Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 goals

In running, we set goals, not resolutions, so here are my 2008 running goals

-Run a spring marathon (Flying Pig in Cincinnati) and a fall marathon (TBD)
-Use a shorter Pfitzinger program for the spring marathon and reassess
-Run the Around the Bay 30K in marathon pace 4:45Ks or 7:37 miles or faster
-Run the spring marathon to get more experience
-Run a marathon in 3:20 or faster in the fall
-Run a half marathon in 1:31 or faster
-Run a 5K in 20 minutes
-Run a 10K in 41 minutes
-Top 1,800 miles for the year
-Keep my weight stable or lighter throughout the winter
-Do marathon training long runs faster
-Keep on blogging (this is my two-year anniversary for run blogging -- woo hoo)

My running year in review

My last run of the year was after the 5K race yesterday, a 2.5 mile jog home with R., a nice fitting way to finish 2007. This has been a fantastic year for my running. I've logged the most yearly mileage, having done 1,640 miles or 2,640 kilometres.

What a year it has been. I started it off slow, and even began the racing season well below my potential. I committed to doing my second marathon, then focused on my training with the Pfitzinger program. It was not easy: I had a longer work schedule, plus my working commute went from 30 minutes a day to two hours plus.

The training was tough, having me doing hard LT runs, track work, strides and a heavier mileage. It's easy to gloss over how much work it was while I type this sentence, but I remember the hot days, the 4 a.m. weekday medium-long runs, and trips up to the track after work. I barely slept but I knew it was the only way I'd make it up to my potential: a 3:20 marathon.

Along the way, I had a lot of memorable runs in the Washington DC area, getting to know the U.S. capital that R. was settling down in. I took a fairly non adventurous tact at home, sticking to my favourite routes, but the early mornings were perfect time for nice introspective.

I changed my approach to races and got great advice from bloggers like Fran, I treated some like LT runs and fit them in as a part of my training. Then the hard training paid off in dividends. I had faster finishes to races. And then when I did race in the month leading up to the marathon, my personal bests were set, first in the half marathon, then a 10K. The marathon came and I set another personal best and had a far better experience than Chicago.

New personal bests set this year
5K: 20:03 (21:44 previous PB)
10K: 41:21 (42:01 previous PB)
Half marathon: 1:31:33 (1:34:29 previous PB)
Marathon: 3:24:23 (3:35:15 previous PB)

Total mileage:
1640 miles / 2640 kilometres

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Race report: Resolution run 5K

My 10th race of the year was completed this morning. I haven't been doing speed training the past two months, but I have been keeping a relatively good maintenance mileage schedule since the marathon.

Last night I had dinner with R.'s family, the Christmas meal cause she's home for the holidays. We were stuffed and we got home pretty late. Had enough sleep, and was thirsty so downed a little bit of water. That was the extent of the fuelling I did for this race.

We cabbed it up to the race site and saw JellyP and her cousin and chatted a bit. The race was about to begin so I excused myself and lined up near the front.

Last year, I did this race in 21:53. My best time in the 5K distance is a paltry 21:44. I knew that my 5K potential is a lot faster and the target is 20 minutes. This past summer, I was running my intervals and track works at a 5K pace of 4 minute kilometres. On Thursday, I did a 5K run with the fourth kilometre done in 3:58, so I knew I could do a somewhat fast pace.

We took off and I was with the front 10 runners. I realized in the first few hundred metres that it was feeling easy, but also feeling fast, so I hung on and finished the first kilometre in 4:02, just a bit slower than that fast pace. I decided to slow down a bit to conserve energy for the end. My best hope for today was to do sub 22 minutes and see how I felt from the first kilometre. Well, the start looked great.

Kilometre two and three were just done at a good pace. I was just running alongside a few runners. One runner passed me but I didn't give chase. My plan became this: run fast, but not at my fastest, so I can hold some back for the final kilometre. No. 2 at 4:15 and No. 3 at 4:12. So the first three kilometres put me in a huge position to go sub 21 minutes!

Kilometre four was on the way back to the starting area, so I was running past hundreds of runners going the way I'd just come. I saw R., who was having a great run, and JellyP and her cousin. During the end of this kilometre, we had a small uphill section, and I surged, losing the runner I was running alongside. I set myself up to chase, then pass the next two runners who were about 100 metres ahead of me. Fourth kilometre was done in 4:09.

The last kilometre (or 0.9 as my Garmin says), was indeed a tactical part of the race. I overtook one runner with 500 metres to go, then I decided to turn it on a bit more. I pictured my fast finishes for my 10K and half marathon and just floored it. In the cobblestone streets that led back to the start/finish line, I broke out into a sprint, basically a 100 metre strider, and overtook another runner with 15 metres to go. The last kilometre or so was done in a blistering (for me) pace of 3:49K.

As I was heading into the finish, I saw the clock hit 19:57, 19:59, 20:00, and I hit my watch a few strides past the line and it clocked in at 20:03.

I have to check, but I think the course was short at 4.9K, which would mean that at my pace, I would have had a 20:30 5K finish. In any case, 20:03 is a fantastic time since I ran this same course in 21:53 last year, a one minute, 50 second improvement. This time will be my 5K asterisked PB time of 20:03.

That wraps it up for another race season. More thoughts of this and other races in my reflections later this week, then I come up with goals for 2008.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oy, and that's another reason to run.

We ate lots yesterday. Spent a good part of the day cooking, which meant we scarfed down: seared tuna with lime and a salad, turkey, roasted red snapper, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, french onion soup, rapini, green beans, fresh baked bread, lime/cream dessert and homemade apple berry pie. (pictures of all to come)

So paid a little back this morning with a random 8.7 mile run around DC. I'm up to 21 miles so far this week. Looks like i'll have strong mileage to end off the year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Big eating, medium-long run

We had an appetizers night -- puffs with prosciutto and bri, nachos and salsa, stuffed mushrooms, crostini and smoked salmon, quiche and wine, bubbly wine and beer. So full last night. This morning got up and baked an apple pie from scratch (yes, dough and all).

So this cook is tasting lots of his food, so nothing like a 7.5 miler (12K) run around the Mall and a bit extra (route here). Also ran 4.5 miles yesterday with R in a slightly shorter route.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas tree

We ran probably about 5 miles. Didn't time it or take out the GPS. We'll run in the next few days as we eat our way through the holidays. Above is a picture we took of the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House tonight.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Midday run again

A nice fun run, just about 6.5 miles or about 10.4K, around the neighbourhood. Just can't seem to get the clothing mix but I think I should be wearing ear coverings instead of ball caps. I had shed the running touque but I guess i'll have to go back.

Planning on maybe doing another run in Toronto before I head to DC for Christmas. Very excited to spend the holidays with R. It'll be warmer too, as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

1,599 miles

Four miles today after work, a lot of it in the snow, and in a good pace in 31:10. About 8 minutes into my next run, I'll pass the 1,600 mile mark for the year. That's enough to get me from Toronto to Miami with 100 miles to spare. (And where, incidentally, I'll be doing some runs in mid-January during our long weekend there.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Crazy fun romp in the snow

The snowstorm arrived. A furious wind that made heavy snow look almost dangerous. I was talking to R. in the morning talking about how crazy it is to run, but I felt like one. I then saw a runner out there and laughed.

So midafternoon, after watching lots of TV and a movie, I felt decidedly sluggish so I went out there for a run. The snow was deep. The streets were deserted. But I loved it. Every step was hard, many were slippery but I made it through 3.2 miles in 28:54 with an average pace of 9:02 miles or 5:37Ks. I finished out of breath and was laughing about how crazy I am. Crazy to be a runner, and better for it. Now I got a winter full of this. Might as well get ready.

Weekly mileage: 14 miles
Year to date: 1,595 miles (2567K)

Gonna break 1,600 miles.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A big snow storm coming in!

I'm getting my run in before evening today, because forecasters are calling for a massive snow storm. (Picture above is of my balcony after a recent snowfall -- more like drifting snow.)

From Toronto Posted
A massive blizzard is expected to hit Toronto tomorrow [Saturday] night, bringing what forecasters say will be the most snow the city has seen in 50 years.
“In the past we’ve been wrong, and we’ve looked silly when the big storm got stalled somewhere in Iowa. But we’re pretty sure a big storm is coming this time around,” said OPP Sgt. Cam Woolley. “The storms seem to be quite genuine this year, but I think people are better prepared because of the ones we already had.”
The storm could bring upward of 25 cms to Toronto by the end of the weekend, said Environment Canada meteorologist Sarah Wong. The last time southern Ontario got 25 cms was 1944.
That's almost 10 inches.

This should make running very interesting. I should actually look at getting a pair of Yak Trax.
Been a nice slow week of running. Did 10 miles so far this which is piddly for me and my fellow runners but it's actually taken time. About 30 minutes per 3 or 4 mile run, so I've gotten out there three times. Funny thing about this maintenance mode is that a coworker spotted me eating a small bag of Doritos and pointed that out. I said, "marathon training starts in January, so for now I can eat like a normal person." What the hell does a normal person eat anyways, really?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Last quarter mile for you, Bob

Still on my easy easy week, and since I had a rare weekday off, I slept in and kinda thought about running. By 10:30, I was out there for a late morning run. It was only 0 degrees (32F) and it was windy but best of all, it was sunny. Practically balmy.

Set out to do 3 miles but altered my route so I could do a bit more... came upon the 6K mark when I thought about Bob, who said in response to one of my recent posts about running 5K

And I thought you were going imperial? :)

Oh yeah, I think in miles, not kilometres. So I figured, what the heck, another 400 ... er, quarter mile, and I would do a nice round 4 miler (6.4K if you're counting).

Run's in, out to do shopping and later have pasta and other yummyness with JellyP and the gang. I have so much blog reading to catch up on too!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Taking it easy

Screw it, it's time to rest for a bit. It's the holidays and I have marathon training soon, so this week, screw mileage, I'll get runs in when they come...

So today, 3 miles. Maybe i'll get up early tomorrow. Maybe not. Yay for Christmas.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weekly mileage update

Just trying to keep my records up to date. Two weeks ago, I ran 24 miles and this past week, it was 30 miles, which means I'm on track to top 1,600 miles this year if I keep up the 20 mile per week schedule.

In fact, just checked, but I surpassed last year's total mileage of 1,563 miles or 2,515K. I'm very happy about that cause I had a very slow this past winter/spring.

Year to date: 1,581 miles (2,544K)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Going the extra mile

God I love our sport. What other kind of activity can turn a cold day into one that's pleasant? What else can turn a biting bitter foe of a wind into a friendly push at your back. What else could turn treacherous icy ground into a running playground?

It's been a long week, and when I got home, it was already dark, I knew I owed myself a short run. Yes, I said owed. It's a treat to shed the computer, shed the indoors to reconnect. So, as I ran the trails out to do a 4 miler, I ran straight into a strong headwind. It was uncomfortable, but I knew the warmth would come.

I ran into the dark path of the waterfront trail and it was all my own. It was me, the wide open road, and cars streaming on a nearby highway. On one side, the silent lake, and a slight light from the city and sky illuminating the horizon. I hit the two mile mark and started to enter the part of the path that had big patches of ice, some blanketed with a crusty snow with just enough give to give a runner some traction. I decided to venture forward and so the next mile was like this: four steps pavement, four steps on ice or snow. My stride tightened, my arms went up and my senses heightened. I almost forgot I was running since I was spending so much effort trying not to slip. It was so much fun.

I turned at 4K, and suddenly the wind ceased. Other runners will recognize this moment on their out-and-backs when a rushing wind of resistance suddenly aids you. So I literally breezed on to home, enjoying dancing on ice, enjoying the silence and peacefulness, enjoying the city skyline from afar, and enjoying the extra mile...

5 miles in 42 minutes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Need for speed

In 25 days, I have my last race of the year, a 5K fun run. It's a resolution run, but no need to make resolutions since I have marathon training to think about on Jan. 1. Haven't really done a lot of speed work the past month but today was a first entry back into it.

Ran 5K , doing the first at a steady long run pace. After two kilometres of that, I decided to do some 100 metre strideouts. And after a few of those, I felt great, so I decided to turn it on slightly.

Here are the splits.

1K: 5:03
2K: 5:07
3K: 4:36
4K: 4:29
5K: 3:57

Final time in 23:12.

Here's the thing about my PB for the 5K distance. It sucks given what I've done in longer races. I've run very few 5K races so that my PB was actually set on a blazing hot day in which I fell apart in the last kilometre, giving me a time of 21:44. During a 10K before the marathon, I managed a 41:23 with the first 5K in 20:50 and the second even faster on a hilly course. I'm not in that shape now, but I think I can be in shape to lower the PB by a smidge. So while it's a fun run in 25 days, it could be a day I can exact sweet sweet revenge on that PB. How does 21:30 sound?

Hey, we all need goals.

Monday, December 03, 2007

New Year's Resolution: The next marathon

Okay, so a kick in the butt is needed for this runner. Actually, I'm not that bad this year, but I've had a few lighter weeks after the marathon. My target was to do 25 to 35 miles a week. Last week I managed 24. Oh well, close enough.

But this post is not about current running, but about future running. I think this summer and fall, I've worked up a strong running routine, I've made fitness gains, shed weight and grown to be a stronger runner. I don't think I want to wait a full year before having my next shot at the marathon distance, so here I am, a month after Marine Corps Marathon and planning for the next one.

The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinatti on May 4. JellyP, who tends to always talk me into these distances, is doing a family pilgrimage to the Flying Pig to do the half, so why not (excuse the pun) piggy back on that idea (not to 'hog' all the attention) and use it as my spring marathon.

So I signed up today, and I'm about to look for hotels. Next, it's time to think of training: An 18 week program would start (ugh) on Jan. 1. and I'm not looking forward to running in the two coldest months outside. This will be tough.

One option is to do some good maintenance miles and start a 12-week program in Mid February but it looks like I may not get the quality work in. All said, I think I want this marathon to be another one in the books so I can attempt to run one through without hitting the wall.

Regardless of when I start training, I will use the next three weeks to recharge myself from work then plunge right back into it in January. Lots of maintenance miles in the meantime in December, starting with a three-miler right now...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December's in and the hardy (foolish) few are out

As I lay in bed this morning, I was wondering whether I'd do my run. The plan was that R. would go for a hair appointment and I would go out for a run in the meantime. We knew last night it was freezing so when she asked how long I'd go, I said, "a little, but we'll see."

Then I got up and looked at the forecast.

Holy crap.

-11C (12F) with a windchill of -18(-0.4F). Wind of 20km/h.

It's not just December, it's full on mid January weather. I'm not ready for this crap. So it called for a change plan: maybe I'd run 3 miles out, and see where I was, then at the minimum I'd get in a 6 miler. As I was mulling over my fate, R. said she spotted a runner outside by the water. I said "it's a mirage!" but there the runner was, in full winter gear.

So I dug into my winter gear bag. Out came the windprotector full head cover with the critical ear coverings. Out came the glove liners AND the Sugoi windstopper mitts (highly recommended.) Then came the layers: a long sleeve breathable base layer, a heavy long sleeve, a windbreaker vest then a FOURTH layer, my brand new Asics Storm Shelter jacket, which is much heavier than my usual Sugoi outer shell.

Out I went and it was cold! I was waiting for the Garmin to pick up when I saw two other similarly clad runners and I was emboldened. I ran out, warming up slightly as I picked up speed. Within the first mile, I saw about 4 runners. It was great to see others out there. You raise your hand a little higher in acknowledging that you are the hardy few.

By the time I reached 2 miles, I knew I was in for a full 10. And it was great. Tough, cold, hard to breath, constraining with all the layers, and it was difficult to manage the cooling and heating. The outer shell is very effective and luckily it was vents that you can slide down to cool down (imagine that).

As I hit the 4K mark I realized I was at the 21 minute mark, so slower than a 5 minute kilometre pace. I decided to step it up, that at least I could manage a 5 minute pace if not faster. The splits below tell the rest of the story.

Mile 1: 8:29 (5:16K pace)
Mile 2: 8:26 (5:14K pace)
Mile 3: 8:18 (5:10K pace)
Mile 4: 8:15 (5:08K pace)
Mile 5: 8:02 (5:00K pace)
Mile 6: 8:04 (5:01K pace)
Mile 7: 7:57 (4:56K pace)
Mile 8: 7:46 (4:50K pace)
Mile 9 7:54 (4:55K pace)
Mile 10 7:28 (4:38K pace)

Total: 10 miles in 1:20:50 for average pace of 5:01K

That was a fun, memorable run. The first of the winter, in my books, even though the season's not even here yet.

Friday, November 30, 2007

World's biggest candy cane?

The CN Tower lost its crown as the tallest freestanding structure earlier this year.

But it also got a brand new set of lights and it's looking like a massive festive candy cane, for your enjoyment.

I'm still running: did 5 miles on Tuesday, 3 miles on Wednesday and a 10K (6.2 miles) today with a fast second half, the 10K in about 47 minutes. Tomorrow, plan to do a longish run of 10 miles. It's cold out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Where was I?

Oh yeah, running. Past few days have been a blur. In fact, my vision is slightly blurry, or should be, after staring at a computer screen for most of the past five days. It's been the busiest work week of the year, so I'm pretty lucky to have gotten in some running. For example, today, before work, I got in a 5.7K run from my hotel, doing a out-and-back on snowy and icy sidewalks. After I took a break at my hotel, I did another run in the late afternoon to give me a total of 10.4K on the day, about 6.5 miles.

So I put in 20 miles this week. Not a whole lot, but I'm very impressed I was able to fit them in. I was tired as hell, but the runs help me de-stress and escape the work.

Weekly mileage: 20 miles (32K)
Year to date: 1527 miles (2,443K)

Oh, the work I was mentioning? The website I work for just launched a major redesign (which I've never written about here for purely competitive reasons). Here it is, in all its shiny glory. We're all very proud of the work we've done.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And the ground turns to fluff

It snowed today, not the big snow that they had promised, but a relatively light dusting. I was working late tonight so I went for a run after work before dinner. I set out without a Garmin and did a square route around the neighbourhood. I wasn't really sure how far it was, but I figured it was more than 5K.

I love running in the snow and this snow was perfect. Ever run in carpeted floor with corking below the carpet? It felt like that. Perfectly bouncy.

The run, scarily enough, was EXACTLY 4 miles (6.4K). Hopefully I'll get another one in before work tomorrow. A pic I took of the snow on my way back to work tonight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Snow day

Yeah, it's Nov 21 and we're likely to be hit with a major snowstorm:

Snowfall warning for: City of Toronto
Issued at 5:30 PM EST WEDNESDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2007

That would be fun to run in.. I got a 3 miler in before work. It's near 3 C now. A few more degrees and this rain is snow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Strides and tempos

It's almost time I get back some quality speedwork or LT runs in. Today, started off slow and I was thinking of throwing in some strideouts. I ended up pushing the pace till I hit marathon pace, then hit it up a few notches until I ended at the faster end of my LT during this past summer's training. Here are the splits of a 10K (the first two are a little wonky due to GPS issues:

1. 5:03
2. 4:20
3. 4:56
4. 4:45
5. 4:47
6. 4:35
7. 4:34
8. 4:23
9. 4:19
10. 4:11
(last 250 metres): 3:33 pace.

10K done in about 45:53, which isn't bad seeing as I started the first half a little on the slow side.

I think it's time I sign up for a 5K race. R and I will probably be doing the Resolution run on Dec. 30.... If only it hasn't filled up yet.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pics are in

I'm loving these marathon pictures. Looking strong in most. And happy in some. Good to remember the good times and forget the painful last miles.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Back to the base

Another good week of running in the books. I'm bouncing back quicker than last year. Hit another running milestone, passing the 1,500 mile mark for the year. I'm well on the way to surpassing last year's 1,563 miles. I started this year pretty slow, but once spring came, I've been catching up week to week. My post-marathon running has been strong.

Today's 10.5 miler was great. It was cool, but I slightly overdressed that I had to tuck away the gloves and the wind vest was making things too warm. I started with 5 minute kilometres but after the half way mark, I decided to pump it up, and was able to run the rest at around or faster than marathon pace (7:37 miles and 4:45Ks).

Here's the mileage for this week:

Tuesday: 6 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Saturday: 5.5 miles
Sunday: 10.5

Happened to just note that we did 5.5 miles yesterday, which was the distance runners were doing to mark Ryan Shay, the marathoner who died during the U.S. Olympic trials. For you, Ryan.

Weekly total: 33 miles (53K)
Year to date mileage: 1507 (2,425K)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sliding into the weekend...

Catching up on the running cause the week is moving fast. Did a 3.1 miler (5K) on Thursday night and really poured it on in the last two kilometres after an easy start, for about a 24 minute 5K. It was windy and cold and I'm realizing I have to get ready for the winter weather ahead.

At the last minute, decided to hop on a plane to DC to visit R this weekend. We set out on a run on a beautiful day and it was perfect. Chilly but sunny. We did her favourite route of the moment, one I mapped out for her a little while ago that takes you from Penn Quarter in DC, past the Lincoln Memorial, into Virginia and around parkland and riverside, then back to DC and the Jefferson Memorial and past the Monument back to DC. Kinda monumental run. We did about 5.5 miles (9.5K) in just under an hour.

We went out to a yummy pizza joint, Matchbox, for lunch.

Started out with beer! I had the Allagash White while she had Yeungling.
That was followed by one of the day's specials. We split three 'sliders', or tuna burgers. It was so delish. They used real tuna and the patties were made up of sashimi quality tuna cubes, barely cooked so it melted in your mouth. They also do mini burgers that are very popular.
I had the fresh portabella: sliced portabella / marinated artichoke / fresh garlic purée / extra virgin olive oil / mozzarella
She had the oven-dried tomato and fresh buffalo mozzarella: zesty tomato sauce / fresh basil

Love that pizza. As good as Terroni's back home. We brought half of our pizzas home. A run and yummy food. Perfect start to a weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Escape to the run

Work is crazy busy these days, so much so that I don't have much time to do much else than commute and work.

Yesterday, I did a 6 miler before work, getting out there by 5:15 a.m. on little more than 4 hours of sleep. I figured that I would either feel tired and crappy or, crazily enough, find energy from a run. Well, it worked. I decided to actually use my Ipod Shuffle for once and plugged in Steve Runner's Phedippidations (awesome podcast) and catch up on some old episodes. I replayed one episode on Terry Fox (#46)and was totally inspired that I added an extra bit to my run.

Oh, and this is one of the views I get treated to on beautiful mornings. This is across the street from my condo.

Today, I got home at 7:30 p.m. and instead of eating dinner and crashing on the couch, I felt a lot of pent up stress so I figured a nice run would set things right. It's warm tonight and I set out and it felt perfect after 50 metres. No music, no radio, just me and the dark. The wind was light and I felt like extending the run, so what started as a 5 miler turned into a 6, then a bit more. Finished 8 miles (13K) in 1:06, was in the door by 9 p.m. and had a late dinner. It's 2.5 hours later and time for bed but that run was well worth it. A nice escape from all that stress.

Plan to be out there again tomorrow morning in about 6 hours.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Testing those legs

Well, two weeks after the marathon and I'm back at it. The legs are fine after a few test runs the past few days.

I did a four miler last night and did the third one at a bit faster than LT. Just wanted to see how my muscles would hold up to some speed. Did the third in 6:43 or a 4:10 per kilometer pace.

Today I intended to do a minimum of 10 miles, but my route kinda distracted me and I ended up doing a bit more than 13 miles in 1:52:57.

So I did 35 miles this week, which means my taper and buildup is looking like this

3 weeks to marathon: 49 miles
2 weeks to marathon (taper): 40 miles
1 weeks to marathon: 33 miles
Marathon week: 46 miles
1 week after: 15 miles
2 weeks after: 35 miles

I'm now back to my comfortable base mileage and I intend to do between 25 and 35 a week over the next month, then settle into a 30 mile a week routine until the next training cycle begins. Since my first confirmed big race is the 30K in late March, I'll have to build back up to that distance by starting in January.

Year to date mileage: 1474 miles (2372K)

Friday, November 09, 2007

5:18 a.m.

I'm dressing now for a morning run and I realize that I'm insane. Why am I up at 5 a.m. for a run during my recovery running phase....?

Bed looks awfully comfy. Four miler, here I come.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why I run... a lot.

No, I can't eat this all the time, but sometimes, like when the DinnerClub decides to go low(er) class. At least this morning's 6 mile run contributed to the calorie burn.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Resisting... a little bit...

Well, the planning is well under way for my winter/spring training and racing schedule. I'm running the 30k Around the Bay road race in Hamilton, the oldest road race in North America. I'm looking forward to it and even though I have sights set at a spring marathon, I might as well consider this one of my A races. It's set for March 30th.

Today was a rest day but I went out for a 3 mile run, followed by a little bit of upper body work with resistance bands. I really stayed away from cross training in the summer but I think it's time I work on other parts of my training. The first thing to target is a strong core and arm/chest strength. I figure it'll help a little with arm movement and posture. I'm going to incorporate this on non-running days and on weekends.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Imperially minded

It finally happened. I'm now thinking in miles. I plan my runs in miles, I mark the mile points in my runs, I check my mile splits. Today, it was a 5 mile run, not an 8.04 kilometre run (although I have the conversions seared in my brain).

A summer of following the Pfitzinger marathon program has now has me pushing the metric system to the side. Actually, the real story is that I still do think in kilometres, but translate it all to miles. Kinda like when I speak Cantonese to my folks. It's English first (in the head) then Cantonese rolls out (inelegantly at times) off the tongue.

One benefit? I now consider 5 miles my minimum distance. There was a time when a 5K run (3.1 miles) was considered my short run...

On Edward McClelland, Oprah and John Stanton

Okay, last post on this guy (until we hear months from now how he did on his 3:30 marathon). Here's the CBC interview they did Sunday with him and Running Room founder John Stanton.

Notice how he kinda lacks a... point. Except for the research he does on why Canadian elite marathoners can't make the grade.... wow, he has high standards. And he also reverses himself and says he hopes Ryan Hall will make the podium in Beijing. Geez, this guy's aw shucks performance almost makes you feel sorry for him.


Link to video is here:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Catching up and looking ahead

Just getting a chance to catch up on recording my mileage. I'm now in my recovery period for the rest of November until I can get back into a base training level. I'm aiming to maintain better mileage than last winter.

Mileage in last two weeks (46 miles + 15 miles): 51 miles (82K)
Year to date: 1439 miles (2316K)

Here's a look at my mileage in the past 19 weeks.

Now it's time to refocus on my running. I know I need goals to keep my training in check and to give me something to, well, make it through the winter. So here's the question: Do I want to train for a spring marathon? I think so. I've made lots of gains this training season and I'm eager to get back at it and next fall seems too far away.

I'm quietly checking out a few races but I think I'm ready to commit to one. Just waiting for JellyP and her fam to firm up some dates.

As for the fall, I have lots of options if I'm to run a fall marathon. I'm still sticking to a big city marathon where I can be assured there will be pacers, so I'm thinking Chicago and Marine Corps although Philly may be an alternative (and late enough in the season that it could be my B race). Yeah, that's right, it looks like I'm aiming at a two-marathon year. That would mean out of 52 weeks, 36 would be for marathon training and 8 weeks of recovery and 8 weeks for base training.

Here are races I'm thinking of between now and the end of May in here or DC:

New Years Resolution run in Toronto: Dec. 31
Chilly Half in Burlington: Feb. 2
St. Patricks Day 5K in Toronto: March 16
National Half Marathon in DC: March 29
Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton: March 30
Spring Runoff 8K in Toronto: April 5
Cherry Blossom 10 miler in DC: April 6
Sporting Life 10K in Toronto: May 4

And a marathon in May....

Respect the distance...

Some of you may have read the Salon article by supposedly one of our own, a one-time marathoner, saying how Oprah and the Penguin ruined the marathon. The author also goes on to blame average runners for ruining the sport. Huh?

After a few liberal cut and pastes from his story, here are a few quick rebuttals to Mr. Edward McClelland:

With all these runners, and all this technology, you'd think America would be turning out faster and faster marathoners. Instead, the opposite is happening. The more we run marathons, the slower we get -- an average of 45 minutes slower over the last 25 years. Ryan Hall is the swiftest American-born marathoner ever. His best race isn't in the top 250 of all time.

What does turning out faster marathoners have to do with the mass population?

Hall is running in this weekend's other New York marathon: Saturday's Olympic Trials in Central Park. Don't expect to see him on the victory stand in Beijing, though. Since Shorter retired, only one American man has won a medal in the marathon: Meb Keflezighi, who grew up in Eritrea, where he didn't see a car until he was 10 years old. You can look at this as a triumph of the melting pot, or you can look at it as soft Americans relying on an immigrant to do their arduous running.

So he isn't an American? Even though he's been there for a dog's age. Wow, you have a long time to go before you accept the difference between an American and an.... American. By the way, I'm sure you'll be eating crow during the Olympics.

It makes me ask: Has this country's marathoning spirit been trampled by hordes of joggers whose only goal is to stagger across the finish line?

You could argue that there was no marathoning spirit in in the past when hardly anyone ran it.

After high school, I was a decent recreational runner -- I could break 20 minutes in the 5K -- but somehow, I got it in my mind that I wouldn't be a real runner until I did a marathon. Too lazy, too cocky or too ignorant to do heavy mileage in training, I finished the Chicago Marathon in an ignominious 4 hours and 16 minutes, alternating between cramping and nausea the last four miles. Embarrassed, I resolved to try again, but then a knee problem limited my runs to 10 miles.

Perhaps you didn't respect the distance. In fact, we can argue that you didn't race it because you were too lazy, ignorant and cocky (your words) to train.

I had to give up marathoning just as everyone else was getting into it. Not just the rest of the running world. Everyone. The mid-1990s gave us two new long-distance heroes. The first was Oprah Winfrey. If Frank Shorter inspired the first running boom, Oprah inspired the second, by running the Marine Corps Marathon. And it was a much bigger boom. This was not a spindly 24-year-old Yalie gliding through Old World Munich. This was a middle-aged woman hauling her flab around the District of Columbia. If Oprah could run a marathon, shame on anyone who couldn't.

Let me get this straight: "Everyone." Stats in 2006 say that 397,000 marathon finishing times were recorded in America. I'll even let you posit that among that number, no one ran more than one marathon. Now, 397,000 divided by 300,000,000 equals.... everyone. And do I detect a hint of arrogance? "I did it before you so I'm better." (even if I by my own admission had an embarrassing time).

When Oprah expanded the sport, she also lowered the bar for excellence. For the previous generation of marathoners, the goal had been qualifying for Boston. Now, it was beating Oprah. Her time of four hours and 29 minutes -- the Oprah Line -- became the new benchmark for a respectable race. (That was P. Diddy's goal when he ran New York.)

Should we mention how Boston has also amended its 'fastest' qualification standard over the years.. 3:00, 2:50, 3:10. What about when it made changes so runners in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s can have a more level playing field? Should you now accuse Boston of lowering the bar?

Once the supreme test for hardened runners, the marathon became a gateway into the sport. Soon, gravel paths were crowded with 5-mile-an-hour joggers out to check "26.2 miles" off their life lists.

I don't see what's wrong with this. So we should all stay away from road races, you say.

The guru of these new runners was an ex-music professor named John Bingham, who writes a Runner's World column under the handle "the Penguin." At age 43, Bingham took the admirable step of throwing away his cigarettes and signing up for a race. Unlike Bill Rodgers, he was not headed for athletic glory.

Um, who other than an elite is looking for athletic glory. Yeah, even those elites do it for themselves.. what's wrong with that.

He finished dead last. Bingham did not respond by training harder. Instead, he embraced his God-given lack of talent -- and urged readers to do the same. Absolving runners of the pressure to actually run was a brilliant feel-good message. Thanks to his book, "No Need for Speed," Bingham became the most celebrated marathoner in America. (If you don't believe me, go to the marathon starting chute and ask the runners if they've ever heard of Ryan Hall. Then ask about the Penguin.)

Don't think he actually says that people should not run. Then it wouldn't be running. I've read many a Bingham column and I don't think he ever mentioned NOT running. Yeah, we've also heard of Ryan.

I just didn't get it. After my knee injury, I'd returned to the 5K. I pushed myself into the pain zone, puked after races, and fought my way back down to 20 minutes -- a far more satisfying feat than a four-hour marathon. I was doing all I could do, with what I still had. Yet here was a man whose legs would carry him 26 miles, and he was content to stop for walking breaks.

Okay, so you think getting back to a 20 minute 5K is more satisfying than a four-hour marathon, something you have yet to do. Yeah, I'd rather not train 18 weeks to run a strong marathon too... "I was doing all I could do, with what I still had..." and marathoners don't? You must have hit the wall so hard last time it left you with a huge memory lapse.

Like Oprah, Bingham deserves praise for luring insecure, overweight novices off their couches and into running shoes. He's also terrific for business. In the last 15 years, the Chicago Marathon field has increased tenfold, to 45,000. But with this change in the running culture, the average finishing time for men has dropped from 3:32 to 4:15 -- not far from the Oprah Line, or my own performance.
Ever thinking of looking at other factors that may have changed the average finishing time? Like age and gender? Oh, it's too hard to look up that info, right?

Last month's Chicago Marathon had to be shut down mid-race, because undertrained five- and six-hour marathoners couldn't handle that much time in the 85-degree heat.

This is such a stupid throwaway point that it's not worthing talking about. Heat hit everyone who were not elites. That's 99.9% of the field.

You can't just blame the Penguin Brigade for messing up the curve. The last year an American-born man won a major marathon? 1983. (We have produced one first-class female marathoner -- Deena Kastor has won in Chicago and London -- although we're still waiting for another Joan Benoit Samuelson, gold medalist at the first Olympic women's marathon, in 1984.)

Uh huh, and the Americans didn't win a basketball Olympic gold last time out, which means you need to write an article about the death of basketball in America. And how you used to play basketball before they invented slam dunks and Nike shoes.

"When the attitude simply becomes to finish, that attitude becomes pervasive," says an old marathoner. "The marathon was once this incredible challenge, to finish it and to finish as fast as you can. I just think there's a mind-set out there about the marathon, and it's a different mind-set from 25 years ago."

"finish it and to finish it as fast as you can": Don't think things have changed that much. Lets not dilute the entire marathoning public cause it's dishonest.

If the marathon is populist enough for everyone to pin on a number, it's also populist enough for everyone to kick ass. If you're running the New York City Marathon this weekend, remember, it's a race. True, no matter how hard you push, you're not going to win a gold medal. But maybe a kid in high school will, someday. If the pack can drag the best runners back, we can push them forward, too.

And how do you propose people kick ass? By sprinting the first 3 miles.... yeah, you haven't read up on lactate thresholds haven't you?

I'm ready to do my part. My bum knee just carried me through a half-marathon. Next spring, I'm going the full distance -- and I'm going to do it in the spirit of the first running boom, in under three and a half hours. I may even wear a cotton T-shirt and a sweatband.

You mean this half marathon result, Ted? Running is a very public event. You're out there. And you've just pledged to us (after slamming marathoning in general) that you'll knock 45 minutes off your marathon time? Please respect the distance, because your article showed you have a little relearning to do before you join the masses well in the middle of the pack on race day. Look around, and shake your head at the rest of us. Because we won't really notice you're there. We're there to run our own race. And use some Body Glide or Vaseline for goodness sake if you're going to wear a cotton T-shirt.

More runners are sounding off, like Lee, Bex, and another one here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

U.S. Olympic trials

Just catched the half-hour show on the U.S. men's Olympic marathon trials. Very sad to hear about marathoner Ryan Shay who died after the five mile mark.

The race was amazing. Out with the veterans Meb and Alan but in with Ryan Hall, who broke away at mile 17 and smashed the field, Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell.

I love the story about Sell, part of the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project, who shows that hard work, not just natural running ability, can get you far. Great story in Runner's World. Another one.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A big marathon weekend...

Be up early Saturday morning if you want to see some awesome running. It's an event I'd think is even bigger than Boston. On Saturday in New York, at 7:30 a.m. ET, the U.S. Olympic trials takes place in Central Park. Starting in the city and four laps around the park. And it'll be watchable online. The U.S. men's marathoning is looking mighty strong. Just look at the lineup courtesy of the USATF:

Meb Keflezighi: The headliner of the Olympic Trials following his silver medal-winning performance at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Keflezighi has a marathon personal best time of 2:09:53, run at the 2004 ING New York City Marathon....

Alan Culpepper: Lafayette, Colo., resident Alan Culpepper will look to qualify for his third Olympic team overall and second as a marathoner following his triumph at the 2004 Olympic Trials Marathon in Birmingham, Ala. ...

Ryan Hall: Widely considered the start of the future, 2005 Stanford graduate Ryan Hall of Big Bear Lake, Calif., has recently taken U.S. road racing by storm. Last October he set the U.S. 20 km record with his time of 57 minutes, 54 seconds before setting the U.S. half marathon record in his debut at that distance in January when he stopped the clocks in 59:43. Hall enjoyed another amazing debut performance when he posted the fastest debut marathon in U.S. history in April with his time of 2:08:24 in London.

Abdi Abdirahman: Two-time Olympian and three-time World Outdoor Championships team member in the 10,000 meters Abdi Abdirahman enters the Olympic Trials looking to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team as a marathoner....

Dan Browne: After qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Team in the 10,000m and the marathon, Dan Browne of Portland, Ore., has since been hampered by two knee surgeries and an emergency appendectomy....

Dathan Ritzenhein: Although he's only completed one marathon in his career, Dathan Ritzenhein of Eugene, Ore, is familiar with running in New York. "Ritz" looked impressive in running close to the lead group for 22 miles at the 2006 ING New York City Marathon before dropping to an 11th place finish in 2:14:01...

Other contenders in the field include 2003 USA champion Ryan Shay (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 2006 Boston Marathon fourth-place finisher Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.) and American record holder Khalid Khannouchi (Ossining, N.Y.)

All I can say is, wow. It'll be a strong, strong field.

Oh yeah, and on Sunday, there's a little road race called the New York City Marathon.

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.