Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ending a long run strong

Today's the longest run in the cycle and looking forward in my schedule, I don't have another long run of this length. When you do the higher mileage programs, 22 milers don't really scare me like they used to. The weather is usually my biggest fear.

I was up at 6:30 for the run. The weather is really cool this week so it was conducive for faster speeds.

As you can see from the map below, you can cover a lot of ground in Toronto. I started out east and passed a group of runners waiting for one of them who needed a bathroom break. They passed me and I let them go, giving a little bit of a chase but they were going too fast for me. I struggled to get beyond a recovery pace at first but after 5 miles, I started to warm up and started to speed up.

Fuel wise, I took in two gels at the 12K and 24K marks. It seemed to do the trick as I also had about 16 oz of Gatorade in my bottles.

Fast forward three hours and I had passed the 22 miles and I felt so good I added a little more mileage. I ended up with 36.5K or 22.6 miles in 3:04. The average pace was 8:09 miles or 5:04 kilometres. Not bad for a long run.

For the week, I logged 67.5 miles or 108K. For the month, 227 miles or 365K. Looking forward, I have speedwork starting this week and this weekend calls for a race. I will do a tempo run instead on Saturday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I like to...

Courtesy of a 1 kilometre run around my neighbourhood. Did another 10K in a more normal fashion

Monday, August 24, 2009

Now for some long mileage

After last Saturday's 30K race, I'm left feeling pretty confident that I can do well at a fall marathon, given the right weather conditions. Marathon pace actually felt comfortable, not easy, but doable with more training.

I'm now left with five weeks of heavy training before the taper begins. The Pfitzinger schedule has me doing a 70 mile week, a 68 mile, a 64 mile then another 70 mile week.

I'm not quite going to ramp up the schedule right up to that max, as I just started my new job today. I have some track work and key tempo runs I'd like to get in the next two weeks, otherwise, some of the recovery days i'll just take off to ensure I do quality work justice.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 6 miles a.m. / 4 miles p.m.
Wednesday: 15 miles
Thursday: 6 miles (option to skip or tone down to 3 miles)
Friday: 11 with 7 at LT
Saturday: 5 miles (option to rest or crosstrain)
Sunday: 22 miles

The key looking at the schedule above is to keep endurance up (ie., a 10 mile day followed by a 15 mile run), some tempo (Friday's LT, shudder the thought) and the long long 22 miler on Sunday. Friday and Sunday are hard days as is Wednesday. In short, wow, this will be a tough running week.

Here goes nothing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Race report: A Midsummer Night's Run: 30K

The marathon pace run is probably the most important leading up to the race day. I tend to like them a bit more than tempo runs and I tend to enjoy track work, which at least is short term pain.

I missed last week's MP run that called for 12 miles at pace as part of a 15 mile run. I really wanted to do the 30K race, or 18.7 miles, mostly at pace. I figure that if you do pace runs by themselves, it's a much harder effort because you have to keep up the pace yourself. If you run it as part of a race, it becomes easier to get your head around it. So why not get the 5 extra miles if you have other runners to pace with, water stops and a route blocked off by pylons and volunteers.

I've run this race twice before, having done the 15K two years ago and the 30K last year. The organizers are tweaking with the race, having the 30K group start an hour before the 15K runners. I thought this was a nice tweak, I think a year ago we started 15 minutes after the 15K runners, which made for interesting racing.

I met up with Fran as we decided at the last minute to pace together. We both have the same BQ pace so we agreed on at least 13 miles at pace then we'd decide where to go from there. We saw Lee and his sister. Lee was going for his MP (which is pretty much as fast or faster than my tempo pace).

We seeded ourselves near the front, but back enough that we had to jockey for position. I lost Fran in the first 600 metres or so but he caught up and we started pacing together. We're both about 8 or 9 weeks out till our marathons so while we're in shape, I wasn't sure I was at peak fitness. As you can see, we're kinda trying to find our rhythm and pace (which was 4:38 kilometres).

The next while was in and around the Leslie Spit, a park that has asphalt, gravel and dirt. Not easy to make it around the varied surfaces but I was really thankful that we had lots of cloud cover and that the wind was nice. It was pretty humid, though cooler than I'd expected. I was taking fluid at every water stop but I tried to sip some of my own reserves.

I was a little worried about my body's ability to keep up the pace for a long period but by the 10K mark, I felt that my heart rate was settling and the pace was feeling appropriately comfortably hard. Fran was in a similar place so we kept it up. We stayed pretty silent running side by side, talked a little, traded split times. No matter what, it was a lot easier to have someone to share pacing duties. I took my first of two gels at the 10K mark.

We looped around the lighthouse and took a bit of running on gravel before we were again on proper surface. Bu the important thing was that we were very much on pace. By this stage, we were mostly passing runners as we kept up the running, even into a headwind.

As we made our way out of the park, Fran thought that he had something fly into his nose. A few kiometres later at a portapotty stop, it turns out that a fly had. Amazing. That's never happened to me. With that taken care of, we headed up Leslie and started east toward the Beaches. It was just the two of us and another runner ahead of us who we traded places with a few times. Otherwise, we still hitting our splits. I was feeling pretty good, again it was made easier with a running partner. Fran told me at some point that his heart rate was spiking and that he'd probably slow down after the 21K mark.

We hit the last kilometre together along the winding route around the Ashbridges Park. The half marathon mark was done in about 1:36:07 (I think our actual time was about 1:35:57). If that's the case, that was a much faster than planned half mark. Fran said good luck and I made my way through the rest of the race.

At this point, on my own, I decided to start eyeing runners ahead of me. I thought that maybe if I were to continue a strong pace, I should at least establish that I could run alone. So I started upping the pace to gain on a few runners ahead of me. You can see this in my splits for 22 and 23, when I did a 4:23 and 4:25, quite a few seconds faster than I'd been doing. I had gained on a few runners at this point when we hit the boardwalk. I was starting to feel the effort for those two fast kilometres and I guess they could have done me in, but I kept on telling myself that I didn't have much farther to go. Besides, it was kinda fun running around people on the boardwalk telling them to move because a race was coming through.


26K to 30K
The last stretch is the turnaround to the end. I was at this point passed about 5 runners and came across two runners. A woman and a guy, who we both passed. There was another male runner about 20 metres ahead of us but it looked like he'd continue his fast pace. So for almost the rest of the race, I slowly tailed the woman. It wasn't until the 27K mark, as we hit the one sharp downhill/uphill section, that I gained ground on her and passed her, only to be passed again by her about 400 metres later. We again fell into pacing, with me running either by her side or a little behind.

The last few kiometres is run on the same route as the 15K's last bit so we came across runners who were going at about 1:15-1:17 finish. Our pace had us going quite a bit faster, so here we were, blasting out 4:30 or so pace passing these runners. Some of them realized we were 30K racers and shouted out encourgement. One guy pushing his kid on a stroller told him that we were '30K runners', 'they're doing this speed for the whole 30K!'

That gave us a boost and we just gunned it to the end. With about a kilometre to go, I upped the pace to about 4:25 and finished strong. I turned back after the finish to congratulate the woman and shook her hand. As it turns out, she was the 3rd overall woman finisher.
03:35 (4:23 pace)

I was pretty shocked by my final time. I had hoped to do a consistent paced 2:19:30, but ended up with a strong 2:16:17 with a 4:32 pace (coinciding with a 3:11:40 marathon). Obviously, I gunned it in the last 9K since I lacked pacing patience, but it was gratifying to know that with another six weeks or so of quality training, that I was able to pump out this performance on a semi humid day.

Not bad at all. We caught up with a bunch of runners to share war stories about the sport for hours. Later, after two hours of beers and food, I ran home. In total, I ran 39K yesterday. Think today's run, if at all, will be pretty short.

Chip time: 2:16:17
Overall: 44/771
Gender: 42/385
Group: 13/107

Not to mention the blisters I've had to deal with.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sharpening up

Race day is finally here. It's been a month since my last race, a 10 miler. Today's 30K will be interesting. My last run of 30K or more was about two weeks ago, and I've had a relatively light two weeks of running. All's good though, and I have to trust in the training of this past summer.

My goal is not necessarily time, but try to get my body accustomed to marathon pace in a race setting. My BQ pace is 4:38 kilometres or 7:29 miles which is a little less aggressive than last year's pace of 4:30 kilometres or 7:15 miles. Last year, I nailed the 4:30 pace and finished with a sub 2:15.

Today, I'm going to see how things go, but the feeling great version is to aim for a progressively faster run that would have me do a sub 2:20. The perfect pace run would land me around 2:20 to 2:22. If I were to do about 13 miles at pace, I'd probably land around the 2:25 mark. We'll see, weather will factor into this I'm sure

I'm toying with bringing my fuel belt since there will be water stops every 3K.

Finally, with my race pack, I finally landed one of those MORE-tal pin with a 75K, which is the total distance I'll have done at this race after tonight. I ran the 15K two years ago and the 30K last year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And now, almost back to real life

It's been a pretty long week where I've been to hot and humid DC, even hotter NYC for a long weekend, and now back to Toronto for the last few days of my extended holiday. After a six-week time off, I start my new job on Monday. It's been a long rest and much needed, haven't had longer than two weeks off in a row in a good 15 years.

As a result, I've really enjoyed the summer. My running has been pretty good, though I've taken it easy the last week or so with all the travelling. Last Sunday, we watched the front pack of the NYC Half Marathon that led me to have awesome opportunity to see some of the best distance runners.

Like this pack of runners, including Ryan Hall

And Paula Radcliffe, who won her 7th straight race in NYC in dominating fashion.

And Deena Kastor.

Really cool to watch world class runners.

I have my first huge trial measurement of my fitness this Saturday when I do a 30K race. I really hope the weather cooperates, because if conditions are favourable, I would really like to do the whole race at pace. The longest pace run Pfitzinger calls for is 12 miles I believe, and if I'm able to do most of the 18.7 mile race in marathon pace, then I'll know I'm in good shape.

Regardless, I'd like to use it as a pace run. If it's too warm, I may do as much as I can in pace and the rest a little slower, maybe 4:45 to 5 minute kilometres. Quite a few bloggers are doing the race so I hope to see some of them out there.

As I head back to work next week, I plan to get back on the program, which will see some track work start up again and the mileage start to climb. My taper doesn't begin until the last week of September, so I've got another 5 weeks to fine tune endurance and speed while I drop a few of the pounds I've put on the last week of BAD eating.

September will be the sharpening month. I have two races, a 10K and a half marathon. If I'm up to where I want to be by the half marathon, I may gun for a 1:30 or hopefully a sub 1:30. A little premature to think about that at the moment, but that's a time I'd love to achieve.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fitting in quality running

No doubt, I'm hitting the high mileage in my program but in reality, I have another six and a half weeks of logging mileage of between 55 miles and 70 miles before I begin tapering. Like I said at the beginning of this program, I'm tending toward the 70 program but there will be weeks that I'll hit the mid 50s, being careful not to break down the body.

I just came off a big running streak, one that saw me log three 20 mile days in five days, a Monday to Sunday cycle with 72 miles and an 18 day streak. More insane, there was a seven-day period that I logged 92 miles. I do have more time on my hands to get this pure endurance in since I don't start work for yet another two weeks, but now I want to really hone in on some specific aspects of my running.

Where I am today is probably 3:20 to 3:25 marathon shape. I say that because I believe with constant running I can maintain that type of speed over the long distance. My last long run of 20 miles, I was able to comfortably keep a sub 8 minute pace. I`ve been able to slog my way through hot runs. What will bring me to 3:15 shape will be more time for more endurance training but also the insertion of quality.

The heat has finally come and now I'm trying to strategically place some of my tempo work. I missed a 6 mile LT run last week, something I hope to do this week, maybe on a treadmill. Runs like this really get you ready for marathoning but they're also the most daunting of training for me. It hurts. On the pace side, I`m really looking forward to racing again, with a 30K run in two Saturdays that I will try to do at pace, it will be a perfect tuneup, a 19 mile run trial.

So I`m off to DC then to New York. We`re staying a block away from Central Park so I`ll catch the NYC Half Marathon on Sunday and will look out for the likes of Ryan Hall. Yes, i`ll bring my camera! We`ll also get in a few runs in Central Park.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The long view...

I used to take out the whole marathon program, the literal calendar, and see where I am on any given day. Today's LT work or track session would be in view with the entire 18 week program all visible in one page.

It's now been about 6.5 weeks since I've started this program. It's felt a lot longer and in fact it has. I ran my last marathon on May 10, took it easy for a bit but then tried to ramp up back to high mileage in anticipation of this 70 mile a week program. Man, it is a tough one, even with my time off. Here's how the last marathon to now mileage:

Marathon and post-marathon
May 4-10: 38 miles (including marathon)
May 11-17: 24 miles
May 18 - 24: 31 miles
May 25 - May 31: 35 miles

Ramp up to marathon training (getting mileage near 50 miles)
June 1 - 7: 45 miles
June 8 - 14: 42 miles

Marathon training
June 15 - 21: 55 miles
June 22 - 28: 56 miles
June 29 - July 5: 59 miles
July 6 - 12: 28 miles (Got sick that week)
July 13 - 19: 43 miles
July 20 - 26: 63 miles
July 27 to Aug 2: 73 miles

By the end of the week, I'll have another 11 weeks to go till the marathon. Geez, that's a whack of time!

I've learned to put a bit of trust in the program and try not to overthink it. I know the principles behind the runs and I'm staying true to the overall mileage while trying to keep up with the quality work.

But, of course, life gets in the way. I'm flying back to Toronto tomorrow and doing my long run in the afternoon to take advantage of the cooler weather and also because I have weekend plans that will take me away.

The last few days in DC have been a reality check in my overall fitness. This morning's 5K run told me I need to take my recovery seriously, so I'm due for some real rest days. Yesterday's 14 miles in the a.m. was not run at a strong pace but for the fact that I got through it in the heat and added another 4 miles in the evening tells me I'm recovering faster.

I think I have fitness and endurance is getting up there. I have key LT runs over the next three weeks I'm going to make time to get them in. They're hard, but they are necessary. I also have a 30K road race in a few weeks and I would love to nail the pace down, especially if the weather cooperates. If not, then I'll try to do pace work for the majority of the run, maybe ramp up to it instead of hitting it right away and fading.

There's a lot to be said about marathon training becoming like work after awhile. This is my fourth year in training for my seventh marathon and I guess it was on a group run with Heather from Trials of Training and the DC Capital Striders that I realized that I've become a lot more relaxed about my training.

We started the run in the Mall and by the time we were looping near Jefferson Memorial, I got to running with 'Pete', who dabbles in running just as he trail runs, cycles and does other sports. He usually runs 30 minutes a day and we knew that 5 miles would be a wee bit longer than he's used to. We talked about his work at an NGO, but the conversation naturally ended up on running. He was using trail runners so I suggested a few models that would work with his flat feet. We then started to talk about mileage and I told him a bit about my marathon training, including my 21 miler the other day. It was a great time to just talk about other things and the run flew by. Another run in the long view of the marathon training, but it flew by, just like the last 100 metres of every run I do. 11.5 weeks to go till marathon day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Humility in humidity

I had stacked my long run for this past Thursday when I did 21 miles, so I could avoid the awful heat in DC, but this morning, I was greeted with cloudy skies that threatens to open up this afternoon. Instead of oppressive heat, I was given a gem of a running morning. Don't get me wrong, it's warmer than it's been in Toronto recently, but it's much better than I'd expected.

Thought that maybe 9 or 10 miles would do today, and my calves were really feeling it so I had to stop three times in the first 5K to stretch them out. I'm breaking in my new GT2140s after using my Asics Nimbus for the past 5 weeks or so. They're different types of shoes obviously so I'm adjusting.

By the time I entered Virginia, I was feeling great and by the time I hit the trail, I decided to turn up the pace for about 3 miles, topping out at a 4:36 km pace/7:24 miles. Despite the humidity, I was feeling great for those miles, maybe because the number of runners was motivating me to go faster. But by the 7 mile mark, I had to take a walking break when my heart rate pretty much spiked after I took a hill and kept on going. Ended the run just trying to maintain turnover. Felt great, sweat lots and I'm starting to feel the benefits of high mileage training. Still, I respect, even fear, the heat here. The next few days will be interesting.

My weekly mileage (Monday to Sunday) was 73 miles, my highest ever. I went more than 70 three times last summer (70-71). The next few weeks will fall back the mid to low 60s.

Weekly mileage: 73 miles (117.5K)
Year to date: 1181 miles (1900K)

Km splitsHeart rate bpmMile pace