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.