Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Fun Run

After a four week layoff the Boyden Lake gang finally got together again today. It took a flurry of emails as well as some extra prods but here we are, with our best smiles and raring to go.
Sorry (Dawn) but no butt shots today since we're all at the back of the pack these days in taper and anti-taper modes. Steph and I are just 2 weeks out of Boston, Andrew has a week to go before Holyoke and Jon has 2 weeks before Sugarloaf. Because of the up-down training the route today was different than the 2 main 13.5 or 17 mile loops we usually do. Steph thought we'd like a 7-8 mile scenic loop along the beach and since the tide was low it was a go.

Here's the scenery we had but missed the highlight shots during the run. I really need a little durable camera for those just-have-to-take-a-picture moments. We ran along the beach near here at Mill Cove in Robbinston, Maine past a neat rock formation called the Pulpit. It reminded me of the Hopewell Rocks in the upper Bay of Fundy or the Inuit inuksuk formations. Maybe next time I'll have a camera and can get a good shot of it.
You can see by the beach that the tide is out. At high tide it's about 25ft higher and our route would have been impassable.

And of course, the geeky details of route, pace and elevation. On the map you can see the tip of St. Andrews in the middle of the Bay. There were a few ups and downs but our pace was fairly even with a few slow spots when walking or climbing over rocks and cliffs along the beach.
Total distance was 7.25 miles in 66:00. Total for the week was a mere 23 miles bringing the annual sum to 1068. Time to start slowly upping the miles again in preparation for the summer season and the buildup to Cabot Trail at the end of the month. I'm also planning to race a 10k in 2 weeks as part of the Fredericton marathon. This will be run hard and should give me a baseline point for the season's training.

This coming week I'll be down in Woods Hole, Mass. for some work meetings and hope to find some new running routes here. At least with the Garmin on my wrist I shouldn't get lost, right?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Flailing away on the antitaper

Trying to get back into a routine again. While many runners continue to train like maniacs, some are in taper mode, some are injured (amazing story here) from too much training or racing, and others like myself are in a so-called reverse taper attempting to build back up to where I was before the marathon. Which is now almost forgotten and so I'm able to begin the scheming and planning for the next one...
So far this week there have only been 2 short runs to test the legs and make sure all is a go for more running. It's remarkable how good everything is feeling only 10 days after Boston with no residual aches or pains, feet and toes are almost normal (won't loose any nails), and heartrate during runs is not elevated at moderate 8:00 pace or faster. The only difficulties has been a lingering headache, probably due to the continued work stresses and then today my dentist went at one of my molars and so that is a bit tender too. But at least a sore head and face doesn't affect the running, in fact it helped take my mind off it.

I'm also back to biking into work and with the return trip for lunch each day I'll end up with about 20 miles of commuting by the end of the week. This isn't usually counted as exercise because it's such a short trip (1 mile each way) and takes nothing out of my energy stores but I guess it does add up and let me have that extra beer and chocolate ice cream when I feel like it.

Getting back to today's little jaunt which was around the town including a compete circuit of our 5 mile road race loop which is scheduled here on Father's Day. There will be lots more to come on this race later as I'm co-race director for this little local run which usually attracts 100-150 runners on the Run NB race circuit. Anyway, I hit the lap button when starting the loop and it measured out to 4.99 miles with all the corners cut as in a race. That's fairly close and we don't guarantee the distance in any case but I'll check it again and be more careful in how the corners are taken. My legs were quite fresh and managed to easily do the 5 miles in 38:20 or a 7:42/mi pace at what felt like a pace only slightly faster than long run pace. A good sign but must be careful not to get over-enthusiastic this weekend on the longer run planned with the gang in Maine.

The Garmin plot is shown below for all you technophiles to enjoy (Luddites may avert their eyes now). Still slowly figuring it out but wish it had more options for the graph scales and now I'd also like to start my week on a different date besides Sunday. It keeps track of your weekly totals, averages etc which is a nice but dangerous feature for any obsessive runners. The green line is elevation and the blue is pace with an overlay of pace zones which rated today as a slow run (it didn't feel that slow).
Can't wait for the next run but tomorrow, Friday is a rest day....sticking to the anti-taper plan ;-)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Short and sweet

The run, not the dog, though he is kinda cute for a Bagel. He's also quite bossy and demanding for his size. We've been dog sitting him and after only 3 days, he's moved into our bedroom at night, barks at us when we ignore him, run's away when we show him the leash and is just plain silly most of the time when not sleeping.

Did get a short run in that was hardly worth mentioning normally but as my 2nd recovery run and 2 days in a row, well it deserved a few words. Another perfect spring day here with sunny blue sky, light wind and temps in the teens which is absolutely balmy for us sun starved Canucks. Headed out the door after church despite raised eyebrows from my wife 'I thought you ran yesterday? What happened to the rest period or are you back to normal already?' Do you think she'd make a good coach? But then again, how many athletes really listen to their coach and sneak in extra workouts etc? Actually, I've just been dying to try out my new Garmin on all my 'standard' running routes just to see how accurate they are or aren't.

The legs were tight and stiff and the pace was slow but it was sooo nice to jog along at my own pace once more. Did the standard Point loop from the house which I've always called 5 miles and lo and behold it was 5.11 mi which was a nice bonus (hate to think I'd been overestimating all those years)! Included 2 stops, one to give directions to a tourist and another to say hello to a long retired co-worker I haven't seen in years. It was really nice to see Billie as she was going into a restaurant for brunch with her daughter and friends. She remembered me right away (had a stroke a few years ago) and I was able to make her laugh with a little story about work and my running in Boston.

So cruised right along, the legs were a bit sore and got progressively tighter but it was a good run with no after effects worth mentioning. I think I'll be doing alternate days running for the next week and hope to get out with Andrew on the weekend for his last longer run before his marathon at Holyoke. Here's the gory details from the Garmin toy which I'm still figuring out.
So you can see it's hilly and my pace spiked 2x when I stopped. Total for the week was 34 miles of running with the marathon and 9 miles of walking as part of the recovering. Recovery is going well, the feet are more or less healed, the legs are feeling better every day and the spirit is more than willing and anxious to get back into it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Active recovery

They say you should rest 1 day for every mile you race before racing again. Whoever came up with that rule might be right; in that this may prevent injury but I'd bet any money they never followed the rule all of the time and they sure as heck didn't have much fun!!

I've had a fairly relaxing week since the big run on Monday.

Tues was the relaxing drive back from Beantown, eating and drinking as I pleased but not much appetite and no crazy cravings except for ice-cream.

Weds was back to work with walking back and forth for lunch and a total of 3 miles

Thurs and Friday was the same with walking 3 miles each day and the legs getting limbered up and feeling better. Even jogged a bit on the way in Friday am. But suddenly I found myself signed up on our office bedrace team for the weekend event around town. It's a fun event to raise money for the local youth center which is now under construction and will provide much needed recreation for the local teens. Surely a little jog around town can't hurt, eh?

Pre-race team photo with team-captain resting up. Race rules called for a team of 5 with one person 'in bed' at all times. At times it got kinda crowded up there ;-)

And the race is on through the beautiful streets of St. Andrews. There goes the mayor and his team of councillors!

A closeup of our town Mayor 'Bubbles' Craig in the drivers seat.

There were some neat designs including boats.

Garden beds...
Our little team including the 'infamous' shorts yet again. Notice that it looks like I'm the only one running and everyone else is either on or trying to get on the bed!?

Brave but final place finish by our volunteer fire and ambulance brigade!

Garmin race profile showing the race route around the downtown, the elevation profile (green) and pace per mile (blue). Total distance of 2.44 miles in 21 minutes at 8:35/mi pace.

Yeow! It was not just a little jog at all with hard effort by the team from the get go. Only 2 of the 5 were runners but I was impressed with how they all worked so hard to get around the loop. We used the downhills to advantage with up to 3 people in the bed at a time and then had a bunch of quick changes to give folks a rest. I took one 30 sec break on the downhill of front street and it was a nice feeling to just pushed along. The legs felt quite good for this short but hard effort though there was some deep aches and pains that I don't usually feel. It took a few minutes to recover at the end and we passed several beds that had started in the wave start well in front of us. Final placing was 2nd overall in a field of 10 or 12. Great fun and no damage done!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Boston: blow by blow - part 2

Now that I've had a little time to reflect on the race it's time for the details from start to finish as much as can be remembered, though it still seems to have been a big (mostly) wonderful blur. I made notes of some of the highlights and will embellish them as memory serves ;-)

The alarm was set for 6am so I could be up early to get breakfast and all systems going but awoke early at 5:55 (good omen). Checked the old timex to find it had died over the night (bad omen) so it's a good thing the new Garmin was on hand to fill in! Then did my weigh-in (162lbs) followed by the usual pre-workout breakfast of cereal with fruit, 1/2 bagel, orange juice, vitamins and coffee.

The plan was to meet some of the other New Brunswick runners at the bus departure area at 8am for a photo op and my host's decided they wanted to drive me downtown so they could see all the commotion for themselves. On early arrival I found only 2 people waiting so went for a quick bathroom stop, returning to find nobody waiting and it was still before 8am. Hung around waiting for another 10 minutes before heading to the buses on my own. The bus ride was uneventful, taking about 55 minutes and meeting a runner from Wyoming doing his 1st Boston. It's amazing how fit everyone looked but there were few females up in the 1st wave blue grouping on this bus at least.

Once at the village, another bathroom break to start and then found a spot inside the big tent so I could lie down on my sleeping pad. Ate only 1/4 bagel, 1/2 powerbar and some gatorade during the 2 hr wait. Around 10:30 I tried for another last port-a-potty stop but the lines were so long it was ridiculous; about 30-50 people each! Opted for plan B which works well for guys at least; those wide mouthed gatorade bottles do have multiple uses! Back at the tent, just before heading for the baggage buses and my corral I had an amazing encounter with Bill McGuire from Rothesay,NB who turns out goes to the gym with my brother and is related to my brother-in-law! It's a small world sometime (good omen)! Then geared up with vaseline, powder on feet, sunscreen and gels pinned on the 'shorts'.

The trip to the corrals was different this year with fences of crowd control barriers on both sides of the road and being closely watched for unscheduled off-limit bathroom stops. The temps were a bit on the cool side so I kept a light cotton long sleeved shirt as my throw away before the start and also had a 2nd emergency bottle on hand. Made to the corral with only 20 minutes to go and just tried to relax, with a few stretches and one last discrete bottle break (sorry girls). I was feeling calm and confident, not especially nervous and ready to go. Finally, the Star Spangled Banner, the fly over with 2 jets and the cannon shot which sounded remarkably close, followed by at least 2 minutes before we even started to move.

Crossed the start about 4 minutes after the gun and the 1st mile was very crowded as usual with the 1st split of 7:50 (target was 7:30's). After this my splits for the next several miles were all around 7:20 with heartrate 150 which was also on target. I was feeling good, trying to stay calm and relaxed, while keeping HR down and not darting around wasting energy passing people. Passed people as the road opened up in front but was still passed by many runners, most notably Elvis in full white suit and then a blind runner, I think a Kenyan, being escorted by 2 runners. They were running up the middle of the road calling 'make way, blind runner on yellow line' and smoothly cruised by...

Went through 5 miles in 37:10, right on target and then literally bumped into my brother-in-law Dave who had started a corral or 2 in front of me. We are of very similiar ability depending on the day, though Dave can get away with much less training for those same or better results. He claims that his secret is being able to run with faster runners on a regular basis, something that I've only just begun to do this past winter. About this point I also noted that my feet were feeling sore, like my socks were bunched up and blisters were starting to develop. However, we keep cruising along nicely with mostly 7:20's and 12 miles in 1:29, 1 minute under pace for 7:30's.

The 1st big event of the run besides the continual crowds lining the course, little kids looking for high 5's, handing out water, oranges, sponges, paper towels, etc was of course the Wellesley girls. They were in fine form as always with a roar that could be heard from 1/4 mile or more away. This year for the 1st time I decided that after 7 passes with only high 5's it was time for a kiss and there were many signs offering such. Quick stop, big smile, cheek offered, kiss planted and away with a bound! Dave just laughed!! If only we could bottle that energy for the later miles...

The next few miles were a little tougher but with the good downhill sections, splits were still near target until the 1st big hill going up on mile 16-17. I warned Dave that I'd be going by HR and effort and he held back likewise, trying to conserve energy for later. The crowds continued to be their awesome Boston best and included one person in a full gorilla suit who was going crazy high fiving all the runners, myself included. What a nut!

The turn at the fire station and then the hills of Newton were a challenge as the sun was coming in and out of the clouds warming our backs while the wind seemed to swirl in our faces. Dave and I continued to toil along together, watching for each other and pulling each other along as we grinded our way along. The splits through here were up and down as expected but I wasn't feeling as strong as planned. The hope was that I'd be able to hit the top of the last major hill, Heartbreak in good shape and then be able to burn it all on the way into the finish but this was not to be. Instead, we both worked very hard to the top and I arrived at the top almost totally spent while Dave was still in good form. I did have time to cross over and high five 2 nuns in full habit near the top of Heartbreak. They spotted me and were saying 'go Canada' and had big smiles when I came over ;-) Still able to have fun, though hurting...

Down the other side and it's quite noticeably downhill and here over the last 5.5 miles which are mostly down that I'd hoped to put on a charge if the legs were in good shape. All those miles, all those downhill repeats at race pace, that killer hilly 1/2 marathon 2 weeks before but the legs were now toast and the quads were completely knotted up for the rest of the way. Damn, what does a guy have to do to prepare for this crazy course?! I was starting to have trouble keeping up with Dave now as my splits now dropped into the high 7's. Managed to hang on for one last hurray as we were due to meet my sister around mile 22. Sure enough there she was! Dave dashed over for his gatorade before taking off like a shot. I was close behind to give my sis a big hug and a kiss, and then dashed off as well, telling Dave "I kissed your wife for you, since you forgot!". I got a strange look for that!

The rest of the race was a blur that I'd like to forget with Dave slowly pulling away after I told him to move on. The quads were so tight and painful that I was running very stiffly like on stilts and slowed to 8:15's. At this point the plan to count pass runners was out the window and I began counting breaths and steps from mile marker to mile marker. The crowds also started to get even louder and for the first time began to annoy me. "Please just leave me alone in my misery", as I went to the very middle of the road, trying to hide in my all Canada wardrobe. No such luck, but then I hear a "Go St. Andrews!!", What? Looked up from my daze to see a familiar face from Saint John of Alex Coffin. He's a top local runner and race organizer and that was a nice pickup late in the race.

Again the crowds are just insane the last few miles and they can help you and they can bug you too when you are hurting. I was just working what was left for all that I could and managed the last mile in 7:41 and even made the local news since I came in beside a man carrying his young child that the cameras were zoomed in on. I hobbled in for 3:23:32 which was the 12th New Brunswicker and 1st 50+ year old from that province. Hey, I'll take it, even if it has to be the 1st in my age group for herring research biologists ;-)

Man, it was soooo gooood to stop!! Immediately started with the water and food intake and slow walk for gear and change of clothes. Started to feel better after having some salty chips and a banana but it was difficult getting up and down from sitting on the sidewalk. Took my time before getting on the subway this year and made sure there was a seat so to be had. Last year, I got caught in an overcrowded subway car and ended up flat on my back after fainting. Then before being picked up by my amazing hosts there was time to satisfy a strange craving for a coffee and double chocolate doughnut. It was almost as good as that nice Irish been I had later (posted picture earlier). Note - weigh in after the race was 158 or -4lb. Mainly because I couldn't stomach the new formula gatorade they had and water was sloshing in my stomach at the end.

Final thoughts:
  • Boston is one tough race that doesn't get any easier with practice or knowledge
  • You can train hard and still get burned, I feel I did everything possible (almost)
  • One things I couldn't control was the overly stressfull work schedule over the past few weeks
  • Also missed few final key tempo pace runs over the final weeks and might have done some of my longer runs at a harder pace (for at least part of the runs)
  • More hills or specific quad strengthening may be in order next time around
But the result is still good for time, my disappointment was mainly not having a stonger final few miles and being forced to hobble/limp my way in on beat up legs. There's always next year or another easier coursed and after only 2 days it's already in the back of my mind. Boston is still the best though !!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boston Report - part 1

Just got home tonite and only had time to figure out how to get my Garmin data on the computer. Had problems and needed to get the latest updates before it would work and now it's getting late.

The map from Hopkinton to Boston is at the top. In the graph the red line is heart rate and with my max of about 170, it was mostly at or near Zone 5 which is 90-100% of max. The blue pace line fluctuates around 7-8 min/mile and the green line is the silly elevation profile which killed my legs once again!

Too late to do any more now and will have to add to this later after getting some more rest...

Monday, April 17, 2006

And the winner is...

And the winner is the Boston marathon course, hands down. She's a fickle one, tempted all with nice weather and possible fast times, but then grabbed this runner and spit me out like I'd been through a meatgrinder.

The 'famous' shorts being 'aired out' after #7.

The infamouse so-called runner with medal and nice bottle of Smithwicks imported Irish beer

Damage done but rewarded with this and a time of 3:23:32 and place of 278 in my age/sex division out of 620 atheletes. Get complete results at the BAA website for my number 7770. Good 1st half but tough 2nd half and last miles were a step by step struggle. More to follow after it's all had time to stew a bit.

Now just relaxing and topping up the fluid and calorie stores after a fantastic meal by my wonderful hosts at "Chez G&A's ", ice-cream and chocolate brownies are in store once the main meal has had a bit of time to settle. Mmmmm!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Scheming and dreaming

"Did you win?"

Those were the words from the 6 year old grandson of the folks I stay with back in 2000. "No but I finished" was the happy reply. The average runner obviously can never hope to win a race of this magnitude but we can still have goals and dreams in competition with ourselves most of all.

The trip down on Sat was good with 4 New Brunswicker's for company, all doing Boston and all in our late 40's to early 50's. I think we had a total of at least 20 Bostons for the group. The plan was to drive the course from Hopkinton to their hotel on the 24 mile mark. The starting line area was very quiet with only a few runners milling around getting pictures taken by the sign '26.2 miles to Boston'. They do a special design on the line each year, last year there was an image of 'old' Johnny Kelley who died in the fall of 2004 but this year the design is one with waves for the new 2 wave start. Runners are seeded by bib number and qualifying times with the 1st wave of 10,000 runners at 12 noon, the traditional start time; and the 2nd wave of 10,000+ runners at 1230. They are doing this mostly for crowd control and there is some grumbling in the 2nd wave I'm sure. My number of 7770 puts me near the back of the 1st wave but I feel that just gives me more people that I can pass ;-)

Anyway we took a few pictures and then cruised along the course with my brand spanking new Garmin 301 keeping track of distance, elevation, car speed and resting HR. It was fun to hear the different comments on what each of us remembered or didn't want to think about again. The undulations of this course, even driving it are quite remarkable and the hill after hill from mile 16-21 is quite sobering too. There are parts of the course that we remember but would mostly like to forget, especially the quad pounding last 5 miles.

By the time we got to their hotel on Brookline it was starting to get dark so I took the subway and bus to my home-away-from-home out in the suburbs. The people I stay with, G&A, are friends through a very good friend in St Andrews and I've know them for many years and now stay with them every year I do Boston, in fact I think they'd be insulted if I stayed at a hotel (but maybe only if I didn't at least visit). They are like angels from marathon heaven that treat me like a king every time I come. They know my routine, pre-race food needs, rest and quiet time needs and most especially the post race feeding frenzy. After catching up on news and a late night snack it was off to bed for another good sleep.

Today, all that was on my plate was to make my way to the expo and return with a minimum of effort. Left homebase around 830am and was back by 12 noon (now < 24 hrs!!). The expo is huge and on any other day I would spend several hours there but today it was just pick up my number, get some t-shirts, poster with all runners names and a few gifts. I also dropped by the My-Marathon DVD booth to put a personalized welcome on the video of the race that you can order. It's neat with clips of you at the start, 10k, 15k, 30k and finish as well as the elite races and is worth the money. But then straight back to the ranch and now spending the afternoon quietly reading, scheming and a bit of blogging too!

The scheming part: reading though my previous Boston diaries looking for hints and common threads I started a little checklist for the morning and the race:
  • pre race powerbar, gatorade (no banana or fruit)
  • remember to pin 2 gels to shorts, bandaids on
  • going to use the new watch (mainly for HR and record of run) but will NOT be distracted by it
  • watch the start, don't get sucked out too fast (ie <7min>
  • think easy & controlled, running on eggshells for 1st 16 miles to the Newton hills
  • don't overdrink! A common thread is an upset stomach from too much water and gatorade so this is important to remember.
  • go strong on the hills but not crazy or anaerobic; watch HR here
  • after crest of Heartbreak the race is on! The goal is now not to get passed and treat it like a race, picking off runners by following faster paced runners until they die off, and I know they will!!
  • when the going gets tough I'll only count runners I pass and if it gets really tough then it's down to counting steps and exhales
  • have fun, smile at the video cameras at 10k, 15k, 30k and of course the finish

Time for another snack and more scheming. I'll check in again after the race but it usually takes a few days for the event to really sink in so it may take a couple of posts to get the full story.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fiddling around waiting...

It's a good thing that I've been so busy this past week and didn't even have 2 seconds to worry and fidget about every little detail, aches and pains, etc for the big day on Monday; you know the Boston thing... or I'd be driving my poor wife crazy with all my fidgeting and fiddling around.

Actually, while away it was always at the back of my mind and I did stress over whether people were sick, what I was eating, getting the scheduled easy runs in despite being up to midnight and then up before 6am each day preparing for the meetings. The drive back yesterday was nice and relaxing with my co-worker Otto, who makes interesting conversation with all the places he's seen and experienced in his world travels. But then when we arrived in the office to dump our stuff, check email and do travel forms, I crashed and just felt totally exhausted and drained. I think the stress and strain from the week finally caught up with me, now that the 'bad-news' meetings were behind and I no longer needed to be 'on my A-game'. So I canned the scheduled short run after work and just had a beer, relaxed on the couch after a normal meal, tried to catch up on my blog reading and of course... some ice-cream for a snack!

Slept in till 8:30 this morning for 9.5 hours of well needed sleep but still feeling lethargic today. After a few coffees and a light breakfast it was off for an easy 5 mile run. It was a slow, slow, tired run, feet were sore from all the concrete sidewalks in Halifax/Dartmouth, and it was a struggle for a run I'd expect to do in my sleep! Damn! You'd think that I'd just be floating along at an effort level of 1/10 at this point with the taper in miles from the 70-80 range to only 27 this week!! All I can point to is the lack of sleep and being stressed out with work and all I can do is take it easy for the next few days and charge up the mental batteries as well as the physical ones.

Still don't have my race number pickup packet and it looks like most of the international runners, especially Canadians are in the same boat. The BAA sent me an email in this regard last week and unless it shows up early Sat before I hit the road, there will be a long lineup to get new pickup cards at the expo. However, I did have time on my short ugly run to stop at work and print off my race booklet as well as my own personalized unoffical version of my race number. Here for your viewing pleasure is what I will look like on race day. Except that I won't be standing still and the race number won't say 'Go Mike' ;-) Do you think the fans will know what country to cheer for? The Boston marathon fans are the absolute best!!
The travel plans are now settled and I'll be travelling down tomorrow with some friends from Saint John who are doing Boston as well. The New Brunswick contingent is the largest ever this year at 60 participants. The RunNB website has the list by bib number and also has some fun with predicting the top ten runners. Not to blow my own horn, but I was given an honorable mention last years picks and ended up being #1o for NB'ers in 2005 ;-) This year I didn't make the cut but intend to do as well or better because my training has been the most intensive ever for this race.

Which brings to mind my race goals; which aren't totally clear yet in my own mind. First and foremost is to finish with a smile or at least a grimace of a smile. Second is to meter out the effort over the whole course, taking it easy in the 1st half and trying for even and possibly a negative split, and feeling at the end that I'd given it every thing possible at the end of the day. Third are my time and place goals. I think I'm trained for a 3:15 or better which would be a PB and might surprise myself with the base of mileage that's in the bank. The weather is supposed to be ideal with cool overcast conditions and only light north winds so the time thing might happen. Placement wise, I'd like to shoot for top 7% overall, and top 7% in my age group but that's just because it's my favorite number lately.

That's it for this week's running. Total of only 27 miles, YTD 1011, 2 days 20 hrs and counting... I will have internet access in Boston and hope to do a couple more posts before and after the race [twitch].

Thursday, April 13, 2006

On the road again

I'm still alive! Survived 2 days of meetings and 3 nights of little sleep and am now ready to go home for the long weekend but here's what's happended so far this week. Travelled to Dartmouth on Monday which is a 6 hr drive and settled in for a long night of preparations for the next day. While I like to be prepared well in advance there was still alot of work needed to get our presentation and final draft document together so we were up till midnight doing that.

Tues am: couldn't sleep up early before 6am and out for a short 4 mile run along the harbor road. No wind but it was a bit chilly that early in the morning and I took it real, real easy. It's funny but the legs still feel heavy and slow, not like I've been tapering down somewhat.

Tues pm: meet up with Anthony, our Cabot Trail team captain for a run around Dartmouth. We did about 5-6 miles along the harbour and then a loop of the 'famous' Maple Street hill which is prominent in the Bluenose marathon. It's a shortish but steep 500m incline that A just attacked. He says that he hasn't been running and is out of shape but A is very strong and seemed to have little problem keeping up with me. We had a great re-connect and discussed running and the plans for our team run in May. Great run and nice to see Anthony again.

Weds: another trying day of meetings that went to 5pm. Then quick change and off running! Did an out and back loop from my hotel on the Dartmouth side, down the the MacDonald bridge, across to Halifax and down to the Casino before turning around. The run called for 2xMP so I did the bridge itself at a harder pace. I think it's about a mile but my splits over and back were 6:50 and 6:17, so either I went too fast or my distance was short (I pick the latter). Overall return time was just a few seconds off for this 8 mile run and felt very good for a change. Maybe it's just the weight of all the work pressure finally off.

Time to head out for home! See you'all later...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Moosehorn trails and tales

Finally, the last long run before Boston and now it's all downhill from here with a bunch of easy runs and only 2 miles at marathon pace just to test the waters on Weds. Today, our early morning long run was shifted in time and space, warping over from Perry to the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge just outside of Calais, Maine. Thankfully I also got to sleep in this morning because Andrew had family over and he called to remind me that we needed to run later in the day. Otherwise, I would have been running by myself in the wilderness, on the hunt for the elusive Timberdoodle.

So we met at the park HQ at the very civilized hour of 3pm and spent the next 1:48 wandering the lovely gravel road trails around this very large wildlife preserve. On the way in I saw 3 (or 4) eagles in the nesting perches by the main road and during the run we saw Canada geese and heard ducks and birds throughout. However, the 'herd of turtles' that Andrew told me had impeded one of his runs last summer were nowhere to be seen! He claims not to be pulling my leg, but I'm very easy to trick... It was a very comfortable easy run of about 13 miles and we did two loops of about 5 miles (4.7 says A) in 4o:48 the 1st time and 40:03 the second time. There were a few hills that seemed steeper the 2nd loop but mostly the terrain was not too challenging (ie like last weekend) and the footing was soft but not muddy or wet at all. The conversation was again super and we had a load of laughs, especially the ins and outs of the crazy 1/2.

However, it was over all too quickly and we took a picture and made plans for our next session together which will not be for awhile with my marathon and recovery and then Andrews marathon at Holyoak 2 weeks later and his recovery. Sometime in mid-May at least and looking forward to it again. Meanwhile, it's getting late and I've got to get some sleep so I can function properly in the morning and the next few days. Wish me luck on surviving the week and not driving everyone around me crazy with all the twitching and fidgeting now that I can't run as much!

Total for the week 49, YTD 984, 7d 13hr 56min 15sec ;-)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What the heck is a timberdoodle?

Well if you don't already know it's not a monster that parents used to scare small children over but rather it's a strange smallish robin sized bird also called an American woodcock. It has very large eyes because it's nocturnal (active at night), a long curved bill that looks too big for it's head, and an upside down brain! It also has a number of colloquial names, the most common being timberdoodle. Other colorful nicknames include Labrador twister, bogsucker and mudsnipe.

And what the heck does it have to do with running? Well, the Moosehorn Wildlife Park also had the bird listed on it's website and is being managed and studied due to declines in population numbers. And since we spotted one recently in our backyard and I'll be running in the park on Sunday I thought a bit of trivia about a strange little bird called a timberdoodle might be appropriate. Here are a couple of pictures we took a few weeks ago .Can you see it? It's extremely well camoflauged. Our chances of encountering this bird, even early in the morning, is unlikely but you never know...

Obligatory running note: Just a short 7 mile loop around town today. Really felt tired and draggy, probably from the intervals on Friday and other life stresses (mostly work). Also did a few cursory strides which made the legs feel a bit better but only momentarily. Looking forward to next Weds when I can relax and start the mental preparations for Boston [twitch].

Friday, April 07, 2006

Countdown is on!

Last tempo run, check! Last long (shorter) run, check! Pass up that extra helping of cookies and ice cream, check! It's a good thing I'm so busy at work or I'd be going stir crazy already. The travel and meetings next week will keep me occupied and out of trouble as well.

So, today was a nine miler with 3x1 mile at an unspecified pace but was assumed to be "as hard as you can manage without hurting something", especially this late in the game. Stupid work was as overwhelming as usual but I still managed to get out the door at noon with impending deadlines still hanging like an excecutioner over me. Started out slowly with extra stretching before the run and after the 1st 1/2 mile at the top of the Station hill. Then did an easy warmup on the golf course but was surprised to see the flags are now up and golfers were out in force. I'm not sure what they thought of this skinny runner in shorts and a reflective vest dashing across 'their' fairways but I got a few friendly waves before heading off on the highway.

There are no mile markers for my intervals but my guestimated miles were in the range of 6:35 to 7:00. I felt reasonably good for a change today and the run seemed to be over in no time with the extra fast bits inserted, but my watch begged to differ (only 2 minutes faster than Weds on the same route). Just a couple of easy runs left in the schedule and the plan is to run in the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge Park on Sunday with Andrew. I think he's cooled down a little after what I put him through last weekend and won't lead me down a trail and leave me for lost.

On another note, my article is now out in the local paper and the non-runner reporter did a reasonable job for the most part using my quotes more or less verbatim. Her main mess-up was that I had placed 1400 out of 4000 runners in the 2005 Boston race (that was in my age group, not overall!) The picture is good ;-) There will be a post race followup interview where I'll try to get some of the other details right. Should I wear 'the shorts'?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Creaky taper

Still stiff and a bit sore from the past weekend's Fundy Trail adventure and 1/2 marathon. This was a tough hilly run that provided some extra wear and tear on the quads and calves which hopefully will make a difference come Boston in a couple of weeks.

Monday was my usual rest day and was sore in places around my hips that are rarely a problem. Thankfully it's much better today but the quads are still tight. Tuesday was a hellish day at work with a stressful job interview followed by more nose to the grindstone data analysis. Managed to get out for a 6 mile easy run with lots of stretching before the run, some stretches one mile in and more stretches after the fact. The run went much better than expected and the weather was cool and windy in just shorts and a light windbreaker.

Today Weds was an easy 9 or so miles (can't wait for that Garmin 301) as an out and back run out Bayside. Again an overcast cool and windy day with bits of blue sky and sunshine breaking through but I wasn't fooled into going with shorts today. The light pants (don't wear tights) worked perfectly and I felt comfortable for the most part. However, today the legs and body seemed to tire after a few miles and I was glad to get to my estimated turnaround point near Greenlaw Mountain. Every downhill felt like little pins were being pricked into my quads and the uphills seemed steeper than usual for some strange reason. One of these days, the taper will start to feel like a rest but so far there is no cigar.

Oh yeah, I was called by the local paper for an interview about my running Boston and she even came around later in the day to take a picture. Hey, I'm going to be famous (not!)!! We'll see how the article comes out as she admitted to being new to the sports job and had to ask how far a marathon was (groan...). And the usual comments like, "I can't even run across the street, how do you do it?" (sigh...)

Work is getting crazier and crazier and is scheduled to peak next week on Wedsday with our final meetings and reports for the upcoming fishing season. Wish me luck on this, I'm prepared but the unknown can happen in thess open forum meetings. To be followed by R&R and a couple of days off before driving down to you-know-where.

Off to volleyball now... I'll take it easy and not jump any more than necessary ;-)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Last Long Run Before Boston: race report

What a crazy but fun day! Up early after losing an hour of sleep (remembering to put the clocks ahead last night). On the road by 7:15, after picking up Kurt who only got out of bed at 7:14 and then the 75 minute drive to meet with Dave, my brother-in-law, in Saint John.

Arrived at the end of the road to nowhere past St. Martins in lots of time to get ready for the race, including a pre-race photo with Andrew and Dave. You can tell me by the skinny legs and shorts (what was I thinking?). Temperature was 4C (40F) with northwest winds of 20-30mph, but it's spring, right? No sign of Jonathan and it turned out later that the 'slacker' had some family issues last night with sick kids and no sleep so he canned the long trip here for the race.
Of course we had to turn around and checkout the sign to see if the Fundy Trail park was really closed or not. I think they'll let us runners in though!
Can you believe what my number was? Crazy or what? This was the ultimate in low-key races, no bibs but rather hand numbers, one water stop, and handwritten results that were quickly updated to the Run NB website. Alex and his crew of mostly his family did an awesome job and should be congratulated. There was a post race gathering but we did not have time to attend.
And now a bit about this crazy run which was billed as a "Challenging but beautiful in the Fundy Trail Park". They should have called it "brutal hilly course, with 10-15% grades, quad pounding downhills, spirit-sapping uphills, and awesome views at every corner if you can manage the energy to look up". After the run, Andrew had some choice words for me, saying "What did you get me into Mike? Are you trying to kill me?". You'll need to check his blog for the blow by blow. Here is the course profile from Kurt's Garmin. You can see this was an out and back course with a crazy steep downhill at the halfway that we went all the way down to sea-level before returning back the same way.

The race went well for me, started out a bit fast but then just tried to maintain effort while going by my heartrate monitor since there were no splits along the way and it would have been insane to try to keep with a constant pace with this constant up and down course. This graph shows my heartrate (bottom red line) and percent of max (upper blue line) which averaged around 85-90% for the duration. Ran most of the race in a group of 4 runners with shifting positions from our variation in speeds going up or down the hills. We all seemed to be running our own races, trying to survive this brutal course and were not overly concerned with place and each other. However, in the back of my mind was a plan to try for magic number 7th place and thought it was in the bag at the finish but unfortunately miscounted. Oh well!
The race is now completed and the results are on the Run NB website at LLRBB. Andrew placed 2nd overall with an amazing 1:26:37, while I managed a 1:37:44 for 8th but really wanted that number 7 spot!

Total for the week 60, for month of March 322, YTD 935 and only 14 d xx hours to go! Ready to roll ;-)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Easy and easier

Slow and slower? Nah, just taking it easy the last few days so I can have 1/2 a chance of having fresher than normal legs for Sunday's 1/2 marathon in St. Martins. It's called the LLRBB or Last Long Run Before Boston for those not in the know. It is usually a very small turnout but will be race conditions and I'm expecting to run it around marathon pace, that is comfortably hard but not all out gasping for air pace. I want to see how this pace feels on a hilly challenging course but don't want to kill myself so close to the big day, the key mantra will be 'controlled'.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch I did an easy 8 miles on Friday (2 less than the scheduled 10) and the quads were feeling it from the pounding they took on the downhill repeats on Thurs. Besides that it was a great day, we've had beautiful warm sunny days here all week, and a real joy to run in shorts again on a regular basis. See what I mean?

Today was just an easy 5 miles (not 6) in 41:30 around the Point from home. At 9:00am it was already 8C (45F) and climbing with a hazy fog hanging over the water. Nothing special about the run, just an easy shake out the legs run with the quads still a little sore/tight. But this is good as it means I worked the legs hard enough to do some minor damage and now the theory is they will repair themselves stronger for the next attack upon them (oh the evil master is so cruel) !

After the run I was recruited to help out with some of Jo's ponding activities since I'm the 'go to guy' when it comes to 'going in' the pond. However, the water is still a little on the cool side so today a drysuit was needed instead of just the hipwaders. Next time though, someone remind me to zip up all the openings because I still got wet and its cold when it's seeping down your back and down your legs ;-0
No damage done though and now the fish are happier with circulating water and occasional feedings.

Boston pics

Just posting a few of my Boston pics so I can use them in my profile. I'm NOT really showing off, but they are kinda fun to see again, even for me. Hey, this race is the key goal for my entire year of running. Why not have some fun with it? ;-)

Boston 2000 midrace - 1st Boston, what a rush!

Boston 2001, midrace, getting the hang of it now

Boston 2001, post-race after glow, so nice to be finished and still standing!

Boston 2004, a real scorcher!

Boston 2004, just hanging on putting one foot in front of the other...

Boston 2004, it's hot but I can still smile at the camera!

Boston 2005 finish, acceptable but not the best of days. This was to be followed by the 'subway incident'. What is it about those especially warm days on Marathon Monday?