Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Counting down...

The blog's quiet but things are busy. I just finished 10 days in a row of work (not intended, because of the transit strike over the weekend). I ran 6 miles on Tuesday and skipped today's dress rehearsal of 7 miles with 2 at pace. I have tomorrow off, which i'll use to pack, get my 7 miler in the morning, sleep, watch TV and perhaps fit in another 5 mile recovery in the evening.

I leave Friday morning and land just after noon. My hotel is right beside the expo so i'll be dropping in a few times. JellyP and family start arriving later Friday and so does R. My lord marathon day is approaching and I'm actually not bouncing off walls. I've had a lot of other stuff on my mind recently...

Speaking of Flying Pig Marathon, there was news recently that Roger Waters (an old music hero of mine) lost his flying pig recently during one of his concerts. Amusing story here.

And for your enjoyment, Pink Floyd's Pigs On A Wing... okay, not a feelgood song, but it's within the topic...

Occasionally glancing up through the rain...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon: 1 week to go

So fast? Crap.

Here's the week that just past

Tuesday: 7.5 miles
Thursday AM: 8.76 miles (with 3x1600)
Thursday PM: 5 miles
Sunday: 12.43 miles

Total weekly mileage: 33.5 miles (54K)
Year to date mileage: 704.5 (1,127K)

Week plan

Tuesday: 6 miles
Wednesday: 7 miles dress rehearsal with 2 miles at pace
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5 miles / 6x100 (i'm in Cincy by early afternoon)
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: Marathon!!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

No transit and a good 300th

Ugh. Tired. Today was labelled a rest day but it turned not to be. I got a call last night at 10:30 ish from the news desk: The Toronto Transit Commission was going on strike in less than two hours. So we did what we did best, we roused a reporting staff, started a news and scene blog post, and my living room became the publishing centre of until the wee hours. It was a crazy story: the transit union gave virtually no notice on a Friday night, shutting all service at midnight, stranding thousands of people. Toronto is a big city and lots of people need the service to get home. Anyways, it was quite a challenge to deal with all the copy and pictures coming in, but I think we did better than others in the same virtual turf.

Nuff said, I was in bed by 4 a.m. and up again at 7 a.m. to do more updates. Did a little more mobile blogging to the desk on way to do errands. But found it amazing that I reached the market and it was so quiet. I was was able to buy all my groceries in minutes and enjoyed a veal and eggplant sandwich.

Where was I? Oh yeah, running. So R. is going to what I'm calling "the most glamourous event of the world on April 26, 2008". She's headed to the infamous White House Correspondents Dinner where Steve Colbert famously went after Bush a few years ago. I'm gonna rest up some more before tomorrow's last medium-long run of 12 miles. I'm going to do it through hilly areas.

Also wanted to congratulate JellyP on her 300th post. I love reading your posts because yes, I don't feel it's a running blog. It's a blog about life and yes, there's some running involved. I wanna see Spirit again too!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Q&A with Yumke, part 2

Like other bloggers, I have stat-tracking on my blog that lets me look at daily traffic. In my professional life at my newspaper, we have such type of data so I can track hourly usage, what's being read the most, uniques, page views, search patterns etc. One of the things I can see is keywords that people search that land them on this blog.

Now that I've had been doing this blog for more than 2.5 years, I've built up a not-to-shabby amount of content, 631 posts worth, and of course, since I talk running most of the time, I get quite a bit of traffic from people searching typical running questions in google and other search engines.

So, with a nod to the same thing I did last May, here's another instalment of 'yumke answers random blog search questions'. Remember I am NOT an expert, NOT an elite runner, NOT an authority, but I am in taper period for my marathon, so that 20 miles I'm not running this week has to be filled in somehow.

The questions:

flying pig marathon
You probably reached this page so I dutifully just updated it.

flying pig marathon blog
I put links to other ones in the blog post above

30 k fast run
I dunno how fast you want to go, but I think you want race pace, you can take your half marathon race pace and slacken by 5/10 seconds. McMillan's race calculator helps a lot in that respect. Otherwise, a marathon paced 30K isn't bad, but if you haven't done a marathon, then I advise taking it slow, maybe your 'running forever' pace.

harry's spring run off 2008 photos
Here's from Vancouver. Here's from Toronto.

"flying pig marathon" google maps route
Hm, I'd like that too. Let me know if you find it.

"minute miles" to "minute kilometres"
Try this link from Cool Running, it's a pace calculator that allows you to switch between the two.

"sick" "before my marathon"
Good luck. I'd say if you want to run it while sick, you're crazy. I'd say slacken the pace and treat it as a fun run. Or pick another marathon down the road so you don't lose your training.

10k route central park
Hm, I'm not sure I can help, but I do know, from my run this past winter, that one loop is about six miles (or 10K). So just go in the park, and do a big loop around the outside.. Just follow the runners!

2008 fall marathon
Check this link.

4 weeks to 8k
Hm,I'd say make sure you do speedwork. I'm assuming you're doing 20-30 miles a week. If not, get three runs in a week and make sure your longest distance is at least 8K. If you are a runner, I've read that speedwork (tempo runs at fast pace for 20 minutes, or intervals on the track at 5K pace) will help more than just extra miles.

43 minute 10k
Mile splits
1 Mile 00:06:55.20
2 Mile 00:13:50.41
3 Mile 00:20:45.62
4 Mile 00:27:40.83
5 Mile 00:34:36.04
6 Mile 00:41:31.25
6.213712 Mile 00:42:59.99

Kilometre splits
1 Kilometer 00:04:18
2 Kilometer 00:08:36
3 Kilometer 00:12:54
4 Kilometer 00:17:12
5 Kilometer 00:21:30
6 Kilometer 00:25:48
7 Kilometer 00:30:06
8 Kilometer 00:34:24
9 Kilometer 00:38:42
10 Kilometer 00:43:00

And good luck

5k 3 week preparation
If you're starting running, good luck! if you aren't, then add speed work. It's a short enough distance.

5ks in toronto
This is a great resource for races in Ontario.

6 weeks to a marathon
Um, I think you should be reaching your peak soon. I gather you have an 18 or 20 miler already in you. Taper begins in three weeks. Tonnes of schedules on line, but it's safe to say you should be in the midst of your training. If not, wow, good luck. Take a look at a 12 week program (which is probably the shortest you can do if you're already running lots) and look at week 6. Are you doing at least that much mileage?

7 weeks left to marathon
Like above, add a week

8 week marathon plan
Like two above, add two weeks. Look for 12 week programs

8k race prep water
I think it's a short enough distance that you don't necessarily need water during the race to make it through, but def. hydrate before your run.

8k race strategy
I'd treat it closer to a 10K strategy than a 5K. That doesn't help. Lets put it this way. 5Ks should pretty much hurt throughout. 10K, if it hurts after 1K, you're looking for trouble.

That was fun. I have about 30 more keywords from the last few weeks to address. I'll do it while I'm killing more time later this weekend. Taper madness indeed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

3x1600 = a good run

0424track, originally uploaded by yumkerun.

Did two runs today, one in the morning one in the evening. The first and noteworthy one is my last interval track work, a 3x1600 done at the track shown above. I did this same run last fall pre-Marine Corps Marathon. Last year, I aimed at 6:24 splits and came in with splits ranging from 6:21 and 6:27

A 6:24 split coincides with a 5K time of 20 minutes. I set my new PB last month with a 19:31 showing, so that technically lowered the possible goal VO2Max pace to 6:14. At any rate, my goal was to strive for 6:24 and see if these legs, lungs and heart has room for improvement.

I warmed up with 2 miles up to the track. The sun was just rising and I snapped the picture just before my first interval. Some kids (I assume) tore up the track, moving the heavy football equipment onto one of the curves, obstructing the inner three lanes. So I cleared the track. One of the contraptions was very heavy. I launched into the runs and felt great. I tried to focus on form, on not trying to hit too hard, and on hitting my 200/400/800/1000/1200 splits. Through the three miles, I kept pretty consistent pacing so I never really had to gut it out.

Instead of walking between the miles, I did a slow jog. In his book, Guide to Road Racing, Alberto Salazar advises jogging between speed workout sets, not walking:

Proper recovery breaks are nearly as important. They should be done at a slow jog, not a walk... Jogging continues to give you training benefits while you're recovering, and there are psychological gains from not feeling as though you've beaten yourself up so badly you have no choice but to walk..

Have to admit that in the past I'd walk about 15 seconds after a set before breaking into a jog. Today, I didn't. I found it actually helped my heart rate to slowly come down between sets

1. 6:15 182 max heart rate (173 average)
2. 6:15 186 max heart rate (178 average)
3. 6:14 189 max heart rate (181 average)

For comparison's sake, last October's 3x1600
1. 6:21 184 max heart rate (176 average)
2. 6:27 188 max heart rate (182 average)
3. 6:28 187 max heart rate (182 average)

I'm pretty happy. I'm not necessarily in better shape than last fall, but I'm definitely found more speed and my racing in the shorter distances is paying off on the track.

I ended up doing 8.76 miles with an average pace of 8:07 miles in 1:11:14.

This evening, it was sunny and I decided to avoid the possible rain tomorrow by doing a double, a true recovery run of 5 miles, paced at 8:26 miles in 42:15.

I'm taking a few rest days before this weekend's 12 miler.

Long range... ewww

And let the constant checking of weather forecasts for Flying Pig Marathon day commence... now.. .now.. and now.

Nope, still calling for rain.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon strategy: Oh, the hills

The Flying Pig Marathon is NOT a flat course. It has hills and man they really build up. So for my maiden voyage, I'm doing a little bit of reading up on what I'm up for. This course description by Brian Nash gives a good recap of what kind of a climb we're up for.

I was a little caught off guard last year by the Marine Corps Marathon. I had run throughout DC for months but I really didn't tackle the hills in Virginia and in Georgetown. I decided to compare the MCM course from the website, my Garmin data from the race. I also threw in the Flying Pig Marathon elevation from the site and scrunched it a bit to make it fit. I think the Pig has more of a climb but on the bright side, Marine Corps had pretty challenging hills before.

The important thing is to not burn myself out on the hills. Last year, I think we went out too fast in DC. So for the three miles of the major climbs, I'll have to remind myself to slow down when it makes sense. Hopefully in the first 6 miles, I'll bank some time, and of course I can make up time from mile 10 onward....

Always lessons to learn

I've been reading through my new book on road racing, by Alberto Salazar (who needs no introduction, but in case you don't know much about the legend, this article gives a good recap). It's a fantastic read the way it's written and gives great advice on running posture, pacing during speed work and stretches -- so much so that I applied a few of his pointers and could tell the difference.

Ran a 7 mile GA at 7:37 mile pace, and threw in 8x100. I ran the overall pace a little too fast, but a beautiful day and perfect weather will do that for you.

Tomorrow, I have an 8 miler with 3x1600. I plan to do it in the early morning so it's off to bed soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon: 2 weeks to go

Rest, rest, rest. This week should help recharge my batteries. Catch up on sleep, get some stretching in, think about eating the right foods (yeah, that's right, think about it). I also get a whopping three rest days.

Last week:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 7.6 miles 5x600
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 4.1 miles with strides
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5.2 miles
Sunday: 16.2 miles

Weekly total: 38.1 miles (61K)
Year to date: 671 miles (1080K)

Here's the schedule. It calls for my last VO2Max workout and strides on the other days just to remind the legs what it's like to move fast. And the weekend run is 12 miles.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 7 miles with 8x100
Wednesday: 8 miles with 3x1200
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5 miles with 6x100
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 12 miles

Tapering, but still running

There's a huge downpour in DC as I write this. I'm pretty wiped after this past week. Just catching up: I ran 5 miles on Wednesday morning, then I ran 4 miles on Thursday with strides, also in the morning.

It was warm in Washington yesterday and the schedule called for an 8 to 10K race, but there were none around. I also didn't feel up to doing track work or a faster-than-LT run, so I just got in some mileage, about 5.2 miles. I figure I've done three races in the span of a month.

Today's the last medium long run before marathon day. 16 miles. The forecast called for cooler weather but some rain and thunderstorms. I had more than a few beers last night so I wasn't feeling the greatest getting this run in. It also rained for a good half of the run. Ended up doing 16.16 miles in 2:13:39 with average pace of 8:16 miles and bmp of 145.

So that's in the books...

Good luck to all the Boston marathoners. Looks like they are going to get great weather for Patriots Day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Early morning: 5x600

I'll be doing most of my remaining runs in the morning. Only 12 more training runs until the big day. I had 8 miles with 5x600.

Again, hard to focus in the early morning but I got them in. The 600s should have been 2:20 to 2:24. I only hit the faster end of the range once.

1. 2:29
2. 2:24
3. 2:26
4. 2:20
5. 2:24

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon: 3 weeks to go

And... the taper begins. This has been quick, hasn't it. I put in my 23 miler today and I'm feeling pretty good. No major injuries or nagging pains. The weather has been cooperative so i've been getting the good runs in. My attention now shifts to the details about the Flying Pig Marathon. It includes a 3.5 mile climb in the first 6 miles of the course. It also starts at 6:30 a.m., which calls for an entirely different eating schedule. My 4:45 and 5 a.m. runs are proving to be good training for that. I'm very excited for the marathon, but like I said at the outset of this training program, I'm not looking for a massive breakthrough, but I would like to target my potential time. I wanted to use this marathon as experience and as a race to run consistently without hitting too much of a Wall. More on that, I suppose, in the next while.

This is the week that was:

Monday: 4.1 miles
Tuesday: 10 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 10.4 miles with 4x1200
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5.4 miles
Sunday: 23 miles

Weekly mileage: 53 miles (85K)
Year to date: 633 miles (1019K)

The week ahead

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles with 5x600
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 4 miles with 6x100
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 10K (supposed to be tuneup race but i'll do some speed work, maybe 5x1000)
Sunday: 16 miles

The last long run

In all my reading about marathon training, I've followed the discussion on the long run. For the novices and first-timers, the goal is to get you to 20 miles at least once. The thought is that on marathon day, a certain magic, a strange brew of tapering, race-day jitters and excitement can propel you to the finish.

The 26.2 miles is a cruel distance. The true race, a lot of us believe, doesn't happen until after mile 20 (or kilometre 32 or 42.2). If that's the case, then if we run 20 mile long training runs, then we doing really enter the true world of hurt.

The Pfitzinger program doesn't specifically call for any long runs more than 20 miles. It also calls for a moderate pace. Other literature out there suggests that runs of 22 to 24 miles could actually benefit you by stressing you, and, more importantly, give you the mental advantage of bringing you closer than the full distance.

I've tried to incorporate a faster pace for my long runs. I also decided heading into this run that'd I'd do more than the requisite 20. This training cycle (only 12 weeks) called for two 20 milers and my last one was during the 30K race, which meant it was only 18.7 miles. I raced it at a hard pace so I got a lot out of it, but I was setting out to do more.

I wore a singlet, shorts, and filled my four bottles with Gatorade. My route around DC was quite interesting. From Penn Quarter to Lincoln, then across to Virginia and the Mt. Vernon trail, then off to East Potomac Park for a 3 mile loop, then off to Rock Creek Park to the Zoo, then back to the Mall and then one final loop of East Potomac Park. That's a long run.

Long story short, mission accomplished. The splits below tell an encouraging story: I was able to up the pace throughout the run so that the last half was stronger than the first. The heart rate was also strong. I did the first 20 miles in 2:42, about 5 minutes faster than the three 20 milers I did last fall in advance of the Marine Corps Marathon.

Today also marked a huge milestone in this training cycle. I ran 23 miles or 37K, which only brings me 3.2 miles to the marathon distance. The last three were not tough but I could feel it.

Here are this training cycle's long runs:
April 13, 2008: 23 miles/37K in 3:06:41 / 8:06 pace / 149 bmp (first 20 miles in 2:42)
March 30, 2008: 18.7 miles (30K) in 2:16:29 / 7:17 pace (this was the Around the Bay Race)
March 15, 2008: 18.6 miles (30K) in 2:29:44 / of 8:01 pace

And last fall's long runs
Oct. 6 2007: 20 miles (32K) in 2:47:53 / 8:23 pace / 151 bmp (This was a very humid and hot day, the day before the Chicago Marathon meltdown)
Sept. 8 2007: 20 miles in 2:46:14 / 8:18 / 156 bmp
Aug. 18, 2007: 20 miles in 2:47:41 / 8:23 /

I think the weather really helped but it was also great that I was able to keep up the pace.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Too early to be speeding

I'm not sure that doing track workouts starting at 5 a.m. is really a good idea, especially when you get to bed around midnight. I had plans tonight so I decided to 'get it over with', so I was up just after 4 a.m., took care of business and cursed the early morning.

I'm starting to become a fan of those tight Under Armour undergarments. They hold ya tight and help give you a second skin that both keeps you warm and wicks the moisture away from you. I put that on, a tech top and put a windbreaker over that. I did about a 3 mile warm up while running up to the track, I was mainly trying to get my heart rate down and kept the effort low.

Got to the eerie highschool track in the dark and did one lap. The goal splits was about 4:46 to 4:48, which coincides to about a 20 minute 5K. Three laps is tough. The first 200 metres are easy, then you start to find your breath labouring. by the end of the first lap, I'm checking my splits, making sure I'm giving it the right effort and adjust my pace accordingly. For me, the second lap is a tough one, partly cause I know I should end 800 metres with a 3:15 time. Luckily, I hit most of second laps at my goal pace.

The third lap is odd, cause by this time, you're either crossing your eyes from the effort, or staring up at the sky, or, well, doing a measure of both. Running in the dark really doesn't really let you focus on much, so I looked at the skyline and shiloutted skyscrapers and CN Tower.

All is to say, given the hour, given the lack of sleep and given the run in darkness, I have not much to complain about. The wind was moderate, the weather was cool and I had the whole damned track ALL TO MYSELF. This track is usually packed in the late afternoons so it's a nice change.

1. 4:49 Avg BMP 165 / Max BMP 174
2. 4:46 Avg BMP 171 / Max BMP 177
3. 4:46 Avg BMP 173 / Max BMP 180
4. 4:46 Avg BMP 173 / Max BMP 181

The last three were all consistent, huh? I compared this to the last time I did 4x1200 in October. I had a higher average heart rate and slower times. This good?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

'That was a good pep talk'

That's my one line review of Spirit of the Marathon. The theatre we were at was packed with runners (or runners' friends). JellyP and I went and I saw Lee, who's running Boston in a few weeks. The documentary was as billed, a one hour and forty four ode (or advertisement, take your pick) to the marathon. I think it appeals to those who follow the elite and also us everyday runners and marathoners... We thought it could use a little bit of editing (maybe losing a character) but it was otherwise tight. Oh yeah, and we got to see Chicago, my first marathon! Once it's out on DVD, it's a definite pump me up addition to my collection.

All this makes me want to run a mar... oh wait, I am. Up early tomorrow for 10 miles with 4x1200.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

10 miler in

It's funny how a run can get rid of muscle soreness. I started off the run at a 8:16 or so per mile pace but upped it throughout the run. I really wanted to finish the run while there was some light in. Ended up finishing it around 8:08, 10 miles in 1:20:56 with average pace of 8:03 miles or 5 minute kilometres. I'm going to run the next two days too, a 5 mile real recovery run tomorrow, followed by 10 miler with track work on Thursday early morning (4x1200). Tonight, I finished my last kilometre with a 4:10K or 6:43 mile pace. Gonna have to be a bit faster on the track.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Woo hoo, a Canadian running magazine!

I was at the expo at the Around the Bay 30K a few weeks ago and I saw this booth. Couldn't believe my eyes. We now, fellow Canadian runners, have a Canadian magazine. I've subscribed to Runner's World for years and I pick up Running Times from the stands. I also have a bookshelf full of books, training guides and other running related stuff, but all of it is (not surprisingly) focused on U.S. running. Nothing against that, but it's nice to see we have some CanCon.

Craftwise, I think it's well written. It has a nice profile of Danny Kassap, who many in Toronto probably know of -- it's written with nice flair and just enough details and story telling. They profile the Running Maniacs (a good move, cause online fosters a huge running community). I know every mag does gear reviews (like shoes) but i'd rather that space be dedicated to stories, but alas, that's what advertisers pay for in the long run. The first issue has a profile of Ron MacLean (nice touch guys) and a column by my ex-CBC coworker and many-time Boston marathoner Peter Hadzipetros. It's also edited by The Joggler, Michal Kapral, a fine runner in his own right.

Future stories I'd like to see them do: A real long-ass profile of Ed Whitlock (who I spotted in Hamilton at ATB), a opinion piece/story about why Canada doesn't have a huge big-city marathon (hint, look at the Toronto marathon wars), training strategies for fall marathons based on where in the country (crazy climates, we have) you live, a capsule review of every big race, an Olympic preview and a look perhaps of some of the up and coming young talent. Then again, maybe something us average runners can identify with as well!

So grab it, support it, subscribe to it. As a journalist, and also a former one-time independent magazine publisher, it's freaking hard to get started in this business. There thousands of us runners in the Great White North. I see runners all over my trails and I think there's enoughof us to get this magazine a -- er -- running start.

Run Fatboy Run...

Took a day off today to hang out with R. before she flew home to DC. I had some afternoon time and no plans to run so I headed out to the new theatre in the downtown to watch this flick, Run Fatboy Run, which starts Simon Pegg, who was brilliant in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Landed in a totally-empty theatre (okay there was a couple at the very top) for a 3 p.m. showing.

This won't be a review, but I'll say this: It was a so-so comedy with only slight appeal (yes, I said slight) to runners. Herewith are random things that bugged me

Simon's character (Dennis) has an arch-nemesis Whit, played by Hank Azaria. Okay, they had to make him hateable for the sake of the main character but he kinda made marathoners look arrogant, holier-than-thou and vain.

Dennis follows the underdog sports formula by getting into "Rocky-like" shape in the span of a few weeks, which consists of jumping rope, doing hill repeats, lifting progressively heavier weights and sprinting. He loses a whack of weight. Can you sell running to a weight-conscious crowd by showing (unrealistically) how quick it can be done? The movie has a line that mentions perseverance, and in one sense it's right. Most of us marathoners don't get to the starting line until long months, even years.

I won't be giving much away, but in the first part of the marathon, 'Dennis' and 'Whit' get into a sprint race. Not to mention how that's the stupidest strategy of all time, they actually 'catch up' to the race leaders. That's freaking unlikely, me thinks, having watched plenty of TV marathons where the leaders are going at 5 minute miles. No average runner can even sprint that fast for a few hundred metres.

Okay, I won't take it too seriously, but now i'm really looking forward to seeing Spirit of the Marathon. JellyP and I have tickets for the showing in Toronto on Wednesday. Should be fun as it's set in Chicago, where we did our first marathon! That should be a little more enjoyable and I'm sure it won't be an empty theatre. Anyways, I got back home determined to shake from my memory this film by going out for a recovery 4 miler.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon: 4 weeks to go

Less than a month to go till marathon day, and it's coming fast. I did my 17 miler today on sore legs. I actually stepped up the pace in the last half, partly because I wanted to get it over with, and also because another runner came along side me and we chatted for a bit while the pace was going good. Ended up doing the long run 17.08 miles at an average pace of 8:17 miles/5:08Ks in 2:21:33.

I've been spending the rest of the day on my feet and hoping to rest these sore legs. Here's the week just past:

Tuesday: 11 miles
Wednesday: 4.5 miles
Thursday: 7.5 miles (5x600)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5 miles (8K race)
Sunday: 17 miles

Weekly total: 45 miles (72K)
Year to date: 580 miles (934K)

This next week has my last big long run, but the weekday schedule has already started to slacken. A few weeks ago, I remember doing two 12 milers during the weekdays. Now it's a bit more manageable, finally. I do have more trackwork scheduled and my long run will be in DC. I think I'll try to push it beyond 20 miles.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 5 miles with 6x100
Wednesday: 1o miles with 4x1200 V02Max
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 10 miles
Saturday: 4 miles
Sunday: 20 miles

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Marathon des Sables

In my official work capacity as a journalist, I'm the exec. producer of so excuse the shameless plug. We've been running blog posts from Canadian marathoner Robert Kent who is doing the Marathon des Sables, a 243K run in the desert! Here's where you can read his dispatches. He finished the 'marathon' portion of the race just the past day and has 17K to go.

He also has this crazy ability to hide lactic acid from his body.

Race report: Harry's Spring Run-Off 8K

I knew it would be a bad idea, but hey, I live dangerously sometimes. I am a racer who follows a strict routine. I plan my pre-race meals and it usually consists of lots of carbs in the form of pasta for dinner the night before. I eat it early, so I can be sure to have clear -- um -- system.

Last night, I threw the textbook out the door. My group of friends do DinnerClub once a month and this month, we chose a wing joint. Mind you, I love wings. Hot are great. Mild too. But I knew when the invitation went out that it was BAD for pre-race. But hey, I have to see the gang. I ordered 20 (yes, 20) medium wings. I can take hot, but I thought that the night before the race, medium would be good. I should have paid attention to the ordering menu. Medium = hot.

I finished half the wings, and I could feel the vinegar and heat burn a hole in my stomach. I also had a beer.

Fast forward to late night, I downed some water and ate a little bread so it'd absorb some of the heat. This morning, I woke up at 4:45 and ate half a bagel (that's all I could bear to eat) with peanut butter. Yes, I was on fire.

I arrived at the race site and the weather was absolutely perfect. Today, it reached a high of 11C and sunny. Really, the most perfect weather for race conditions as it started off cool. I bumped into Fran. We hung out, and also bumped into an old college paper colleague Tom and national paper colleague Sasha. We checked out the steep hill that we hit on the down hill at the 2K mark and then at the very end.

My goal was to finish this race and not let the course defeat me. Last year, I was confident I could beat my time from 2005 of 35:47. I ended up with 36:46. In short, the course kicked my ass. This year, I'm better trained and in fitness so although my goal was to do better than 35:47, I thought it'd be a good idea to try for 34 minutes. To pull this off, I'd need to do kilometer splits of about 4:10 or faster for the first 7K as the final hill would slow me down. My pace band had a time of 33:30 but I knew it was an A goal probably unrealistic.

Sasha was aiming for a sub 32 so when the gun went off and he took off, I started to tail him, then realized it was foolish to do so.

The first two kilometres were textbook going out too fast. After the first kilometre, I saw my split and tried to slow down a bit. But I knew that we also had a downhill portion, so I let the steep grade get me.

1. 3:49
2. 3:53

The next two kilometres included an uphill portion, the first of two hills. This hill wasn't as big as the last one. At this point, I decided to keep on pushing it. The goal would now be to put some time in the bank and just hold on for dear life at the end. The runners around me were running at about my pace or faster. I was able to overtake some on the hills.

3. 3:56
4. 4:18 (hill)

The next section had downhill bits that I used to gain speed. I also noticed that my breathing was starting to get out of control. This was not where I wanted to be at this point in the race. The first three kilometres had me going at 5K race pace and the fourth kilometre had me putting a lot of effort into it. I hit the 5K mark (it could be off since my GPS measured the entire course as 8.1K) in 19:59 which meant I had almost a minute of banked time.

5. 4:01
6. 4:01

Then came the final bit. I think going out too hard was taking its toll. I tried to talk myself into the fact that 2K was not a very long distance, but I was clearly losing focus. I had been pacing off another runner since about the 5K mark and he started to pull away. A few other runners also passed me. I was also trying to figure out how I'd take the final hill and that in part led me to slow down. I did the 7th kilometre at about LT pace.

7. 4:17

By the time I got to the final kilometre, I really wanted it to be over. My heart rate was way up there and I was trying to push it hard. I was overheating and I was dreading the hill. But I wanted to take the hill strong. I knew I had a very good chance of having a great time, even with a slower final kilometre. So I beared down and tried to take it as quickly as I could. The final 400 metres is a steep grade (7%, Tom told me later) and I did the final kilometre in 5 minutes

8. 5:00
The Garmin also measured the last 100 metres as 38 seconds, which is pretty damned slow. I can't really remember if I was going that slow. I did hear my name and I did see the time on my watch that read 33:58. I then saw Fran, who finished right behind me (I mean right behind me) and we had the same chip time. We saw Sasha who got a fantastic 33:04.

The wing incident did rear its ugly head. I felt it in my stomach throughout the run, but I don't think it really slowed me down much. Who knows. I do know that this course demands a strategy. I may have gone out too fast at the start which left me running on fumes at the end. I wonder if I had paced myself more conservatively I would have been able to run it faster. It's interesting because Fran had a different pacing strategy and he definitely had a fast finish.

One thing is freaking clear, and it gives me much satisfaction. I now have a new 8K Pb for this course, besting my previous by 1:49. Even better (for my sanity) is that this year's time is 2:48 faster than last year! I did run this race aggressively and I am in much better racing and physical shape.

JellyP, who also got a PB in the race, Fran and I went to cheer on the 5K runners including my friends Sean and Tom, who are both new runners and had fantastic finishes.

Funny thing about JellyP, Tom, Sean and I. We were all editors at the university newspaper The Eyeopener. We also were photo editors and if you asked us 8 10 years ago whether the four of us would be racing, we'd laugh. So here is the reunion shot, us looking a lot more trimmer and fitter than ever! JellyP has a great post on it.

The swag was quite good this year. We got a polypro shirt, a hat and a finisher's medal for the 30th anniversary of this race.

We all enjoyed ourselves and there's now talk of creating a team next year. Can't wait.

Chip time: 33:57.3
Place overall: 98/1950 (94.9 percentile)
Place gender: 80/1046 (92.3 percentile)
Place division: 8/169 (95.2 percentile) - um, wow!
Pace: 4:16 kilometres

Friday, April 04, 2008

Toronto 8K Spring Run-Off, the strategy

Updated in 2016

Okay, this Harry (Race Roster) 8K Spring Run-Off in High Park has been annoying me of late. This Saturday will be the third time I've run this. Last year, the course totally owned me. In 2005, I set my personal best. This year, I'm in pretty good spring shape because of the marathon training. I'm also on a massive running roll. Since September, I've set personal bests in the half marathon, 10K, 5K and marathon distances.

But this 8K race in High Park is more than a measure of fitness. It's a tough one because of the hills and distance. The course has two uphills and two downhills. The legendary downhill after the 1st kilometre plunges down but it's also the very last uphill that you have to literally climb. The pace is also interesting because you need to choose a pace between 5K and 10K pace but also keep your heart rate in check in light of the two hills (one at midpoint, one at the very end). I've not even close to mastered this race but I think this is my game plan.

1. Be aggressive: This is a tuneup race for the marathon so I have to use it as a measure of fitness. No time for an easy or LT run. Try to pace it at 10K speed (4:10K pace) at minimum.

2. Attack the hills: Plunge downhill and take the last hill with everything I've got. Last week's Around the Bay was great practice.

3. Stay strong in the middle. Picture my track intervals and strides. This is time they pay off.

That's it.

Here's a Garmin link to my 2014 running of the runoff. I think it shows how a typical race will happen. Fast kilometres: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7. Slower ones: 3, 4, 8.

If you are looking for overall pace strategy, I would recommend you think about what your 10K time is and that could be how you'll end up with this 8K race.

For those looking for blow-by-blow strategy (I know, cause some of you have been searching it and have landed on my site), here is a recap of 'tips' on how to run the 8K put together by the fine folks at the Run-Off. It's not easy to find on the site or on Google so I'll point to it here

Start to 2K
Just after the 1km mark, as you pass Bloor Street entrance, you get your first treat, as you plunge DOWN Spring Road. Remember to lean forward a little and keep your arms down… that way your momentum will carry you and you'll conserve effort. It's fun, falling downhill as you did as a kid.
2K to 4K

Nice and easy along the remainder of Spring Road and you're ready for your first uphill (there are only 2 on the course, and 2 good downhills). That's Centre Road, at 3km.
4K to 6K
Around the bottom of the park you go, checking your form, working to stay smooth and relax. After 6km you start to wend your way back up to the Finish and the second uphill, the famous Spring Road rise that you came down at the mile.
The end
Remember Spring Road at the mile? The one you charged down thinking of Mike Dyon and his 4:16 and Eamonn Martin and his 4:10..? Well, all you have to do is get up this thing and you're done! It's the most famous, legendary part of the Spring Run Off and you want to remember and savour it all.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Speed sessions and longish run in

Just playing catchup. On Tuesday, I ran a full 11 miles. It wasn't that easy because the wind was gusting 60km/h and I had to run 5.5 miles right into it on the waterfront. The way back was okay, since I was being pushed.

On Wednesday early morning, I did 4.5 miles just to get in some mileage.

I had delayed my VO2Max workout till today because my legs were still sore from Sunday's 30K race. This morning, I felt up to it, so I was out there by 5:30. I ran the 2.5 miles up to the track and did 5x600. The 5K pace was 2:20 per 600 metres, or sub 4 minute kilometres, with about 80 second jogs.

1. 2:17
2. 2:20
3. 2:21
4. 2:22
5. 2:20

I should have brought my heart rate monitor. Next week, my V02Max is 4x1200 (3 laps) which should be interesting.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Flying Pig Marathon: 5 weeks to go

My weekly wrap is two days late cause of my busy racing schedule. As it turns out, I reached my peak week of mileage last week (surprise).

Here was the past week
Monday: 6 miles
Tuesday: 12 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles morning, 12 miles evening
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 18.6 miles (30K) race

Weekly mileage: 54 miles (87K)
Year to date: 535 miles (861K)

At this time last year, I had run 451.5K compared with 861K this year. What a difference.

I have another two weeks go 50ish miles then the taper begins. The next little while includes V02Max workouts, and one race is scheduled.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 11 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles with strides
Thursday: 8 miles with 5x600
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Race 8K (5 miles)
Sunday: 17 miler