Thursday, August 30, 2007

At the midpoint: Looking ahead

Did a 5 mile recovery this morning so it was a ho-hum run. It's been an exhausting schedule this summer. I did a total of 13 early morning runs so far this month (started earlier than 6 a.m.). Five of them I was out there between 4:30 and 4:54 a.m. and they were all 11 + miles.

At the end of this week, it'll be eight weeks to marathon day. The next two months will see me go through three 'mesocycles' under the Pfitzinger plan.

LT and Endurance: 1 more week
Next week is the last of the five-week endurance and lactate threshold cycle. It's also a big-mileage week with a 7 mile LT run (scary) at half marathon pace on Tuesday, followed by a 20 miler (mildly scary) on that Sunday. During this mesocycle, I will have conditioned my body to run for 3 hours plus and also, hopefully, improve my LT.

Race preparation: 4 weeks
September and early October will see the efforts step up in a huge way. I'll be averaging two to three 'hard' runs a week and all but one week will have me running more than 50 miles.

Hard runs: The schedule has me doing four V02 Max runs (two 5x600s, one 5x1000 and one 4x1200), two tune-up races, three 17 milers (one of which includes a 14 mile pace run) and a 20 miler. An oh yeah, those freaking mid-week medium longs (two 11 milers, a 12 miler and a 10 miler)

I have to make a few tweaks though. I have a half marathon in late September that I'm thinking of making an all-out effort instead of a pace run. But I should still do a pace run. I'm having trouble looking for race in mid-September and am thinking of doing a Terry Fox run or some track work.

One problem is that the week after my half marathon (Sept. 30), I have a weekend with a 4 mile recovery and a 20 miler planned. The mixup is that I have the Army 10 miler (Oct. 7). Part of me says I'll do the 10 miler as part of a long run but perhap that's a bad idea. So I may do the 20 miler on Oct. 6 followed by a really easy 10 miler recovery during the race. It'll be a truely non-effort (maybe i'll actually just enjoy the experience with R., who's also running it and has never run that distance before).

Taper and race: 3 weeks
Mileage goes down to 43, 32 and 22 in the last three weeks. I have a tuneup 10K race on Oct. 13 that will be a fitness indicator. Longest run is 15 miles , there are two V02s (5x600 and the whopping 3x1600). Then 26.2 miles. That starting line seems far, but close, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Track work

Did my first V02 Max workout at the track this morning. It also marked the first time of this training cycle that I've gone on a run north of the waterfront. I've stayed away from the city to avoid the traffic lights (and traffic).

Plan called for 8 miles, then 5X600 at 5K race pace. I haven't run a 5K in quite a while and the last time I did last summer, it was a hot, humid day. Not ideal conditions to test out my time.

I ran about 3 miles up to the track, a nice big 400 metre attached to a high school and at 5:40 a.m., still dark out, started the 600s. Here they are, with 90 second recoveries.

1. 2:14
2. 2:24
3. 2:25
4. 2:22
5. 2:25

The first 600 metres was clearly run too fast. I reminded myself that I wasn't running at one mile race pace, but 5K. I had planned to do a 2:30 600 metre, which would correspond to a 3:20 800 metre (the Yassos). Fran pointed out that McMillan says Yassos are a little off. In any case, it meant I had to do 50 second 200 metres and I was consistently doing 45 seconds or faster. I felt like I was running at a 5K pace but maybe I'm wrong. I'll find out in the next weeks as the intervals increase to 1000m, 1200m and 1600m.

My heart rate maxed out at 182 bpm during the fourth 600. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly is my maximum heart rate. (A 5K race would probably help figure that one out).

It was a good first track workout in a long time and I feel the gains in training and loss of weight helping my running. Tomorrow, a 5 miler... Woo hoo, have to love the recovery week.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eclipsed by the eclipse

I had one of those moments this morning, sort of an after-the-fact duh moment.

First, last night.

As I was going to bed, I noticed how the moon was shining brightly, lighting up Lake Ontario that my balcony provides a wicked view. I mentioned it to R. over the phone. She notes she didn't see a full moon in DC as her balcony looks over an alleyway (which, by chance, is the same alley that John Wilkes Booth escaped after killing Lincoln and fleeing the Ford Theater).

In Toronto, this is a shot of a full moon over the lake from my condo, taken about a month ago.

Fast forward to this morning, when I started my run, according to the Garmin, at 5:07 a.m. It was still dark. I ran westward. I remembered running down the mostly unlit path and I was finished the first mile, I noticed it was almost pitch black. About a mile later, I remember looking up at the moon a few times. I thought about how odd it was, it looked like there were clouds obscuring the top of the moon. Weird. Didn't think much of it but kept on checking it out once in awhile.

At work later this morning, I was catching up on the news when I read about this morning's lunar eclipse. This site says that the mid-eclipse (total eclipse) was at 6:37 a,m, after the sun had risen and I was back at home. When I completed the 'out' part of the 8 miles out-and-back, it was 5:35 a.m. According to this NASA site on the eclipse, it began at 4:51, just minutes before the run began. Which also meant that I was witnessing the eclipse in action. Cool (in retrospect).

So a nice run with lots to look at. To the west, a lunar eclipse.

And on the way back, a beautiful sunrise.

Add that to the reasons why I run.


First training day of the recovery week and the plan was for 8 miles (13K), which I did in
1:10 this morning. Tomorrow, I have another 8miler, but it'll be an interesting one. My first V02 workout at the track. Plan will be to warm up down by the water front, run up almost three miles to the track and do the workout just as it gets dark.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon: 9 weeks to go

It's official, I'm at the halfway mark of the 18 week Pfitzinger plan. It's been a great first-half of this training. I'm getting all the runs in, including the quality hard workouts: LT, pace, medium-long and long runs. I'm feeling like a stronger runner -- I'm (so far) injury free, I've shed more than a few pounds and my cardio and running form are improved. So much work done, so much more to do.

By the way, I passed the 1,000 mile mark for the year this week. A year ago today, I had done 1069 miles compared with 1025 so I'm a bit behind in total mileage, but feel so much stronger. I also plan to have a better running November and December than last year.

This upcoming week (43 miles) also begins my last recovery week before the taper. After this week, I have four consecutive 50+ mile weeks in five weeks and that will include a half marathon, a 10 miler and a 10K race. At least.

Weekly recap
Tuesday: 6 miles
Wednesday: 15 miles with 12 at pace
Thursday: 6 miles
Saturday: 14 miles
Sunday: 6 miles

Weekly mileage: 47 miles (76K)
Year to date: 1025 miles (1649K)

Week to come
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles with V02 (5x600 at 5K race pace)
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 8 miles with 8x100m
Sunday: 14 miles

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beat the heat

What a hot day! The worst was this afternoon, when it reached 35C (94F) with a humidex reading of 41C (105F). R and I were walking back about 2.5 miles from the pool and we were suffering. Luckily, I had gone out at 5:40 a.m. when it was a much cooler 75F or 23C.

I started the run in darkness, but it was light within 20 minutes. It was a really muggy morning, when you can really feel the soupyness in the air. I had the plan of running a few miles, then see I wanted to make the run the week's 14 mile run or the 6 mile version. After a bit, I felt I could make it through the run okay and went medium-long.

By the 6 mile mark, it was fully morning and lots more runners were out there. There were people on the Mt. Vernon trail obviously doing their own long runs - a group of about 20 runing in a narrow trail. I passed them and it was good to have company on the trail.

I explored a few different areas of DC and found the Maine Avenue Fish Market, which R and I will visit soon. It definitely smelled like a Fish Market (I worked at a fishery when I was in high school -- that job lasted about 4 months and I never forgot that smell).

I hydrated well for this one. I filled up my three small bottles for my fuel belt and brought a full bottle of Gatorade for the run.

Final run was 23K or just a bit more than 14 miles, done in 2:06:22 with a pace of 5:29K/8:50 miles. Tomorrow, a 6 miler planned and I'm happy that's all that's left until the recovery week starts next week.

Shoe ripoff?

Here are my shoes I bought today that I may use for marathon day, a pair of Asics GT-2120. I really love my 2110s, but they don't make them any more. But I have a pair of 2120s and I'm pretty happy with them.

I can't believe what a ripoff we Canadians face in terms of prices. Get this. Our dollar is now so close to par with the US dollar that it's a huge disadvantage to buy shoes in Canada. Take this example. I bought this GT-2120 at Champ Sports for $95, with about $5 (wow, that's low) in tax, it was US$100 or about $105 Canadian.

Now, I can go to the Running Room or Sport Chek and buy the same pair for a whopping $149. Add the 15% tax and I'm talking $171 for a pair of shoes. In other words, I saved $66 by shopping in DC. Anyways, I've bought 3 of my last 5 pairs of shoes in the States and I'm not planning to change that any time soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The impromptu pace run

Scheduled this week is the first of two marathon pace runs, which was slated for Sunday. It called for 15 miles with 12 miles at pace (7:37 a mile or 4:45 a kilometre). Today, as it turns out, also called for the longest mid-week run of the program, a 14 mile medium-long run. Only a mile difference but significantly different paces.

I'm headed to DC this weekend and the forecast is calling for a high of at least 32C/90F with high humidity. At the back of my mind, I didn't want to attempt such a crucial run and have the weather do me in. I haven't gotten used to big heat waves this summer so far. I could just see myself packing it in because of the heat.

So it was clear that it would be good to get the pace run over with this morning. The only two factors working against me were the early hour (4:30 a.m.) and my still-sore legs from the 20 miler and race just two days earlier.

After the first mile, my legs checked out and it was left to me to try to tough out the pace in complete darkness. It was tough to keep up the pace, but the weather was awesome -- no wind, 17C, almost fall-like weather.

Here are the splits
1. 8:31
2. 8:57
3. 8:31
4. 7:46
5. 7:44

6. 7:43
7. 7:30

8. 7:34
9. 7:27
10. 7:36

11. 7:35
12. 7:36
13. 7:32
14. 7:37
15. 7:21

Total time: 1:57:16

Distance: 15 miles

Pace: 4:50Ks / 7:47 miles (including the 3 warmup miles)
12 mile pace: 4:43 / 7:36 (only a second or two faster than pace!)

It was a consistent run and most of my splits were within seconds of the previous ones. If the 12 had been 13.1 at that pace, it would have been about a 1:39 half-marathon (4 minutes slower than my PB). Doing a harder run of that length in a daily run is just something I've never really pushed myself to do.

I have one more marathon pace run at the end of September, a 17 miler with 14 at pace. I'm looking forward to it.

So as a treat, I have only two six milers and a 14 mile medium-long run left to do in the next four days. I'm sure i'll be glad once I hit steamy DC.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recovery much needed

I'm heeding advice this year. Until I read the Pftizinger/Douglas book on advanced marathoning, I never really appreciated what a recovery day meant. I simply tried to do all runs at pace, tempo or just slower than pace. After running 32 miles over two days on Saturday and Sunday, and with a rest day yesterday, I was still sore in some muscles last night and before the early morning run just completed. So I took it very slow. 10K in about 58 minutes. Felt good to warm up the muscles but not push it. Good though, cause tomorrow's the longest mid-week run of the program, a whopping 14 miles (23K). Now the debate is whether to do it early or late.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon: 10 weeks to go

That was quite a week. My highest mileage to date this year, including 32 miles the past two days.

Although the weather the past two days have been fantastic -- cool, with a little breeze. The 20 miler was fine until about the 18 mile mark, when I really started to tire. Pace, however, only dropped a little. Long run done in 2:47:44, average pace of 8:21 miles/5:11 kilometres. I have two step-back weeks after this week, then back up to 50+ mile weeks.

Weekly recap:
Mileage: 55.5 miles (89.5 kilometres)
Time run: 7:52:41
Pace: 8:29 miles/5:16Ks
Year to date: 978 miles (1573 kilometres)

Next week's plan
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 6 miles
Wednesday: 14 miles
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 6 miles with 6x100
Sunday: 15 miles with 12 miles at pace

I'm thinking of the following tweaks: do two recovery days on Tuesday/Wednesday, then do my pace run on Thursday, which will take some pressure of doing that type of run in DC this weekend when I'm visiting R.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Race report: A Midsummer Night's Run 15K

Ah, the evening race. This is the second year they've done this race -- and there are two versions, the 15K and the 30K, which is perfect for those getting in their 20 milers. I thought about the 30K, but I have no desire to do half of a long run in the dark... big risk for injury.

I skipped my 11 mile with 6 miles at lactate threshold run earlier this week, moving it to today. So the plan was to do the first 5K (3 miles) at marathon pace, then the last 10K (6ish miles) at LT. I figured it'd be easier to run an LT in race conditions. I saw Fran at the race and we hung out, talking about our recent training. He was going to run an all-out race and use it to determine his marathon readiness.

The field of about 240 took off at 6:30 and I quickly found myself in the top 25, even though I was just going at a 4:45K/7:37 mile pace. So after the first 800 metres, I found myself running alone until the end of the race. At the one mile mark, one runner passed me but I didn't chase. Just stuck to the program.

The first 3 miles were easy (as they should be) and I was just getting into the rhythm, just working on form and stride. Funnily enough, as the 3 mile mark was approaching, the point at which I would step up the pace, I heard two runners coming up behind me. I took off, turning up a 7:10 first LT mile and never heard them behind me again.

The course goes through the Leslie Spit (good pictures here), a manmade spit that was used at some point to house rubble from construction. It is lonely, a little rocky at places. But it was fine for this race. After turning up the pace, I just started targetting runners ahead of me, and methodically turned up the pace so I'd come up behind them, run with them for a bit then let my LT pace dictate whether I would pass them or not.

Saw Fran at the turnaround, and he was about 800 metres ahead of me and looking strong! The rest of the race was pretty strong, just looking to maintain pace. Every time I saw the pace slipping, I poured it on. I also kept the pace until it became comfortably hard, or just a tad over that, when my breathing would synch up with my striding.

Here are my mile splits, the LT miles in bold

7:37 (right on marathon pace!)

6:22 pace (last .33 miles)

A few things I note about my pacing. I definitely had lots in the tank and the last two miles were super strong. In the last two miles, I spotted two runners in the distance, including the runner who passed me in the first mile. I made it my plan to catch up and pass them, so I stepped it out. A few spectators were nice to tell me my form looked good and I responded. The last mile, I started to visualize the 100m strides that I've been doing throughout this marathon training. Instead of sprinting, I ran fast, with fluid form, good posture and arm movement. It was without a doubt the strongest last few miles to any race I've ever done and I blasted through the finish line. Jelly surprised me in the last 300 metres as she was there at the final turn. I waved to her. Then as I was about 150 metres to the finish, Fran was walking toward me, already with his medal and a (to paraphrase Ryan) he rocked the course with a time of 1:03:34 and a 11th place finish.

IMG_3147, originally uploaded by Ron Foreman.

All in all, a great LT run and a strong 15K race, all more gratifying in knowing that I took it easier in the first third of the race. (Also, looks great on paper cause of the small field, but I came in 16th overall, 10th among all men and 5th in my age group. A lot of the speedsters were doing the 30K.

Final chip time: 1:06:52

Place overall: 16/240 (93.3 percentile)
Place in men: 10/85 (88.2 percentile)
Place in age group: 5/31(83.8 percentile)

Getting the runs in

media1.jpeg, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

I took this picture tonight on my way back from the race (more on that later). It's about 2.5 K from my condo and has a nice stretch of flat, straight trails, perfect for 100 metre strideouts.

I've gotten the runs in as planned this week. Went out super early (4:35 a.m.) on Wednesday for my 12 miler, done in 1:47:40, and on Thursday, did 10K (6.2 miles) in 51:55.

I'm now in the middle of a big running weekend. Today, a 15K race (9.3 mile) plus a 3 mile warmup. Tomorrow, the big 20 miler (32K). I'm carbing up right now in preperation for Sunday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Best made plans...

Okay, scrap my workout plan. Today was supposed to be the LT run (11 with 6 at LT pace) but as it turns out, I only felt like doing 5 miles (in place of the 6 miles asked by Pfitz. Then I realized there's a way to fit in the dreaded LT run in a perfect setting -- a race.

Here goes the new schedule that will adhere to the 54 mile week.

Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 12 miles
Thursday: 6 miles with strides
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 11 miles / 6 LT: Same day as 15K race. Will do 2K warmup, then do the first 5K of the race in slower than marathon pace then the last 10K at half marathon pace.
Sunday: 20 miler. If it's a cool day, I will do this in late afternoon so I get almost a full day's recovery after the LT run. Will start off slow and keep it easy to avoid injury.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon: 11 weeks to go

Completed my 7 miles yesterday with strides (bumped into Fran at the end of my run), bringing me up to 50 miles a week. Today's a rest day and also my birthday and day off so I'm going to take it easy, maybe go for a short run with R. later this morning.

I was pleased with the past week. It wasn't as hot as it could be and I got in a lot of early morning runs. It's tough keeping up with that schedule and I think it'll be awhile until I'll be able to get evening runs back in. But i'm holding up well. I'm generally eating great and getting trimmer and I can feel it helping my running. That's great.

Weekly recap
Mileage: 50.1 miles (80.5 kilometres)
Time run: 7:00:11
Pace: 8:22 miles/5:12Ks
Year to date: 922.5 miles (1483.5 kilometres)

This week:

I'm going to stick with the type of runs that Pfitz prescribes, but I'm going to tweak it because of a 15K race I have on Saturday evening that I plan to run into my 20 miler. Now the toughy will be to separate the hard runs (LT, long run and medium long) with recovery days in between. My slight worry is Friday/Saturday in which i'm doing a 12 miler GA Friday followed by 20 miles on Saturday. Another plan may be to do the 5 miler on Friday, the 20 miles on Saturday, then 12 on Sunday.

My plan (original Pfitz plan in brackets)
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 11 miles/6 LT (6 miles with 6x100)
Wednesday: 6 miles recovery w 6x100 (12 miles GA)
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 12 miles GA (11 miles/6 LT)
Saturday: 20 miles - 10 miles GA plus 10 mile race at long run pace and maybe test out marathon pace (5 miles)
Sunday: 5 miles (20 miles)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Long run done

Wasn't the greatest setup for a long run: 3.5 hours sleep and it started at 5:11 a.m.
Overall, I'm fairly happy with the run and looking forward to future challenges when I have to do long runs at marathon pace (7:40 ish)

Here's the rundown

Distance: 18 miles (29K)
Time: 2:30:46
Pace: 8:21 mile/5:11 kilometres
Heart rate: 151 bpm

Mile splits

1.: 9:02
2.: 9:04
3.: 8:43
4.: 8:36
5.: 8:21
6.: 8:18
7.: 8:19
8.: 8:21
9.: 8:16
10.: 8:00
11.: 8:13
12.: 8:12
13.: 8:00
14.: 8:14
15.: 8:16
16.: 8:14
17.: 8:15
18.: 8:01

I'm fairly happy with this run. I did the second half faster and the overall pace was right on target. Pfitzinger suggests long runs be done 10 to 20% slower than marathon race pace, a large band between 8:20 and 9:10 pace so I was able to do it at the faster end...

Tomorrow, a 7 mile run with 8 100m strides

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gear check...

Originally uploaded by yumkerun
Was laying out my running gear for tomorrow's long run just now (18 miles/29K). I get them ready cause i'm planning on an early morning run (5 a.m.) so I can get it done by the time R. lands in Toronto at around 7:30 a.m. I hate fumbling around for clothes when I'm half asleep.

Which is when I saw how much gear I actually use. And the lack of brand loyalty I display. You know how they say that running is so cheap, just the cost of a pair of running shoes. Well, they weren't thinking of training for marathons...

Here's my gear in US$

$320: Garmin Forerunner 305 (with heart rate strap)
$90: Asics GT 2110
$40: Fuel Belt hydrating system (4 bottles)
$35: Saucony running top
$25: Race Ready shorts
$25: Nike Chicago 06 (RunChi) hat
$10: Nike thin socks
$2: Clif Bar
$2: Clif shots gels

Total cost: $550

I guess in perspective, I don't pay gym fees, so I can justify the expense... Can't argue with the 1400+ kilometres (870 miles) i've done on the roads so far...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A blah run

Slept pretty soundly only to suddenly wake up at 5:30 a.m. to realize I had a 4 miler planned. I finally understand the need for recovery run done at a recovery pace. I felt so sluggish and was content to settle in for a slowly paced run.

Tomorrow, it's an 11 miler before work, which means yet another 4:30 a.m. (or so) start. Time for bed.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The bad news? It only gets harder

More on the bad news later. The good news is of course that I survived my lactate threshold run today as prescribed by Pftizinger. My Garmin reminds me that I started the run at 4:54 a.m., an ungodly hour. I was so tired when my alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. (providing me with a few times to hit the snooze button). I really did not, and I mean did not, want to go out there. I decided to check the weather and saw that the current temperature was about 20 C, compared to a forecast 27C with rain for the evening.

Okay, I thought, I can deal with this pain to avoid future pain.

After a three mile warm up, I launched straight into the tempo run. I had a real hard time pumping up the pace in the early morning. The first three miles (7:19, 7:24, 7:20) are at the slower end of my LT pace. Whatever, it was still a face pace, close to my half marathon speed. After I hit the halfway mark, I felt a lot better -- I could feel the run coming to the end and I did a gut check. Did I have more gas? Yep. Could I step it up a little more? I think so. Which led to two strong final miles (7:05, 7:07).

I do understand that working my LT is great for my body as it gets used to the accumulation of lactic acid. But there's also a few things these runs are great for: learning to run a fast race pace by yourself (I tend to leave speed to the race-day magic), working on quick turnover, keeping my posture straight and, of all things, learning to breathe properly.

The LTs get harder. I have a 12 miler with 6 LT miles next week, then (like Fran) a 7 mile LT run. Scary.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Marine Corps Marathon: 12 weeks to go

Training is on again. A 50 mile week planned with two hard runs, a 5 mile LT and an 18 mile long run on Sunday.

Last week's recap:
Weekly mileage: 60K (37 miles)
Year to date: 1,403 (872 miles)

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 10 miles with 5 miles LT
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 11 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 7 miles with 8 x 100
Sunday: 18 miles

Red rocket

Originally uploaded by yumkerun
... old school streetcar spotted a kilometre from my condo and on my running path.. cool.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Recovery week almost over

I'm loving this week. I haven't stopped running. On Tuesday, did an 8 miler with strides, then on Wednesday, a 5 mile recovery run, followed by a general aerobic run on Thursday (8 miles).

It's been hot hot hot the past four days, but the weather broke today -- much less humidity and it's cooler. Nice even. Did my 4 mile recovery run. Tomorrow, it's a 12 miler (yeah, only) then it brings the end to my first six weeks of training and ending the first Mesocycle.

The next five weeks or so will have me doing more LT runs (including a 5 mile as part of a 10 mile run on Tuesday), a few longer marathon pacers, my first VO2 max workout and a few 20 milers... It will be a tough 5 weeks but i'm looking forward to the challenge...