Sunday, December 30, 2007

A real pain in the ...

Can you tell from the grin on his face that the chocolate treats are safely locked in his car? This was the view at the 7 mile pit stop point today as we grabbed some water before continuing along on our run. About a 1/2 mile later Andrew played the spoiler and dropped his bombshell, "What about those Patriots going 16-0?" he asked. I could've killed him. You see, I had watched the 1st 1/2 of the game, taped the remainder because it was getting late and was planning to enjoy it at home after todays long run without knowing the result! Grrr!

Not too much else to say about today's long run. It was a nice calm morning after the storm with mild temperatures around the freezing mark. We just cruised along gabbing away as usual at a very easy pace. After losing Andrew at the 11 mile mark, where he turned to head back to his (undeserved) treats, Jon and I continued to finish the full 17 mile loop. Total time of 2:23 for an average 8:25 pace including pit stops was not too shabby.

Over the last 4-5 miles my sore hamstring/butt acted up again as it has over the last few long runs. It really is time to do something about this 'Pain in the Butt' because it's putting a damper on the finish of my runs as I limp in over the final miles. The restriction in my stride is now getting to be enough of an issue that I must do something about it. A few stretches are in order at least. Wish me luck.

Have a good week and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Another snowstorm overnight, this time with 10-15cm of wet sticky (perfect snowball) snow. When I reached the end of our lane and this sign, did I take heed? Of course a stop and picture were in order but the 5 mile recovery run continued as planned. The roads were completely unplowed making it slow going today but that was fine, being an easy run and all.
Mid-run the Algonquin hotel under heavy cover required another quick stop for a breather and a pic. I kinda like this Stop 'n Go mode of travel. The temperature was mild, just at 0C (32F) and a strong southeast wind made for slow going when exposed to the open. Total of 5 miles today at 8:50 pace.
This completes 60 miles for week 2 of 18 of the Boston plan. The past week was right on target with all runs completed as scheduled. The only thing to consider or add is some post run stretching and a regimen of core work. With all these snowstorms I've been at least getting my share of upper body workout .

With only 2 more days left in 2007 and my mileage total sits at 2610 which is about average over the past 3-4 years. I just did a quick re-cap to see how my Resolutions compared with my results in 2007. I was able to check off most of the 1st 8 of 10 resolutions but missed #5 by not getting a 10k in as part of the RunNB Run For the Cycle series (got all the other races though). I also didn't take 9 minutes off my marathon PR or lose 10 pounds. Better luck next year, right? but right now it's time for a beer. Gotta fuel up for tomorrow's long run with the gang at Boyden.

Take care on the roads!

Friday, December 28, 2007


A fresh snowfall is really quite beautiful but unfortunately you have to shovel it and so I had a one hour upper body workout clearing the driveway before my run. The temperature had stayed cold and the snow was still light and fluffy making it easier work (with help ;-).

Eventually I made my way out the door and on the roads for an easy/regular pace 9 mile run as called for in the plan according to Pfitz. The only choice was to decide which route would have the best footing and of course, the best photo opportunities. They never seem to do a very good job of the roads inside the town limits on the day of a storm so I headed out on the highway which is usually better maintained with wide shoulders. It was a good plan today with fairly light traffic and a small layer of slush along the side of the road. Ended up with a 75 minute run or 8:30 pace including 2 or 3 pauses to take a picture or two (or three).
This one was taken at the end of the run and is looking at the Passamaquoddy Bay as you come into town. My technique for whipping out the camera is getting better and hardly even have to break stride. Is there a name for running, stopping for a picture and then speeding off for the next opportunity? Maybe fartpic'ing or photo-jogging? Should I be getting extra insurance on my camera?

See you later!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lull before the storm

Rodney the Reindeer (small)

and a medium Rodney for your viewing pleasure.

Please bear with me, or is it 'put up with me deer' as I continue to play with my camera. This blog might be mainly running but it's fun to make it more interesting with a few well placed pictures.

An unusual east (snow) wind was blowing during today's easy 5 miler. We don't ofter get a breeze from that direction and will typically see a good dumping of snow within 24 hours. We'll just have to wait and see if my prediction will bear out and you can be sure that I will provide the evidence. The run was another nondescript journey around town on a somewhat bleak gray day as I cruised along at an easy pace sometimes dipping a bit faster than Coach A would have liked. With a few stops for photo opportunities the average pace came in at 8:13 and hr of 129 and it was over and done with in no time and Coach J was happy to have me home.

I'm now eager to tackle tomorrow's 9 miler which must be a good sign. Good running all!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday running

I'm sure every community has at least one place like this where the property owners go all out in their quest for the ultimate Christmas. They even have a countdown calendar restarts on the day after the big day.

Christmas Eve was a scheduled day off but I adjusted my plan by running an easy 8 miles so I could take Christmas off. It was a bit of a struggle with tired legs the day after a long run as I took it very easy with an average pace of 8:30 and heartrate of 127. The temps were nice at +2C and even was passed (twice) by a young buck in shorts. We said hello and a few words but I waved him on ahead and wasn't even tempted to match his pace which looked to be close to 7:00 speed by the way he pulled away. Way too fast for an easy day as I just maintained my easy jogging pace.
Today's run was back to the master plan with a 12 mile medium-long run which was done as a 6 mile out and back on the highway. This was run at a 'normal' pace, starting slow and attempting to pick it up, or at least hold my 'form' by keeping my head and arms up. I was slightly distracted by my new 'toy' which is a little high quality camera that is both waterproof and shockproof and fits in my fanny pack. I'm now fully equipped to handle any and all Kodak moments and poor Andrew will just have to bear with me on this. "Oh, just a sec, gotta stop here and take a shot of this!". All I have to show with today's run was a water view of St. Croix Island in the bright sunlight on a perfect calm day. Finished off the run with a set of 10 pitiful pickups (aka strides), 12.0 miles in 1:39, 8:13 pace, avg hr 136.

Bear with me but I didn't feel as tired as I look! It was an ok run but not much to write home about. Perhaps I'll have better photo opportunities on my recovery run tomorrow. Have a nice day!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Running for chocolate

Here's a picture of our little tree, very much smaller than this one, being guarded by a Swedish Christmas goat.

We run for fitness, for PR's, for fun and best of all for food at the end of a nice long run. The promise today was for chocolate balls, a delicious family recipe for a Christmas treat which is basically an oversize chocolate with no redeeming value nutrician wise besides it's caloric and carb value. Think dates, peanut butter, icing sugar, coconut, combined with an egg and rolled in a chocolate... mmmm! I promised Andrew a special treat and this is what he got. He brought the Dunkin Donuts coffee and all was silent as we sat in my van chowing down. There was an odd number! Do you want the extra one I asked? "Sure !" he said snatching it quickly before I could say a word.

Another early 6am run at Boyden, this time with +2C, no wind and our friend Jonathan along for the ride. We cruised along very, very easily with the 1st mile at 9:05 and the fastest 16th mile of 8:08. There was lots of good conversation as we grilled Jon about his recent adventures at New York and his year of running. The roads were almost bare and I kept commenting on how few cars we met, in fact it was 7 miles in before we saw any traffic! I don't think we met a dozen cars on the entire loop which must be a record. After 17 we made a quick stop at the van to give Jon his treat while Andrew & I continued with a 3 mile out & back to get our 20. And then we savored our treats.

Week 1 of 18 is now complete. On Saturday I only did an easy 5 miles and so the Pfitz program was followed almost to the letter (unlike some folks) except for today's long run which called for 15 miles. Score is now Pfitz (6) - Andrew (1). Great week, total of 58 miles in 8hr 23 min, feeling good, legs and knee are fine but need to do some stretching to help the tight hamstrings.

Have a wonderful Christmas all with your family and friends!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oh, what the heck!

A view of our lights for the season but I'm not happy with the way they turned out. It's hard to get the exposure right and they seem to be a bit washed out. Maybe I'll try bracketing more on the under-exposure side the next time out.

Yes, I did run today. It was a so-called 'General aerobic 9 mi' run which I take as being run as you feel; go slow if you want or faster when you feel like it and don't worry about it. Another -6C day with bright sun and a light wind got me a bit overheated wearing the same 2 layers as the previous day. Curiously, before my run I was eating a 1/2 banana and 1/2 pb&j sandwich and was taken aback by a co-worker who remarked that "you must be doing a longer run today?". Weird how some people notice the little things you do that are running related but not really obvious at 1st glance. Some folks would just think I eat a lot or maybe have a tapeworm but others do pay attention.

It was a nice run, out and back along the highway turning at the exact location to get my intended 9 miles. The roads were again greasy/slushy and might have survived without the added traction of the Yaktrax. As it was the traffic was fairly light and used the bare pavement as much as I could but it didn't help my pace at all. My attempt to pickup the speed on the return leg was met with at best an 8:02 uphill mile 7 and a 7:48 downhill mile 8. Overall pace of 8:20 and slightly elevated heart rate of 138 for my efforts.

I'm hoping for some more bare pavement and less clothes on my back over the weekend as we have some positive temperature days forecast. Happy running and Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Easy run alert

I hope A doesn't fall out of his chair but a) post on consecutive days b) easy five mile run with average heart rate of 129 and pace of 8:45 c) this runner is feeling quite pleased with the non-effort.

Not too much to say about the little run. It's rather nice that Pfitz gives such good contrast in his schedule from day to day and in fact it was almost a shock to stop so soon into it. We had a rather pleasant day with just a light dusting of snow and with temps of around -6C (20F). However, it was just warm enough for the salt to start turning the streets to a rather mushy slushy consistency making for continued treacherous footing.

I was actually feeling a little tired from the longer run on Weds and so today's run was a welcome break in the schedule. The legs are feeling good otherwise and my knee issue of a few weeks ago is now totally gone and I think I'm ready for a faster pace run once the roads clear a little. And then there's always the treadmill if I want to go fast safely (except for falling off the back of the thing). Has anyone ever done that? I've stumbled a few times but no all out crashes yet!

Thats it! Hope you're counting down the days like I am ;-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pfitz (3) - Andrew (0)

Day 3 of the 18 week countdown to Boston. Thus far it has been entirely from the book of Pfitzinger instead of the plan of Andrew. You see he's recommended that 18 weeks was far too long to train for a marathon and that I should continue with aerobic running for the next 10 weeks, followed by 8 weeks of marathon specific training. Being an old stick in the mud who finds it hard to change his ways I've been resisting, so far.

Day 1 - love that Pfitz guy starting you off with a day of rest and I'm proud of the 0's in my log. Of course I'd just run 20 miles the day before and so it was well deserved I think. Oh, and we had a big storm with lots of snow and ice and the roads are now a mess.

Day 2 - Tues - 8.1 miles at 8:54 pace, say what? Did I say the roads were a mess? It was like running on a frozen pond even with the Yaktrax's. I was sliding around and could only take a 1/2 or at most 3/4 stride. It was also cold and windy, so a slow slog of a run to start the program off. I also said hello to a policeman with his cruiser in the ditch where he missed the turn on the slick roads. He didn't look too happy but agreed we need more salt on the streets. I didn't offer to push because the tow truck had just arrived.

Day 3 - Weds - 11 miles at 8:38 pace, avg hr 133. This is one of the bread and butter runs in the Pfitz programs and I've found these mid-week medium long runs of 11 to 16 miles can be a real challenge. After a certain amount of nervous trepidation because of the roads and weather I was off. By heading out of town the footing was actually better because of the wide edges that get plowed. The 1st few miles were a struggle to get rolling but soon I was able to settle into a nice rhythm though slow. At least it was more of a 3/4 stride day and at -10C (15F) with no wind it almost felt balmy. Before I knew it the deed was done and I was glad to have survived without falling down (that almost happened later in my street boots but no damage done).

Looking ahead I see a couple of easy days with 5 milers sandwiched around a 9 mile run. This is to be followed by the weekly long run of 'only' 15 miles which I'm positive Andrew simply won't allow. I guess we'll just have to be flexible, especially with the holiday season upon us.

Seasons greetings and happy holidays to all!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Slow Burn

I've been a bit of a slacker lately when it comes to updating this blog but not so much on the running front. Since you last heard from me I've managed another 50+ mile week and 2 long runs with Andrew on our favorite Boyden Lake route. I took this picture today at the end of the 20 miler before he had a chance to melt off and feast on my little treats. We both agreed that the pre-blizzard weather today was 'pleasant' despite a temperature of -12C (10F). This may be a little incomprehensible to some readers from warmer climes but after dealing with colder temperatures made worse by constant wind, today's slightly warmer day with almost no wind felt near balmy! The 5 layers of clothes and warm head/hand gear also helped!!

The past week was my last pre-training buildup before beginning the 18 week program that takes me to Boston. My wife has noted that she can't tell the difference between my 'not' training and 'actually' training routines. Andrew suggests accepting this as a compliment but I wonder what would happen if I actually took complete time off instead of just cutting back. My terminal 'not' training week went like this: 18 mile long run, rest day, 8 mi, 6 mi, 9 mi, 5 mi and 7 mile for a total of 53. This included one run on the treadmill at a 9:00 pace making Coach2 happy with an average pace for the week of about 8:30.

Today's pre-blizzard run was another 17 mile loop of Boyden plus a 3 mile filler at the end to give the desired even number. We started a bit early at 6am US time so I could make it home before the predicted weather hit. As a result, it was still dark for the 1st 4-5 miles with the surroundings in the quiet back-country roads slowly became more and more visible. We had a very relaxing, enjoyable run with a more usual flow of conversation and laughter this week compared with last week's Silent Sunday. Besides the usual 'bad' jokes, I had lectures on the value of money and how the banking system works and more opinions of the values of slow consistent training, all very entertaining and interesting (really!). My knee has been a non-issue lately, which is great, but the sore hamstrings continue to bother me and slow my pace. Self massage on the run helps but I really need to do some more post-run stretching and introduce my fingers to my toes once in awhile. I liken the feeling to a slow burning sensation that you can almost ignore as it builds to a certain level and never goes away until I stop. I can put up with it and manage the extra miles but it would be nice to run without the discomfort. However I survived and before we knew it, our little run was done, it was only 9am (US), the snow was just starting to stick. We then savored a nice cup of hot coffee and tasty treats. Mmmm! What a great way to start a day and end another week of 'not' training.

Tomorrow marks the start of the Boston plan. It will be either a complete rest day if I go with Pfitzinger or will be 1 hour of very easy recovery running if I go with the Andrew plan.

Stay tuned and have a great week!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A pain in the ???

Another week, another 50-some miles.

We got lambasted with a nice winter storm on Monday and I took these pictures while breaking trail on the way to work on Tuesday. It was slow going with drifts up to my knees in spots but it's very pretty. We even had some snow rollers in our front yard with some snowball size balls that looked like they were going uphill. This is apparently a rare phenomenon. I thought it might have been someone playing a joke but I guess it was just nature doing it's thing again.

So you can imagine it required some creativity to get my runs in.

I'd already had a good start with my long Sunday run with Andrew. It was cold, it was windy, my knee hurt, my hamstrings ached, my back was twinging but it was a memorable and fun run. Is it the bad jokes that take the edge off? When he told me the one about 2 herring trying to get to Fenway Park in Boston I just about went off the road into the ditch! You may not know but my real job is that of a herring biologist for fisheries and this was just too close to home. 20 miles and one delicious brownie later the deed was done, what a guy but he tells it just like it is!

Monday rest and big storm - walked to/from work

Tues - walk to/from work and jump on the treadmill for 5 easy miles when I got home after helping Jo finish shoveling our driveway. It just seemed easier than dodging traffic and sliding around. I broke out my newest pair of Mizuno Wave riders which will now be reserved for the treadmill alone during the winter and likely will be used at Boston. At least they'll stay warm and 'dry' until April.

Weds - 8 mile/66:10 minute run from work around town. It was sunny and about -4C with a light wind and the roads were surprisingly good and mostly bare. Felt good and the knee was fine but I seemed to tire over the last mile or so for some reason. Played some volleyball that night and was able to stay out of trouble.

Thurs - a long busy day at work and got home a little late. Jumped on the mill for an easy 5 miles while watching the news and kept the pace around 830 to 800/mile. It's easy and convenient but kind of boring and 'seems' to take forever to just do a few miles.

Friday - more time on my hands at work so repeated the exact same route as Weds but this time with my Garmin measured as 8.1 miles in 65:30. The weather and road conditions were almost identical and I felt like I was pushing the effort a bit but only made up 40 seconds. The run felt good though and the knee was mostly ok.

Sat - just an easy 6 miles with temp at a crisp -5C and little wind. There was some payback for the extra effort on Friday because the legs were heavy and the effort seemed to be high for the slow 8:45 pace.

Weekly summary - good week with 52 miles all at easy base building pace. I'm looking at another week like this and then starting the Pfitzinger 18 week: 70 miles or less plan. I'll add extra miles to it, especially the long runs with Andrew and may tweak some things but this has worked for me in the past. It won't be a big change in what I normally do and so I can't expect much in the end result. I'm OK with that as Boston is really a race I like to enjoy and not have to worry about trying to race or do a 'time' in. I'll save that for next fall in PEI.

Have a great week! Enjoy the snow if you're lucky enough to have any!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tis' the Season

Only 24 more sleeps...

Just thought you also needed to know that there are only 142 days left to go to the Boston Marathon on April 21. My original post title was going to be '112 days to the 112th' but that doesn't make sense. My countdown timer had gone wacko for some reason so I pulled out a real paper calendar and used my fingers and toes. On Monday it will be exactly 20 weeks to go. That's less than 5 months or 14 x 10 day cycles. It just goes to show that you should never trust a computer program. I had to add an extra month in the date to get it to work correctly.

BTW - I got my new timer from Bob and he better get cracking for the Disney Marathon in only 12 days (NOT!) Bob, you also have your comments turned off on us so I couldn't leave you a wake up call.

The past week has been a fine easy running week for me. I got a total of 50 miles in 6 runs and will continue to edge the mileage up for the next few weeks before I start my dedicated Boston marathon 18 week plan. The knee issues seem to have gone completely away now that I've switched to newer shoes and only had one or two 'pings' all week. Then again there always seems to be some little aches and pains that appear and then tend to go away if you just ignore it (right Thomas?).

Weds - roller coaster weather continued with a drop from +9C to -4C as I just did an easy 7 mile around town loop from work. Even managed to shower and get back in time to the meeting that had adjourned for 'lunch'. It's a good thing that the service in local restaurants can be slow and they were late getting back!

Thurs - roller coaster up with temp of +5C today. Another lunchtime 7 miles and back again for the same meeting which was still going on and on

Friday - meetings finally over and so I took a little extra time to do 9 miles with 4 miles at a tempo effort (although the pace was barely marathon pace at 7:15 to 7:45). Roller coaster down to -2C with strong westerly winds. The legs and knee was perfect and I had that 'pleasantly tired' feeling that Lydiard talks about after the run. It's a great feeling but only happens rarely.

Sat - easy 5 miles this morning with the roller coaster grounded out now at -4C and strong northerly wind making windchill of -13C (or 9F). The extra layer and neck protector came in handy on the return leg into the wind.

Now just resting up and keen to get out early with Andrew around Boyden Lake in the morning. It's going to be cool -10C (14F) with moderate winds (10-20mph) forecast in the morning so we'd better have a few extra layers ready.

Have a great week everyone! Christmas is coming (too fast) !!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Roller Coaster

There's been a lot of up and down with both the weather and my running lately. We've had 10+ degree swings on a regular basis making it hard to figure out what to wear. Today for example it was +9C (48F) during my lunchtime run around town as I ran in shorts and a long sleeved shirt. Tomorrow's forecast high is -4C (25F) with a strong northwest wind which will bring the feel like temps down even further calling for at least a few extra layers.

My blogging has also been a little erratic with long pauses between my posts. I'm tempted to just do short little daily updates like Andrew has been doing but there really hasn't been much to write about. Total miles last week were a bit down with only 41 miles in 5 runs. Since the MDI marathon there has been a slow mileage build with weekly totals of 27, 35, 41, 50 and now down to 41. The down week was partially due to missing a run and because I was taking it a bit easy on the knee issue that came up. Hopefully that's past and the build to Boston can now continue.

Sunday's long run of 16 miles around town was long and boring without my usual company. The lack of running companions can make even a medium long run seem to take forever. It was also a slow run with an average pace of 8:34 and my stupid knee started 'talking' to me again over the last mile. I'm not sure what the whole story is here but it seems to come and go almost at random. I've been running in some older shoes that have close to 700 miles on them and will try retiring them to see if that helps. I'm also committed myself to taking an extra day's rest after any days where 'it' starts acting up.

Monday - rest day, no problem!

Tues - todays run was another ride on the roller coaster and this time it was way up. As I said before, the weather was perfect with shorts and long sleeved shirt attire. I was also wearing the relatively new Loco shoes which have only 60 miles on them to date. Started out very easy for the 1st 20 minutes and then was ready to pick up the pace. It was fun to do a series of 1 min, 2 min, 3 min at tempo pace followed by the same times at an easy jog. This was the first bit of faster running since the marathon and things felt great except for the breathing being a bit labored. The knee and hamstrings were perfect and maybe this is exactly what was needed to shake out the doldrums. Total of 6.1 miles in 48:20 (7:55 pace, avg HR 138). Great run and I'm 'allowed' to run again on the 'morrow.

145 days to go... Might be time to think up a plan. Have a good week!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A normal weekday run

Today's run looks something like (maybe even exactly like) this:

Point Loop from SABS at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

which also has some geo-linked pictures if you click or point to the right dots.

It was a nice easy paced run at my 'just run and don't pay attention to the gadgets pace'. The weather was a bit cool around 3-4C and I was a little bit under-dressed in shorts, long sleeve shirt and a windbreaker. Could've used my gloves and headband but I made a last minute decision to ditch them because the sun was peaking out. Total of 6.1 miles in 49 minutes and the knee was fine!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another weekly roundup

I seem to be having some issues with blogger. It won't let me edit my last post so I'll start a new one. I hope it's going to be short as it's been a long day.

I had a great/enjoyable/relaxing/fun run with Andrew this morning as we meandered around the old lake once again. The 17 miles went by in a flash and were almost effortless. My average heartrate was only 129 which was a few beats lower than Andrews but not quite enough to account for our age difference. You see I'm a bit older and so should be slower, right? Actually, pace or competition is never an issue in our runs and we always go along at the ideal speed for the day and today it was me always 1/2 step ahead according to the shadows.

Andrew also has let the cat out of the bag or at least has piqued her curiosity about my latest pseudo-injury. I'm not calling it anything yet because it hasn't yet cut my runs short but it (my sore right knee) has been a bit of a pain all week. It came without warning out of left field and seems to come and go almost at random. For example today it was 'there' when I woke up, but didn't show up until mile 3-5 of our run as a bit of a dull ache, disappeared during the hilly 2nd part of the run and then was replaced by the usual old tight hamstrings of before. Post run it's been totally fine and I'm not worried (yet).

This past week's running was a total of 50 miles in 6 runs as I slowly ramp the base up for Beantown. The runs varied between 5 and 8 miles and even managed to run a very slow recovery run with average heartrate of 127 at a pace of 8:44. Andrew thinks I can go even slower and gave me some good tips today! Go figure! Most runners are trying to figure how to go faster and here we are scheming on how to try to go slower!!

I'll do my best but no promises. Have a great week out there.

Boyden Lake re-visited

It's only been 3 weeks since our last run here around Boyden Lake in Perry, Maine.
I've found a cool site that has let me upload my GPS data and create an interactive map.
Boyden Lake Nov. 18, 2007 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nasty nor'easter and Sunday run

It's been about 90 minutes since coming in from the cold and I'm finally starting to feel really warm again with feeling in all my fingers and toes. Well maybe a slight exaggeration but when the run was over it was all I could do to unlock the door into Steph's building and it was even more difficult to untie my shoes. But I digress, perhaps we should start at the beginning when the alarm went off at 7:15am and Cody and I looked out the window to see the damage from the night's storm.
It doesn't look so bad, now does it? What's a little bit of snow? Besides the temperature is on the plus side and this would be the 1st wintry run of the season which is usually a very pleasant experience. Memories of quiet runs along empty paths with each footstep cushioned by the layer of freshly fallen snow came to mind but these would soon be purged by howling winds, cold driving rain/sleet and slushy wet roads.
Did I turn around and go back to bed? Did I cut the run short after a few miles of abuse? I'm afraid not. The idea of a 16 mile run was firmly implanted in the psyche and it would take more than a little bit of weather to deter me today. Why are runners such a stubborn lot anyway? Perhaps it's a defective gene, maybe it's an unresolved childhood issue or more likely it's just a lack of common sense.

So after a nice cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal I geared up with my warm long sleeve top, shell jacket, loose pants, gloves, hat and a warm hunter orange toque. The 1st miles went by almost pleasantly with only the gusty wind of 20-40 mph to deal with. I avoided the worst of it by dropping my bottle at the trail head and running with the wind as my stiff joints and muscles slowly warmed up. The temperature was around 2-3C (35-38F) and the Confederation trail was covered in a 1-2 inch layer of wet snow/slush with puddles thrown in at random for good measure. Within minutes my shoes were thoroughly drenched and about 2 lbs heavier. Are we having fun yet?

After a couple of kilometers the trail ended in downtown Charlottetown and I made a u-turn returning the same way but now with the gale of wind in my teeth, though occasionally sheltered by the trees along the trail. A steady cold rain also started at this point and didn't let up for the remainder of the run. The journey was made slightly more pleasant by my handy Ipod and the Nov. 4th episode of Phedippidations, but was ominously titled "Things to do Before You Die". (Still not getting the hints are we?) The next several miles were on the tough side and the empty trail seemed to only get sloppier as I continued out of town. Incidentally I was retracing parts of the PEI marathon course which also runs along this trail. Some sections were bare and well sheltered while others were quite exposed with slush puddles and howling winds. Fun eh? I stubbornly continued until 8 miles had passed before making the 1/2 way turnaround.

The return leg was a little better with the wind now at my back but it also gave the rain a chance to more thoroughly soak my clothes from another angle. My pace increased marginally as I tried to keep warm but a gradual tightening in my hamstrings prevented any real speed from happening. Slowly the miles ticked off. At 13 miles I was faced with a decision to turn right and go 1/4 mile to a warm sheltered apartment or to stubbornly continue on for a 1.5 mile out and back to get my 16 miles. There was no contest, I continued on... After the final turnaround things started to shut down, starting with my watch malfunctioning, then my ipod and of course the rest of the carbon unit soon followed before my final crash landing at the door of the apartment. Total of 16.2 miles in approx. 2hr 20 min, avg HR 133.

Over the entire 2 1/4 hours I did not see one other soul, except late in the run, a man was walking his dog near the university and of course cars with unseen persons giving me curious wondering looks of pity, amazement or worse. It was quite the run and I'm glad it's over but I'm also glad that I did it too. How was your day? I wonder how Andrew and Marc made out this morning. Last I heard Andrew was about to wake Marc up and drag him out for 17 miles. I hope the conditions were a bit better in Down-East Maine.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Still kicking around

It's been awhile since I've had the inclination or time to do a post, what with all the traveling and work lately. Still getting the runs in but there's not really much to say about them, just slowly ramping the mileage in my usual long reverse taper after a marathon. The past few weeks totals were only 35 and 40 and the plan is to work up to about 60/wk in the next month.

The trip to Ottawa was great and we had a nice visit with our 2 sons who are now living there, one working and the other in 1st year university. Besides attending the mandatory meetings that I went up there for we had time to attend a raucous afternoon session of Parliament with Question Period and more info about it here. After the yelling and catcalls ended things settled down and we had a chance to here our local MP Greg Thompson and Minister for Veterans Affairs give a very moving speech to launch Veterans Week. The mood in Parliament was very different for this speech and was quiet and respectful with a round of applause at the end.

My runs in Ottawa were good and was able to run along the canal or the river on each day of my visit. I even got up early one day before sunrise and had a fantastic run across the river with a stunning view of Parliament hill all lit up with the stars and moon as a backdrop. If only I'd had a camera then! On Sunday I did a 15 mile (2hr) run along the canal in the early morning with temps of just 1C. At least it was calm and sunny but I did get thirsty with only one bottle of water for the run.

This past week has just been short easy runs of between 5 and 8 miles.

This morning it was just 6 miles in 56 min. (8:28 pace) as I vainly tried to keep my HR below 130. Average was 132 for the run and anything slower and I'd be walking. Maybe I need some lessons from Andrew on how to go slow and easy (should I walk up the hills?).

Then we made the trip to PEI to visit Steph for the weekend. She gave us an in-depth tour of the vet school and also introduced us to her assigned beagle. She takes it for walks and is teaching him tricks as part of a behavior class.

Here's Stephanie with Betty who is one of the more sookie dogs that craves attention and is trying to get up in her lap.

On tap for the morning is another longer run of 15-16 miles, hopefully after the nor-eastern passes through. We're getting a bunch of wind, rain and even snow tonite and I'm hoping it clears by the morning. We'll see what happens but I'll get it in somehow, sometime and might even have time to blog about it.

Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boyden Lake revisited

Sunday's run was a welcome return to our old haunts around Boyden Lake. Andrew and I met up early around 7am, just after the sun had come up. It was a perfect sunny day with mild temperatures and light winds. After a short discussion about the correct time of day (Andrew's office clock was out by 2 hours) and the right direction we were on our way.

You can see our route around the lake here as plotted up by the active trainer website and it comes out quite accurate to what our garmins calculated. We ended up with a nice 13.3 miles in 1:47 (8:01 pace) and never really pushed the pace at all. The whole way it seemed like we were just at a jog/trot and the conversation stream never ended. It was a great run as usual but no real big highlights to tell, very little traffic, calm sunny and almost warm, got a little tired and stiff at the end but otherwise felt fine. We're both looking forward to many more (and longer) runs like this over the coming fall and winter but it'll be a few more weeks until I can get back due to some travel trips I've got planned.

Monday - rest day, annual medical checkup with my family doctor and all systems are go. There are issues in my family history that I need to keep a close eye one and so it's a good idea to do this on a regular basis.

Tues - easy 5 mile run on my bango-tight legs. I'm going to get some physio or massage soon to deal with this soon before it gets any worse. Still the easy pace came in at 7:44 while trying to go slow.

Weds - another easy run or 6 miles (7:56 pace) while trying my best to keep the heart rate down low below 135. It's not easy to run that slow/easy but I tried. Avg HR=137

Tomorrow we're off to Ottawa for a long weekend and we'll get to visit with the 'boys' and I'll also be able to run some of my favorite trails in the National Capital area. They treat runners and bikers very well there!

See you later and have a good run!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Recovery week 2 (and still creaky)

This is the latest addition to our living room, an original watercolor we picked up when down to Mount Desert Island. It's a local scene by a local artist that's just the right size to fit over our fireplace mantel but more importantly we both liked it!

My running this past week has deliberately been reduced and low key. I've been doing alternate days of rest and running in an effort to get fully recovered before I start building up some base mileage for Boston. One consistent factor that seems to remain is an overall tightness and some deep soreness in the legs. Until this is gone and the legs start to feel fresh after my short easy runs I won't consider the recovery phase over. Right now I'm planning on 4 weeks of just easy running.

This past week:
Sunday - 1 hour run, slow pace and got very tight and stiff by the end of it
Monday - rest
Tues - easy 5 miles, about 8min pace, again tiring and sore at end of run
Weds - rest
Thur - 1 hour+, 8mile run, again very tight legs and had to stop and stretch at 6 miles after I developed some cramping in the calves and hamstrings. I was able to continue but only at a very easy pace.
Fri - another rest day
Sat - easy 5 miles, a bit better today with the legs tight at first but better later in the run. I was then 'recruited' to jump in the pond to help put it away for the winter but used waders instead of bare legs in the cold water (about 10-15C).

I was reading Nate Jenkins blog last week and was blown away by some of his numbers, especially the amount of marathon pace or faster that he had done in the past 6 weeks (103 miles). It was a rainy day in St Andrews today and I had some time to go through my training log to see how I compared. Of course my average mileage was only 50/week over the past 20 weeks, compared to Nate's 100+ for 30 weeks. However, I kept up in the amount of faster running with about 70 miles at or faster than marathon pace for the 6 weeks before MDI. On average this worked out to 25% of total mileage which was more than I expected. Anyway I thought it was interesting and you can see it in the plot above.

Boyden Lake calls for the morning and Andrew and I are planning a shorter run. We'll probably do about 90+ minutes and 12 miles at a nice easy pace (are you reading this Andrew??).

If you get a chance please give a shout out to Kate who is all nerved up to run her 2nd marathon in Auckland, New Zealand. And don't forget Grellan who is running his 4th marathon in Dublin but is on tender hooks due to some injury issues. Good luck to them and others who are racing or preparing to race!

Have a great week all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gone Loco

Finally got off my lazy butt and out for the 1st little run since the MDI marathon. The pictures are now up on the website and you can find Andrew, Marc, Jamie, Katy and me. I also got to try out my new Loco shoes which I picked up at the expo for a good deal. So why Loco running shoes? Maybe it matches my needs being lightweight, functional, in a style that stays the same and of course the price was right. I tried them on for fit and did a little jog in the parking lot but held back from wearing them the next day. But I easily could have as they worked perfectly for today's run.

Since MDI, there has been no running, taking 3 days off, as much to rest up the mentally as physically. There has actually only been some minor soreness and I could easily have run on any of the days but it's finally time to take some time off. The next 4 weeks will just be very easy runs with alternate days of running and rest and adding in extra days or miles, only if the urge is irresistible. Yesterday's 'jog' was all of 4 miles in just under 32 minutes despite trying to keep the pace slow. It just seems that my falling off the bus or plane pace is stuck at 8min/mile lately... I also hopped into the cool pond after the jog/run and it was cold at first but felt really nice after a few minutes. Should I try this in the winter after my 20 milers? (I don't think so)

Not much else going on. Took the day off today and it's supposed to pour rain tomorrow but should clear by Sunday. In a couple of weeks we'll probably start the Boyden Lake winter long run routine again and I'm looking forward to that already.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MDI remembered

The race itself is still playing itself out in my mind as one of the best marathon experiences of my career to date. It wasn't especially fast and there were no age group prizes or awards to be had but the memory of it seems to be seared into my brain for some reason that's hard to explain. The chance to run with good friends was the key factor and even though we didn't get to finish together as I had 1st dreamed, the journey to the finish line was varied and interesting for each of us. I would venture to say that each of the Three Blind Moose and the Mountain Goat were totally recharged by the experience and ready to move on to future goals with even more energy and enthusiasm.

Pre-race and the start:
I arrived at the village green near the start about 50 minutes before the start with plenty of time to find Jamie and then we both were directed to Andrew's nice warm room by his kind daughter. We relaxed there, a mere 50 ft from the start line, until Lauren said that it was 10 minutes to 8 and shouldn't we get going? Grudgingly we agreed and shuffled along to search for the still missing Marc. Moments before the gun we met up, shook hands and then were off like a herd of turtles. Given the little lecture the night before by 'Joannie', we had reconsidered the idea of running the entire race together and our plan for the day was somewhat 'open' at this point. My personal plan had ranged from either running with Jamie as long as I could to hanging with Marc and Andrew and conserve energy for the 2nd half. The 2nd option seemed much more palatable especially given my short recovery since Saint John.

Mile 1-12:
This 1st part of the marathon was much like our long runs together but for some reason we lost Andrew almost immediately off the back despite our pedestrian pace. You can read Andrew's report for his reasoning but we normally do lose him in the woods for awhile on any 'normal' long run (so par for the course). Marc and I cruised along nicely and before we knew it 5 miles had passed and the pace had dropped without any noticeable effort. It's always a good sign when you barely notice the mile marks and they still seem to be coming quickly. About this point we were joined by our lost friend and the next few miles were a confusion of jokes, laughs and continuous conversation as we passed runner after runner in full flight. At one point our man Andrew decided he needed to stretch his legs and started to pull away from us. Again, this little episode is nicely described by in A's blog as I sprinted ahead to reel him back in. He literally tells it like it happened as I told him to 'stop and wait for Marc!' Amazingly, he did and the next thing we were cruising along in formation for some of the best pictures ever taken of the 3 Blind Moose. A now worn out phrase, but simply 'priceless' is a close description.

Mile 12 to 17:
After our encounter with our friendly race photographer, 'all bets were off' and we slowly drifted apart as we began to focus on our own pace and individual running. No words were exchanged and soon we were all out of sight of each other. I found myself comfortably at 7:45-7:55 pace over the next 8 miles as I passed the 1/2 in 1:50:43 and continuously overtook runner after runner. At one point counting 'roadkill' was a distraction but I kept loosing count and gave it up for awhile. The scenery along the course was amazing with the fall colors, the dark blue-black ocean water, and skies. Before I knew it we were at the end of the closed to traffic section of the course along the fjord and it was another nice encounter with my personal coach and photographer.
Miles 17-21:
More 7:50's as I continued to feel good and pass runner after runner. Only rarely do I remember a marathon feeling this smooth for so long into the race. The course was getting hillier now and there was a steep little rise right at mile 20 that took some extra work but the reward was a good crowd, another photo and a nice downhill next mile in 7:47.
Miles 21-25:
This was where the course turns into a real brute with a long string of hills that just keep coming at you. The runner traffic had now thinned a bit but my passing ways continued and I had not been passed since leaving Marc back at mile 12 or so. Despite increased effort the pace now slipped to 8:05 to 8:20 as I tackled each mile, each hill and each runner one at a time.
One nice interlude was an accordion player near the top of a stretch of hills near mile 23 that helped to keep my spirits up. My legs were now starting to tighten and almost cramp but some quick 'on-the-fly' rubs seemed to help loosen things enough to provide relief. My goal to get to mile 24 and enjoy the downhill finish was dashed when reaching this point I saw only another stretch of seemingly unending hills! I had misread the course profile and had another mile to go up before relief was to be had. Head down again and I soldiered on looking for more roadkill.

Mile 25 to finish:
Was that footsteps I heard? I finally reached the landmark 'Top of the Hill Restaurant' where the course finally started to go DOWN nicely for a solid mile. Still knocking off runners but either that's an echo of my footsteps or I'm getting tracked down myself... I don't look back and start to increase my pace as much as the downhill grade will permit. A quick glance confirms that the pursuer is for real and a female looking strong and fresh. Damn, I don't want to be racing the last mile like this! Mile 25 in 7:13. The course now leveled out slightly with a slight rise (aka hill) with the finish still out of sight. We were also zig-zagging past more runners, traffic cones, traffic cops etc as I continued to do my best to keep her at bay. She remained one step behind as finally the finish stretch came into sight. We both now picked up the pace even more and the sprint to the finish began. It I was going to be passed now it was going to have to be earned and in the final few meters I managed to pull away slightly at the end. It felt more like the end of a 200m sprint than a marathon as my legs went wobbly for the final few steps.

After we both got over our gasping for air we shook hands and high fived each other on a good finish. My competitor placed 2nd in her age group for the 19-29 women. What a crazy way to finish a marathon (last 0.15 mile at 6:15 pace)!

It's now 2 days later and my recovery is going really well. I'm already thinking of when and how to get that 1st little run in and whether I'll be able to fit in another 10k or something before the end of the year. But first more recovery for a few weeks and then slowly get back into some easy running for a few months before gearing up for Boston.

Photos from the pre-race tour of the course, the guest speakers at the pasta dinner and the race itself are here for your viewing enjoyment. The race results are here.

Have a good week! It's been quite a ride so far.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

MDI marathon

What an absolutely gorgeous marathon course and a perfect weather day to boot! We had temperatures between 42-52F (6-12C) with mostly overcast and light-medium winds from 10-15mph.
We were honored to have Maine native and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit-Samuelson speak at the pasta supper. She gave a great talk and had some good advice that we all took to heart.

I just have time to post a few pics and comments for now with more analysis later. The 3 Blind Moose and the Mountain Goat all started with different criteria for success. Jamie was the 1st across the line in a strong 3:21.

And here are the 3 Blind Moose all together at the 11.5 mile mark.
Andrew looking good around 17 miles. Andrew finished next in a 3:2x (24-28 something not sure)
Here's Jamie around the 17 mile mark just steaming along.
Our new friend Katie, a friend of Jamie's had a great race and got her BQ too!

Here is the end of my sprint finish with the girl who pushed me really hard over the last mile just behind. I hadn't been passed since mile 11 or so and wasn't going to get 'chicked' at the very end of the race! I finished in 3:34:16 with a 7 minute -ve split. Oh the joys of starting slow and easy but it was still a long way to the final finish line.

More analysis later, but right now I have a filet mignon steak waiting for me somewhere in Bar Harbor, gotta go!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More easy running (aka taper)

This past weekend was a holiday, Thanksgiving here in Canada and Columbus Day in the USA. It's our 1st holiday 'Home Alone' with just the two of us and we had a nice quiet time at home and not traveling for a change. It would have been fun to have some of the 'kids' here but that was not to be and so we had a small turkey and dressed up a table for two instead!

Running wise things have been rather quiet. I found a few pictures that were taken of me at the Saint John marathon on Sept. 23 and I don't look 1/4 as bad as I felt at the time. This is close to about mile 25 and I remember just praying for the finish line to come quickly so the hurting could stop. Makes you wonder why we continue to do this to ourselves doesn't it? Maybe we're all striving for that 'perfect' race where the effortless feeling in the 1st few miles can last forever or maybe we're just deluding ourselves.
I did see the camera and tried my best to hold my form as best I could...
Counting 1, 2, 3, 4, . . .
This past week at work we were part of the World Record Walk where everyone got out of the office for a few minutes and did a 1 kilometer walk. I helped a bit with the organizing part by setting up a safe route, validating numbers (we had 41 from a staff of about 60) and sending in the paperwork to the main event site.

ORN's since the marathon on Sept. 23
Week 1: 3 rest days, 3 mile jog, rest day, 5k race (20:31 chip)
Week 2: 11 mi, rest, 5mi, rest, 5mi, rest, 5mi for a total of 26.7 mile for the week!
Week 3: 13.1 mi, rest, 5mi so far. Plan for rest of week is 4mi ,rest ,3mi ,rest and MDI marathon on Sunday.

Be sure to visit and send cheers to Thomas in Ireland, who set a huge 16 minute PR, Mike in Arizona who 'should' have set a new personal best and Dallen in Chicago who was in great form but got absolutely hammered by the weather and thankfully survived in one piece. We expect big things from our friends in blogland and the efforts they put in are sometimes amazing to behold. I'm relieved that they all made it through safe and sound and will go on to fight the good race another day.

Have a great week all!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall Classic (Recovery) 5k

It's only been 6 days since the marathon and the week has gone very well with only minimal soreness in the legs. I took 4 zeroes this week and my only other run on Thursday went by like a dream and so surely a little 5k run should be OK, right? The Fredericton Fall Classic which is only about 90 minutes away was the perfect opportunity to test my little theory.

Jo and I were up early and arrived in lots of time before the race. My warmup was a bit more legitimate today taking about 15 minutes, including some easy jogging, stretching and a few strides. Everything felt good except for some tightness in the right hamstring which got some extra attention by more stretches and rubbing. This is a fairly small race and so I was able to line up pretty well where I wanted about 5-6 rows back from the front and before we knew it, we were off to the races.

My only strategy today was to run strong but not to strain (especially with the soreness in the leg but it never bothered me during the race) and to see what happens. I haven't run a 5k in years and had no idea of what kind of time I should be running. Looking up my recent marathon time I get a predicted 5k time of 20:38 which is not too far off my (soft) PB of 20:01.

The 1st kilometer was a little fast in 3:58 with just a swarm of people and legs and feet as I tried to find my pace and not go into oxygen debt too quickly. The course starts on the streets and then goes on the city trail until the last 200m of the return to the finish. The next km in 4:09 was a bit more work and was entirely on the trail as I tried to hold a steady pace hanging on to the runner in front. Before I knew it 2.5 k and the 1/2 point had flown by and the effort seemed to continue to be sustainable but the next kilometer slowed a bit to 4:11 as we did a funny out and back and the turn around for home. I'm not sure what happened next as km 4 came in at a slowing 4:25 but around this point I started getting pushed from behind and could hear some heavy breathing.

Only 1k to go and all my effort focussed on my breathing and form and just getting to the next landmark, end of the bridge, only 2 more intersections, now the last stretch where I did the warmup, final turn, at last the finish in sight, still that heavy (female) breathing, don't panic, hold the form, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 (repeat) (again). At last the finish, I can't believe that just happened!!

The 5k results are here and all the 5k pics Jo and I took are here. More than pleased with the result and felt great after the run, though it was HOK position for a few seconds as I recovered. These short races are over almost before you know it though. Love it!

Apparently their may be a method to my madness because the winner last weeks Marathon by the Sea, Alex Coffin was also at the race. Alex is obviously a top local runner but he's also a running shop owner (check out his website) and a great guy who is very involved with sponsoring and supporting NB running. We talked a bit about his recovery and his plan for the race which were "going well and we'll see". Alex won today's Fall Classic 10k pulling away from the 2nd place guy in the last 200m. Since I finished early, I was able to get the finishing shot and lots more shots of the 10k finish are here.
I guess it's not only me who's crazy about running! I'm thinking of a 1.5-2 hour long run in the morning. Can't let this fitness slip away can I? Have a good week all!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recovery going very well. Since the marathon on Sunday I didn't run a step or do a thing for 3 straight days although there was the temptation now and again. I'm really none the worse for wear besides a little soreness for the 1st day or so and some blistering around my big toe that was solved with a bandage until the swelling went down. There was none of this 'barely able to walk' syndrome or 'hard to walk down the stairs' and no need for ice or even ibuprofen. Strange but true!

Today, after work was my 1st effort at running and it went extremely well. I just did an easy loop of about 3 miles with no problem at all and it was a hard to not keep going a bit further. All signals were go, heartrate was low, effort was easy, cruising along at a nice pace, no obvious aches or pains; just some soreness in the deep leg muscles and around the hips. After just 27 minutes and barely even sweating the run was over before it barely started.

Curiously though, even a 1/2 hour jaunt gave me time to think a bit about things and some questions that have been put to me about my running and current plans for MDI. The general theme seems to be "Why run 2 marathons so close together?"Quinto Sol was curious when I 1st posted my plan back in June, Grellan wondered if I'm simply mad and Thomas has been more diplomatic and thought that I'd shown training marathons were doable before. So why did I do it and what is the plan for MDI?

  1. Why not?
  2. I had planned to run a fast marathon at MDI and use Saint John as a training run with 18 miles at marathon pace and then coast in but my training and fitness didn't warrant this. What I did end up doing was fairly close to my limit for the day but I didn't kill myself either as I was saving something for another day.
  3. There were lots of nice perks at SJ including free gear for doing the BQ thing and a chance to get in on the nice promotions for a Boston trip in the spring, plus I'd paid my two bucks!
  4. I guess I just Love 2 Run ;-)
MDI plans
  1. Have fun.
  2. Run with Marc, Andrew and Jamie. I was thinking that the best finish I could imagine at MDI would be the 3 Blind Moose crossing the finish line together with arms raised in joy!
  3. Support Marc (Like Lance). Remember at New York and all that Lance had to do was run? I was thinking Andrew and I could do that for Marc. "Water? Here you go Sir!", "More gatorade?", "Should I tell that lady to slow down and keep us company?", another joke? You know that Andrew is full of them. What do you think, Marc? It will be a blast!
  4. I can't wait ;-)
I signed up for another race tonite. There's a 5K in Fredericton on Saturday and I couldn't resist. I'm even going to take another day off tomorrow to rest up for it. I guess I just love to run...

Have a great week all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It just doesn't get any easier


It's over! The results are here.

3:25:45 which is an acceptable result considering my training (more later on the lack thereof)

5/14 in 50-59 age group and out of the medals but I won a box of chocolates and got a free hat for BQ'ing (again)

And it doesn't get any easier after 18 marathons and you'd think it might (more thoughts on this later too ;-)

Now for a few gory details before I keel over from a lack of beer and ice-cream.
Basic observations:
  1. Crazy zig-zagging figure 8'ish or maybe crazy 8 layout with lots of loops and turns where you'd run with the 5 or 10kers and then against traffic as the 1/2 marathoners came the other way. There was also a lot of overtaking of the 10k and 1/2 runners who had earlier cutoff's than we did. We got a good tour of the city if you happened to be looking around but my eyes were mostly on the pavement and runners in front of me.
  2. Heartrate, the reddish line shown as a % of max, was up there in the 80-90% range as I'd expect for this kind of effort but I paid little or no attention to it during the run. I ran by effort but more of a "what kind of effort can I sustain and make it to the finish line without crashing and burning (ie walking)
  3. Hills (green line)! Did I mention that any idiot that runs a marathon with hills is an .... idiot! Yes, me! Miles 20.5 to 24.5 were not fun to say the least. Why is it there always seems to be more uphill than downhill on a loop course?
We interrupt this blogcast for a delicious ice-cream break. Mmmm!!

The race or at least what bits stick out for me now:
  • Good starting weather conditions with fog and mist for 1st hour and then bright direct sun for the remainder bringing the temps from about 15C up to about 22C. Despite carrying a bottle and exchanging it along the route as well as drinking at most water stops (every 2 miles) I still got dehydrated
  • No warmup besides some stretching while standing in the bathroom line minutes before the start. The plan/idea was to do a cutdown warmup 1st 6 miles starting at 8:00 pace and working down to about 7:30 but this was quickly out the window with the 1st 2 miles in 7:30 each. Duhh!
  • With the 'warmup' behind me I settled in with a local Saint John runner, Vince who was going for about the same pace and times as me. We then proceeded to rattle off a bunch of 7:30's up until mile 10 when I backed off and told him to go ahead. He said, "Sure, see you later around mile 21 where you usually pass me" which turned out to be very prophetic.
  • For the next several miles I managed somewhere between 7:44 and 8:10 pace but it was really starting to seem like alot more work. I hooked up with a runner from PEI for a few miles but no luck today in finding any women to run with although I was passed by the #2 and was unable to respond. She couldn't have heard me anyway with the headphones plugged in.
  • Around mile 19-20 it really started to get difficult and I was reduced to simply putting one foot in front of the other and refusing to allow the body to overrule the mind and begin walking. My focus was on keeping the arms moving and counting exhales as the mile markers seemed to come slower and slower. And they did with the hilly section from mile 21-24 with splits of 813, 823 and 839 despite slowly increasing average heartrate.
  • Around mile 23 I rejoined with Vince as he expected and we struggled along together for another 1/2 mile before I completed the predicted pass as he faded a bit.
  • Mile 25 was a downhill 8:01 followed by a rolling struggle of 8:20 for mile 26. The final 0.2 was all downhill and the Garmin tells me it was sub-7 pace but that seems hard to believe.
  • The finish is always so sweet. Can I really stop now? And I don't think I could run another step.
After the finish, I didn't feel that great and started plying water and gatorade despite feeling a bit queasy. On the advice of one of the volunteers, "You look a little pale, Mike", I then made my way to the medical tent so I could at least sit down for a minute. It was so nice to sit down! After a bottle of H2O and sports drink I was checked over by the doctor and told that I could move on when I felt ready. Feeling a bit better I then attacked the food table with vigor, starting first with a very strong cup of Tim Horton's coffee and followed by basically everything on the menu.

Well that's all for now. I'm pleased with the result considering my checkered training over the summer. My mileage was good but there was a lack of much structured speed or marathon paced work. It might be time to take a bit of a break from all the training but that will have to wait until after MDI. It's only in 3 weeks but I can't wait to get on this beautiful course with my best running buddies and I'm sure my legs and feet (blisters) will heal by then ;-)

Have a great week all!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

MDI preview weekend

Beautiful seems inadequate to describe the Mount Desert Island marathon course. How about drop-dead gorgeous or breathtaking? It's the featured race of the month in this Oct's Runners World where they refer to the race as "The Big Sur of the East" which is high praise. But did they mention the hills? Oh yeah, there are hills and plenty of them but the scenery is definitely distracting too.
The plan called for a meeting of minds this weekend where the 3 Blind Moose and 1 Mountain Goat were going to take on the course in detail in preparation for the upcoming marathon in only 4 weeks. Jamie aka 'The Mountain Goat" has been very quick off the mark and has already put down his thoughts on our fun get together. While Marc and I were very comfortable in our dry hotel, with warm showers and tv with Red Sox coverage, this was the scene for Jamie and Andrew at the Blackwoods campground. Note the nice shiny tent in the background and the mini-tent for A up front. Now for a few gory details. After meeting up as scheduled on Saturday afternoon, we headed for the starting line which was conveniently located directly in front of our hotel. After a ready, set, go! we were off to the races, or at least the 1st 5.5 miles of the marathon course, and surprise, surprise there were some decent hills almost from the get go. It's a little scary way to start off a marathon and I'll have to remember to watch the effort over that 1st big climb on race day. It didn't seem to slow our group down too much today though as we cruised along at sub 8 minute pace. We had a good time, getting to know Jamie and mostly trying to keep up with the guy who comes by his goat status well deserved. That evening we had a great meal at the local pub with lots of pasta and beer as well as laughs and good times. We then hung out in the hotel room for a bit to plan the car shuttles and timing for the morning long run which was only hours away.

Morning and 530am wake up came before we knew it. After a car shuttle, coffee stop and water drops we were good to go by almost 7am and the story of this monster course continued exactly from where we left it only 14 hours before. It was still there though in all it's glory on this perfect morning. The weather was clear, cloudless and a bit cool (around 50F/10C) with us all in long sleeves to start. After some dancing around to get the group shots in sync we were off to the races once again. I have 2 more words for this course: relentless and distracting. The hills are just that, up/down, repeat but none of them are really that big. It's just that they keep coming and coming and there is little respite except for the distraction of the beauty of the ocean, forests and nature in general.
This is the course route and profile for the last 20.8 miles. Case closed ;-) Up/down repeat. The last few miles will be especially tough at the end of the marathon but your reward is a beautiful downhill finish (though a small incline near the end). We cruised the last mile at sub 7 today and from that you'd know we had a great run. Perfect weather, good friends, tough course but enough distractions to make it worthwhile!

I just had to stick in another pic from along the course route this morning from around mile 14 or so. Not bad, eh?It was a very good idea to do this test run and not go into the race cold. You can read and hear all about the course but there is nothing like experiencing it first hand. Right now, I can't wait for the race day to come so we can do this all over again. Great weekend and great run guys!

Have a fantastic week! I'm so stoked now!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Home at last

We're finally back home after 10 days away in Ottawa and the surrounding area. After getting my son settled we took a few days to tour around the area a bit. We first checked out the Rideau Canal by following it south from the capital toward Kingston. It was a perfect day along a beautiful waterway and I took a bunch of pictures as usual. The canal is now designated as a World Heritage Site due to it's historic values and original structures. From the website press release:

"Built between 1826 and 1832, the Rideau Canal was originally designated as a Canadian national historic site in 1924. It has a high degree of authenticity and integrity, as it is the only canal dating from the great North American canal-building era of the early 19th century that remains operational along its original line and with most of its original structures intact. It is also one of the first canals designed specifically for steam-powered vessels. It is an outstanding technological achievement in terms of its ingenious design and its high-quality construction."

We then wandered around the Thousand Islands area and took one of the many boat tours that get you close to the action. The 1 hour boat ride included close up views of some impressive mansions and also some very small cottages which barely fit on their little piece of real estate. We then spent a bit of time in Kingston and visited Fort Henry before heading back to Ottawa for my conference.
Where we checked into our snazzy hotel at the conference location. This is the front desk to give you some idea of the decor which was simply incredible. I'm glad that I was a sponsored delegate here at the Hilton Lac-Leamy and not paying the shot myself. Simply crazy!
It was also conveniently located next to the network of trails that runs through the Gatineau. I only had to wake up, take the elevator down and step out the back door to be in the pathways and wooded trails. On the second day I even ran into a deer along the path, and this is in an area surrounded by highways and the city. Despite the travel and work I'm still getting the miles in still but not much else to write about. Total of 56 last week in 7 runs and including a longish 16 mile run on Sept 2.

So far this week I've got 18 miles in on Sunday before heading back on the long drive home. On the way thru Calais there was time to look up injured Andrew to firm up plans for our weekend scouting trip to Mount Desert Island. We're still going to run parts of the marathon course in preparation with Jamie and Marc also planning to come. It should be a fun weekend and hopefully the weather will co-operate and not rain too much.

Have a great week!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ottawa trails and tales

Another busy week and we find ourselves in downtown Ottawa for the weekend and most of the week. I'm on holiday until Thursday when I'll be attending a science conference for a few days across the river in Hull. Meanwhile, we're staying with my oldest son who is renting a house very close to the downtown core, in fact it's only about a 15 minute walk (or an 8minute jog) to the Parliament Hill.
Ottawa is Canada's capital city and has a ton of greenspace, bike paths and trails for biking, running and walking enthusiasts. I'm always trying to explore new areas every time I come here and should have brought my bike to use on the off days or just to be able to search out new places. When we're across the river, I'm planning to do some trails in the Gatineau Park area.
Here we are in a park just a few minutes away from Chris's on a walk right past the Russian Embassy. I was wondering about all the iron gates around the place when I'd run by it earlier in the day. We're playing a Swedish game called Kubb where you're basically throwing sticks and trying to knock down other sticks. It's more complicated than that but at our level, that's the basic strategy.

The other main reason for this trip, besides being a holiday was to deliver my youngest son to Carleton university. It will be a great new adventure and learning/growing experience for him that we're sure he's going to enjoy. The move into his room was very painless, with lots of help from orientation people all dressed up in pirate costumes which is the theme for Frosh week.
He has a nice room on the 4th floor and didn't take too long to get all setup.
The good bye's were hard but with his big brother close by, he'll be fine.
Since we're staying around for the week, we hope to get a 1st week report on Frosh week on Friday night, which will should be interesting.

Running? Yeah, still pounding away but only got 52 miles in last week in 5 days of running with
two zeroes due to a regular rest day and the 11 hour driving day to Ottawa. At least there was a good long run of 20 miles last week and a 1/2 decent cutdown run midweek where I dropped the pace over the run to near marathon pace. It's now looking like I'm going to have to re-assess my goals for the SJ and MDI marathons which are coming up fast. Just not enough quality miles in the log to justify any attempt for a fast marathon, which was my initial goal.

Time to go. Have a great week all!