Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Obama's inauguration: The setup

It's now 20 days until the Presidential Inauguration and over the next month, I'm going to be posting -- every day or every few days depending on subject matter -- on the event. As many of you know, I'm an online journalist, specifically I'm the managing editor, digital news, for the National Post, one of Canada's national newspapers. I'll be cross posting some of my work here on the Post's news blog, Posted and also smaller updates on my Twitter account While some of my work will be done for the Post, I'm doing this as a civilian. I've seen all the major world events in my career through the lens of an editor. Now, I wanna experience it as a citizen.

I'm a frequent visitor to DC the past two years, been down here on average once every three weeks since R. lives down here. She lives right in Penn Quarter, which means her building is one block away from Pennsylvania Avenue, which Barack Obama will walk up after giving his inaugural address.

Anyways, enough of a set up of what I'm about to do, lets start with today's subject, the setup:

The streets of Washington, DC, are showing signs of being prepped for a big party. I went for a run around the capital this morning (see route) -- by far the best way to see a city that's wide, short and expansive.

I started from where my girlfriend lives in Penn Quarter, near the FBI building. I ran down Pennsylvania toward Capitol Hill, in the opposite direction where Obama and family will travel up on Jan. 20. Here are a few glimpses.

Pennsylvania Ave. looking toward the Capitol, with a newspaper box (Politico) in the foreground. They also have The Onion newspaper boxes which is a nice touch.

Next, I stopped at the Newseum, which is at Pennsylvania and 6th. You can see the daily headlines that they print out every morning and post in fron t of the building.

Then off to the Capitol, where preparations are well underway. You really can't approach the building but this picture provides a good glimpse of construction

Then off to the other side of the Mall, destination the Lincoln Memorial. It's two miles from the Capitol to the Memorial (3.2 kilometres). On inauguration day, they're expecting 3 million at last estimate. Many will be crammed into this space.

Then off to the Lincoln Memorial (we'll show pictures of Lincoln in a later post) where Martin Luther King Jr. famously gave his "I have a dream" speech. (Also sadly also famous for the Forrest Gump scene where he waded into the water).) You can see the Capitol in tucked behind the Monument.

Next off to the White House, where things are busy as usual. Girl with 'Peace' sign keeping it real in a very windy day.

Finally, back to Pennsylvania where they've already set up a good 10 sets of bleechers, big and small. You'll need tickets to get this type of seating.

You can feel the vibe. It's like the calm before the storm but the preparations are being made. On Inauguration day, I'll be among the millions trying to catch a glimpse of history.

Ran 5 miles in 58:58 with tonnes of picture stops. A fun way to run.

The year is finished, long live 2008

Short and sweet. It was a fantastic year. I boosted my mileage by more than 400 miles than last year. I ran a lot of road races and plunged into marathoning. I had my successes and failures but in the end, I now love running even more. It's part of my life, not necessarily all consuming, but it's part of my being. That said, here's a year in review.

Last mileage update: 2212

Runs since:
Dec. 24 - 3.1 miles
Dec. 25 - 3.35 miles
Dec. 28 - 5.3 miles (5K race plus warmup)
Dec. 29 - 5 miles
Dec. 30 - 4 miles
Dec. 31 - 5 miles (A run around DC)

Year's total mileage: 2238 miles
Year's total kilometres: 3602 kilometres

-Races: Ran 14, including three marathons, which is pretty crazy for me.

-Favourite races: Around the Bay was such a blast and a perfect racing distance. Flying Pig was great for a strategy and well run race. Scotia was great for the first 37 kilometres! I grew to love the 5K distance and enjoyed the three I did

-PRs: Set them in six distances! Notables were going sub 20 minutes three times, hammering a strong 30K time of 2:13:24, the marathon going sub 3:20 twice.

-Cities in which I've run this year: In no particular order: Toronto, Washington DC (and Virginia), Cincinnati and Kentucky, Miami, New York, San Francisco

-Favourite moments: The finish line at all my races. Those weekday 14 milers in the middle of summer. Feeling exhausted and exhilarated after those 20+ milers. Running in the snow. Running in general.

-Bad moments: The last few kilometres of Scotiabank marathon

-Favourite picture

-Least favourite (only cause of how I was feeling)

Oh yeah, and i'm on Twitter now (been doing it for work for a while but it's time for my own). Follow me at

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Blogiversary and 800th post!

Three years ago today, in December 2005, I was at work on a slow day and started this blog. A computer meltdown resulted in me losing mileage i'd been tracking on my computer and so I thought that doing a running blog would be a great way to track my mileage.

Back then (funny how I can say that) there was a strong fledgling community of running bloggers. The RBF was well established and I was quickly hooked. Two friends of mine who were all running the Chicago Marathon that year started blogs later in 2006. We found other bloggers -- from Wisconsin, from Illinois and from all over who were also training for Chicago. As a solo runner, I've really appreciated having a community in which I could read about shared experiences, learn from and also converse with.

Blogging also became more than just logging a daily run, our outlining a training program's particular challenges. Along the way, I got hooked into actually writing about life in general. A blog was my way back into writing -- I'm a journalist by trade and now I'm on the managing/editing side so this blog was a great way to get back into what I've always loved to do, to write.

But lets get back on stride, shall we? It's a running blog, after all. I have logged more than 5500 miles worth of running in this blog. I've documented more than 30 road races, 5 marathons and a tonne of personal milestones. Like my running, this blog ebbs and flows with the seasons: Spring and Summer are all up tempo and lactate thresholds with trackwork on the side. Winter's a slow time but a time to reflect, enjoy running and embracing the cold. Fall's the time to lay it out on the line.

Today's post, started on an airport bus and finished as I wait to board the plane for DC, is the 800th one. I've written so many milestone posts that I'm getting pretty tired of that, but like reaching your goal mileage or hitting your splits, it's nice to see beautiful round numbers.

What's next in my online life? I now spend most of my time online -- it's my livelihood and my hobby. This blog won't die by a long shot, it'll just get a little more focused. Will I post as much during marathon training? Maybe not as much as I used to. I'm going to be playing around on the blogosphere a bit more over the next while, starting a new neighbourhood blog on the side. More on that later but for now, I'm gratified that three years ago I took the plunge. It's as gratifying to share a running experience sometimes as much as it is to run itself. And having a community to run alongside is also nice too. I'm a better runner for it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Race report: Resolution Run 5K

I think I'm going to call this the annual Resolution Run 4.86K run because every single year, it measures the same on my GPS. To the folks looking up your results, the course is not a 5K distance so any PRs are, well, unearned. This is in my opinion.

Anyways, I have not raced in, um exactly two months since the Marine Corps Marathon. The last two months i've gone into extreme maintenance mode.

The mileage has dropped dramatically in the last two months but this is not unlike the last two years when I also ran fall marathons. Running has been sparse the past two weeks partly as a result of a busy schedule but also because I've been feeling really run down lately and then I got sick on Boxing Day.

I'm on the up now and feeling about 80% physically, which is pretty darned good.

Had dinner with R and her family last night and then she flew out early this morning so I was up early. I checked the weather at first and it felt warm. Then I saw the weather alerts and then changed my gear three times. With about 5 to 9C with 70km gusts, I decided on tights, a skullcap, a T-shirt with a fleece polypro on top that I cold roll up the sleeves.

Out at 9 and I ran to the race site, a 3K warm up. The course is familiar. A lot of turns with two hair pins. We took off and I felt pretty good so I stepped it up for the first 100 metres to get up in the pack.

1K: 4:11. Saw my splits and felt ok. The breathing was not to laboured which was a good sign, but I felt still weak so I ended up pacing off a few people. This kilometre included a hairpin turn

2K: 4:24. It's a funny feeling holding back but this speed is a little slower than my lactate threshold speed, which in theory I can run a 10 miler to half marathon in. I coasted and kept on checking my breathing to see if I had the lung capacity and aerobic fitness.

3K: 4:22. I was running in the top 35 or so, kinda lost count. Not a very competitive crowd and I spotted a few runners that I felt I could catch up to. Another hairpin turn and the cloudy windy sky turned into bright blue windy sky. Beautiful, cold, chilly, and gusty.

4K 4:18: Passed a few runners and was passed by one. Was just using this run to pace and to push myself a little more than I have in the past two months. A nice feeling. Felt I could have pushed it more.

5K 3:31 (4:05 pace): The last .86 kilometres were good. I just maintained pace then kicked i up a gear in the final stretch. So did the other runners. I think if I was more competitive I would have kicked it even higher and overpassed a runner or two but I was just happy to run it strong. As you can see, the freaking split from the 4K mark to the finish was 3:30 which is impossible for me for a kilometre given the amount of effort I was given. I ran it at 4:05 pace which makes a lot of sense.

Final time: 20:47

This year, I was about 45 seconds slower than last year but more than a minute faster than two years ago. Given I was running it two days after being sick and generally haven't been training hard, I'm very happy. My underlying fitness has not fled my body, after all. As 5Ks go, I've run 3 other races this year on courses that are actually 5K or close and I've gone sub 20 minutes on all three, two on very hot and humid days.

The race is special for me because it has always launched my winter training season. So as I was walking home, I was making plans to eat better, to research my winter races and figure out a training plan. First goal is to get the mileage back up to 35 miles a week by the first week of January. Then it's training time all over again. Nothing like a race to get your competitive spirit up again.

Interesting race conditions...

This as I'm about to head out for that 5K.


Um, kay, some clothing changes will be needed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

24 hour sickness

Felt it at first late Christmas night after dinner. R. was already sick on Christmas day so that by the time I woke up in Burlington, I was done for: achy, stomach not doing so well.

So I was laying in bed or a couch most of yesterday in Hamilton and Burlington. Back in the city today and picked up my race pack for tomorrow's Resolution Run. May be a miracle by tomorrow morning but i'm feeling about 65% right now. So plan to run tomorrow at a reasonable maybe marathon pace then ramp it up  for the last mile if I feel okay.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A lot of presents?

Merry Christmas!

Well, if you search the web for 'world's largest candy cane', you get one of my posts with this picture I took a while ago. So in the spirit of today, here it is again.

Of course, it's the season for eating, which prompted these photos of a small dinner I prepared for my immediate family:

Pork tenderloin, shrimp with garlic/ginger and lemon sauce and my home made perfect focaccia.

Braised fennel and onion, stuffing, caramelized sweet potatoes, mushrooms with roasted whole shallots and garlic. Not pictured is the prime rib. Very yummy.

So today, just to work off a few of those calories (but not enough) I did a 3 miler plus a bit. I didn't bring my YakTrax to my parents' sadly, but I kept to the roads as the sidewalks were iced over. Now, on to Burlington.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maybe time for a run?

Ha, busy busy busy, I'm not surprised that I haven't gotten out there for a run since Saturday. I will try for 3 miles today before I head to the parents' place for Christmas Eve. Bringing shoes for later in the week when I go to Burlington.. hm, thinking of it, I could have done the Boxing Day race.

Lots of snow out. Time for the YakTrax again.

UPDATE: Lots of SLUSH. Didn't need YakTrax but I need to dry out my shoes. 5K in about 27 minutes

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Surviving snowmageddon

Pretty hilarious yesterday, the deal with the 'snowmageddon' (we live blogged it at work). In reality, it's just snow, lots of it, yes, but it was snow. Torontonians get a lot of flack about how 'wimpy' we are about snow but I don't think it's about the snow, it's about commuting in the snow. I spent two hours getting home after work, double the normal commute. That sucks. Snow I can take.

Of course, the dumping of snow means that it's time to get the YakTrax out. There was still a lot of snow on the streets, but the cleaning crews were too effective with the Martin Goodman trail that I was actually looking for snow to run in. When you use YakTrax on pavement, you really lose the bounce your shoes would give you. I ended up doing 5 miles today on the trails. A few runners were out there.

With a few days before Christmas, it's getting busy with family so running is slowing down. Here's a recap of my last handful of runs:

Today, Dec 20: 5 miles
Thursday, Dec 18: 3.1 miles
Wednesday, Dec 17: 4.4 miles
Monday, Dec 15: 5.1 miles
Sunday, Dec 14: 4.5 miles
Saturday, Dec 13: 4.63 miles
Thursday, Dec 11: 6.2 miles
Year to date: 2212 miles

Which means i've topped the 2200 mile mark or 3,560 kms. Yeesh, I've run a lot this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

They paved my running trail

This is huge progress in Toronto. I heard a while ago from a colleague that the city would be paving the waterfront Martin Goodman Trail through the winter for those who use the route.

To my delight it was paved when I went on my r miler out to Ontario Place from my condo at Spadina. I wonder how far they got. This is great news for my winter training!

Monday, December 15, 2008


What a day. It was below freezing a few days ago but just as I finished my run, it was reaching 13C, with a high of 17C forecast. I wore shorts and a long sleeve with a singlet underneath. After about a mile, I had to take off the top to run with the singlet. Sunny, breezy and warmish. I can't wait till spring. I forget the doldrums I get in cold weather.
This shot was taken from the lawn of the Capitol, where a month an d a bit from now, Barack Obama will be sworn in during the Presidential Inauguration. (And I'll be in town for that week and blogging the whole event!) Looks pretty quiet now huh? 

Did 5.2 miles.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Looks nice out

A view as I'm about to land in DCA (on ground now). Looking nice and sunny in Washington. I think a long run is in store.

UPDATE: Did almost 5 miles in the late afternoon around the Mall. Perfect run, feeling a little sluggish after a big lunch but I'm good now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What I want for Christmas

Okay, I really don't want these things but the other day, R said I was impossible to buy for. I'm pretty easy, since running isn't the cheapest sport, so just to prove that I actually like stuff:

Shoes: For a 1600 to 2000 mile a year runner, I can go through up to four pairs of these. Me? I go for Asics GT-2130s, size 9.5. I've always thought of trying another brand and thought maybe i'll do so in the off season. By the way, Canadian prices for shoes are robbery. $150 for a pair of shoes I can get for $95 in the States? No thinks.

Summer shirts: I loooove Saucony singlets. Show me a top that's as light and breathable and I'll happily switch, but every other type I've gotten never did the trick.

Summer shorts: I've tried a lot of short shorts (no, too much chafing) but my standby is my racing shorts by RaceReady. I'm looking for other pairs taht will provide comfort from heat, allow fast running and little chafing.
Hats: I've too many of them, cause I collect them at all big races I do. Besides, I loooove my two Brooks caps from MCM.
Winter gear: I trust only one. My SubZero Sugoi.. It's gotten me through three winters.. Hm, gotta dig that out right now. Also looking for a decent polypro fleece top. It has to be pretty heavy. Other than that, hand warmers are nice.

Electronics: I've got that covered. I love the Forerunner 405 (Thanks R!)

Fuel: It's not fueling season but I could always stock up on a few SportsBeans.

Reading: Oh, I have a few suggestions. (Yeah, and I probably have most of the others)

And If you want to give me a good present, maybe you will just get yourself something I've already got for myself and come run with* me.**

Oh yeah I like things other than running as well.

*If I register next Tuesday (reminder to self) ** If I get in next year. ie. wishful thinking

It's cold... sigh.

I am under the weather. No, I'm trying not to blame a single run on my sickness. But I could, and would be justified.

I felt absolutely chilled to the bone during Sunday's eight miler. Braver souls than I did big long runs while others, maybe smartly, didn't.

Sunday was beyond cold. It was, middle-of-February, freezing cold. I'm not ready for February. I want toasty interiors, the smell of egg nog and the warming lights of decorated evergreens. I always thought that Christmas was the reward for the winter we're about to face, so for me, the extreme cold ain't supposed to begin until Boxing Day.

No, I'm well aware it can be bad elsewhere, but I thought I was being smart Sunday when I had the four layers on top (Craft base, Saucony fleece, Running Room sleeveless windbreaker and a Sugoi outer layer), my cold weather tights, double gloves, a hand warmer, a skull cap and a MEC neck thingy that you can pull over your face.

Not smart enough when I run on the waterfront and the full 50km gusts were hitting me head on for the first four miles. Tell you what, when I turned around, I was certain that some parts of me, er, would be hit by frostbite!

Although one thing quite good about Sunday was the sheer amount of other crazy people who were out for their runs. Stupid, we may be, but brave, yes we were.

I felt ill on Monday and took Tuesday off. I put it to exhaustion from a very long year. It's been a very busy news cycle this fall: Two elections, one Parliamentary crisis and only now we in the news business can take a breather. I went back to work today and feel better, but it will not be before tomorrow before I get out there for another run.

Haven't stopped the running, however.

Last week's mileage: 30 miles
Year to date: 2179 miles

Gonna return to running tomorrow then log some miles on Friday. I'm spending a long weekend in DC starting Saturday so should be able to knock off some decent mileage in the capital city.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


As I type this, lots of blowing snow happenin outside my window. Kinda pretty to look at but not fun to run in.

I took too many days off in a row earlier this week. Monday wasn't up to it, Tuesday was supposed to get up early but that didn't work and Wednesday didn't feel like it.

So undaunted by my 30 mile a week goal, I did a double on Thursday: 5 miles at 5:45 a.m. and 3 miles at 6:30 p.m. I had yesterday off cause I worked through last weekend and did a chilly 10 miles in about 1:30. I have the full winter gear out now -- base layer, fleece long sleeve, sleeveless windbreaker and another windbreaker on top of that, Nike skullcap, windproof gloves (yeah right) and my tights. Luckily, I broke out a hand warmer that I switched hands every three miles.

So having done 18 miles, I added another four today in similar conditions, which leaves me 8 miles tomorrow. It could be an interesting one if this snow keeps up...

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I've taken a break from blogging -- reading, writing, that is -- in the last while as I recharge. It's been a very long slog recently, it's been a busy fall with running (two marathons), personal stuff and work has been far busier than usual, with two big elections and lots of projects on the go.

November was a month to take things back for myself. I've let running become a big time sucker in the first 10 months of the year -- i've run an average of 200 miles a month or 50 miles a week. All that time takes a toll on the body and mind even while it builds the body up.

The runner in me has never ceased. In the past three weeks, I've been able to hammer out 30 mile weeks, a mere pittance, I do agree, compared with when I would be able to pound that 30 in a few days, but it's winter and I'm testing out this season. Truth is, I've taken a little more time in the last to recover a little and to reconnect with some old friends.

Co-workers have said to me now that my marathon training is over that 'it's time to drink' and in a sense, it's kinda true. I went out for drinks on Monday and stayed right up past midnight at the bar, even though I'm usually up at 6 a.m. and in the office at 8. This Friday, I got a last minute call from a friend who wanted to grab a late dinner. Months ago, I might have foregone the chance in order to rest up for the weekend's 20 miler. Instead, I went out with no worries about a run 'to get in.'

Even in the next week, I have four nights with plans in the evening. I now have to organize my runs around them, running the mornings to get in the miles.

Funny how we get in the miles. I went out for a movie with a friend last night and we were watching Burn after Reading (awesome nonsensical movie) in which George Clooney plays a character who obsesses about 'getting a run in' (five miles). After sex he'd pat his stomach and say, 'maybe I can fit in a run' or if he had a bad day, he attributes it to lack of exercise. All the more funny, for me, is that they shoot that movie in DC where I've done many a five miler., especially around the Mall where Clooney's character meets his 'girlfriends' and behind the Lincoln Memorial where he starts his 5 miles through to Georgetown. Clooney's character is a little -- what's the word -- ah, obsessive about his exercise, and I guess I really do relate.

Back to today. I set myself with a goal of at least 30 miles a week and this morning, I had only done about 18, so I knew I'd shoot for a half mary distance. The wind was cruel, almost biting, but definitely painful with gusts hitting 50 km an hour. I ran for almost 5 miles before encountering other runners at the Beaches. I was running into the headwind, they were going the other way. At the 6.5 mile mark, I turned around, and the beast of that wind tunnel was now wind at my back. It was cloudy, ugly looking day but for that hour and fifty minutes, I had recaptured the reason why I'm a distance runner. A 6 miler or less, sure, I'll get some benefits, but it's those hour plus jaunts that get your body going.

In my early days of distance running, I dreaded going past 10 miles. Now, sometimes, nothing less will give me the feeling of joy of pushing my body, being one with the roads and nature. Today, for the first time in a little while, I reconnected again.

Tuesday: 6.2 miles
Wednesday: 4.33 miles
Thursday: 4.32 miles
Saturday: 3.36 miles
Sunday: 13.1 miles

Weekly total: 31 miles
Last week's miles: 30 miles
Year to date: 2149 miles (3460K)

And since my blog has lacked pictures, here's one I took yesterday at Eaton Centre... Xmas time is around the corner!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The medium, sorta long run

Been almost a month since I've done anything close to long, so it was nice to finally lace em up this morning. Got a new thermal skullcap and a brand new tights so took them out for a nice run -- sunny, cool and perfect for a long run. Not much to write about it, but I was able to keep up a pretty good pace with a few walk breaks.

Here's the route.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Run in the capital

Took a few too many days off so today in DC I fit in a 6.7 mile run, almost 11K. Love the route. It's pretty cool here. Hope to get 20 miles over the next two days if the weather holds.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Six days a week...

Today was supposed to be a 10 miler, yup, back to the double digits but that's not in the cards right now. No, not an injury, just a little tired and didn't really feel like pounding out the miles. I have run six days this week though. It's so different when there's no Plan to follow, no sense of urgency.

Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: off
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

Weekly mileage: 25 miles
Year to date 2088 miles

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's been a slow ramp up after MCM some 16 days ago. I took five days off running then ran 3 miles. Last week, I got up to 30 miles but none of them felt that great. I was also tired, battling back a cold and my 8 miler on Sunday didn't feel that great.

It's funny, cause last week I was mystified that I had somehow lost so much fitness that I couldn't even run for an hour?

Tonight was a good reminder of why I love to run. I went out there for 3 miles but it stretched to five. I went out there at an easy pace but after the 3rd mile, I rolled up the sleeves of my fleece layer. I stepped up the pace. Felt great. Fantastic actually. Did mile four in 7:35 and was ecstatic by how I felt. I ran the last mile faster but it was that fourth mile that was the revelation -- I'm back into it now.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Walk and run

I slept until 11:30 today and slept 10 hours yesterday. I guess I'm pretty exhausted. R told me she ran 8 miles this morning which motivated me to get out there. It's now chilly so the late fall gear is out.

The run was pretty hard - I started taking walk breaks every once in a while. My heart rate is okay but still higher than 155 bpm for a steady pace. I gotta slow down the next while. In all, 8 miles in 1:13. In training I can knock out a strong 8 in under an hour so clearly I need to rest up while not losing too much fitness.

Bright side: I ran 6 days this week, mostly nice low mileage.

Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday 3 miles
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 3 miles
Sunday: 8 miles

Weekly total: 30 miles
Year to date: 2063 miles

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The blahs of maintenance mode...

The cons of spending the first 10 months of this year training for three marathons is this. I've gone from 'run run run,' to 'hey, maybe I should run some time'. And that's leaving me feeling a little flat.

Okay, that's a little extreme. I haven't stopped running but they're getting shorter. Six miles on Monday, 5 miles on Tuesday, 3 miles on Wednesday, a day off Thursday and 5 miles yesterday. Now I'm debating on what I'm doing today. Am I ready for a 10 miler or will I save a medium distance run for tomorrow?

A few updates
-Working on my race schedule for next year. It will have at least two marathons and may follow the same time frame as last year.
-Will start to do homework on training programs. Have used the same one the last four marathons and I think it's good -- but perhaps it's time to start tweaking to fix some weaker areas of my running.
-I've enforced better eating habits on myself. Eating on a 25 to 30 mile a week vs. 55 to 70 miles means a whole lot of calorie deficit, more than 3000! Not being careful means weight creeping up over time. So in addition to getting into maintenance mode is to modify things.
-Gonna give my legs a few more weeks before I attempt tempo or speedwork

That's it for now. Writing about running has got me motivated to actually run. I think i'll head out the door and head... that way.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The city route, revisited

I haven't run much in the city since last winter. Why hit traffic lights when you can have an unobstructed route by the water. But with the clocks turning back, it was dark by the time I got home before 6 p.m. Trails, they aren't very well lit these days. Funnily enough, it'll be snow on the ground that'll make running on the waterfront doable at night -- you can see much better with lots of white stuff to catch a lot of light.

So off I went on a city route -- 10K in total. Hit lots of stop lights. Got a slight incline for 4K. And, of course, got back into the dodging the pedestrian game. Luckily, I bought this blinking light band that i put on my arm so I'm much more visible. It's pretty good and light.

10K in 48:29. Felt like I was running faster than that.

So I signed up for the year-end 5K race. It's the Sunday after Christmas. Also paid for my first race of 2009 -- the Around the Bay on March 29 in Hamilton. Not sure if i'll spend as much money next year as I did this year on races and travelling.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Running again

Tore off the D-tag, put on my gear and went out for a good old run. 3.23 miles in 27 minutes. Feels good to be on the road again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The off season

So... I've run a total of zero steps since the marathon. Actually, I ran a few times. To the train. Across the street to catch the last seconds of a green.... Um, that's it.

Last week's mileage: 48 miles (77K)
Year to date: 2030 (3268K)

Yippee! Passed the 2,000 mark and I think it's safe that i'll approach 2,200 miles for the year assuming i'll run an average of 20 miles a week starting next week. In fact, I hope to build to 30 to 35 miles. Me thinks four runs during weekdays of 5 miles each (for 20) and then a longish run on the weekend starting at 10 miles. We'll see.

Running is part of my routine even off training mode. Since it's my main thing I do for exercise, I need it to keep in shape. I'm not sure when I will hit the roads again. In fact, my D-Tag thingy is still on my running shoes. I'm thinking maybe Saturday will be the first time I'll feel really good.

So my eyes are set on my first few runs, but I can't stop but think of when my next training cycle begins. I took three recovery weeks between my spring marathon and my resuming of hard training for the fall season. This time, I believe I'm going to take November and most of December lightly.

I'm toying with signing up for the end-of-the year race, the Resolution Run in Toronto. It's not chip timed and I'm not even convinced it's the right length judging from last year. It's on Dec. 28 and would serve as motivation to get myself doing some endurance and speed training in December. That would be a great way to end off the year. Ease up on the running and train for a shorter distance. In all, I've already done 14 road races this year (yikes). Three 5Ks, an 8k, a 5 miler, two 10Ks, two 10 milers, two 30Ks and three marathons.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Race report: Marine Corps Marathon

Oh yes, the wordy race report. You were warned.

Since I lined up close to the front, we passed the start line only about 15 to 20 seconds after the gun sounded. Any thoughts of a conservative start was out the door. I stationed myself about 20 feet behind the 3:10 pacer. I kinda let him drift away as I found my pace. I wanted to be comfortable. It was a very cool morning, about 8C and I had just shed my long sleeved shirt. It was a good idea to wear my singlet as it would get warmer. I had these light polypro gloves and was holding one water bottle.

The fuel I bought with me: five gels, shotbloks and a bottle with 8 ounces of Gatorade that would take me past the first water stop.

Within the first mile, we were already headed up a hill and for some stupid reason, I had forgotten how steep it actually was. So we attacked the first of many hills we'd hit over the first eight or so miles. It's sorta hard so hold yourself back at the start of the marathon and it's not a good feeling chugging up your first hills within minutes of starting. The chuffing of heavy breathing is not a good sensation.

I started to take in my surroundings, enjoying some of the crowd of supporters gathered there. I also took note of some of the runners around me since the 3:10 pacer was pretty far ahead. As it turns out, I'd never attempt to give chase or catch up to him. There was a blind runner and his guide going at around 3:10, a guy with a Canadian army shirt, a few female runners. There basically was not much room to maneuvre for the first 8 miles. Not congested, but a big block of fast moving runners.

The turns were pretty tight and we always had to watch for wheelchair atheltes, which is bad for me cause I love to run on the right side of the road. Like last year, we constantly had to shout out when one was coming down at us during a flat or a downhill.

We hit the 5K split and I was keeping up the pace. It was uphill and I felt okay. I started to heat up and I shed my gloves around this point.

5K split: 00:22:29 (NET) @ 5K Pace 7:13 , Predicted 03:09:12.00.

I was pretty surprised I hit the 5K mark on target. My legs were holding but they were starting to feel it on the hills. In my last few days before the marathon, I'd feel tightness in my calves. That, added with the sore right knee, the recovering right hamstring didn't give me too much confidence in my legs for long-distance racing. Middle distance, maybe.

We descended after the 5K mark into the first big downhill. My quads still are in pain now as I walk down stairs. We crossed the bridge into Georgetown and I started taking water and Powerade at the stops. I tried to take at least two cups per stop. I enjoyed the bridge to DC and Georgetown.

I did a few sub 7 minute miles (6:59) going into the downhills but for the most part, I was keeping pace. Hit the 10K just as we were hitting the next series of hills. Oh, they would be painful.

10K split: 00:45:11 (NET) @ 10K Pace 7:16 , Predicted 03:10:31.00.

Was quite surprised to hit the 10K right on pace for 3:10, surprising because we were well behind the pacer. We ran up a slow incline and we were all just grinding out our steps. Quite frankly, the only think I remember is trying to stay comfortable then having to move to the middle of the course to go around the wheelchair athletes. We hit the Reservoir Rd turn and one runner said 'You gotta be kidding me.' Ahead of us was yet another a major hill. So we trudged on. We were running so high that the fog was obscuring the sun but some rays were peeking through. It was really pretty except for the fact that we were in pain!

As we were reaching the top of mile 8, some officers and marines were saying 'almost there' or 'go Marines!'. I liked the almost there as in we were almost at the top of the hill, but it's the wrong thing to say to a marathoner powering up a major incline 8 miles into a race! The 'go Marines', that was pretty cool. I guess for one day, we're one of them, huh?

Even with the ascent, I did the 7th mile in 7:27. Maybe we were going too fast for our pace? The next three miles, on our way back to Georgetown, was pretty much a big downhill. Clocked in a 7:03, 7:04 and 7:07 for miles 8 to 10.

Eight and nine brought us through Georgetown and down Wisconsin, and there was really good fan support as we were running on the opposite lane as other marathoners going through mile 5. Yes, we were already 3 miles ahead of the mass marathon and it was humbling to be moving at such a pace. Through M street, I heard a 'Go Canada' in reference to my little red Maple Leaf on my hat. I pumped up my fist.

15K split: 01:07:33 (NET) @ 15K Pace 7:14 , Predicted 03:09:39.00.

Nice to run the same marathon more than once, you sorta know what to expect. We passed the Kennedy Centre and I picked up an orange slice they were handing out then after I chomped into it, I was picturing the pulp being stuck on my teeth. Funny, the things you think about. I also thought about whether I needed to go to the bathroom because a few weeks ago during the Army 10-miler, it was there where I really had to go. Turns out, didn't need to the entire race.

The new route takes us through to Hains Point in East Potomac Park, so we took a different route than last year. I knew R was going to wait for me at the 10 mile mark, and I was looking out for her, but I couldn't spot her. I like running on the right side of the road so I was looking for her but no dice. As it turns out, she was on the left side on the road, had seen me, and was yelling my name.

We entered the park and the weather was perfect. The park could be brutal when it's windy but it was such a nice day. I was pacing behind a group of runners and we hit a good pace. Mile 11 in 7:08, 12 in 7:12, 13 in 7:20. We hit the 20K mark in 1:30 and slowed a wee bit to hit the half marathon mark at perfect pace for 3:10

Half marathon split: 01:35:07 (NET) @ Half Pace 7:15 , Predicted 03:10:05.00.

On our way back to the Mall, I had the first doubts of the marathon. I was feeling pretty spent. I remembered how fresh I felt at the half way mark in Toronto a month ago, as it should be. Clearly, the 3:10 pace was taking more out of me than I wanted. The weather was good yet I was already thinking 'wow, I have a long way to go'. So the miles out of the park and back into the Mall felt really long.

Back into the Mall we went and I was dying for a water stop. It finally arrived and I grabbed two cups. I almost felt like I wanted more. I was taking the gels but again, it never quite synched up with the aid stations. I really have to research the courses and actually plan when to take my gels.

25K split: 01:52:58 (NET) @ 25K Pace 7:16 , Predicted 03:10:31.00

Unlike last year, we entered a much less crowded Mall. I think that the spectators were on the other side waiting for people who were at the 10 mile mark. As a result, the fan support for us was kinda sparse. I was really hoping for an energy rush but there was not much of one. I remember running by, seeing a sign about the White House and realizing that to my left, there it actually was. Hilarious how during the race one phases things out. (I love this picture by the way because it looks like I'm ahead of a whack of people!)

I think I knew by mile 16 that it just wasn't there. We had passed two runners who was walking and I heard an official ask him 'are you okay' to which he said 'no, not really'. It hit home that the uncomfortable feeling I had was telling me something similar. I wasn't okay to be running at this pace. At the next water station, I slowed to a walk to take in more fluid. I drank two cups. Mile 18 was done in 7:44 and the mile before it in 7:25. This is well off the 7:15. As I hit the 30K split (18.7 miles) you can see that my pace had dropped dramatically.

30K split: 02:16:38 (NET) @ 30K Pace 7:29 , Predicted 03:16:12.00

We were still on the Mall at this point and I remembering seeing the Smithsonian building in the distance. I was hoping that there would be another water station near there so I could 1) take water 2) walk. Such a weird feeling to be wishing for a water stop in order to take a break. I knew that if I just started walking right there, still on the Mall, I would not have a good day. As it turns out the next water break was well after I had wanted it. I took two cups and we were headed toward that infamous and hated bridge, ready to hit the concrete.

Here's how my marathon went from run to walk.
Mile 19: 7:20
Mile 20: 8:04
Mile 21: 7:36

The stretch from mile 20 to 23 is a pretty brutal 3 miles. It's all on highway with no near end in sight. There's also no aid stations for that three miles. I just tried to tell myself while on mile 21 that I just had to make it past the bridge and I'd be okay. Other runners were starting to walk. I passed mile 21 and suddenly I just gave into it. I felt so tired. I was being hit by small cramps. I was really thirsty. So I walked. A woman went up to me with a bottle and said 'do you need water'? I gratefully accepted the bottle with thanks and took a swig. It felt great. I walked some more and started to run again, but by walking for a bit gave an opportunities for cramps to set in.

This is when the desire to compete faded and the desire to complete with everything intact emerged. I didn't feel bad, I just felt it called an end to the day. I looked at my watch and saw I was still in the two hour plus range, closing on three hours. I thought, 'Hey, I could walk and jog this thing and still have a respectable time' And so I took it easy. I walked, enjoyed the fact that I wasn't dizzy, wasn't hitting a wall, just resigned to let my heart rate settle, and let the cramps die down. I stretched. This was the longest mile of the entire race at 13:08.

35K split: 2:46:13 (NET) @ 35K Pace 7:38 , Predicted 03:20:08.00.

At some point after that, I decided to bring in jogs into the routine. I mean, I could still run, so I did. Everytime I got into a jog, I'd either feel the urge to take it easy, or a slight leg cramp (calve, knee, you name it) set in and I'd start on a walk, just hobbling a bit. We hit a water station (I jogged to it) and I walked, taking a few cups and refilling my handy little water bottle with it.

I saw R across the street and I jogged a little, beckoning her to follow me (she had running shoes on) but she didn't get the drift. I ran a bit more and saw a guy with a big ass Canadian flag on his back and that motivated me to actually run a bit more. We turned around and a few minutes later I was jogging towards R. I stopped right in front of her (and a runner behind me almost smashed into me -- opps, but in my defence, I wasn't exactly running). And I chatted with R. a bit.

R: Hi K!
I give her a kiss
R: How's it going
K: I have leg cramps. I'm going to walk most of the rest of this with a smile on my face.
She asked me to pose for a picture which I did, then I jogged my merry way.
Mile 23 in 11:54.

I then started to attempt running again to the finish. I would run for a few minutes, take a break and a swig from my bottle, then run again. It actually wasn't that bad. I did the next two miles in 9:58 and 9:25. I was passing other runners only to have them pass me when I took a break, then I'd pass them again. We hit the 40K mark and I remember that it was 3:19. I knew that I it would take two 5 minute kilometres and change to get a 3:30. That's a very respectable time and I decided to go for it.

40K split: 03:18:55 (NET) @ 40K Pace 8:00 , Predicted 03:29:45.00

At that moment, the 3:30 pace group (a group I probably should have been running with from the start) was creeping behind me and it was the part of the race when the pacer says '.. we got 30 seconds in the bank, and if you liked what we did, email the marathon so they'll bring us back.' 'For sure,' said a runner.

I smiled at this because that's what I heard my pacer say back in May in Cincy when he guided us to a sub 3:20 finish (3:18 and change, actually). The pace balloon he was carrying was making that familiar sound -- the only sound you hear when you're running that late with a pacer, a big group whittled to a merry band of survivors.

They got away from me when I took a little breather, but then I decided to up my pace. I felt that I could do a few strong kilometres to finish at 3:30.

The last few miles of last year's MCM was brutal for me. I hit the wall and really tried to keep on moving. Today, I basically rested for four miles plus, then ran again in the last mile. I ran mile 26 in 8:26 (yeah, that's hilarious) and the last 600 metres, which included the big hill, in 8:05 pace. I really enjoyed the last kilometre. Sure, I was fighting off a cramp that could all of a sudden get worse, but I was soaking in the crowds. I looked up at the big hill and it didn't seem that bad. The announcer was reeling in the 3:30 group, congratulating them on a job well done, and I saw that my watch read 3:29 and change. I had a minute to scale that hill and I fought it. No walk breaks any more. Just take that hill.

I crossed the finish line of my fifth marathon with my hands held up high. My heart rate was normal, my breathing fine, my legs were not great but I was walking straight (never got a Charley Horse!) and was well enough to smile and thank all the Marines stationed at the end.

03:30:28 (NET) @ Finish Pace 8:01

I ended up the marathon running a 8:01 mile or 5 minute kilometres, a much more conservative pace than the 7:15 miles or 4:30 kilometre that I ran the first 25 kilometres in. Do I regret doing that? No, I don't think so. I think there are not many opportunities to run long distances at your marathon pace so why not try it if you have the chance. Sure, I could have tried for a negative split but it didn't feel like the type of race that you find your own pace. Too crowded a race to find room, I think.

I think I've come to terms that I'll run my next marathon with water bottles. I think it's important to have your own supply, even to take your gels at the right moments. I have to hydrate better, especially given that I was able to down that bottle of water that the woman gave me. I, like other runners, get too ansy that i'll have to go to the washroom. I have to find a balance on that note.

Most of all, I think that 3:10 to 3:15 is really within my reach. I think properly trained I can make it. I came oh so close to it in Toronto and I've learned a lot from that race. This one, I've learned it's not exactly smart to go for your peak performance so close to another attempt and with injury.

Anyways, most of all, I love this distance. No race is easy but no race is like the marathon. Other races test guts, speed and training. The marathon asks a lot more of you. What that stuff is, well, you only know when it's asked of you during those final miles. I'll strive for that next spring when I run my next one.

Chip time: 3:30:28
Race details

Monday, October 27, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon: The pre race

The big indicator that this wouldn't be the race where i'd attempt a BQ was about two weeks ago, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I was going out for a 13 miler. The first few steps told me this run wouldn't go so well. It was that hamstring problem that I probably exacerbated a few days before by running a 8 miler with the last few miles fast -- the last mile in 6:20.

I cut that 13 miler down to 6 miles and took several walk breaks. I was on the verge of hobbling. I took days off. I used the Stick and I started to take some ibuprofen in the hopes that rest would heal it. In the week where I should have been ramping up training with 48 miles, I cut it back to recover. Not only was my hamstring bothering me, but my right knee was tender in spots. A summer of running was catching up to me.

I was able to fit in a 12 miler a week before marathon day. It was done at a 8 mile pace and it felt okay. Just ok. In the next few days, I did a few miles at 7:30 pace and one mile at 7:18. I skipped the dress rehearsal.

So I entered DC with an attitude that this would not be an A or even B goal race but how many marathon chances would I have. I never ruled out going for broke. Believe me, I did all the usual things I do before a marathon -- carb up very well, hydrate, stay away from alcohol and get plenty of rest. The expo was nice and I was starting to get excited. I talked to JellyP on Saturday afternoon and I spoke about taking an almost apathetic approach to this marathon. Maybe it was best if I took it easy as long as I ended up smiling at the end. I started to also feel a tingling in the back of my throat that by Saturday afternoon, i was thinking that it would quickly progress into a cold. I think I'm fighting it back even as I type this.

After 6 straight meals of high carbs, I settled into bed by 9:30 and I slept pretty well, waking up several times as R was still up working. Up at 4 a.m. and switched back to a bagel with peanut butter and a banana for breakfast. Over the past three days, I've been hydrating with electrolyte rich drinks (the low-calorie kind that comes in tablet form that you dissolve in water.). i've been upping sodium intake also by chomping on pretzels.

I was out the door a little after 6 a.m and took the metro to the race site. It went by pretty quick. Took a pee break, checked in my bag, got by bag back because I forgot to switch to my sunglasses '(glad I did) and took another pee break on the way to the start line. I lined up in the 3:00 to 3:19 area.

Here's was the goal. I put on a 3:15 pace band and I wanted to go out at a 3:10 pace and 'fade' to a 3:15. I thought that given my level of tiredness and not being accustomed to 3:15 or even 3:20 at this point, i don't think if I ran with the 3:20s that I would able to ramp up to a 3:15. I know, it's not a great strategy but I figured I 'go for it' and see how the day went.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon: Done and done

As you can see from the alerts, I finished with a 3:30. I went out about 100 metres behind the 3:10 pacer and knew after 10 miles that this wasn't my day. I've lost fitness and my legs aren't fully recovered. So I started taking walk breaks as the slight cramps hit after mile 20. I enjoyed the last 6 miles, stopping to talk to R and soaking it in. I wasn't in pain and I knew I could have given it more but I wanted to emerge unscathed. I ran the last mile at about 8 mile pace tacking myself on to the 3:30 pacer so I could have run it faster. Enjoyed it immensely, thanks for following guys. This was not the fastest by far but it was a good experience of testing my limits.


KENNY YUM, 03:30:28 (NET) @ Finish Pace 8:01 . Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 03:18:55 (NET) @ 40K Pace 8:00 , Predicted 03:29:45.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 02:46:13 (NET) @ 35K Pace 7:38 , Predicted 03:20:08.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 02:16:38 (NET) @ 30K Pace 7:29 , Predicted 03:16:12.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 01:52:58 (NET) @ 25K Pace 7:16 , Predicted 03:10:31.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 01:35:07 (NET) @ Half Pace 7:15 , Predicted 03:10:05.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 01:30:05 (NET) @ 20K Pace 7:14 , Predicted 03:09:39.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 01:07:33 (NET) @ 15K Pace 7:14 , Predicted 03:09:39.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 00:45:11 (NET) @ 10K Pace 7:16 , Predicted 03:10:31.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.


KENNY YUM, 00:22:29 (NET) @ 5K Pace 7:13 , Predicted 03:09:12.00. Powered by Marine Corp Marathon.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Excitement builds

You get a lot of swag at races. I picked up my bib, the new D-Tag timing thing (i'll have to investigate that further) and my shirt. Also picked up all that stuff you see and more. Stopped by the Clif Bar pacing area and picked up at 3:10, 3:15 and 3:20 pace bands. They have no 3:15 pacer but at least they had bands. One of the pacers featured in a recent Runner's World (Star) article was there.

I also chatted with Bart Yasso, told him I loved his book. He has ideas for two more. That was cool. We both discussed how we hated the bridge around mile 20 (when we leave DC) and also the last 2.5 miles of the marathon run by the Pentagon. Nice to know that experienced runners also hated that.

Also talked to Alan Brookes, the race director of the Toronto Waterfront marathon. We discussed weather and other stuff. Good to see Canadian races plugging themselves at big marathons.

Finally, picked up a MCM jacket! (it's cool) and my customary hat. Yes, I always buy gear at marathons. Not other races, just marathons. Just my thing. Bought a Race Ready shorts, which I swear by cause I can carry gels and things. They're hard to find in Canada and I'm good now since I have three.

Off to go visit a museum for once. I've been here probably 20-plus times in the past 1.5 years and I've only hit like two in my time here. Air and space, I think.

And, by the way, I'm getting excited for this marathon thing. Go figure. Weather is looking promising. Big rain tomorrow but clearing up for Sunday. High of 19C, low of 8C. The blah part is the wind.

Two freaking thousand miles

Today, I passed the 2000 mile mark for the year, on the way to a washroom break on the Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial. My first run of the year was outside my condo in Toronto on a snowy winter day, 500 miles away. It blows my mind that since January, I've done two round trips from DC to Toronto.

Last year I logged my highest yearly mileage at 1640. This year I'll beat that with a huge margin, especially with two months remaining. As I enter maintenance mode after the marathon, I'll probably make it to 2150 or even 2200 by the end of the year. Crazy.

Is this the new normal? I'm not yet sure if I'm going to do what I did this year -- a spring marathon (that demands heavy winter running), three weeks of recovery followed by the Pfitzinger 70 mile program. I lost a lot of time in the summer but I guess you can say I've also gained a lot too. We'll see.

4 miles in 43 minutes

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The days are numbered

Found out my bib number today. Nothing like a big city mega-marathon with 30,000 runners. I'm number 24293. We're four days away from the Marine Corps Marathon. So appropriately, did four miles tonight after work. It's a little warmer and the wind has gone down. A nice cold night so I wore a long sleeved Saucony top, a sleeveless windbreaker and my racing shorts.

I also changed the insoles of my shoes back to the new one. I had used the old one in my newish pair of shoes. I think I need the cushioning I can get.

The mile splits are encouraging with minimal soreness (a 'touch' of soreness, is the word I'd use).

1. 7:58
2. 7:31
3. 7:30
4. 7:18

Hmm, the middle two miles could very well be my marathon pace on Sunday. Slightly faster than 3:20 pace. The last mile is a few seconds slower than BQ pace. My dress rehearsal was supposed to be today but because I ran in the dark, I figured I'd try a 6 mile run tomorrow with two at pace. I'm going to do a 8 minute plus mile, then slowly lower it and see how 7:30s feel, then i'll lower it to 7:20 or faster and see how that feels.

If the leg is great then it's a question of fitness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I spent most of the day not wearing warm enough clothing. To work, I forgot to put on a heavier coat so I froze during the commute. And on the run, although I used my tights and windbreaker and long-sleeved top, I was still very chilled. 2C with windchill of -6C.

I did 10K in 48:11 on a very windy trail (details). My right knee is still an issue but it went away after the first mile or so. Gonna stretch out some more. I have a 7 miler with a few miles at marathon pace.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon: 6 days to go

It's six days till my next marathon. The other day, R mentioned to me that 'You haven't talked much about this marathon' and she's right. This was never intended to be the A race. That said, I've read your comments (thanks!) and I think i'm going to set a reasonable goal. I've got my goals down and part of the plan is to try for a negative split. I'll state my goals as I get closer to the day.

Anyways, I'm still feeling like I'm recovering from sickness and I'm going to take it easy tonight. I just got in the mail the Spirit of the Marathon documentary which I saw last spring. I'll watch it this week and bring it with me to DC to watch before marathon day!

Last week's mileage: 27.5 miles (44K)
Year to date: 1982 (3189K)

Week's plan
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 5 or 6 miles
Wednesday: Dress rehearsal 7 miles with 2 at pace
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Marathon

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weighing options

I think I'm feeling under the weather. Not sure, but these signs point it out. 1) i'm pretty
burnt out by the past six weeks -- working on elections has taken its toll on my sleep 2)
because i'm not getting full rest, I feel like my body's immune system is not recovery very well 3) Well, i'm achy, exhausted, and feeling the first bit of a cold.

Of course, like any runner, I combat colds with a run, so I did my prescribed last longish run of 12 miles (Garmin details). 12 miles in 1:39 is pretty darned good. I was trying to just give myself a nice cardio workout but I could tell that I didn't want to give any miles below the 8 minute mile. My right knee is a little achy and the hamstring problem, though not getting in the way of general aerobic running, could start to fire up in a race effort.

So, it's a week before Marine Corps Marathon and it's just about decision time. My underlying fitness, especially if I can quickly recover from this cold and it doesn't leave me with respiratory problems, is good. If my hamstring/knee heals up nicely in the last week of a major taper, I could see myself going for 3:15 or even run the first half in 3:10 pace.

But there's another part of me yearning just to keep it easy. It's the part of myself that says, 'Hey, you've run quite a few miles this year, no need to go for a personal best in a week in your state.' That part is also saying to myself that my goal this year was to go sub 3:20, which I've done twice. Making the first 3:10 attempt was a result of the confidence gleaned by the May marathon. I'm happy I did it and I am set for my next training cycle. And that part of myself is telling myself to enjoy a marathon at a slower pace. Enjoy the big city crowd, enjoy the sights, enjoy the finish with a massive smile.

So, I'm still unresolved but starting to eye splits for a 3:30 marathon. It's well within my grasp, in fact, my past three marathons has been 3:18 to 3:24. 3:30 would allow me to run it at a more comfortable pace -- but believe me, it's still not 'easy'. A 3:45 isn't a bad idea either in that respect.

Who knows, I want to see where this cold leaves me in a few days time. I'm ready to take it as it comes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Solid run

So that hamstring thing was beginning to worry me. I did the best thing that I could -- stopped running. I did do 3 miles on Monday, went to work on Thanksgiving, and 4K on Tuesday. After that, I worked 14 hours on the election and got two hours sleep, so no running on Wednesday.

Started late work today, so instead of a 15 miler, I figured I'd go long just to give myself a longish run. Did 10 miles in 1:20, which I'm very happy with. Did a few miles at a fast-ish pace and it felt good. The leg is fine!

Will run a bit more the next two days then try 12 miles on Sunday. Next marathon in 10 days!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon: 2 weeks to go

Before the post, just wanted to share what I see outside my condo window on mornings when the sky is clear and there's just a beautiful sunrise. I'm lucky to get my unobstructed view of the lake. Just gorgeous.

Okay... seeing as the title of my last post was Recovered, I was bound to build some bad karma. After my speedy last mile to the 8 miler on Friday, I felt a little tightness in my right hamstring -- not too much pain but noticeable. Yesterday, did a 5 miler and it was stinging. Today didn't want to push things so in lieu of a 12 mile run, I did 6 miles at a slow pace. I should listened to the advice. Get to the next marathon in top shape and in top health. Going to stretch it out more, rest up more.

Last week's mileage
Tuesday: 6.2 miles
Wednesday Rest
Thursday: 8 miles
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: 5 miles
Sunday: 6.2 miles

Total weekly: 33.5 miles (54K)
Year to date: 1954.5 miles (3145K)

So I have three key runs this week. A 8 miler with 5x800 on Tuesday, a 15 mile run on Thursday and a 11 mile run on Sunday. Because of the hamstring, I may miss the 8 miler with speedwork and instead do a short recovery run. I will do the 15 miler on Thursday or Friday but won't push the pace like I did last Friday. I want to keep this at a plus 8 minute mile run. I know I can do 7:15s, no sense in wasting effort less than two weeks to marathon day. On Sunday, I will do a semi-long run. That will be a good day to decide on what game plan I'm bringing to DC.

The schedule
Monday: Rest (though may do 3 miles recovery)
Tuesday: 8 miles w 5x800 (May skip and instead do 3 miles recovery)
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 15 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: 5 miles
Sunday: 11 miles

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I'm loving the cool autumn air. Better than that, I'm loving starting my run at 6 p.m. and get to see the sun go down. One of my runs lets me run back to the city centre and you see our beautiful skyline painted with shades of fiery red and tinges of orange. Why more runners don't get outside during our falls and winters, i don't understand.

Did a pair of eight milers on Thursday and Friday and feeling better about my running with each one.

The first one I did in 1:03:47, starting off at over 8 minute miles and finishing up the last three miles in the sub 8 category, with a last mile at 7:40. I'm getting a feel for running again -- not like I lost it, but the stride is back, the breathing is in synch and I'm feeling smooth.

So yesterday, I decided to up teh pace right at the start.

1. 7:44
2. 7:41
3. 7:28
4. 7:24

I hit the midpoint at a little over 30 minutes. Part of me wanted to do the rest at recovery but it was getting dark and I was enjoying the pace. Besides, I was running on a trail in which I usually get it all to my self. (Route and stats)

5. 7:24
6. 7:41
7. 7:30

Looking at the watch, I thought that I'd play a little game of, 'lets try to finish up this 8 mile run in less than an hour'. By the last mile I saw I had do so some work to get under there so I upped the pace dramatically that by the last kilometre, I was basically doing trackwork.

Final mile in 6:20! It felt awesome. And yes, I finished the run (8 miles/12.87K) in a nice 59:22, safely under the target.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Speeding things up

I started today's run at a pretty normal pace, just over 8 minutes for the first mile. Then I caught up to this runner who, while I was behind her, magically upped her pace to mine, which was pretty much dead one marathon pace. So I kept it up for the next two miles, clocking a 7:16 and 7:12. I know it's a little early for pace work but it was good to give my legs and my cardio something close to a nice workout. I finished the rest of the run with sub 8 minute miles. Pretty amazing that I'm asking my body on marathon day to pull off 26.2 of these 7:15 miles when even a few today felt a little challenging.

Yes, it feels a little hard to do even this type of pace work 9 days out from the marathon. I'm going to avoid pacework over the rest of the runs this week and instead work my way back to it. They say you need a day for each mile raced to get back to normal. And since I have 28 days between marathon, that's just enough time, right?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Marine Corps Marathon: 3 weeks to go

I'm still around. In fact, been quite busy and running around a lot.

First things first, I've been recovering up and I'm in DC now, where, among other things, I made R a peach pie from scratch (oh yes, homemade crust, my favourite). Here it is with a few birthday candles and the R. (It's her first initial, if you've been wondering.) :)

I finished up my recovery week today with -- a race! First, though, I did 3 miles on Wednesday, 5.5 miles on Friday then again on Saturday, and finished the Army 10 Miler this morning with R. I paced her to a nice 1:50 finish. I'll write up a race report later.

Just catching up on mileage.
Two weeks ago (marathon week): 42 miles
Last week: 24 miles

Year to date mileage: 1921 miles (3093K)

Next week, the schedule gears up a notch.
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 6 miles recovery
Wednesday: 8 miles recovery
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 8 miles with 8x100
Saturday: 5 miles
Sunday: 12 miles

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pictures say it all

Pictures from Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon are in. You can see them here.

I'll probably buy some of them cause I'm actually happy with some of them.

Like this one, looks like i'm running smoothly.
Same with this one
And my favourite of running photos, catching me in midair.
This one is a bad moment, that's Peter on the right after giving me some Gatorade. I'm suffering big time.
Drunk, or staggering runner?

On the road again...

At least 6 people asked me in the last 24 hours whether I started running again yet. Half were joking. I really felt like having one -- I just feel sluggish if I don't run.

My calves are getting better. All the remedies and stretch are working and I knew that the final thing that would speed things up was a good old recovery run to flush out the bad stuff out of my legs.

I ran what I felt to be slow but looking back at the splits maybe I was going way too fast for a post-marathon run. Anyways, it felt nice and slow. Did 5.2K in 29:28 with an average pace of 5:39 kilometres.

It was a nice run, great to run in the cool autumn air. I think I can complete the rest of this week's runs, two recovery 6 milers on Friday and Saturday and a 10 miler GA run on Sunday, all in DC.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's next?

I didn't feel much sorrow having missed my BQ attempt. It was a good race for the most part. Being able to tackle most of it by myself on a lonely run was something new, and I take away a lot from it. I can think of a few factors that worked against me.

The weather, it was not ideal. I really wished it was less sunny and about 5 degrees cooler. Oh well, you can't control that.

The fuelling, maybe in retrospect, I should have taken more Gatorade, or more water. This is weird, because I remember taking fluid at every stop. I'm also worried that I took too many of the gels without taking water right away. Perhaps the gels sank to the bottom of my stomach? That's my hunch.

Mental toughness? I think I still have work to do, but I think learning the 3:10 pace had to be done and I'm glad I tried it. The last few miles of a marathon is not easy. It's not supposed to be. Somehow, I got through the Flying Pig with no major problems. Maybe it was the pacer, maybe it was a good weather and just a good day. Maybe I had gotten used to 3:20 that it actually felt comfortable.

I have all of this and more to think over the next three and a half weeks.

As a health check, my calves are still sore, sore to the point that they ache as I walk down stairs. I did take an ice bath (brrr!) on Sunday and elevated my legs. Unfortunately, I went back to work the last two days and spent long days at my desk in front of a computer. I don't think that helped. I took an epsom salt bath tonight, am taking in more sodium and potassium, etc. and I finally took some ibuprofen. Gonna go over the calves with The Stick later on.

All in all, I'll probably take another day off running before doing a recovery run on Thursday. If that goes well, then i'll do more recovery runs on Friday and Saturday.

That's because I have a freaking race on Sunday! Okay, it's not a race for me. It's the Army 10 Miler in DC and I'll be pacing with R. who will be taking it slow, even slower than my recovery. We've both agreed that we'll run slow and even walk at parts. I hope that the run/walk will get my legs back into action and flush out my legs.

I'm following the Pfitzinger-Douglas 4 weeks between marathons program. My Google Calendar widget on the right has the schedule if you're wondering what craziness I'm up to. As Fran said, he thinks I can make another attempt in four weeks. Pfitzinger advises that you make your call the week before, which is what I'll do.

Best case, I think about running with the 3:10 group, then slow down to 3:20 pace for the second half of the marathon. This fade will, in theory, let me target a 3:15 finish. The other option is to run with the 3:20 pace group until the half, then step it up for the end. Yet another option is to fun run the marathon with a 3:30 or even 3:45 goal and end it smiling! We'll see, there are plenty of marathons i'll run in the future.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Race report: Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

The night before the marathon, I was pretty relaxed. I had spent the day in low-key mode. I had gone for a 2K run to test out the shoes. I did a load of laundry. I laid out the running gear and pinned on the bib and I carboloaded on pasta and other such food. I tried to be in bed by 9 p.m. because I was going to get up at 3:45ish to get in my breakfast. Phoned R and was actually in bed well before 10. I actually slept well, if not waking up every once in a while to check the time.

I got up, ate two waffles and a banana and went back to bed for another hour. By 5, I was getting ready. I looked out my window and saw the race crew putting up the 19K flag just to the east of my condo. I phoned R, she wished me well, and after taking washroom breaks, it was time to leave. I started the walk to City Hall, about 2.5K away.
It was a nice walk. I could feel the warmth in the air and I knew it wasn't quite the perfect weather for racing.

Arrived at the race site with one hour to spare, so hit the porta potty, sat down for a bit, then hit the portapotty one more time. Bumped into a few friends and in the final 25 minutes, lined up into the corral, where I saw Peter, an former colleague of mine and also a many time marathoner. We chatted a bit -- he was running the half with a goal of hitting 1:35. I started looking out for the 3:10 pacer but they were no where to be found. I just saw the 3:30 but that was it.

So as the clock counted down to 7:30, it was an odd feeling. I was about to run a marathon in my home city, the biggest race of my life on home turf, without the aide of a pacer. 'Oh well, here goes nothing' I thought as I crossed the line and started the Garmin

0 to 10K: Running with the pack

We sped down Bay Street, which is on a decline so we gathered speed. The corral system works quite well since most of the runners were going at a decent enough speed. Too many runs in Toronto you have to seed yourself up at the front for fear of veering off course to stay on your pace. I tried to contain my speed as we rounded the first major corner on to Wellington and I looked ahead at the horizon for the rising sun. It's a nice view and I enjoyed the scenery.

We passed the first kilometre mark in a too-quick 4:18. I found myself running right behind Peter and we ran a bit together. Lee came running by at this point and said hello around the time we clicked past the second kilometre at 4:22 and I knew we were running too fast. Lee, who was gunning for a sub 1:30 half, sped off and wished me luck (His blistering half was 1:27 and change). Peter advise that I slow down and "run your own race." I knew too well that was perfect advice so I slowed down. We ran on the Lakeshore for a bit and I skipped the first two water stops, taking drinks from my bottle that I was carrying with me. The next few kilometres clicked thorough and I hit the 5K mark in about 22 minutes, which was about 30 seconds faster than pace. I decided to slow it down a bit and settle into a consistent run. It's really difficult to run in a race that's predominatly run by half marathoners because they can give more effort while a marathoner has to be conservative.

I took my first gel at 8K and I was enjoying running on the road that had a nice downward slope to it since most of the course is flat. During this and so many of my kilometres, I got into a nice smooth groove.

8K in 4:30
9K in 4:30
10K in 4:29.

I hit the 10K split in around 45 minutes flat.

Splits: 10K split: 45:08 12.2K: 54:32

12.2K to 21.1K: Pack running, then the split
From the turnaround at 12.2K, we headed back east for a long trek to the city's east end. At the turnaround, you could see who was behind you, so I took a look for this supposed 3:10 pacer. I didn't spot any and I was perplexed. Luckily, there seemed to be a marathoner who was about 10 metres ahead of me who was running at the same clip as I was. I guessed that he was going for a 4:30 pace so I gave him his room and just used him as a marker. As it turns out he was going at around that pace, which was perfect for me. I kept to my plan. I took a Clif Shot Blok a few kilometres after taking the gel, then I'd take the next gel at the 15K mark. It's a pattern that I repeated for the rest of the marathon.

It was important at this point that I maintained 4:30 pace because quite a few of the half marathoners had gone out too fast and were slowing. This began the pattern that would happen for most of the rest of the race. I was running a steady pace and just passing people based on that pace.

We hit the half/full marathon split off before the 18K mark and I knew that's when the real race begun. If I was passing anyone ahead of me at this point, they had to be fading because it was my goal to run even splits.

Here are some splits

13K: 4:28
14K: 4:24
15K: 4:29
16K: 4:23
17K: 4:28
18K: 4:29
19K: 4:20
20K: 4:25
21K: 4:25
These are splits from my Garmin and I think some of them are off (as in recording the splits as too fast). From looking at my watch throughout the run, I was only 30 seconds faster than pace.

I remember running with four guys and I asked an older runner 'has anyone seen the 3:10 pacer?' Silence. Then he said, I'm going for 3:15. He asked the guy beside him (right behind me, how fast he was going. No answer. Then it turned out noone in that group knew what time they were going for. I just told them 'We're on 3:10 pace' to which the older runner said '3:15, lets go!'.

I left them about 100 metres later.

Running on Queens Quay was a dream. This is my neighbourhood and I was so happy to see real crowds gathered there. I know a lot of people cheering on friends and family were here to see marathoners before going to the end of the course, so I knew these people were actually out there to see us. Quite a few people were saying my name from my bib which was nice to hear. I was running alone, feeling strong, in a groove.

Hit the half marathon mark in 1:34:36 and as I write this, this is pretty amazing. Two years ago my fastest half marathon was 1:34:41 (My current PB is 1:31:34) yet during this marathon, I was cruising into the same time with plenty of gas left in the tank. This just shows where my training and experience has gotten me. (Reminder to self to race a half marathon in the next half year to see what I'm capable of).

21.1K to 30K. In and out of the Spit.
Shortly after the half, I saw a surprise cheering section that included a friend of mine (she's R's best friend who ran the 5K). That was a nice boost. I gave them a thumbs up and powered my way into the next section. I knew that the halfway mark to 20 miles would be an exercise in restraint. To try not to waste too much energy and emotion -- that's what the last 6.2 miles are for. The sun was fully out at this point and I was getting a little worried about the lack of shade on this course. We ran on Commissioners, which is an ugly industrial area, but it's also my home training ground. At about the turn into the Leslie Spit, an out and back into a park/reclaimed land/landfill dumping ground, we spotted the lead marathoners coming back. They were about to hit the 37K mark and looking strong.

I had still remembered to take my gels but I was increasingly consuming them well before I hit water stations. I was so intent to get my fuel in me that come hell or high water I'd put them in my mouth and just wait for the next water stop to take the water to wash them down.

Here are some of my splits

23K: 4:28
24K: 4:27
25K: 4:29
26K: 4:24
27K: 4:26
28K: 4:26
29K: 4:28
30K: 4:29

As you can see, I was within one to 4 seconds my marathon pace. At around the 27K mark, the guy who i'd been using as my semi pacer suddenly stopped at an aid station. At this point, I was truely alone in reaching my goal of a 3:10. Quite frankly, there was no one else around me who seemed to be going for that pace. I just bared down and decided to keep the pace up. I would not let the pace of those ahead of me dictate my running turnover. I hit the 30K mark in 2:14:35, which was 25 seconds faster than planned. I was very happy with this pacing job. In my head, that gave me about a 1:30 bank to meet 3:10:59.

30K: 2:14:35. Target pace 2:15

30K to 39K: The homestretch

The next bit had me run farther east, into the Beaches then up to Queen. It was a lonely road. There were only a few runners ahead of me and by keeping up my pace, I was starting to over take people. I continued to take the water, the gels, the bloks and I felt pretty good, pretty good for going more than 20 miles alone. I hit the last chip check mark at 33.7K, which I clocked in at 2:30:10. At the turnaround, I could see the CN Tower and I just told myself, it's only 9K home. I started to think of the distance in miles and it really didn't seem that far. At around the 35K mark, I felt a slight twinge in my right calf but I thought I could shake it out. I wished that I'd change my stride a bit and make kick it out a bit. I wish I had a group leader to talk us through the inevitable rough patches. Instead, I was alone with my thoughts. It was freeing, but also daunting.

Before the race, I decided that I would dedicate miles 23 to 26 to my mom. She's been through so much but is fighting and I thought that at the very least, some 20 odd minutes of suffering on my part was nothing. I hit the 37K mark and I couldn't believe where I was. I was a little more than 5K away from my goal and it was just within reach. But while it was close, 23 plus minutes felt so far away.

The splits below tell the story. I was simply on a tear. Not too fast, just pounding out those kilometres.

31K: 4:27
32K: 4:30
33K: 4:27
34K: 4:29
35K: 4:29
36K: 4:24
37K: 4:29
38K: 4:31

39K to the finish: The struggle home
Then it happened. The cramps just hit. First a twinge, then it hit with full force. That's it. After more than 38 kilometres, I was forced to slow to a walk. When I think back, I don't know what forced it. It was maybe by this point that despite hitting all my splits my breathing pattern and gone to the red line stage? I was running in the sun and I felt over heated. The cramps caused my first walk break. I remember a few moments before that. I felt that I was staggering a bit. I remember a course volunteer biking by me asking if I was okay. I remember another volunteer asked me if I wanted to sit down, if I wanted to just take it easy.

There was no way I wanted to. My Boston goal was still well within reach so I forced myself to start running. My watch says I did 39th kilometre in 4:50, which is still a decent pace. In fact, if I was able to keep up that pace, I could have very well met my goal.

The next kilometre was not as kind as the cramping continued. I may have been in a panic at this point, just dismayed that with every second of rest, I was throwing away all my training. Every second of rest felt good, a respite from the pain and three hours of running at a hard intensity. But every second worked against me.

Again, I summoned more and ran toward Bay street, turning the corner, taking frequent walk breaks. My Garmin goes wonky at this point due to satellite coverage, but I know that in the last kilometre or two, I did fit in bouts of running. If I were smarter, I would have reverted to a recovery run. Instead, I decided to beat the cramps by running strong and I was able to do this for a bit. I must of ran up to a kilometre at real pace but then it became too much. I was out of breath.

If you've ever seen a runner stagger near the end of a marathon, stagger like a drunk tries to walk a straight line, then you may have a good idea of what I looked like when I took a walk break around 600 metres from the end. I heard people cheering my name, but the only thing I could see was how far away the finish line seemed. In other races, I can visualize 800 metres as two times around the track and it'll give me an impetus to finish the race. But at the end of a marathon, the last thing I wanted to picture was any lap around any track. Trackwork, I guess, I associate with hard running!

I walked slowly and was losing control of my cramping legs. My friend Peter, who emerged out of the crowd, grabbed me by the arm and helped walk me a few metres. A race official also went out and asked me if I wanted to stop. Peter urged me on. He steadied me when I took one step back then a step to the side. He then convinced me and the official that I could totally finish the race. He grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and told me to take a few sips, which I did, then he yelled something like, 'it's only 500 metres to go, you can do this'!

We exchanged emails later Sunday and he told me that someone almost pulled me off the course!

And he shared a little more of the carnage he witnessed.

I saw a guy about 10 minutes ahead of you who was having an even tougher time - he was weaving right across Bay Street. There were others - after I left you there was a guy on the ground around Richmond. And an ambulance a little later on in the same area. I figured the sun, the heat coupled with the humidity in the morning would really take a toll on a lot of people.

Ain't no way you weren't gonna finish that race.

Thanks Peter.

And off I went. This was the toughest end. I was checking my watch as my A and B goals went down the drain. I knew then that I just had to finish it for myself. I fought through panic of a summer dedicated to training for one race. I fought through the pains in my legs, my head and in my very lungs. I fought because the crowd was urging me on, cheering my name. I staggered to the finish and it was over.

(Chip time: 3:19:39.)

After I hit the finish line, I guess I was staggering, because a race official came up to me, while another came with a wheel chair. I was spent but alert. I was wheeled into the medical tent. They took my pulse, they took my name and address and lifted my legs on top of a case of Gatorade. It was an odd feeling. My legs were done, the muscles were throbbing and I had a Charley Horse or two while there. I drank a few cups of Gatorade that they advised me to sip. I had to ask for another few cups before I felt good enough to sit up on my bed/stretcher. I looked around and saw other marathoners, guys and gals like me who had finished around my time. There were at least 10 of us in there. Wow, I thought, this race that done in a lot of people. After about 15 minutes, I got up, thanked them, checked out and lined up to grab my medal. (I remember sitting on the bed thinking 'hey, am I gonna get a medal or not?!')

I hobbled around the corner, grabbed a foil blanket and hobbled all the way home, down Bay Street. As I walked, my legs were recovering. Blood was moving into my legs and as I watched marathoners go by, the 4 hours, 4:15, 4:30, I saw the same faces as mine. I saw smiles, I saw determination, I saw courage, I saw young, old, male, female. They were all headed up the same road that I had toiled on earlier. I felt proud to be among them. They were my kind of people. Marathoners.

Which brings me back to a funny moment after I staggered past the finish line, a mess of a runner with jelly like legs. A volunteer who was guiding me toward the wheelchair asked me if this was my first marathon. I just held out my hands, put up my four fingers and smiled. 'Four,' I said. 'This is my fourth.' I'm sure she'd think I was crazy if I told her I'm running my fifth in 28 days.

Chip time: 3:19:39
Overall: 180/2532 (92.8 percentile)
Age group: 34/219 (85.8 percentile)
Gender: 156/1577 (90 percentile)

Run details on Garmin Connect. Note that it records it as 3:16 and change. I think I hit my stop button really early.

Next: Reflection on my training, on goals and what's next for the Marine Corps Marathon.