Monday, January 29, 2007

3 blind moose

So much to say and so little time to say it... and I'm still very tired and need more sleep. This post will be mostly just the highlights and pictures.
The choice of wine was appropriate at many levels.
Marc's camp is, well a running camp to die for. Eat, sleep, drink, run, repeat.

The standard butt shot for the Pink Lady, pre run on Saturday morningIt was a little chilly but nothing we couldn't handle with the right gear. Andrew was showing his age a little too, don't you think?

After the run we scouted out the course for Sunday's long run. This is the view from the top of Tory Hill , which was the big climb we did. As you can see there are some big hills in this region of Maine. We're about 15-20 miles away from Sugarloaf Mountain which has an elevation of over 4000 ft.Here's the Garmin plot for Sunday's run with the elevation in green and my erratic heartrate in red. You can see our little rest breaks where the red line drops drastically, mostly for water and gear but also to avoid very large dogs. You'll have to check out Marc's blog for more pictures and the full story about those man eaters.

Between the beer, ice cream, bagels, coffee and naps we got two great runs in. We kept saying to Marc that he's so lucky to have all these great hills to work with but he just keep looking at us like we were nuts. There is only two directions around here, up or down, no flat and easy to be found anywhere.

Saturday morning was an easy 8 miles as an out and back or should I say down and up where I/we deliberately tried to run slow as we could. It was a cold morning -20C (-2F) but not a breathe of wind and we had a comfortable run with the right layering (once we got warmed up of course).

Sunday's run was another story. After taking our time getting ready with lots of coffee and food we were on our way into more hills. The final plan to park the car at a midpoint area of the run turned out to be a saving grace in this brutal 20 miler. The 1st mile was a gradual rise which then quickly turned into a really tough long climb with about a 900ft elevation change. The monster dogs were actually a nice rest break near the 1/2 way point up where we had a short flatish respite before an even more brutal downhill. My yaktraks were put to good use in maintaining myself upright with the light snowcover on the ground.

Of course going down only meant one thing and that was more uphills over even more treacherous backwoods logging roads. The lack of traffic made it a safe run from that point of view but the footing was tough for Marc and Andrew without cleats. But we soldiered on with no other options available to us, finally arriving at the car around the 14 mile mark. The final 6 miles got progressively more difficult and it was a great relief to finally be able to stop after doing an out and back to Marc's house. A run to remember guys! Thanks for a great weekend.

It's now more than 36 hrs since the run and I'm still tired and sore. Time to get some more sleep I think. Good running!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Making hay while the sun shines

And the fire is now burning brightly. It's cool having a remote with flame and fan setting controls but there still is a bit of trim work and likely room redecorating to come.

I'm all set for the running weekend with the guys, Downeast Andrew, Marc on the Run and possibly Jamie-Maine Runner down in southern Maine where the wind never blows and the sun always shines brightly, ha! The plan is to motor down on Friday and get some runs in on Saturday and Sunday between the eating, ice-cream, running movies and beer.

Thanks for all the interest and nice comments on my 'plan'. I've started to implement the details and so far it's been 100% except with the usual rearranging of days to fit my schedule. After Sunday's long cold run with Andrew, Jonathan and a drive by sighting of Stephanie the 1st day of the plan on Monday was a rest day! I also spent about 7 hours on the road driving my Mom back up to Bathurst from her appointment in Saint John. She's doing very well and it's really nice to see her on these long trips when we can get all caught up on things.

Tues was the long drive back home from Bathurst but it turned out to be very revolutionary in my thinking about how I approach running because of the podcast that I was listening to by Simply Stu. It's episode #52 and the idea is a bit hard to explain in detail but the short story is that Stu recently was tested at a high tech lab to determine his lactate levels while running and he was discussing the results with the physiologist Neal Henderson. He could tell that Stu overtrains on a regular basis before taking even one step on the treadmill and that his easy paces are never truly walking in the park easy when doing base work. As a result he does not improve because he never allows himself to rest and recover. You really should listen to it but what I got from this is that there is a place for easy running in my program and it starts today by using heartrate as a guide.

So... I arrived home all enthused to go for a run at an easy, easy pace (love it!) Since the sun was shining brightly with no wind at all I made it a medium long run of 14 miles, at the prescribed easy pace with heartrate below 135. There were also 2 marathon pace miles thrown into the day's schedule which came in at 7:17 and 7:10 each where the HR pushed up to about 150. Total time of 1:54 for 8:04 pace and felt great!

Weds - just an easy 1 hour run, again trying to keep the heartrate low as I meandered around town. Conditions were again calm and mild around -2C.

Thurs - 90 minute run today with hillwork. Started out with an easy 1 mile warmup and then ran at a strong effort up a 1/2 mile gradual hill of about 150 ft elevation. Finished each repeat with an easy jog down the hill. Repeated for 4 loops and then completed the 11 mile run with (you know) an easy run around town. It was cooler today, around -10C and a noticeable wind with a bite but felt good when it was at your back.

So far so good but I can see a few bumps coming up in the road with the weather and busy schedules. Good running and watch out for those SUV's and snowplows!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Plan of attack

Well, I'm glad this past week is finally over. The weather has been awful, brutal, miserable, blustery and cold (take your pick) but it is winter and that's to be expected. Running-wise the week was OK with a total of 62 miles but nothing with any speed/tempo except on the treadmill. Despite having had a recnet cutback week it seemed that I was tired and slow on most of the runs. Is it OK if I blame it on the icy snow covered roads?

Thurs - tired before the run, in fact it was tough even going up and down stairs at work. However, once past the 1st mile, I was able to complete the 95 minute run with 11 miles covered. Sloppy roads but warmer temp around -4C and light winds.

Friday - tired and sore from the slipping and sliding on Thurs and decided to can the scheduled 2hr run with an easy 5 mile loop. It's been awhile since I've had to call off a workout but you need to be able to take a break on occasion and save your energy for another day. It was an interesting run with conditions going from light rain, then sleet, then ice pellets and driving snow and wind by the end. Good thing it was a shortened run!

Sat - easy 1 hour run was the plan and I was feeling much better this morning. After cleaning off the 2-4cm of snow in our driveway it was off for a quick loop around town. The yaktraks again came in very handy on the icy roads as I meandered around. Ran across another runner, which is highly unusual in our little town and detoured to say hello. Turned out to be a visitor from Boston and we had an nice chat before veering off in different directions to finish our runs. Total of 10 miles in 84 min with temp of -5C and medium winds to make it interesting.

Sunday - today was the 'coup de gras' as far as tough runs so far this year. I met Andrew and Jonathan out at Boyden Lake in near ridiculous conditions of -15C with very strong NW winds for windchill of -25C (-15F). These are marginal conditions where there is risk of frostbite with prolonged exposure (duh). We organized our vehicles so that one van was at the halfway point with drinks and snacks stashed away and the others at our usual start and this turned out to be a saving grace later on. Jonathan has not been running much lately so Andrew and I met early for a quick 3 mile warmup to test our clothing in the conditions. By the time we got back Jon was just arriving and after a quick stop we were off with the wind strategically behind us.

Note - wearing 3 layers on top with a goretex jacket, running pants and goretex pants, balaclava, neck protector, fleece toque and gloves

The 1st 7 miles were reasonable with a slight cross or following wind. With our faces exposed the conversation was varied and understandable but once we hit the vans and geared up for the northern passage things changed very quickly. Balaclavas on, faces covered and all conversation was now muffled or completely unintelligable. As we came to a junction in the road with a choice of going north with the vans 9 miles away or going right with only 4 miles to go we made a vain attempt to start north into a driving headwind. This lasted all of about 100yds before the mutual decision was made to hightail it on a more direct route. The swirling gale still slowed our progress to a near halt on occasion but the cover of the wooded areas made this a much better choice. Another quick stop (with a coffee break even) Andrew and I then finished off the 20 miles by retracing our route back to my van at the Farmers Union. Oh boy, it was nice to stop and was that chocolate brownie EVER GOOD!

Meanwhile, I've also been busy coming up with a plan for the final 12 weeks to go for Boston. It's a mixture of what has worked in the past and a bit more consistency in the long runs and time on my feet week in and week out. Here goes:

Good running and stay healthy out there!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Just blab it out

After a relatively nice, easy recovery week it's back to the office both in the real world where you get paid for your efforts and in the play world, where, well you know. I'm having a bit of trouble coming up with interesting things to put in this thing so please bear with me if it's just the ORN.

Monday - rest day feeling fine. We had a decent snowfall (6 or 8 inches) on Monday with the schools closed at noon

Tues - bit of a cool day at -8C and windchill of -16C but got well layered up and had a nice if not slow run. The roads were very slippery and often felt like I was sliding back about 6 inches per step. And this is with my trusty Yaktrax in place. Without them I'd have been doing faceplants and snow angels. I think this is a nice form of resistance training that is much like running on sand dunes. Total of 8 miles in 71:00 but the heartrate was high for such a slow pace.

Weds - extreme windchill here today, around -30 in both C and F and was told by Coach not to even 'think' about running outside today. Why not? I can dress for it... Heard the usual 'freeze your lungs' stuff from co-workers and decided to go with the flow and run indoors on the treadmill. It's been awhile since I've used it because of our ridiculously mild winter and it took a mile or so to get into the rthym of the thing again. Started out at 7 mph (8:30 pace) and slowly ramped up the speed by 0.1 mph every 1/4 mile, working up to 8.6 mph (6:53 pace) before dropping down and starting up the scale again. It made for a nice speedy feeling (but sweaty) workout that lasted just 64 minutes for the 8 miles.

And that's all she wrote. Good running!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The long and winding road

First a quick peek at the custom oak mantle for our new gas fireplace. It is a beautiful piece of furniture that will soon be warming up our cold fingers and toes during the chilly winter evenings yet to come this winter. Of course the gas insert is yet to come, but soon.
On the running front, it was yet another long slow 20 miler; alone again with my trusty new Ipod. Winter has arrived and with temps around -8C (15F) I was in no hurry to get going this morning. When it's cold there is always time for an extra coffee, another blog to read, lay out the gear, charge up the tunes, check the weather again, etc. But once you get going with the enough layers, after a few minutes it was positively balmy ( right you are Zeke, we are getting soft with the mild winter thus far!).

Started the run with a 5 mile slow loop around town and was shocked awake around the 4 mile point while listening to Phedippidations to hear my blog being highlighted on his latest podcast. Cool, thanks Steve! Listen in next week for the story of George Sheehan (part 1). It woke me up a bit but didn't help my pace or energy level much as I made a quick stop for drinks and then continued out of town for another dozen miles. The hardest part of the run was arriving back home with 18 miles under my belt for another drink refill and still 2 miles to go. Somehow I managed to grab my bottle and turn back down the driveway to finish off the run. Average pace was 8:20 but felt more like 9:20's.

This makes it 10x20 but it's not getting much easier. Next week it will be back with the Boyden Lake gang and Jonathan is promising to come out with us. As long as he doesn't push the pace any more than Andrew it should prove to be a fun run. I've gotten very spoiled in the past year or so doing these long runs in a group setting. Previous to meeting Andrew I did 99.9% of my running and training alone, year in and year out as Boston or the next marathon approached. It really is so much easier when you share the pain!

Good running out there!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Lazy week

It's about time that I reported in with the weeks activities which have been slack on the running front. The idea was to take an easy week with 50% of daily mileage to give me a bit of a break and also to take the pressure to run off while at meetings all week. The plan seemed to work as it turned out to be hard to even get the short runs in. OK, short and sweet here goes.

Monday - rest day, dodgy drive to Dartmouth in a snow storm

Tues - meetings all day but able to co-ordinate a run with Anthony, our team captain for the Cabot Trail relay. He's only 2 weeks away from doing the Miami marathon and is very fit and ready to gun for his goal of 3:40. We had a great chat as we zoomed along the darkened streets but the run was over too quickly with much left to say. 5 miles covered and conversation to be continued.

Weds - crazy day with work and then a really rushed short run before going out to supper with collegues from the meeting. Went hard on a hilly out and back for 3.5 miles from the hotel and the pace was down to about 7:25 for the effort. The meal at Salty's was amazing!

Thurs - another crazy meetings all day , day finally over! Met Anthony again for another short run and again I spent most of the run just trying to slow him down a little. This guy is really ready to kick butt in Miami! After the run we met at a local Irish pub, Celtic Corner with great locally brewed beer and live music. It was a nice evening after a hectic week with good friends.

Friday - up early with time for my favorite run when I visit the Halifax-Dartmouth area which takes me between the 2 bridges and across the Macdonald bridge to the city of Halifax (screenshot below). The sun was just starting to come up and the crisp morning air made for a great 1hr (med-long run for this week). Then the long 5 hr drive to get home at last
Sat - time for a quick 30 minute run in the morning while waiting for our fireplace mantle to be delivered. It's a beautiful piece of furniture that now only needs the heat throwing device that will sit in the middle. Something tells me we'll be needing this soon as the cold arctic air rolls in from out west.

Total for the slacker week was 44 miles with 6hr of running. The body feels recovered somewhat with no aches and pains but there isn't much spring in the legs despite the low mileage. Perhaps a little work break will be in order to refresh the brain.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Home alone

All the preparations were made, breakfast laid out, coffee ready to start, spare gear packed, post run snacks chilling, and even woke up 2 minutes before the 6am alarm. Almost out the door but then decided to check my email and 'Oh, oh, Andrew's cancelling out sick with dizzy spells and general unwellness'. Darn, I hope that flu bug is not catching via email but glad that I double checked.

So, no great rush to get on the road and may as well have another cup of coffee and catch up on bloglines while waiting for the sun to come up. It's been kinda slow in blogland this weekend, either everyone is busy, sick or just not running and posting. Finally around 730 it was time to just do it. I was not particularly looking forward to 20 miles today and the missed opportunity to run with Andrew and Marc made the distance seem that much more daunting. My initial plan was to do a few 5 mile loops around town with pitstops at home for gatorade to break up the run a bit. I'd also loaded up my new ipod shuffle (very cute) with some ZZ Top and Phedippidations podcasts for company (very poor substitute for Andrew & Marc though).

The starting temperature was 3C (38F) with gusty westerly winds and the 1st 5 miles went OK with one quick stop to talk with a friend. On the return leg home I found there was still plenty of juice in the waterbottle and so veered off on the bare grass of our local golf course and then meandered around town again with trips to all the sideroads, cemetaries, trails and parks that could be found. As much as possible I prefer to stay off the pavement when and try to save my legs; that and the fact that it's time for new shoes with my best pair pushing 400 miles (others are at 700 & 800).

Finally after 13 miles I trudged back up my driveway for a refill of gatorade and courage before heading out the highway for the last leg of the journey. By this time the temperature had warmed up slightly to about 5C (43F) but there were still occasional patches of black ice here and there and the wind still remained strong (and it seems always in my face). The pace was quite slow today, likely feeling the effects of yesterday's intervals and also the lack of a fellow pace pusher. The music and podcasts helped keep the mind occupied and finally IT WAS OVER! Man, that seemed like a long way today! 20.1 miles in 2:51 for 8:30 pace including stops. That makes 9x20 mile weekends in a row and we'll be going for 10 next weekend with company this time, right A?

This coming week will be a rest week of sorts as I'm away for work meetings in Dartmouth, NS and it's time for a little recovery before the big push to Boston really begins. The plan is to keep the long run and rest day on Monday but to cut all my other runs by 50% by time. So runs of 30, 45, 30, 60, and 30 minutes are the plan with some strides & intervals thrown in. It will be a little strange running so short as I'll barely get warmed up most days.

Good running and watch out for that flu bug that's going around!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Weekly roundup

The strange winter weather continues here in the Maritimes. It was +9C (48F) this morning with a southerly breeze and light rain and fog so I was a little unsure as to what to wear. Ended up with long sleeves, light jacket and pants which was a bit much as I had to carry the jacket after a few miles. The plan for today was 1hr with a set of 10 x 1 minute efforts (5K'ish) with 1 minute breaks and so I eased out for the 1st 4 miles along the highway before turning back for home. This workout is alot harder than it appears on paper and my jog breaks soon turned into walk breaks so as to get the HR down a bit before it was time for the next effort. As per usual the last one felt better than the 1st but maybe it was the downhill with the homestretch in site. I was then home early for a Saturday morning and had time to prepare a wall for a new gas fireplace that's in the works. Hmm, perhaps we should consider an air conditioner instead?

Oh, and then there was Friday which seems to be the day for blown out runs for me lately. The plan was for a medium long 2hr run with 14-15 miles but it just didn't happen. No excuses but mainly due to work and a lack of time all that I could manage was 8 miles. There was also a bit of payback from the nice run that was Thursday's tempo run in shorts. It was a pretty tired and slow shuffle of a run, such as it was.

Finished off the week with a total of only 65, down from last week due to the medium long run getting cut short. Coming up on Sunday is another long one with Andrew over in Perry, Maine but unfortunately Marc has had to bow out. In fact the last I heard the poor guy was still flat on his back (or maybe still on his hands and knees) with the flu. Get well soon guy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What was that?

Wow! What a great spring day we had here today! At noon it was 10C (50F) with sunshine and light southwest winds so the decision to wear shorts and a long sleeve top was made for todays 90 minute effort. This has got to be the 1st time ever for me in shorts in January but I'll check the logs later; crazy weather!

So far this week I've been busy, on the run delivering our daughter and her cat back to college in Truro and then work has been hectic as I prepare for a long round of meetings next week in Halifax. There was time for a quick run on Tuesday before we headed back home. It was a warm morning, about 8C with a light rain but I was feeling very sluggish and slow with tired legs from Sunday's run. Managed a total of 8 miles in 67:00 in a very draggy run. Maybe it was the lack of coffee before the run but that's doubtful. In fact on Monday, my regular day off, I was weary/tired most of the day and even went to bed early after our 4hr drive.

My Weds run was a rushed effort with a shortened run after a busy day at work and then not being able to get going right away. I managed only 8 miles and threw in a set of 10x25sec strides to loosen up the legs. Andrew would not have approved today's route across the ocean floor to Minister's Island and the backroad trails that were covered along the way. Feeling a bit slow but the pace was OK at close to 8:00/mi.

Today's run was another story with the legs and body finally coming around for a change. I'm afraid that there will be payback for my exhuberance later in the week but when you're feeling good it's hard to hold back some days. With an extended lunch I was able to squeeze in a 90 minute run with some tempo on this gorgeous 'spring' day. The run was done as an out and back with the out at a relaxed easy pace for the 1st 47:00. At the turn I increased the pace and did 2 miles at tempo (1/2 marathonish pace) with splits of 7:05 and 7:11 back into a slight headwind and hills. I then took a break intending to jog the rest of the way in but lo and behold spotted another runner off in the distance. The bait was immediately taken and the pace increased with the next 2 miles in 7:03 and 7:23 as it became apparent I wasn't going to make a catch. Oh well, made for a good 2nd half of the run for a total of 11.7 miles in 91:00. The rest of the day was spent with a happy tired feeling in my legs and body, mmmm!

A quick update on my training plan such as it is. Tommorow it will be 100 days until Boston and soon it will be time to start some marathon specific training. My current base is mileage/time aka Lydiard with 60, 90, 60, 120, 60, 150+ minute runs through the week with one day off usually Monday. Next week is a rest week where I'll be cutting the time factor by 50% except for the sacred long run on Sunday. I'm now throwing in a few short speed tempo sessions courtesy of BC Mike but after that the speed / tempo / marathon pace sessions will come from the Renato Canova plan that Coach Andrew is also subscribes to. The base miles (time) will stay the same and may slightly increase giving me about 70 miles/week for the next dozen or so weeks before the taper kicks in. And that's all she wrote!

Happy running!