Monday, November 30, 2009

2003 for 2009

Just finished synching my Garmin with my computer tonight and I've hit the 2000 mile mark (3200K) for the year with one month to go. It helped that I put in 25 miles in two days this past weekend in very decent weather. At this rate, I'll probably hit around 2100 to 2140, depending on how the holiday weeks go.

I'm trying not to think of this as the post-marathon season any more. In two weeks, the good old fun begins as I start to ramp up for Boston training. The schedule is looking merciful right now, considering I'm targetting a less aggressive 55 mile weekly peak (as opposed to the 70 mile peak this past summer's training.) Which means for the first five weeks of thon training will feel like the past month: decent mileage, but not overbearing amount. I'll be adding some pace and LT work and a few longer runs, not topping more than 13 miles over December.

Blogging is going to be pretty sparse over the next while -- won't be running any less, just when you hit the 974 post in four years (yes I started this blog in December 2005!) I still have material, but I can only write so much about these dark and cold late fall nights. Wait till the first snow, I'm sure it'll get me wanting to post something.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cool, sunny days

I don't mind as much getting in the miles during the maintenance period, the weeks and months between training. I do mind the fact that I don't get to see the sun very often. I spent Saturday with some friends and by the time I got home, only around 5 p.m., it was already getting dark. Some runners like me love to soak in the sun, so putting on my head lamp and blinker on late fall and winter nights leave me a little less motivated.

Today was a different story. Cool, blue skies and just warm enough for the semi brave to put on shorts and a T-shirt. I ran back and forth on the waterfront trail, tackling the hills of High Park and then into the city in the sun and cool shade before stopping at a Starbucks for an Americano. Everyone's out there with their heavy jackets, jeans and shades. I feel kind of like a rebel in my running gear walking a kilometre back to home, cradling my coffee and soaking in the sun. Kinda nice, actually a perfect way to take in a Sunday afternoon. Beats sitting on a couch watching football (no offense, sports fans).

So just glancing at my calendar:

-Holy crap my marathon training begins in three weeks. This post marathon honeymoon is quickly coming to a close. Luckily, I could probably use a dose of discipline in skedding in my training. This is Boston training, after all.
-My ramping up and maintenance mileage is building quite nicely. No major aches. My last four week of mileage has gone from 23 miles, 33 miles, 39 miles and 39 miles again just this past week. Did a 13 miler today and one last Sunday. I'm in DC next weekend and I think I'll try to push it to 15 miles. Time to go long once again.
-I'm at 1959 miles for the year, just 41 miles away from cracking 2000 again. If things go according to plan, i'll do the 2000th mile somewhere in the National Mall next Sunday. Or in Toronto around Dec 1 or so.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Picturing my marathoning

I just got my photos from the Toronto Marathon. I've a good collection of pictures from some of my eight marathons.

The first: Chicago Marathon, October, 2006, 3:35. This is me about hitting the wall just after Chinatown. A memorable race, aren't the first supposed to be?

The second: Marine Corps Marathon, October, 2007, 3:24. Trained another year, got some sort of a redemption but not quite the goal of 3:20

The third: Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, 2008, 3:20. Met my goal and then some. We ran an extra 400 metres, so technically ran a 3:18 or so, paced well, didn't hit the wall and the hills were nothing. (You see I have my 'lucky' race gear on.)

The fourth: Toronto Waterfront Marathon, September 2008, 3:19. A BQ attempt (3:10) gone wrong, hit by heat after a strong 37K. It was raced after a remarkable summer of training. Finish line photo tells it all. I ended up in a wheelchair followed by a visit to the medical tent.

The sixth: Mississauga Marathon, May 2009, 3:24. Was pacing a friend for a 3:30 and when we parted ways at 35K, I turned it on. Fantastic finish, great start to the spring.

The seventh: Toronto Marathon, October, 2009, 3:12. BQed. Perfect weather, great pacing, awesome race. Pictures say it all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Morning runs

I've finally broken the habit of doing only evening running. I think
I've seen a lot of sunsets in the past year but i don't think it
compares with a sunrise. Something about watching the colours
brighten, as you're waking up.

I'm getting back into the habit of running without a schedule it was
hard post marathon season to structure my workouts. Now I'm trying to
feel out what a daily run shoud be. 5 miles, 6? To keep my base, I'm
targetting 35 to 40 miles a week. Sounds like a lot but I think it'll
keep me honest so I don't slip before mid December when it all starts
up again.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Braving it

We like those finish-line moments, when we throw our hands up in the air and celebrate the end of a well-run race. I watched a thrilling NYC Marathon on Sunday, watching Meb bring it home for the Americans.

I also saw Paula Radcliffe tough it out in the last few miles and when the marathon queen finished fourth, we saw her clench her legs in pain. She held off the pain until the very end. Every marathoner must have cringed. That's courage.

Long distance running, or marathon training, means one puts in pure dedication into a passion. Most of us are full-time workers or students so dedication is measured in the hundreds of miles we put in during an 18-week training program, months after most New Year's Resolutions run out. Dedication is measured in the time -- hours with friends lost, hours put aside -- while we head out the roads while everyone else is sleeping or enjoying a beer or spending an afternoon in front of a couch.

We reach the start line ready to race, ready to "express our fitness." Marathoning for us mere mortals is not about showing off your natural running talent on race day. We freaking work for it.

I was out for a post-marathon recovery run this past weekend and I saw a friend of mine standing there in the middle of the trail. I stopped to say hi and asked if he was waiting for a friend. No, it turned out, he was at mile 12 in the middle of his last 23 miler ahead of Philadelphia. His achilles tendon had flared up and it hurt. I asked if he needed bus fare or help to a phone, but he said he'd walk it off and had money for a phone call. I said that on my way back, "if I see you, I'm going to help you out." As I ran off, I imagined what must have been going through his mind three weeks from the marathon. He'd done seven Bostons yet was going through a run that would give most of us self doubt.

I didn't see him on my way back, but I'm reminded that on my failed BQ attempt, it was he who emerged from the crowd in the last kilometre to run alongside me and pass me water. He pushed aside a race official who could have pulled me from the course. He helped me finish. Here's a picture of me and him. You can tell I'm hurting. And yes, I ended up in the medical tent at the end.

All of this to say, is that while I celebrate my blogging running friends who have great races, I also feel pain (and pride) for the runners who don't have their field day. It's more brave than I can think of for someone like Amy to be sick on race day yet fight her way to the finish. Or someone like Marlene's Mark to train the entire summer, logging 1000 miles, and admit to himself 5 miles from the finish that the smart move would be to forego his victory lap.

Just like I had my bad races, and later experienced a little bit of redemption, I know they'll get theirs. The best part is I know we'll all be lacing up our shoes for the next run, the next training cycle, to log the next thousand miles before you once again toe the start line, with the hope that at the end, you can get that finish-line moment.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Maintenance mode = play time

I've been having a lot of fun on the trails this past week. On my first post-marathon run, I lowered the hammer and did a run a little faster than I should have. Today, I was running along a path with posts and I found myself weaving to the left and right of them. Fun running is back, and I'm savouring it.

I think i have a few more weeks in which I'll be able to wear shorts and a T-shirt (with arm warmers). Then it'll be winter mode and time to think about the next marathon cycle, which starts in six weeks.

On a few down moments yesterday, I plugged in my running schedule for the next six months. I know, I know, we're totally anal, us marathoners. When the season is over, we really don't know what to do with ourselves.

All I do know is that it never makes sense to take a total break from exercising, especially for types like me who love schedules. The Pfitzinger program has a 5-week post-marathon recovery schedule that I've plugged in. I've gone a little extra this week (having just done a 9 miler) but I intend to ease back into it.

I've decided that for Boston, i'm going to do a less intense 55 mile a week program from Pfitzinger. I'm not going to kid myself that I'll be able to do any more during the winter. The dark mornings/nights don't help either. For my other spring marathons, I've been able to get away with even a 12 week program assuming i still do the weekly mileage of between 30 and 35 miles in the weeks leading up.

On an interesting note, the BAA sent out an email to past registrants to warm them to apply as soon as they can. Looks like for the 2010 edition, they're selling out quickly. I know a few days ago, they had hit more than 12,800 confirmed. They closed registration in late January but there's talk that it could close earlier.

From the BAA site:
Registration is underway. If you have met the qualifying standards and intend to enter the race, the B.A.A. urges you to register now and not wait as registration is on pace to reach its maximum field size earlier than ever before. The 2010 edition will mark John Hancock Financial's 25th year as principal sponsor of the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon.

For the rest of the year, I have a few goals

-Hit 2000 miles. I'm at 1,847 so I should have no problem hitting that target
-Stay and eat healthy right past December. Part of scheduling in my running is to make sure I keep fit. Also, the temptation to eat like I am in marathon training is there, so trying to behave.

Here's the schedule that will bring me right to April 19, 2010