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.