds of recovery jogs.

1. 2:21 177 max bpm
2. 2:22 181 max bpm
3. 2:23 182 max bpm
4. 2:25 180 max bpm
5. 2:28 176 max bpm

I don't know if this is a sign of cooler weather or something else, but my heart rate is lower than in other repeats I've done. The last one was a bit slower as I was distracted by other runners on the track.

Overall, I'm happy with my VO2 Max workouts -- I have one last one next week, a 3x1600. Should be interesting.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Race water shortages: Thirsty for answers

Just following more of the fallout from the Chicago Marathon. In these two videos, the race director describes how it was a "heartbreaking decision" to call off the race.

Carey Pinkowski, the race director, was forced to address the criticism that they had run out of water at the stations. "Our participants were not consuming the water, they were cooling themselves," he said. They were "grabbing five, six, seven (cups), blocking the traditional flow..." "What they were doing was using water for consumption as a cooling activity."

He makes an interesting point. At the Army Ten Miler in DC this weekend, I ran with R. at a slower-than-usual pace than I'm used to at races. Simply put we were middle of the pack (we finished about 8000 out of 17000) and that's where I witnessed what was probably happening on a larger scale in Chicago. It was hot, sunny and we were all thirsty. We skipped the first water station but I saw runners swarm the table. Problem was, the tables were mostly empty and all the water and cups were on the floor. When we hit another water station at the 4 or 5 mile mark, all the tables were empty except for two, and again, people were swarming the tables. At the Capitol building, the entire line of runners went to the tables on the left going at the last available stores. R. and I had the entire right side to ourselves -- we didn't need the tables because I carried a water bottle for us and I rationed it for R. thoughout the race.

What us mid-packers were experiencing meant that for the 8,000 or so runners behind us was bleak -- that many of them didn't even have a shot at getting water. At the 8 mile mark, the final turn that leads to an hot highway overpass, there was scant supply. The final 2 miles really hit a lot of runners. About one in four were walking.

What this does is point out the reality of what mid- to back-of-the-pack racers face. They are on the course longer, so they are exposed for far longer than the top runners, who finish a little before the sun gets too too powerful. And on Sunday, they also reached aid and water stations that didn't have anything for them.

What the Chicago Marathon race director basically did was to admonish runners who took extra cups of water to cool themselves. I'm not sure about you, but I thought it was common practice (maybe not to the degree that people would take 5, 6, 7 cups) in races for people to use some water to pour on themselves.

In "The Competitive Runner's Handbook," Bob Glover writes this in his chapter about hydration and running:

POUR IT ON YOU, TOO: Pouring water on you may not help cool the body, but it may help you feel better. If nothing else, it provides a great psychological boost. You need plenty of help coping with the mental stress of running on a hot day.... During races, I take two cups of water at each station. I drink one and pour the other over my head."
So while Mr. Pinkowski says that the practice of using water for "cooling purposes" on Sunday was against the "traditional" way the water stations are intended to be used, it is by no means a foreign practice in road racing. I've done it once, and only with the other half of the cup I took for drinking, but I understand why others would do it.

What happened this past weekend was that everyone understandably wanted water. Supply could not meet up with demand and those who needed it the most were on the losing end. Who's to blame? Not sure about that one.

It also turns out that the runner had a heart condition and that his death wasn't heat related.

People seem to agree that it was the right call to call it off.

Marine Corps Marathon: 3 weeks to go and the taper begins

Week went well. Did all my runs including the big 30 mile weekend. My legs are surprisingly fresh. Now we come to the taper. My taper schedule is a bit more work than last year's. I'm running 43 miles this week, followed by 32 the following week, and the final 6 days before the marathon I'm doing 22 miles.

I'm feeling relatively fresh and the last 20 miler in hot and humid conditions, along with the strong half marathon, were two big confidence boosters. Now it's time to stay healthy, heal up, avoid the temptation to run myself out and rest for Marathon Day, which is now 20 days away. Reading and hearing about the Chicago Marathon (and, to a degree, the heat we faced at the Army Ten Miler) reinforces that weather is one factor that I can't control, yet it can determine how we will do on the big day. We just have to deal with the weather we're given and just pray that the 16 to 18 weeks we put into this is not wasted on our victory lap. Yep, that's what marathon day is, the culmination of all our work...

Weekly mileage: 49 miles (79K)
Year to date mileage: 1315 miles (2115K)

Week ahead
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles with 5x600
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4 miles with 6x100
Saturday: 10K tuneuprace (ZooRun)
Sunday: 16 miles


Giving thanks... food and running

Happy Thanksgiving everyone in Canada (and Happy Columbus Day here in the States and in DC where I am now.) I'd like to give thanks for all the food we get, and also for the running that allows me to enjoy eating it.

Running is a great balancer in my life. It provides me an outlet outside of my working and social hours. It gives me time to think and be alone, allows me to escape my condo for the great outdoors. It also allows me to be healthy.

Part of that, of course, is that I, like so many runners, love to eat. Love it. Meat, pasta, bread. Even worse than that -- or better -- is that I also love to cook. I have more cookbooks than running books (although more Runner's World magazines than Bon Appetites). I love to cook so much that now I get for gifts either cooking releated presents or running related ones.

Running and eating have such a close relationship: we're told we need to keep our carb intake high to store up on glycogen. We need sodium to help with electrolyte loss. Iron deficiency is a real problem for some runners, while our muscles need the protein to repair themselves.

Anyone who runs knows the deficits we build with every mile so that a 20 mile run is a 3-hour-plus jaunt through the city translates into an everything-I-can-eat card, or at least 2,000 calories worth.

Last year, I used my marathon training as an excuse to indulge in foods I love. Unfortunately, alongside with bigger portions came the unhealthy foods (ie., the fried variety). I would run 10 miles then not really care about what I was eating cause I was 'burning it off.'

And it's a losing battle. You can run off 100 calories in 7 to 12 minutes, but you can polish a bag of chips in that time and consume more than three times that amount.

Over last year's training, I actually gained weight so by the time I had reached the starting line, I was in good fitness but I had added probably 10+ pounds in 5 months. The winter and early spring didn't help.

A study in a Runner's World a few months ago mentioned how if you lose weight, you do become faster. Simply put, you have less baggage to drag around and so your body uses less oxygen to power yourself.

So in late June, just as this marathon training program started, I made a decision: train smart, eat smart.

In the past three months, I'd dropped more than 13 pounds to the point that it's noticable both in my frame and in my running. In a funny way, it's been a lot easier than I thought, but it required a lot of daily lifestyle choices: going for salad when other foods beckoned; deciding not to eat after 9 p.m.; watching my co-workers go nuts for the office food Friday (unvariably pizza, sweets or something fried); also shunning the Monday morning free bagels (soooo goood) and cream cheese cause I already had brekkie; brown bagging it when food is ordered in; watching the portions.

And the biggest choice I made: I started to cook again. I make 95% of my dinners now if i'm not going out and I make lunch every day. It's funny to think that the cook in me got set aside when my running, commuting and family obligations started to take their toll. I returned to cooking and everything else fell into place. Of course, I'm not making puff pastry, or using a lot of butter (or oil for that matter -- extra virgin olive oil) or cooking the more richer variety of foods. But being a cook makes it easier. Instead of buying pesto from a jar (laden with oil), I make icetray full with basil, garlic, pinenuts and a lot less olive oil than others use (no parm). I could go on, but this is a running blog.

Oh yeah, and running 50 miles a week always helps a little.

I know that getting into a better running weight as made me faster, but I also know the training and experience has really made me better. Two years ago, when I set my PB half marathon, I was around the same weight. This year, I was once again the same weight, but a better runner. I'd found the balance I'd needed.

That said, it's Turkey Day in Canada. Happy eating everyone.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Chicago Marathon hit by heatwave

Picture from Chicago Tribune:

Wow, this is a huge running story. (Update: And now leading in the evening). It's the 30th anniversary of the massive Chicago Marathon -- 45,000 runners -- and it's cut short because of heat. It got a high of 89F (31C). Last year, when I ran the marathon there on Oct. 22, it was about 42F or 5C.

I got back from the Army Ten-Miler late this morning. It was a tough race morning, starting out at 68F (20C) when we left home at 6 a.m. but rising well above that (It's now 91F at 4:30 in the afternoon). Basically summer weather. I was getting worried for the folks in Chicago.

Before my race, I thought of the guys like Ryan and Running Jayhawk, people among the thousands who trained the last four months for today. It's a lot of miles and sweat we put into marathoning and to have this happen is horrible.

Well, the weather hit Chicago hard. According to this site, a couple of hundred people were transported because of the heat. I was tracking Ryan's, Lisa's and Barb's and OOSG times and it looked like they were well off their goal pace. Ryan, who BQed last year and was shooting for a sub 3 hour, knew it was going to be a tough race. He finished it with a 3:32:17. If such a talented runner can get hit that hard, what about the others?

Update: "Marathon officials said 24,931 runners completed the full distance, with about 4,000 finishing before the race was cut short." (Chicago Tribune). CNN story and video.

On a side note, god bless guys like these who help out poor runners.

Sadly, one runner passed away (another died during the Army Ten Miler race). The same story sums up some reaction from runners

"It's a blessing, man," said Nestor Benanidez, 40, of Maryland. "I'd have liked the opportunity but it's brutally hot." Benanidez, who trained 18 weeks for his first marathon, said he had already started walking when the race was called.

"Why did they cancel it at Mile 20? Couldn't they cancel it at Mile 5," said Arzu Karimova, 28, a market researcher from Chicago. "I put my entire summer into this. My entire marathon is gone. I'll never have another first marathon experience."
Some comments from online readers:

What is bad, though, is reports of running out of water and aid station being poorly staffed. That will be the biggest to blame.

Good call to cancel race. Those not already at the halfway point by the time the race was cancelled most likely would not have qualified for another race. Common sense over insanity.

In the spirit of Pheidippides, I say let them run till they drop!

Training for six months for what!

My husband ran the marathon today, and last year. He called me from Ashland and 18th Street and he sounded great! His usual self, not winded, not gasping. He said he was good to finish the race, but had heard it was cancelled. He has been training for two straight years, and was in terrific shape to run in any weather. What a disappointment! I know that people were dropping, but people will drop if they haven't trained properly. Also, it was known that the weather was going to be hot. Not enough WATER? How irresponsible of the planners of this marathon! Also, runners were left to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere to get back to Grant Park. Some, in not such great areas. I doubt my husband will enter next year, but with Bank of America taking over perhaps there won't be a Chicago Marathon.

I have to address this lack of water because running the Ten-Miler in in the mid-to-back of the pack, they also ran out of water at stations. I could only imagine the 6,000+ runners behind us who got virtually no water for the rest of the race. I don't know what can be done, but there has to be a way to step up the supply to meet the demand.

More on this:
Heat cuts marathon short
Red Cross helps find hospitalized runners
Video on why they cut it short
250 ill, one dead

The Chicago Marathon cut short

This weather is unbelievable. Just saw this on the Chicago Marathon site

Due to the rising heat index and higher than expected temperatures, LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski and Medical Director Dr. George Chiampas, in cooperation with city officials, have implemented a contingency plan, as a precautionary measure, to effectively close the Marathon course at the halfway point. Runners who have not reached the halfway point by approximately 12:00 p.m. will be diverted back to Grant Park via Halsted and Jackson. Jackson will be closed to automobile traffic and the participants will be provided with additional support along this route. Participants who crossed the halfway point prior to the shut-down will continue to be fully supported along the standard course to the finish line. Participants are asked to take advantage of medical personnel, cooling buses, runner drop out buses, water, Gatorade and other means of support en route back to Grant Park.

And according to the Chicago Sun-Times, it was cancelled at 11:45 a.m.

Race report: Army Ten-Miler

That was a fun, hot, hot run. We did it in 1:39:08 and I was R.'s pace bunny and water-bottle carrier. It was a tough run for many runners -- the sun was beating down and by the time our wave got to many of the water stations, they were cleared out. Luckily, I had decided to hold on to our bottle of water which was a godsend to R. Water woes were happening in DC and in Chicago. Just not a good weekend to race.

The run was quite inspiring -- such a huge run that you are never alone. There were a lot of veterans and amputees running the race and they were inspirational. The crowd support was kinda quiet the first 5 miles but picked up in the Mall and in the final 500 metres, which was great. It's the country's biggest 10 miler. 26,000 registered and 17,600 ended up finishing it this year.

It was R's first race longer than 10K so it was a tough one, but she's so strong -- passing runners, maintaining an even pace and she never walked once. The final two miles were tough as most of it was on a highway overpass so it was exposed to the sun.

I am so very proud of R. It was such a hot day (for some reason it didn't hit me hard because I was running at recovery) and she made it through with strength.

A great run and I'm glad I got to run it for the fun of it.

10 miles | 9:55 pace mile | 6:09 pace kilometre

1. 9:50
2. 9:49
3. 9:17
4. 9:32
5. 9:39
6. 9:45
7. 9:43
8. 9:43
9. 9:49
10. 10:28
It also recorded an additional 1:19 cause the Garmin thought it was a 10.16 mile race.

Sad news: A runner died near the end of the race.
Time (for both of us):
Place: 8808/17633 (woo hoo!)
6.5 mile split: 1:05:16
Pace: 9:55 miles

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Army Ten Miler: Expo

Army Ten Miler, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

Got my bib number for the Army Ten Miler today. I originally signed up and seeded myself with a 1:10 finish. That was in May. Having run the half marathon last weekend and today's 20 miler means tomorrow's race will be a totally fun run. R. is running it with me and I will be her pace bunny. We are aiming for a sub 1:40 finish but I think we can go a little faster. By the way, this race is massive! Twenty-six thousand runners. R. and I are starting in wave three that gets under way at 8:15 a.m. The route is actually really familiar to me. I ran a lot of it, for example, today on my long run.

Love the hat but they ran out of the white ones. Oh well, black will do.

Good luck to the Chicago runners for tomorrow! I can't believe it's going to be so warm when it was sooo cold last year.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Long run: The plan aftermath

In less than 8 hours, I'll be out there for my last 20 miler. I want to make it count. Here's a tentative route around DC. It will be hot and I plan to see if I can push it in the final 5 miles. We'll see.

Update: Done and done. It is warm today so I was out there before 7 a.m. Humid, foggy and geting warm. I hydrated, stuck to the route, and did push it in the second half. I decided not to add a few miles as I'm now dressed and ready to go to the race expo for the Army-Ten Miler! I can't wait for this fun run. No pressure, no pay attention to splits!

Mile splits:
1. 9:23
2. 9:01
3. 8:45
4. 8:40
5. 8:28
6. 8:19
7. 8:29
8. 8:21
9. 8:25
10 8:17
11. 8:22
12. 8:34
13. 8:15
14. 8:20
15. 8:19
16. 8:10
17. 8:19
18. 7:54
19. 7:52
20. 7:27

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Race pics

Pictures from last week's race are ready. Here are a few. I'm actually really happy with some of them and I think I'll buy a few. I do like them more than last year's (notice the same old good luck singlet). Looking leaner (and meaner).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The same goal as always

Instead of resting on Monday, I jumped right back into the week after Sunday's race. Monday was a 4 miler at recovery pace and I heeded all advice, running an easy 8:57 a mile pace (5:34Ks).

Yesterday, stepped it up a notch with a 5 miler with 6x100 strides with an average pace of 8:06 miles (5:02Ks). The muscles were loosening up and I was feeling fresh -- the work out was helping to knock out kinks after the race.

Today's run put me right back into the fray: A 10 miler with 4x1200 intervals, a toughish VO2 max workout. I ran up to the track and counted three -- yes, three -- running clubs taking over different parts of the oval. It was kinda weird cause I obviously don't run with groups being a solo runner. I admit I'm a little jealous that the groups have the camaraderie, and also the impetus and support to improve. For me, it's a matter of pushing myself.

Anyhow, I had picked a 4 minute kilometre pace for the 1200 metres, I've been adjusting my paces thoughout the summer and I think I've settled on a good time. Here are the intervals with 2 minute jogs in between sets. The target was 4:48 for 1200.

1. 4:40 184 max bpm
2. 4:47 184 max bpm
3. 4:50 186 max bpm
4. 4:52 186 max bpm

The last lap was a bit tough as I had to weave to outer lanes as other runners took the inside. I'm fairly happy with the splits and my times at every 200 metres were fairly dead on.

In light of Sunday's PB for the half marathon, I plugged the number into various running calculators. McMillan predicts a 3:13:05, Runner's World sees a 3:10:53 and Vdot forecasts a 3:10:52. My first reaction is, yeah right. Here's my thinking. I am not altering any of my goals. I know that 26.2 miles is a tough distance. And I intend to race it the best I can in a smart, methodical fashion. Last year, in my first marathon, I took out an ambitious target of 3:20. I finished in 3:35. This year, smarter in my preparation and humbled by the experience, I once again set sights on 3:20. My goal is to race it though to the end. Time predictions? How about finishing the race happy with an all-out effort?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Joggler's record

media1.jpeg, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

Totally forgot that I took a few photos with my camera phone at the 500 metre mark. Lee's post reminded me I had it. Here's the Joggler, Michal Kapral, on his way to a world joggling record in 2:50:06.


Sad day

The runner who collapsed in Toronto during the marathon died, The Toronto Star reported today:

Running was David Youkhana's passion.

The 65-year-old Toronto man always took good care of himself and liked to volunteer, but three years ago he started to do them together.

He began running for a cause.

"He loved to do charity events, he loved to run for a cause," his daughter Nahrain Sciulli said yesterday.

Youkhana collapsed at the start of Sunday's Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and died at St. Michael's Hospital.

Youkhana's elder daughter said he began running marathons a few years ago even though he'd had a mild heart attack 11 years ago. He was careful about his health and made a point of meeting with his doctor before a race to get the green light, she said.

And he was proud when he achieved his running dreams.

"After turning his marathon running dream into a reality, he always came back and told us that, `I did it,'" said Evelyn Colalillo, Youkhana's younger daughter.

"We all are going to miss him for the rest of our lives," she said.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon: 4 weeks to go

Thanks everyone for checking and reading up on my race report. Last week was a great week, but it's time to put the half mary behind me and focus on the training. The marathon day is fast approaching, only 27 days left. Here's a recap of the week. I didn't meet the mileage goal of 50 because I took days off to prepare for the race.

Weekly mileage: 38 miles (61K)
Year to date: 1,266 miles (2,036K)

This week marks the final week of big mileage before the taper begins. I have a 20 miler planned on the weekend and I may push it a few extra miles and I'm even contemplating pushing the pace up in the final 5 miles.

The best run of the week will be the Army 10 miler on Sunday morning. It's the day after my last long run so it'll be a recovery run with R. We'll do it for fun, enjoy a big race with 26,000 other runners and get a big honking medal at the end. Oh yeah, the day after that is turkey day.

The plan

Monday: 4 miles recovery
Tuesday: 5 miles with 6x100
Wednesday: 10 miles with 4x1200 (this will be a fun workout)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 20 miles (start slow, push the pace up)
Sunday: 10 mile race at recovery